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Friday’s Rugby News

Friday’s Rugby News

Friday’s Rugby News sees Super Rugby AU Week 10, Is Rugby a Tier One Sport?, The Weekend Ahead in Club Land and Northern Hemisphere Wrap

SUPER RUGBY AU WEEK TEN

James O'Connor congratulates Tate McDermott on his second try

We are into the final round of Super Rugby AU and there are two games that are both important as to how the finals series plays out.

With both games on Saturday we have a double header scenario where the finalists will be known after the first game, while the second game sees a battle on the top of the table which will no doubt involve some mind games should they both meet again in the big dance.

The first game on the schedule sees the game that will decide who takes on the Reds next week in the qualifying final, with the Rebels looking to seal the deal by beating the Force. (Saturday 3pm, FoxSports and Kayo). The equation is pretty simple at this point for the Rebels, win by more than three points and they move on. For the Force, the end of the season and a return home probably can’t come fast enough by this point, with the fatigue of so many higher level games coupled with being away really showing in the results the last few weeks. For all Force fans, please note I said results, not effort.

Melbourne welcome back Dane Haylett-Petty at fullback, which has triggered an array of other backline switches. Reece Hodge will partner Billy Meakes in the centres, with Matt Toomua shifting back to flyhalf, moving Andrew Deegan to the bench. Tom Pincus comes onto the wing in place of Andrew Kellway. Richard Hardwick starts at 7 while cult hero in the making Pone Fa’amausili is out of the squad after injuring himself “pretending to be Christian Cullen” in training.  In an interesting move, Australian 7’s star Lachie Anderson gets a spot on the bench.

The Force have resisted the urge to go easy in the last game with only a couple of changes to their side. Bryn Stander returns to the starting lineup as does Byron Ralston with Kyle Godwin shifting to 13 and Richard Kahui dropping out of the 23, as do bench players Tom Sheminant, Tevin Ferris and Feleti Kaitu’u, replaced by Heath Tessmann, Johan Bardoul and the potential debut of Dom Hardman.

Saturday night, after the curtain raiser of the New Zealand North v South clash we have the clash between the Reds and the Brumbies. (Saturday 715PM, FoxSports and Kayo). The last clash resulted in a 80th minute penalty leading to the Brumbies escaping with the win, so the Reds will be keen to avenge that loss and fire a warning shot prior to any clash in the final in a fortnight.

On the Reds side of the equation, they welcome back some front row firepower with Harry Hoopert back from injury to start at loosehead. Bench wise we see the reunited Smith twins adding experience and skill with Ruan coming back from Melbourne and JP back from injury. In the backline, Chris Feauai-Sautia returns to the wing with Jordan Petaia shifting to outside centre. 2020 revelation Hunter Paisami returns from his injury via the bench.

The Brumbies have rejigged their lineup quite a bit from that used the last few weeks and would be close to their best 23. The biggest news sees halfback Nic White starting, however also returning to the starting lineup are Scott Sio, Folau Fainga’a, Darcy Swain and Tevita Kuridrani. Clearly the prospect of this bunch having little or no football for a month prior to the final in a fortnight is a factor in this decision.

This game should be very good if everything goes as it should, and in reality predicting it is probably a toss up. Yours truly has the preview article here.

Teamlists for both games courtesy of rugby.com.au here

Tips: Rebels by 21, Reds by 7

 

IS RUGBY A TIER ONE SPORT?

200505 Rob Clarke

As we continue to ponder what 2021 might look like for rugby in Australia, there is so much that is yet to be determined. You know, the important stuff like what will the competition look like, and where and how will it be broadcast.

Anyone who follows this humble site knows all too well the travails of the last six months that have befallen rugby and it’s relationship with it’s broadcaster of the last 24 years, Fox Sports. There have been hit pieces by associated media players, a campaign to remove a CEO, and an unwillingness to negotiate all under the cloud of the pandemic.

So it should come as no surprise the Interim CEO of Rugby Australia Rob Clarke has been compelled to speak out in defence of the sport after yet another slight placed on it by the honch of Foxtel Patrick Delany that listed the “tier one” sports and that list did not include rugby.

Delany was quoted as saying, “We can see quite clearly the sports that are working and those sports know who they are. We did a great deal with the NRL to review our relationship. I want more of the NRL. Our relationship with the AFL is really fabulous. I want more AFL. The motorsports are going well for us, and we like cricket. But they are really the tier one sports and the rest are going to have to adjust.”

Now Clarke is preferring to take the “he just forgot about us I’m sure it is cool” approach to this, with RA’s self imposed deadline for official broadcast proposals comes due today.

Tom Decent of the SMH is reporting that Clarke is tight lipped about what interest there has been so far from any potential broadcast partner, and also that there has been very little dialogue with NZ about what a Trans-Tasman competition in 2021 might look like, with Clarke saying, “At this point in time there is absolutely no committed competition structure by ourselves or New Zealand and that’s something we’ll continue to work on with our New Zealand colleagues in the coming weeks.”

All of this comes on top of the continued uncertainty around the Rugby Championship with continued pandemic issues causing mass confusion and uncertainty around what it might look like or even where it will be played.

CLUB RUGBY WEEKEND PREVIEW

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This is the weekly opportunity for a quick peek under the bonnet of club rugby across the nation.

Western Australia saw Cavaliers notch their first win of the season which has thrown them up the ladder to 12th. Only Arks remain winless and get the chance to change that when they take on Cavaliers this week . Up front Cottesloe continue to rack up big wins and head the competition and will look to put away struggling Bayswater this weekend. Close on their heels are Associates who take on second bottom Curtin Uni. The battle for finals places below the top two is tight with only four points separating third through seventh.

In the Coopers Premier Grade in South Australia, things have tightened up with my predicted match of the week producing a bit of shock. Fourth place Burnside tipped over the hitherto unbeaten Brighton meaning the top have only five points between them. Brighton should get back on track against Port Adelaide while the other top sides are well placed to consolidate their spots as well.

To the national capital, the run of tight contests have continued with two of the three games decided by a total of three points. Owls snuck away from the rest with a one point win over Wests while second placed Vikings slipped up facing Royals. This round sees Owls taking on Royals, Eagles and Wests, and Whites hosting Vikings.

Sydney has the Shute Shield continuing with Gordon now in the relatively unfamiliar role of pacesetters. They remain unbeaten after taking care of West Harbour last week while Randwick dropped their first game in a high scoring affair against Eastwood. With just six points covering the top 6, there will still likely to be some intrigue as to where they all finish, especially if the Waratahs are knocked out of Super RugbyAU and players free to return to their clubs. The TV match on 7TWO this week is the derby game between Warringah and Manly with both teams hoping to close the gap to the top 6.

In Tassie, the only real question is whether Devonport will be beaten this season or not? With an unbeaten record, a massive for and against advantage and four games to go until finals it would be a brave person to tip against them at this point. They face Harlequins this week with second placed Taroona taking on Stags.

Finally to Queensland and the Hospital Cup where University, GPS and Easts continue to set the pace while Wests and Sunnybank face off this week at the other end of the table after Wests capitulated in the second half last week against Brothers. GPS and Uni meet this week for the Halley Appleby Memorial Shield and also to jostle for spots in the top four come finals time. The table seems to be shaping up as a top five of Uni, Easts, GPS and Bond and Brothers, with Souths, Sunnybank, Norths and Wests fighting out the other spots.

As I always say, have a look at rugby.com.au and the hard working and the erudite Nick Wasiliev’s column for more colour and all the links to watch games being streamed.

NORTHERN HEMISPHERE WRAP

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There is a bit of news in the Northern Hemisphere this week with the delayed Semi-Finals of the Pro14 right up there on the list. Saturday morning Oz time sees the unbeaten (in this competition) Leinster taking on Munster, while Sunday morning sees Ulster travelling to Murrayfield to play Edinburgh.

Despite being seen as the outsider of the four after sneaking into the semis after winning just over half of their games, Ulster are keen to make amends for last years semi-final effort where they were pasted by Glasgow. They aren’t going into the game in the best of form either having been beaten by provincial rivals Connacht and Leinster in the lead up.

Coach Dan McFarland is well aware it will be difficult, telling BBC Rugby, “The task in front of us is a difficult one as away sides have won only twice in Pro14 semi-finals, the Scarlets on both occasions, so we know the difficulty of what lies ahead of us.”

Onto the English Premiership and Exeter continue to lead the way and look strong with a big break of 14 points to second place Sale Sharks. There is quite the queue behind them with only five points separating them from fifth placed Bath, with the bottom end being held up by Saracens by virtue of their massive penalty which means they are sitting at -47 points instead of a solid second on the table.

The international rugby scene in the North next and the RFU are hopeful of having 20,000 fans at Twickenham for their rescheduled clash with the Barbarians on 25 October. In what means a crowd less than 25% of capacity, the game could be the biggest sporting event in the UK since March if given all the relevant approvals by authorities, BBC reports.

 

 

  • Custardtaht

    Whenever I hear the word Fox, I don’t hear what comes next instead I hear, what does a fox say blah blah blah blah blah blahblah blah blahblah blah blah blah.

    Looking forward to Saturday night with the kiwis in their rightful place as the curtain raiser to the real games. A nice little distraction to fill in time till the main event that is Aus Super Rugby.

    • KwAussie Rugby Lover

      rightful place! Gold mate. Bring on the Bledisloe

    • Thomas Murray

      When did 2nd tier skills play Top dog to the curtain raiser?They moved the Force game to watch real rugby.The World will be watching compared to Aussie watching it’s own

      • Custardtaht

        The world won’t be watching the kiwis. New Zealand are the Mehllenials of countries. They think the world revolves around them, but are sadly mistaken. The rest of the world don’t a give a shit.

        • Thomas Murray

          Hahaha,Keep telling yourself that,The world does revolve around NZ rugby down South,You can’t even get 650k NZ rugby fans to watch your shit cos they think it’s shit

      • UTG

        You’ve been baited.

        • Nutta

          Am i on the right site?

  • Brisneyland Local

    Morning GAGR’s. Well isnt BL excited. Super Saturday of Rugby. I will get the lawn mown and the jobs done uber quick so that I can park my ass in front of the telly for three magical games. BL’s points in feverous excitement:
    – Beware the Force, they have got it in them to rain on the Rebs parade that is for sure.
    – Red vs Ponies, isnt this going to be a great game. I am tipping the Reds by 2 in Extra time.
    – North Vs South. Nothing I am excited about more than watching the two halves of NZ beath the shit out of each other on the Rugby field. I dont have a dog in this fight, but what a fight it will be.
    Over to you GAGR’s.

    • Keith Butler

      Morning BL. Busy weekend in Swan Bay but hope to get parked in front of the TV in time. Agreed, The Force could take it or the Rebs blow it. It’s happened before. Reds v Force sort of reminds me of a game many years back between the Brumbies and the Sharks. Both teams playing exciting running rugby and the pundits expecting a classic. Both teams afraid to lose so proceeded to kick the leather off the pill, more that 40 kicks made by each side. A total waste of time. Hope it’s not the case on Sat evening. Completely forgot about NvS haven’t even seen the teams. I have the tinnies lined up.

      • Brisneyland Local

        I saw an earlier version of the teams. But either way it will be an epic game. Especially as I am not emotionally involved. It will just be watching two teams smash the shit out of each other.

    • KwAussie Rugby Lover

      I think with the Rebels backline the Force will be thinking they’re stronger and they may be right.
      I’m interested in the match ups in the Nth Sth game not the score myself.
      Reds by 10 mate. Be confident

      • Brisneyland Local

        YEah we may win this one. But Bruce Stadium is a fortress for the Brumbies. In fact most Aussie teams have lost there in the last 10 years.

  • paul

    Bit of a catch 22 with Fox, RA desperately need the money right now but long term like a very stale marriage parting ways would be the best solution for both parties.

    • Custardtaht

      Nah, parting ways isn’t the answer. Both parties are overweight and middle aged with a tonne of emotional baggage. They would be better off having a child to save the marriage, it always works well.

      • Alister Smith

        what would that kid look like?

        • Custardtaht

          Something like this…..

        • Custardtaht

          Probably like a hat full of arseholes.

        • Nutta

          Hybrid mungo and rugby matches… sound familiar?

        • Alister Smith

          uuuggggghhhh

        • Yowie

          A bit like the thing that surprised the f*ck out of John Hurt and his fellow crew-members in 1979.

      • KwAussie Rugby Lover

        Hahahaha the child of Fox and RA. Fuck that’d be an ugly beast

      • Brumby Runner

        Maybe not such a wild idea if it led to a joint production/streaming service that had a decent life span.

  • Alister Smith

    I think the international component of rugby is a Tier One sport – Bledisloe’s, World Cups, British & Irish Lions Tours. The ratings for the World Cup suggest that hasn’t changed. Whether or not a Super Rugby AU or a Super Rugby TransTasman/Asia Pacific are tier one competitions is not so easy to judge. I think it is probably an overstatement for a domestic competition but certainly a TT comp could become the premier southern hemisphere product (particularly if combined with various iterations of the 8 team championship event at the finish). Shute Shield and other domestic competitions, well there is something there but I don’t think it is Tier One or even Tier Two at this stage.

    I think there is something to sell but the major difficulty at the moment is the uncertainty around COVID and fitting it all together around that while not knowing when air travel and international borders are going to return and also a rapidly changing media environment. I am a piss poor negotiator but even the best would struggle trying to put the pieces together so I wish them all the best.

    • Nutta

      It’s a timely comeuppance for a sport that’s way too big for its own boots. Sorry but not sorry because it’s true.

      We ALLOW ourselves to be isolated, aloof and separated from the larger population by all sorts of petty segregationism (yes I’ll call it what it is) based on postcode and private-school classist shit (don’t even get me started on Shute or on where development officers are and are not) and then we wonder why we ARE considered a minority sport? The sheep grew wool fellas – does that fkn surprise us?

      Go back a little…we ‘went large’ after the 2003 Bill and thought we could manufacture ‘top down’ growth and cash in the sport by luxuriating the Wobblies, thinking that top-line success would create an upward vacuum environment to suck domestic standards up.

      What horseshit. That was great for the guys writing and getting the cheques at the time but it left ZERO development and production-lines in-place to feed the grinder. And now we pay the price of building a house on sand.

      Those familiar hereabouts may recall I’ve railed for years about the culpable lack of control, centralised administration and genuine bottom-up layering of our game in this country so that we would have a bedrock of support. For those so interested I still offer these pieces as a way out (although requiring a little updating) founded on actually having a foundation of support…

      http://www.greenandgoldrugby.com/republic-nutta-fixes-aussie-rugby/

      http://www.greenandgoldrugby.com/where-to-for-the-shute-shield-part-2/

      However we are where we are and that needs to be dealt with.

      So strike a decent deal with NZ for a Super12 or similar. That will attract an FTA to get it seen. Leverage cash from IRB to force the states & fiefdoms to fkn grow up and get behind the NRC. Tie clubs GEOGRAPHICALLY to an NRC team and only allow Supers to pull players from NRC team squads for pathways. Then align age-groups/rep teams to NRC-type zones. That will engage a domestic community accessing untapped resources with a fkn pathway to get somewhere. That will build kid/club/NRC/Franchise supporter bases and THEY are the viewing public to get big sponsors on the hook.

      • Yowie

        Go back a little…we ‘went large’ after the 2003 Bill and thought we could manufacture ‘top down’ growth and cash in the sport by luxuriating the Wobblies, thinking that top-line success would create an upward vacuum environment to suck domestic standards up.

        https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/50f4a425678b8fd5d5b285733cd3d2b1ed0900506411e9a5f5c11565cb4c9b9d.jpg

      • KwAussie Rugby Lover

        Well said mate. The arrogance of some people and their blind support for the Private school/shute shield (and equivalents elsewhere) has caused this situation. The worst part for me is I don’t think they can see this even now.

      • The kind of bullshit that can only be dreamed up by lawyers and bankers.
        Me and my mates will eat caviar, during which time you will be better off.
        Oh, nearly forgot…you can pay for it all.

        I wont go off on a rant, think you said it all Nutta

      • Bernie Chan

        Nailed it..

      • Alister Smith

        that’s all fair enough Nutta but a little off the point I was making I think – I was just saying that there are some elements of the game that are tier one sports and others that aren’t

        • Nutta

          And that’s fair too. I took your lead to tee-off in general. No criticism of your point.

        • Alister Smith

          well Cheik gave you that driver for a reason, I guess he expected you to swing it ;)

        • I’ve upvoted both of your posts. I agree with them both, but you’re talking about different things.

          I think international rugby in most countries, at least tier one (in the rugby sense) is a top tier (in the broadcast sense) item still. You get the casual fans, the people who tune in to support our boys (whatever sport they’re playing). And, these days, to support our girls too.

          In Australia, at least and arguably in some other countries, rugby below test level is less attractive to the broadcasters. The specifics of why clearly vary from country to country, In England it took a dip after their ignominious (in the English fans’ eyes) exit from the 2015 RWC for example, but picked up with Fast Eddie’s win streak, and again when BT did a deal with C5 and there is now one match per week on free-to-air TV for the first time in years. In Australia the OBN took the money and fed those with the trotters in the right trough.

          I don’t think it’s too controversial to say that’s tainted the structure of club rugby, SR, and over the last few years in the opinion of the die-hards, fed up into tainting the national team. That of course establishes a vicious cycle for the broadcasters. The casual fans don’t want to see the G&G get thumped in TRC, by England, lose to Scotland and so on. They either stop tuning in, or they watch the first half and then turn over in disgust. Both are bad from a broadcaster’s POV.

          A different approach back in 2003 may not have led to radically different outcomes. The sporting environment is rather different with AFL and NFL similar to and bigger than rugby – nowhere else has that on a national level pulling away the fan base. The North of England has league, but it’s a pretty thin strip, albeit quite a densely populated one. However, it seems likely there could have been a self-sustaining club -> sub SR nationwide contest -> SR -> G&G pipeline. Clearly NZ manage it, SA have something in place. Although there are calls for restructuring the WRU, Wales has something, the Irish and Scots do too. England and France only have systems that work because of rich rugby fans. There are some exceptions to that, Exeter balance their books somehow, but most clubs have someone who pumps in £2-5M/year to keep them going. I don’t know the details in France as well, but from what I know it’s similar.

          It could have been done… and you have to wonder what rugby in Australia would look like, and if the broadcasters would be thinking more positively about it now. Because they can: The English Premiership was the subject of a bidding war between our two PPV networks a few years ago.

        • Nutta

          Fair points. Crystal-balling now on what might have been is more self-gratifying then objective because no one can tell us we’re wrong! So that’s why i say what’s done is done and as my old man used to say ‘all i can change is what happens next Boy.’

          So let’s get thoroughly pragmatic. Strike a deal with the sheep husbanders, even if it is a little one-sided. Get it on FTA. Being broke means we can get IRB cash with caveats that force the breaking of the previously inhibiting chains that only worked to inhibit growth (gee thats bad luck eh?) and go after the kids especially in larger population hitherto untapped areas and keep pushing hard with a participation focus. It won’t be tier1 by wishing it so.

        • I would agree with all your plans going forward.

          You don’t even need all the matches on FTA. BT have a deal where whatever match is scheduled for the Saturday just after lunch (2 pm) kickoff goes to C5. Over the course of the season that pretty much rotates through all the clubs a couple of times, although I haven’t really sat down and done the analysis. But all the games on FTA gets more eyes, more involvement, which right now might be more important. And any money is better than none…

      • Huw Tindall

        This post was like Brett Lee bowling to Piers Morgan….. https://media2.giphy.com/media/105Kl0qapcCOdy/giphy-downsized-medium.gif

        • Nutta

          Yeh, bit harsh eh?

        • Huw Tindall

          Na RA, like Piers, got their comeuppance in this case!

      • Mike D

        Yep, “Get the Wobblies right and it will just trickle down” is how they played it; and it failed. It’s almost as if trickle down economics doesn’t work.

    • KwAussie Rugby Lover

      Good points mate and I think absolutely correct. I’d suggest a Super rugby level of some sort with at least NZ and Australia is also Tier 1, I’m not sure that a local competition with a few Tier 3 teams such as PI or Asian thrown in will achieve Teir 1 status for either NZ or Australia.

    • Hoss

      ‘A piss poor negotiator’ eh, boy do I have a deal for you……..

      • Alister Smith

        I have already bought the Sydney Harbour Bridge but if you have some other property I am keen to add to my portfolio.

        • Hoss

          Yes, but you bought the ‘North-South’ version only, which as anyone from the Hunter knows has a large arsehole at one end. Have you ever considered the ‘Limited Edition, South-North Edition’. With our lifetime payment plan you could proudly own an Australian Icon for generations of your family to come, but wait there’s more….

        • Alister Smith

          that explains why I haven’t been getting any income from tolls like the bloke promised me. So you can hook me up with some of that action then? I will PM you my bank details to make it easier for you to access my account when they payments have to be made

  • For me, a Trans-Tasman competition is a win/win/win situation for the Kiwis, us, and the media such as Fox. The time zones work, the standard of the rugby is world class and the players are tested every game. A perfect lead-in to the World Cup. I remain, in hope, that the NZRU and RA can see the real benefits.

  • Hoss

    I tell you the Force’s prospects of the win keep getting better.

    Just reading now – Pone is out for the Rebs, as to Magnay and their skipper Dane Haylett-Soufle is back for the Rebs – lets face it he either rises or collapses and can be flaky as old lead paint – the odds of a Force win are shortening.

    Just on that imagine if Fa’amausili’s actually played for that Canberian / Canbrian – the sex capital of Australia side he would be Pone, Pony, PONI – i like the alliteration, plus it sounds like one of those weird and graphic animal doco’s Yowie’s always on about. Just a thought.

    Come on Force – DO IT FOR THE TAH’S.

    • Yowie

      Hey! I offered to lend you my “Animal House”, “Raw Horsepower” and “Cattle Prod” DVDs in the good-faith expectation you would be discrete about it.

      • Patrick

        He hasn’t returned them has he?

        • Yowie

          No. I mean you can see those videos on Farmhub dot com now anyway, but it’s the principle of it.

  • Reds Revival

    While I understand the desire to have some attachment to Fox (which I have never been a subscriber), I would much prefer it to go to Optus and Ten. I think Optus will bring a fresh approach, much like the boys on The Australian Rugby Show (TARS) on Rugby Pass. It is a good mix of funny stories and opinion by guys who haven’t been out of the game for decades (Hoilesy, Drew and Sean Maloney, along with Lou Ransome, who has a big job trying to keep the guys on topic). Her presence also ensures that the stories don’t get too bawdy. If you haven’t watched an episode, it is well worth it.

    • Huw Tindall

      TARS is a good watch hey? Refreshing! Maloney and Ransome also do a Shute Shield show once a week streamed on Clutch TV – you’re probably a Hospital Cup man judging by your name but it’s a great grass roots show and expect something similar for QLD would go down a treat.

      • Reds Revival

        I tend to watch the TARS episodes late at night Huw, so I’m not sure if it is genuinely funny, or if I’ve just had too much to drink by that stage. I suspect that they are actually funny (although that may just be a sad cry for help by me!).
        I’m from FNQ, which is why I have been so disappointed about the demise of my team “Qld Country” in the NRC, so don’t really have any skin in the game for Sydney or Brisbane. However, love the fun and energy that the TARS team bring to the game. Easily better than anything Fox have done. So glad that Rugby Pass have picked it up.

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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