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Friday’s Rugby News

Friday’s Rugby News

Fridays Rugby News sees go time for Super Rugby, Sydney 7’s preview, Six Nations kick-off, and Dave Wessels reflection.


 

SUPER RUGBY IS SUPER

Crusaders' fans 2017

A new season of Super Rugby is upon us, and as is usually the case after a World Cup, there are more questions than there are answers.

The Crusaders are back to defend yet another title, but just how will they and the other Kiwi teams fare in the transition year? Will the Australian teams get closer to becoming more consistently competitive? Can South Africa capitalise on their World Cup success?

Round One won’t solve all these riddles but by the end of the weekend we should have some clues.

Importantly from an Australian perspective, the Tahs get the ultimate challenge in facing the reigning champs in Nelson (Saturday 5:05pm East Coast Elite Time). As discussed in yesterday’s news there are changes aplenty for NSW, and perhaps the sternest test off the bat.

Friday night sees the Brumbies and the Reds do battle in what shapes to be a sweltering Canberra evening. Steve Lenthall previews the game here

The Rebels travel off to Japan to take on the soon-to-be-no-more Sunwolves, (Saturday 2:45pm EDT), with a strong Rebels backline taking on cobbled together Sunwolves outfit.

Add in a NZ derby and it has the potential to be a great opening weekend.

Teamlists for the weekend here

Tips: Blues v Chiefs- Blues by 12, Brumbies v Reds- Reds by 6, Sharks v Bulls- Sharks by 9, Sunwolves v Rebels- Rebels by 27, Crusaders v Waratahs- Saders by 21, Stormers v Hurricanes- Stormers by 8, Jaguares v Lions- Jags by 13

SIZZLING SYDNEY SEVENS

Charlotte Caslick and Georgie Friedrichs

Charlotte Caslick and Georgie Friedrichs

With Western Sydney set to swelter with temperatures in the 40’s, the World Sevens Series makes it’s debut in the new Bankwest Stadium. After last weekends leg in Hamilton both Aussie sides have rung the changes with the Womens team in particular welcoming Charlotte Caslick and Shannon Parry back from injury ans suspension respectively. Faith Nathan also comes into the team for Sariah Paki

Coach John Manenti is thrilled to have them back, telling Rugby.com.au, “Charlotte runs our attack and ‘Shanno’ is our barometer of mongrel, if you like, She is the tough hombre up front, setting standards and getting physical and the girls love following her.”

Australia play their first game at 0958 EDT on Saturday against Spain, followed by Ireland (3:36pm) and France (9:35am Sunday).

On the Mens side, Tim Walsh has resisted the urge to name the returning Luke Morahan in the 12, instead naming him as the 13th player. Speedster Trae Williams comes in for Rod Davies and Morahan steps in for injured Ben O’Donnell in the squad.

Having one of the quickest players in the world is great but as Walsh explained they haven’t quite exploited it yet, saying they had to, “Work out a way we can put him in that space, and allow him to use his point of difference.”

The Men face Japan (11:19 EDT), then Scotland (4:46 EDT) and the final game against the USA (Sunday 1029 EDT) in the game which will probably determine who progresses to the semi finals in the new cut-throat format.

Overall, New Zealand will be looking to maintain their lead in both competitions as sides start to look ahead to the Olympics later in the year.

 

SIX NATIONS KICK OFF

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Slipping under the radar of most is the start of the Six Nations, which also commences this weekend. As with Super Rugby, there has been a large shakeup of players and coaches in the period after the World Cup. One coach who hasn’t gone anywhere is Eddie Jones, who after falling at the last hurdle, has defied expectations and remained in charge of the English.

Jones is concerned that the game has become too much for one referee to handle, saying “The possibility is that we are going to have to look at how many officials are on the field because we need the game to get quicker. The game is too slow at the moment.”

Despite losing a good chunk of his staff, England are short priced favourites to win the trophy, and will be looking to start strongly against the unpredictable French early Monday Australian time. Other games see Wales take on Italy and Ireland facing Scotland.

It will be fascinating to see how Ireland bounce back from the disappointing World Cup, with Andy Farrell slotting into Joe Schmidt’s shoes.

BBC Sport compiled a list of some the best young players to watch in the Six Nations,

Tips: Wales v Italy- Wales by 37, Ireland v Scotland- Ireland by 15, England v France- England by 11.

 

DAVE WESSELS OPENS UP

Brad Thorn and Dave Wessels  Reds v Rebels 2019

Melbourne Rebels coach Dave Wessels has opened up in a frank interview about the pressures of an elite coach, and has surprisingly mentioned that he even considered giving it away at the end of 2019.

Wessels has told Rugby.com.au how he struggled with the pressure he felt from the public and the glare of social media from armchair critics.

“I wasn’t enjoying myself at the end of last season and I really had a couple of moments where I wondered whether this was what I wanted to be doing,” he said. This came after the Wessels-led Rebels failed to make the finals after a strong start, and it appeared the weight of those expectations was starting to tell.

Once an active user of social media, (and podcast guest), Wessels has removed himself from the distractions of the interwebs and worked to setup more consistent processes across the Rebels structure.

Interestingly, Wessels described himself as “inexperienced”, saying this inexperience caused him to get too pressured to deliver a finals appearance, as opposed to sticking to a regular preparation. I find this quite an odd reflection, given his time at the Force and now Rebels. However the positive is that he has remained at the helm and in charge of team that has perhaps the most potent backline in the country, along with a rebuilding forward pack.

Looking ahead to this season, Rebels captain Dane Haylett-Petty is confident the playing group have bought in and this will help the team in times of adversity. “The biggest thing culturally we’re trying to invest quite heavily in relationships and just spending a lot more time together,” he said.

The Rebels kick off their Super Rugby campaign after some ordinary trial form against the Sunwolves in Fukuoka on Saturday, with a Wallaby studded backline that should be hard to stop.

 

  • Keith Butler

    Judging by their team sheet, it looks like the Sunwolves have had a clear out of their Japanese players in preparation for them being booted out of SR.

    • Braveheart81

      The Japanese Top League season has moved. Previously it was possible for players to play both Super Rugby and Top League. Now the two seasons are largely concurrent (2020 Top League regular season runs until mid May).

      • Keith Butler

        Thanks for the info. Explains everything.

  • wilful

    Super Rugby is the premium competition and I really look forward to seeing all the stars performing. That said, I’m completely over the format, have no interest whatsoever in the SA conference, and wish a new format would arrive soon! One that promotes the game in this country.

    • Damo

      You are right about interest in the SA conference. Even more so with such a big % of the RWC winning side now playing in either Europe or Japan.

  • KwAussie Rugby Lover

    Thanks Ben, pumped for later today. Interesting article on Wessels and fairly telling of the pressure these guys feel. I guess it’s part of the job and something they need to learn to deal with, just like the players.
    6N starting this weekend and the Sydney 7’s is going to make it all pretty intense. Good luck to everyone

    • Happyman

      Mate if you think about Wessels while this is his third year with the Rebels but he did have a few more with the Force so his message might be getting stale with some players.
      He might have to reinvent his message which is the hardest thing for a coach to do.

      • Missing Link

        just ask Cheika :)

      • KwAussie Rugby Lover

        Yeah and I think that shows his lack of experience. I red the article in the link and it’s quite insightful.

  • Happyman

    Good morning fellow GAGRS
    This is the weekend where hope defeats our intelligence. We look at our respective teams from last year and see how they could have made the finals if there was a couple of things that went our way.

    Reds to improve
    Brumbies to stay consistent.
    Rebels to regress.
    Tahs to be the whipping boys of the Australian conference and have unspeakable things done to them by some of the Kiwi and Saffa teams.

    This weekend the rubber meets the road. Good luck to all

    I see the Wallabies are after a new forwards coach. Personally I would go for Van Humphries he has done very well with the Force and they look organised.

  • Nutta

    I saw an interesting cultural thing last night in Brisbane whilst waiting at the airport for my flight headed back to Sydney.

    Will Genia caught the same flight as I did. Quiet, unobtrusive, everything neat & self-contained, no fan-fare or bullshite (not that there would be any reason to be…). Quietly lined up, waited his turn, a completely non-descript traveler like the rest of us except he signed a couple of autographs…

    Likewise for the same flight I watched about 6or8 absolute oversized meat-heads who were obviously footballers of some description make absolute arses of themselves being loud, crude, quite literally and blatantly pushing in front of people lined up in boarding queues, legs spread out with crotches wide open and carry-luggage spread – just the usual cliched tasteless shite from idiot people on a jam-packed flight. It was interesting because I was thinking “I wonder who they are or what club they are from?” Younger women shrunk from them almost instinctively. Airline staff attitudes were well-hidden but just obvious through the slight tightening of smiles and facial expressions. Everyone else just tolerated it because there was nothing else to do…

    I think I worked it out. I spotted the purple horse-head logo on 2 of them and there was a mini-bus chauffeur in Sydney with a very similar purple horses head logo sign they all just happened to walk towards when we exited the Arrivals gate…

    I was once told that cliches are cliches because they are true.

    • Yowie

      You mean the Rugby League Footy Show isn’t a brilliant parody executed by “in character” performers? They are actually like that?

      • Nutta

        It’s interesting because I don’t think they were being deliberately or belligerently nasty. They weren’t doing a Trump and “grabbing them on the pxxxx”. They were just completely unaware pigs behaving in completely unguarded fashion. So it’s obviously normal for them. And it contrasted spectacularly to the slightly older, more experienced professional. Maybe it was youth vs maturity. Maybe it was practiced & jaded self-aware traveler vs the more inexperienced & ignorant traveler. Maybe it was one guy on his own vs pack mentality. Or maybe it was game-culture vs game-culture. Of course there was an element of all those issues in there. But I reckon I knew which one held primacy.

        • Geoffro

          My young fella at 25 is only now starting to just get over the mug lair,look at me stage.He was the worse of all his mates.Usually grow out of it

        • Yowie

          Thinking back to times I’ve been in a group of school mates in a sports team or similar in a public space – we very well may have come across like a bunch of arrogant f-wits.

          That thing that blew up a few months ago about a video of some school kids singing the “i wish all the ladies…” song on a bus was a bit of a “but for the grace of God go I” type moment.

        • Nutta

          Absolutely. As kids we all made pricks of ourselves – me included. Thank God there were no mobile phones. And I am very sensitive to “our” own Mr Exemplary Beale. But the earth has moved significantly on this sort of issue in the last 2yrs. In the battle for audience these days that crap just won’t cut it anymore.

      • Geoffro

        Heheh,they are.So difficult for those guys not to offend the PC gone mad viewership nowadays.Sorta miss em

    • KwAussie Rugby Lover

      Yep stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason. I’ve always admired Genia and think his falling off the pace with the Wallabies was more to do with the coaching and game plan than anything else

    • Hoss

      ‘It is a cliche that most cliches are true, but then like most cliches, that cliche is untrue.’

      • Nutta

        ‘I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.’

        • Brisneyland Local

          Go Bilbo

    • Brisneyland Local

      I was always told that if you dont like the stereo type dont re-inforce it.

  • Missing Link

    Nothing to say other than an official Missing Link welcome to 2020. I have honestly been enjoying the cricket over summer, particularly watching us dismantle Pakistan and NZ, but yet again, we have arrived at that sweet spot of the year where the weather is amazing, the nights long and there is a feast of both cricket and rugby on the menu.

  • Dave P

    What is Eddie getting at? Game is too fast for one referee? So does he want an extra referee, more video ref or asst ref involvement? That’ll improve the viewer experience.

    • He’s said before he’d like 2 referees. It works in hockey, one takes each half and can advise in the other half.

      I think in rugby one on each side of the breakdown, scrum or whatever might work better but you’d have to see…

ACT Brumbies
@Ben_Marczyk

Passionate about rugby from the grass roots up. Usually found at Brisbane club rugby games, or being involved in the junior and schools system. Love a chat, happy to admit when I'm wrong. I will watch any game of rugby regardless of who is playing, from juniors through to tests

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