Friday's Rugby News - Green and Gold Rugby
Rugby

Friday’s Rugby News

Friday’s Rugby News

Friday’s Rugby News sees squads named, games to be played, the start of a new segment, confidence building for the Kiwis, and other news.


Squads Named…

Naiyaravoro scoring in the corner.

Naiyaravoro can’t stop after scoring.

The rugby kicks off again this weekend in what will be a reduced round, with three teams having a bye. Unfortunately for Aussie rugby fans, two of those teams are the Tahs and the Brumbies, which leaves the Reds and the Rebels as the teams that will do battle this weekend.

Starting in Melbourne on Friday night, the Rebels will be determined to get back to winning ways after getting blown off the park by the Waratahs last week. Fortunately for them, they’ll be coming up against their first team from another conference, the Shorkies. 

Bar one match when they put fifty past the Moon Dogs, the men from Durban have been far from impressive this year, and got their tour off to a pretty poor start with a loss to the Brums in Canberra.

Dave Wessels has made a lot of changes to the squad, with Jack Maddocks moving to fullback to replaced the injured Dayne Haylett-Petty, while Marika Koroibete, Billy Meakes and Sefa Naivalu coming into the starting lineup.

In the forwards, the Stockade will be benefited by the first time inclusion of British and Irish Lions lock Geoff Parling to partner with Adam Coleman, while flanker Colby Fainga’a will made his first start this year.

“Jack [Maddocks] deserves to retain his place in the team and we’re fortunate we’ve got the two Wallabies’ wingers there,” Wessels said.

“When Jack’s getting the ball, he’s creating problems.

“Strategically, he’s making some really good decisions and he’s incredibly fit, so it’s a good opportunity for him to have a run at fullback.”

Rebels Squad: Jack Maddocks, Sefa Naivalu, Reece Hodge, Billy Meakes, Marika Koroibete, Jack Debreczeni, Will Genia, Amanaki Mafi, Colby Fainga’a, Angus Cottrell, Adam Coleman (c), Geoff Parling, Jermaine Ainsley, Anaru Rangi, Tetera Faulkner. Reserves: Mahe Vailanu, Fereti Sa’aga, Sam Talakai, Matt Philip, Ross Haylett-Petty, Richard Hardwick, Michael Ruru, Tom English

Honestly, I reckon the Rebels are in to take this one home. They’ll be determined to make up for last week, and nothing that I’ve seen from the Sharks so far this year says to me they’ll be able to knock over the Rebels. But I’ve been proved wrong before (such as by the Tahs last week). Rebels by 10

And as for the Reds?

Well, cause they are playing in South Africa against the Stormers, their squad is still to be named. Regardless, when it does finally come out later tomorrow, I’ll drop it down in the comments section for people to look at and get annoyed about.

In the other Super Rugby games of the round, the Crusaders will host the Bulls in a match that should see the current champions get back to winning ways, while the other match in New Zealand should see a typically exciting match between the Hurricanes and the Highlanders. Personally,

I reckon the Highlanders will bring it home strong in your typical ‘match-of-the-round-performance-that-only-two-kiwi-teams-could-put-together-which-makes-you-wonder-why-the-teams-from-anywhere-else-look-so-terrible-in-comparison’ kind of way. They haven’t put a foot wrong so far, and I don’t see that happening here.

The other two matches will see the Chiefs slaughter the Moon Dogs in Tokyo, while the Jaguares will finally look to reach their potential by springing a surprise win of the Lions in Argentina. Nah, I reckon the Lions have got this one.

The other rugby from the weekend sees the Super W continue, with the NSW Women looking to continue their winning streak against the Brumbies Women at Pittwater Park on Saturday, while the Queensland Women will be playing at Ballymore for the first time, hosting the Rebels Women side.

In other news…

International Triple Header

There’s been a lot of other rugby news to finish off the week, and we will start in Tonga.

Tonga’s Government has found themselves in hot water for their decision to ban women from playing rugby and boxing.

The whole debacle started last week when a team of girls from Tonga High School were pulled from a touch rugby tournament because of their gender. In defending their decision, the government’s education department released a statement saying that the decision aimed to “preserve the dignity of Tongan women and hold on to Tongan cultural values.”

Immediately though, Tongan shot put champion Valerie Adams immediately called BS on the decision, taking to Facebook to voice her displeasure.

“According to this way of thinking, a proud Tongan like myself, could not attain the standing I have in this world,” she wrote.

“Tongan women must be free to choose their destiny, and not be held back.

“Rugby, like any sport, ought to be embraced by our Tongan women — we’re good at it — don’t take it away!”

Even New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern weighed in her two cents worth, and asked for the Tongan Education Department to reconsider their decision.

“As a school student I played touch rugby and I would encourage all the young women to engage in whatever sporting code they are interested in.

“A young woman will still be able to do that, I understand, through their villages, even if this dictate is made by these schools.”

However, I personally think the best message was made by the Tonga Leitis Association, which represents the nation’s transgender community, who slammed the decision as ‘disrespectful and discriminatory.’

“We kindly remind you that what lessens the dignity of women is telling them what they can and cannot do based on their biological sex,” they wrote in a letter to the Education Department.

The final other piece of rugby news comes from Ballymore, where it has been announced that Kane Douglas will officially be heading to France at the end of this season to play for Bordeaux. 

The move effectively scuttles his chances of making the World Cup squad for the Wallabies, but Douglas was keen to make the move when he spoke to rugby.com.au. 

“It’ll be great for me and the family to go and see some other parts of the world and experience life in a different country,” he said.

“I’m really pumped about this season and going as hard as I can and hoping the team can go as well as I can for my last year.

“It’s just a good bunch of guys, we’re having a good time and trying to play as good as we can.”

Phipps on Kiwis

Phipps-G&G-Wallabies-Barbarians-50913

The Aussie teams have been going well this year so far in Super Rugby, with a good record against overseas nations and the rise of the Rebels and Reds as the leading teams this year. They are actually looking like they could start to play some good footy.

But there’s one large elephant in the room: we haven’t played a single Kiwi team yet.

All of us remember the painful 0-26 record we had against the Kiwis last year, and for many of us, the measurement of how we are REALLY going will come when we play our first Kiwi opposition, which will be the Rebels hosting the Hurricanes next round.

Even one win would be an improvement. At least when you don’t win at all, there’s no where else to go but up.

And according to Nick Phipps, having some time away from the Kiwi sides this early on in the competition see the Aussie sides grab a lot of much-needed confidence.

“It’s a good thing,” Phipps said to Fox Sports.

“The Kiwi teams, they’re great from game one whereas the Australian teams have probably been guilty of having to work into it.

“So I feel like being able to play them a little bit later, a few weeks delayed, gives the Australian teams a good chance to really nut down a few things.

“A lot of the Australian teams have got most of their travel out of the way as well so far, so that’s a great thing towards the back end of the season.

“It’s just great to be able to build those combinations and those relationships in our teams at the moment, knowing full well that when we play New Zealand, they’re going to be at the top of their game every time, so it’s a good chance to really sort things out.

“And I’m really looking forward to playing some of the New Zealand teams this year.

“No doubt they’re the premier teams in the competition and it’s going to be a great to test ourselves against them.

“The Aussie teams are sitting right at the top of the conferences at the moment and it’d be great to see one, two or three of them right up there towards the middle of the year so we can assess where we are.”

I just hope we’re improving. And god forbid, I don’t want the Moon Dogs to win our conference.

Club Corner

Naiyaravoro can't slow down after scoring in the corner.

Yep, he’s still going…

While Super Rugby has kicked off on a more positive note this year, there is one big thing that is missing in all of our lives: club rugby!

This is the start of a new Friday segment where I’ll go over all the upcoming matches and predictions from club rugby heartlands around the country.

This week sees the return of club rugby in one state, being Queensland.

The Queensland Premier Grade will launch with the following matches:

University of Queensland vs Easts
Brothers vs GPS
Sunnybank vs Norths
Bond University vs Wests

Souths will have the bye.

Obviously, once the rugby kicks off we’ll have a bit more to talk about, but I’m backing Souths for the title this year. It’s a pity they’ve got the bye this week.

For more information and projections on those games, click here. 

Outside of Queensland, club rugby will be returning pretty soon in all major states, with the Pinden Premier GradeJohn I Dent Cup and the Intrust Super Shute Shield all scheduled to kick off with round one on April 7.

That just leaves us the Dewar Shield in Victoria, which will kick off with round one on April 21. They’ll be having pre-season matches from April 7 onwards, so get down to your local club to see what your clubs have in store.

 

 

  • Kokonutcreme

    I disagree with Phipps claim that Kiwi teams are always great from game one. The last three years have shown that but that’s an exception because historically the Australian sides have been quicker starters by comparison.

    Kiwi teams have always staggered the introduction of their All Blacks to Super rugby whereas the Aussie and SA teams have been at full strength unless they’ve incurred injuries.

    Look back in seasons prior to 2015 and compare positions of Kiwi teams after the first quarter of the season to Aussie and SA front runners.

    • Tomthusiasm

      Agreed, I was at the Brumbies V ‘Canes round one match two years ago, the ‘Canes got obliterated. They also lost their first game this year. The Blues are also slow starters, they’re slow finishers too!

    • Ed

      Agree. I have listened to the podcast and was wondering how it was a good idea to delay playing the kiwi sides. After halfway through the SR season (round nine), two of the 16 trans-Tasman matches will have been played.
      Maybe it will work out for our sides, but how do we know about the speed and skills of our sides when they have not played the standard bearers in those areas of the past few years.

    • Hurricane’s fan here. Phipps is just wrong.

      But please keep him as Tahs & WB halfback :)

  • Andy

    Phipps should be hard pressed getting a game at the Tahs this year. Gordon is a much better option and the coach knows this. And the young fella that played on Saturday, although not perfect showed a lot of promise.

    • Chinese Dave

      Gibson agrees it seems. Possibly the only good thing he’s done this year. Gordon is so much better. Not sure why the dumped Matt Lucas, he’s a real giant killer.

      • Who?

        Too good a pass. :-P
        The Tahs don’t seem to believe in halfbacks who can pass anymore – not since Whitaker. Since then, they’ve relied primarily on Burgess and Phipps – two blokes with suspect passes. And Gordon’s biggest USP is his running game, not his pass…
        :-

        • Andy

          Phipps has regressed massively. During the 2014 season his quick and accurate service, along with his defence was his real asset and suited the team game plan perfectly. He never needed to kick or run from the base. Just get the ball quickly to his first receiver whether that be Foley/Beale or Hooper/Potgeiter to smash it up.

          But he lost this ability the season after and hasn’t been able to regain it since. In the same time he hasn’t improved any of the other core skills required from an international class halfback.

  • Who?

    Another day, another example of Cheika’s selection brilliance…

    So, we let Mike Ala’alatoa stay in Christchurch with nary a call between Cheik and Mike. The best prospect at TH for the Kiwis, brother of a Wallaby THP, and we let him stay there. Really intelligent… I know we’ve got Kepu (for now), Allan, and Taniela’s on the way, but you can’t have too many quality THP’s, and there’s room for him here.

    Meanwhile, we see the second going of Kane Douglas. Douglas, long feted for his brilliant 2014 season in Blue (I don’t recall him doing much in Gold that year), dragged back from Ireland at significant expense, forced into the Reds where he hardly played a game through his first two seasons (sure, knee reco into 2016, but he was useless in 2017), in 2018 he’s still way down the pecking order (I’d argue that he’s about 10th in the national pecking order – behind four locks from the Brums (Carter, Enever, Arnold x 2), two at the Rebels (Coleman and Philip), Simmons at the Tahs, and Rodda and Tui at the Reds), unlikely to win a Test cap, and back off overseas. What a fantastic way to spend RA’s dwindling cash supplies…

    And Phipps… Has anyone ever heard the term “nut down” before? As in, “gives the Australian teams a good chance to really nut down a few things.” What’s “nut down”..? :-P

    • McWarren

      It’s a very common term, especially in classrooms around the country filled with boys aged 12 to 15. In the middle of English or Biology and a boy will yell ‘Nut Down’ when a testicle has dropped.

      So Nicks hoping his and other Tahs will have some balls when they face a Kiwi team.

      • HK Red

        That is Gold!

  • Chinese Dave

    Look Phipps is right. It’s a good job we’re not playing the Kiwis at the beginning of the season, as we’re not usually that sharp then. I think it would be great also not to play them at the end of the season, because we get a bit tired and lose sharpness. It would also do a world of good for our confidence to not play them in the middle of the season, as our early season enthusiasm flags a little after the initial burst of activity. Maybe Phipps is on to something!

    • From NooZealand

      Wise words, comforting words.

    • Alister Smith

      and if we never played them at all we could happily live with the delusion that we were one of the best teams in international rugby

  • andrewM

    No, one win would not be an improvement. All four remaining Australian Super teams have to beat at least one NZ Team to justify the ARU’s decision to cut the Force. Wasn’t that the ARU’s key reason (On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays anyway) to cut a team to improve the depth of all the others?

Rugby
@Nick_Wasiliev

Die-hard Brumbies/Country Eagles fan now based in Sydney. Author, anthropologist, musician, second rower. Still trying to make sense of the 21st century. About to drop a book...

More in Rugby