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Friday’s Rugby News

Friday’s Rugby News

Friday’s Rugby News sees Trying to Win Tri-Nations,  Argie Bargie, Europe Wrap, and World Rugby Departure

TRYING TO WIN TRI-NATIONS

James OConnor 2020 headshot

With the Tri-Nations Trophy still a mathematical possibility (a man can dream, right?). Wallaby coach Dave Rennie has rolled out what looks to be his strongest possible team to face the Pumas at BankWest Stadium on Saturday night.

What this means is that there is room once more in the starting side for James O’Connor at flyhalf after missing the last three Tests, which sees Reece Hodge switch to fullback. Allan Alaalatoa returns to the starting tighthead role with Taniela Tupou reverting to the bench.

Also returning this week, albeit via the bench is Lukhan Salakaia-Loto meaning Liam Wright drops out of the 23.

There had been much discussion about the makeup of the team once O’Connor returned and the shifting of Hodge to fullback sees a second playmaker kept on the field, something the centre pairing of Hunter Paisami and Jodran Petaia don’t offer, and should at least make Argentina think a bit more about where the ball may go when they are defending.

Hodge performed well as a makeshift flyhalf, although perhaps didn’t grab the last game against the Pumas as he perhaps should have, which ultimately led to that draw.

Rennie was complimentary, but also slightly critical of Hodge, telling rugby.com.au that, “When you look at Hodgey, I think he’s gone really well at 10, he’s been a little lateral though and that’s not easy when you’ve come from playing everywhere else but 10, but I think he’s made a pretty good fist of it.

He went on to explain the O’Conner typically played a bit more square and this should pressure the Argentinian defence more this week.

My take on the team is this: While there might have been a real temptation to play a very young and inexperienced team in the final Test of the year, the fact is that the Wallabies have only one won Test this campaign, albeit with two draws on top of that. While realistically the Tri-Nations trophy is out of reach it is still important to put a good performance together and come out the other side with a win. A season that ends two wins, two draws and two losses is not terrible in the scheme of things and a solid win would be a good stepping stone into whatever 2021 brings.

 

WALLABIES (1-15): Scott Sio, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Allan Alaalatoa, Rob Simmons, Matt Philip, Ned Hanigan, Michael Hooper (c), Harry Wilson, Nic White, James O’Connor, Marika Koroibete, Hunter Paisami, Jordan Petaia, Tom Wright, Reece Hodge

Reserves: Folau Fainga’a, Angus Bell, Taniela Tupou, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Rob Valetini, Jake Gordon, Irae Simone, Tom Banks

ARGIE BARGIE

PabloMaterarugbyplayer

After what could only be described as the week from hell, with the well publicised controversy regarding Pablo Matera and his mates, there has been a late twist to the story with the Argentinian Rugby Union doing what can only be described as a very South American thing and reversing it’s decision to strip the captaincy of Matera and suspend him and the others.

While the trio won’t play against the Wallabies it does sort of throw up the question of how and why it came to this? Was it the reported threat of the team to refuse to play if Matera was not reinstated? Was it just that the UAR thought they had over reacted in their first decision? Either way the disruption faced by the Pumas this week certainly won’t have helped their preparation for this match.

Given there was some debate about whether something said 8-9 years ago should be worthy of suspension, there was no disputing the comments were appalling, so it was interesting to see the UAR fold faster than Superman on laundry day, suggesting there was some player pressure involved.

The UAR put out a statement carried by the BBC which said in part, “The preventive measures are unnecessary so we have resolved to lift the suspension of the three players and reinstate the captaincy to Pablo Matera,” which was a pretty quick u-turn from the quick and decisive actions of earlier in the week.

The good news for the Wallabies is that none of the three will play this weekend, with centre Jeronimo de la Fuente to lead the side in what is still a strong line up.

The Pumas will be looking to end their campaign strongly after running into an All-Blacks side keen for revenge last week, and also to try and topple the Wallabies after drawing with them last time out.

PUMAS (1-15): Nahuela Tetaz Chaparro, Julian Montoya, Francisco Gomez Kodela, Matias Alemanno, Marco Kremer, Santiago Grondona, Facundo Isa, Rodrigo Bruni, Felipe Ezcurra, Nicolas Sanchez, Emiliano Boffelli, Jeronimo de la Fuente (c), Matias Orlando, Bautista Delguy, Santiago Carreras

Reserves: Jose Luis Gonzalez, Mayco Vivas, Juan Pablo Zeiss, Lucas Paulos, Francisco Gorrissen, Gonzalo Bertranou, Domingo Miotti, Santiago Chocobares

 

EUROPE WRAP

320px-Premiership_rugby_logo_2018.svg

This weekend sees the conclusion of the made for TV Mickey Mouse Cup (I mean the Autumn Nations Cup) in Europe and the one real positive this week is that Fiji will finally get a game after COVID caused their other three games to be postponed. Sadly for them and for us, it is against Georgia in a battle for the last place in the competition. It would have been really good to see them in full flight against one of the Tier One Nations but you take what you can I suppose at this point.

The Fijians aren’t messing about in their one opportunity either, naming a full strength team to face what has been a very disappointing Georgian outfit who were looking to stake claims to enter an enlarged Six Nations in the future.

Other games this weekend see Ireland and Scotland, Wales and Italy and the game for all the marbles between France and England.

The final itself shapes to be a one sided affair (famous last words!) with a large part of the the French squad unavailable due to hitting the limit set down by the clubs in terms of the number of games played. So what this means is that a near full strength England is facing a French team that has had to promote several of it’s previous U20 teams to face the Poms. With support like this from former players you have to wonder….

Elsewhere the English Premiership continues with Exeter already setting the pace after two games with plus 67 for and against. Surely tougher games will come but they are the defending champions and look hard to stop. The face Leicester this weekend, and in other games, Wasps take on second placed Newcastle. Worcester face Bath, Bristol host Northampton, London Irish play Sale and Gloucester will battle Harlequins.

WORLD RUGBY DEPARTURE

World Rugby Emblem

In a blow to World Rugby, the CEO, Australian Brett Gosper has quit to take up a role with the NFL. Gosper has been instrumental in the last two Rugby World Cups, turning the events into showpieces on the global sporting calendar, not to mention a nice little earner for the host nation to boot.

Gosper’s new role will be to try and further increase the NFL’s footrprint into Europe. The NFL have (until this year and COVID) played at least one game a year in London and had signed a ten year contract to play two games a year with Engligh Premier League side Tottenham.

There has been ongoing talk for a number of years about a team relocating to the UK permanently, although it has never gone beyond the scuttlebutt phase.

Blinkered rugby fans may laugh but any significant increase in NFL coverage and participation could be detrimental to rugby in the long term. We have already seen in Australia some flirting with NRL players trying to transition and Englishman Christian Wade did the same as well. It isn’t the late age transition that is or should be of concern here as most of those attmepts are little more than a novelty and fail to appreciate the complexity of the NFL.

What will be the worry is the battle for hearts and minds of fans. With the NFL close to it’s maximum fan base in the US it is hungry for revenue and eyeballs elsewhere. If this happens, that is when the trickle down will start to occur and kids will eventually look to it as a viable alternative in the playing side of things.

 

 

 

 

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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