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Friday’s Rugby News

Friday’s Rugby News

Friday’s Rugby News sees Rugby Australia’s plan to fend off the poaching of talent, round four of the NRC Corner, the Uni 7s squads for round 3, and Kerevi re-signing with the Reds.


RA have a plan

Raelene Castle and Cameron Clyne

Raelene Castle and Cameron Clyne

Watch out guys! RA have a plan that is going to change the world.

As reported in The Australian, the governing body announced yesterday that they will be introducing new tiers to its Super Rugby Academies, bringing in boys as young as 15 in an attempt head off poaching from the likes of AFL, the A-League and the NRL.

This technique has often been used by the NRL to pinch talent from a young age, which begs the question, considering the concerns about the draining of talent, as to why Rugby Australia are only doing it now.

The level of tiers will begin at 15 and 16-year-olds, with a second stage for 17 and 18 year olds, and a third stage three for school-leavers in the 18 to 20+. These academies will be complimentary to the school and club programs the kids will already be involved in, and according to Ben Whitaker,  the general manager of high performance for Rugby Australia, the potential players they’ll be able to access will be considerable.

“We envisage these programs touching 2000-odd players at different levels,” Whittaker said.

“Some will have access to representative teams into championships, others will get more assistance around technical, tactical and physical development, other to holistic development and as you come through the system the attention in those areas is increased.”

Whittaker admitted that the planned program is attempting to address identified gaps in the current system.

“It’s never easy to land on a model that every single stakeholder is completely happy with, however, we have taken a consultative approach that acknowledges the needs and tremendous value that schools and clubs deliver.”

There will be more meetings today as to how the new system will interact with the Australian Schoolboys team.

What do we reckon GAGRs? Do we think this initative will work?

In the other big news, Australia’s chances of hosting the 2027 World Cup have taken a beating, with World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont suggesting yesterday that the World Cup could be held only in non-traditional rugby nations following France in 2023.

“World Rugby will have to have a philosophical debate going forward”, he said to Fox Sports. 

“It’s important that we are commercially successful but we do need to have that debate whether the next World Cup following France will go to an emerging country or an established country that actually needs a bit of help as well,” he added.

“Do you say to Argentina, do you say to Ireland, Canada, the USA, these are countries we’re going to because actually strategically, that is going to make the biggest difference in that area?”

If it was the case that the World Cup would go to an emerging nation, it would put a serious sting in the side of bids from Australia, South Africa and Ireland, while putting a lot of wind into the sales of the two emerging nation bids in Argentina and the USA.

NRC Corner

Jake Gordon completes his hattrick in style.

Jake Gordon completes his hattrick in style.

The NRC Corner is back again, as we hit the halfway point in the season. Feels weird that we’re already halfway.

Saturday starts with two matches that will be contendors for match of the round. First off, we head to Adelaide for the first ‘home game’ of the season for the Melbourne Rising, when they take on Brisbane City.

Both sides are coming off big wins (against NSW opposition) the round before, but the Rising are looking the more dangerous of the two. Since getting smacked in Fiji in round one, they nearly pulled off a big upset against QLD Country in Townsville, and absolutely mauled the NSW Country Eagles in Armidale. They look a very different side to the team that finished with the wooden spoon last year.

Brisbane City have had a spiratic season, with big losses to the Western Force and the Fijian Drua and a win against a pretty woeful Sydney Rays outfit. But even with that win, it is clear there are a lot of stuff still to be ironed out at Ballymore, judged by the fact they let the Rays score 28 points in that second half.

Honestly, the Rising are looking more dangerous so I’m predicting they’ll take this one home by 10 or more. Hope the SA rugby crowd get down to this one and show the governing body that it’s time for more support of rugby in the Festival State.

Next up, we head over to Bond University on the Gold Coast for what will be an interesting clash between QLD Country and the Western Force.

Country are currently the only undefeated team in the comp, and showed they’ve still got it when they brushed aside the Drua last week. The Force meanwhile have also looked dangerous, however their defeat to a very good Canberra Vikings side last weekend exposed a couple of chinks in their armour. They’ve shown this year, however, that they can bounce back quickly, so I reckon will be much improved from their loss in the nation’s capital.

Regardless, this is going to be an gem of a game, and one which will probably go a long way to deciding who will make the semi-finals. It’s a tough one to call, but I’m going with QLD Country to take it out by 7.

Sunday, however, sees two matches that I, as a NSW fan, will dread.

Fresh off their win in the NSW derby on Wednesday, the NSW Country Eagles will head to Armidale to host a dangerous Vikings outfit.

While it is good to have a win under their belt, the Eagles will be up against it this weekend. While they had a quartet of Wallabies return for their win over the Rays, Sekope Kepu, Ned Hanigan, Tolu Latu and Tom Robertson will all be on the plane to South Africa on Saturday. Add to that, their best performing player in Jake Gordon will be earning a call up too.

While I love seeing so many Eagles in the Wallaby squad, the loss of these personnel is going to make Sunday even more difficult, especially in a time when the NSW teams really need to notch up some wins.

The Vikings by comparison, have hit their stride well after their first round loss to Country, with wins over the Rays and the Force. Add to that they’ll have Wallaby Joe Powell coming back into the side (whom Gordon will take his place on tour), their squad will only look stronger.

As much as the Eagles have performed well on Wednesday, it’ll be a hard slog in Armidale. Canberra by 14.

And lastly, the match I dread most of all, being the Sydney Rays against the Fijian Drua at Concord Oval.

Let’s call a spade a spade: it’s dark times for the Rays at the moment. I said in their season preview that they had the toughest task of all the NRC teams this year, and it couldn’t be more true after their first three games.

The team has been outplayed in every game, the Sydney rugby community haven’t really embraced them, and this weekend, arguably their most experienced forward in Rob Simmons will most likely be on the plane to the Rainbow Nation. This weekend is their last chance for a shot at the finals, and they’ll have to play out of their skins to have any hope of being competitive against the Drua.

The Drua don’t have a good record on the road, but even if they had a shocker I reckon they’d still beat this Rays side.

Not much else to say. Drua good, Rays not so good. Get down to Concord if you want to watch some flying Fijians go mental. Drua by 30 or more.

Check out the NRC squads here.  Enjoy your footy this weekend, and remember, hugs not drugs.

Sevens Heaven

Stock Photo of AON Uni7s rugby ball

Stock Photo of AON Uni7s rugby ball

Round three of the AON Uni7s kicks off this weekend over at University of Queensland in Brisbane, which will see the top of the table up for grabs between three major teams.

Current Standings:

1. Macquarie Uni – 38
2. Uiversity of Queensland – 36
3. Griffith Uni- 34
4. University of Canberra – 24
5. Bond Uni – 20
6. Uni of Tasmania – 18
7. University of Sydney – 18
8. University of New England – 14
9. University of Adelaide – 14
10. University of Melbourne – 4

Currently, there are four teams that could technically take the lead, but realistically the competition has turned into a three way race.

Firstly, the Mac Uni Rays, unlike their male counterparts, have been in scintillating form, being the big improvers on last year. With a silver in Round One, they came back in Round two to become the first team other than UQ to win a round of the tournament.

Secondly, UQ are only just behind the Rays in second, and have been slightly off the pace compared to previous years. This weekend sees a good opportunity to restore the status quo at home, so they will be up for this one.

And lastly, the surprise package is Griffith University, who has leapfrogged Bond Uni to become a legitimate challenger for the silverware. Griffith have picked up a silver and bronze in the first two rounds, but this weekend they see a golden opportunity to grab top spot.

“For us it’s just about sticking it out until the end, as you saw from the first tournament it’s not enough to just kill it in those first round games and the semi-final,” Griffith coach Moana Virtue said to rugby.com.au. 

“We really have to put in right till the end.

“We came third in the first tournament, second in the second tournament so for us it’s exactly what we said at the start of the season, that this would all be about progression and we feel like we’re on the right path.”

The competition kicks off this Saturday at UQ. For check out all the squads for the teams here. 

This weekend also sees the inaugural Queensland Premier Rugby 7s, which will also be played at UQ.

With squads from all of Hospital Challenge Cup teams, there are high hopes the competition will do much to improve Aussie Mens Sevens playing stocks. This weekend will also see the Mens coach Tim Walsh watching on from the sidelines, which will spur on the players to do better.

“There are definitely boys who are untapped to Sevens who could transfer pretty quickly,” Easts coach Sione Fukofuka said to rugby.com.au. 

“I would like to think we have one or two in our group that have the physical attributes but just need to learn some more.

“I know speaking to (Reds high performance Sevens manager Lachlan Parkinson) that Walshy will have his eye on the competition as it puts our best group of players in that one space in the space of a day.

“In terms of talent ID that’s pretty unique and it’s pretty special to spend 12 hours watching the best talent in Queensland.”

You’ll be able to watch both the Aon Uni7s and the Queensland Premier Rugby 7s through streaming them on rugby.com.au.

Signings and Admissions

Samu Kerevi Credit: Brendan Hertel, QRU.

Big Bopper Samu Kerevi has re-signed with the Queensland Reds, in a contract that will see him stay at Ballymore until the end of 2019.

Despite reports he was linked with the Brumbies, Kerevi has chosen to stay in Queensland for another year, guaranteeing he will be involved in preparations for next years World Cup.

“I’m excited to stay in Queensland for one more year, my family was a big factor in staying,” Kerevi said to rugby.com.au. 

“The young boys coming through the club is what keeps me at the Reds.

“I see the potential – not long ago I was in their shoes so to have one more year with them will be special.”

Kerevi is the latest in a long list of players who will be coming back for the Reds, including Izack Rodda, JP Smith, Filipo Daugunu, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Aidan Toua and Alex Mafi.

Brad (Thorn) has been awesome in changing the culture and mentality of not just the team but also the organisation.

“In saying that, in any successful team there’s always room for improvement.”

In the meantime, Kerevi is looking to get back to playing again, and is scheduled to be in line to play to play next for the Wallabies in their third Bledisloe test against the All Blacks in Japan.

“First thing is first and that’s getting back to fitness and playing well for my club and hopefully being picked to represent Australia through the year and into the World Cup,” he said.

“Right now my goal is to hopefully make the back-end of the NRC, or even the Club 7’s Series but that all depends on how my rehab goes.”

In other Wallaby news, Ned Hanigan spoke to the media ahead of the Wallabies trip out to South Africa on Saturday, and admitted it’s been a long week in camp, particularly after Lukhan Tui incident. He also stepped in to defend Tui, saying that considering the emotional week prior to the match against the Pumas, his angry reaction towards the fan was “reasonable.”

“It’s probably something that’s in the back of my mind a little bit because it’s hit home,” he said to rugby.com.au. 

“I don’t think I’ve ever been in a shed that’s been so solemn.

“It’s hard to rock that feeling but the important thing is that we rock up on Saturday and we’ve got an opportunity.

“I know we say it a little bit but we’ve got an opportunity to go over there to Africa and Argentina on an away tour and stamp our foot on the Rugby Championship.”

Hanigan hopes that the team can show to fans that the players still very much ‘cherish’ the opportunity to play for the Wallabies.

“Our main thing at the moment is to display a performance on the field that they [the fans] can be proud of,” he said.

“We know if we play that way we’re going to get the results.

“We’ve got an identity piece that we hang up and we’ve probably gone away from that over the last couple of weeks and I think really going back to that and driving that home (is important) and it’s an opportunity in this away tour that it’s just us over there.

“The families that are getting up and supporting us at crazy hours of the morning when we’re playing, we want them to see on the TV screens at home what that Wallaby jersey stands for and we don’t want to be accused of not cherishing or anything ever again.”

  • Ian Rodger

    Good afternoon GAGR’s, it’s nice when this news pops up half way through the work day here in the Netherlands. Give’s me an excuse to do something else instead of work.

    Good to see that the RA are at least trying something to retain young kids! It’s a start but a lot more has to happen to get people back to rugby again. If the results keep going like they are kids will still go to league because they win and everybody wants to win. Might be a really simple way to look at it but i enjoyed my sport a lot more when i won then when i lost.

    Good to see that Kerevi is sticking around for the RWC next year. I’m just wondering if the short contract is because he want’s to move to a different super rugby team or if he is contemplating going abroad. I hope he sticks around because Kurandrani isn’t getting any younger and the 13 cupboard looks pretty bare besides those 2 and maybe Petaia.

    • Huw Tindall

      Ah good to see other European based GAGRs! Good to know it’s not just me and OSL avoiding work on rugby forums at this time of day.

    • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

      I had heard that he was considering a movie to the Brumbies after the RWC, but was keen to repay the faith the Reds had shown in him in developing him. I can’t imagine he would look to go overseas, at least not yet. Also, I think it is likely that his contract value will go up considerably after the RWC where I suspect guys like Beale will either head overseas, or their form will have declined a lot.

      • Ian Rodger

        I heard that rumor as well a while ago. That’s a fair call, a good world cup and he could get a lot more money for his next contract. Him playing at the brumbies would be interesting. You would have a fairly hard running midfield with kerevi and kurandrani, would be a pain to defend that i reckon.

        • Texas

          Great to see Kerevi stay in QLD, and agree an inside centre pairing might be a better option for him and a new strategy for the wallabies. The game is always evolving and where the ‘second play-maker’ worked in 2013 to 2016 it seems that strongest teams are winning with strong midfield, good offloading game, ability to turnover/counter and strike power in the back 3. Keep the first 50mins tight and stable, no intercepted passes. Improve our transition from attack to defence, simplify the attack so defence switches more easily. Why not have a 10. Toomua, 12. Kerevi, 13. Kuridrani/Hodge midfield with a focus on an offload /support and attack/defence switch in the first 50 mins. Move Beale to 11. or bench and focus on impact which he did so well in the Deans era and RWC15. In addition, the bench should be used as a weapon not a replacement, lead by Hooper, Beale and Tupou coming on as a strategy to lift intensity in the final stanza of the game. Point on my meanderings being, time to change the wallaby game plan and Kerevi could be central to that.

  • Nicholas Wasiliev

    Also, in a interesting point to add, the Waratahs, following criticism from folks the last few weeks, will be looking to make Super Rugby positions more attainable from the two NSW NRC teams.

    Interesting it comes so close after the Johnny Football article.

    Read more here;
    http://www.rugby.com.au/news/2018/09/20/nrc-nsw-teams-rapp

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      I’d like to think this was a positive move, but to be honest with the diabolical results this year and the ever present whinges about “grass roots” which translates to “give me more money to waste” I am over NSW a bit.
      The only way NRC will work is if it’s a genuine step between the club and Super rugby, none of this U20 shit being part of it, just the best players from Shute shield and those players in the Tahs that need development (although some could argue that’s all of them). I’d like to see Gibson as part of the selection team so he could have input of players he’d like to look at

  • Patrick

    Good news on at least one front!!

  • Who?

    The initiative around signing kids earlier isn’t a bad thing. But I’m very much yet to be convinced that it’ll have any impact whatsoever outside the existing schools and perhaps the major city clubs. In my (country) region, those who attend the elite schools are already covered (there’s a few grads in the Reds and Qld Country) and will be covered, but it won’t help in any way to engage the kids with clubs, even kids who have club histories. Because the schools – sooner or later – ban them (the ones that RA would consider signing) from playing club…
    The RWC hosting malarkey? How’s an emerging nation meant to guarantee the massive guaranteed returns that WR requires? Isn’t it somewhere around the 240M Euro mark now?! I mean, I’m in favour of improving Rugby’s profile in non-traditional markets, but that’s a huge financial risk for a smaller union. It’s a big enough risk for an established union – I wouldn’t be confident that RA could guarantee the money ahead of 2027.
    The news on Kerevi’s re-signing up here was reported as, “Kerevi’s given the Reds ONLY one more year.” As if, he’s signed, but there’s no guarantee he’s not moving after next year, after he’s seen the RWC.

    • Brumby Runner

      I would hope that Aus rugby will be emerging from the post Cheika era by 2017. We just might qualify under that description.

      It seems to me that the biggest issue with our players coming through to Super and test level is a real lack of a full complement of skills. It is to be hoped that the new Academy arrangements will address skills development as a crucial priority.

      Ned is going to stamp his foot on the RC. Sounds like an act of petulance. Maybe anticipating more losses on the road.

    • disqus_NMX

      I laughed at Kerevi’s “…in any successful team there’s always room for improvement.” Obviously the Reds aren’t measuring “successful” by results on the scoreboard or the ladder, but well done for staying on message, lol.

  • mikado

    Is Beaumont’s “emerging country” code for North America?

    • Geoffro

      That would be fine as they have the infrastructure to host a tournament that size.More of a worry if it goes to Georgia or Romania or such.

      • GeorgiaSatellite

        Georgian rugby is backed by the Eminence Gris, Bidzina Ivanishvili. He’s the former PM who saw off Saakashvili, but still very much pulls the reins of government. He’s a billionaire oligarch with a Dr. Evil-style lair perched just behind the statue of Mother Georgia in Tbilisi. There are plenty of things he’s ruined, but Georgian rugby and its facilities are not among them – he’s provided the cash responsible for the current healthy state of the game here. You can bet he would bankroll more of such facilities if needed.

        However, I reckon the smarter option for the IRB would be to have a shared tournament with another country. Let’s see… who’s nearby that has form with a successful world cup event…? (OK, so that rules Georgia out. Ain’t gonna happen until 2 sizeable chunks of Georgia are back in Georgia)

        Romania and Germany might work. Spain and Portugal.

        • Geoffro

          Aaah , now you’re talking.Spain and Portugal club med WC vacation.Better than being jammed up in the states or Dr Evil’s lair.

    • Gareth

      Spot on Mikado, Gosber signs the largest Rugby TV deal in history with the US and I bet there were hints that the world cup would follow at first opportunity. Ironic to think of the USA as developing.

      • Gareth

        I would prefer the the IRB consider saving the game in Australia with a world cup rather than growing the game elsewhere, but i fear we just don’t bring enough money to the table as opposed to a “developing nation” like the USA. Our only worth for many IRB board members is Australia contributing to the ranks of European and UK clubs. The reality is they just don’t care what happens to Australia.

        • Ed

          What would we do with the boost to the coffers that a RWC would provide? It would follow a Lions Tour in 2025, so a similar scenario to 2001/3.
          Where did our money go following once in a generation windfall. Hopefully RA have taken note of what the RFU have done with their RWC2015 bonus by investing in grassroots and community rugby, and not splurging on RL players.

        • Who?

          Wow – amazing to think we’re almost halfway through a Lions tour cycle…
          Really hope they still exist then. There’s no guarantee. The result in NZ last year, with the drawn series, was crucial for that – if it’d been a loss – let alone a whitewash – then the push from clubs to reduce and even remove it would’ve been immense. Because stats show that Lions players end up with serious injuries in the following year, unless they’re heavily managed (i.e. they are given sufficient rest time early in the following season, and managed through the rest of it. Look at SOB this year).

  • theduke

    I appreciate the longer term thinking from RA. That has been the key to success for so many other nations. We won’t see results for a few years, and it may not be obvious when it comes, but having kids see a future in rugby, and get the support at a critical time will underpin a sustainable level of quality.

  • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

    Australia could easily have regressed to a developing rugby nation by the time world rugby decides who hosts the 2027 tournament.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Hahaha gold

      • first time long time

        It’s not a comedy!

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          It’s either tears of laughter or tears of frustration mate

        • laurence king

          New Zealand rugby have long recognized that it is to their benefit that Australia has a strong national team.

        • Funk

          Hasn’t hurt them much in the last 16 years!!!

        • laurence king

          True, but in general we haven’t been total shite either.

        • Funk

          That’s not what i was shouting at the TV on Sat night!!

        • laurence king

          Yes, well. The other night I was in a warm bath, opened my veins an gave up the ghost by half-time

        • Will

          It might be to the kiwis…..

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Not really mate. There’s always the trolls but most of us despair as much as you all do on the state of rugby here

  • Patrick

    I think someone on this site with much more social media reach than me should make a change.org petition out of disqus_NMX’s comment yesterday:
    http://disq.us/p/1vvpn2i

    See if we can get 100k signatures at which point RA would surely have to acknowledge it at least??

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Thanks Nick,
    Great to hear Kerevi staying and let’s hope the year is successful enough for him to want to resign again. I wonder if the 1 year signing is also a ploy by RA to prevent repeats of QC, Hunt and Slipper where if they’re unwanted they get a few years being paid to play club rugby.
    Could be interesting seeing RWC going to a developing nation but really! How will it help rugby in the USA seeing their team knocked out in pool play? I think that has potential for a lot of potential players looking at rugby saying “not playing for those losers” and going elsewhere. If the game is in a traditional area they can at least look forward to some international travel to an area where if they’re good they could get a contract in a club there.
    Watching the way Hanigan imposes himself in a game I’d suggest if he “stamps” on anything he’s likely to fall over and land on his arse.
    I like the initiative to look after younger players, I just hope it’s teaching them how to learn and improve basic skills not more structured bullshit that is proving not to work.

    • Geoffro

      Shorter contracts seem to be the norm these days in most businesses not just rugby I think.On non traditional WC venue,look how thats worked out for the boneheads at FIFA in going with Quatar which has turned into a giant pain in their arse for a number of reasons.Any initiative that will keep youngsters on the rugby field is great but a failing national side doesn’t help engender enthusiasm for the sport,c’mon boys set an example.

    • Ed

      Spot on KRL. Get the basic skills right then worry about the structured bollocks, not the other way around. If the players have the skills, then if there is a need to change/adjust a game plan (outrageous I know) the players could do it as the basics are there.

    • IIPA

      I’ll go on record and say by 2027 USA won’t be getting knocked out in the pool stages….

      • paul

        And I remember being told that the USA will be a rugby powerhouse by 2000 in the eighties.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          If the US ever do become a powerhouse/interested in rugby then the international sport will probably become pointless. They’ll never lose a match if more than 1% of their population gets interested in rugby.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        If they grow right and get the interest up I think they will potentially develop into a pretty good team. However I will say take the issues here with League and AFL and multiply it by 1000 and you get to the issues with other well paid professional sports in the USA that will attract most of the top level athletes. I think that rugby in the USA needs to attract a lot more money that it does now, or more than even Aus, NZ and UK do for it to be a competition for serious athletes as the money offered in other sports is just phenomenal

        • Damo

          It is kind of interesting KRL. There are 32 pro NFL teams who are allowed a roster of 53 players. So that’s 1600 or so well paid contact footballers in a population of 325 million. My understanding is that there is not much by way of feed in competitions that also pay players (There is a Canadian Football League which is a lot smaller). The over riding feeder is college football – and they are not supposed to be paid.
          So you have to think that if it is handled well in terms of admin, marketing, recruitment etc there could be a huge upside for professional rugby in the US. There is currently a 7 team major League and I understand $50k is a typical salary. So semi professional I guess.
          There have got to be a lot of very good athletes who don’t make it into American football pro ranks who would play rugby if the ducks were in a row.
          Others here may know more about the US scene.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          That may be true mate and I admit I’m not completely over it all. I do know that there are a lot of other sports where players do get paid that attract them at a young age so rugby has some serious competition.

          Love the “not supposed to be paid” line

        • IIPA

          There are things like XFL popping up, supposedly tapping in to the Trump supporters who don’t like players not standing for anthems and tackling laws aimed to reducing concussions. But there’s surprisingly little under the NFL.

          Also with college sport, most have graduated by 22-23. still plenty of time to learn rugby if they have the athleticism and experience with contact sport.

        • Parker

          There are a lot of other sports, but then there a hell of a lot of other people too. It’s a very big place with plenty to go around. A small percentage of that population quickly eclipses that of ANZ together.

        • Patrick

          They actually are not really paid, it is pure exploitation when you consider that the football programs basically fund the whole sports program.

        • Patrick

          That is exactly right. NFL players go through college, and there is the draft or nothing, realistically.

        • Parker

          Don’t underestimate the organization, financial stability and managerial expertise of college sports in the US, the area where rugby is picking up steam. It’s a fertile grass roots realm. From what little I’ve seen of college sports administration and even at high school level in some cases, it makes you think that RA stands for Rank Amateur.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          No I won’t. I agree the pathways are there. It’ll be nteresting to see how it develops over the next few years

    • juswal

      What’s your justification for sledging Hanigan yet again? When will you have done it enough?

      Last year your target was Beale, this year it’s Hanigan: every time he’s mentioned in a blog post or comment, you pile in. Obviously you dislike him, and you think GAGR needs an NZ fan’s perspective (it doesn’t), but why can’t you say it once and get over it?

      Here’s one example of how long this has been going on. Back in May, Hanigan was injured in a Waratahs-Crusaders match. Scott Barrett charged the side in a ruck with his arms tucked, hit Hanigan (who had hands on the ball low) low and caused a medial ligament injury. When it was reported that Hanigan would miss the first Test against Ireland, you told us that Barrett had given us a good deal.

      Questions for you, KRL:

      1. Why do you have to do this over and over? Why isn’t once enough?

      2. Why do you have to do it at all? Why is it important to share your kiwi negativity about Australia’s players and coach with Australian fans, on an Australian fan site? It’s not something that Australian fans would ever want to do.

      • Huw Tindall

        Must have a memory like an elephant to remember those details Juswal!! ;)

        For what it’s worth I think Hanigan is another case of ‘brought on too soon’. He has shown improving skills though with better body height in contact and around the ruck this year. Along with his excellent lineout skills and big motor he could still well be a fixture of the future!

        • Nutta

          I agree the lad has potential as long as the kid still has a body fit for purpose and not smashed apart too soon.

        • Missing Link

          Hanigan had a blinder of an NRC 2 years ago if I remember correctly. He has the potential but he went straight from NRC to the Wallabies pretty much. I feel he would have benefited from an extra year or two learning the ropes at Super level, having access to pro dieticians and S&C coaching too.

      • Happyman

        Juswal Maate you need to take a ben and a lie down KRL has always been pretty balanced. He obviously lives in Aus and apart from his love of the Darkness has always supported the Wallabies apart from that. With Hanigan I am like most people who are going to say the jury is out. He obviously needs to put on a bit of man muscle so saying he is weak in contact is fair. He is too young IMHO and I will reserve judgement on him until he has developed into the player he can be.

        One of the things I like about this thread is that other opinions are welcome as long as you don’t troll.

        The Barrett clean out was a dog act but you kind of expect that from Cantabury players. Attacking Knees is a way to end careers ad it does go to show how the Kiwi players go when under pressure, the trick is being good enough to exert that kind of pressure. I was surprised that it was not looked at further but I think the Moody elbow got all the press from that game.

      • IIPA

        Generally Hanigan-hate seems to be a side effect of the more common syndrome, Cheikarrhea – where the current Wallabies coach gives you the constant shits.

        Or from another perspective in the same way many people’s main criticsm of Hooper was his hair flicking I feel people think Hanigan simply doesn’t look the part.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Hanigan is criticised for lacking strength in contact, being a poor breakdown exponent and lacking speed for a loosie.

          A blindside flanker should not be getting ragdolled in the tackle or the breakdown, it is his job to be dominating physically and at the breakdown and in the tackle, to carry effectively in tight and be fast across the field.

          Hanigan ticks none of the boxes aside from being a line out exponent. The reason he is criticised is he because he is nowhere near good enough for international rugby, and would not even start for the Waratahs (at least as a loosie) were everyone including Dempsey fit. I don’t think he would start in the back-row of any of the Australian Super Rugby sides.

          To argue that he is criticised for ‘not looking the part’ is the reason that Wallaby fans squabble over every selection. We have to learn to be honest about our players, rather than letting our state rivalries dictate our decisions.

        • IIPA

          But can you categorically mount an argument that any of Cottrell, Korcyk, Hardwick, Cusack, Scott Young, Tui etc have shown more form at super level ? I’m not sure you can. And I love some of these guys. Some of these guys don’t get regularly selected by their State coaches. What does that say?

          Mentioning Dempsey is irrelevant, the poor guy has played 50minutes of footy in 12mths.

          My point is people like you are upset Cheika selected Hanigan and keep selecting him and then get super-charged every time he misses a cleanout because you feel you’ve been validated.

          Personal opinion: Matt Phillip is the guy we should have playing the hybrid second rower / 6 role.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          For Cottrell and Tui (at lock) yes you can, while Cusack has also performed better at super level in my view.

          Last year he was being compared to Timani and Higgers (who had shown far more) and this year with Cottrell, Timu, Cusack and Higgers.

          I do somewhat feel vindicated. But it gives me no pleasure at all as a Wallaby fan, and I feel terrible for Ned too, who seems a top bloke but is having his reputation ruined

        • Who?

          Completely agree with your last line. Ned gives, when not being asked inane questions where he’s required to provide press officer managed answers, an impression that he’s a top bloke, honest, fresh, decent sense of humour, even a bit knockabout and humble. I think Foley is similar. Simmons is similar (has been for years, but he’s the least sanguine of the three). They’re actually great guys who give their best. But they’re harangued for perceived failings (and we all debate the extent of the failings – I’ve a long position of believing Simmons has positives that many don’t appreciate, not as much for the other two, though I see improvement in Hanigan’s game this year), which is exacerbated by the fact that they keep on being selected when some people (again, varying numbers of people for each player) believe there’s better options. And that’s a bit rough for those guys personally.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Mate I don’t think its an anti Cheika thing. As I’ve mentioned a lot, I feel sorry for Hanigan and I certainly don’t blame him for agreeing to play. Hell, regardless of my old age, stuffed knees and crooked back I’d play in an instance if asked – and I’d be shit.

          But he’s just not good enough. Yeah he’s improved a bit this year but he still gets knocked on his arse in attack and defence and is generally pretty ineffective apart from being able to catch a ball.in a lineout. Not his fault but when you put on that jersey you’re meant to offer more than he does.

        • Who?

          Hanigan and Hooper are setting the standard for Tahs backrowers – you’ve got to have flowing blonde locks! :-P
          Cheikarrhea – truly, that is genius. :-D

        • Brumby Runner

          True, Hanigan and Joe Powell just simply don’t look the part, and that is the basis for some, maybe a lot, of criticism levelled at them, I believe. In Hanigan’s case, though, he has been tried at Wallaby level and is lacking in impact, not in workload. That is a deficiency at test level. In Powell’s case, he hasn’t been given a real chance at test match level despite being in the Wallaby squad for 18 months. How’s that for great player development by out esteemed coaches?

          In this day and age, it is probably sad to say but I feel sure both would get better press if they changes their hair styles.

    • RugbyM

      not sure it helped well and truly developed nation England being knocked out of the pool… in their own world cup

  • Nutta

    In terms of the Baby Academy approach, if it’s a way to identify, retain and further develop talent then that is great. I think a great opportunity here would be to concentrate particularly on development of Tight5 skill-sets prior to over-exposure of young bones to hard heads and particularly for targeting non-traditional/wealthy areas/groups to spread the appeal. If it’s a way for yet another Knox old boy to get his over-fed 14yr old into expensive child care then don’t you dare spend my subs contribution dollars on that classist shit.

    However I really do feel that without reintroducing some parochialism into the atmosphere of the domestic game we will only see a continuing isolation of top-tier away from heartland rugby public – and eventually with it any competitive commercial viability. So any idea about using Kiddies Camps to shoehorn Stirling McDouble-Barrels into Provincial contracts without coming through NRC would be generally counter-productive.

    In the Republic of Nutta I think NRC is a gift from the Gods above. NRC should be the top of the realistic representative tree for pathways/developmental rugby and the doorway to Super and National stratosphere. Club/Regional/background simply must lead to NRC at a geographical level (with some sensible allowances to keep it balanced). North & South Bris plus QLD Country. North, South, West Sydney plus NSW Country. ACT, Vic & Forcies make a 10 team comp playing after the mid-year Tests and over by mid-October. This is where you stake a claim to be a pro and move into Super/National. Keep NRC as a proper representative pathway with designated Clubs to be presumptive-affiliated but cross-support the regional outfits by giving the non-City based teams rights to poach on background. This means “My Local Team is…”. This brings engagement. This brings connection. This brings FKN INTERESTED CONSUMERS. I’ll support that. Then let the high and mighty Steven Hoiles and Matt Burkes bugger off and disappear up each others arses in the stratospheres above we mere mortals who never played at that level.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Mate I agree 100%. The NRC needs to be the link between the clubs and super rugby like the Currie Cup and Mitre 10 competitions. It is currently not doing that at all and so needs a major change to get there. I think it needs to be a RA sponsored competition and take the state influence away completely. One of the problems I see in Australia rugby is the state influence going through the game everywhere and causing things to go backwards more than forwards.

    • Habitual Offender

      A true National Competition…
      Next thing youll be spruiking the benefits of fairness or FTA…
      Where is your pride in the cardigan?

      • Nutta

        I prefer the overly snug cashmere sweater in salmon or pastel blue.

      • laurence king

        The impression I get is that some sections of Rugby in Sydney would rather be big fish in a small and diminishing pond than losing some of their status in a bigger pond.

        • Habitual Offender

          Makes me wonder sometimes LK.

          I know its all easy to have an opinion, whereas in real life it can be much harder.
          I also feel its hard to explain too much away as just ignorance and stupidity.
          You could be right.

        • laurence king

          Mate, I’m a NSW country boy, lived in the state 60 years and probably spent a couple of weeks in Sydney, and that was just passing through. One traffic light is too much for me. So, it’s just an impression from outside looking in. Cheers

        • Habitual Offender

          Makes 2 country boys then. (WA tho)

          Impression seems accurate to me.
          Whats a traffic light?

        • laurence king

          Something you see from two hours away on a straight road lol.
          I live in the bush in Tassie now. Now it’s the Aurora Australis

        • Nutta

          In my opinion your opinion is the correct opinion. That said I don’t think our Shute Shield and SRU friends do it on purpose, but rather they are so busy defending/promoting their own patch that they are somewhere between unaware and willfully ignorant of the knock-on impact they have as Big Brother.

        • laurence king

          I guess there’s a subtle difference between tribalism and community and you need both

        • LBJ

          That’s just a weird interpretation of of the situation.

          The NRC has been in place for 5 (?) years (plus the ARC before it), and it is getting worse and worse (for Sydney). Note today’s SMH article basically begging people to care about the NRC – it didn’t say how few were at the game, but it sounded pretty dire.

          The truth is that in Sydney, the Shute Shield works – its got a passionate following, nurtures the community and delivers results in terms of producing players and reflecting the community values we’re looking for. And it does this while paying the ARU to promote competitions like the NRC which are actively designed to damage it.

          Example: The SS final should be being played this weekend in front of 20k+ deeply connected community members, with 100k+ more watching on tv. Instead, the SS season has been cut short and in Australia’s biggest market there is no rugby being watched, and every member of the rugby community is instead connecting with AFL and/ or NRL or is just doing something else.

          That’s not something you can argue with, its just a presentation of facts. The NRC simply doesn’t work in the biggest market in Australia. Sydney rugby community is sick of being kicked in the teeth and is getting angrier and angrier at the ARU and forces that are trying to destroy our community – to give you a feel for it, I’d liken it to the emotions i observed coming out of the Force last year.

          Its easy to just say “the’re wankers”, “Elite”, “head is just so far up their…blah blah blah” – but if you are actually interested in growing rugby, its best to work collaboratively, not dictatorially – and in Sydney the SS is the third tier, we’re simply not interested in being told we have to be relegated to a lower grade.

          That means nurturing the things that work locally. The current trajectory simply leads to a continual downward spiral for the game.

        • Habitual Offender

          Some good points LBJ, but a tad Sydneycentric.
          Australian Rugby has been on a downward spiral, makes sense to me at least that would mean interest in NRC is too.
          That doesnt make it the fault of the NRC.

        • LBJ

          I guess my main observation is that Sydney doesn’t want SS to be relegated to a fourth tier. We see the national competition as being Super Rugby. In fact if i think about it – that’s what NRC is (outside of Syd and Bris) – Perth, Melb, ACT are simply Super teams minus wallabies aren’t they?

          To be successful, any national competition will have to work within that reality.

        • Habitual Offender

          Not actually disagreeing with you LBJ.
          To me the national comp being SR is the issue, Id prefer NRC and no SR, but i digress..
          I have no more interest in the SS than you do in the WA finals, thats not stating their not important to Sydney.

        • LBJ

          Mate, that is a solution that we would all get behind – either losing SR and focussing on NRC, or somehow combining the two from the same teams (eg Aussie SR teams are the finalists from the previous year’s NRC).
          Issues would be the financial modelling and…what do you do with the Waratahs and Reds – are you really brave enough to change such valuable brands? Beware Vanilla Coke…

        • Habitual Offender

          Yup, lots of issues with change.
          Vanilla Coke can leave the bourbon drinker unsatisfied…

        • laurence king

          My question, is what’s wrong with it being a fourth tier, if it doesn’t lose any of it’s strength?. There are also other rugby areas such as NSW and Queensland country and many of those players would like to advance without having to go to the big smoke. Reality is what you make it and it should be for the good of all.

        • LBJ

          Rather than me give a parochial, personal answer to that question – let’s ask ourselves why the Western Force objected so strongly to being relegated from super rugby to NRC? And was that justified?

          I’d also make a point to recognise that there is tremendous and untapped affection for rugby in Australia (and SYDNEY) – And there is a matching amount of generous capital that will be applied if the model is right – but not until there is a model that captures our hearts and imagination. The current model is cold and commercial. Twiggy acted on those instincts, and he and the Force community are to be congratulated for that. It’s for the rest of us to alive up to that standard – which I would suggest is all about community.

        • Habitual Offender

          The Force actually werent delegated to anything, they were just removed.
          They are in the NRC because they refused to go away, and have replaced the Perth Spirit.

        • laurence king

          I’d agree with that

        • Custard Taht

          Because right now Super is the premier domestic competition. If the NRC was the premier domestic competition, like the NRL, they would not have objected. Basically, they objected because the money is curently in super.

          Ask yourself this question, why do the other 3 major codes have a national competition as their premier product and Rugby doesn’t? And why rugby is the only code struggling, could it be related.

        • laurence king

          Mate, not being there, I don’t know how to interpret the situation. Just an impression. I learnt to love rugby by watching Sydney Union on the ABC when I was a child, didn’t know what it was as only league was played where I grew up. But it is an Impression that others outside of Sydney feel has some validity. The fact is, Rugby Union in Australia needs the NRC and it needs a strong and vibrant Shute Shield as well, imo. cheers

        • Custard Taht

          I look it at this way. The NRL is the national comp, yet the local state/city competitions are still going quite strong. There is no reason that the NRC can’t be the flagship national competition and not detract from Shute Shield and Qld Premier rugby.
          With some co-operation and forward thinking, SS and QPR would be the feeders for the NRC which then feed Super and the Wallabies.

          The long term viability of Rugby depends on a strong NRC and increased FTA access.

        • Who?

          LBJ, we had a long chat about this the other day. I said I don’t believe that the NRC is the cause of Shute Shield’s decline in quality, and that the increase in attendance whilst NRC exists shows that NRC isn’t responsible for problems in the NRC. You said that it’s clear that the decline in quality is caused by the NRC (relegating SS to its correct position – being a city-based competition – as a fourth tier competition, below national (NRC), international club/provincial (SR) and International (Tests)), and that NRC is unnecessary.
          Have you read Johnny Rugby’s two articles this week on The Roar? They directly address the causes of the decline in quality of Shute Shield, and significant issues with the NRC. The articles are written by a player who’s played 4 seasons of NRC and is an established Shute Shield player (A Grade, by the way he’s talking). I learned a bit from it, and I’m guessing that his inside perspective might be useful for you, too. I think he’s in a better position to see things than either of us, and his articles should be read by everyone interested in Aussie Rugby.

        • LBJ

          I’ll have a look at those articles, but players aren’t always the very best viewpoint on these matters because they are inherently conflicted. In the same way professional coaches and journalists are of course in favour of the NRC – they get paid – and they get to choose talent from only the best of the best, while journalists get content dishes up to them on a silver platter – just the way they like it.

          My point is that it harms the rugby community by diminishing the relevance of its flagship product.

          To be clear about one thing though – to credit NRC or ARU with the revival of SHute Shield is no less insulting than crediting them with the success of the World Series rugby – it’s really not on…

        • Who?

          His points are better than you could expect. They’re very well considered.
          That said, you really need to reconsider your view of what “the Rugby’s community’s flagship product” might be. How is a competition that is irrelevant to over 50% of the Rugby population of the nation the flagship product? It’s YOUR local community’s flagship product. You think it diminishes the value of your local competition, it doesn’t. It’s still the premier local (i.e. intra-city) club comp in the country. The reason why people think that some Sydneysiders only care about themselves is this attitude, that anything other than their own existing competition is an attempt to diminish it, that nothing else can exist, nothing else matters.
          I didn’t ever credit the NRC – let alone RA (the ARU no longer exists, it’s RA) – with the increase in attendance the Shute Shield is experiencing. Neither did I blame them for the reduction in game standards. Johnny Rugby (whoever he might be) has a much better understanding of the cause of the decline. Things those of our not in the system don’t see. And hey – it gives us yet another opportunity to blame RA! So go read the articles before commenting any further – I think you’ll find them enlightening, and maybe things will be a little less fractious. :-)

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Mate agree that the SS works in Sydney club land. It is absolute good there and I don’t think it should be diminished at all. I just think the NRC needs to be the next level up between this and Super rugby as the gap is currently too big.
          I agree 100% it needs to change to meet both needs

        • LBJ

          my strong view is that those two things are mutually exclusive.
          There are only ever going to be three levels of rugby that are well supported (there are no examples of four in any code in any country- why would struggling Aussie rugby be the exception?) If we assume that the Wallabies are one, and that we need clubs to nurture players from juniors to seniors, then we can either have NRC or Super Rugby – not both.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Not true mate. In NZ we have club rugby, Mitre 10, Super rugby the All Blacks. I’d suggest the top levels of our club rugby is as good and better than Shute Shield so they’d be on par. Both of those levels are too far away from Super Rugby and it’s the Mitre10 competition that bridges that gap. I th8nk the NRC could do that here but it’d have to change a lot first.

        • disqus_NMX

          LBJ, you really come across as sounding like the SS is the pinnacle of rugby for you, and what you’d really like is for the pesky Wallabies and Super Rugby and NRC to all just piss off and stop taking the limelight from your glorious SS.

          NRC is doing a great job of providing a next tier that gives a chance for some club players to prove they are good enough for Super Rugby. The NSW NRC teams aren’t going so well, and that appears to be due to the NSW power brokers doing their best to hamstring their teams.

          What the NRC could and should be for you, is there could be 3 or 4 NSW teams that each represent 3 or 4 SS clubs. So you could have the SS with it’s 20k+ fans at the finals, and then you get behind the NRC team that represents your and the other 2 or 3 clubs in the region close to it. It could be great. In no way does that water down the SS. Just like the Wallabies or Waratahs don’t water down the SS. It’s just tiers of representation, and you can get behind them all if you want to. Yes, the NRC is new, and there isn’t much emotional tribalism behind it yet. But there could be if the teams are done right, and with time.

        • LBJ

          I only just got this, so sorry for the late response, but I’ve go to reply because i think yours is an unhelpful, ‘political style’ contribution to an important discussion.

          At the risk of taking you too seriously – here’s my reaction to what you’ve done here:
          – you’ve just told me what everyone in Sydney should think: “what the NRC should be for you…” while knowing that i don’t think that, and neither does anyone else in Sydney. pretty insulting really.
          – Then you’ve gone for the old: “if you don’t agree with me, then you don’t care about the Wallabies etc.” – which equates to a ‘That’s Un-Australian’ type of contribution to debate. Not accurate or helpful.

          And while we (on the same team) are fighting each other – the real opposition, the AFL – is gleefully taking our community away from us with their straight-forward approach: Gillon McLachlan: “we grow the game simply by focusing on our Communities”

          Rugby is doing the opposite – trying to grow the game by focusing solely on the professionals (the RUPA commercial agreement dictates that 95% of proceeds goes to professionals) – and the NRC is simply an extension of that.

          I am trying to provide my personal (and totally unimportant) view on how to achieve a national competition that works. And my (reasonably well informed) position is that in Sydney, having two national competitions (Super and NRC) is extremely counterproductive – it cannibalises the Shute Shield which in turn starves the juniors and minis, and turns away parents and mates – which in turn helps no-one.

          An adjustment has to be made in Sydney, and if we don’t, Rugby will continue on this current death spiral into obscurity. And the current approach of being angry with customers for preferring a different product (any product – Shute, AFL, NRL) is frankly commercial suicide.

          Case in point – When Fiji came to Sydney last weekend, they had a crowd of about 2,000 (after loads of publicity and promotion and a great visiting team), that is smaller than an average Shute game – and yet someone here called it a bumper crowd and a success – likely because it was better than the circa 100 that came to the previous NRC game.
          What it should be compared to at a minimum, is Shute Shield (the final would normally have been played on the same weekend) – with 20k+ around the various grounds and 100K+ watching on TV (with zero promotion or marketing effort put in).

          A single, truly national competition would be terrific, but two national competitions is just plain stupid.

    • Brumby Runner

      Nutta I really think there has been a lot of time and effort put into teaching/coaching tight five skills in recent years. Just look at the quality of props who are currently going round in NRC and Super Rugby who are still babies in the conventional wisdom as far as props not reaching their peak until the 30s is concerned. AAT 24, Tom Robertson 24, Scott Sio 26, (all test props), myriad young PI props in the Reds and Rebels, Vui 21, HJH 21 (both with the Tahs), Les Makin 26 at the Brumbies, Harry Lloyd 23 at the Force. There are more and they are coming out of our ears, which of course is a bloody good thing.

      • Nutta

        It’s good but it’s also a bit pendulum. What we are seeing now is the result of 5-8yrs of regular humiliation up to about the 2011 RWC followed by a real change at more junior/development stages to finally stop picking fat backrowers at 1 & 3 just to get them into the team and now we see that flow through 5yrs later (loosely). All that said, it is hardly as though we have developed inter-generational appreciation as yet. Once we get to the other side of 10yrs without reversion to the regular humiliations of the mid noughties through early teens then I’ll smile a bit more.

        Our biggest single issue (IMO) is the size of the selection pool. To an extent, it begins with numbers followed by good selection and development. But you have to get the numbers first. The pool must be both broad and deep enough to catch decent fish. And to get the numbers we need three inter-related locks opened;
        1. Get into the significant population bases – western Sydney for 1
        2. Get the kids playing esp in those population bases
        3. Popular appeal (built off kids and population bases) gets advertisers and free-to-air tv.
        Then we are on an upward spiral. Until then we are just getting lucky and as much as I wished otherwise, hope has not ever been a battle plan.

  • Damo

    As long as the new academies have a subject “Mongrel 101″ and don’t have a subject “Player Privilege 101″.

    • Funk

      Pretty sure “Player Privilege 101″ is mandatory upon selection into the first 15 in school?

      • Nutta

        Nah. Player Privilege 101 is only enroll-able once Unconscious Bias 001 has been passed.

        Personally I would introduce a map and compass first. Geography is the key topic. Get them to identify where St Mary’s is. Then I would cancel the trip to tackle sheep at someones stud-farm but instead try playing some scratch-match park footy around Logan.

        Education is gold gents.

  • Mart

    I think the plan is a positive. Anything to stop the drain of schoolboys to league would be huge.
    Now we just gotta look at how to pull more over, younger.

  • Bernie Chan

    If rugby doesn’t alter the focus on private school programs then the initiative will mean nought….

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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