Monday’s Rugby News looks at the Super Rugby, the six (possibly seven) Nations, the host venue for the Wallabies clash against Argentina and the return of David Campese to Australian rugby
Super Rugby recap
Round two of the Super Rugby season started in the land of the students with the Highlanders hosting the Sharks. Despite little fanfare before the start of the year, the Sharks continued to fire on NZ soil, racing out to a 27-3 lead at the half-time break. From there, they would control the contest, with doubles to Makazole Mapimpi and Aphelele Fassi sealing the 42-20 victory.
The action then headed to the nation’s capital where the Brumbies hosted the Rebels in the Sterling Mortlock/ Nic Henderson derby. As the boys from Rugby Report Card said, “This match was the culmination of one team at the height of their powers competing against absolute bin juice” (bit harsh but fair enough), with the Brumbies dominating the Rebels throughout the match.
Whilst there was a brief comeback, flyhalf Noah Lolesio had a breakout game for the Brumbies, putting on two tries and a drop goal in the 39-26 win.
Saturday began with a potential early grand final preview with the Chiefs hosting the Crusaders. There was plenty of end-to-end action that would make any Foxtel executive regret their decisions, with the Chiefs eventually running over the top of the defending champions 25-15.
It then headed to the Hunter, with the Waratahs hosting the Blues in near-cyclonic conditions at McDonald Jones Stadium. Unfortunately for the boys in light blue, it was reminiscent of their shock Sunwolves loss from last year, with a hat-trick to Mark Telea sealing the 32-12 win.
This was followed by a pair of South African contests, with the Lions hosting the Reds. Despite a spirited effort from the Reds, where they were down to 13 men at one stage, the numbers advantage was too much, with the Lions (and ref crew) defeating them 27-20.
It was then time to head to Cape Town to see if the Stormers could back up last week’s impressive showing as they faced the Bulls at Newlands. Robbie Fleck’s side would proceed to send another strong message to the competition, continuing their unblemished record with a dominant 13-0 victory, their second game without conceding a point.
Finally, it was time to head to Argentina when the Jaguares hosted a Hurricanes outfit looking to bounce back. Whilst they started slowly, the big boot of Jordie Barrett and two late tries to Alex Fidlow and Jamie Booth sealed the remarkable comeback victory.
Newcastle is set to host their first Rugby Championship test match as it was announced that the Wallabies will host Argentina at McDonald Jones Stadium on September 5.
It will be the first time since 2012 that the Hunter will host a test match, which was a soggy encounter against Scotland that has become infamous for the classic head-clash celebration (The final score from that game escapes my memory).
The return to McDonald Jones comes off the back of a historic first women’s test match in the region between the Wallaroos and Japan last year.
“Newcastle is a sports-mad city and the support for both men’s and women’s Rugby is almost second to none across the country,” Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle said.
“We can’t wait to showcase the Wallabies in one of our strongest Rugby communities and getting out and about in the community to allow locals to get up close and personal with the team.
“If the support from the region for the Buildcorp Wallaroos Test last year is any guide, the first ever Rugby Championship match is going to be one of the biggest events of the year and will certainly be one of the highlights of our 2020 Test match calendar.”
Lord Mayor of Newcastle Nuatali Nelmes was thrilled about the partnership with Rugby Australia, hoping that the occasion can garner a larger crowd than the Waratahs defeat on Saturday.
“I’m delighted to welcome the Wallabies back to Newcastle after an eight-year hiatus and thrilled that our partnership with Rugby Australia continues to grow after we successfully hosted the Wallaroo’s first ever Test Match against Japan on Australian soil last July,” Councillor Nelmes said.
“Novocastrians are very educated sports fans and know that the open, attacking brand of rugby that both the Wallabies and Pumas play will make for an evening spectacle not to be missed at the start of Spring, when the weather should be much more conducive than the torrential June rain that hampered the Scottish Test back in 2012.
“The return of the Wallabies after Saturday’s Super Rugby match underlines Newcastle’s capacity to host major sporting events, such as rugby and rugby league Tests, football internationals during the 2015 Asian Cup, and of course the highly popular annual Supercars finale, which we also deliver with Destination NSW.”
Six into seven?
With the Six Nations kicking off for their second week, the action on the field was overshadowed by what was happening off it, with the Springboks expressing their interest in playing in the competition.
According to the Mail, the Springboks are eager to leave the Rugby Championship, with their eyes set on joining their northern counterparts to create a ‘Seven Nations’ competition.
This move has been earmarked for after the 2023 World Cup, with South Africa already beginning the process of Northern Hemisphere assimilation with the Cheetahs and Southern Kings entering the Pro14.
Whilst this has dominated headlines, the action has been as exciting on the field, with Ireland securing a bonus-point win over defending champions Wales 24-14.
Ireland used their dominant forward pack to crush their Welsh counterparts, who suffered their first loss in the post-Gatland era.
“Our physicality was brought to the next level and in all fairness to Wales, they came and they pushed us hard so it was just great to get the win,” Ireland winger Jacob Stockdale told ITV.
“They came and they fired a few shots early on and we know how good we can be when we’re all over our carrying and our break down and it just had to come throughout the game.
“Once were started to do that the tries came and it was a really fun game to play in.”
This was followed by a battle for the Caluctta Cup, with England scrapping home for a 13-6 win over Scotland.
The teams were locked at 3-3 with 10 minutes remaining when prop Ellis Genge secured drinks for life after finding the line to secure the win.
The hostile environment boiled over for England coach Eddie Jones and his staff, with former Adelaide Crows coach and head of elite performance Neil Craig belted by a bottle.
“We weren’t expecting beer bottles to be thrown at us, so that’s a pretty good trick,” Jones said post-match.
“That’s a pretty good achievement isn’t it, throwing beer bottles, You have to be pretty brave to throw a beer bottle. Neil has a hard head, I know that, and there is not much inside it!
“It (an official complaint) isn’t going to do anything. Everyone knows about it so someone can do something about it.”
ball hog winger David Campese has returned to Australia rugby, signing on in the newly formed role of Rugby Ambassador.
Campese has been especially vocal about the state of Australian rugby, most recently hitting out after being snubbed for the Waratahs coaching job (despite having limited head coach experience).
However, it seems that the two parties have sung kumbaya, with Campese announced in the ambassadorial role during Rugby Australia’s announcement of the Newcastle test.
“David is not only one of our most recognised and revered Wallabies, he will bring a unique skillset having been involved at all levels of the game right across the globe,” Raelene Castle said.
“He is incredibly passionate about growing and promoting the game and getting more people interested in playing the game. He is the ideal person for this role as he transcends generations and his knowledge of the sport is second to none.”
Campese will work across the country within the game development area, encouraging both new and existing participants at all levels along with promoting Rugby Australia’s professional and pathways competitions and its community Rugby initiatives.
“Working alongside the Australian Rugby Foundation and the Classics I’m hoping to provide a meaningful contribution and engage with a number of the games stakeholders as well as current and emerging participants,” Campese said.
“Whether it be assisting in community coaching clinics or helping out in a school’s get into rugby session I will look to use my learnings as both a player and coach to help bring the next generation through.”
Classic Wallabies general manager Morgan Turinui was excited to have Campo on board, believing that his experience and status can effectively grow the game around the country.
“We’re delighted to have Campo on board in this role, he is undoubtedly one of the greatest players in the history of our game and will bring a wealth of experience to the position,” he said.
“Working both on and off the field, Campo will contribute to all levels of the game, from coaching at Classic Wallabies’ free kids clinics to attending test match functions, his experience both on and off the field are invaluable assets which we will look to capitalise on.”