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Friday’s Rugby News

Friday’s Rugby News

Fridays Rugby News sees Round 2 of Super Rugby, Six Nations, the Rebels keen to atone and an Australian in New York


SUPER RUGBY ROUND TWO

Dan McKellar

After last weeks opening round of Super Rugby, a few things were clear, others solved, and some just confused us.

How on earth did the Rebels lose to a team that only fully assembled a week before their opener? Will the Blues ever break through and close a game? Will someone challenge the Crusaders this year?

This week sees the Reds continue their round the world odyssey, this time against a Lions outfit comprehensively smashed by the Jaguares last week. Brad Thorn has called time (for now) on Isaac Lucas as the starting 10, giving him a good one week to seal the spot. Everyone’s favourite reformed bad boy James O’Connor moves to 10, with Hamish Stewart slotting into 12. Lucas gets to spend 55 minutes on the bench watching. Game is 1205am Sunday AEDT. Sully takes a look at the Reds playmaking carousel in his preview here.

Friday night sees another Australian derby, with the Brumbies taking on the Rebels in a somewhat cooler Canberra. The Brumbies will be looking to get a march on the Australian conference early against a team they strangely haven’t beaten since 2017. This game is at 715AEDT after the earlier Sharks v Highlanders encounter. Steve Lenthall previews the Brums game here

The Waratahs will be looking to open their home (if you call being a travelling show home) when they play the Blues in Newcastle. The Blues may already be damaged mentally after throwing away the game last week against the Chiefs, and the Tahs will be looking to bounce back from a loss against the Crusaders.

Teamlists for the weekend here

Tips: Highlander v Sharkss- Highlanders by 19, Brumbies v Rebels- Brumbies by 13, Chiefs v Crusaders- Crusaders by 9, Waratahs v Blues- Tahs by 5, Lions v Reds- Reds by 7, Stormers v Bulls- Stormers by 8, Jaguares v Hurricanes- Jags by 17

SIX NATIONS WEEK TWO

Credit: Getty Images

Credit: Getty Images

Six Nations last weekend largely went to script, with one glaring exception. A young and inexperienced French team upset an England team tipped by many (yours truly included) to dominate.

After promising to be brutal last week and then losing, England are again talking up their mean streak as they prepare to play Scotland in the Calcutta Cup fixture. In one of those “you wouldn’t think so” stats, England have only won three of their last seven trips North, even though they have largely been overall the better side over that time.

Flanker Lewis Ludlam told the BBC, “We are emotionally there. We hate them and they hate us”. So expect pistols at ten paces then. Trying the brutality tactic two weeks in a row when it didn’t work the first time but I suppose Eddie Jones’ head is a place few of us would want to visit so let’s just leave it there,

In other games, Ireland will have to do better this week to put away Wales in Dublin, while France will be looking to send Italy packing.

Wales will have their first real test after disposing of Italy by 42-0 last week, as both teams continue to adapt to their new coaches and methods. Ireland were lucky to get away with the game against Scotland, and only some wasteful Scottish attack prevented the boilover.

Tips: Ireland v Wales- Wales by 12, England v Scotland- Scotland by 3, France v Italy- France by 35.

 

REBELS KEEN TO MAKE AMENDS

Marika Korobiete Waratahs v Rebels 2019 (Credit Keith McInnes)

The Melbourne Rebels went over to Japan as the second best backed Australian team, with a stacked backline and a genuine expectation that they would contend for a finals berth. Not to mention a general consensus that they would beat, if not wallop a Sunwolves team that looked average at best, and poor at worst.

They returned with their tails between their legs after a 36-27 loss and already questions are being asked about whether they really are as good as they look on paper.

Coach Dave Wessels was having none of it, writing the game off as something of a blip, telling Fox Sports, “We were very unhappy with our performance. We’re a good team who played badly, I don’t think we’re a bad team,” Wessels said.

“We didn’t defend well. We weren’t happy with our level of physicality – we’ve looked at that pretty hard this week.”

He’s dead right- a good defensive side wouldn’t leak 36 points, least of all against the Sunwolves.

In an effort to bring some more physicality to the side, Matt Gibbon and off season recruit Ruan Smith come into the front row, along with Michael Wells at 7. It does certainly add more starch to a pack that will be challenged by the very good Brumbies pack in Canberra on Friday.

The Rebels will look to continue their role as the bogey team of the Brumbies, winning four on the trot against them, and you can be sure that Wessels will be reminding them of this fact and getting the Sunwolves games out of their heads as soon as possible.

Will it be enough to exorcise the demons of last week?

AN AUSTRALIAN IN NEW YORK

mlr logo

 

There has been a bit of a quiet revolution happening over the last few years in the United States- a proper professional rugby competition known as Major League Rugby. Initially a haven for college grads and the brave few pursuing the game in a crowded market, it has gathered pace over the last few years to the point where it is appearing as a late career option for some very good players.

Not only that there are some increasing numbers of younger players who haven’t cracked Super Rugby or Japan/Europe make the trek, One such player is Sydneysider Harry Bennett, who unable to crack the Waratahs made the trek over and is playing in the bright lights of New York alongside French star Mathias Basteraud. Harry’s journey and that of MLR is profiled in this ESPN piece.

Add this to the news that grand old men Drew Mitchell and Adam Ashley-Cooper are heading over, along with a host of others and it is quite the interesting situation. Chris Latham is coaching in Utah and the list goes on.

I look at it almost like Japan 15-20 years ago, and if (and it’s a big if) the competition can survive more than another five years in the hyper-competitive US market, then it will more than likely attract more players, more revenue, and become a genuine part of the rugby landscape and a viable mid career alternative.

This can be a great thing for rugby but it also has it’s pitfalls. The last thing Australian rugby at the moment needs is another organisation making moves for players at the top of their games, and if there is longevity, this is precisely what may happen.

Se we may scoff about all the dinosaurs playing there now, but remember it wasn’t that long ago that we all said the same thing about Japanese rugby.

 

  • Mortahs Incoming – custardtaht

    The Brumbies v Rebels points towards the Rebels having their pants pulled down and spanked.

    However, I am tipping the Rebels to go against form and logic and cow tip the brumbies.

    Rebels by 7.

    • Keith Butler

      Nice thought but can’t see it happening. Ponies by a good few. Where is Luke Jones – injured?

      • Hoss

        Back soreness

        • Keith Butler

          And who can blame him.

        • Geoffro

          Am seeing the Rebs suffering a bit of back {passage} soreness as a collective before the season out

        • Reds Revival

          Shaggers back?

        • Hoss

          Yep. he was rooted by Cheika

        • Yowie

          Squeal like a pig!..ya-know-what-I-mean

        • Hoss

          Are you holding a banjo ?

        • Yowie

          It’s illegal for Queenslanders not to have a banjo on or about their person at all times.

        • Nutta
    • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

      McKellar’s Brumbies have lost to Wessels’ Rebels four out of four times. It would be an excellent time to reverse that trend.

      Because of the vagaries of the draw, if the Brumbies were to win tonight, we could be in a good conference position already, if the Tahs and Reds both lose.

      That’s one of the problems with the conference system, you find yourself cheering against the other Aussie teams at times. I’m glad it’s going after this year.

      • Yowie

        …That’s one of the problems with the conference system,you find yourself cheering against the other Aussie teams at times…

        Yeah, I have to expand my Waratahs policy to the Brumbies and Rebels occasionally.

  • KwAussie Rugby Lover

    Thanks Ben, I think the Rebels may struggle and I’m not sure all the changes will end up helping as I think at times these cause more issues than they solve. If these players are better, why weren’t they out there last week? I think players need time to settle and Wessels seems to not want to do that. It looks like a panic move to me rather than a solution.
    6N will be interesting with both England and Scotland having to make amends from games they could have won, well Scotland anyway, England did get smashed. I think the Wales vs Ireland could decide this tournament but then again if the French keep up their play maybe not.

    • Nutta

      I’m tipping Scotland.

      • KwAussie Rugby Lover

        I think they could do it too. Fuck I hope so

    • Geoffro

      Are France’s stocks looking up due to the recent successes of their junior teams ? Could bode well for our G&G as well

      • Huw Tindall

        Absolutely. Won 2 U20s in a row and chunk of those players are in the team now. We are 1-2 seasons behind them with our U20 squads. Expect them to find their feet this year with a few bolters then become established starters next year. Pressure on the older blokes!

      • KwAussie Rugby Lover

        Maybe. They’ve certainly brought in those guys and if they handle the pressure it could be a good move. Mate after the first week and last night I think it’s essential that the Wallabies do the same. Most of the old crowd are not playing well at all

  • John Tynan

    Thanks Ben, enjoyed the statement “..Eddie Jones’ head is a place few of us would want to visit…”

  • paul

    And not a single mention of broadcast deals :-) :-)

    • juswal

      A paradoxical observation, paul.

      Jeez, that topic brought out the worst in a few commenters during the week.

      • Gun

        It did didn’t it. Even a veiled threat in the Oz today that their coverage of rugby might suffer if a deal with Fox doesn’t work out. I’m running out of things to do if rugger goes down the shitter, I get rid of fux and I’m no longer inclined to read the Australian. Better buy a farm.

    • KwAussie Rugby Lover

      Bloody hell you started something there

  • Nutta

    “We hate them and they hate us” – An English player about the Scots.

    A long long time ago in a galaxy far far away I used to play in both Scotland and Ireland and I still have a good few mates there. And my observation is that when the English are playing the Scots it is like England playing the Irish (to an extent) in that behind the bravado, rum-courage and broken glass, they often lack serious belief they can beat the English at most things because of the Big3 (money, population and the history of 2,000 years of being squeezed by the Butchers Apron).

    But occasionally, almost prophetically, some bonehead from England will do something amazingly dumb/daft/inexplicable that gives them a reason to say “Fuk it. Let’s fight.” And just like that, what should have been a non-descript belting victory for the Filth turns into a bloody nightmare for them. Maybe the English still may win it, but it goes from high-probability & predictable to a bloodbath.

    Well stand up Lewis Ludlam. And my FB has already lit up with vitriol from Dunnet Head to the Mull of Galloway…

    • Yowie

      I heard some interview with a US Major League baseball pitcher. His philosophy was to not visibly react at all regardless of whether it was a good or a bad pitch, whether he got the batsman (?) out or the batsman hit a home run or any other result.

      The theory being that you don’t want to give any fuel to the opposition – eg if you gloat like an F-wit after getting the batsman out he will have some fire in his belly to teach you a lesson next time.

      Meanwhile in English Rugby…

      • Geoffro

        batter

        • Andrew Luscombe

          On your fish?

        • Nutta

          Don’t even mention Saveloys

        • Geoffro

          Is that a batted sav yer speak ov mate

        • Nutta

          See now someone is going to bring up sucking on said battered sav… this is not going to end well.

        • Geoffro

          Of couurse,only calorie counting wimps have it crumbed or grilled and in the good ol US batsman’s are people who ride around in batsmobiles

      • Damo

        Bjorn Borg gave his opponents nothing to work with either. “Nil by mouth”. The only time his faced changed was when he put a new headband on.

        • Larry Jorgensen

          BB was very chill for several reasons.

  • Gun

    Good point. A gun club might be easier to get and better for my interests though.

    • Yowie

      Good point, noting the dearth of opportunities to shoot on a rural property….

      • Gun

        A nice bar and a fully auto clay target throwing machine. Celebrity visit by Bridget….

        • AllyOz

          I believe the installation of ladies toilets and showers is the key.

        • Yowie

          The local Masonic Lodge needing cash for ladies toilets and showers is still a bit of a head-scratcher though.

        • AllyOz

          I am surprised that the Clarence/Page electorates haven’t been mentioned in dispatches. A marginal Nationals seat on the North Coast of NSW where $1.5 M in donations from both state and federal governments to upgrade a ground (including the addition of said ladies toilets) for a rugby league team that two years ago had to drop out of the comp and just a year after coming back into the comp was forfeiting most of its games and looks to be ready to implode again.

        • Geoffro

          Gotta have somewhere for the local unemployed youth to congregate after hours,smoke bongs and spraypaint

        • AllyOz

          we’ve got skate parks for that

        • Geoffro

          Of course.If all the kids who hung out at the skateparks actually skated we’d have a fair few world class shredders

        • Yowie

          Yeah!
          (says a non-playing rugby fan)

        • Geoffro

          Dang,s’pose your right.If I took into account all the time I spent at the netball courts when I was a kid I should have at least been a handy wing defence

        • AllyOz
        • Who?

          Is this complaint also because it appears they non-sports club (League’s not a real sport, it’s a heresy from the true faith of Rugby Union!) from Maclean down to Yamba..?
          Maclean’s not exactly a bustling place… So struggling for numbers isn’t a shock. But I can’t see why anyone from Yamba would want to play League. Not when they can surf as well as fish (as well, given Maclean locals can fish, too).
          Your new bridge is AWESOME. :-) As was Forster……. I miss Wallis Lake.

        • AllyOz

          The numbers struggled more after they moved to Yamba I think. Yamba is a stink-hole and everyone from Maclean thinks so. We can fish in the river or at Brooms Head without having to go to Yamba.

          But Yamba has a rugby club (with their own ground) …the town’s one and only redeeming feature.

          The showground at Maclean is central to the area and has a fantastic natural amphitheatre – spending $1 million on that and improving the facilities there would have been a much better option IMO (but obviously just IMO). I think Yamba is a bit like a mini version of the Gold Coast Titans…it just won’t work there.

          and yes… our new bridge is cool!!

        • Who?

          Yeah, I wasn’t a Yamba fan… Figured that the move might’ve been a partisan complaint – Maclean vs Yamba sort of thing. :-)
          .
          I can’t remember the Maclean showground well, think I went there once… But I’ve never been to Brooms Head! Lots of great stories from kids at school in South Grafton, but never got there myself.
          Maybe we’ll see a good outcome from this – the League club dying, the Rugby club inheriting the remains (both players and infrastructure), and Maclean somehow turning to a Rugby town, too..? Unlikely, but one can dream!

        • AllyOz

          I have thought of trying to start a rugby club….but I am afraid I have too many irons in too many fires. But I wouldn’t mind organising a one off Golden Oldies game… hard to do without insurance but there are some ways around it I think. Yes it is very much an anti-Yamba thing….It wasn’t political as, tbh, I still voted for them (he’s actually lives about 10 houses down the street and my brother used to work for him) but I did think it was a dumb decision to duplicate resources not just between towns that are reasonably close but within the town itself – still that’s why I am not in politics.

        • Nutta

          I can’t wait for the toilets and showers for the non-binary unidentified.

        • Yowie

          Hahaha. Probably not top-of-the-list for the conservatives.

        • Nutta

          Hold on, since when has a legitimate reason been the motivation for ablution-block construction?

        • Yowie

          The type of pork-barrelling still has to play well with Murdoch talking points. There wouldn’t be any cash for solar power projects for regional towns either. It’s enough of a stretch acknowledging that some women play sport.

        • Hoss

          Gold.

        • Nutta

          But they do play sport – tennis, netball, bowls…

        • Yowie

          Al Bundy:

          “This bar shows every kind of sport known to man! Football. Baseball. Women wrestling in lettuce.”

        • Nutta

          And given the Nats/Nasho’s recent run, I’m thinking this is Scotty From Marketings montage on the last 3 or 4mths…

          https://youtu.be/NXvB80gjr6Q

        • Geoffro

          They got a rarely used unisex dunny (dont ask how I know that) in my local RSL…S’pose they gotta spend the pokie profits somewhere

        • Yowie

          Better tell Aaron Smith there is a place where he’s less likely to be interrupted.

        • Geoffro

          Yeah,if footy came here anymore.Talk about upgrading sports venues.Remember watching Reds and Waikato at Seagulls in a preseason game years ago but unfortunately the stadium was converted into duplexes

        • AllyOz

          If they put a pokie in the Unisex dunny then it might lift its popularity

        • Yowie

          I think you’ve stumbled across the end-game goal of the gaming industry – a punter sitting on the porcelain throne and being brought food and drink while playing a poker machine. They would literally never need to leave.

        • Geoffro

          Some dont (always good to have a squiz before you seat yourself)

        • Yowie

          FFS, not even the courtesy to use the provided plastic cups. Animals.

        • Nutta

          A mate of mine in the pub game tells me one of his biggest repair & maintenance costs is the x3 times a year he replaces the carpets in the gambling rooms. Now folk don’t smoke in pokie rooms anymore so you go ahead and guess why the carpet stinks so bad it gets replaced that often…

        • Yowie

          That’s properly horrifying. FFS I always thought that people spending hours at the pokies were a bit sad, but that is an unpleasant new level to it.

        • Nutta

          I asked him about why it was so. He reckons it’s because the numbnuts put soooo much cash into them that they are petrified the machine will pay the moment they walk away.

          So it’s a warm, low-light atmosphere with no sense of time of day/night rotation in-which people keep pushing free coffee and softies into you whilst you sit at a machine you are too frightened to leave. Bloody sad.

          I read a report a few years ago that said, basically, for true addicts, the thrill was in the sense of anticipation that you may win – not in the winning itself. So the point of utopia was the moment just before you hit the button to spin – that brief fleeting instant of anticipation was where the thrill sits. Interestingly enough, that makes the hoopla of any win a bloody annoyance because it delays the next moment of utopia. It also explains why the truly committed actually hate the ‘free spins’ features because it takes their moment of bliss away from them.

          Sad.

        • Nutta

          What’s really sad though is that in a report published in 2016 that was both pretty quickly hushed up and not repeated again (no update), an audit of the poker machines licenced for use in the Fairfield City Council area alone found that approx $8.5 Billion had been fed through them in the financial year ending 2015 (so near 5yrs out of date now). To be clear, for an area of less than 210k people (last census), which has approx 38 pokie venues, including the friggen ENORMOUS “Mounties” club, it has some 3,850 pokies. That a phenomenal amount of money in one of the lowest socio-economic areas in the country.

        • AllyOz

          Yes well couldn’t we save money by just making all toilets and showers unisex …. no need for any new ones then – just repaint the signs

        • Who?

          If I’m going to complain about anything with sports grants, bearing in mind that pork barrelling is about the least concealed form of government duplicitousness (i.e. we can see the uneven nature of their distribution, whereas there’s many more hidden forms of unfair favour if not occasional corruption – from all parties at most times), it’s that soccer and the like got money. I don’t care if that SA Rugby Club was full of idiots who needed their heads smacked together until the misogynism was knocked out of them, I’d still rather see that money going to a Rugby club than AFL, League or soccer…….. It’s easier to change leaders and a culture than it is to justify any form of funding going to those other supposed ‘sports’.
          :-P

  • Geoffro

    Would have just swapped Lucas and Hegarty

Rugby
@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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