Aside from the Rebels, it was a pretty bloody awesome weekend for the Aussie teams in round five, with two wins against international opposition and a cracker of a derby match.
We start off in Canberra. It was dull, it was scrappy and it was tedious, but a win is a win, and this one was certainly an important one for the Brumbies as they knocked over the Sharks 24-17. The horses looked a lot more organised than previous weeks, with the pairing between Wharenui Hawera and Christian Lealiifano immediately bringing reward in the backline.
They also put in a solid defensive effort, until it was eclipsed by what happened over in Argentina.
Picking up their first three wins in a row on the trot since 2013, the Reds pulled off arguably their best effort of the season so far, beating the Jaguares 7-18. This was gritty, grinding rugby, and the Reds forward pack turned on the goods while their backline repelled wave after waved of Argentinean attack.
In a surprise fact, out of all the countries in Super Rugby, Australian teams have the best record so far against international opposition, with only one loss, six wins and a draw. Yep, even the Kiwis have lost more matches.
Finally, the Waratahs hosted the Rebels in a match that many were anticipating, but few could have predicted. The Rebels dominated the first half leading 10-20 at halftime, but then the Tahs came out and went absolutely bananas, scoring 41 points in the second half to win 51-27.
Ohhh, so what’s the Waratahs look like when they play well? It’s been so long!
The Brums and the Tahs will enjoy a bye this coming round, while the Rebels will be looking to avenge this week just gone when they host the Sharks, while the Reds head to South Africa to play the Stormers.
So all up, there were so many good performances. Question for all you GAGRs: which performance was your favourite for the weekend?
In other Super Rugby news, the Stormers pulled off the upset of the round by knocking over the Blues, 37-20. The other big surprise was the Moon Dogs, who nearly knocked over the Lions in Johannesburg if it wasn’t for a late resurgence from the home team, who won 40-38.
The other results in New Zealand saw the Chiefs beat the Bulls 41-28, while the Highlanders had a thrilling match when they hosted the Crusaders, with the home team winning 25-17.
And finally, we head to Super W.
With the Rebels Women having the bye, the Brumbies Women hosted Queensland in Canberra. As badly as the Brums wanted it, they were totally outplayed by a Queensland team that was out to make a point after last week. They ran out 5-42 winners.
It was far from as easy a ride when NSW Women hosted the Western Force Women in Sydney. The women from the west dominated a large amount of the first half, until NSW came back in the closing stages to lead 17-10 at halftime. In the end, despite a valiant effort from the Force Women in the second half, they eventually ran out of fuel in the tank and NSW closed it out, 32-10.
After just two rounds, the Super W has already caught the attention of many a rugby fan, with some serious high quality on display so far in the competition. What’s even better is that it shows how many great female players Australia has. This competition will do wonders for the Wallaroos in future years. If you have time, check out some of the highlights of these matches, you honestly won’t be disappointed.
No, it’s not the actual name. But the idea is there.
Richard Fale, a Hawaiian businessman who fronts a consortium of rich businessmen and former NFL players, is planning to come crashing into two codes in the next few years.
On top of looking to buy the New Zealand Warriors in the NRL, they are also planning to have a Super Rugby team based in Hawaii.
Sound bonkers to you? It won’t when you hear how much dosh they’ve got.
“We have been looking at the acquisition of a Super Rugby franchise. An expansion franchise down the road,” Fale said to the Sunday Star Times in NZ.
“It would be a Pacific Island based franchise that we would operate out of Hawaii.
“That was actually our initial idea, because Sanzaar was talking about expansion, they were adding Japan and Argentina.
“Then they were talking about the next steps being the United States, so we thought let’s check this out.”
Even if he does take over the Warriors, Fale did make it clear that the consortium has enough financial muscle to fund both the Warriors and the new Hawaiian team.
“They can’t expand until the new broadcasting deal begins, so we’re still working and talking about that,” he added.
“We’re in a position where we could make both happen.
“There are some challenges with Super Rugby, because the question of title is a big issue.
“You can’t ask guys to put in $50 million to launch the team and then they can yank the licence from you like they did to the Western Force.
“Then that would be $50 million down the drain. So those are some challenges where we have to gain clarity.
“The Melbourne Rebels are a privately owned team and even they were in danger of being yanked.”
Fale made it no secret that he would love to own an NFL team too, but even his consortium can’t afford a team like that. However, they do have plenty of dosh for Super Rugby to back up their bark.
“For the Carolina Panthers, the starting price is $2.2 billion and could sell for over $3 billion,” Fale said.
“We don’t have the money to play in that arena, each of our guys can put in $5-10 million. So while we can’t have an impact when it comes to the NFL, we can when it comes to rugby league or rugby union.”
Fale can see the strengths of both rugby codes, feeling league could take off in mainland America, while rugby union could work in Hawaii.
“What drove our interest in rugby union is that it’s only been professional since 1996,” he said.
“It’s the same age that the NFL was in 1941 and look how far the NFL has come. Rugby union is way bigger than the NFL if you count fans and the numbers that play it.
“Rugby league has massive potential for growth, we can see it as an easier product for Americans to engage in and consume.
“There’s constant excitement and people love the collisions, so the potential for the US market is definitely there and we see a lot of opportunity for growth down the road.”
What do we think? Completely bonkers or a legitimate solution to help Pacific Island rugby?
On the International Front…
The Six Nations came to a dramatic end over the weekend too, with plenty of close shaves and broken records.
Starting off in Rome, Italy gave Scotland a hell of a fright and put on a courageous performance that saw them nearly take the match in the final moments. However, the Scots managed to clinch the game at the death, winning 27-29. The win saw the Scots finish in third place, handing the Italians their seventh straight loss.
The Azzuri however did pick up a losing bonus point, which is the first time since 2015 that they’ve actually managed to get a competition point. So I guess that’s an achievement…. yay?
The second match was the one everyone was raving about, with Ireland giving the Irish public the ultimate St. Patrick’s Day present: a win against England at Twickenham. The victory handed the Irish their fourteenth Six Nations title, their tenth Triple Crown title, and their third Grand Slam. Seriously, I’m terrified for when they come down here in June.
For England, the 15-24 loss has all but confirmed (for English fans) that #downfall2018 is upon us (that’s not us saying that, ask the Eggchasers). The English ended up finishing in fifth this tournament, which has many calling for Eddie Jones to be removed from the coaching role. Yeah, seriously.
But at least Eddie was more gracious in defeat, particularly after he’d had a controversial week beforehand where he got in trouble for bagging out Wales and Ireland.
“They’re a good, tough team, well coached, very well disciplined. They play to their strengths and they’re very worthy Grand Slam winners,” he said to AAP.
“There was no lack of effort from (England) but we just struggled to execute at certain times. I thought our players really stuck at it, but we gave them too big a lead.
“It’s obviously disappointing but you go through these little runs and the only way you get out of it is by sticking to the process and focusing on what you need to improve.
“We’ve just got to keep working on our game, keep looking at how we can improve it.”
Finally, that leads us to Cardiff, where Wales secured the runner-up position after downing a resilient French outfit, 14-13. It was an old-school arm-wrestle, but one that proved important for the Scarlets in what was a pretty mixed campaign.
The French meanwhile, finished in fourth. For Les Bleus the last three weeks have been some of most encouraging in French rugby for quite some time. With wins over Italy and England seeing them up start to head back up the IRB rankings, it looks like they could be on their way back to being more a force to be reckoned with in World Rugby.
That being said, it could still be a way away if they get flogged by the All Blacks in the June series.
Keep ya nerves together!
It has been a stressful couple of weeks for Dan McKellar.
After a shaky win against the Moon Dogs, the Brumbies were brought crashing back to earth in Brisbane and Melbourne, almost to the point we were wondering if McKellar was the right appointment for the job.
Finally, with a more convincing win under his belt in the Sharks, Dan is more optimistic about the team building confidence in the next few weeks and to begin challenging the top of Australian conference.
“There was a bit of an overreaction (outside of the club) with how we performed the first couple of weeks and I think people underestimate the travel that goes into this competition,” McKellar said to rugby.com.au.
“We played a trial on the Sunshine Coast after the Brisbane 10s, so we’ve learnt plenty around scheduling because we were away for eight or nine days before the season even started.
“We haven’t been at home for the first round of the competition for a couple of years now – we were over at Christchurch last year.
“If SANZAAR are thinking about what the draw is going to be for 2019, a start at home would be lovely.”
Well, following this coming bye at the weekend, the Brumbies will enjoy four of their next five matches at home. To finally play more in front of the Canberra crowd will hopefully see them start to string some wins together.
Currently, they are the lowest Aussie team on the Super Rugby leader board, sitting in eleventh.
But they are only one point outside the top eight, and could go higher if they knock off arch-rivals the Waratahs after their bye on March 31. Also, David Pocock is expected to play in that match.