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Thursday’s Rugby News

Thursday’s Rugby News

Thursdays Rugby News sees no final game for Smith, Aon Uni Sevens expanding, Coleman’s in then he’s out, and some big names re-sign with Men’s Sevens.


 

NO SWANSONG FOR SMITH

George Smith Queensland Reds

George Smith’s time playing rugby in Australia has come to an end after the back rower missed out on selection for the Redsfinal game against the Sunwolves.

After suffering a knee injury against the Blues, a knock that kept him out of the Reds win against the Rebels, it would seem that George Smith will be forced to watch his last game in an Aussie team from the stands.

“It’s unfortunate that George doesn’t get an opportunity to play in the Reds’ jersey one final time, but we thought it was in his best interests to listen to his body and sit this one out. He has given plenty to us and to Australian Rugby as a whole and we wish him all the best with the rest of his career.” Reds Coach Brad Thorn said.

Unfortunate is the right word to use as the Queensland and Australian rugby fans miss out on the opportunity to properly farewell a legend of the game. No doubt social media and Rugby forums will be flowing with tributes for a man still playing almost 10 years after he retired form Test rugby with 110 caps.

Smith has signed a short-term contract with UK team Bristol after the end of the 2018 Super Rugby Season.

Fans of George Smith (every fan of Australian Rugby) should check out Smith’s interview with Rugby.com.auwhere he discusses how he almost made a comeback for the 2011 World Cup, a life post rugby, who was the best player he played with and who was his toughest opponent. It offers a fascinating insight into one of the best in the game.

Kane Douglas will also miss out on playing his last game for the Reds with Brad Thorne opting to continue with his theme of 2018 and giving the younger players a go.

“Kane Douglas has done a great job for us this season, but with him moving overseas, we felt we should give opportunities to younger players.”

Lukhan Tui will take Douglas’ starting spot in the second row, with a potential debut for Angus Blyth as he comes onto the bench.

The Reds play the Sunwolves at home at 7:45pm AEST

UNI 7S EXPANDING

NSW girls get motivated

After a successful first season the Aon Uni Sevens will be expanding its number of teams and adding a few extra rounds to have the season run from August to October.

This season also sees the inclusion of two new teams, University of Melbourne and the University of Sydney to bring the series into a 10-team completion.

Fans will be able to watch all matches throughout the series live via Rugby.com.au.

The competition brings together university athletes and professional rugby players, with each team featuring players studying at the university. It is Australia’s only all university competition.

Rugby Australia General Manager High Performance, Ben Whitaker said “The expansion of the Aon University Sevens Series to five rounds shows the depth and ambition of not only our cohort of teams but the players who will be competing in 2018.

“With a five-round competition, the series now almost mirrors the number of events on the HSBC Women’s Sevens World Series, which is only going to enhance the series as a player pathway to prepare the next generation of Australian Sevens players for what’s required at the highest level.
“With five great University locations we will also get to showcase Rugby Sevens to new groups of sports fans around the country, supported by a quality broadcast from RUGBY.com.au which will make the competition accessible to all Rugby fans.”

It is great to see Sevens growing as a sport in Australia and to see some of that grassroots money actually go to growing the game across Australia. Hopefully soon there will be a round in every major city and include uni’s from all the states.

2018 Aon University Sevens Series 

Round 1 
August 25-26, University of Tasmania, Hobart
Round 2 
September 8-9, University of Canberra, Canberra
Round 3
September 22-23, University of Queensland, Brisbane
Round 4
October 6-7, Bond University, Gold Coast
Round 5
October 20-21, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide

COLEMAN IN, COLEMAN OUT

Wallabies v Ireland Sydney Test second half (1 of 11)

Much like Homer Simpson jumping over the American Embassy line, Adam Coleman is in and out of the Rebels squad to face the Highlanders.

After reports came out that Rebels Captain Adam Coleman was in line to return in the teams do or die match against the Highlanders in Dunedin this weekend, Rugby.com.auare reporting that Coleman did not train with the squad on Wednesday.

This would indeed throw a spanner in the mix for Coleman to be selected; but there still could be potential for one last role of the dice today to get him on the plane to New Zealand, maybe even if it is a bench spot. He definitely would be a handy inclusion off the bench, offering a much-needed second half rev up to the boys from Melbourne.

Current Rebels Captain Tom English was excited to see Coleman back at training and showing his leadership of the squad, especially over the young blokes.

“He’s quite an enforcer and really drives the standards,” English said.

“He gets in the young locks’ ears and tells them what to expect and how to prepare for a big game like the one at the weekend.”

In positive signs for the Rebels, halfback Will Genia and fullback Dane Haylett-Petty have trained fully for the squad and should be putting their hands up for selection. Genia would be a massive in for the Rebels considering how well the team has performed when he is on the field.

Rebels fans will get the answer to the question of is Coleman in or out this afternoon when Coach Wessels names his squad.

PARAHI AND CONNOR LOCKED IN FOR TOKYO

LUK_0167

Keeping with the Sevens theme, the Aussie Men’s team have locked in James Parahi and Tom Connor until the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo.

Parahi has been a member of the Aussie Sevens squad for 8 years, after making his debut at the London tournament. Having racked up 44 sevens caps, Parahi stood in as the Captain of the Australian teams during the 2108 Common Wealth Games, after Lewis Holland was ruled out with a hamstring injury.

Men’s coach Tim Walsh praised Parahi for his experience and was excited by the signing.

“To retain the commitment of Jesse is a big piece of the puzzle for the next two years. Jesse’s experience and points of difference form the foundations for consistent podium finishers for the ensuing seasons.”

Connor made his debut this year during the HSBC Sydney 7s and has been a regular in the team, missing only one tournament, the Paris Sevens, due to injury.

“Tom is the man you want in your squad and when the going gets tough you would want Tom by your side.

“A relentless hard worker, professional, always team first and ruthless over the ball. Tom’s hard work, resilience and dedication screams out the cliché “the secret to success is hard work” and once more he enjoys it,” Walsh said.

With these guys committing to the Sevens program, and Henry Hutchison getting an early release from his Rebels contract to return to Sevens, it appears Coach Walsh is looking to build a strong foundation for his squad ahead of the Tokyo Olympics in 2020

The Aussie men will be on their way to San Francisco on Saturday, ahead of the Rugby World Cup Sevens on July 20.

 

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Thanks Dylan,

    A real shame that we won’t see George on the field one last time. He’s just a friggen legend. I hope Coleman does get on the field as i think he brings so much to the team. Admittedly it’ll be better for the Highlanders without him and having him right for Bledisloe 1 in a few weeks is probably more critical. I just love watching him play.

    • Happyman

      Smith is still just awesome and has changed the way Australian kids want to play. Go to any junior team at the start of the season and ask the forwards what position do you play every one says 7 be they tall short fat or thin.

      • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

        For all the praise Hooper gets as this “new brand of a 7″ it was really George who pioneered the way, and in his prime was far more dynamic and complete than Hooper is today.

        Sure, Hooper might be faster than Smith was, but Smith had Pocock’s skills at the breakdown and in defence, a quality running game and had the ball-skills of an international centre, which is something that Hoops still doesn’t have (in fact, I think he is behind Pocock in the ball-skills department).

        • Who?

          Pocock’s passing game was well ahead of Hooper’s passing game before his sabbatical, and he’s only come back better.
          That said, I’m hoping the linking play demanded by the Tahs this year will have turned Hooper from someone who’s not only a great support runner, but also someone who looks for his support a bit more.

        • Bakkies

          Pocock like George Smith played junior Rugby at 12 however Pocock spent too much time on the weights. He shovels the ball worse than Hodge.

        • Who?

          I knew BamBam sat outside Quade at Churchie, but didn’t know George was a 12 in juniors.
          Pocock definitely spent a lot of time on the weights – and push ups, and sit ups, and, and…
          But it worked out for him, in that he’s not playing 12 anymore. That said, he can throw a good pass on the run when he wants. And he’s a 7, not a (supposed) 10 (like Hodge).
          So our greatest 7’s (Smith and Pocock) played 12 at school, and our current next best hope at 10 (Stewart) played 7. Clearly our school coaches are geniuses at selecting players’ natural positions…

        • Bakkies

          It fits with the widespread junior problem of putting the biggest kid at 12. Smith came to the Brumbies with skills of an inside back often standing at first receiver.

          He has played 12 for Manly when they needed cover there.

          The excess weights probably created problems for Pocock as his body wasn’t natural than he jumped straight in to Super Rugby at 17. The Brumbies were shocked at the state of it when he first arrived and got him to work on his ball movement to add to his game (which he should have anyway from his junior days).

          This was delayed as he did his ACL.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          I don’t think Stewart will be our next 10.

        • idiot savant

          Who will?

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          I haven’t seen Stewart demonstrate anything at Super Rugby level that makes me think he is a future international flyhalf. Even at NRC level I don’t think he was impressive to that degree.

          As to who the next longterm 10 will be, it is difficult to say at this point.

          With Toomua coming home and only 28 it is possible that he will be around for a few years after the 2019 RWC, Maddocks will ostensibly be shifted to 10, than we have Hegarty at the Waratahs, Deegan at the Force and Hansen and Goddard coming through at the Brumbies. To me, Stewart doesn’t look like a clearly better prospect than any of them, and clearly worse than some.

          He could change my opinion, but this is based on what I have seen thus far.

        • idiot savant

          I don’t disagree with you about Stewart. I was genuinely curious about your thoughts on the talent coming through. I imagine its a question the national set up should be asking themselves as well. Imagine if we had a national selection panel (like cricket) run by a hard head like Hohns who had long term development plans and pathways planned out for players. Because if we have such a body or concept they must have been at the races for the last 5 years.

          On Stewart, I agree he hasn’t looked anything more than solid at any level. I think the jury is out as he has only started 3 games at super level and there is possibly upside in a player who was a forward in his formative years. I think the Reds have scored more tries per game with him at 10 than Lance. But as that probably coincides with Sorovi and Pai’Auia both coming into the side its hard to tell.

          Im a huge fan of Toomua but the deal looks like he wont get enough game time with the squad to be more than a bench option before the RWC. Hansen and Maddocks both look a bit slow over 5 metres to me for 10. Hegarty I would have picked in the squad for Ireland. I think he is great value. But there no messiah in sight and the last one was just a very naughty boy.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Hansen is so young, but I would tend to disagree that he and Maddocks are too slow off the mark to play flyhalf. I don’t think it’ll be clear as to who the future 10 is until 2020 if I’m honest.

    • Dylan Langes

      If you look at the way the finals ‘could’ play out I believe it is in the best interest of the Highlanders to lose to the Rebels. If they lose they will likely play the Tah’s in Sydney and if they win there is a chance they could play the Hurricanes in Wellington. I know who I would rather play. That being said IF the Rebels win and make finals they will play the Crusaders in Christchurch and that scares the hell out of me as a Rebels fan.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    No surprises but it appears SANZAAR can’t come to a decision.

    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/rugby/news/article.cfm?c_id=80&objectid=12087096

    • Greg

      Smith is indeed a legend.

      From his early dreadlocked days until now… he just keeps on going. He also never seems to have attracted the heated #7 debates about ruck penalties.

      Go well George.

      • Bakkies

        It never sat right that he signed with the Reds while the likes of Gill are exercising their second season options in France and Wright and Gunn are getting insufficient game time. Colby Fainga’a is now moving to Connacht to play with Jarrad Butler.

    • Happyman

      KRL in my view the SAFA’s will go to Europe. They will kick the can down the road until they can make it happen leaving us with a big pile of S&^t to deal with. It just works for them, the time zone and the money will be better. The only sticking point for them will be the Rugby Championship they will want to stay in that comp but will probably join the Pro 14/ 17.

      Assuming that happens it will leave the Australians and New Zealanders with potentially the Agries and Japanese.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        I’m not so sure mate. I don’t think those competitions will necessarily want more SA teams and while SA might keep pushing to be in that doesn’t mean they will.
        The real problem is finding the revenue if they leave as the remainder will not be as attractive to the TV audiences in the north and that’s where the money comes from.
        If revenues go down then player drain will increase.

        • Greg

          interesting comment in the article above as a key reason that the format needs to change.

          “The home and away local derbies have an intensity that is not
          sustainable – particularly in New Zealand where games often come close
          to replicating tests such is their ferocity.”

          I wouldn’t have picked that as a driver. confusion and complexity are my main concerns.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          I think the intensity for the derby rounds can be higher as the players know each other better. Interestingly in another article they are saying this has been good for NZ as we are always playing at a better standard and one of Australias problems is they look good against each other and then crash against a NZ team. The thinking is that they aren’t developing as much because the opposition is not as good.

          Not sure on whether it’s correct or not but it’s certainly interesting

        • Bakkies

          KRL they do mate. Notice how the Pro 14 expansion talk about creating teams in the US and Germany has gone quiet.

          The comp is competing financially against the AP and the Top 14. The rights have gone to obscure subscription channels with little take up at the expense of the BBC.

    • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

      We need a round robin. I don’t care if it includes the Jags and Sunwolves or doesn’t include them, but the conference format is diabolical.

      • Bakkies

        Daryl we don’t need a round robin the comp has to go.

    • Perth girl

      They are just over in Singapore for a holiday and to spend money they don’t have. If they don’t do something soon rugby in Eastern Australia will be dead

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        That’s really sad mate. Not sure why they didn’t see it coming though, it’s pretty bloody obvious to everyone else, including most of NZ.

      • Bakkies

        The money they had has been wasted in Melbourne.

    • 22DropOut

      You can’t polish a turd. Super Rugby is beyond repair. The only way such a competition could exist would be as a Southern Hemisphere Heineken Cup style tournament as a sideshow to other competitions.

  • Adrian

    Nice write-up as usual Dylan.

    It’s certainly a quiet news day, with the World Cup and State of Origin grabbing all the headlines!

    George Smith wouldn’t want it any other way, and certainly wouldn’t play injured unless it was a Grand Final.

    I reckon he’ll be a professional somewhere or other for another 3 years, giving him a high-ish income for about 12 years more than most.

    Given most modern professionals don’t have a career or education to fall-back on, this could count a lot in the long run, …. provided he’s invested wisely

    • Dylan Langes

      Thanks Adrian.
      It was a quiet news day but it was good to write about George Smith albeit in a sad capacity. In his interview he talked about the option of coaching, it doesn’t really sound like something he is all that keen on so hopefully he has a life after rugby. He speaks well so maybe he could make it in the media.

      • Adrian

        Yes Dylan
        More to Smith than meets the eye

  • Bobas

    Rebels without Coleman, Genia and DHP now.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Bugga! That’ll be a step to far I think.

      • Keith Butler

        Would have been a step to far even with a full squad. I don’t expect a Rebels win but if they can put in a good 80 min performance and pick up a bonus point I would be happy.

    • Bobas

      15-1: Jack Maddocks, Sefa Naivalu, Tom English (c), Billy Meakes, Marika
      Koroibete, Reece Hodge, Michael Ruru, Amanaki Mafi, Colby Fainga’a,
      Angus Cottrell, Ross Haylett-Petty, Matt Philip, Sam Talakai, Anaru
      Rangi, Fereti Sa’aga
      16-23: Nathan Charles, Tetera Faulkner, Jermaine Ainsley,
      Sam Jeffries, Richard Hardwick, Harrison Goddard, Jack Debreczeni,
      Lopeti Timani

    • Dylan Langes

      I got excited when I saw that the Highlanders were resting 6 All Blacks, then I see the Rebels are playing without 3 Wallabies and an English international. It will be a tough game. Im still hoping for some magic for the Rebels to see them finally make the finals, even if we have to play the Crusaders in Christchurch.

  • Gipetto

    The Reds have a history of being selective with their farewells. Quade will never get one, Kane Douglas has had a great season for the Reds and his career is far from over. A few weeks back, I saw George start playing the halfback role with Sorovi at first receiver – No doubt he was frustrated by the shit form of the Reds’ attack. George is a better player than Brad; and would probably be a better coach and selector. This whole season has been a series of trial matches. The talent is back in the club competition and fans are heading back to club games.

    • Woodsman

      Interesting way for the QRU to get grassroots engagement…it was the plan all along!

    • Bakkies

      That was the play that he used at the Brumbies particularly off a lineout he would go in to halfback and Gregan to first receiver this enabled Larkham to go wider with his pin point left to right pass. How much of that in Bernie’s game came from his time as a reserve grade half back?

  • Nutta

    Cheers to you George. You and Thorn are about as close to having a Man-Crush on non-front-rowers as I get. Fair winds and full cups to you Dude.

  • Nicholas Wasiliev

    Absolutely gutted for Smith. Give the bloke a lap of honour, he absolutely deserves it.

    I’m glad to see the Uni Sevens competition will be expanding. After seeing it at Mac Uni last competition, I really think there is so much potential in that competition. Wonder if they’ll be teaming it up with the NRC this year?

  • BigNickHartman

    Great news today Dylan

  • Andy

    Amazing news about Matt Toomua. Rebels will be tough to beat with him at 10

  • Bay35Pablo

    No sydney round of Aon Uni 7s? Bit of a glaring gap?

Rugby
@DylanGLanges

Once captained the 3rds Rugby team, but then again so did Nick Farr-Jones

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