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Monday’s Rugby News

Monday’s Rugby News

Monday’s Rugby News looks at the Super Rugby AU results, the World Cup schedule and a parting shot from former RA interim CEO Rob Clarke to one of rugby’s biggest critics


Ready made

A Queensland Reds rolling maul led to their first try

A Queensland Reds rolling maul led to their first try

The Reds have survived a major scare, overcoming the Rebels 23-21 at Suncorp Stadium.

The attitude of bend not break was taken too literally by the Reds, who found themselves on the wrong side of the referee, allowing the Rebels to kick 7 penalty goals throughout the contest.

In fact, both teams seemed to find themselves in a match where every single minor infraction was pulled up, with 32 penalties blown over the 80 minutes.

However, the difference-maker was hooker Alex Mafi, who scored the only two tries in the second half to put the Reds in front with four minutes to go.

Rebels flyhalf Matt Toomua would have a kick to win it after the bell, however, he pushed it to the left, allowing the Reds to escape with the victory.

Whilst Reds coach Brad Thorn was pleased with the win, he admits that neither himself nor the fans will take much pleasure out of the 80 minutes.

“What do you take from that? You take the win and you move on sometimes,” he said after the match.

“It’s not preferable there for a crowd or new audience (who want) some rugby played.

“But we’re trying to play, we want what you want and it just didn’t happen that way tonight … but I like that the lads found a way.”

Rebels coach Dave Wessels conceded that the intense ‘Amazing Race’ style pre-season had left them little choice but to play that style of rugby.

“I feel like I’m in an episode of the Amazing Race just travelling around the country,” Rebels coach Dave Wessels said.

“But we travel with 45, it’s not like you can just book like you’re going away for the weekend with your wife.

“I’ve come here under very difficult circumstances…I don’t care if I had to claw by my fingernails, we had to win.

“We were never going to play Barbarian-style rugby, but it doesn’t mean that later in the season we can’t.”

Worrytahs

Tom Cusack packs down on the side of the Brumbies scrum.

Tom Cusack packs down on the side of the Brumbies scrum.

I think that Reds-Rebels game was it for the action for Super Rugby AU this week, onto the Six Nations…Ok fine, I’ll address the Waratahs game but I’m taking it up with the head of news (oh wait, that’s me).

The Brumbies have produced their largest win against the Waratahs, cruising to a dominant 61-10 win at GIO Stadium.

In a repeat of last week’s performance, the Waratahs would open the scoring before falling behind as the Brumbies chose death by rolling maul, with flyhalf Noah Lolesio somehow finding his way to a try at the back of one of two maul tries from close range.

However, the Brumbies went one further than the Reds did last week, going full Gladiator and showing no mercy to the under-strength Tahs.

Winger Mack Hansen would score two tries to seal his hat-trick, with the Brumbies bringing up the 50 after two late tries in the final 10 minutes.

Waratahs coach Rob Penney was shell-shocked after the match, conceding that his time at the top might be over if the higher powers deem it so.

“Not enough words to express the disappointment. I’ve got a shattered group. The Brumbies have taught us a first-class lesson … we just weren’t in the contest,” Penney said.

“We got a really good shellacking tonight. The boys are devastated. They don’t want events like tonight to happen. I love these boys and I’m doing my best.

“If other people think I’m not the right person, I’m not going to stand in the way. What’s right for the group is the important thing.

“We’ve got to be careful. They’re good boys and proud boys and they’re hurting big time. There will be people out there saying we’re not hard enough on them. You can’t whip a dog when it’s down.

“The last thing we want to do is dent any confidence they do have. We care about them. They’re humans first and rugby players second. Bloody good rugby players. They’ll bounce back.”

WC schedule confirmed

England v South Africa - Rugby World Cup 2019 Final

The 2023 Rugby World Cup schedule has been confirmed, with a blockbuster match set to kick off the tournament.

The number one ranked New Zealand (at the time of the draw/when 2023 hits, just accept it because it’s bound to happen) will take on hosts and fourth-ranked France on September 8 2023, commemorating the sport’s 200th birthday.

All matches will be played between Wednesday and Sunday to maximise fan and broadcast engagement, with seven double/triple-header weekends across the group stages.

Mark 9th September 2023 on the calendar, which will be Australia’s first game of the tournament against ‘Europe 1’, which will likely be Georgia, given that they should already be playing in the Six Nations.

They will then resume hostilities with their pool buddies, facing Fiji on the 17th in Nice before travelling to Lyon to take on Wales seven days later.

The group stages will conclude for the Wallabies on October 1 in Saint-Étienne against the Final Qualifier Winner, where hopefully we will see a second-string side with Australia’s spot in the finals confirmed.

“The match schedule announcement is the moment when the tournament truly comes alive for fans all around the world and is an exciting milestone on the road to Rugby World Cup France 2023,” World Rugby Chairman, Sir Bill Beaumont said in a statement.

“It has been developed with teams and fans at heart and we are confident it will provide the best possible platform for a thrilling, historic and very special Rugby World Cup in the sport’s 200th year.

“I would like to thank our friends at the France 2023 Organising Committee for their efforts in building the most fair and equitable RWC match schedule ever.

“I know I speak for fans around the world when I say that 2023 cannot come fast enough!”

Clarkey’s comeback

200505 Rob Clarke

After helping RA when they needed it the most, Rob Clarke has continued to fight for the sport, going at one of it’s biggest critics.

Having seen the sport cop countless drive-byes from former Aussie coach Alan Jones, Clarke decided to opt for his own version, a ‘yacht-by’ if you will, as he called out the shock jock.

“There are certain individuals, and I’ll mention Alan Jones as one, who I just think consistently takes the negative approach and the personal approach which I find very disappointing,” Clarke told The Herald.

“Alan was one of the Wallabies’ most successful coaches and made a very significant contribution to rugby nearly 40 years ago.

“Yet the last decade or two, the focus of his commentary, in particular on rugby administrators, has been mostly playing the man, or in Raelene’s case, was playing the woman and not the ball or the issue.

Jones’ whole ‘they took er jerbs’ strategy to target anyone non-Australians in positions of power in rugby, most recently Andy Marinos, didn’t sit well with Clarke, who pointed out the diversity across the leadership of various sporting organisations.

“Look around our top sports at the moment in Australia: Andrew Abdo, CEO of the NRL – you can’t get more tribal and suburban-based competition – he’s South African,” he argued.

“So is Craig Tiley, arguably in my view one of Australia’s most respected sports administrators. The interim CEO of Cricket Australia Nick Hockley is English.

“At the end of the day, if they’re the right people for the job, why does their birth place matter?
Australia is one of the most multicultural countries on the planet and rugby is an international sport played in over 130 countries.

“For what it’s worth, I think Andy is an excellent appointment.

“I get frustrated with those sort of things where I think it’s negativity for the sake of negativity. I think that’s sad. They’re the sort of things I wish our game could move through.”

  • Who?

    Penney needs to shut up – hiring him (and Gilmore) seems to be about the only smart thing the administrators at the NSWRU have done in recent years, and Australian Rugby doesn’t need Penney giving the incompetent organisation an opportunity to scapegoat him and maintain their position. If there’s a Kiwi coach to blame, it’s Gibson, not Penney. The Tahs need to find some players (others have mentioned dragging back Skelton, Coleman, etc – just to get some muscle in the tight five – they’ve got the cap room!) and show some patience.

    Whilst the Reds and Brums have been the strongest Aussie teams over the past little bit, it’s worth considering where that strength was developed. Clearly, the Brums have an excellent coaching team. McKellar was developed well and he’s turned into quite a strong head coach. Thorn, I’m still not sold, but when you’ve got Jim McKay… It’s a good start.

    But where are their players from? Well, both teams draw heavily from the more successful NRC teams. The Reds’ strength at present is directly – directly – tied to the fact that at least one of their NRC teams was in the Finals every year, and they won about half of the comps. Contrast that with the Tahs’ engagement with NRC, and the absolute disaster they are on field at present. They’ve got some potential superstars out there (guys like Harrison and Bell, quality players from those successful U20 teams), but what the NRC did was gave opportunity to develop professionalism from the guys who weren’t in those squads.
    To me, NSW is paying the price for their failure to properly engage with the NRC.

    • Steve

      Recruitment and engagement is undoubtedly a huge problem.

      The other is giving the coach time and leeway to develop structures and systems for players to excel. The gulf in the quality of drilling and basic skills was one of the most obvious things I saw last night.

      I’m no coach but I can say that McKellar and team have done this exceptionally well. It’s also the gift that keeps on giving because players become like shark’s teeth – you lose a Kuridrani and an Ikitau pops up in his place.

      What’s required for the pro team placed in one of the country’s biggest players factories to replicate this?

      • Jason

        Honestly, for game plans and structures the Waratahs would be better giving that job to your or me mate, I think the team is so outmatched there isn’t a game plan or structure or strategy that would help them come within 20 of a genuine Super Rugby team.

        Most sad part is it was entirely preventable, and entirely foreseeable. Yet the Waratahs nor NSWRU did anything to try to stop it or limit the damage that this situation would do. Honestly, at this point if I were Rugby Australia I’d be so incredibly angry at NSWRU & the Warathas right now, you’ve finally got your game on National TV, chance for a fresh start, and you’ve got 5 of what should be your premier headlining games, where the Waratahs are probably going to take a great steaming shit on the field. Perhaps it’s too early to say that, perhaps they’ll do well against the Force (who should be the next weakest team), but I can’t see that happening without some kind of major turnaround.

        Broadcast Games
        ‘Tahs 5

        Reds 5

        Brumbs 4
        Rebs 3
        Force 2

    • Jason

      To me, NSW is paying the price for their failure to properly engage with the NRC.

      This is the price NSW pay for not engaging with the NRC… the price the rest of Rugby in Australia pay for their refusal to engage with it … likely no more NRC!

      • Hambone

        Yeah, I can’t believe they let him walk when u look at the caps/youth in that back line. Having him outside Harrison would offer so much more in attack and defence.. experience and composure are what’s missing, he would have brought both sadly

        • Jason

          And his defense, he’s a really excellent defensive organizer too.

        • Mike D

          Could be they don’t want Hunt precisely because it is a young team. Maybe there’s culture reasons for not keeping him, they don’t like some aspect of his general approach?

        • Jason

          Sure, maybe, but if that’s the case why bring in Perese who is an unknown entity and has the same issues?
          Regardless I think they can’t really be picky at this point.

    • KwAussie Rugby Lover

      Bang on with paying the price for ignoring the NRC. I get that it’s a balancing act with so much invested in the Shute Shield competition but still very poor decision making. Tie that into no succession planning for the last 6 – 8 years and the result was almost inevitable

    • Hoss

      What’s the ‘NRC’ – National Rifle Committee?

      • Reds Revival

        Yep, for the Waratahs to shoot themselves in the foot.

      • Who?

        It was where the NSW Country Eagles played… Not that the SRU wanted you to know about it. ;-P

  • Jason

    Honestly, I don’t blame Penney, he’s doing the best with what he’s got, but the ‘Tahs have been ignoring real player development for probably the last 5-10 years. They’ve been picking essentially the same team since 2014. The Waratahs laughed at the NRC thinking it was a joke and so never made any roster spots available to non-contracted NRC players meaning none of the non-contracted players wanted to play for the NSW NRC teams (explaining why they were always awful in the NRC when they should have been some of the best teams). Not to mention this ignoring of the NRC by the biggest player base in Australian Rugby Union majorly contributing to it’s likely demise.
    This same ‘we don’t care about anyone else’ attitude they took to the NRC has now permeated the Super side, they aren’t going to win the comp, so fuck it we’ll just bomb the season. They basically didn’t recruit, 21 players out… 8 players in, only 4 with any significant prior experience. They let Karmichael Hunt walk I think he’s playing CLUB footy up in Queensland now… he’s exactly the sort of player you need around a young team like this to show them how the game is played.

    At least when the Reds got young they had some quality young players among the just young players, and they kept around / brought in a few aging greats. The Waratahs have only 5 players with any kind of Test experience (Falkner, HJH, Dempsey, Swinton, Maddocks) and only ONE with more than 10 caps (Dempsey, although Maddocks has 7). How can NSW (supposedly) have the best Club Competition in Australia, the best Schoolboys competition in Australia, NSW win the schoolboys championship, yet have such little talent working their way through the system?
    I seriously don’t know how this happens?
    Like even the Reds at their worst playing their youngest teams weren’t getting beaten as convincingly as the Brumbs & Reds did. Now maybe they’ll turn it around, maybe the Brumbs & Reds are just very very good, they probably are, but still the gap is looking very concerning.

  • Greg

    That would be “drive by shootings” as “drive by” is a contraction. I don’t think Mr Jones has gone that far.

    Wielded unacceptable influence? Yes
    Abused prime ministers and premiers? yes
    Cosied up to the Murdoch press? yes
    etc…

    Sigh… I miss Mr Jones.

    Now back to the Waratahs being routed….

    • Crescent

      Just say that last line in a South African accent….

  • Crescent

    Thanks Nathan – loved the “yacht by” from Clarke! Made my morning.

    Onto the Tahs – I for one was not surprised by the result or the margin against the Brumbies. A completely clinical performance from the Brumbies, and when everything is front foot and going forward, everything tends to go your way (as it should). Masterful at slowing the Tahs ball (but not enough to draw the referees ire) to ensuring each time they had a scoring opportunity they took away points – from start to finish they controlled every aspect of the game superbly.

    This morning I heard that there will now be an inquiry within the Tahs head office to supposedly chart a course forwards. Only about 5 years too late, and I am not holding my breath for the back office to stand up and take responsibility for what Penney has stepped in(to). As I said previously, I fear Penney will be the scape goat for a raft of issues he inherited and has had no chance to put right.

    However – the current coaching team is not completely free of their share of responsibility. Basic handling and execution is severely lacking – and they have had enough time with the squad that basic catching and passing should not be a concern, nor is there any excuse for the low numbers allowing the runner to become isolated for an easy turnover at the breakdown. That is readily repairable, we should not be two matches in and seeing those kind of errors at the rate they are occurring.

    • Rob Hill

      As a Force fan, I found myself asking on Friday night “are the Rebels that good or are the Tahs that bad?” I got my answer on Saturday and am hopeful that the Force boys can get the winning feeling started this week. You never know, the Reds were scary for Force fans last week, but today they look beatable and, as long as we don’t get sucked into the trenchfight that the Rebels want, I think were a chance for better than 4th (Brumbies were never in our reach no matter how much bravado I showed before the game)

      As for the Tahs head office inquiry into possible roadmaps out of the mire, I’d take London to a brick the answer will be wrapped up in a nice little scapegoat. The team is under the cap for a reason, they don’t have to spend any money getting the players they want to see on the field and (unfortunately for them) that decision hasn’t been about player quality since 2014.

    • Ads

      Great post. Half-arsed skills & dopey tactics (rolling mauls) are on the coaching team. And some of the crap recruiting too. But yes it was already stuffed.

  • KwAussie Rugby Lover

    Thanks Nathan and a good summary of the weekend rugby. No 6N results though. I think the Reds need to work on their discipline. I wonder if they just took the Rebels too lightly and then couldn’t get back into the game. I almost hope that is the case. Gee the Tahs are a basket case. They almost need to start again with a new foundation built on a good culture and smart management. Not a lot of either being demonstrated at the moment. I’m not sure throwing a few good players in will change much if you don’t get the foundation sorted.
    I hope we never hear from Jones again. Both him and Cheika can just fuck off into the history and be nothing more than a memory for other people to show how not to be. That’s all they’re good for.
    ABs vs France to start a RWC in France. Couldn’t ask for a better start

    • Yowie

      ABs vs France to start a RWC in France. Couldn’t ask for a better start

      What a cracker. The French can definitely rise to a big occasion, just not every time.

      • Damo

        Yeah, I wouldn’t be putting money on France if it was called the World War Cup.

        • Yowie

          French defence coaches stopped referring to the opposition advantage line as the “Maginot Line” in the late 1930s I believe.

        • Keith Butler

          Good old Shaun Edwards from Wigan, as French as moi but knows his stuff.

        • Damo

          Hitler successfully went wide early. Luckily he had Belgium out there, not Kurtley.

        • Yowie

          Solid territory stats until about June 1944 too.

        • laurence king

          What was the line, ‘backward marching surrender monkeys’?

        • Yowie

          ‘cheese-eating surrender monkeys’ is the version I remember, but both might be in circulation.

        • Ads

          How many forward gears does a French tank have? One, just in in case they get attacked from behind.

          Vote 2 for Cheese-eating surrender monkeys!!!

        • Keith Butler

          Surely you mean Italian tank with 10 reverse gears.

        • Patrick

          The not funny part is that the current French B team would be a real challenge for us.

        • Their third team were a real challenge to England’s first team in November…

      • KwAussie Rugby Lover

        They may do what they did in Auckland and save themselves for the knockout part of the competition. Risky but almost worked too

        • Yowie

          Interesting conundrum – Gallic pride versus strategic masterplan. I can imagine the heated arguments behind closed doors.

        • Greg

          Whenever I think about the froggies, I think about the fractured skull in NZ and how that was deemed to be OK. I am guessing it is not any more.

      • The French are playing with a lot more consistency under Gaulthie and Edwards. And at a high level. Come 2023 I think they’ll be genuine contenders to go all the way through and win the lot, including winning that first match.

        There’s a long time for things to change of course, but the way they’ve played over the last year or so has been really impressive, and they’re still improving.

        • Patrick

          That is my bet too. Scarily talented, Shaun Edwards in defence coach, their most inspirational leader of the past 20 years as head coach and at least two credible international quality players in every position, most of whom will be around 30 – 50 caps in 2023, several good kickers…

    • Brisneyland Local

      100% agree KARL. Mind you becareful what you say about the Cheikmeister, or someone might give you a serve! ;-)

      • Yowie

        Stay tuned for the revisionist history movement regarding the Cheika Wallaby years.

        The Cheika Wallabies did not lose all those games on the field, but were instead “stabbed in the back” (Dolchstoßlegende) by the civilians on the home front…

        • Crescent

          There I was thinking you were going to go for the Trumpian “We never, ever lost a match to anyone. They were stolen from us by the fake news media and you have steal the Bledisloe and World Cup back!”

        • Yowie

          haha gold.

          At NZ Rugby HQ:

          “Hey cuz, look out the wundow at thus group of Aussies shoving the fince and waving around a makeshuft gallows trophy cabinet”

        • Brisneyland Local

          Pure gold Yowie!

    • Jason

      I think the Reds need to work on their discipline. I wonder if they just
      took the Rebels too lightly and then couldn’t get back into the game.

      I think it’s more the referee was very whistle happy, and the Reds game plan really revolved around playing up tempo rugby. This was kind of the perfect storm for the Rebels, they got to slow the game down, they got to rest, and they got to take the penalty goals. Plus the Rebels are just kind of that team who get other teams to get down in the trash with them.

      • Keith Butler

        Our you could but probably won’t say that the Rebels had a better game plan. Humid conditions so why shag yourself out. The opposition give away kickable penalties take the points. Apart from one scrum the Rebs pack was competitive which is more than you can say about the Tahs. But hey you just carry on with your trash talk. And by the the way I am a Rebs fan who expected a good towelling but we stood up to the mighty Reds and they deserved the win.

        • Jason

          Yes and no. The Reds weren’t running out of gas. If anything they looked like they would have gone another 40 if you’d have let them. The Rebels got the better of the Ref (who by all accounts was overly penalty happy), I don’t think happening to have the Ref happen to help your tactics (and work against your oppositions). Regarding the ‘trash’ comment, I wasn’t meaning the Rebels are trash, more that they force other teams to play to them. They force other teams to play the Rebels at their own game, they force them to kick goals etc.

        • Keith Butler

          Thanks Jason. Apologies if I came over a bit brusque.

  • KwAussie Rugby Lover

    Depends if they’re watching or shooting when they drive by

  • onlinesideline

    The Tahs have been a lot like Gov Cuomo for a number of years. A sinking ship.
    What people say about them ignoring the NRC is probably right but my gut says its to do with the profile of the Tahs, its image as a club, its culture. There must be a reason a lot of Islanders go either to the Brumbies or the Reds. Its just a question, but are the Tahs just too Mosman for a lot of blokes ?

  • Bert

    Forgive me for this very predictable rant, but..

    Is it just me or did the refs get a brief to stop play every 1-2 minutes?

    My kids left after 30mins of the reds/rebs and after 20 of the Tahs (there may be other reasons for that decision tho) pea blowing festival.

    Hey, of course we need laws, but not overly pedantic officials pulling up play, and how about a short arm for all those scrum calls?

    Is it just me? Or was the game flow way worse this weekend?

    • Rob Hill

      Read some Tim Sampson from last week

      He was universally derided for saying as much but he would agree with you.

    • Keith Butler

      Could also argue Bert that if players are coached to play near or over the offside line and continue to commit any number of offences at the breakdown, side entry, not bound, off feet, not rolling away etc they deserve everything they get. I agree that some refs can be very pedantic but coaches and players must take a lot of responsibility as well.

  • Hambone

    “Yacht by” – love it… go clarkey, bout time someone had a run at the miserable alleged romantic pen pal..
    We need all hands on deck sprucing the game, there’s alot to like about Oz rugby at the moment, without nit picking over bullshit trying to sound relevant.
    Aaaah its good to have footy 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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