Welcome back to another edition of the Tuesday Top 5. This week we will take a quick look at the Wallabies v Pumas match, but there is a lot of other rugby going on around the place at the moment, so we will check out the happenings in Super Rugby Unlocked (I still think that was the worst of the 3 Super Rugby names), talk referees – though probably not in the way you’re thinking! – and see what’s going on over in Europe.
What more can we really say?
There has been plenty said about the match on Saturday, and to be honest I’m not sure we could really add much that hasn’t already been talked about. But let’s try anyway shall we?
I’m going to start by saying I feel sorry for Noah Lolesio. He has now spent 2 complete matches on the bench, both times when the result was in the balance. What message is that sending him? You’re good enough to make the side, but not good enough to risk putting on the field in a tight one? Twice his drop goal boot could have come in handy, but he is just sitting there watching on.
I said it a couple of weeks ago, and I will say it again now. Rugby players at this level need to have a really solid knowledge of the game, when to run, when to kick and when to throw a good, safe pass rather than the one handed, behind the back as I’m falling to the ground pass. We saw a few examples on Saturday of this sort of knowledge NOT being applied when it should have been. Once again, there is more to being a great rugby player than flashy play.
That kind of leads into this quote from Dave Rennie, which is concerning – “At 15-6, we really had control of the game and we had chances to pin them into the corners and we had a fair bit of success with kicking and it looks like we got bored of it. We played and overplayed and turned the ball over and let them back into the game. Yeah, disappointing. We should have closed it out and really let ourselves down.” So who was making the decisions on the field? Was there a lack of leadership or calm heads steering the ship?
All I can say is I imagine the rematch in 2 weeks will be a very interesting, possibly fiery encounter.
Super Rugby Unlocked
While all eyes over here have been on the Tri Nations, over in South Africa they have just reached the conclusion of their very own Super Rugby competition. This weekend saw the Bulls crowned Super Rugby unlocked champions, after taking 4 points in their win over the Pumas in the final match of the competition (as in Super Rugby Aotearoa, the team on top of the ladder at the completion of the final round is the winner. No finals).
However they would have actually taken out the title even if they had lost. You see, when a number of Sharks players tested positive to Covid-19, their final round match against the Stormers was cancelled. The Sharks and Stormers both received 2 points for the match. That meant that going into the game against the Pumas, the Bulls were on 19 points, tied with both the Sharks and Stormers. The big difference? The Bulls had a points difference of 70, the Stormers had a points difference of 28 and the Sharks 6. So it would have taken the Pumas, who had only won 1 match, beating the Bulls by more than 42 points to stop the Bulls winning the title.
In all, three games during the season were called off due to players testing positive for Covid. You have to feel for the Lions, as they were involved in two of those matches.
A Positive Story About Referees
On the weekend, in the Autumn Nations Cup match between Wales and Georgia, referee Joy Neville made history by becoming the first female TMO in a major men’s international. Joy Neville played 70 matches for Ireland and was their captain, and as a referee has achieved a lot. She was the first female to referee a professional European match, she has refereed internationals, European Challenge Cup matches as well as Pro 14 matches.
Here in Australia we have seen Amy Perret rising through the referee ranks, this year taking charge in her first Super Rugby AU match, and doing a pretty good job of it too. She also was an assistant referee for the final between the Brumbies and Reds.
And that match between the bulls and Pumas I mentioned above? The referee for that game was Aimee Barrett-Theron. She had been Assistant Referee for a number of games, but this was her first time in charge. In fact, this was the first time in South Africa that a woman had refereed a top-level match. And by all accounts she did a fantastic job.
Personally, I think it is great to see women referees taking charge. Not just being promoted as a publicity stunt, but being given top games on merit, and then doing a great once they get there.
So at the moment over in Europe the Autumn Nations Cup is taking place. This is a new International competition with 8 teams involved. They are divided into two pools, with each team playing the other 3 teams in their pool. Then teams will play against the team which finished in the same position as them in the other pool. The top team in each pool will play for 1st, the second placed team in each pool will play for 2nd etc.
The two pools are:
POOL A – England, Ireland, Wales, and Georgia
POOL B – France, Scotland, Italy, and Fiji.
So far there have been 2 rounds played. In Pool A, England are on top having beat Georgia 40-0 and Ireland 18-7. Ireland are in 2nd thanks to their first round win over Wales, 32-9. Wales is in 3rd with an 18-0 win over Georgia, leaving Georgia in 4th.
In Pool B, things are a little more complicated. Both Italy and France have ben awarded 28-0 wins over Fiji, despite the games being cancelled. The Fijian squad returned a number of positive Covid tests so the decision was made to cancel the games and give a 28-0 result. The Scotland v Fiji match this coming weekend has also been cancelled and it is expected that Scotland will also “win” 28-0.
So pool B has France on top after their “win” over Fiji and a 22-15 win over Scotland. Scotland are in 2nd and are the only team to have actually played both of their games. They defeated Italy 28-17 in round 1. Italy is in 3rd, with their result over Fiji, while Fiji is on the bottom having not played.
This weekend there are 3 games. Wales take on England, France play Italy and Ireland play Georgia.
Like I said earlier, there is a lot of rugby going on around the world at the moment.