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Monday’s Rugby News

Monday’s Rugby News

The GAGR daily Rugby News is back!!
For this first news day back we have a little look at the year ahead, wrap up the Hammo Sevens, travel to Canberra to see how the out of favour Reds players fared against the other out of favour Reds players and World Rugby have a new mandate for refs this year.


A note from the author.

Thank you to everyone for welcoming me on board last year.  I had a great time and hope you did too.
And thank you to the team at GAGR who have welcomed me back for another year!  With the Reds having not lost a game yet and a world cup to look forward to my hopes are high.
And to you, the reader, your comments, critiques and general banter have made this role so much more than I expected.

Here’s to another year of it all.

Cheers.


HAPPY NEW YEAR

Meme of the yeah from el Pedro

Meme of the year from el Pedro, **EDIT, it was Bobas that created this masterpiece

The new calendar has been hung, The Hottest 100 has again not featured a single song I’m familiar with, the cricket season’s starting to wrap up and teachers are enjoying their last few days of freedom before returning to the classroom, it means rugby season is edging nearer.

For us here in Green and Gold Rugby land, there’s a few other things we’re excited by.  The World Cup is now into the “months to go” countdown, Super Rugby trials are kicking off, the Sevens world series is firing up and your news writers will be gracing your computer screens on different days.

Ive traded in my traditional Tuesday for Monday, Nathan will again be bringing up Matt Dunning’s field goal every Wednesday and you’ll have more Dylan than usual this week as he takes on all the other days as we try to settle in for another year of informative banter.

ANYWAY

The news-writing captain (for want of a better term) Nick, has put together some BOLD predictions for the upcoming year.  In my opinion, this boy is living on a hope and a prayer, but he can certainly string a sentence together and we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

In something a little closer to home, (for yours truly) Ben has pieced together this preview of the mighty Reds’ season.

After a full year of Brad BallTM at Ballymore their games will by closely watched.

Hmmm, maybe it’s QLD’s turn to live on a hope and a prayer…?

For this year, along with a keen eye on how the above prophetic statements play out, we’ll also be doing our level best to keep you across all aspects of the game played in heaven, just like we do every year.

So from all of us at GAGR*, welcome back.

*ok, it’s officially just from me, but I’m sure everyone else expresses a similar sentiment.

Hamilton Sevens

Fiji at it again

Fiji at it again

Round three of the HSBC Sevens played out over the weekend in Hamilton, New Zealand.

Only the men’s teams ran around as part of the world series but they (as seems about par for the Kiwis) also hosted a women’s tournament, the “Fast Four”.

Tournament General Manager Steve Dunbar summed it up back in August when the competition was announced, “We are excited to be hosting the first international women’s sevens tournament to be played in New Zealand and I know fans will be thrilled to have the chance to cheer on the Black Ferns Sevens at home”

“The recent World Cup showcased the incredible skill, speed and excitement of women’s sevens and fans can’t get enough. Adding a women’s tournament to our Hamilton event alongside the men’s tournament takes the HSBC New Zealand Sevens to another level.”

On the Women’s side of things, the home side crushed all and sundry, rounding it out with a comprehensive 31-0 victory in the final over France.

England proved too strong for China to take home 3rd.

In the Men’s, it was the Flying Fijians taking it out.  They overpowered USA in the final by 38 points to nil, a second win in a row for Fiji and incredibly, USA’s third second place after three tournaments this season.  It sees Fiji and USA tied on 57 points atop the overall standings.

The locals hung on for third place, thumping the Blitzbokke, 29-7.

Scotland knocked off Samoa for 5th and our boys had to settle for a share of 7th.

Speaking to rugby.com.au coach Walsh didn’t mince his words, “Very disappointing, we can’t hide our disappointment really,

“Pretty gutted, particularly the way we are finishing tournaments. We are doing some good stuff on day one and then just not showing consistency.”

Round 4 is in Sydney this coming weekend with both men’s and women’s comps coming to town.

 

Trial Match-Brumbies vs Rebels

James Slipper will be turning out in dark blue a lot more this year

James Slipper will be turning out in dark blue a lot more this year

It’s been a thousand degrees around Australia of late so you could forgive the lads for both-

  1. taking it easy, and
  2. dropping the ball a bunch of times.

Despite the conditions, the Brumbies and Rebels did their best to entertain the hardy fans that filtered in to Viking Park.

In a nearly point a minute showdown (it was a 90-minute game), the Horsies got the pre-season bragging rights by 52 points to 38.

Both teams have welcomed exiled former Wallabies but unfortunately for Melbourne, Quade Cooper sat out after picking up a leg injury in the lead up.   Coach Dave Wessels didn’t seem too concerned saying “Quade got a bump on the knee during training towards the back end of the week and he’s just got a bit of fluid on the knee,” he said.

“He probably could have played to be honest, but I don’t want him to miss training next week.”

Another former Red turned out with James Slipper playing about half the match for his new club.

Despite his extended break from the game his work around the park please his new coach Dan McKellar.

His new coach only had a few words on Slipper’s performance, but they were all positive, “I thought he scrummaged really well and had some really good involvements around the park.”

Our resident Brumby-obsessed writer has a far more involved match review he’s kindly put together for us.

There are plethora of other trials coming up, and from experience, they’re a fun night out, so get along and lend your voice to your team.

Dangerous Tackles in Focus

Will a renewed focus on player safety be enforced?

Will a renewed focus on player safety be enforced?

Humour affords us an opportunity to bring up otherwise touchy subjects.

A fine example of this comes from Queensland’s oldest and most respected broadsheet.

The headline reads, “Local Prop Who Forgot School Pick-Up Twice This Week Says Concussion Rules Are Bullshit”.

If you read that, had a chuckle and then paused to think about it, this just might resonate with you.

With four French players losing their lives in recent memory, the recent retirement of former Bok Pat Lambie and just in the last week, the death of Samoan player Faiva Tagatauli, the very real dangers players face are clear to see.

In response, a crackdown on dangerous tackles will come into force for the first round of the Six Nations.

The laws shan’t change (they can’t change it in a world cup year) but it seems that the powers that be have said enough is enough.

World Rugby’s High Performance 15s Match Officials Manager Alain Rolland (his actual title) is set to address the match officials this week and the attention to illegal tackles will be high on the agenda.

How it plays out is yet to be seen, but Brumbies coach Dan McKellar will be hoping a clear line in the sand is drawn after he came out swinging, decrying the officiating around his star openside, David Pocock, who missed games last year with injuries from the illegal “neck roll” clean out.

 

 

  • AllyOz

    Well it seems to have fallen to me to enter the first comments for the 2019 Daily GAGR news.

    I will start off with a thank you to Andrew. Well done and welcome back.

    I don’t have much to say really. I thought I could stir some initial controversy by pointing out that QC appears to be injury prone and already the Rebels investment seems at risk but that would be unkind. I will wait for Round 1 to do that.

    If the rules don’t change then I guess the interpretations will have to. The recent run of tragic deaths in rugby in France and Samoa can’t be ignored but whether or not there is a trend or a common factor in all of them I can’t say. I think the changes in Qld Schoolboys and the “front row licence” are a good idea and hopefully will help to address potential spinal injuries. There is always going to be a risk in playing a contact sport but if there are ways we can minimise those risks then we should look at them.

    • Brisneyland Local

      AllyOz congrats on being the first commenter! An achievement no one can take away from you! ;-)

    • Andrew H

      Thanks AllyOz.
      Now now, lay off ma boi Quade. He had a rough time of it last year and I shan’t have you laying into him as early as January.

      • AllyOz

        I wouldn’t dare. He is the Messiah like figure who will lead us out of rugby oblivion to World Cup glory (or just a former naughty boy)

    • I’m not going to downplay the tragedy of the recent deaths but with my stats hat on a moment, I’m going to inject a note of caution. When you have rare events – and thankfully deaths on the rugby or around the rugby pitch are rare – you sometimes get weird clusters.

      To give another, also tragic, example, consider large plane crashes. We don’t get many, years can go by without any. Then you have a year or two when it seems like they happen every month.

      We’re fairly sure, in the case of plane crashes, there isn’t an underlying cause, it is just a tragic coincidence. In the case of the rugby deaths we can’t be sure yet but it seems pretty likely that these too are a tragic coincidence. There is always going to be an issue in rugby that you have big guys hitting each other hard and, however much you try to improve player safety, sometimes there will be dangerous hits and very rarely that can lead to severe injuries and, as we’ve seen recently, death.

      Plane flights, you can legislate to say “You can’t take off without doing x, y, z” and because large planes are expensive and need a team of people to service them and fly them, they mostly follow the rules. When they discover a problem they change the rules and, by and large the issue goes away.

      Rugby you legislate to say “you can’t hit people higher than the shoulders” and it still happens (even if it’s rarer) because people are making split second decisions, not slow, considered actions that take hundreds of person-hours.

      • Andrew H

        Yes, of course.
        It might well be unrelated to anything that can be legislated against or enforced on a rugby pitch and I do wonder if reporting of subsequent incidents will be prone to unintended biases? Maybe it happens more often than we think and we’re all falling into an echo chamber of sorts?
        One hopes that all of the available data and expertise can be collated so that if there *is* anything that can be changed, that it is.

        • I agree it’s important to look, but equally important to look carefully. As AllyOz has pointed out – I’d forgotten and had to do some work – one of the deaths is not related to anything you can legislate out of anything except tag rugby, or flag rugby, it was a totally legal hit across the chest, and it caused his heart to stop. You’re not going to stop that.

          Lowering the tackle height has reduced concussions in the tackled player – intended result. I need to see the overall stats, I think (the reporting of the raw data doesn’t seem to be coming out) there’s an increase in concussions for tacklers though. But, overall there’s quite a bit reduction in concussions which is good for the long term health of rugby players. Not the only concern of course, you hear players talking about long term knee pain and the like, but it’s a big one.

        • AllyOz

          No stats for this or any evidence to back it up at all but, of all the sports I have watched, I would have thought netball and Aussie Rules would have to be up there for the sports at most risk of causing knee injury.

        • I think all sports cause knee damage (possibly the training as much as the playing) so ex-players often complain about bad knees. I’m not necessarily thinking of injuries that take you away from playing where I suspect basketball, netball and Aussie Rules are way up there, yes, just damage from pounding the cartilage in the joints day in, day out and then finding you can’t walk comfortably 10 years after you retire.

          Perhaps it’s an unusual subset, but several commentary teams I’ve heard talking about, ex-players of all sizes seem to have knee issues now – even if they didn’t have history of knee injuries during their careers. Small group but they all have it in common.

      • AllyOz

        I think there is certainly an element of that. I tried to find the reason and a couple were from head knocks while one was a direct hit on the chest that caused ancardiac arrest – a law change won’t avoid that, Alko as I understand it there is a greater percentage of concussions incurred by tacklers than there are those to people being tackled so adjusting the tackle height will not solve all these. Others are also incurred when people come into aa duck at a legal height.

        • Huw Tindall

          Correct re tacklers being more at risk. RFU canned their trial of the nipple height laws last week as a mid season review showed an increase in concussion!!!! In this case to the tacklers as they were always going low putting their heads very close to large men’s hips, thighs and knees.

        • Have you seen the raw data about concussions? Are the tacklers more at risk (that is an actual significant increase in the number of tacklers getting concussed) or is it just a shift in the proportion as the number of tackled players getting concussed falls, which you’d expect?

          If there is an actual increase in the tacklers who get concussed (you can see there might be, they’re going to hit the pelvis, knees, elbows and so on more often as they try to aim lower) then I wonder if there will be another shift in the laws. Perhaps an increase in players all over the pitch wearing scrum caps to give them a little padding?

  • sambo6

    Let me start this year’s daily news, exactly the way I finished last year…

    SACK CHEIKA NOW

    Now that’s out of the way…..roll on 2019….

    • Hoss

      Our very own ‘Chexit’ with a hard landing.

      • Brisneyland Local

        And you start the new year off with pure gold.
        Boy have I missed this!

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      I guess this will be a recurring theme throughout the year.

  • Gottsy

    Welcome back everyone! It’s gonna be a big year. Very much looking forward to solving all the problems of aus rugby with you all over the next 10 months or so- and maybe even getting out of the pool stages in Japan ;)

    Ps Reds to top the aus conference

    • Brisneyland Local

      Welcome back young fella. I look forward to another year of your witty and insightful contributions!

      • Gottsy

        Thanks mate you too!

    • Andrew H

      +10 for enthusiasm. :)

  • Brisneyland Local

    Well Happy Monday GAGR’s and welcome back to you all. I am sincerely looking forward to everyones witty banter, and great discussion on rugby. I am hopeing this year will see a growth in our domestic product (SR), and if the right influences are bought to bare, a change in the slection and game plans at the Wallabies (With or without the Ass Clown).
    Lets get this party started!

    • Andrew H

      Good morning to you too BLL.

      • Brisneyland Local

        Welcome back Andrew! Looking forward to some great discussions with you this year!

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      The universe is settling down. Welcome back big fella. Still a way to go before we start reporting on actual games but life is definitely back on track

      • Brisneyland Local

        Yep it is. But not long to go. Gives us a chance to bed down our banter and improve our keyboard skills before we start proper.

  • Bobas

    Handy Andyside! That’s my meme! But to be compared to the great El-Pedro is no insult. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/fdc3c5fca2790520bed56790b5749ab8f433c805934ba1e606a223cbbdb169c3.jpg

    • Andrew H

      awww noooo brew!! Sorry mate, I thought this one was Poida. I’ll edit my caption.

    • Huw Tindall

      You’ll have a tough task topping this meme this season. Can’t trade of past glories forever mate ;)

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Just change the date on the bowl

  • Happyman

    Hello and welcome back to GAGR. I now have my first and best source of rugby information back.

    I was starting to feel unclean reading other websites.

    Watched the Fijians yesterday afternoon and just wow they were awesome. USA are also the real deal and could change the face of the game as far sevens are concerned.

    Will be an interesting season ahead and looking forward to the banter.

    • Andrew H

      USA’s second season of MLR kicked off this weekend too. Could be something finally starting to stir over there.

      • Huw Tindall

        That could be interesting hey? Few more internationals signing up at the tail end of their careers too. I’m pretty sure last year the Seattle team sold out all their home games before the season started and went on to win the title last year. It’s a 4,500 seat stadium that also hosts Major League Soccer so not bad at all! More people than attend Southern Kings games in Port Elizabeth!!

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        If they ever get it together in 15’s they’ll certainly be a threat. None of this bipartisan bullshit holding them back and no old boys club to pander to. Just concentrate on developing a team with the latest sports science and purchased knowledge.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Welcome back mate. Weren’t those Fijians fantastic. I’m almost glad they’re not in our pool a team RWC

      • Happyman

        Yes mate a joy to watch and scary when you think that they beat the Safas by 20 in the semi.

        They seem to have found a formula a Hard nosed Western coach who keeps them accountable and fit then just express there skills. Remember they suspended a player for drinking after they won the Cape Town event as it was against team rules.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Wow! Player accountability! Who’d have thought that was a good thing.

        • Happyman

          Who would have thought you never know it could catch on.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Not holding my breath but yeah it’d be nice

        • Didn’t work out too well for Lancaster in England… Fast Eddie had a real dip in 2018 with it too… Mind you, still doing a bit better than a certain other coach I won’t mention.

  • Huw Tindall

    Welcome back to the site, for the first time this year. Say that with your best R Benaud voice a la 12th man.

    Couple of points re the news:
    – Big question for the Rebels this year was if they could fix.up the set piece. On the weekend’s showing that’s in doubt.
    – Neck roll crack down is overdue. I think there is a bigger argument around size in the offing as rugby becomes less and less a game for all shapes and sizes and just about massive units. I’d wouldnt mind capping total team weight at 1400kg or something for starting 15. Just a thought starter at this point but why not.

    • Andrew H

      Love a bit R Benny at this time of year!! Never be the same without him.
      I know right (about the other articles) how dare they take article #1 away from me!? That said, good reads, go check them out.
      Good thought re the limits, I can’t see that coming in but they need to do something. We can’t just sit back and watch these poor kids die needlessly.

      • Huw Tindall

        I could be quite happy with weight limits or even reducing the reserve’s bench. Give smaller players a chance and force players to have more well rounded skills. I really dislike how specialised NFL is. Balancing size, power and skill in rugby is one of the things that makes it unique. Also, from a player welfare point of view this should prolong careers.

        Side bar issue – the GAGR website comes up as ‘not secure’ in the web browser. i.e. no little pad lock in the top left. Not sure this is an issue but I get notifications about it when visiting.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Welcome back Huw. I think less reserves is a better idea. There was a study done in NZ a few years ago and it blamed the changes to the reserve bench as players knew they didn’t need to keep it in for the full 80 and so could go harder earlier.

        • Huw Tindall

          Cheers mate and good to see the regular posters like yourself back fresh for a new season of chat!

          Not surprised at that result! On a similar note I posted elsewhere that the RFU canned their nipple height test as more players were getting concussed!! In this instance it was tacklers going low ans getting belted by a large men’s hip or thigh. It is am inherently dangerous sport, and we wouldn’t want lose that, but I fear finding a solution or middle ground is a long and uncertain journey.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Blokes crashing into each other at speed to try and gain dominance is always going to carry some risk. Maybe it would be best to set up a good rehab and medical scene for the inevitable so an injury doesn’t affect someone’s life too much. I think banning the head high tackles was good, wish it was refereed a bit more consistently, but I wouldn’t want too much more if it was going to spoil the game.

        • Huw Tindall

          Agree the head high was a good move and after a lot of hoo ha early on it seems to have bedded down well and it’s just the occasional consistency issue. Overall happy with that. Personally I don’t think ever bigger players adds anything to the game. More skillful players however are a joy to watch! We always have big blokes smashing into each other so that’s not something we need to double down on to attract people to the game!

        • While I think having a reserves bench that’s primarily there for injuries is a great idea – replacements for HIAs, blood and more serious injuries, I think there’s a place for competent coaches to blood young players by the substitutes system. Put the tyro on for 20 minutes at the end of the match to see how he (or she of course) goes in a full-blown test environment.

          Something like limiting the tactical substitutions to 3 for 2020 and 2021, then 2 after that (this will give the players carrying on passed Japan a chance to adjust their fitness regimes) so you still have some tactical substitutions but you don’t get to 50 or 60 minutes and boom, there go the whole front row. Then ten minutes later, boom, there goes the 9 that has become the norm so often.

    • Happyman

      Huw my Radical idea is to reduce the number of interchanges. I know this makes me look old but the pay off is that bigger blokes get tired. In the old days a smaller prop would work over his larger opponent with superior fitness usually being dominated in the early exchanges but outworking him later in the game.
      Coaches are always going to want more interchanges as they can get a large fresh athlete on the field who does not have to make decisions under physical duress and therefore makes fewer bad choices. I would argue that fewer interchanges means fewer fresh guys going up against tired guys which in my view is a risk in and of itself.

      Even RMc said when he started for Canterbury in his first year he weighed 90Kg and said in todays game he would not get on the field until he was 100KG.

      The simple facts are a tight five player is not expected to play a full game at any level these days and it just makes or bigger power athletes who have more anaerobic and less aerobic fitness. Even many backs are not expected to play a full game.

      My point would be make the bench eight players and you can only use four replacements.

      • Huw Tindall

        Not old at all! That Richie example says it all. 90kg guys shouldn’t the exception in rugby. The size vs skill vs fitness balance is out of whack IMO and a side effect is increasing player injuries. 2 birds one stone by looking at options like reducing the interchanges!

        • Happyman

          if you go back further Dan Crowley played tightwad at 90ish KG for Australia and won a world cup. the increase in size has been at the expense of workrate and smarts. Sound familiar for Australian Rugby.

        • Huw Tindall

          I’m sold. No bench! That’ll show em.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Thanks Andrew and welcome back. Hope you had a good Christmas and New Year.
    So glad to see G&GR back. It just feels better.
    Love the preseason games. TBH I don’t see them as anything more than contact practice for the players. I’m not sure the results mean anything and while they allow the coaches to tinker I’m also not sure they affect the playing 23 for the rest of the season that much either.

    On the other hand they’re great for the supporters and lead to some crazy predictions.

    Wasn’t Fiji just fantastic. That scene where they lifted the ball girl up when she brought out the ball was so cool. There’s a future rugby player right there. While I agree the 7s and 15s are almost at the point where you can’t swap between them any more wouldn’t it be cool to see some of that Fiji magic at the world cup

    • IIPA

      Great to have GAGR news back and rugby rolling around. Let’s not forget the Six Nations this weekend begins also and the Sydney Sevens… with Super Rugby barely two weeks away.

      A lot to be excited about.

      Damn Fiji were good on the weekend.

Rugby

Turned to writing for GAGR before my over the top rants about rugby landed me in hot water. Hoping this will keep me a little more measured.

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