Friday's Rugby News - Green and Gold Rugby
Rugby

Friday’s Rugby News

Friday’s Rugby News

Friday’s Rugby News sees Super Rugby Round Seven, Super W Week Five, Rapid Rugby and Six Nations and James Slipper’s Cure to Stop Aging


SUPER RUGBY WEEK SEVEN

Tom Banks, hit and spin.

Tom Banks

Given the global uncertainty with the Covid-19 pandemic, this may well be the last round of Super Rugby we see for the foreseeable future, at least in it’s current format. Probably the best case scenario is closed door games, but as soon as a player contracts it, like the NBA did, then all bets are off.

So let’s focus on this weeks games and in particular the Aussie teams. The Rebels get the week off, which might actually be bad given their run the last two weeks. I imagine there’s a few of them who wish they could go again to maintain their momentum but they will have to do with kicking back and resting up.

Saturday afternoon (615PM AEST) sees the Reds in the second half of a double header at Suncorp against the Bulls. After last weeks loss to the Crusaders where they scored more tries but could not make a kick Brad Thorn has relented and added Bryce Hegarty to the starting team. It ended up a necessary step after early-season revelation tweaked his knee last week, which has forced Chris Feauai-Sautia into the centres, with Hegarty slotting in on the wing.  James O’Connor returns after missing last week and the biggest change is in the forwards.

Izack Rodda and JP Smith drop out of the 23 altogether, with Angus Blyth starting at lock and Lukhan Salakaia-Loto moving to 6. Up front Dane Zander gets his maiden Super Rugby start with unknown Jake Straker coming in from the clouds to make the bench. The casualty ward for props is immense in Brisbane currently with at least 5 players out. Straker has played NPC for Northland the last few years and is ostensibly a loosehead so the scrum will be definitely tested against the Bulls pack. Ross Wright has the preview here

On Sunday afternoon (305AEDT) the Brumbies will be looking to inflict more suffering on a Waratahs outfit desperate for positives in the wake of the second half effort against the Chiefs last week. Despite the fierce rivalry between the two teams, I cannot see how the Brumbies won’t come out on top here and by a comfortable margin. They are clearly the top side in the country by some margin and likely to be the only ones who can challenge come finals time.

Other games this weekend see the Chiefs take on the struggling Hurricanes, the Sunwolves play the Crusaders in the first leg of the Suncorp double, the improving Blues play the Lions, Sharks and Stormers in what could be an excellent game, and the Jaguares take on the struggling Highlanders.

Tips: Chiefs v Hurricanes: Chiefs by 9, Blues v Lions: Blues by 15, Sunwolves v Crusaders: Saders by 45, Reds v Bulls: Reds by 5, Sharks v Stormers: Sharks by 3, Jaguares v Highlanders: Jags by 14 and Brumbies v Waratahs, Brumbies by 19.

Team lists for the weekend courtesy of ESPN here

SUPER W WEEK FIVE

Maya Stewart scores

Maya Stewart scores

The final week of the regular season of Super W is here, and there is all to play for down in Canberra when the Brumbies meet the Reds (Sunday 115pm AEDT). After another close loss to the Waratahs last week the Reds sit ahead of the Brumbies through having earned two more bonus points. The outcome of this match is simple- the winner hosts the semi next week against the same team, unless by some miracle RugbyWA knocks off the Waratahs.

Queensland coach Moana Virtue hasn’t been afraid to mix the team around this season and has done so again this week, making a number of personnel changes to both the starting team and the bench. Ivy Kaleta gets her first start at hooker with Averyl Mitchell switching to the bench. Shannon Mato moves to the side of the scrums with Lesa Keleti Maatata going to lock. Wallaroo Cobie-Jane Morgan returns to the starting lineup at halfback and Sarah Riordan continues her comeback from injury with a start at 12. The Brumbies team is yet to be revealed.

Coach Virtue told Rugby.com.au that it was about management of the team, saying, “This week we’ve made a few adjustments to the squad as we manage players at the back end of the season.” She also went on to say that even in the shorter season it is important to rotate players and manage minutes.

The other game sees the Waratahs play RugbyWA, (Saturday 325PM AEDT) with the Tahs looking to kick things into gear before what will likely be a week off before the Final. The RugbyWA team will be hurting after being on the receiving end of the Rebels first win last week but I cannot see this being closer than 50 points, even with NSW coach Campbell Aitken making 8 changes to his starting team.

Aiken told Beth Newman from Rugby.com.au that it was a tough call, saying, “I’ve been getting lots of advice this week as to should we pick the strongest team or give everyone a go but we’ve gone with what we wanted to do and that was always our intention from the start. We’ve got a whole squad and this squad deserves to be here and we want to reward people for that.”

Over on the WA side, coach Sebastian Delport is about to roll out his sixth teenager of the campaign, which goes some way to explaining the struggles they have faced, losing to the Reds by 80 among other losses. It’s great they are being exposed to senior rugby and if they stick together and develop they will certainly be one to look out for.

Both games will be Kayo and streamed on Rugby.com.au

 

RAPID RUGBY AND SIX NATIONS PREVIEWS

Global_Rapid_Rugby_logo

 

This weekend sees the start of the Global Rapid Rugby season. Twiggyball kicks off in Perth with a double header on Saturday, with Manuma Samoa playing the South China Tigers at 410PM Perth time. This will be followed at 615PM Perth time with the Force taking on Malaysia Valke. Over in Fiji, the Latui will play China Lions at 615PM Fiji time.

Rapid Rugby has foregone being on any sort of TV and will stream all it’s games on YouTube via the RapidRugby.com

While I am thrilled the Force are still in some sort of existence and they are trying to pitch this as some sort of option to other global comps, I have a personal and abiding doubt that this will be much more than a cakewalk for the Force. In some circumstance you could see the Fijian side putting up some resistance but in reality if the Force aren’t winning every game by 30 plus then you may begin to wonder if the effort is worth it. As long as the passionate Force fans back it then maybe it will work.

I know this is part of a push to make rugby more relevant in Asia but when the standard of the competition is below that of the NRC you want to hope Twiggy has a lot of patience and deep pockets. Good luck to the Force and I for one will keep including updates but outside of the spurned Force fans I can’t see much interest anywhere else in the country.

Over in Europe, only one of the three scheduled Six Nations games will be going ahead with Wales facing the team the put a serious dent in French ambition last week, Scotland. With the rest of the competition now unlikely to be resolved until much later in the year this one will be for pride. Wales have under-performed without being terrible and despite being 1-3 have a positive points differential, which shows the losses they have endured have all been close.

Scotland will have the wind in their sails after knocking off the French last week and will be looking to add another scalp to what has probably been the big surprise of the season.

That game kicks off 1215am Sunday AEDT.

Tips: Manuma Samoa v Tigers: Tigers by 4, Force v Valke: Force by 65, Latui v Lions: Latui by 15, Wales v Scotland: Scotland by 6

 

JAMES SLIPPER AND THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH

2019_TRC_Headshot_James_Slipper (1)

Evergreen James Slipper seems to have found the key to the fountain of youth, having resigned with RugbyAu and the  Brumbies until the end of the 2022 season. Perhaps he has been drinking the water straight from Lake Burley Griffin in order to warn off the demons of aging.

In all seriousness, despite seeming like he has been around forever, Slipper is only 30 and this contract takes him to just past his 32nd birthday. Having been capped 96 times by the Wallabies, Slipper will be hoping to crack the ton in the near future, joining an elite group of one other 100-capped Wallaby prop. The other one being Sekope Kepu.

After his well publicised drug case and associated mental health battles at the end of his time in Qld, Slipper made the move to Canberra at the end of 2018. After two years in the national wilderness, he also regained his spot with the Wallabies in 2019.

In a statement to RugbyAU after putting the ink on the new contract, Slipper paid tribute to the Brumbies for helping him on and off field, saying, “The club gave me an opportunity back in 2018 and I want to repay that show of faith by continuing to work hard and play well for the Brumbies. I feel like I’m playing some of the best footy of my career at the moment and I have the coaching staff here to thank for that.”

The praise was not all one-sided with the coaching staff also keen to thank the loosehead for his work on the paddock and in the local community since making the move. “James has been nothing short of outstanding since arriving at the club and we’re thrilled he’s sticking around until the end of 2022,” said coach Dan McKellar.

Looks like more swims in the very large duck pond that is Lake Burley Griffin are in Slipper’s future then.

  • Reds Revival

    Ben, I disagree about GRR. I am actually looking forward to the comp (with no connection to WA Rugby whatsoever). However, I like what Twiggy has done, and I think that it is good for the growth of the game, not only in the abandoned west, but throughout Asia. The games that I have seen have been fast and entertaining. Similar to NRC, the scores sometimes suggest that tackling is optional, however this will quickly be tightened up in the first couple of seasons. The other seriously big plus is that it has not one, but two PI teams competing. This means better development of the game on their islands, and opening the door slightly for future test involvements. Bring it on.

    • AllyOz

      I think we saw some of the benefits of the PI sides competing in this comp (and others) in the RWC. I am not sure how it gets there but I do have the feeling that GRR will be more and not less than it is now in five years time. This year is going to be hard because of the virus but I can see development of the game in China and I like how they have partnered developing nations with established countries like the Valke with Malaysia and Bay of Plenty with the China Lions.

      I think how Forrest has approached this is probably testament to its longevity. He could have thrown 20 million at buying in 1 or 2 big names for each club but he has instead chosen a strategy that looks a lot more like long term development.

      • bob

        Malaysia Valke has 5 malaysian players who now get to train full time, the China Lions have 4 chinese players who now get to train with a pro squad, plus they have Chinese coaches in the squad who will also learn too.

    • Crescent

      I agree. I am looking forward to GRR – and it has a number of elements going it’s way in terms of building a quality national and international fan base. Firstly, it is readily accessible, for free! The Force matches are being replayed on Fox, so they still get the eyeballs of the rusted on subscriber domestically.
      Secondly, GRR becomes a showcase of up and coming talent that have been ignored or unable to get interest above club rugby.
      Thirdly, GRR expands the reach of the game into traditionally neglected geographies.
      Fourthly, and my favourite, is that GRR rocks the status quo. The law variations have been designed to decrease the stoppages and maintain time with ball in play to actively promote the game – I see it as bringing Sevens atmosphere to the 15s game. I may not “get” all of the variations – but I will give it a couple of seasons to get my head around the ones I struggle with. Love the 1 minute scrum rule. That should be at all professional levels of the game. Bring it on I say!

  • Mortahs Incoming – custardtaht

    With only 2 Aus games and one being a derby, I am a lock to lift my percentage to 50% this week.

    Tips: Brumbies to kick the tahts back to reality, but expect the Tahts to play their best game of the season.

    Reds to grab the bulls by the horn and get a 12 week, I mean point win.

    • Dud Roodt

      If last weeks’ rogering wasn’t back to reality enough for the Tahs, I’m not going to enjoy this week…

      • laurence king

        Some of those forwards last week should have been absolutely ashamed of themselves as well as a few backs. If Beale doesn’t respond this week to the challenge as well, then he should be dropped to the bench or given some time to ponder if he still has the heart for it.

  • Geoffro

    As Ben says , I see little hope of SR avoiding virus disruption.Best savour this weekend’s matches they may be the last we see for a bit :(

    • Mortahs Incoming – custardtaht

      The NBA have suspended the season indefinitely, so the writing is on the wall.

  • GoMelbRebels

    I am looking forward to GRR – too much Rugby is never enough. Still not sure how a $1 million prize is any incentive to watch it. Kind of means little to a spectator, except it might spur teams on to play better, which in turn will / should result in better Rugby.

    • Brumby Runner

      Yep, me too. Personally, I have a whole lot more interest in GRR than the English/European/Japanese competitions. Bring it on.

    • Yowie

      Without talking about GRR specifically, the trouble with that sort of prize money kicking around is the potential for corruption in a sport.

      Heading into a final, would a young underpaid player agree to a $30,000 cash payment offered by a shadowy figure to miss a kick or something?

      League had all that weird stuff going on on-field when players were betting much smaller amounts with the bookies on micro-events within the game.

      • dude, its only 1 mill. Spend nearly that doing the shopping nowadays

        • Yowie

          It’s becoming cheaper to wipe one’s backside with folding money than proper bogroll.


        • Heading into a final, would a young underpaid player agree to a 8 Pack payment offered by a shadowy figure to miss a kick or something?

        • JJ

          Is it you hoarding all the toilet paper?

        • Not mine but…
          The reason for it (The TP crisis) is obvious.
          Every time someone sneezes at the supermarket everyone else shits themselves.

  • Brumby Runner

    James Slipper has always been an exceptional player, but I do agree with him when he says he’s now playing the best rugby of his career. Outstanding.

    • Yowie

      It bothered me greatly when we lost him from the Reds under the “zero tolerance” rule. I always found him to be a hard-working quality player and leader.

      • Mortahs Incoming – custardtaht

        That zero to tolerance rule doesn’t seem to be very inclusive or tolerant.

        • laurence king

          I think that getting out of Brisbane and the possible temptations there and having a complete new start has been the best thing for the young man. If he had stayed, and fallen back into bad ways that would have been the end of his career and maybe him ad well.

        • Yowie

          A bit of an indictment on the Canberra night-life there.

          The ACT tourism board can probably change their slogan to “Canberra – a great place to stay on the wagon”

        • Frosty morning

          And where the wagons then go round and round the roundabouts…

        • Yowie

          …dodging speeding black sedans driven by drunk diplomats who give no farks about local laws….

        • Frosty morning

          They have to get home before they roll the footpaths up at 6pm every evening…

        • laurence king

          He could do and add compaign for them, ‘Bring your slippers to Canberra’ Go a treat with the elderly

        • Damo

          I hear lots about the “Canberra Bubble”. Maybe Slips is in it. Brumbies’ Bubble Boy.

        • Yowie

          I thought The Canberra Bubble was a Raiders bathroom trick.

        • Will

          you’re on fire

        • Mortahs Incoming – custardtaht

          Absolutely, very good outcome for him.

        • Yowie

          Bill Hicks:

          I don’t do drugs anymore…………..than the average touring funk band.

    • Who?

      It’s great that he ended up with forced time off – even though it led to mental struggles which led to his axing from the Reds. Because he started SOOO young – too young. After his first International season, under coach Deans, he had 100 minutes of Super Rugby (across two games at the end of the season under Link), and 10 Tests. That’s crazy, given he was barely 20. Crazy, because props don’t tend to mature until their late 20’s, and hit their peak often after 30. So he was being asked to do things that his body likely wasn’t up to doing – like scrummaging against Castrogiovanni.
      .
      I think the time off has enabled him to finally get healthy. He didn’t look healthy, at his peak, for years in Gold or Red. But two years of almost no footy, and suddenly he’s healthy and able to execute the skills he always had. He was always a key linking prop for us, with great extra skills on top of covering his KPI’s. But now he’s significantly more capable of nailing his key roles (particularly around the scrum, where he’s been in great form, as well as having much more knowledge than a decade ago), as well as carrying and distributing.

  • Patrick

    The France Scotland women’s game last week was cancelled after a Scottish player diagnosed positive. Best outcome now is empty stadiums which frankly will really favor the Tahs.

    • Yowie

      That can’t be right. A Scottish person has never been positive.

      • KwAussie Rugby Lover

        You’re a friggen legend mate.

      • Patrick

        Fair point!

      • Happyman

        Hey I resemble that

      • Damo

        Haggis is positively disgusting.

        • You know my ex?

        • Nutta

          I actually like it. And I buy IrnBru and put CaptMorgans rum in it…

  • KwAussie Rugby Lover

    Thanks Ben, some defining games this weekend with the Reds, Canes, Brumbies and others all looking too make a statement. I see the Tahs playing their best game of the season on Sunday as they always step up against the Brumbies and Reds but not sure they can do it this year. Reds need the win more than most and they should do this baring any brain snaps. If I was a Bulls player I’d be looking at annoying Tupou all game and wait for the snap.
    Good luck GRR hope the games go well.
    Slipper is indeed a legend. I met him a couple of times in Canberra and he’s actually a really nice guy. I like the way he’s revived himself and got better which is not something you can say about a lot of the players under Cheika.

    • Yowie

      If I was a Bulls player I’d be looking at annoying Tupou all game and wait for the snap.

      How does provoking The Hulk work out in the comic books and films?

      • AllyOz

        I am not aware of super heroes having to submit themselves to the whim of referees.

        “just hold on their batman, that last KAPOW in the series was an attack to the head of the player, I also didn’t see you use your arms when you shouldered the door to get in here and I will have to inspect some of that equipment in your utility belt”.

        Reaching in pocket for Red Card, Joker wins by a bonus point.

      • KwAussie Rugby Lover

        Risky but you know he’ll give you penalties and could even earn a yellow

  • Forceright

    GRR is also being broadcast live on RugbyPass & Kayo, along with Saturday’s game replayed on Fox on Sunday. Some games will also be shown on Fox. And am also looking forward to the launch-this will be an historic moment in WA Rugby.

  • Cheers Ben, any new comp will face hurdles. no doubt.

    Lower level than the NRC? I personally thought the Force and Fiji played reasonably well at NRC level..

    Whether it gains support from the rest of Australia is yet to be seen, but I don’t think that is its purpose. I dont see it as a competition between GRR and Super or West V East,. Its just more rugby that for me is closer to home.
    Bring it on.

    • Perth girl

      Yep they did play “reasonably well” considering both teams have won the NRC hence RA’s keeness to get rid of it!

      • I was attempting to be non confrontational PG, with perhaps a touch of sarcasm :)

  • JJ

    Ben, The only team the Force flogged last year in the GRR exhibition games was the Malaysian (ie 90% South African)Valke. It was a one off game for the semi-pro Valke team and first time under GRR laws. They admit they were surprised by the pace, fitness and standard of the Force. They know what to expect now. So they have recruited 12 new SA professional players and have had a full professional pre-season.
    The China Lions (ie Bay of Plenty, plus other Kiwis) could be the surprise team and they gave Samoa a belting in a trial game,
    As a Force fan, I want the other teams to be competitive with the Force and I expect some of will be.

  • RF

    Fear the worst with GRR. It is probably going to be suspended after round 1 due to the current health crisis and may not have the financial resources to continue after an indefinite waiting period.

    • I have concern about it too RF.
      Hopefully we are found to be totally wrong.

    • Perth girl

      It’s not RA who haven’t sixpence to rub together

    • andrewM

      Just as well tomorrow’s going to be a double header then!

  • bob

    Ben, I think is harsh to say it will be lower standard then NRC , China Lions is basicly bay of plenty with top up players from the Southland Stags, Fiji Latui are the Dura + 7 off island players who are coming back with pro rugby experiance , Malaysia Valke are the Valke from currie cup Div 1, South africa has cut super rugby squad sizes to 50 players so they can not warehouse talent as they did before so the valke squad as 13 new players. HK team is fully pro their national team has been for the last 4 years. Samoa is on island players topped up with NZ ITM Cup players who want national Honours.

    • Reds Revival

      Isn’t it great that Samoan players are finally getting paid to play in a home based competition. Hopefully it leads to the Samoans springing another big upset at the next RWC. I love watching them thump guys in tackles (particularly the NH teams).

  • Tah Tragic

    Australian government effectively banning gatherings of more than 500 people from Monday. Luckily Waratah’s games should be unaffected.

  • Patrick

    In France and Switzerland all rugby is cancelled: training matches everything at all levels.

    • Ian Rodger

      Same here in the Netherlands!

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

More in Rugby