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Friday’s Rugby News

Friday’s Rugby News

Apparently, the URL tells me this is is our 200th edition of the Friday Rugby News. Time flies. Today’s news sees the Super Rugby draw named, an elephant (or lack of) in the room, France throwing more money at World Rugby, and squads named for the NRC.


Super Rugby Draw Announced

SuperRugbyTrophy

The biggest news story is the announcement of the 2018 Super Rugby draw.

Let’s call a spade a spade: the eighteen team format was bollocks, and good riddance to it that it now no longer exists. Super Rugby has gone back to the three conference system, with the Jaguares staying in the SA conference, the Sunwolves joining the Australian conference, and the Kiwi conference staying the same.

All teams will play 16 matches (eight home and eight away) and have two byes. The “new” system will also see a greater emphasis once again placed on derby matches, so we better get used to even more games of Australian teams beating Australian teams while we struggle to beat everyone else.

The finals will again include eight teams, with the three conference winners plus the next highest five sides on the overall ladder.

“It was not an easy decision to reduce the number of teams but a necessary one considering the outputs from the strategic review to date,” SANZAAR chief executive Andy Marinos said to Fox Sports.

“The tournament was not working with 18 teams, the structure was confusing, the outcomes of matches were becoming too predictable and the fans and stakeholders had, through our surveys, voiced their concerns.

“SANZAAR respects that, as a consequence of this, Australia and South Africa have had to make some very hard decisions since our announcement in April that 2018 would revert to 15 teams.

“It is a difficult time for many in this respect particularly those within the affected teams and their fans. We understand the outpouring of disappointment and associated passion shown for these teams.

“To not have done anything would have been irresponsible and would have had a significant impact on the long-term sustainability of the game within our markets.”

The Brumbies are set to have the easiest schedule of all the teams in the revamped Super Rugby competition, opening their season against the Sunwolves (A), Reds (A), Rebels (A) and Sharks (H). However, their good run at the beginning will come back to bite them later down the track, with a tough run home in the final few rounds.

The Reds have the exact opposite, a tough start followed by a great run home (being the Tahs (H), Blues (A), Rebels (H) and Sunwolves (H). They do have one period of being away from home four weeks in a row, which will be crucial to their campaign. But there’s no excuses this coming year. They HAVE to have a better year.

The Waratahs have a similar season to the Reds, in that they have two particularly tough stretches during the season (including against four Kiwi opponents in consecutive weeks), but a stellar run home against the Rebels (A), the Sunwolves (H) and Brumbies (H). It should be a good year for the Tahs, unless they once again struggle to schedule their games properly with the A-League.

Finally, the Rebels will start their season with four straight derbies against the Reds (H), Sunwolves (A), Brumbies (H) and Tahs (A), which is an ideal start after the shocker they had this year. They will have their toughest games against SA and Kiwi opposition in consecutive weeks, which will be a challenging. They will also finish their regular season in New Zealand against the Highlanders.

For all details around the squads run during the season, click here.

“Super Rugby in 2018 will reignite the local rivalries here in Australia with home-and-away derbies returning and fans will be treated to more matches in better timeslots,” Bill Pulver said to Fox Sports.

“So this new competition format is a big win for rugby fans in Australia.”

But let’s cut the rubbish for a minute. All the places I’ve been looking at for this article, the vast, vast majority of fans are not excited by this announcement at all. If anything, they’ve been putting the blowtorch on it.

And honestly, I get it. Personally, it’s hard to get excited about Super Rugby after seeing this. It’s hard for me to even be excited about writing about it now. The fact that Super Rugby is now back to where it was three years ago. The fact that the whole fan base feels utterly disconnected from the competition. And most of all, the fact that, in all those season previews, there isn’t going to be a mention of that little battler team from WA.

This is the first official document from SANZAAR that doesn’t include the Western Force. For me, it really hits home, and I feel like it has for many other rugby fans too, judging by their comments.

I’ll be honest about it: it bloody sucks. The whole situation sucks. The whole decision making process sucked. The end result sucked. And now, the aftermath of this whole mess sucks even more. What a rubbish year this has been.

Yo want more dough?

rugby-world-cup-generic

Yep, another generic trophy pic.

If the Beatles once said that money can’t buy you love, no one clearly has told that to the French Rugby Union. The French have thrown an unbelievable amount of money at World Rugby in an attempt to win the rights to host Bill for 2023.

To host the World Cup, the host nation must pay the governing body $A203 million to stage the tournament. So France decided they’d up their offer by an extra $50 million yesterday, apparently 100 percent guaranteed by the French government.

“You have to pay a fee to host. It is a minimum. We have proposed not 120 million pounds but 150 million pounds,” French bid leader Claude Atcher reportedly said to British Media (via Rugby.com.au).

Atcher argued that while Ireland and South Africa have also applied for the World Cup, a vote for France would be vital in safeguarding rugby’s future as a global game.

“We have a responsibility to support the development of rugby in the world because, if we don’t do anything, in five to 10 years you will have two, three to four teams on the same level and that’s all, and then rugby will die,” he said to The Guardian a few days before.

The three bidding nations will make presentations to the voting bodies of World Rugby on Monday. After a decision-making period, the final decision to be announced on November 15 of this year.

Kefu’s daughter steps up to Sevens

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Enough of the bad news, here’s something much more cheerful.

Toutai Kefu was an absolute machine on the rugby field back in the day, and it seems to have rubbed off heavily on his daughter Olivia, who participated in the inaugural Girls Sevens State Championships at Logan City Rugby Club yesterday.

Olivia was reportedly a late starter to Sevens, but it certainly rubs off when your Dad was part of a team that won the World Cup and you have an uncle who also pulled on the green and gold jersey.

“My dad played for the Wallabies a long time ago,” Olivia said to The Courier Mail.

“He tries to give me advice but I don’t really listen … I like the coach’s perspective.

“One of my goals is the Olympics after what the girls did winning a gold last year.”

It’s a goal that is certainly achievable, given the rise of Womens Rugby and the launch of the new AON Womens Sevens competition earlier this year.

“Rugby sevens has grown massively and it’s not just perfect timing for Olivia but lots of teenage girls,” said older Kefu.

“I always said to my wife Rachel that none of our daughters would play rugby but times, opportunities and enjoyment change.”

While older Kefu is mostly focused on coaching the Tongan national team, he has kept a close eye on the Wallabies, and admitted he was pretty annoyed at  their performance against the Springboks.

“Not finishing off South Africa when the teams drew in Perth really frustrated me and the Wallabies better be prepared for an ambush when they next play them.”

But, he did take time out to praise Sean McMahon, the man currently occupying his traditional position, for praise.

“He brings mongrel, aggression and works hard and other teams are fearful of what he can do which are always good elements for a Test back row,” Kefu said.

Squads out, Guns out

Spirit celebrate NRC win   (Photo Credit: Delphy)

The squads for round four of the National Rugby Championship are out, and a couple of teams are looking ready to through the kitchen sink at each other.

You can check out the squads (including the updated amendments) here.

There are three particularly notable names in the squads this week: the first is Kyle Godwin, who looks to be a much-needed return for NSW Country Eagles when they play against the Canberra Vikings in Armidale. The Eagles have looked really off pace attack wise this year, so a more experienced head in the backline will be a big factor in the game. As of Thursday night, the Vikings still haven’t named their squad.

Perth Spirit have brought some serious firepower over with them to Fiji, including the likes of Matt Philip and Isi Naisrani. While they’re currently having plenty of fun in the sun, they will have a tough encounter against them in the form of the Drua, who were way too good for the Eagles last week. But it is good the Piggies have backed several players from the Pindan Premier Grade. Expect plenty of fireworks with that one.

The Sydney Rays don’t look to be resting on their laurels either, adding Waratah Bryce Hegarty to their starting lineup against Queensland Country, who are still to name their squad as of Thursday night. The Rays will need all the experience of Super Rugby players to overcome a dangerous Country outfit. They haven’t dropped a game so far against Country in their history, but records have been tumbling all year so far in the NRC.

Finally, the Greater Sydney Rams have already made clear their intent on grabbing a win against Melbourne Rising this weekend down in Melbourne, with the naming of a relatively unchanged squad. Considering their two wins thus far, this may not be a bad move, even despite their loss to Perth last week. If anything, it might’ve given the squad a solid kick in the teeth to do better. As of Thursday night, Melbourne is still to name their squad.

 

  • Julie T

    Super Rugby – Who cares? What more can I say that doesn’t include expletives? My beloved team had been destroyed, gutted & utterly wiped off the face of the earth ( their Twitter account was even closed until a fan has picked up the name to keep it alive ). So all in all with this announcement of the 2018 draw I have absolutely no interest. I will not watch a game or be bothered to check a score all season. Waiting for the local club competition to kick off will be it for my interest in rugby in 2018

    • jamie

      As sad as I am about the force. I care at least a bit. You cared enough to comment. Most of us still do have an interest in provincial rugby in Australia, where we get our Wallabies from.

      • Bakkies

        The Force fans won’t know whether they will have a provincial team until the IPRC is launched properly.

      • Andrew Miller

        I tried to Jamie, I went to the Boks game in Perth (in blue) made my point and tried to get behind the Wallabies, but realised half way through the second half that I was disinterested and felt disjointed. Watching the Spirit has reconnected me, but I still feel ‘dirty’ knowing that supporting them is indirectly supporting the EARU.

        • Nicholas Wasiliev

          But at least the Spirit actually is focused on local players from WA, and at least the NRC is keeping a team in WA. If anything, I hope they win it again this year. That’ll really rub it in the faces of the ARU!

        • Julie T

          Couldn’t agree with you more!! Really hoping the Spirit can go back to back. But after reading Pek Cowan’s article today I am worried about how the WA players can keep focussed & playing well. The stress of contracts and jobs in 2018 is really taking its toll

    • Pearcewreck

      So, Julie, you’ll be exactly like the average Aussie sports fan then?

  • Andrew Miller

    Thanks for the support Nick. A bitter pill to swallow seeing the team that has sucked the ARU dry still playing. The Spirit’s game against the Drua is going to be a tough one. Surprised they didn’t throw a few more players with Super experience from the Team Who Must Not Be Named into the mix, but yes, good to put the Pindan guys up to the challenge. Will put them in good stead for next year’s comp(s).

    • Julie T

      Not sure there are too many fit Force players available for the Fiji game. Billy & Curtis back in the Wallabies touring squad to Sth Africa (fly tomorrow). Dickie, Ross HP & Heath all had surgery. Ben Mac was hoping to return last few weeks. Not sure about Gus Cottrell’s return from injury. Jono has a family wedding. Chance Peni out last week & this week but not heard the story on him.

  • MungBean

    On the face of it there’s a possible case of breach of fiduciary duty by the ARU board. The board are trustees to Australian rugby and its constituent unions. It’s nearly impossible to justify the writing off of a $13m loan to the benefit of the private equity backers of the Rebels and the detriment of the trust beneficiaries.

    • Bakkies

      Those private ‘investors’ took on the Rebels on the priviso that they would finance the team rather than bleed the union dry of funds that were supposed to finance the games’ development.

      Now we are learning that Cox may have been insolvent in NZ when he purchased the side and that the ARU parasites refused to listen to better offers that would seen Melbourne finally run a viable organisation. Now Cox sold it to another organisation that is struggling rather than seek further investments or a new buyer. He is now using the Rebels to recruit his mates. He needs to be taken to town for this.

      We also need to know de Clyne, Pulver and Clarke’s relationship with Cox prior to the sale of the team to Imperium.

      They are truly the Rangers of Australian Rugby. The next step will be a NewCo Rebels as the ARU refuse to bring back the Force in the likely case of the Rebels becoming insolvent.

      • Jerry

        … without the racism and sectarianism of course.

  • Tommy Brady

    If the intention of Western Force fans is to come on here today and act like sulking 14 year old schoolgirls because they haven’t got their way with Super Rugby then congratulations, you are winning.

    If their intention is to belittle anyone who does care about Super Rugby and does care for the success of the only fully professional rugby competition in Australasia then I’m sorry you are losing.

    Western Force fans need to understand setbacks in life happen. They happen to them like they happen to all of us. Setbacks happen in sporting lives, business lives and personal lives. It’s how you deal with setbacks though that is the making of the person. It is how you overcome a setback and turn the setback into a success that measures one’s character.

    Coming on here wallowing in self pity and attempting to drag others into their world of misery is not helpful for them or anyone forced to endure it. You are rugby fans because you are here visiting this website. How about you get in behind the sport we all love and move forward with a positive attitude. Living in the past or glass half empty attitudes ain’t typically pathways to success. As painful as that reality may be, I’m sure folks in WA understand it.

    • Nipper68

      “Hey, I know that we’ve just learned that the ARU have shortchanged your team every year for the past three years, pushing them into insolvency, have conspired to funnel that money into their chosen pet team, and oh yeah, just ‘forgave’ a $13M debt. But just get over it and support the Reds or the Tahs, willya?”

      No thanks.

      • Tommy Brady

        In their 12 years in Super Rugby
        the Western Force played 175 matches with a 32% win ratio. Their average finishing position was 11th.

        This was the end result of an inability to recruit a competitive playing roster and poor selections with coaching staff. It is why too many Western Force games were played in half full stadiums at Subiaco Oval and nib Stadium.

        As the great Bill Parcells so correctly stated “You are what your record says you are”.

        • Andrew Luscombe

          No other sport would treat an expansion side so badly. If a comp is uncompetitive, it is the fault of the league’s management. Most money in a modern league comes centrally via broadcast money, and it is up to the league to distribute it to make the comp competitive. The whole comp is the product.

          Perth had great crowds early on. It was a failure of league management not to support that enthusiasm.

        • Tommy Brady

          Do you refer to the league management of Super Rugby here as SANZAR or the ARU Andrew?

          How is it SANZAR’s role to make Australian sides competitive? If it is the ARU, haven’t they addressed that issue by consolidating the Australian participation from 5 teams to 4 teams? Wasn’t Australia most competitive in Super Rugby when they had only 3 teams?

        • Andrew Luscombe

          League management is everyone who takes part in managing the league. The national bodies work together within SANZAAR to manage the league. They set the rules which determine which players and coaches can play where. They take league management decisions togerher. They all agreed on the plan to cut teams, which as you point out is a league management decision. They are therefore also responsible for the bad league management decisions taken previously too, including the way the expansions occured.

          Acting now to balance the league is 4 years too late. Any other league would have been panicking then. Cutting teams is a very costly and not very effective way to do it. It is a marketing disaster.

        • Tommy Brady

          I agree Andrew. But the opposition in 2011 to expanding the competition to 16 teams (including concerns from the ARU) is well documented.

        • Andrew Luscombe

          All of the expansion teams were potentially viable. They all had good crowds early in their history. The AFL, NRL, or A-league would all have made a much better go of it. SR will continue to decline until it either disappears or starts managing itself well.

        • Tommy Brady

          Super Rugby was managing itself fine until the ARU in their wisdom decided the best way to compete with the AFL and NRL was to lift their participation in the tournament from 3 teams to 5 teams. More was deemed to be better. They underestimated the dilution effect.

        • Andrew Luscombe

          Dillution isn’t a problem for well managed leagues because they spread it evenly over the league.

          There are ratings methods that can estimate the size of the effect of dilution and it is small. There are plenty of other bigger issues.

        • Tommy Brady

          Interesting. What do you believe they are?

        • Andrew Luscombe

          NZ teams have gotten better, and that’s the biggest reason we are doing relatively worse. NZ has been better at retaining effective groups of players, while letting some individuals go to Europe. Australia has become worse at developing and retaining coaches.

          The original 3 Aussie SR teams performed not very differently as a group from Super 12 right through to the end of Super 15. They did slightly better on average with 5 teams than with 4. There was no dilution – we just added one then another poor team to the three good ones.

          Now one of the poor teams had a reasonable season, and we cut it.

        • Tommy Brady

          I think you are very accurate Andrew. The relative performance of NZ and Australia over the past 2-3 years has been significant. It was a planned strategy by NZ Rugby that was executed across the sport st all levels. The ARU had the same exact opportunity (or could even have simply replicated the NZ model) but for whatever reason there has been resistance across the states to employ that same holistic, collective approach to making the code better. It has majorly impacted Australia’s competitiveness at Super Rugby – to the point where people now seem to have grown tired to Australian teams always losing. Somehow they deflect blame at the competition format, or the conference system or the time zones or anything other than the root problem which is the Australian teams collectively now lose too many games – especially to NZ teams they once used to beat.

          How would Australian rugby fans feel if Super Rugby 2018 was actually Super10 featuring 5 Australian teams and 5 NZ teams only that the table ended with the top 5 teams being NZ teams and the bottom 5 being AUS teams? It would fix a lot of the format / conference issues – but would it make fans want to attend or tune into?

          For Australian rugby to move forward there must be a greater collective good to make the sport better across the country – top to bottom, east to west. Without that mission the underperformance to NZ will just continue. Taking the ball home and saying we ain’t playing anymore is not a sensible answer – for anyone. Neither is blaming competition formats (which I 100% agree are not perfect).

          Have a good weekend.

        • Jerry

          Tommy, what do you believe the purpose of Australian participation in Super Rugby actually is?

          If it is to win the competition then you may as well cull even more teams.

        • Tommy Brady

          The purpose of Australian rugby’s participation in Super Rugby is to bring competitive sides to bolster the value and standards of the competition. That way all parties benefit. Prior to the arrival of the Force and Rebels, that happened regularly.

        • Who?

          After 20 seasons of Super Rugby (i.e. at the end of the 2015 season, the end of Super 15), the same number of Super teams from NZ had won the title as had teams from the other two nations. Significantly, though, it was 4 Kiwi teams, 3 Aussie teams, and 1 Saffa team. So I don’t think it’s fair to blame the Force or even the Rebels for the failings of Australian Rugby on the Super table. If you go back a season (2014), it’s 3 Kiwi champs, 3 Aussie champs.
          I’m more than ok to admit that the total number of titles won by Kiwi teams dominates everyone else. But my point is that Aussie teams have, in spite of numbers, done rather well in comparison to Kiwi teams, and have done significantly better than Saffa teams.
          Andrew’s point about Australia’s failures in coaching development and retention – which start the best part of a decade ago – is the key issue with Australia’s on field position over the past two seasons. If you look at 2010, we had one quality Super coach (Link). 2012? Two – Link and Jake. 2014? One – Cheik. 2016? None!!! 2017? Wessels. So what on earth were we doing to develop coaches for the past decade, to ensure our future?! Compare it to 2000 – we had Eddie, Knuckles, I think Dwyer was maybe a year away from taking on the Tahs… Link took over the Tahs after Dwyer, and Nucifora won the title with the Brums. We’ve gone from a position where we always had at least two decent Super coaches to one where there’s no clear leading Super Rugby head coach pushing to take on the Wallabies next. Larkham’s been anointed by Cheik, but I don’t think he’s a consistent head coach at this point. He’s a coach who was a brilliant natural player, but doesn’t have the runs on the board as a head coach.

        • Jerry

          I strongly disagree.

          The purpose is to provide a top level sporting environment for the national rugby scene. Not to serve SANZAR.

        • jamie

          What’s the win rate of the Tahs, just out of curiosity?

        • Tommy Brady

          55%.

        • Nipper68

          There’s a stellar just over .500.

        • Tommy Brady

          71% better than the Force.

        • ForceFan

          The Force won 3 of the last 5 against the Tahs – a side that had 2/3 of the team comprised of current Wallabies. And you think the main problems were with the Force!??
          Despite all of the support and largess it too the Tahs 19 years to win their 1st SR title.Try and lift your own logic to above that of the 14 yo students you talked about (I’m not going to continue your denigration of girls).

        • Tommy Brady

          The Waratahs made the Super Rugby play-offs 8 times in their 22 year history. The Force never did once and if retained would still never make them.

        • Nipper68

          They would if they were playing the Tahs for a playoff spot!

        • Nipper68

          Thanks for the stellar stats work, but I believe the reason for the cut was financial. Maybe you should run the numbers and see what sort of win percentage the multiples of ARU funding and cash giveaways have gotten the Rebels?

        • Tommy Brady

          Should I include the decision to employ Michael Foley as Head Coach too? I mean all the advise they received at the time was not too right?

        • Alister Smith

          The Waratahs made the same decision – and he was a Wallabies assistant

        • Nipper68

          I guess, but you hired him first.

        • Perth girl

          Maybe if we had the sort of support the Rebels have had we would have done better

        • Tommy Brady

          How about those 5 years before the Rebels arrived when the Force’s win ratio was still only 37% and their average finishing position in Super15 was 10th?

        • Nipper68

          Finances. Check ‘em.

        • Tommy Brady

          You mean all that sponsorship money from Andrew Forrest? Or those outsized ticket sales from Force fans for every home game?

    • McWarren

      Nice try Tommy but I think your kick up the backside pep talk is too soon. If the shoe was on the other foot?

      As a life long rugby fan and Reds tragic I am grappling with my desire to support super rugby. I’m annoyed at myself because a huge part of me wants all 4 remaining teams to tank next year, partly out of spite, mostly because the fuckwits at the ARU will claim any form of success as vindication. For me I’ll leave it behind when I’m happy the factors that got us to this point have been dealt with. Taking the stiff upper lip approach is very noble, but it will have us back here in 4 years debating the shonky deals that have led to a Rebs/Brumbies jv. What people really want from the administration of their not for profit community organisation is some transparency and you don’t get that by just grinning and bearing it.

      • Tommy Brady

        I think what would change everything is if the 4 Australian Super Rugby sides started winning. Winning cures many ills.

        • Andrew Luscombe

          It does. To win this year we would have had to enter the Wallabies into SR, and while they would be reasonably sure to make the semis there’s still no guarantee of winning it. Cutting to 4 from 5 without increasing the salary cap might lead to an average of one extra point per game for each Aussie team. There are plenty of other things that matter more than the number of teams.

        • idiot savant

          Do you now Ive thought for some time, we should bring Cheka back as the Tahs coach and for the 2019 season let him pick the best players in the country to play for the Tahs. They would of course be the de facto Wallabies and have the advantage of a whole season together leading into the RWC.

        • Westo

          You’re onto something there. Cut Aussie teams to one and increase the salary cap to unlimited.

        • McWarren

          No it just covers the cracks, see post 2011 at the Reds and post 2014 at the tarts.

    • Bakkies

      Cameron sorry Tommy that was so patronising and full of nonsense I don’t know where to start.

    • Andrew Luscombe

      It’s not only Force fans. The truest thing you said was ‘it’s how you respond to tough times that matters’ but two years after a $30 million annual increase in revenue, the ARU has turned Australian rugby into a canabalising excluding sport. It’s the complete opposite of encouraging participation. There are plenty of other ways that other sports control costs and the ARU appears to have not even considered them.

    • Jerry

      With all due respect, I don’t know a single Super Rugby supporter. I know plenty of people who care about Super Rugby clubs. The jury is out on whether or not Super Rugby serves their interests adequately.

      People who care about the Force, and people who care about the growth of Australian rugby, are quite reasonably dissatisfied with developments. Dismissing it as merely a setback is quite disingenuous.

    • Woolfe

      Yes, I chose to identify as a 14 year old schoolgirl.

    • Pearcewreck

      If it is the intention of NZ fans to come on here EVERYDAY!!! and act like sulking 14 year old schoolgirls because Australian fans disagree with them about Super Rugby then congratulations, you are winning.

      If their intention is to belittle anyone who knows that Super Rugby is dead in the water and whom also know that a club/city based competition should be the only fully professional rugby competition in Australasia then I’m sorry you are losing.

      NZ fans need to understand that this site is not for them.

      • Tommy Brady

        Always appreciate your thoughts Pearcewreck. You consistently showcase yourself as a clever guy. I have no doubt you’ve worked out that the existing Super Rugby competition is your only way to see Australia’s better performing rugby players because any belief some club / city based competition could generate the money to retain Michael Hooper, Israel Folau, Kurtley Beale and Adam Coleman etc is a pipe dream. Oh and of course “the Giteau Rule” would be slashed from 69 tests to 0 tests because every half decent player will be in Europe earning proper money for their skills and limited window as a professional player. The Wallabies will become like the Socceroos – a bunch of overseas based players who assemble when released by their UK / European employers to play for the Wallabies.

        Enjoy some Sydney team playing some Brisbane team on a Friday night in front of 8,600 fans at Ballymore. Sounds the ideal way to win back rugby’s profile with the Australian sporting market.

    • Missing Link

      most of the comments on the Rebels Facebook post yesterday about the draw were disgraceful. I didn’t realise how bad some of our “fans” were

    • Perth girl

      Tommy have you seen or heard anything that is coming out of the Senate inquiry? Doesn’t it bother you that rugby in Australia is being run by a group of lying, cheating bastards. In fact unless you support the Rebels the ARU board has been cheated the other teams out of money

      • Tommy Brady

        It is very disappointing. But little of it has much to do with the Super Rugby competition which many Force fans here imply they’ll now refuse to watch.

        • Ads

          How does a Super Rugby team getting cut (and the following investigations) have nothing to do with Super Rugby? How do you expect Force fans to watch Super Rugby when they no longer have a team in it? Some of us watch several games just for the purity of it, but many watch their own team, and maybe 1-2 others.

        • Nipper68

          Now you’re just being silly, Tommy Boy. Keep digging that rhetorical hole for yourself.

        • Tommy Brady

          Appreciate the advice. Hopefully you all will emerge from that hole you’re currently living in and realize the storm has hit, the house has gone but life must go on. There is a future to focus on. Doesn’t every big journey start off with one small step?

        • Who?

          To be fair, if my team was cut, I don’t know that I’d have any attachment to the competition either……
          The Force – being from that secessionist, isolationist state – are arguably the most tribal of all Aussie super rugby teams.

  • paul

    Nick, I agree on the whole backlash response to Super rugby, I looked at some of the articles about the draw, and the feedback was biting. You were lucky to get one positive response out of a 100, and that was just telling the other 99 to tone it down.

    You have to wonder whether this whole Super rugby comp is a cooked Goose.

    • Bakkies

      There is plenty of backlash on SA Rugby Mag’s website about the draw. I wonder if that is going to be part of Marinos’ next survey?

  • dru

    Thanks Nick. Like you I look at the incredible price that the ARU has insisted we pay for Super Rugby, and then look to what we got for it. It’s a huge disconnect. WA fans are entitled to yell profanities, the rest of us should note what it has done for us.

    Very little.

  • Andrew Luscombe

    Each Aussie team has the same number of derbies as last year. The proportion of detbies as a percent of each teams schedule is less because they each have one more foreign game. The total number of Aussie derbies is less than last year because the Force are missing.

    In light of these facts, Bill Pulver makes statements about increasing concentration on derbies. Does he even think at all before he opens his mouth? I assume Bill’s statements were prepared by ARU marketing. Is anyone at the ARU able to follow basic facts?

    • Jerry

      Far be it from me to defend the ARU in light of what has happened, but perhaps he has clumsily phrased that all the Aussie sides will face each domestic side both home and away unlike in recent years.

      As I write that, it doesn’t justify what he said though.

      • Andrew Luscombe

        Yes, given the words quoted by Nick above, but I remember reading more words from the ARU press release in which they claimed a renewed focus on derbies.

      • HK Red

        Sorry, maybe I’m not quite understanding but , haven’t all the Aussie derbies in recent years been Home & Away already???

        • Brumby Runner

          Well, yes in a way, but not all teams have played each other home and away. Last year for example, the Brumbies played the Tahs once in Sydney but not at all in Canberra, and I think the Reds (certainly one other) in Canberra but not in Brisbane.

        • HK Red

          Ha, you’re 100% right. Apols folks I didn’t realise that the Super 18 expansion did away with all Aus teams playing each other Home & Away.

        • Jerry

          No, not for the last couple of years. Last year the Waratahs didn’t host the Reds for example which is/should be the biggest game in the domestic calendar.
          Each side missed hosting a derby game, one of their biggest gates of the year and a huge marketing opportunity. You would think that it was vital to the integrity of the competition.

        • HK Red

          Cheers Jerry. Realise that now, as per earlier reply.
          .
          Seems SANZAR just wanted to push through Sunwolves and Jaguares inclusion and to hell with everything else. Also, ARU too pathetic to push back

    • joy

      How do get from this

      “Bill Pulver makes statements about increasing concentration on derbies”

      From this

      “Super Rugby in 2018 will reignite the local rivalries here in Australia with home-and-away derbies returning and fans will be treated to more matches in better timeslots,”

      “more matches in better timeslots” refers to less games in SA, or am I missing something?

      • Andrew Luscombe

        It was a mistake from me reading an article from a different web site, then reading this one and forgetting what I saw where. See rest of thread below.

        But there aren’t less games in SA. There are two – the same as last year. The overall point I was making remains. The schedule for each team is hardly any different from last year in terms of overseas games and derbies. The biggest change is less games in Australia due to the Force missing.

        • joy

          Thanks. Got it except I counted 6 games for AUS in SA last year.

        • Andrew Luscombe

          Were you counting Argentina?Each team plays 2 games in SA or Argentina, same as last year.

          2017 Brumbies visited Jaguares and Kings. Force visited Jaguares and Sharks. Rebels visted Kings and Sharks. Reds Jaguares and Lions. Tahs Lions and Sharks.

          2018 Brumbies visit Lions and Bulls. Rebels Bulls and Stormers. Reds Jaguares and Stormers. Tahs Sharks and Jaguares.

        • joy

          I missed the Brumbies who had one game in SA. So my numbers match yours. The misunderstanding is mine. I took it that you had only two games in SA in total. It a good point you make. Thanks for your patience.

  • cantab

    8 out of the 15 teams will make the final? Not all teams play each other? How are sports administrators so bad at this?
    Even super18 could have worked if they didn’t have such a rubbish format.

  • ForceFan

    At least be axing the Western Force the EARU has ensured that the remaining Aussie franchises may get more wins.
    Seems like the only way I’ll be able to maintain any interest in Super Rugby is by supporting the Sunwolves.

    • Jerry

      I think that they will get more wins and be more competitive in the competition in 2018. The Waratahs had hugely underperformed and due to the decline of the game here, talent was spread thin and culling the Force will raise the standards in the short term.

      It sees this is a short term fix though for what is merely a cosmetic problem. The game will continue to decline. The long term fix involves, but is not restricted to, growing the game nationally. Culling the Force is both directly and indirectly hugely damaging to this prospect I believe.

  • Pearcewreck

    A new draw for Super Rugby is little more than rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.
    It once was a great comp, it is now dieing.

    • jamie

      Was it ever great? Or was it haphazardly thrown together at the beginning of professional rugby and we were just swept up in the sport that we couldn’t be upset by more of the sport.

      • Pearcewreck

        Yeah, I sort of agree with you.
        It was hastly thrown together, but it was successful early on because
        1. Aussies were crying out for any sort of professional rugby, even a hapahazardly thrown together comp with huge problems.
        2. Super League was hurting the NRL badly.

        Neither of these apply now so we must move on.

        • Brisneyland Local

          YEah agree. Mind you after watching the NRC games, I just want to see some quality rugby. I am dying for it. Whilst the NRC games havnt been uber high quality, they have been really entertaining and competitive. Especially the Fijian drua games, they are freaking awesome.

        • Hoss

          Amen mate

        • Brisneyland Local

          I love the fact that all of the NRC games are ending up on Youtube. Have been travelling uber heaps lately (Singleton, Melb, Cairns, Sydney and Darwin) all in 8 days. So being able to load up the games and watch them on flights is bloody great. Got two games in on the flight to Darwin alone.

        • Hoss

          The Hunter Valleys my back yard mate – let me know next time and i will shuttle you through gods country and some special reds !!

        • Brisneyland Local

          Mate you are on. I had to drive myself from Newy airport to Singleton. Bloody GPS took me the most awkward way of getting there. But will definitely let you know next time I am coming. Always up for more good reds!

        • Bernie Chan

          The NRC is a great addition to rugby in Oz. While not at Super level, it is a chance for many “clubbies” to play against some Test standard opponents. The entertainment value alone is worth the investment…

        • Brisneyland Local

          Yeah Bernie I agree. My daughters love it. They think it is better than the Reds, because as they say “The Reds always lose!”

        • Bernie Chan

          Haha…had a Plat season pass for the dearest spouse, but she bailed out a couple of years ago and used the exact same reason…!

  • Blue Bill

    Thanks Nick. It’s disgraceful that the ARU think that culling the Force will lead to an improved on-field showing across the rest of our teams moving forward. It might for a year or so, but they’re completely ignoring the real reason our talent is spread so thin- players heading overseas for $$$. Until they sort that issue out, they might as well keep culling our teams because the player drain will continue. In the words of the great Taylor Swift, “bandaids don’t fix bullet holes”.

    We won 2 Super Rugby titles with 5 Aussie teams (2011 & 2014) so the Australian talent is certainly there to have a 5th team, it just needs to be maintained in Australia. With Twiggy now on the scene, the ARU have a window of opportunity to work something out to match overseas $$$. I hope they work with him wisely, and I (optimistically) hope they base these funds on a centralised domestic/trans-tasman comp!

    • ForceFan

      Twice now Andrew Forrest’s offer of substantial $$s for the EARU has been rejected. I doubt if it will be offered again. AF’s aim has always been to maintain a professional rugby team in Perth.
      He is now free to continue to build the game of rugby in WA and the near region/timezone.
      Let’s see what the EARU can do with its very clear Eastern States focus/bias.

  • Gottsy

    If there’s a team playing rugby wearing a shirt with that big Q on the chest, I’ll always be interested. But f**k it breaks my heart to see what sanzar and the ARU have reduced super rugby too. I’ll be wearing my reds jersey all season but it will be with a bitter taste in my mouth about the whole thing.
    For now I’ve got all my fingers and toes crossed that the wallabies can put in a big one in SA this weekend!

    • Adrian

      Think of it this way Gottsy.

      This years SR draw better than last…or at least understandable

      Qld still in it, …and I’m from NSW

      PS…Qld need maroon jumpers, possibly with numbers on front and back, …and a coach

      • Gottsy

        Yeah for sure. Sanzar just seem to be so out of touch, but hopefully all the Aussie teams go well. It’s going to be another long year though I think.

        And yeah, the maroon jerseys they wore in the middle of the year were ok but I like the traditional red ;)

  • Adrian

    Does anyone know:

    1. If Karmichael Hunt is playing NRC this weekend?

    2. When Wallaby squad to tour SA and Argentina will be named!

    • Ads

      Forwards
      Allan Alaalatoa, 16 Tests, Brumbies
      Rory Arnold, 15 Tests, Brumbies
      Adam Coleman, 15 Tests, Western Force
      Jack Dempsey, 3 Tests, NSW Waratahs
      Tetera Faulkner, 2 Tests, Melbourne Rebels
      Ned Hanigan, 7 Tests, NSW Waratahs
      Michael Hooper (c), 72 Tests, NSW Waratahs
      Sekope Kepu, 84 Tests, NSW Waratahs
      Sean McMahon, 19 Tests, Melbourne Rebels
      Stephen Moore, 122 Tests, Queensland Reds
      Tatafu Polota-Nau, 75 Tests, Western Force
      Tom Robertson, 13 Tests, NSW Waratahs
      Izack Rodda, 2 Tests, Queensland Reds
      Rob Simmons, 75 Tests, NSW Waratahs
      Scott Sio, 36 Tests, Brumbies
      Lopeti Timani, 9 Tests, Melbourne Rebels
      Lukhan Tui*, Queensland Reds
      Jordan Uelese, 2 Tests, Melbourne Rebels

      Backs
      Kurtley Beale, 64 Tests, NSW Waratahs
      Israel Folau, 59 Tests, NSW Waratahs
      Bernard Foley (vc), 49 Tests, NSW Waratahs
      Will Genia (vc), 82 Tests, Melbourne Rebels
      Reece Hodge, 17 Tests, Melbourne Rebels
      Samu Kerevi, 11 Tests, Queensland Reds
      Marika Koroibete, 1 Test, Melbourne Rebels
      Tevita Kuridrani, 51 Tests, Brumbies
      Billy Meakes*, Western Force
      Izaia Perese*, Queensland Reds
      Nick Phipps, 55 Tests, NSW Waratahs
      Joe Powell, 2 Tests, Brumbies
      Curtis Rona, 2 Tests, Western Force
      Henry Speight, 16 Tests, Brumbies

      • idiot savant

        Thanks Ads. Im surprised Korzcyk has been left at home. Not because Cheka mentioned him as a possibility when he most likely had no intention of playing him. Im used to that. I just thought if he was going to replace Hanigan, a loose forward who had played a lot at 7 would be more useful against the big packs of the Boks and the Pumas than say Tui who has no experience over the ball. Also Korzcyk would make more sense in case something happened to Hooper or McMahon. But I guess Dempsey will be used in that instance. I guess it also means Hanigan will play the full 80 which is probably the right thing at altitude. The locks are going to be in greater need of replacing. Unless he goes for a 6/2 bench, then he can replace everybody except for Hooper and McMahon.

        • Adrian

          I can see 6:2 bench.

          I hope Coleman is fit.

          I can see Hanigan being retained, despite what Cheika said, mainly because of altitude. Nonetheless, I’d still prefer Timani, who I thought would be dumped from the squad.

          I can also see Simmons on bench to replace Coleman, as even Coleman could run out of gas at altitude.

          Probably other 2 locks Arnold and Rodda

          All this, and Cheika’s utterings suggests Tui on bench as well to be used as a 6 late in the game

        • idiot savant

          That all makes sense. If its 6/2 and Phipps is a given who gets your last back jersey?

        • Hoss

          Kerevi

        • idiot savant

          Yeah I guess thats right. With Hodge, Beale, and Folau there shuffle room to cover any position. I was just wondering if Meakes was a smokey…

        • Adrian

          Meakes to provide “specialist” No 12 opposition in training. Plus he can play flat at 12 if Beale hurt. Others can’t,….at least not Cheika type 12

        • Adrian

          Yes, Kerevi for mine

        • idiot savant

          Actually on reflection, if the bench is Robertson, Moore, AA, Simmons, Rodda and Dempsey theres no room for Tui. Maybe he will get his chance in Mendoza.

        • Adrian

          I guess my version is yours, but Tui instead of Dempsey…..for what Cheika might do.

          My team would have Timani at 6, and Tui on a 6:2 bench….. what the hec..

      • Adrian

        Thanks Ads

    • Brisneyland Local

      1. Not this match, mostm likely the next.
      2. Next thursday is what i am tracking

    • Hoss

      Be an interesting game mate against the Boks. To be fair the Saffa’s weren’t as bad as the score suggested against the AB’s – the AB’s simply got every bounce, every bit of half-luck and that’s all it takes and before you knew it they were gone.

      I hear all the ‘brace for a backlash’ stuff and certainly there is a percentage of that and playing in the thin air is a factor, but the Wallabies are often better on the road then at home and i am quietly confident we will get the biscuits in this one and i dont reckon the Saffa’s have a great improvement in them – some, sure, but not seismic.

      Interesting to see what Chek does, i reckon Tui will get a starting run and Hanigan to come off the pine and it wouldn’t surprise to see Moore start (i wouldn’t start him, but….) if for no other reason than to give Taf a break with Uelese on the pine and then Taf start in Argentina with Uelese on the pine – sentiment will see Moore start in Brissie.

      Personally if we can win the next two I reckon we hit Bled III with confidence, rhythm, combinations and home turf advantage we might be a winner. That would give us 4 from 7 and 1 draw – i will take that

      • idiot savant

        I think we should win both matches away on the basis that our backs are a far superior attacking unit than either the Boks or the Pumas. The Boks backs haven’t fired a shot yet and I’m not sure Jantjies can unlock them. I think the challenge for us against the Boks will be the clean out. If we can stop them slowing us down we should do it easy. Im looking forward to the scrum battle as we were so much better against the Pumas.

        • Hoss

          With you 100% mate – the finishers are critical in Altitude, fatigue sets in pretty early. Also, Hodge will be critical – he should take every field kick, keep turning the Boks around 60-70m each time and long range penalties.

          Jantjies looks one dimensional and they dont have too many threats out wide. If we play smart – we win.

        • idiot savant

          Yeah you raise a good point. We have to kick a lot more at altitude. If we play the ball in hand style all the time that wouldn’t be smart.

        • Who?

          This is my chief reason why we are unlikely to win. Not that we haven’t got the players, but because we won’t be smart enough to kick enough. And too much of the kicking will be done by Foley. But if we try to play the way we have the rest of the championship, we’re going to get smashed in the last 20, because you can only replace half the team, and the entire team will be shot to pieces. I don’t care how fit you are, if you’re not regularly exposed to that altitude, it’s gonna get ya!

        • jamie

          They’ll probably stay Steyn at flyhalf again.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Evening Hos. I think the Wallabies need to sort out their loosies or they’ll really struggle in SA. The Boks are hurting like the Eallabies were after B1. The difference is that in B2 the AB’s switched off a bit. Not sure that’ll happen here. Should be a cracker. Good luck

        • Hoss

          Morning KRL – i hear you and with Louw back in the Boks side it will make the breakdowns even harder. I know it was only 20 minutes, but i was impressed with Dempsey last outing and Uelese was like the Pope – strong over the pill. I reckon Chek will throw 1-2 selection curve balls for this one. Hooper might be the only starting loosie from the last game, maybe Dempsey at 8 and Tui at 6 and Uelese at 2 ?

          I cant see him going ‘steady as she goes’ with this one.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          I friggen hope so. I must admit I get friggen frustrated when everyone sees things need to change but they don’t. It’s almost like he sees making the change as a weakness.

    • Bernie Chan

      Hunt left out of the touring squad to play NRC for Bris City this weekend. Korzcyk also left out. Bris City will have a cracking backline…

      • Adrian

        Thanks Bernie

        • Bernie Chan

          Be interesting to see where Hunt is played by Mick Heenan. Will he play in the #12 jersey or the #15? He has shown he can be a second playmaker at #12, and no one doubts his ability to defend that channel…but I think he is the best option available for the Wallas #15 jersey. Though Cheika obviously won’t countenance shifting Izzy from fullback….

        • Adrian

          I don’t know what Cheika will do, but fullback is not out of the question. The only thing is he’ll wear 14.
          Folau is already 60% winger and 40% fullback, but wears 15. Not a problem to me.
          In a Wallabies context, that might mean Hodge to the bench, but that’s ok, given the backline players we have.

        • Alister Smith

          Hodges kicking is critical as neither 15 nor 10 have a long accurate boot

        • Bernie Chan

          Hope you are right…Izzy is a great ball runner and peerless under the high ball, but I reckon a fullback who can kick and tackle like Hunt would be a positive addition…for one we would not be always stuck with the “run it back” strategy. And Izzy would be freed up to roam to wherever the ball may be….

  • Adrian

    Just think of the ARU being rank amateurs fiddling around in the world of professional sport.

    Poor decisions all round, and gross naivety in dealing with the business world and the fringes of it

    • Nipper68

      20+ years on and they still havent made the jump from amateurism to professionalism. Parochialism and self-serving interests have ensured that rugby in Australia is now about the 5th most popular sport. By the type Clyne is done, it will be overtaken by drone racing.

      Blow the whole thing up (or just wait two years until it implodes) and institute a draft, revenue sharing and real salary caps.

  • DK

    A month of super rugby before the brumbies 1st home game. Good to see the same mistakes made again and again, wouldn’t have it any other way.
    How can teams get a crowd or public support with this sort of momentum.

  • Khun Pugwash

    Pretty dark and gloomy for Super Rugby but at the same time I am excited to see some high quality rugby in Singapore.

    • Moz

      When are the Singapore games scheduled? I couldn’t find them.

      • Khun Pugwash

        Rebels and bulls are coming at least, cant remember the dates but they are in the schedule.

  • Perth girl

    So Tokyo and Singapore are now in Australia but Perth is not

  • Perth girl

    By the way if anyone is interested in the real tragedy of the ARU decision to cut the Force they should read the article by Pek Cowan on the site http://www.playersvoice.com.au/pek Heartbreaking!

    • McWarren

      Very insightful read. Thanks Perth Girl. I’d love hold Pulver, Clyne, Clark and Eagles eyelids open whilst I forced them to read this.

  • Patrick

    Just to point out in relation to the French bid, 150 million of today’s pounds is 120 million of 2015 pounds, if you are measuring in Euros :)

  • Alister Smith

    I am not a Foxtel subscriber so I haven’t had much of an opportunity to follow Super Rugby much. However this year i did watch a few of the derby matches. I had been toying with the idea of subscring but the quality of the games – particular Reds v Waratahs was so poor I decided against it (Waratahs supporter but lived in Qld so not through lack of interest. The best games I watched were a couple of NZ derbies – particularly I think it was crusaders vs. chiefs. So more local derbies probably won’t do ignorant for me. You don’t have to be a disenfranchised Force fan to feel a bit flat on Super Rugby. I thought jags and Japanese would bring something new but that hasn’t been the case. Some also think a comp based on Sydney and Brisbane is the way forward. I am not sure – I would support my brisbane club I guess but the traditional Sydney clubs don’t carry the following I think some believe they do. You can be a Souths supporter or an Eels fan and live in Western Qld but people don’t have the same feel for Randwick or Eastwood outside the metropolitan area of the immediate suburbs so you may as well build something new. I hold some hope that in a couple of years some sort of IPRC/NRC combination with some interaction with NZ teams and perhaps a Southern Hemisphere Heineken Cup (Steinlager Cup perhaps) Kyle come to fruition but maybe I’m just dreaming (with Twiggy)

Rugby
@Nick_Wasiliev

Die-hard Brumbies/Country Eagles fan now based in Sydney. Author, anthropologist, musician and second-rower trying to kick start a writing career in an increasingly bonkers world...

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