Monday’s Rugby News celebrates a brilliant round of Super Rugby Australia, mourns the departure of Rob Simmons, takes a reality check from Dan McKellar and looks at the various club rugby results from across Australia.
Australian rugby fans were treated to arguably the best weekend of games during the brief inception of the Super Rugby Australia competition in round five.
The round started at Leichardt Oval where the Force were attempting to secure their first win of the comp against the Rebels in the relocation cup.
Neither side could break the deadlock as the clock struck zero, with Force flyhalf Jono Lance missing a 77th-minute penalty goal that would’ve likely sealed an incredible win for the Western Australian side.
As Australia witnessed its second iteration of ‘Super Time’, forgotten number eight Isi Naisarani reminded everyone of his talent as he burst over to win the game for the Rebels 25-20.
“Probably relieved is the word. We didn’t play well at all and, jeez, I would be feeling for (Force coach) Tim Sampson because that could have gone either way,” Rebels coach Dave Wessels said.
“It wasn’t a pretty game by any means. I thought there was some really big moments in that game though for us which I’m proud of.”
With fans asking how it could possibly get better, the Brumbies and the Reds threw up the match of the tournament at GIO Stadium on Saturday.
Despite being heavy outsiders, the Reds looked certain to steal victory as overcame an 11-point deficit to hold onto the lead with minutes remaining.
However, as always, the Brumbies found a way to secure the win when it mattered, with replacement back Mack Hansen icing the game with a penalty goal to secure the 22-20 win.
Brumbies coach Dan McKellar was full of praise for Hansen after the match, admiring his fearlessness to bounce back after missing a conversion just minutes earlier.
“Just really happy for Mack, as we said in the sheds born and bred Canberra boy, he’s been supporting the Brumbies since he was a toddler so for him to step up with confidence and kick a clutch winning penalty goal was brilliant,” he said.
Even when they don’t play, the Waratahs still manage to find a way to lose with captain Rob Simmons confirming that he will depart the club at the end of the Super Rugby Australia season.
The 100-Test Wallaby joined the Tahs at the beginning of 2018 after nine seasons with the Queensland Reds, where he would win a Super Rugby championship in 2011.
With Simmons spending the break weighing up whether to accept a one-year option on his deal, he has confirmed that this is the right time to explore his options overseas.
“It was a really tough decision [to leave] but after speaking with many people around me, I felt that now was the time to take the opportunity to play overseas,” Simmons said in a statement.
“Timing with situations like this can’t always be perfect, but the Waratahs have been fantastic in understanding my desire to take on a new challenge.
“I’ve loved my time in Super Rugby and the last few years with the Waratahs, it’s a wonderful organisation and it’s been an honour to lead this group throughout 2020.
“My teammates and our management team have been tremendous over the last few years, there’s a lot to be excited about here in New South Wales and I’m looking forward to seeing it unfold from afar.”
Having led a young and inexperienced Tahs team through one of the toughest and craziest seasons to date, coach Rob Penney believes that Simmons influence is ‘immeasurable’ over his side.
“Rob’s an outstanding human being first and foremost, just one of those people you really enjoy having around your group,” Penney said.
“His leadership and influence over our squad has been outstanding to witness – particularly given the challenges we’ve all recently faced.
“As soon as I arrived at Daceyville it became pretty apparent that Rob was the sort of character that could lead this group through the season, it’s panned out a little differently [with COVID-19] to what we expected but he’s handled himself unbelievably well throughout.
“He leaves a real mark on this group with the experience he’s been able to impart on the next generation of Waratah and while we’re sad to see him go, we understand what a great opportunity this is for Simmo and his young family.”
Brumbies coach Dan McKellar has issued a stern warning to Australian rugby fans: stop overhyping the next generation and let them develop naturally.
With the rugby league and union communities swooning over the talent of players such as Joseph Suaalii, McKellar believes that young players are being hampered by the intense pressure that fans and media can put on them after a couple of strong performances.
He said this when asked about the development of locks Darcy Swain and Nick Frost, suggesting that the rugby community needs to have more patience if they want players to reach their full potential.
“I think in Australia, someone puts in a good performance and all of a sudden they’re the next Wallaby,” McKellar said.
“We’ve got to be a little bit more patient around that. It gets a bit ridiculous there. It does the players no favours at all.”
“Let’s let Frost and Swain or Trevor Hosea from the Rebels, Esei Ha’angana, or whoever it might be, just let them develop and become good Super Rugby players, play good games consistently for their franchise, and then let’s start worrying about what the future holds for them,
“You’re not going to be a good Test player off the back of a good half-an-hour at Super Rugby level or anything like that.”
He pointed to the gradual development of Pete Samu, who spent three years at the Crusaders before heading home as the ideal format instead of looking for the next ‘diamond in the rough.’
“He’s (Samu) done the hard yards over a long period of time,” McKellar said.
“That’ll be a really good match-up and I’m sure the Wallabies coaching staff will be watching on closely.”
Club rugby wrap
With the return of the Queensland club rugby competition, it only felt natural to bring back the club wrap across the country (except for Melbourne, hopefully, they can return to action when this lockdown period ends.)
In the Queensland Premier Rugby, GPS and Wests decided to employ social distancing in defence, with GPS holding on for a 59-45 shootout victory whilst Souths accounted for Brothers 30-14.
In other results, Uni of Queensland got their season off to the perfect start with a 39-20 victory over Norths as Easts pumped Sunnybank 51-24.
Heading down to Sydney in the Shute Shield, Southern Districts would hold off a valiant Penrith 29-14 in the Emu’s first game back at home since their return.
Along with this, Warringah got the first win of their season with a narrow 31-28 victory over Easts, Randwick dominated Western Sydney 42-0, Norths upset Manly 28-19, Eastwood cruised home to a 42-10 win over Wests Harbour and Sydney Uni showed up Newcastle/Hunter in a 59-10 rout.
In the John I Dent Cup in the nation’s capital, Westies turned one over the champs Royals with a narrow 24-22 victory, Vikings edge out the Eagles 22-20 and the Owls stayed perfect as they dominated Queanbeyan 35-0
Across to South Australia in the Coopers Premier Grade, Onkaparinga continued their great start to the season, defeating previously undefeated Old Collegians 30-15 whilst Brighton maintained their unbeaten start with a 36-19 win over Southern Suburbs.
In other results, Adelaide Uni got their first win of the season with a 32-12 victory over Barossa, Burnside dominated Woodville 62-17 and Port Adelaide defeated Elizabeth 48-13.
Finally in Perth, Joondalup proved that they were the real deal as they defeated Nedlands 27-22, with Cottesloe joining them as the only other undefeated team as they accounted for UWA 55-3.
Meanwhile, Bayswater dominated Curtin Uni 66-14, Wests held off Wanneroo 34-21, Kalamunda secured their first win with a 34-17 victory over Coastal, Associates scraped home against Palmyra 27-22 and Southern Lions blanked ARKs in a 45-0 drubbing.