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Monday’s Rugby News

Monday’s Rugby News

Monday’s Rugby News sees the action from all the weekend, Jones on the result, Super Rugby in Hawaii and the Brumbies taking one step at a time. 


Super Results

Taqele Naiyaravoro dreaming about smashing people.

Taqele Naiyaravoro dreaming about smashing people.

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.

Hawaii Hulas?

sunwolves intercept

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…

Cranky Eddie Jones at post-match press-conference. Not impressed with Stephen Hoiles' question

Cranky Eddie Jones at post-match press-conference.

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!

Dan McKellar and Sam Carter post match press conference

Dan McKellar and Sam Carter post match press conference

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.

  • Adrian

    A good weekend all round.
    All games as tipped, and all bookmaker and punter favorites won.

    Player of round: Folau
    Greatest effort from returning player: Kepu
    Coach of round: Gibson
    Try of round: Naiyaravoro
    Run-on debut of round:Short
    Strongest run by Forward: Mafi
    Unsung hero: Rodda
    Setting others up award: Beale

    • John Tynan

      Bit excited Adrian?
      Strongest run, or most eye- catching? I’d nominate a Timu against your Mafi.
      Player of the round? I’m afraid Izzy did what I would expect from my athletic winger, no more and no less. Not sure which way I’d lean as an alternative though.
      I do agree with you on Short, he had a great debut, nice pass, good motor, great support.

      • formerflanker

        Maddocks is an athletic winger yet didn’t do what Izzy did. You damm izzy with faint praise.

        • John Tynan

          I know what you mean, it is in the back of my mind that being good just becomes expected. But I stand by it. Tahs (and Wobs) need him to take games by the scruff, and he just doesn’t do that often enough for me.

        • formerflanker

          Yeah, I would like to see that too.
          Maybe a permanent move to right wing in both teams will see that. Add in the “roving commission” too.
          Here’s hoping.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Nice Adrian and glad you didn’t need to hide, although the result blew me away. I just hope they keep it up, of course except when they play my NZ teams :-)

      I
      ‘m glad Folau played well, I’ve been saying for a while I thought he’d be a better wing than a Fullback or Centre and yesterday’s game proived that as far as I’m concerned. I agree with others here about Timu being the best forward run. he was immense in both attack and defence and if he keeps that up he should be a good option for the wallaby team – should Cheika decide to look past NSW that is.

      • Adrian

        I think our back row stocks are looking up.
        Timu, for certain.
        Timani good each week, incl yesterday.
        Pocock in 2 weeks
        Dempsey in 6 weeks
        Naisarani next year.
        Tui an option.

        We won’t know that much though, until a few Australian teams have played Kiwi teams

        • Hoss

          Amen mate

        • Missing Link

          Looking forward to the return of Dempsey the most. Showed a LOT of promise last year before his injuries.

        • jamie

          I’m hoping Holloway shows up at some point too.

  • mikado

    CONGRATULATIONS IRELAND. Best team in the NH and thoroughly deserved the Grand Slam. For England a thoroughly chastening experience.

    Good results for the Aussie SR teams! I’m really looking forward to AUS/IRE. Should be a titanic series.

  • Alister Smith

    The most interesting point of the Hawaii article for me was the comment that professionalism in rugby is around 65 years behind NFL and that it’s a bigger game internationally – also the comments re: the better acceptance of RL in the US itself. Not sure whether either will prove to be true but it will be interesting to see how it develops. I am not sure why they would look to populate their team primarily with Pacific Islanders – it would be a good way to introduce US professionals to Super Rugby. In my mind, however, this is the sort of team that would ideally work in the first run of the IPRC/WSR both geographically and playing level – a good place to start to develop and then hopefully if it gets rolled into a new Asia Pacific Super 15 (or whatever the numbers are) they will have had a couple of seasons to develop.

    • Dally M

      Yeah, I can’t see League getting better acceptance over there. They are probably saying that because of the simpler rules of count to 5, have you scored? No, kick it.

      Rugby union is already on the ground over there with lots of smaller amateur & college leagues up & running. Not to mention the 7’s which has a leg in Vegas.

      I guess they think an Islander team would be more attractive to the native population.

      Would be good to have them involved in the new comp we go into with NZ etc. come 2020.

      • Alister Smith

        I think they are reasoning that Rugby League is similar to NFL – limited tackles – big collisions – played on a similar grid these days and the rules are perhaps a little less complex than ours. I think the fact that 7’s is an olympic sport and rugby has a greater international presence would see them take it up a bit more – its already in a few colleges and has been for a while – I coached Texas A&M player who was visiting 15 years ago – great athlete but not as much game sense or handling skills as someone who had been around the game since childbirth. There is a risk is that it might become the Gold Coast Titans of Super Rugby – a place to play up rather than to just play.

      • Parker

        Dally M, the fastest growing sport in the USA in terms of player participation is Rugby, with the women’s game spearheading that growth. I love the vision that these investors have and I think they are spot on with their enterprise. They are also very right to identify the dodgy role of the administrators in SR as a hurdle. I can imagine a Hawaiian team being the first domino and a Californian one being the second. It may be slow, but it’s going to be big. Good on these guys for laying the foundation.

    • Who?

      The biggest question in the whole Hawaii team for me is…
      Why hasn’t anyone put this forward as an option for a PI team before?! It’s just so logical! Introduces the US to SR, has a chance of being financially viable (there’s already the Aloha stadium there, but no permanent NFL team), some level of Polynesian ties… This makes sense to me.
      I’d love to see a Hawaii based team in World Series Rugby (IPRC), then folding (with the Force) into Super Rugby in 2020/1.

      • Joe King

        I saw the idea put up a few years ago. Can’t remember who, but i’ll try and dig it up. Could have been just an ordinary poster come to think of it on a roar article…

  • Nutta

    Nick – Firstly I just want to acknowledge your work. Cheers

    Sorry to see the Donkey Girls get mauled by the Qlders like that. But the Qlders played well and the Canberrans will learn from it.

    Up the Irish! The perfect gift to my mother on her birthday!

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Nice write up Nick. I certainly didn’t see that happening yesterday and well done to the Tahs. Now just keep it up and do it again.

    Loved that English / Irish game. If Schmidt brings his top team over this year then they will definitely give the Wallabies a run for their money

    • Brisneyland Local

      Thats the bit that worries me!

  • Hoss

    Tah’s result was never in doubt………

    Great weekend for Rugby lovers and thanks for another great write-up Nick, you must be burning the midnight candle !!

    As a Tah’s fan i am suitably content this morning, as an Oz Rugby fan i am somewhat conflicted though ? Seemingly (on paper) our best team had 51 put on them against a team that represents the Forest Gump Chocolates, the Red battlers had another gutsy win against the same white hot (admittedly stone cold against the Reds) Frangentinians. Was it gutsy – sure, was it built on defence, absolutely, are they a growing force of young bucks on the rise – abso-bloody-lutely, just where do they sit on the scale of things – no frigging idea ? The Brumbies had a win, dull, boring and ugly – which coincidentally is the same as the reviews i have received on my e-harmony profile, its here that i have the most confidence in the Australian Conference – on current form, playing talent and ability to improve – i predict the Brumbies finishing last in our conference.

    As for the Paddies v The Soap Dodgers – i would say the same as above. Ireland are well drilled and played strong, but England were unimpressive and dull. Sure the Paddies start favourites in June, but i am less worried about them then i was in November – intriguing series coming up.

    • Andy

      Round of applause again.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Hahaha, it was a little bit in doubt at half time I think mate. Great 2nd half though and disappointing to see the rebels fall off so much. TBH I’d have rather seen a tight battle regardless of who won.

      I think the Irish shouldn’t be inderestimated. Yeah the P{oms played dumb rugby but the forward battle was still pretty intense and harder than what we are used to down here. What is interesting was they way they were able to make opportunities whilst still having a really strong defence. I’m not as optimistic as you so I’m still worried.

      • Hoss

        i still think those emerald isle boys are rightful favourites mate, but June is mid-season for us, some of our best are back (Kepu, Pocock) and growing depth in our forwards – i am not saying we will win, i am just saying i am not quiet as pessimistic as i once was i am pessimistically optimistic

      • Hoss

        When i am in an existentialist funk KRL I turn to my role model, mentor and spiritual advisor to guide me thru

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFeVfwDvTyM

    • onlinesideline

      well as an OZ rugby fan, you would have had plenty to worry about if the rebels got up because 7 of the 15 Tahs are our first picks for national side. Would have been a sad indictement on Wallabies if rebels won. – Robertson, Kepu, Ned, Hopper, Foley, KB and Izzy. They are not my picks and probably not yours either but you see my point.

      • Hoss

        my brain hurts

  • Andy

    Considering the tahs pack can all comfortably fit in hatch backs the game plan deployed on Saturday was perfect. They are never going to bully teams off the park so the Harlem globetrotter approach is not only vital but thoroughly entertaining. And it helps they have he backs to play it.

    They definatly won’t win the competition playing this way but no one is expecting them too. As long as they entertain I’ll be content, at least for this season.

  • John Tynan

    The hawaii team kit will be a hoops jersey…

    • McWarren

      Aaron Smiths already signed up for a lay

  • John Tynan

    Loud and proud mate!
    I certainly didn’t pick it. While I thought the Tah’s had more upside than the Rebels, I also thought they needed more time to get there.

  • Missing Link

    go on oy-are-land :D

  • Happyman

    Just listened to the fine work of the Eggchasers and was put onto the Romania Spain match in the second tier six nations. I will never complain about refereeing again. Spain penalised either 24 to 4 or worse by the Romanian referee and as a result of losing Romania make the RWC in Japan.
    Smells very very bad the full game is on there somewhere.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aTcyamiYv8g

  • Happyman

    Just listened to the fine work of the Eggchasers and was put onto the Romania Spain match in the second tier six nations. I will never complain about refereeing again. Spain penalised either 24 to 4 or worse by the Romanian referee and as a result of losing Romania make the RWC in Japan.

    Smells very very bad the full game is on there somewhere.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aTcyamiYv8g

    • GeorgiaSatellite

      That was Spain v Belgium. I’m not up on the refereeing issue though. I was at the Georgia (25) v Romania (16) game yesterday – good match. Unlike Georgia v Spain 2 weeks ago. That was rubbish. I think Romania are the better team, despite Spain having beaten them earlier in the tournament. There’s definitely an issue with the quality of referees at this level.

  • LBJ

    Rats v UQ was a cracker. Great to see Fox support it with live coverage – but a shame it’s played pre-season as it effectively becomes just a trial match.

    Would be great if it was expanded to top two teams from previous season from NSW/ QLD + others and interspersed through the season. It could really gather some followers and ignite some passion.

Rugby
@Nick_Wasiliev

Die-hard Brumbies/Country Eagles fan now based in Sydney. Author, anthropologist, musician and second-rower trying to kick start a writing career in an increasingly bonkers world...

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