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Friday’s Rugby News

Friday’s Rugby News

Friday’s rugby news has two Wallaby teams, World Rugby looking to close the talent gap, the life of a gay rugby international and an investigation into Pacific exploitation. 


Wallabies organise two 15s

Bumbies_Reds_2nd_half_0447_2014_02_22_9943

Australia are preparing entirely different starting teams for their first two Rugby World Cup fixtures to counter the impact of a short turnaround between matches, according to assistant coach Stephen Larkham. The Wallabies open their Pool A campaign against Fiji at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on Sept. 23 and are back in action four days later against pool minnows Uruguay.

Larkham said the squad would be split into two groups after they depart for England on Sunday.”[We are] trying to give one whole team as much time as possible (against Fiji), and the other team as much time as possible in the other game, so we are not burning the players out,” he said, with the reserves in the first match to have a limited contribution.

RWC to lift minnows

leonard world cup 2015

World Rugby boss Brett Gosper has emphasised the tournament’s designs of boosting the level of the second-tier rugby nations. World Rugby has injected approximately 34 million pounds ($52.33 million) between 2012 and 2015 into the 10 Rugby World Cup participating tier two nations — Canada, Fiji, Georgia, Japan, Namibia, Romania, Samoa, Tonga, Uruguay and the US.

“The Rugby World Cup is the financial engine that drives the development and competitiveness of the global game and the continued commercial success of the tournament has enabled World Rugby to invest a record 192 million pounds in the sustainability and growth of the game worldwide between 2012 and 2015,” Gosper said.

Life as a gay rugby player

Wales Under 20 - has 6N comp

Former Wales captain Gareth Thomas has opened up on his life as a gay rugby player, revealing the torment of hiding his sexuality. Thomas played 100 Tests and scored 200 points for Wales in a brilliant career between 1995-2007. He came out in 2009 and in 2010 was voted the most influential gay person in the United Kingdom.

In a video released by beer giants Guinness — named ‘Gareth’s Story’ — Thomas reveals why he chose to hide his sexuality while playing. “If the crowd ever found out, then I always worried that everybody would turn their back on me,” Thomas said. “I wanted to be totally open and honest with everybody, yet I didn’t want something so minor as my sexuality to define who I was.”

Pacific talent abused by system

australian_money

This year’s World Cup will showcase the rugby talent of Fijian-born players. Other than Fiji, New Zealand (Waisake Naholo), Australia (Henry Speight) and France (Noa Nakaitaci) will field wings born on the Pacific Island in the World Cup. But these success stories are the exception, with widespread exploitation by international player agents now being brought to light.

Rob Nichol, the association’s chief executive, confirmed that the Pacific Islands were inordinately affected by agents taking massive portions of player salaries and causing players to get deported. “The Islanders are being preyed upon, absolutely,” Nichol said. “There are some despicable individuals who capitalise on their desperation to make a better life for themselves and their families.”

  • npivag

    If World Rugby wants to help Tier 2 nations – allow for player mobility between nations.
    I don’t have the right system off hand, but how cool would it be if Radike was in the Fiji squad right now? Or if Kuridrani, Kerevi, Naiyaravoro, Naivalu, etc could do the same without taking their chances of playing for Tier 1 nations. Liam Gill for America? Matt Dunning for Canada (past tense)? Matt Carraro for Italy? All hypothetically possible.
    OBVIOUSLY we don’t want to become rugby league, and we don’t want international caps to be a farce, but does anyone question that Pat Lam wore the Samoan and NZ jerseys with equal pride? Why do we think NOBODY can hold genuine pride for two separate nations? We grant duel passports.
    #rantover

    • Braveheart81

      It’s a tough one. If you allow movement between countries too easily it makes the system farcical and helps no one. I also don’t think it helps anyone by allowing old Tier 1 players to decide they want to play for another Tier 2 country they are eligible for late in their career to have another run around at a RWC. I think that does little to improve Tier 2 nations.

      Maybe one option if you’re going to allow a change of allegiances is to make it only open to players who have played less than 10 test matches and haven’t played a test in 2 years or something like that.

      • npivag

        Sure, as a base for discussion I have no issue with those suggestions.
        I also have no problem with old heads changing test nations, I think it adds a lot. You’re essentially taking a leader that has received all the benefits of a Tier 1 nation (personal development, coaching, conditioning, etc) and you’re transplanting that into a Tier 2 nation. You’re also giving each of these nations 2-3 more world class players, and they’re often that many players short of being Tier 1 quality. Perhaps another good rule would be that a union can only ‘change nationality’ of 2-3 players a year, so that their team isn’t over run with them and they have to pick carefully.
        Obviously we’re talking about the Pacific Nations mostly, but J.Kaino could play for American through America Samoa in a few years when he’s past his best for example. A system like this would benefit the standard of test rugby as a whole.
        It’s such a shame to think a player like Francis Saili may never play for NZ again, yet he’d be a sure thing for Samoa.

        • Braveheart81

          I tend to think that the experienced players who have had long test careers with a tier 1 nation would mainly show interest in representing a tier 2 nation around RWC time. I don’t think this would be a positive as it takes away opportunity for players that should be there to play on the biggest stage. That’s my reason for the 10 test suggestion.

        • npiva

          Sure, I see your point. But then I think it’d be about creating a rule set that would make sure we don’t see Dad’s armies being rolled out for the Tier 2 teams. It’s a matter of building a good system and being willing to revisit it every two years, not a matter of saying ‘this will be exploited’ and doing nothing.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Mate, I agree. It has been debated in NZ for some time that players who have played for NZ are allowed to go back to their cultural homeland after they finish with the All Blacks and be available. While not all of them would, there are some who would bring a whole lot of experience and team culture that would really assist these teams moving forward. I think this would be fantastic.
      I think it was a shame that there wasn’t a pacific Islands team, whether combined or one of the nations, involved in S15 instead of Japan and Argentina. Imagine the number of people coming to see that team play in Sydney or Auckland, it would be massive. It would also open up a stream for players to either move into their country’s higher honours, or if the first point is taken go to NZ or Australia and then back to their country afterwards.
      I know I’m dreaming to think this but IMO it would be awesome and do a hell of a lot more for rugby than the yet to be confirmed Japanese team that will have no support outside of japan.

      • npivag

        I like the thinking behind a pacific Super side, but the only union of the 3 that can be trusted to run a pacific super team is Tonga, and they haven’t got the population (Fiji and Samoa have too many red flags). As far as a joint team goes, these nations are so culturally different and struggled to run their united touring side together, so I don’t see how they could run a week-in, week-out professional team together. And, as far as 3rd party investment goes, I feel like at that point you invite a 3rd party and it’s not a development tool any more and the core purpose is gone.
        I think the right way to go would be simply trying to get more players committed to their Pacific unions playing in the Souther Hemisphere. Close to their families, which are very important to them, and close to their nations for international play.
        I don’t think we can fault the Argentinian Super team, it’s a great initiative and Argentina has set it up so they’ll be competitive from day 1. Japan has high potential, but it’s a mess due to a variety of administrative errors and difficulties with the current system.

        • Nutta

          I thought that was the strength of the Singapore Super offer – the governance/coin/infrastructure that only a government as business savvy as Singo would bring with a Poly player base providing the cattle. Would be a powerful union.

      • Spank

        I also agree especially in the case of those Islander players who have already had their time playing for the AB’s or Wallabies and who now wish to give something back to their Home Country. Why not give them an exception even if it limited to a one way street, that is to say IF you decide to now play for your country of birth then you can not decide later on to reverse the process.

    • The counter-argument is that it would destroy domestic rugby in poorer nations by removing any barrier to play-for-pay in richer ones.

  • I don’t mind the two team strategy as long as the team that plays Fiji is the out-and-out 1st team in Chieka’s eyes (ie. the team that will play England, Wales and finals). I don’t want it to be a mix of some of the first-teamers in each match. We should be able to walk over Uruguay with our 2nd string team so there’s no issues there.

    We need to start building some combinations and settling on a matchday 23 for the big games.

    Here are the two teams I’d go with:
    Fiji: Sio, Moore (C), Kepu, Simmons, Mumm, Fardy, Hooper, Pocock, Genia, Foley, Mitchell, Giteau, Kuridrani, AAC, Folau – BN: TPN, Slipper, Holmes, Skelton, McCalman, Phipps, Toomua, Beale

    Uruguay: Slipper (C), TPN, Holmes, Skelton, Douglas, McCalman, McMahon, Palu, Phipps, Cooper, Horne, Toomua, Speight, Tomane, Beale – BN: Moore, Smith, Kepu, Mumm, Hooper, Genia, Giteau, Mitchell

    • Simon

      Yeah, I’ve been quite concerned at the lack of combinations, particularly at 9-10-12. The Wallabies this year have never played with the same halves twice and just aren’t showing that instinctive understanding that allows line breaks through a player magically appearing in the right spot when the ball is flicked there (ABs style). You can see they’ve been trying, but they’re often just a step or two out of position, or they fumble, or they’re not expecting it so the guy goes straight through the line but didn’t get passed the ball. People say these guys are professionals all training together so they’re all building combos with each other, but I would say the evidence suggests otherwise.

      And now they’re giving up a game they could have done that to play a second XV, so they’ll now have one game against Fiji to get it right before crunch time when they have to have it nailed.

      The second XV plan also makes it even stranger that they only packed two hookers and scrum halves in the suitcase.

      • Braveheart81

        It’s a balancing act. We might be giving up the opportunity of having another game to get our best team into gear for the England game by having another run against Uruguay but we’re also trying to ensure that our players are fresh and have the correct preparation for our biggest pool match.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Not sure if it will actually be implemented fully. I wouldn’t think you’d want to give your rivals that kind of intel. maybe it’s a ploy by the coaches and all part of the word games that all coaches get into these days

    • Adrian

      Not bad selections at all Michael.
      All I’d say is that run-on Fiji team could start with Slipper not Sio, nit because he’s better, but because he might want an extra heavy runner in the 2nd half. If he has Palu instead of McCalm, Palu can be the 2nd half heavy runner, and Sio the starter. He may do this, because McCalman is more an 80min grafter, whereas Palu, with all his supposed faults, does get over the advantage line

    • bad ass

      Fiji will have Beale and Foley on toast.

      • Avid

        Ok, I’ll take the bait – Foley and Beale are exactly the Sevens type players to gas Fiji. The ‘if’ is Vola Vola who I rate very highly, Or are you suggesting their forwards are going to run through our mid field? Surprise me.

        • bad ass

          Sevens style against Fiji? They are way better than us at that game. We need a structured game to maximise points against Fiji, not to get drawn into a game of sideways sevens. A solid platform, with tight forwards and good field position for the first 2/3 rd of the game, then the backs can open up. Foley doesn’t give us field position and Beales game is what the Fijians will be more than comfortable playing against.
          Not suggesting that we will lose, but it would be best to maximise points.

        • Avid

          their skills are highly relevant v Fiji no problem.

        • bad ass

          I suppose we will see. Foley wasn’t great against the U.S.A. Cooper has an excellent positional kicking game, but might get intercepted. Same with Beale, the Fijians play like him but better.

        • Avid

          We need players who can read and reply to Fiji plays. Aus have invited a loose breakdown and stacked back line – to others peril imho. We’ll only use 3/4 the squad for Fiji that will play Eng and Wales.

        • jamie

          Larkham just said it will be their best team… Can you read?

          By the way, playing like Fiji but not as well as Fiji will not beat Fiji. Kurtley, eat your heart out.

        • Avid

          Very emo Jamie. Its ok, just trust everything you read.
          I’d rather selections are based on a horses for courses approach. England certainly don’t buy we’ll field the same team nor play the same way as Fiji.
          Since you take Larkhams comments on face value, fielding the same team for Fiji and Eng is either arrogant or keeping up the guessing games. I have my own view on this.

  • Adrian

    2 teams not that weird, given we have only about 5 players that are certainties.

    The rest are at the very least matters of opinion, given the range of views in Roar and elsewhere.

    He will certainly make little changes from game to game, especially around 9,10,12 and 4,5, but it’s no big deal, because the bench is every bit as important as run-on side.

    We shouldn’t be amazed by the run-on sides, it’s the 23 that count, and that will be pretty similar after Uruagay.

    Everything he does will be within broad parameters of Cheika’s style, irrespective of whether it fits with traditional philosophies regarding run-on team must be best, or the “class” of players.

    Phipps might not be classy according to many measures, but for periods when he wants constant switching from going wide to up the guts, he’ll use him. He’ll use him with Cooper at times and Foley at times, just as he’ll use Genia with both 5/8s. He won’t use Toomoa at 5/8 at all,because he doesn’t fit Cheika style. Cheika No10s set up others via passing. Cheika No12s set up others via running. It’s always the way, … but always disguised.

    The interchanging of 4,5 (and sometimes 6) has its own logic as well, mainly to do with lineout balance. Any 2 of the 4 locks could start, given that Fardy will always be on. If Palu comes on to replace Skelton in any match, Fardy will go to 4, Pocock to 6 and Palu to 8.

    Summing-up, it’s the 23 that count, not the 15

    • Bobas

      Toby Smith is the only certain non-starter.

      • Braveheart81

        Toby Smith. Although starting him against Uruguay ahead of Slipper could be a good move.. Slipper will play plenty of minutes in all games regardless.

  • McWarren

    I think the two teams option is obvious with such a short turn around. I’d like to see Sio get a run at Hooker against Uraguay and if we’re well clear of Fiji in the second half.

  • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW

    Initially the 2 team idea seemed to me more like ‘I just can’t decide and need more time’ and that still may be the case. But all things considered, I’m quite warming to the idea now.
    I can see all the coaches making their stamp on the boys with what appears to be a much better scrum, good defense and improved culture. What I’m still waiting for though is for Bernie’s influence on attack.

    • Avid

      I’m still going with Cooper + Toomua as Larkhams key attackers.

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