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Monday’s Rugby News

Monday’s Rugby News

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Monday’s Rugby News looks at the new Reds captain, the Force’s homecoming, a Waratahs bolter pushing for gold and a Six Nations recap


Six Nations wrap

watson england

England has bounced back from their shock Scotland loss, dominating Italy 41-18 at an empty Twickenham.

Four second-half tries would secure the victory for Eddie Jones’ men, with winger Anthony Watson scoring a double.

Despite the pair of tries, it would be his wing partner that would steal the show, with Jonny May leaping over defenders to score an incredible try, impressing Jones.

“He’s obviously been watching rugby league,” he said.

“It’s traditionally a way of scoring, a smart way, in the NRL – absolutely brilliant.”

Meanwhile, Wales would continue their unbeaten start, coming from behind to beat Scotland 25-24, overcoming a 14-point halftime deficit.

However, the win was not without controversy, with Scottish prop Zander Fagerson dismissed after a clumsy cleanout smashed the face of Alan Wyn Jones.

Louis Rees-Zammit would eventually produce an incredible individual effort to take the lead for Wales, scoring his second try after a brilliant chip-and-chase.

In the final match of the round, France beat a valiant Ireland 15-13 in Dublin.

Tries to Charles Ollivon and Damian Penaud gave the French a 15-3 lead at the half-time break, with Les Blues looking for their first win in Dublin since 2011.

However, the Irish, who were without Johnny Sexton or Conor Murray, refused to give, with a try to Ronan Kelleher and a Ross Byrne penalty setting up the grandstand finish.

In the end, the French would hang on, retaining their spot on the top of the ladder.

JO(c)

James O'Connor

James O’Connor

The Queensland Reds have confirmed that James O’Connor will lead the side in their opening round clash against the NSW Waratahs.

It comes after regular skipper Liam Wright was ruled out for the majority of the Super Rugby AU competition after suffering an ankle injury.

The news would come as a shock to many given O’Connor’s non-commital stance towards the club.

During the off-season, it was revealed that JOC had expressed interest in leaving Queensland to head for the other Super Rugby A and sign with the Chiefs.

Given the incredible journey that he’s gone through, the news was enough to bring him close to tears when told by coach Brad Thorn.

“When Brad told me the other day I had quite an emotional moment where I just reflected on my whole journey,” said O’Connor on Sunday.

“Being in Australia, going away, coming back, just everything that’s been a part of it.

“It’s truly humbling.”

O’Connor beat out the likes of Fraser McReight and Lukhan Salakaia-Loto for the honour, with the 30-year-old hoping that the added responsibility will allow him to continue to motivate and inspire his side.

“Since I’ve come (back to the Reds) I’ve really wanted to be involved and give my all, and that’s possibly why I’ve got the call up,” he said.

The news was welcomed by former Red and Wallaby Tim Horan, who tweeted his approval on Sunday.

“A great reward for James O’Connor being named captain,” Horan wrote.

“A strong leader who will continue to enhance the Reds culture.”

Horton hears a Du

Waratahs debutant Tom Horton celebrates scoring a try. Photo: Waratahs Rugby

Waratahs debutant Tom Horton celebrates scoring a try. Photo: Waratahs Rugby

Waratahs hooker Tom Horton has admitted the prospect of pulling on the gold jersey is driving him in 2021 as the side prepares for the start of the Super Rugby season.

Horton was one of the major revelations from the inaugural Super Rugby Australia season, stepping up after the retirement of first-choice hooker Damien Fitzpatrick.

His impressive string of performances saw the 23-year-old included in the Wallabies squad for the Tri-Nations despite playing less than a dozen Super Rugby games.

Whilst he is still waiting for his debut cap, Horton admits his time spent in Wallabies camp is the motivating factor to take the next step in 2021.

“It hasn’t really changed the pre-season,” Horton said.

“The call-up has made me more driven to keep building on last year.

“I’m just trying to keep doing what I’ve been doing for the last 12 months and keep training hard and playing well.”

The Wallabies coaching staff are keeping a close eye on Horton and the rest of the Waratahs, with scrum coach Petrus du Plessis a noticeable onlooker at training on Tuesday.

Having spent the majority of 2020 coaching over Zoom, Du Plessis’ presence was a welcome one as he attempts to improve how Australian teams perform at scrum-time.

“He was more giving us a platform to work off,” he said on Du Plessis.

“He was giving us some ideas on how other teams scrum, how European teams scrum and how we can adapt to that.

“He wasn’t trying to change anything. He was just giving us ideas to develop our scrum from it.”

The Waratahs will be without enforcer Lachie Swinton for the opening round, with the loose forward serving the final match of a four-week ban following his Wallabies red card against the All Blacks.

Coming Home

Andrew Ready enjoyed scoring this try against his old team

Andrew Ready enjoyed scoring this try against his old team

I’m coming home, I’m coming home. Tell the World I’m coming home.

Not just the words of Skylar Gray/Diddy but what’s been shouted from the rooftops in Western Australia as the Western Force prepare to host their first Super Rugby game in nearly four years.

The Force are set to welcome the defending champions ACT Brumbies in front of what’s expected to be a packed-out HBF Park on Friday.

For centre Marcel Brache, whose been one of the key players that have been with the club through every step until the resurrection, the ‘incredible experience’ has been on his mind since they was forced to relocate to NSW due to COVID concerns.

“It’s a really exciting time for the players, the organisation, but most of all the fans and rugby community in Western Australia,” he told media.

“To have rugby back at HBF Park and Super Rugby back for our supporters both near and far is very exciting and we hope that it is an incredible experience come Friday.

“It’s an awesome occasion and we’re expecting a really tough battle. It doesn’t get any bigger or better than facing the champions.”

The match also marks the debut for Irish legend Rob Kearney, who will pull on a different shade of blue after making a name for himself at Leicester.

Having missed Ireland’s last Test in WA by 12 months, Kearney is looking forward to the experience of playing in front of a ‘Sea of Blue.’

“It’s a new beginning. It’s a different team of blue and I’m really excited to be here,” he added.

“We’ve talked about the season opener and how there’s going to be a genuine Sea of Blue there with everyone dressed up and the stadium is going to be packed out.

“I think that’s really exciting and as a playing group, we are really excited to see everyone.”

  • Dally M

    Welcome back & thanks Nathan!

  • KwAussie Rugby Lover

    Thanks Nathan and welcome back! It feels like I can breathe again. I hope the Force can take advantage of their home ground, they certainly seem to have the players to step up another level after last year and it’d be good to see them get some wins.
    Be interesting to see how JOC goes as Captain. He’s always been a player who can polarize a bit and I hope he goes well. Wonder if he’ll play at 10 or 12 mostly this year.

    • Jason

      JO’C for Wallabies captain!

      He’ll pretty much only play 10. Maybe he’ll slide into 12 to give Stewart some time at 10, but that’d be the only situation I could see him not playing 10. The Reds don’t really have anyone else to play 10 (I mean Hegarty can, but I’d rather a little butter on my super bland white bread).

      • Geoffro

        Never wish injury on anyone but JOC isnt the most robust and hes getting older.Expect him to spend a bit of time on the sideline.Any prospects in the Reds academy ? They’ve brought on some pretty excing youngsters in recent years.

      • Reds Revival

        For mine Jason, I would like to see Stewart become the Reds 10 “heir apparent”. He has really developed his skillset to become quite an effective fly half. Hopefully, he gets a bit of time there during the season to hone his skills of playing at the line.

        • Jason

          I mean if Stewart CAN play 10, that solves a lot of backline issues for the Reds you eventually move JO’C to the bench as a super sub as he get’s older (he can legitimately play anywhere from 10 to 15), let’s Petia go to 13 and Pisami to 12 and keep Stewart as the defensive organiser.
          But that’s a big if. They’ve also got Grealy & Creighton who might be pushing for that same spot. I expect/hope we see Stewart given time at first receiver, I agree he should be ready, but for some it never comes. But Stewart is one of my highest rated of the young Thron prospects and we’ve had quiet a few exceptional players.

  • Huw Tindall

    You know the season proper is on us when the GAGR news returns. Looking forward to another year of chat in the forums with you all!

    JOC’s redemption story just keeps getting better. Will see if he can keep on writing it through to 2023. Sure as hell will have stiff competition from the youngsters.

    With limited preseason games it’s hard to be sure how the season will go but I just hope it’s competitive and we get some lapsed fans back. Great first week with classic Tahs and Reds along with the return to Perth. The heart says Force and Tahs but the mind says Brums and Reds!

    • KwAussie Rugby Lover

      Be a big upset if the Brums and Reds lost but it’s a funny old game and you never know

      • Yowie

        As a long-term Reds fan, I’ve learned the hard way not to put too much emotional energy into “the upcoming game against the Tahs that we really definitely should win”.

        • KwAussie Rugby Lover

          Yeah it gets harder and harder doesn’t it

  • Cunning Linguist

    So glad this forum is up and running again! Been feverishly checking it everyday this year ‘just in case’!

  • Reds Revival

    Thanks for kicking off the season Nathan! Great to see the news up and running for another season.
    I think this is going to be a really interesting season, with a new broadcaster (I just signed up to Stan on the weekend), new rules to speed the game up, and a very tight table. As suggested, it will only take an injury or two in key positions for each team to create a drastically different outlook for the season.
    While I’m picking the Reds to take the chocolates this year, my dark horse prediction is the Force. Don’t be surprised if these two teams meet in the GF!!
    The two Wrights injured is sad, but at least it will save their Mum the dilemma of who to barrack for when the two teams meet.

  • Happyman

    Welcome back boys.

    My web based life can now resume.

    JOC has grown up and is a much better person than the spoilt child of ten years ago.

    The Force will be the real deal if they gel.

    Wales are now only 3 reds cards from a Grand Slam. Very poor red card that undoubtably had a substantial effect on the outcome.

    • Keith Butler

      How many offences did he commit. Possible side entry, off feet, not bound, no arms and connects with the head. Mind you that is par for the course with every team you see playing at ruck time. The sooner it is sorted the better for the game and if that means more red cards then so be it.. These guys are professionals for Christ sakes. The laws are the laws and it is not a question of players adapting.

      • The thing that really tipped it over the edge is charging from a distance combined with tucking the arm so the contact is with the shoulder.

        If he’d been stood a couple of paces back and done that, probably a yellow, maybe red. If he’d stood at the base of the ruck, it misses the charging element and the “high force” almost certainly a yellow.

        I think we’ll see people sprint up to the breakdown, then pause, or at least slow down, then hit the ruck/maul in future.

        • Andrew Luscombe

          I guess you’ve picked up use of the stative verb aspect from the north of England “been stood” instead of “been standing”. In normal English “been stood” would mean that someone else had instructed him to stand somewhere, or even stood him up like a chess piece. But then in the next sentence in his possible alternative action, you seem to have switched back to normal English and he could have stood at the base of the ruck under his own volition.

    • KwAussie Rugby Lover

      I’m not so concerned about the red. I’m glad world rugby have brought in on looking after players welfare in one area. Both reds were for hits to the head when there actually wasn’t any need for the clear out as the ball was available anyway. Players need to be smarter and if they’re too stupid to learn then maybe it’s time for them to leave

  • Keith Butler

    Indeed, welcome back GAGR and fellow travellers. Excited about the start and looking forward to rugby on Stan. Hoping that the changes will improve the game particularly pleased with the 20 min red card rule. Maybe refs will not be reluctant to dish out cards knowing that a substitute can come on. Come on guys ref the ruck to the letter of the law, it’s been a clusterfuck for years. Watching the 6Ns over the last 2 weekends the reds clearly affected the outcome of the games and decisions were correct. Rapidly losing patience with EJ. Not a shock loss to the Jocks as we were crap. At least against the Italians were attempted to run the ball and no kick the logo off it. Could quite easily lose our last 3 games which might put EJs job in jeopardy.

    • Yowie

      Lucky I was sitting down when I read about Eddie Jones talking-up Loig

    • KwAussie Rugby Lover

      England will always have the players to be a threat but I’m really questioning some of Eddies calls on selection and game plan. I know he’s planning for 23 but I’m not sure just winning isn’t a better plan

      • I’m inclined to agree.

        However, in the last RWC cycle England had a terrible 2017, the equivalent to this point, and went on to play in the final. He might know what he’s doing, although I’m not sure he can really pull it off twice.

        • KwAussie Rugby Lover

          I think he gets caught up in his own cleverness at times and stops taking advice and that is never a successful policy.

    • Jones is sticking by a crop of players who have historically produced but aren’t producing right now. (In Farrell’s case there’s an interesting subquestion of how long “right now” has been lasting, and England have been good enough to carry him.)

      The English media were bleating about the Sarries players lacking match fitness after not playing since November. I enjoyed pointing fans I knew to the Pumas v AB match last summer (NH time) and the build up the Pumas’ players had had. There was a sudden silence after that…

  • Hoss

    Well, about bloody time GAGR. Just how long was I supposed to actively contribute to the role I am paid to do? Its been a looooooong off season, but i am back, some suitable christmas pudding hovering round the midriff and ready for a glorious year for the sky blue ahead. So the question is obvious – who are the teams playing for 2-5 positions?

    2. The Padres XV

    Crikey the Reds look good on paper, bit stiff for Liam Wright, but in McReight they have a very handy replacement. Great young squad, some collective pain last year that will be channelled to controlled and sustained determination on field. I really like this team. For the record, i am also a big fan of the Padres value based leadership and the direction and legacy he will have at the reds. Like JOC 2.0 as skipper too.

    3. The Ted Bundy XV

    The Ted Bundy squad looks strong as usual and I predict 42 rolling maul tries for them as they finish third for the year. As a rugby side they are as boring as a rainy day at church and ruthlessly effective – as too was Mr Bundy – thank god Stans only $10 / month, i wouldnt pay much more to watch Super Rugy Au’s answer to prozac

    4 The Spanish West

    Bienvenido a australia. Some solid recruitment in the West even if the squad does have a Dad’s army / FISM look to it. Lets be frank, cant be worse than last year when they won how many games………..Will cause an upset or two, but the finals may be bridge to far or as they say in Spanish ‘joder’

    5. The Money Wasters

    Kepplers cousin cant coach, couldn’t put an Ikea bookcase together let alone assemble a squad and will be punted mid-season. Last, by some way.

    There it is gaggers – take it to the bank and lock it in.

    It’s great to be back, No Trump, no FUX, no Kafer, no Kearns, some momentum and new thing at HQ and the dim flickering of a golden dawn encroaching on us all.

    I love rugby.

    • Yowie

      Now you’ve done it.
      GAGR will get a nasty letter from the Ted Bundy Fan Club demanding that we cease & desist associating them with the Brumbies.

      • Hoss

        There laying low after storming the capitol and Making America Greaterer Again

        • Yowie

          Haha, probably head-scratching about why the orange one didn’t issue a round of pardons for the camo-fanciers who got arrested.
          …Now I know I’m being used
          That’s okay because I like the abuse…

        • Mica

          Now you sound pretty fly for a……………nah forget it.

        • Yowie

          Now I have Pauline’s nasal voice in my head.

          “Why aren’t white guys allowed be fly?

        • Mica

          Truly sorry about that

      • Ads

        HNY! Mate did you see “yeah nah” will be part of the commentary team?! Thought of you straight away!

    • Brumby Runner

      Hoss, I like the ending – no Trump, no Fux, no Kafer, no Kearns etc, but really the rest of your post you must have picked off the ground behind your equine partner.

      • Hoss

        Note to self – 2021 list of ‘undesirables’ entry #1 brumby runn……

    • KwAussie Rugby Lover

      Hahahaha nice to have a dream mate the good thing is yours will meet the old proverb in that at least one won’t come true so you will always have something to look forward to.

    • Adrian

      Good analysis all round Hoss

      • Hoss

        G’day Ad’s – welcome to ’21. Having complete certainty in who will win makes it so much easier to do the ‘also-rans’.

    • Keith Butler

      Unfortunately Hoss I tend to agree with you regarding my Rebs but the most important question can you put an IKEA bookcase together when all the instructions are in Chinese? At least this weekend I can be an interested observer. Reds and Ponies the winners for me.

      • Hoss

        Hello Mr Mayor & blasphemer. I could very easily see Tah’s in a thriller and Farce in a canter.

  • Adrian

    Thanks Nathan and welcome back to you and everyone.

    All the commentary this week has been about the squads and likely finishing order.

    Prevailing wisdom is Brums/Reds 1/2 or 2/1; Rebs 3, Force/Tahs 4/5 or 5/4.

    These are the finishing order, not the bookmaker odds, but they might as well be the odds.

    I think it is actually anyone’s guess.

    All teams have good players, and all teams have deficiencies at lock.

    I think the Brums main strength is incumbency, and weakness is an aging pack and predictable tactics.
    Reds should win the comp, with so many good players and backline speed. Weakness is moving the ball quickly to the backline.
    Rebs a bit over-rated I think, but improving tight five. Will also struggle with fluent ball movement.
    Tahs strength will be speed and fast fluent ball movement. Weakness, inexperience.
    Force strength is experience/depth and morale. Weakness might be experience too! Dark horses I reckon

  • Frosty morning

    Thanks Nathan. It’s so good to have rugby back. Like everyone I’m excited for the season ahead. I just wish that Rugby Australia and the individual clubs would do more to promote the game and the start of the season. It seems that only us diehards have any idea it’s even starting. And to top it off, after renewing my membership yet again the Brumbies hit me up for another $10 each for an actual real membership card (rather than some virtual crap) – with the wife and kids that’s fifty bucks! Maybe I’m getting too old and grumpy….

  • Missing Link

    Welcome back everyone, you know that ARU marketing team is onto a good thing when your wife reminds you that rugby starts this week. I’d almost forgotten about the sport, and I’m sure some people have actually forgotten about it.

    So that prompted me to put together a quick checklist:
    – cancel Kayo Sports … Check
    – sign up to Stan … Check
    – log back into GAGR to chew the fat with other like minded rugtards … Check
    – set up an online petition to bring back Kearnsey, Marto and Kafe … actually on second thought

    Anyway, I’m not too sure about the squads or how things will play out, and frankly I don’t care, I’m just happy that rugby will be back this weekend!

    Aren’t the Lions meant to be touring SA this year? Are both teams coming here or did that get knocked on the head?

    • Mica

      WRT Lions tour, I think the English were too busy sitting in their collective glass houses throwing stones at the Bokke.

  • Reds Revival

    Firstly, it is so good to hear that my favourite rugby podcast (The Rugby Report Card), are back on deck and planning to be more regular in 2021. This year is looking so good already!
    Secondly, I’m hearing a lot of debate around the rule changes for SRAU. I like them for their intention of speeding the game up, and while they don’t apply to the Test matches, it will help to condition our guys to play at a higher intensity.
    For the same reason, I like the 50/22 and 22/50 rule. Even if we don’t get the throw in at Test level, at least it will be teaching our guys to be able to kick into the opposition 22 and keep the pressure on them. How many times would a Larkham like touch finder into their 22 been a massive help for the Wallabies in recent years? They don’t perfect that skill just at test level, we need all of our Super Rugby fly halves able to find that sort of space against oppositions. It’s just tactically smart rugby.

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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