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Monday’s Rugby News

Monday’s Rugby News

Monday’s Rugby News looks at the return of Super Rugby, new rule variations for the Australian competition, fresh signings for the Force and the departure of Henry Speight


Rugby’s Back!

Beauden Barrett

Beauden Barrett

After 90+ rugby-less days, Super Rugby Aotearoa has kicked off in New Zealand and fans were treated with two classic matches.

To start the NZ leg of the revised competition, the Chiefs travelled down to Otago to take on the Highlanders in front of a packed Forsyth Barr Stadium.

The first half was a free-flowing encounter, with both teams trading tries as the home side took a 22-16 lead into the break.

The Chiefs would fight back and it looked like they had sealed the game when Damian McKenzie slotted a 75th-minute field goal.

However, replacement back Bryn Gatland would break the hearts of Chiefs fans and his dad Warren, answering McKenzie’s drop goal with one of his own to secure a 28-27 victory for the Highlanders.

“I never imagined it would be like that,” Highlanders captain Ash Dixon said.

“It wasn’t perfect but we gutsed it out and playing a quality side like the Chiefs we just kept trying to compete as much as we could and managed to just be on the right side of the ledger at the end.”

On Sunday, it would be Beauden that would run out victories in the Battle of the Barretts, with the Blues getting the 30-20 win in front of a sold oyt Eden Park.

Caleb Clarke, TJ Faiane and Dalton Papali’i scored the home side’s five-pointers, with fly-half Otere Black responding to the looming threat of being dropped for a 38-year-old Dan Carter with a 15-point haul.

“It sure was [highly anticipated), it’s been a long time coming,” said Barrett post-match.

“I said earlier in the week I’ve played this game a million times in my head. It’s good to get it done way,

“Obviously there was that emotional hurdle to get over, playing all my mates and starting a new chapter in my career as well.

“So I’m very proud of the start and the effort from our boys tonight.”

Fresh rules for fresh comp

Hunter Paisami runs the ball

Hunter Paisami runs the ball

Rugby Australia has confirmed that seven new law variations will be applied during the revamped Australian Super Rugby competition.

Amongst the changes includes goal-line drop-outs to reward attacking kicks, replacements for red-carded players after 20 minutes, rewards for 50/22 and 22/50 kicks, and ‘Super Point’ for matches that end in a draw after 80 minutes.

Furthermore, referees will be under strict instruction in regards to limiting the number of scrum resets along with policing the breakdown and cynical infringements in order to speed up the game.

Director of Rugby Scott Johnson was excited about the changes, believing that it will promote exciting and entertaining rugby whilst preserving the integrity of the game.

“We assembled some of the best minds in the game from a range of different roles to look at adding some new attacking dimensions to the game while at the same time sticking to some key principles to preserve the fabric of the sport,” Johnson said in a statement.

“The level of engagement was outstanding from the players and coaches involved in the process and we ended up with a set of law variations that were unanimously agreed upon by all 24 people involved.

“We will also zero in on the application of law around the breakdown and scrums, trying to limit some of the down time and improve the flow of the game.

“Throughout the process we stuck to the principle that whatever we changed, the game still had to be Rugby, and nothing could compromise the Wallabies’ preparation for Test Rugby. In fact, I believe the changes we have implemented will broaden and enhance the capabilities of our players.”

ReinForcements

Kyle Godwin - causes grief

Kyle Godwin – causes grief

Ahead of the upcoming season, the Force have bolstered their squad with the signing of former Wallabies Kyle Godwin and Greg Holmes.

Godwin began his career with the Force in 2012, winning the Nathan Sharpe Medal, Rising Star and Members’ Most Valuable Player in the same year after a stellar 2013 campaign.

He would eventually move to the Brumbies in 2016 before signing with Irish club Connacht in 2018.

Force coach Tim Sampson was excited to bring back the ‘local hero’, believing that he will bolster their backline as they prepare for their return from rugby exile.

“Kyle is a great example of a talented young Australian who moved overseas to further his rugby career. To bring him back to once again play for his home team is evidence of the rugby program being developed here,” Sampson said.

“Kyle is a local hero, he has represented his state and his nation, and we are thrilled at the prospect of him getting back in the blue and black,

“He has natural instinct and his ability to adapt is a strength of his. He will slip into our squad seamlessly here.”

Along with Godwin, former Reds and Exeter prop Greg Holmes links up with the squad, reuniting with Sampson and forwards coach Van Humphries, who he played with at Sunnybank and the Reds.

“It’ll be great to catch up with him again. He has had a great career so far, I’m sure we will benefit from his experience,” Sampson said.

“Holmesy is a superb tight head and has a wealth of knowledge to add to the team.

“Greg is a greatly experienced player who will add considerable depth to our front row, but he is also a quality person who will no doubt be a major influence on some of our younger forwards,”

The pair are amongst a raft of signings that are expected to be announced, with former Red and Waratah Jono Lance and Rouen lock Ollie Atkins set to be confirmed in coming days.

Speight says goodbye

Henry Speight offloads for James O'Connor to score

Henry Speight offloads for James O’Connor to score

Reds winger Henry Speight has been released from his Rugby Australia contract to sign with French side Biarritz on a three-year deal.

Speight’s stay in the sunshine state was a brief one, playing just seven games during his six-month stint at the club after moving north from the Brumbies.

In a statement, the 32-year-old thanked the club for honouring his request for a release, proud to say that he had pulled on the maroon jersey and played for a club that he believes are on the verge of major success.

“I would like to take the opportunity to say a heartfelt and enormous thank you to the entire organisation that is the Queensland Reds,” he said.

“Firstly, the opportunity to experience an elite Rugby program which is surrounded and upheld by quality people, who have a genuine care for the person and the professional.

“This group and the organisation have demonstrated that the Reds are a destination club that will allow players to be their absolute best and the strong culture here is something that I know that I will deeply miss.

“My family and I are unbelievably grateful that, from the Board down, our request was dealt with respect and that the organisation was ultimately sympathetic to the opportunity that lies in front of us.

“I know that this place has an exciting future and I look forward to being able to say with enormous pride that I pulled on the Queensland Reds jersey, when the organisation achieves the success that it deserves.”

QRU CEO David Hanham thanked Speight for his services to Queensland and Australian rugby whilst praising Biarritz for their conduct during the process.

“Henry has been a fantastic servant to Australian Rugby over the past decade,” he said.

“Biarritz Olympique have a great Rugby history. They have been respectful during this process and we are pleased that Henry and his family will get the opportunity to spend the next three years in France.”

As Speight departs, the Reds confirmed that Storm winger Suliasi Vunivalu is still expected to sign with the Reds at the end of the year despite strong rumours linking him to stay in the NRL.

  • Geoffro

    Geeez Henry.Puts a big dent in the average age of the squad though

    • Yowie

      Is Radike Samo (43) still available for the Reds?

      • ATrain

        Radike in the back row and Thorn filling in as lock for The Departed would get you up to the Methuselah XV

        • Yowie

          There has to be a position somewhere for Danny Glover’s Lethal Weapon character.

        • ATrain

          Cliffy Lyons is probably still running around somewhere, Choc Mundine – well I am sure he thinks he is up to it, Andrew Walker would be good for a more years – we are half way there

        • Yowie

          You could be your house on The Man thinking/saying he is up for any kind of professional sporting return or debut.

        • ATrain

          He’s not “too old for this sh!t”?

        • Yowie

          Seven days to retirement, I’m busted down to patrolman bench-warmer.

      • Geoffro

        No doubt hes playing park footy somewhere and ready to slot right in (according to his wiki profile he “can even play on the wing”).Problem solved.

        • Yowie

          In my view he can also walk on water after his barnstorming 2011 season with Reds and Wallabies.

        • Who?

          That was the 2011 RWC game against Russia, wasn’t it? DK on the wing?

        • Geoffro

          Probably correct Who,cant really remember personally but know he did play wing at some point

        • Yowie

          Correct.
          (thought it was but checked with google)

        • ATrain

          I think he was playing Premier Grade for GPS Old Boys in 2018 if not 2019. I didn’t get up for a game last year so not certain but I thought I saw him play the year before.

  • KwAussie Rugby Lover

    Thanks Nathan,

    Well I stuffed up. I thought the games would be on RugbyPass and when they weren’t I couldn’t get Foxtel set up in time. My bad and from all accounts I missed some really good games. To top it off I picked the Chiefs and Canes so all in all a shit weekend experience. Great to see rugby back though and I’ll be sorted for next week.

    Looking forward to the games starting up over here too and the effect of the rule changes. Mentioned earlier I’m not a fan but willing to see how they go. Good recruiting for the Force and they’ll need the depth these guys bring as I think that’s their biggest weakness. Great to see.

    I wonder how much of Speight leaving was seeing the writing on the wall with reduced play meaning reduced salaries here in Australia as well as less and less chances of him making the Wallabies now. Good luck to him he’s been a greats ervant of Australian rugby over the years and I hope he does well.

    • ATrain

      I think Speight only had a one year deal at the Reds after he was cut from the Brumbies. So I think they have done the right thing by letting him go. I guess the prospect of getting an extension beyond this year at the Reds was unlikely given they have a little bit of depth their and they have signed Storm winger Vunivalu who is one of the NRL’s leading try scorers and is Wallaby qualified through residency.

      • Huw Tindall

        Had a two year deal but with Vunivalu coming and Daugunu already there he could have struggled for game time. Good luck to him seeing out the final years of his career in sunny Southern France. Biaritz is a great town too!

    • Geoffro

      Henry should have been at RWC last year but we dont pick many specialist wings anymore.Best wishes to him.

  • Perth girl

    Jono Lance confirmed for his second stint at the Force plus Kane Koteka, the first recruit from the Future Force academy to debut for the senior team in, I think, 2015.

    • Geoffro

      Nice.Godwin played his best rugby in a Force jersey too !

    • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

      The Force needs some good news after the very mediocre schedule they were given. I heard there is a couple more signings that will be announced. Good to see the focus remains on locally developed talent.

  • Who?

    The rule changes are, typically for all rule changes, unnecessary, poorly considered, and likely to be considered a ‘roaring success’ regardless of how negatively they change the game. I went into this in some detail in Friday’s news comments. How we’re basically replicating the worst of league, rewarding teams for kicking way possession when they should be retaining it. It’s not like they’ve only got 6 tackles to work out how to score. With unlimited possession, teams should treasure possession, not be rewarded for kicking it away.
    .
    Johnson said:

    We assembled some of the best minds in the game

    One of the things I most often question is the quantity of intelligence in the administration and coaching of our game locally. Given the outcomes of said assembly, it seems that the pool of intelligence is as shallow as worried.

    • Reds Revival

      If they really did assemble the best minds in the game, I’m guessing it was a pretty lonely meeting for him.

    • Geoffro

      Funny how the changes in league over the tackle rules giving more posession have been lauded eh

      • Who?

        And how, 15 years ago (last time I gave League any real attention), they were constantly whining that the only way tries were scored was from kicks in the 22, and how boring that was. So instead, we remove all disincentives for aimless kicking in the attacking quarter…
        Far too often, it feels as though our game is run by anencephalitic imbeciles.

        • Geoffro

          Hehheh,reminds me of the easiest try I ever scored by dummying a garryowen then strolled in while everyone was looking skyward. (only worked once though unfortunatey)

        • Who?

          Great story. :-)
          Deserved more than just an upvote. :-)

        • Yowie

          Agreed. Hopefully the full version doesn’t reveal Geoffro was playing against a Special School team or something.

          [Eg like the football bit in Something About Mary when Matt Dillon shoves all the disabled kids out of the way to score a try (touchdown?). ]

        • Geoffro

          Haha,true story and wont admit to being the smartest bloke on the paddock but sure felt like it for a few moments

      • KwAussie Rugby Lover

        Yeah but that’s because as soon as there’s a tackle they all stop and reset. In rugby the tackle is the start of the contest not the end of it. Comparing league with rugby is apples and dirt not apples and apples

        • Geoffro

          Wasnt comparing,I have the same disdain for league,just sayin the new rules have altered league a wee bit so its not strictly barge up 5 then kick

    • KwAussie Rugby Lover

      I’m willing to give them a go but I’m not a fan. I don’t think speeding the game up is actually an issue and I think most rugby players and fans actually like the tussle in the scrums, tackle and lineout (we all hate the maul unless it’s our side with the ball) and I don’t think a lot of the rules are going to achieve what they think will be achieved. I also think there are better ways to speed up the game without getting rid of the contest on the ball which is tenant of the game.

      • ATrain

        I would be concerned if we remove the genuine contest of possession. We need a real contest at scrum, breakdown, lineout and maul (or the ability to contest possession) otherwise I think it ceases to be rugby and becomes something else (i.e. Rugby League with two extra defenders making it a most unattractive game).

    • I hope they properly evaluate the rules changes, not just say “they were great.”

      I don’t mind them experimenting in this rump season that’s basically of no import. As I’ve said before, lets get some elite players rather than SA schoolboys trying out the rule changes, and the public watching them. But, to use a quote from up here “the badgers moved the goalposts” is not an acceptable excuse.

      I don’t particularly think these changes are good. But I’m willing to be surprised and one of them might be ok.

  • Reds Revival

    I just learned on the weekend that there is no local league comp in my area this year. Is that the same in other areas? If so, one would expect that the local union clubs will swell in numbers this year. How many will they be able to convince to stay next year?

    • Who?

      Yep – our League comp was called off two or three weeks ago. I share your curiosity on the same topics (increased numbers, retention, etc).

    • ATrain

      Yes I think most of the coastal groups from Newcastle to the Qld border will not play this year

  • Keith Butler

    So refreshing to see referees actually refereeing the breakdown and off side at last. And it was consistent as all sides were treated fairly. I don’t honestly care how many penalties are given as long as it removes this blight from our game. Just have to wait and see if Aussie SR follows suit. Can’t say that I agree with some of the rule changes we will be trying out but totally agree with restricting number of scrum resets.

    • I’m pretty sure the number of penalties will fall as the sides adjust, look at how players have adjusted to tackling each other in the air once that got tightened up. And punching each other once that became bam, red card. High tackles too – they still happen but they’re far less common.

      But yes, it was lovely to see rugby again, and to see what policing those laws does to the game too. I’m sure every rugby fan in the world would have watched anyway, but even though I had no skin in either game, I was really happy that NZ served up two really good games for us to watch as the first games back!

Rugby
@NathW1997

Loved rugby since the day I could remember, got the nickname Footy to show that, I watch Matt Dunning's dropkick every night before going to bed

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