Podcast 277 - Hugh and Matt's Fireside Chat - Green and Gold Rugby

Podcast 277 – Hugh and Matt’s Fireside Chat

Podcast 277 – Hugh and Matt’s Fireside Chat

It’s NRC Grand Final week, and as a result the boys of the Green and Gold Rugby Show will be bringing you not one, but two podcasts. First up is Matt and Hugh, who got to talk about all the latest on the international level following the Wallabies victory over Japan, with a bit of NRC and Twiggyball thrown in for good measure.

The Five Burning Questions:

1.What did we get out of the Japan test?
2. What do we expect from the Wales test?
3. Two years out from Rugby World Cup Grand Final, what positions are you worried about?
4. Has the NRC  finally come of age?
5. Is Twiggyball any chance of being good?

  • Kiap

    Good to see Hugh has absorbed a few things about the IPRC’s potential for building good sides from players around the Asia-Pacific; and even stealing the “pick the eyes out” quip from one of my earlier assumption adjustors :)

    While many questions being raised about the IPRC are valid, many others are also based on misconceptions. I thought these from Matt were refreshingly honest.

    “…I’m guessing that those teams in some low-flung level of the World Cup qualification something-or-other probably play each other. Like, why don’t you stick that on TV?” …and

    “I can’t, for a second, understand how this thing is supposed to work …”

    As this plays out, my bet is there will be answers to those, at least!

    It’s right, of course, to say the competition will take effort and time to get off the ground (and even more to come of age).

    Boosters of the concept (some of them) are also clearly a little unrealistic in their expectations.

    I say this Indo-Pacific Rugby Championship will kick off, and it has the potential to be very good for Australian rugby.

    • Hugh Cavill

      Hahaha thanks.

      I agree with what you say, and while we raise some concerns I’m certainly cheering for it to be a big success. I’m sure we’ll get more answers in the coming months, there does look to be a lot going on behind the scenes.

      • Bakkies

        Excellent Hugh that you are expressing an interest in this.

        You can’t compare the NRC to IPRC. The NRC is cost neutral and runs on a shoestring. The backers amongst the teams include the Vikings Group of Clubs, Eastwood, universities and state governing bodies that are skint. The Melbourne Rising don’t even have a major sponsor. The ARU has already p..ssed off one of Clyne’s associates from the friends of Sydney University Football Club Buildcorp and Warren Livingstone who was putting money in to one of the Sydney NRC teams.

        The IPRC has already sought out investors who are interested in putting in time of money in to the prospective teams. He also is willing to test out a different broadcasting model.

        Twiggy has also got Federal Government and foreign Government interest in the competition along with backing from the IRB who have a legacy for Asian Rugby they would want to provide in the region post RWC 2019.

        This has come about due to the fact that the ARU unlike SARU have not provided a competition for the Force and no preservation of the footprint that the Rugby WA have created there since 2006. The ARU have already retrenched the vast majority of Rugby WA staff with more going this week due to the end of the Spirit’s NRC campaign. Throw in the threat to claim back the court costs off Rugby WA. They had no plan for WA apart from screwing them.

        This has angered the WA Government who no longer have a relationship with the governing body. The ARU have also sold off tests to Melbourne without that Perth are now unable to bid for which has created further resentment from the WA Government.

        The ARU have had at least 13 reviews over the past few years. One of the reviews was led by Saltbush Capital the company belonging to Fairfax board member Patrick Allaway another one of Clyne’s associates from the Friends of Sydney University Football Club. That’s hardly independent and a complete farce.


        This is why WA is going ahead with this and need the support from people within Australia that are outside of the ivory tower.

        Twiggy has stated that he has least 200 plus players who have already expressed an interest in playing in the competition. This was stated a while back so it may be higher now. These players include Australians who are looking at coming home or playing closer to Australia, lifestyle reasons (better climate than cold European winters), not as physically demanding in terms of season length and have had enough of player Super Rugby. People are still banging about Super Rugby being better but in reality it is a dead comp walking and players have already spoken with their feet.

        There is more talent out there than people realise when you look at the numbers.

        RUPA have said that there are 147 Aussie players abroad with Super Rugby experience. Over 40 players have left this year to go abroad. Then you have Force and Rebels players who are now looking for clubs.

        Over 200 SA players playing abroad. Probably doesn’t include the players with Super Rugby contracts who have been allowed to play in Japan to entice them to stay in SA. That includes the current Springbok captain Warren Whiteley. The ARU have got duped and schooled by SARU yes SARU the great bastions of incompetency. They got fooled by SA dropping two teams to increase the quality of the Super Rugby competition in reality they had a plan all along which they had been discussing for over a year with the Pro 12. They are now talking about adding two more teams to go in to European competitions.

        NZ has over 200 players abroad and they also have Super Rugby players playing in Japan in the ‘off season.’

        Fiji has over 200 players abroad when you go in to the lower French leagues, Romanian comp, Russian league, etc.

        Argentina need to restructure their system as it is not working.

        • Moz

          Thanks Bakkies!!! And I see that the IPRC have their website up already.


        • Bakkies

          No worries.

          I have hammered John O’Neill in the past and will continue to do so as he took a golden hand shake from the game. He still remains unaccountable for his mismanagement of the game and decision making.

          I do give him one thing is that he had a plan with NZ that featured Japan in the case that SA do walk from Super Rugby and SA had never denied it.

          This current mob still don’t have one off their own back.

        • Hugh Cavill

          Thanks Bakkies. Great analysis.

          My comparison was very basic, in the sense that the NRC is also a comp that started from scratch, with new teams etc. Given how long it took to take hold (albeit with limited funds), it shows how hard it is to get these comps off the ground.

  • Pedro

    The position for me is 9. Genia is too heavily relied upon. More than any other position a confident scrum half is crucial. There are a few promising players out there but none have had enough time in gold to be confidently relied upon.

    Not too worried about six, I think there is a few players in the frame and if we can carry Hanigan we can carry a few other unfinished players while they acclimatise. Tui, valetini, nasrani amongst others.

    Great podcast guys.

    • RugbyReg

      agree, that would have been my call (other than hooker). The gap below 9 is too big. I don’t think Phipps and Powell are where we need.

      I actually think Ruru, Tuttle and Gordon and better options but that need to be brought into the fold sooner rather than latter.

      As for the #6 position? Naisarani solves that problem (with support from Pocock) pretty damn easily, with the likes of Caleb Timu and Rob Valetini handy options too.

      • Jason

        Agree a lot, the difference between 10, 2 and 9 is well Genia would be in consideration for a start anywhere except maybe New Zealand, and we have young upstart talent like Tuttle and Gordon.
        I actually think aside from Hanigan, Peresie and Powell have been hurt the most by the constantly in the squad but never played.

        Like I understand wanting to have an experienced 9 on the bench especially for the big games like South Africa and New Zealand, but Genia is capable of playing the full 80 particularly against the weaker sides like Argentina, Fiji and Japan. Why the hell are we leaving Joe Powell sitting on the bench for most of that game. I understand not starting Powell last weekend (although it’s Japan perhaps you could show some faith).

        Cheika really needs to start doing more to make sure guys are ready to play test rugby when they are called upon to step up. We got lucky with Rodda and Tui both being able to step up but none of that would have been Cheika’s doing they were both thrust into the thick of it due to injury.

        • Jack Mallick

          It’s going to be tough for Perese to get a run when he plays outside centre and wing…those players have been pretty dominant for the Wallabies this year.

          Cheika has done a good job of bringing players through – Rodda and Tui were there because he went with them instead of an older bloke. The players all rave about his man management and how much they enjoy the squad environment, I think he warrants credit for bringing them through.

          Halfback is a big hole…there are a fair few players coming through but none of them have even been regular starters for back to back seasons in Super Rugby.

        • Jason

          >Cheika has done a good job of bringing players through – Rodda and Tui were there because he went with them instead of an older bloke.

          It’s hardly been a ‘good job’ sure Rodda and Tui were selected instead of another player (Sam Carter for instance) but don’t delude yourself this wasn’t an engineered plan like the AB’s would have, this was much more that Rodda and Tui were thrust into the situation and managed to be up to it. Both were really brought in due to injures and not ‘given time’ like Hanson would have.

          I think it’s brilliant that we have players who can step up and are capable of meeting the challenge. But I really don’t think it’s anything like what Hanson or Jones do in their player management to get players ready and capable of playing internationals. It’s actually something Australia has never really been very good at with Rugby Union. But you wouldn’t see New Zealand going into a game with McKenzie being forced into fly half you’d see him shuffled in to play fly half for a half or 20 min and then from there they might decide he’s viable as cover for fly half.

          As for Perese I do think he’s a little unlucky to not have a cap by now, but it’s really tough as you said he’s stuck in an awkward place as the other wings are playing really really well and unless there’s an injury he’s not getting a run. Maybe Speight hasn’t been super impressive but not bad by any stretch. I really don’t know what Persie’s future is going to be because he’s kind of stuck on the wing but will likely end up being too good as a winger (but not a high skill winger like Hodge) but not having the skills as a fullback. He’s not getting game time at 13 with the Reds unless Samu goes down, and I suspect Stewart is going to get the bulk of the bench minutes for 15 (I see Karmichael and Quade swapping 40-60 min games), even the Reds wing positions are going to be brutal Ed Fiddio and Filipo Daugunu (Daugunu also is a decent goal kicker not that the Reds will need any more kickers).

          I really don’t understand why Cheika isn’t playing the third halfback more (whoever they are, be it Tuttle, Gordon or Powell). Geina is in blistering form but I haven’t seen a game from Phipps that would justify him being considered the next best halfback for Waratahs let alone the Wallabies. It’s not good that we don’t know if Powell is up to playing Test Rugby but it’s also gotta be having an effect on his development (similar to Pereise).
          I really think for a national representative team like the Wallabies you should be aiming to have 3 players all capable of playing in every position, you should also be aiming to have 2 of those players being younger and at minimum have one of them being younger. But beyond that you should be asking ‘can I get X young player playing time’ and Cheika hasn’t been doing that. Joe Powell for example has played a total of 33 min of Test Rugby, 15 against Fiji, 15 against Japan and 3 against Italy. He should be playing 20 against Fiji, like 80 against Japan and 20 against Italy. Cheika isn’t trying to find ways to develop his young players. And Joe Powell isn’t the only player who has had this type of thing happen to him.

    • Phipps is a ‘shoe in’ for backup…

      • jamie


      • Pedro

        *slow clap*

  • RugbyReg

    Hodge’s game at 10 was a handy boost to his versatility. I think come a RWC and if things go pear shaped then he is an option to play v the lesser sides. Could he do it (ala Berrick Barnes in 2007) in the big matches? Perhaps with some good time there in Super Rugby.

    But how good is he? Every question he’s been asked along the way he’s answered. He was a bloody amateur player just a couple of years ago. Had a good NRC, was outstanding for the Rebels in his first pro rugby season, stepped up to the Wallabies and secured a starting spot (playing damn well) and then has raised it again this year. It’s a really incredible story.

    As for his Super Rugby kicking %ages were they perhaps impacted by the fact he took the hard shots and Garden-Bachop took the more standard easier ones? Anyway how good was his kicking this game? 9 from 9 and, as Hugh said, not all easy! Fantastic. Needs to spend a lot of time on his kick offs and general play and it could be a bloody brilliant asset for us.

    As for the Jamie question of last time someone kicked 9 from 9? I think Matty Burke did it in 1999 RWC GF?

    • juswal

      If you haven’t kicked 9 from 9 yourself, you can’t comment.

    • Maybe you shoulda come on the podcast?

      • Jamie Miller

        I think the guys had it spot on. We are super threadbare in that role, so giving him a go made sense. But on sight, he absolutely looks like a “square peg in a round hole”. Kafe’s comment about not being able to pass long and accurately left to right was also bang on.

  • ForceFan

    To clarify…..Ben McCalman played only 20 minutes of rugby for the Western Force in 2017.
    Despite being named Captain he never experienced that run-on honour and it was the reason Hodgson was Captain for most of the year.
    McCalman’s issues started with a badly broken thumb in the pre-season and the ongoing issues related to a non- healing fractured scapula.

    It’s pleasing to see him back on the pitch and in Gold for the Spring Tests.

    • Jason

      Don’t get me wrong I’m happy to see McCalman back, but what the fuck happened to Higginbotham! I’d be fine with leaving him out if they’d found some young upstart flanker like Dempsey but we were playing Ned Hangain for like 8 games straight.

      • Bakkies

        Got injured. I don’t know long he was ruled out for.

        • Jack Mallick

          Yeah unfortunately, I don’t think he has played since the June tests has he?

        • Bakkies

          Don’t think so. However he has a deal in Japan so there has to be a way of finding team sheets on English language sites covering the Top League.

        • Jason

          Yeah, I’m pretty sure he’s playing in Japan right now. And I don’t begrudge him that, but if you could have the choice between Higgers and Hanigan I know who I’d be selecting every day of the week!

  • paul

    The problem with rugby is it is becoming an absolute mish mash of competitions, we talk about the NRC coming of age, with better crowds and financial returns. But this is essentially a reserve grade development competition, do we seriously think this will garner greater market share.

    Come 2019 we will have what looks like 4 competitions running side by side, first half of the season Super Rugby & IPRC(twiggy ball) and second half the NRC and basically the Wallabies running around from June/July each year. and this is not to mention the local club competitions.

    It is very hard for a code that is 3/4th in the popularity stakes to attract greater market share or attract the more casual observer, when half the time they won’t know what the f___k they are watching.

    • Jack Mallick

      I agree. Imagine what the NRC could be like if Twiggy put his $50mil into it and making Perth Spirit the dominant club of a comp with a much larger platform than it currently does

    • RugbyReg


      Trying to push:

      Super Rugby
      Club Rugby (in every state)
      Sydney 7s
      Brisbane 10s
      AON Uni 7s

      All have appeal and there’s a lot of it I love watching, but gees it’s a lot of product and, as you suggest, without continuity across who is playing.

  • On Tataf…. i thought ARU guaranteed no-one would lose a spot in Australia if the Force closed? I might have ‘over-interpreted’ that promise?


Die-hard Brumbies/Country Eagles fan now based in Sydney. Author, anthropologist, musician and second-rower trying to kick start a writing career in an increasingly bonkers world...

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