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Friday’s Rugby News

Friday’s Rugby News

Friday’s Rugby News sees Super Rugby AU kick off, Super Rugby Aotearoa Week Four, Japanese Comp Shake-Up and English Club Fallout Continues

SUPER RUGBY AU KICK OFF

Stock Photo. Gilbert Super Rugby ball on grass with goal-posts and stadium lights

The moment we as rugby fans has finally arrived- Super Rugby AU kicks off this weekend. The cobbled together competition will see the four Super franchises rejoined by the Force in a move that will see 2 games a week over an 8 week competition, plus two weeks of finals. In a clever move, the games do not clash with Super Rugby Aotearoa with the Saturday Oz game coming after the NZ match.

This weekend sees the first games, while the Force cool their jets for another week.

First up on Friday night is the most traditional of Australian derbies, with the Reds hosting the Waratahs (Friday 705pm, Fox Sports and Kayo). With the Reds having not beaten the old rivals in a competitive game since 2013, those north of the Tweed will be hoping that changes this week.

In his usual diplomatic, non-biased way, Rugby Reg has his preview of the game here. I see the game playing out along the same lines as what Reg has predicted. The rust that was evident in the first round of the NZ comp is bound to show here too so on a night where there will also be some dew it could get sloppy at times but I expect the class of the Reds to show.

The second game of the weekend sees the competition favourite Brumbies coming up against a Rebel side that was starting to gel prior to the break. (Saturday 715PM, Fox Sports and Kayo).  Of note here is ex-Brum Matt Toomua bringing up his 100th Super cap. The Rebels pack looks a bit on the weak side given injuries to Anaru Rangi and Isi Naisarani and the loss of Luke Jones but the backline looks solid. As usual the Brumbies look strong across the park, although they are missing Tom Banks through injury. Steve Lenthall has his preview here

Part of the reason I expect the Brumbies to win the title is the fact that of the teams, they were the best prior to the break and have been the least disrupted by departures in the meantime.

Teams are here, courtesy of ESPN.

Tips: Reds by 25, Brumbies by 19.

SUPER RUGBY AOTEAROA WEEK FOUR

Beauden Barrett's best mate

Beauden Barrett’s best mate

While we here in Australia are just at the beginning of our competition, over the ditch our NZ friends are fast approaching the halfway mark of their competition. Two teams are unbeaten, and hands up if you genuinely thought one of them would be the Blues? Even better for Auckland fans in that with the bye, they will be unbeaten leading into what may be the game the ultimately decides the winner- against the Crusaders next week.
But back to this week, we have the Highlanders hosting the Crusaders in the Dunedin cow shed, (Saturday 505PM, Fox Sports and Kayo), followed on Sunday by the Chiefs taking on the Hurricanes (Sunday 135PM, Fox Sports and Kayo).

Team info is still limited at time of writing but will be updated here, courtesy of ESPN.

You would have to think that the Crusaders would have enough to dispose of the Mountain Men, although the team many tipped to claim the wooden spoon have already sprung a few surprises and will be tough at home.

The other game will be a tussle from two teams that will want to get their first wins on the board, after the Chiefs have come close a couple of times so far. The Canes have come close as well, particularly against the Blues but in Hamilton the Chiefs should get over the top.

For those who haven’t been watching, there has been some excellent rugby played thus far. Skillful and physical with some great excitement, it is everything rugby should be, especially for neutrals. The number of penalties in the first round from the amended rules did threaten to overshadow the rugby, but as teams and referees have adapted this has gradually come down to a more normal level.

Tips: Crusaders by 9, Chiefs by 7.

JAPANESE COMPETITION SHAKE-UP

RUGBYU-WC-2019-MATCH14-JPN-IRL-FANS

Up in Japan, the current competition is being re-shaped in what is a likely signal that really does put paid to any real Japanese involvement in Super Rugby, whatever it looks like in coming years.

The current Top League and second tier Top Challenge clubs (total of 24) all submitted EOI’s to be part of the revamped structure along with company club Chugoku Electric Power. It will ultimately lead to a three level comp, presumably with promotion/relegation involved to boot.

The power of these clubs is really what ultimately doomed the Sunwolves, with the majority of teams unwilling to release players for Moondog duty. This is primarily a result of the corporate influence in the game, where players are employees of the corporation as opposed to playing solely for a club as such.

Interestingly the powers that be have not ruled out other teams joining in coming years, with a possible expansion running the risk of accelerating the move of players to Japan from the Australia, NZ and increasingly England, and I think as long as domestic players are developed and given the opportunities that a strong Japanese competition has to be good for world rugby more broadly.

Kyodo News via Japanese rugby guru Rich Freeman has the story here. More broadly, Rich is a great source for news out of Japan so chuck him a follow on the socials.

There is a fair bit of time before this all gets up and running, with the scheduled start currently January 2022, with the initial start date of late 2021 pushed back to deal with the move of the Olympics to next year.

 

ENGLISH CLUB MAYHEM

Tuilagi

 

The fallout from the COVID-19 saga continues to play out in English club rugby, with a number of clubs making pretty significant moves in the last 24 hours or so. The most upheaval seems to have taken place at struggling Leicester, which has seen the departure of big name Manu Tuilagi amongst a group of five to leave overnight. It’s understood that Tuilagi was among a group of players who refused to sign amended contracts that would have led to long term cuts to their wages. No word yet where he might bob up, along with the others including former Rebel Telusa Veainu.

This follows the club having to sack 31 staff amidst losses of around five million pounds, and asking players and staff to take a 25% pay cut for the foreseeable future. When you add this to the overall salary cap cut being imposed across the board in England and it seems some players are being forced out of clubs they have been at for years.

BBC Sport has all the latest news on moves here, which also includes Northampton extending the expiring contracts of 19 players but all with a 12 month long 10% reduction into the new deals.

With the situation in the UK not quite as rosy as in the Southern Hemisphere with regards to having crowds come back it is entirely possible that the pain for some of these clubs is not yet over, and will likely continue for a while yet.

  • ATrain

    Saw this quote from James O’Connor reported elsewhere in reference to his duties at 10 and the upcoming NSW v Qld game.

    “But now I feel very comfortable there and I’m enjoying it. There are elements that I still am not world-class at but there are things that I do make by own and I feel like I am helping unlock this team’s ability. I’m enjoying being there and it is a challenge but that’s why you play the game.”

    This bloke really seems to have grown. I can’t imagine a 23 yo O’Connor or even a 27 yo saying that, acknowledging imperfections etc – it was all bluff and bluster before, boosting himself, talking about his brand.

    I really hope he can finish this season injury free and be part of leading this young Reds side. He looks to be a young man who has really changed and that is hard to do in life so I wish him every success.

    • onlinesideline

      being a few hours away from a new phase of rugga, a new coach, new generation coming through, a new SR comp in future, exciting stuff – JOC’s growth is not that timely an issue to discuss BUT I agree with you. For me, the burning issue is education in Australia (the rest of the world can do what they want)

      Why is it, we teach at school, history, geography, science, maths, frickken French, frickken Latin, art, even woodworking, debating, now software, AI, coding, but the one thing we wont go near is our own minds. Why is all this left to post 18 education or school of hard knocks. Why is it believed, that some kind of inner growth, sense of self, knowledge of self, physcological makeup of ourselves, character refinement, ego busting techniques, importance – benefits of gratefulness, are ALL avoided like the plague in the education system. Its all considered too “heavy” for youngins. This seems like a bad bad hangover of the “enlightenment” and also a reflection of our secular age which has rejected institutionlised religion in favour of the virtue signalling, safe spaces and name calling of the left. If we have rejected Chrstianity in the west, fine, but arent we capable of putting into the system some kind of spiritually neutral teachings that help young humans develop so they dont get hit with the baseball bat of reality when they leave school. We are so unenlighted and cowardly on this issue. Sofware coding for 6 years old wont address this problem

      • Yowie

        As a cocky 14-17 year old male, would you have taken on board classroom content on “pulling your head in” (and similar)? I wouldn’t have.

        I did however pick up (slowly and to insufficient depth at the time) some valuable lessons from school activities led by extraordinary people. Eg the Vietnam veteran school disciplinarians who taught us, in their own way, to take responsibility for our actions rather than hiding behind excuses.

        • onlinesideline

          so depending oh how it was taught, what was taught , it worked somewhat for you. The pull your head in stuff doesnt work. Agree.

          It has to start young, way before the 14-17 year old phase. And Im not advocating a cheesy, limp wristed safe space sensitivity which is all about the ego and converse to everything I referred to above. Its not easy to identify what would work. Look at Asia. In some parts / regions / cultures the kids are amazing. In other parts they have produced a generation of disconnected, belligerent gamers.

        • ATrain

          I think JOC has found something called Saviour World. Google it and I am sure you will find it. Seems to be a blend of eastern philosophy, training and drum beating, camp fire stuff – that is not meant to sound disrespectful but it probably will – just don’t know how else to say it. Probably not my scene but he certainly seems committed to learning to become a better person and to help others to do so and I don’t mean to be critical of it – i just don’t understand it and it’s behind a paywall so I can only get a fairly shallow understanding from the website. I think it is about committing to something beyond yourself – i.e. not always putting yourself first and I think that is a good thing.

          I think you raise very interesting points about how we raise young men and women, many have decided that the old way was no good but the new way hasn’t worked either for many.

        • onlinesideline

          mate it definitely was savour world. Was following him for a while and took note. From a distance, I gleaned it wasnt so much about the drum beating but about some good old fashion self acceptance, foundational self image building blah blag. It worked for him and thats fricken awesome. But Id be guessing as to substance of teachings. But its nice to see.

        • ATrain

          New age was the phrase I was trying to remember.

        • onlinesideline

          I somehow think Savour world is different to new age. Im no expert but new age as far as I can glean doesnt’ focus so much on personal accountability. and growth. It focuses more on connecting to the universe, a higher being, anything but the God represented in institutionalised religions. I really dont think that is the focus of Savour.

        • ATrain

          just to get some context OLSL what decade did you attend school – 80s or 90s or later?

        • onlinesideline

          left in 82′ – yep Im 55 years of age

        • onlinesideline

          Does the Young Ones,The Americas Cup, aerobics, Dexys midnight runners , Surfabout, Mick Cronin, talking heads, Roxy music, ring a bell ?

        • ATrain

          about the same vintage as me – so that is why you are making so much sense ;)

      • Brisneyland Local

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_Jante
        In Scandanavia part of their culture and what they are taught is the Jantelevan, or the Law of Jante. The Scandanavians are very big on the individual not being bigger than the group. Hence why their CEO’s dont earn whopping pay packets. ANd also why barely anyone knows the name of the family that own Ikea.
        This is not only engrained at school but at home as well.

        • onlinesideline

          I dont know big fella. After living in Stockholm for about 3 years and viewing from a distance some of the left leaning progressiveness coming out of Sweden, the lack of pride in their own past and other confusing things about these ppl I aint convinced. Ironically they had a socialist revolution and yet I have never seen so many sloaney, WASPy, my daddys got a porsche, old money wannabee, cleches in all my travels coupled with a complete disdain for anything that smells, inner life, spirituality. It was all a bit robotic, rational, emotionless and materialistic for me. Some peopel term it LAME as f..k. Not a fan mate.

        • Brisneyland Local

          I lived in Norway and I didnt see a lot of that. I didnt get to Sweden unfortunately. There was a lot of the socialist revolution I didnt like in Norway, but the dont get too big for your boots thing in Norway was pretty subtle but strong. I.e. Dont be a Kim KArdashian or a Elon Musk and you will be alright.
          What I really found intersting was the reappearance of the connecting back to the old gods. The THor’s the Odin’s the Freya’s etc etc. I really thought the old religion, in fact most religion had been wiped out in the socialist purge.

        • onlinesideline

          it doesnt surprise me mate. Ask any Norwegian or Finn what they think about the Swedes and they’ll all say the same thing. But anyhow the scandanavians generallly as a place to copy in education re early education as a kid of some of things we should all be away of Im not so sure. When I see today videos of gender neutral upbringing up there, to me they have lost the plot.

        • Brisneyland Local

          100% agree on that.
          Mind you I would take the Finnish driver education course any day!

      • ATrain

        Just on your point about relevance the article was written about the battles between the two older 10s in Australia (Toomua and JOC) and the two up and comers so it had some context in the article (though less in the quote I pulled out).

      • laurence king

        As a former art teacher of 30 years experience I’d have to agree with a lot of what you said. Touchy feely stuff where nobody fails, style over substance, a lack of male role models which is especially damaging where the kids don’t have their father at home. A spirituality that’s bigger than yourself. It’s all pretty basic stuff as to what kids need so as to grow into maturity, common sense really. It’s just that it’s not so common. Cheers

      • John Tynan

        Schools can only do so much IMO. Society and family delivers the rest, or at least should…

      • KwAussie Rugby Lover

        That’s deep thoughts for a Friday before beers.

      • Mike D

        I think the whole point of Arts is personal growth – speaking from backgrounds in science and finance. The reason, I think, that we have segregated other, what might be called extrinsic knowledge, from introspection on the soul, is the impact of Cartesian Dualism (Descarte’s crowning achievement). CD states that the gross matter of existence is distinct and separate from spiritual consideration, therefor they must be separated in the learning institutions. This is further enhanced by the perceived need for students to be “job ready”, an impact of reduction of all our activities to a simple transaction – itself a reflection of neo-liberal economic rationalism which attempts to explain everything in these terms.

        The effect of that is to eliminate institutions (because if everything’s a transaction you don’t need an institution) – who is calling for the institution of the ABC to be defunded? It ain’t the “artsy” left, it’s the “transactional economic rationalist” right. Whether you agree with that outcome or not, as you rightly point out, aspects of the enlightenment have been skewed to serve that particular divide and the increased de-spiritualisation (as opposed to secularisation) of our society. Which I think is a bad thing. However on the whole, I like living in a post-enlightenment world; the King can’t come and take all my stuff because he has some Divine Right, they can’t own my children like chattel, things like torture are frowned upon.

        • onlinesideline

          interesting

  • KwAussie Rugby Lover

    Thanks Ben,

    Big weekend up and boy am I looking forward to it. I’m not so sure that there will be big scoring games in this first week as everyone gets used to the hype, the intensity, the laws, the referee’s and the excitement. I think the games will go the way you say but I see a much lower score sheet with wins by 7 – 10. Looking forward to seeing how Harrison goes when he hasn’t got Beale around and hoping he steps up as I like his play.

    I see BB has signed up to a Japanese club for next year. It looks as though they are going to push through at the club and all the talk of them joining Super rugby is just wishful thinking. They appear to be sticking with the local domestic market that works for them and not letting stupid dreams of expansion stuff them up. Maybe some other comps and Rugby unions could learn from that.

    Interesting developments in the UK. I wonder how many players they’ll lose off shore before they look at some major changes in how they manage the game. To be honest I think that bird has flown and they are forever more going to be living with the club/nation conflict. This is something all those pushing for private ownership down here need to be very cognisant of as private money may not be the saviour it looks like long term.

    • onlinesideline

      cork it KARL, stop talking rugby, this is GGR. Yeah great to see it all start again mate. Stop wankers like me talking rubbish and more footy.

      • KwAussie Rugby Lover

        Mate I’m loving your posts. I see we are of the same generation. Have we got a video?

        • Andrew Luscombe

          Yes we have got a video.

    • Keith Butler

      As far as I’m concerned the RFU fucked it when they allowed the clubs to take control when the game went pro back in the dim and distant past. They should have gone down the central contracts route from day 1 but that the 57 Old Farts as Will Carling called them, for you. Some of the stories I hear from my old club mates make me cringe. There was a recent article in the Times by Owen Slot (?) suggesting that the pro game should be confined to the Premiership and Championship with the rest going back to true amateur status. Can’t say that that would be a problem for me. Cheaper entrance costs and money over the bar rather than in other pockets.

      • ATrain

        Yes that was an interesting article. It mentioned a figure of 250 million pounds being spent in the lower leagues – that was over a ten year period and I think I misquoted it as annually when i talked about it here. I remember when things first went professional there were blokes from 2nd grade in Brisbane travelling over to England to play – it wasn’t a full time wage but if you had a bit saved up it was a great experience and more or less a free holiday. They were well looked after with match payments and part time work. But, as Owen Slot says, what position would the game be in if the clubs had invested that money in resources, player and coach development.

        • Keith Butler

          Posted an example a few weeks ago about how money has completely screwed the game at the lower levels. A player in a team 2 divisions below Nat 1 banned for 4 years for taking steroids. FFS what is our game coming to when we hear that sort of true story.

    • ATrain

      Does the money start to equalise out a bit. So will go to France but I imagine even the French billionaire owners or Japanese companies have a limit on what they will want to spend. So some might have to stay in the UK for less money, some NZ and Australian players won’t get quite as much to leave here. What will be interesting is if its a temporary thing and in 2 to 3 years time it is all back up where it was or whether there is some real structural change? Reading the UK press they are talking a 1.4 million pound cut to salary caps as a permanent thing. That is probably 2 or 3 test quality players?? across the 12 clubs in the premiership that might mean 24 – 30 less opportunities for foreign players unless everyone takes a pay cut so it might stem the flow a little bit.

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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