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Thursday’s Rugby News

Thursday’s Rugby News

Thursdays Rugby News sees Robertson optimistic, Wallaroos ready for Japan, Vale James Small and Matt Gibbon staying in Melbourne.




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If Australia had a coach with a winning record the same as Scott Robertson, he wouldn’t need to be offered the job as Wallabies head coach. He would just turn up Chuck Norris style, stare at the now previous coach until he left and wait for a small truckload of money. 

But in New Zealand they do things a little differently it would seem. Something called an interview process

The three time premiership winning coach is putting his hand up to replace Steve Hansen, when he hangs up his whistle post the World Cup.

“I’m a pretty optimistic person. If you have a crack I’d like to think you have a chance,” he told TVNZ.

“I’ve got to prepare as best I can to put myself forward, I’ve done what I can do.

“Hopefully I’ll have a great interview, all going well, and if they want someone, they know who they’re getting with me.”

Robertsons impact at the Crusaders has been undeniable, with the franchise having not won a title in eight season, now going back to back to back.

Under his leadership, the Crusaders have only lost 5 matches in 56. 

The interview process will start about a month after the World Cup, where New Zealand will look for their own ‘three-peat’, but Robertson remains confident in his chances.

No offical short list has been named but the only other name in contention discussed in the open spaces is that of All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster, who has been instrumental in the dominance of New Zealand rugby.

No other New Zealand based coaches appear to be putting their hands up for the job and international Kiwi’s Joe Schmidt and Warren Gatland appear to have ruled themselves out.



Wallaroos halfback Cobie-Jane Morgan believes that their two test series against Japan will be great preparation for the team as they build up to their test match against the Black Ferns.

The Wallaroos ran an opposed training session against Japan, with three 20 minute periods the first chance for the women to have a hit out together before the test match.

“Basically it was just to sort out our combinations and coming together after a pretty strong season of Super W, for the coaches’ and the players’ perspective to get the right combinations coming into the Test match,” Morgan said. 

The Wallaroos will face the Black Ferns in a double header with their male counterparts in Perth and Aukland in the next month, but right now they are focusing on getting everything right for Japan.

“From experience, (extra Test matches during ahead of the Bledisloe Tests) is something that we’ve never really had, so going into the Test matches  against New Zealand, it’s been really good having that hitout against Japan,” Morgan said.

“But (Japan) is our focus at the moment.”

Morgan expect the Japanese will be ready to punish any mistakes the Aussie Women make, something that was highlighted in their opposed training session.

“They’re pretty strong around the breakdown, I guess we knew that with their body frames, they’re very strong and they’re quick and they like to recycle the ball fast,” Morgan said.

Queenslander and Wallaroo Millie Boyle is backing the Aussies size to be a driving factor up the middle of the field.

“It was good to get a little hitout against them,” said Boyle, who headed into camp with the Wallaroos at the weekend fresh from a rugby league appearance with NSW in the women’s State of Origin.

“They’re quite a professional side and they’re fit and they spread the ball quite fast, so it’ll be good to play them on Saturday. 

“It was nice to get the girls that haven’t played before in that Test-style rugby a little taste of it.”


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South African Rugby is mourning the loss of another player from their 1995 World Cup winning team, after it was announced that James Small had passed away.

Small built a reputation for  himself has the man who kept Jonah Lomu at bay during the World Cup final in Johannesburg, in what would be one of the most significant sporting moments for the country.

The winger played 47 times for South Africa between 1992-97, scoring 20 tries. He later went on to coaching domestic teams.

Mark Alexander, president of SA rugby, said Small would “always have a special place in the hearts and minds of the South African public”.

“We were devastated to hear of his passing,” he added. “He always played with the type of passion and courage that encapsulate what Springbok rugby stands for, and he lived his life in the same way.

“At 50 years old, James Small died too young.”

Small is the third member of the World Cup squad to pass away, after flanker Ruben Kruger and scrumhalf Joost van der Westhuizen.



Adam Coleman, Matt Gibbon and Richard Hardwick line up Bernard Foley Waratahs v Rebels 2019 (Credit Keith McInnes)

Hopefully more Matt Gibbon photos will appear soon

The Melbourne Rebels made this announcement earlier in the week but this is the sort of story that we as rugby fans love.

12 months ago, 23 year old Matt Gibbon was a, electrician playing Shute Shield for Southern Districts when he was offered the chance to come to Melbourne and train with the Rebels. 

At the start of the season Rebels Head Coach Dave Wessels spoke highly of Gibbon’s work rate, his drive and his commitment, that earned him a contract with the Super Rugby franchise.

12 months later Gibbon has played 16 Super Rugby matches, including several starts, has had the chance to train with the wider Wallabies squad and now signed a two year contract with the Rebels.

With the Rebels entering what would appear to be a rebuilding phase, young talent like Gibbon is crucial, with the young prop holding his own against some of the more experienced players in the competition.

“I’m thrilled to able to call Melbourne home for at least another two years,” Gibbon said.

“This year has been a pretty big whirlwind for me, but I’ve loved every moment I’ve had at the Club and I’m so keen to keep taking the opportunities I am given.’

“To be part of the training squad with the Wallabies for the last couple of weeks was probably the last place I thought I would be at the start of the year. It was an awesome experience and it’s only motivated me more to know that if I can keep developing my game that there might be more dreams to be made.’

“I’m pretty humbled by the recognition that I have had and I’m really keen to repay the faith that the Club has shown in me this year. I can’t wait to launch into another year of repping the Rebels jersey.”

Dave Wessels, says Gibbon’s two-year contract renewal is a well-deserved reward for performance on the park.

“Matt’s a good story of how persistence and hard work pays off,” Wessels said.

“He came through our talent identification network and we were immediately impressed by his competitiveness and work ethic during the 2019 pre-season.’

“Matt has had a good start in his first year. We look forward to seeing his growth continue over the next two.”



  • Sevenwithasixonmyback

    “Queenslander and Wallaroo Millie Boyle” “fresh from a rugby league appearance with NSW in the women’s State of Origin”
    I am somewhat confused…
    A Queenslander playing for NSW RL whilst contracted to play with the Wallaroos?
    Can you be a dual rep at the same time in a similar game with similar seasons? (Ellyse Perry out of scope).

    • Yowie

      Women are reputed to be good at multi-tasking.

      • AllyOz

        almost omnipotent in this case though

        • Yowie

          All powerful? She is a Queenslander I suppose, so fair call.

        • Geoffro

          Just glad my missus never played,her tackling/rucking and off the ball rough stuff , though lacking technique , still hurts plenty.

        • AllyOz

          no I muddled up my words….again…omnipresent perhaps, even ubiquitous.

          she is showing almost Brad Thorn like qualities, All Black, Qlder, Australian RL

        • Yowie

          Incorrect word selection really exasperates the problem of misunderstood communication.

        • AllyOz


        • From NooZealand

          And a cup in Europe.

        • Kiwi rugby lover


    • Geoffro

      Yes,sanctioned by the ARU and even encouraged.Trying to bring more talent onboard

      • Sevenwithasixonmyback

        Odd that opposing codes would allow a player to compete and train in the rival game – at the top tier – and risk their injury.
        Surely understand that a competitor’s gotta compete, but that much physical exposure must surely increase the likelihood of time in a moonboot.
        MillieB has been in RU for some years. How could her code-swapping back and forth be sanctioned in the interests of the game?
        This article doesn’t make it any clearer

        • Yowie

          Perhaps the codes only get to set “exclusivity” rules when they pay enough.

        • Geoffro

          Any idea what the rate of injuries is compared to mens rugby( I have no idea myself ) and whether that and the number of games actually played has some bearing

        • Greg

          That depends entirely on how many sand hills they need to run up.

          [boom tish]

    • Braveheart81

      Yes, when no one is really paying you for your time. It will be a great day for women’s rugby when this is no longer possible because the training commitments are too great to juggle both.

      • Andrew Luscombe

        Maybe they could bolster the men’s for the world cup with a league player or two. I would have liked to have seen Johnathon Thurston have a shot.

        • Patrick

          If only Billy Slater could have played for the wallabies!

  • AllyOz

    Thoughts for the day:
    Well just one actually. We are seeing a lot of top flight or big name players leave the Australian franchises this year. Part of that is the World Cup cycle and the natural drift of plus 30 yo players who know they are unlikely to be around for Paris in 2023.

    However, I think this year it is being accentuated by the cutting of the Western Force two seasons ago. The loss of players has been delayed with the Rebels particularly absorbing a lot of the Force’s big names and there was a certain elasticity around their player spending with special allowances under the cap. The Force’s continuation in Twiggy Ball has also allowed the retention of another group of players perhaps not quite to Super standard.

    But now that this is out of the way we may be starting to see what the domestic franchises can really sustain.

  • Geoffro

    RIP James Small a gutsy player and tragic he and Jonah are both gone at relatively young ages

    • Damo

      We packed the south east corner of The Hill at Ballymore for the 2nd test against the Boks in ’93. We gave James Small unmerciful stick that day. Why? Because he was so tough and bloody good. RIP James Small- taken way too soon.

      • HK Red

        I was in roughly the same place that day, holding up a cardboard cut-out of Campo, that I’d lifted from work. Glorious day at Ballymore and two great teams in action.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Thanks Dylan,

    Looking forward to watching the Wallaroos and Silver Ferns at it again. I really enjoyed the games last year and was quite surprised at the level of skills they displayed. Sad news to hear of James Small that’s awfully young to pass away. Hope the family and friends are doing ok.

    I see Foster has also expressed a desire to take over the head coach role. I think a good change process might be Foster as head coach and Robinson as assistant. I’m not sure that going straight from a Super Rugby job to head coach of the ABs is a good move. We’ve tried it a number of times in the past and it has never actually gone that well.

    • Geoffro

      Dont you reckon Razor could handle the step from coaching half the ABs to coaching the whole lot ;)

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Hahahaha good point. Not quite half and certainly not half the starting 15. I personally think it’s a bridge too far having seen it fall over with Mitchell, Smith, Hart and Mains in the past. I like the way they develop as a team now and bringing coaches through in the same manner as they bring players through is something I think is important. I guess if Razor establishes a completely new coaching team then that could be an option but not my preference

        • From NooZealand

          I reckon that with Foster, the Wallabies would have a better chance (Foster’s poor record with the Chief (*)). Hence I believe that Gatland expects a review of the head coach position by the end of 2021 (*). Having had a good year with the Chief and a good year with the B&I Lions (I hope); he would be in a better – stronger position adding Razor’s name as his assistant. It would be a repeat of the Mitchell-Deans combination, but this time would work. Greatly dislike Mitchell and I was sorry to see Deans go with him. Greetings

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          I’m not sold on Gatland. I think he needs to prove himself in NZ first and that will take more than 1 season. He may well turn out to be a very good coach down here but I’d like to see proof first. I don’t think his record up north should stand on its own and I’m a bit concerned that he has expectations of waltzing into the ABs job

        • From NooZealand

          Actually I agree with your comments. Cheers.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Good to see a player looking after his family though. Bummer for us but it might be something that’ll get the Blues back on track

      • Got to say, unless the AB bomb out in the QF, maybe the SF, I think they’ll appoint Foster, and think about Robinson as an assistant. In four years time, Robinson, Gatland and maybe Schmidt will be in line for it.

        I think coaching a national side is a different game. Different access, different pressures, different structures. One example: Ioane is an incredibly gifted 8 but, according to Hansen et al, needs to work on his core fitness. I’m not in a place to argue with that so I’ll take it as true. Whoever is head coach in 2020 has to replace Read, and part of that will be working with Ioane to help him get fitter – over the off-season so he hits the 2020 SR season fit, and builds to possible AB selection next June. But that’s not chasing him every day in the gym, working personally with his S&C coach etc. It’s the odd meeting and call, it’s talking to the Blues head coach and S&C coach, letting them do their jobs.

        Foster’s used to that. Robinson can certainly learn it. But give him 4 years as an assistant to get used to it, then to step into the big time. Gatland and Schmidt, of course, have that experience already, so they just need to renew their SR coaching credentials to step up.

        But if they current coaching team flops, and NZRU wants a fresh start, Razor is a shoe in I think. Gatland might get it instead, if he’ll break that BIL contract or they can do something creative – Gatland + Razor for a year, sabbatical for Gatland, Razor + AN Other for a year, then Gatland + Razor + AN Other for 2 perhaps?

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