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Thursday’s Rugby News

Thursday’s Rugby News

Thursday’s Rugby news sees Ponga jumping between codes, a former Wallabies long walk to recovery, the first season of Global Rapid Rugby launches in Perth, and Aussie Super Rugby teams still in the hunt.


Cross-code contract

Could we see Ponga join the ranks of The Darkness?

It is being reported that Knights fullback Kayln Ponga has been offered a four-year, $4.5 million deal to stay in Newcastle.

The big talking point though, is that the Knights are so desperate to keep him that the contract reportedly includes a cross-code clause, which allows Ponga an option to try his hand at Rugby Union at the next Rugby World Cup in France, taking place in 2023.

“I’d be really surprised if the All Blacks weren’t talking to him now, that’s the kind of talent we are talking about here,” Newcastle chief executive Philip Gardner told The Sydney Morning Herald.

“He could play for the All Blacks, the Wallabies, or he may end up going to Japan or Europe. We genuinely want the best for the young man and while ever he wants to play rugby league, we want him to play here at Newcastle in an environment he enjoys.”

The former Schoolboy rugby star, who graduated from renowned Brisbane powerhouse Churchie, was previously sought out by Wallabies coach Michael Cheika. At the time, the Knights were indignant over the approach, but now appear to bending over backwards to accommodate Ponga’s desire to play for the All Blacks.

Ponga was born to New Zealand-born parents, and is of Māori descent. “If I was to go back to union, I would want to strive for that black jumper,” Ponga previously told TVNZ.

“I think it’s (playing for the All Blacks) the pinnacle. They are the best sporting organisation in the world, the stats have showed that.”

Repeat effort

Red’s Hamish Stewart makes a break against the Sunwolves.

In this weekend’s first game of round 5 for Super Rugby, the Rebels take on the Highlanders, as they aim to continue the cross-Tasman dominance Australian rugby has been enjoying for the last week.

The Rebels will welcome back Jordan Uelese for the match. This will be Uelese’s first Super game of the year following his injury at the World Cup.

Toomua returns to the flyhalf position, with Deegan dropping to the bench. I’m still sceptical of Toomua as a ten, and Friday night’s game will be a big test for him.

This game will be followed by the Tahs playing at BankWest Stadium against the Lions. Will Harrison will again get the nod at flyhalf, with Penney putting his faith in the youngster. But the coach has sounded a warning to the winless side.

“I’ve got a side of me that’s nurturing, that has a degree of empathy for the young blokes and the position they’re in but that’s not bottomless and there’ll be a point if things don’t improve that changes will need to be made.”

The Reds will be looking to put back-to-back winning performances together at home after spanking the Sunwolves with the proverbial rolled-up newspaper last week.

They take on the Sharkies who are looking good this year, with an electric backline featuring young gun Aphelele Fassi and a number of World Cup stars. Let’s hope that Suncorp fills up with even more fans than last week, with renewed hope being tempered until the Reds can put in an 80-minute performance.

The Brumbies take the rest of the Aussies teams off their back and enjoy the bye week. Check in for all the team sheets here.

True grit

Richard Tombs was able to walk on Manly Beach over the weekend.

In some great news, ex-Wallaby Richard Tombs was greeted with cheers as he completed a walk across Manly Beach with the help of two mates. Tombs was taking part in the annual Manly Inflatable Boat Race at Shelly Beach.

It’s an amazing feat, considering he suffered a spinal injury just 18 months ago. Tombs was left in a wheelchair after suffering C4 incomplete spinal damage in a freak soccer accident.

The spinal injury caused spasticity, resulting in all of his muscles became permanently turned on. Months of rehab has allowed him to walk for short periods of time, and use his arms.

“It’s like I’m lifting 10 kilos extra all the time,” said Tombs in a Player Athletes interview. “And, the only way I can stand up fully vertical is by flexing my glutes. They’re becoming like buns of steel.”

Tombs is back at work, and also goes to the gym three times a week, along with multiple pool therapy, osteopathy and physiotherapy sessions to keep his body in the best shape he can.

Tombs has set up Guns Out Spinal Foundation to raise funds for research into spasticity caused by a spinal cord injury. Get around him and support the foundation here: https://gunsout.org/

Feel the Force

Western Force reveal their jerseys for Global Rapid Rugby.

Yesterday was the official launch of Global Rapid Rugby season one, launched at the Western Force’s headquarters.

Global Rapid Rugby’s inaugural season will feature six teams, 10 rounds, and 31 games, including a one-off grand final, with a total prize pool of 1million bucks. Twiggy’s new competition “aims to grow the game of rugby in the APAC region” and will feature innovative new laws trailed last year in a number of exhibition games.

The Force unveiled their new home and away jerseys for the tournament. The jerseys feature branded iron formations of the Pilbara on the arms and shoulders. A nice touch on the away strips is a distinctive outline of the WA coastline. While they are a blatant nod to its mining backing, I think the jerseys look pretty flash.

Western Force legend Matt Hodgson said, “This is the start of a new era in professional rugby in WA and to be able to show that we represent the West is important to both players and the fans. With the highest number of local players in the squad since the beginning, The jersey not only represents the state we represent but also shows a pathway for all kids playing rugby in Western Australia.”

The Force’s first game will be against the Malaysia-based Valke in Perth at 6.15pm on 14 March.

  • Brumby Jack

    In some breaking news, the Ireland versus Italy game has been officially called off, following concerns over the coronavirus outbreak in Italy.

    • Mortahs Incoming – custardtaht

      There you go, I would have thought Italian stadiums would serve Peroni. I guess poor beer choice is a global pandemic.

      • Yowie

        With all the facemasks making it hard for people to chat to each other, the Italians might need to develop a system of arm-waving gestures to aid verbal communication.

        • Hoss

          You’re a lunatic Yowie. We need to have a drink together soon.

        • Yowie

          Agreed. The next Wallabies game in Brisbane could be a good catch-up if you Mexicans are willing to travel.

        • Damo

          Yes, July 4th V Oirland. Revenge time! Hopefully the humidity up here will have settled down by then.

        • Yowie

          Humidity? We’ll be freezing our bits off and requiring long pants when the temperature plunges into the high teens or low 20s.

        • Hoss

          There’s been threatened a meeting of the GAGR enclave looking into the effects of whisky on the blood system of over 40’s rugby fans to coincide with the Brissie Bledisloe. Last meeting was held in Central Brissy at ‘The Gresham’ (i hazily recall). although a word of warning, watch out for any Taswegians in attendance, wouldnt shout if a shark bit his legs off – as i recall. We were quiet happy till Mr Tynan dropped in, far too young and fit to hold full membership of said enclave, we admitted him on a temporary ‘guest’ pass.

        • Yowie

          I’m up for that.

        • Keith Butler

          ‘Twas indeed the Gresham and the ale went down very well to. And younger and less wise brethren are allowed as long as they have a letter from Mum allowing them to stay out late.

        • Keith Butler

          Seeing as this is developing into a ‘boys’ weekend the Mayoress has given me a ‘good behaviour’ pass for the weekend. Boys behaving badly!!

      • Hoss

        Brilliant.

    • Who?

      That pretty well kills Ireland’s chances at the 6N’s title, doesn’t it?!

      • Patrick

        Their last couple games did that already. France essentially has it in the bag.

        • Who?

          Last couple? They lost to England at Twickers, but they beat Wales and Scotland. England lost to France, meaning they could get to 4 wins, but not 5. Assuming Ireland (having beaten Wales, who smashed Italy) had beaten Italy, it would have meant Ireland could also get to 4 wins, by beating France. Who would then also be on 4 wins. Then it’s points differential.
          .
          If the Italy/Ireland game is indeed off, it’s effectively confirmed France as 6N’s champions.
          .
          Though, just looking, it’s postponed, not cancelled or abandoned. So there’s still a possibility it could go ahead. Though the odds would have to be long…

  • Reds Revival

    Great news to hear of the progress that Thombsy is making. Nick did a really good interview with him late last year on the GAGR podcast. All the best mate for further recovery!

  • Nutta

    Congratulations Tombs. Do what you can and lead from the front. Good gear.

    Best of luck to the Scum in continuing our cross-Tasman dominance. Gold call that.

    And a huge good luck to the Forcies and Twiggy ball in general. To be clear I do not support to concept of rebellion for rebellions sake. But as someone long-stewed in Irish republican heritage, when the situation requires it then you do what you must. If this is what it takes to reshape our governing bodies into outward-looking, transparent, responsive, self-aware professionals as opposed to the collection of mates-rates pushing inward-looking, opaque deals that serve the established only then so be it.

    • KwAussie Rugby Lover

      GRR does nothing for me. I just can’t get excited about it and I’m not sure the rule changes actually make it a better game. It’ll be interesting to see how the COVID-19 virus affects everything going forward

      • Perth girl

        Stupor Rugby does nothing for me, it’s too slow. I can’t get excited about teams that dont represent the whole of the country! No GRR games are being played in China and there is now a double header on March 14th here in Perth

      • Damo

        Mate, are you still in S Korea?

        • Yowie

          Officially – yes, when he’s not sneaking through the wire in snow camo like Roy Scheider in “The Fourth War”.

        • KwAussie Rugby Lover

          Yeah. Another 2 months to go

        • Damo

          Keep your mask handy.

      • Nutta

        I get your point. Super League wasn’t a huge success either. But the simple fact there was competition sure as shite forced the ARL to smarten up their product and modernise their business. Same with Packer & cricket. That’s the opportunity I see here.

        Corona is interesting. I’ve got suppliers telling me their factories are back working in China. I’ve got freight-forwarders not reporting any real issues in scheduling (as yet). However I’ve got mates in Birmingham sending me pics of cleared supermarket shelves and now folks are cancelling rugby matches…

      • You’ve made this “point” many times KaRL.
        Best not watch it then?
        Not sure why you feel the need for the negativity, fair enough, you don’t like it

        • KwAussie Rugby Lover

          Fair call

        • Not havin a go mate, its all we have over here really whether we like it or not.
          Wasn’t our first choice at the time, just where we are.

        • KwAussie Rugby Lover

          No fair enough mate. No need for me to keep going on about it

        • Yowie

          When is the expiry date on whinging about Cheika?
          (asking for a friend)

        • never.
          you have friends?
          Lucky bastard

        • Yowie

          Yeah, loads of great friends. We have great chummy-mate hilarious banter together like “Please f*ck off Yowie” and “If I see you in my garden again Yowie, I’m calling the police”.

        • Nutta

          When i am so generous as to offer to wash someones back in the shower i really dont appreciate it when they respond to such largesse by asking irrelevant questions like “Who are you?” and “How did you get in?”

          Rude, ungrateful bastards.

        • KwAussie Rugby Lover

          That’s got no expiry date mate

      • Crescent

        I watched the Claytons season last year, and figured that I needed to give it more time. Some the innovations, like the scrum timer, I quite liked, but I am yet to reconcile with the law variation on kicking. Need to give GRR a fair hearing of a couple of seasons before I really settle – let the coaches work out their responses to the law variations and see how the games look then, Good to see more rugby rather than less, so I will keep an eye out for the times. On another note, will enjoy the sweet irony if GRR is marketed on the east coast in a far superior manner to anything RA/Super Rugby etc puts out – that should not be a difficult task! We can’t contribute to the gate takings, but can bolster the viewer ratings to make the incumbents pay attention.

    • ForceFan

      Thanks for the news coverage Jack O’Rourke. The Force were ousted from Super Rugby and provided no other development pathway other than develop players to be a feeder state for the other 4 Australian SR franchises. GRR is no rebellion. Forrest went to World Rugby to seek approval and was finally given it (and the approval from Rugby Au and Rugby NZ. GRR is sanctioned by Asia Rugby, Pacific Island Rugby and each member union which has a team playing. GRR was developed to maintain a pathway to professional rugby in WA. Seems like it’s working.

      • Nutta

        Dude I am no singer nor spokesman on gay/straight/upside-down or other rights.

    • Damo

      Nutta, I think for something to be classified as a rebellion these days people have to be gluing themselves to inert objects.
      I too like that GRR stays on the move. In fact I like that there are a lot of moving pieces on the rugby scene at the moment, including broadcast rights up for grabs, rumblings of SA heading to the northern hemisphere, rugby becoming more energised in Japan & the US etc, etc. Rugby in the southern hemisphere is a great game and a great product but complacency and years of revenue too easily earned is coming home to roost. Too much attention to micro management and not enough visionary management. Anyway it seems like it is time for the balls to be thrown in the air. We will see what pans out. It was never going to stay the same.

      • Nutta

        Too true. Fire & movement. Or die. Choices…

    • AllyOz

      The virus could throw a spanner in the works this year. One team based in Hong Kong and another in Beijing with all likelihood that both teams won’t be allowed to fly to Australia. That would be a real shame as I think this is a fantastic initiative and could play a key role in broadening the scope of the game across Asia and bringing new players and a new audience.

      There is talk in the News Limited papers today that the private equity mob that bought into the Pro 14, Six Nations and already held a 27% stake in the EPR is looking at investing in the Rugby Championship. That might make a global club championship more likely according to the articles. Also makes the annual Top 10/12 nations comp a possibility again.

      • Hoss

        Good news. It was a crime that the 10/12 concept never got traction, although for the good of the game you have to have Fiji & japan in tier 1 to begin with, so maybe a 12/10 instead.

        • AllyOz

          sorry I meant 10 or 12 (i couldn’t remember what they were going for). Certainly I would agree Fiji and Japan should be in. The issue for me is if it should be Italy or someone else to make the 12th spot but probably better leaving them there – each hemisphere has their six and we could play 3 sides in the mid year tour and play the other 3 on the end of season tour after 5 of our own RC games. That would be roughly the same amount of games as we have each year (we might be able to get an extra for the Bledisloe and we would have to do something different in the Lions Tour year. Also probably wouldn’t play it in a World Cup year so it would be run every second year with a Lions Tour in year two of the cycle and the World Cup in the fourth.

      • The sunny Gallagher Premiership and their plans to shakes up English, Irish, Welsh and Scottish domestic rugby is being met by pushback up here.

        But… money talks, and often more positively than it did at Sarries. If they do get into TRC I imagine a lot of the blowhards that couldn’t find a way to make an annual top 12-ish nations championship work will suddenly find filthy lucre papering over their objections.

        It will be interesting to see what they do if they get into SR too. I think there could be quite a restructuring there but that’s not necessarily a bad thing… I wouldn’t mind an Oceanic SR competition: Australia, NZ, Fiji, Samoa, Japan (apologies if I’ve missed anyone, bad night’s sleep and no coffee yet), and a separate SA competition, and a separate American one – this obviously needs some serious investment, but Argentina, Uruguay, Canada and USA all play could make the basis of a decent league I think. Then a super-contest where the winners of those three and the Heineken Cup play off. It isn’t a short term plan, but if there is an investor for the next ten years, they could probably make it work and see an return on their investment.

        • Hoss

          Good points. And some interesting manoeuvring afoot. UK essentially blocked the move 12 months back, so isolate the UK by locking up the south and all of a sudden the UK are back at the negotiation table, on their own volition or not really doesn’t matter and Roberts your farvers bruvva – a deal is hammered out.

  • Keith Butler

    Very big test for the Rebs in Dunedin. Good to see Uslese back and Some grunt in the second row. Kogelenberg at 25 yrs old 2m + and 120 kg + is just what we need for the future. Put is a decent shift when he came on against the Tahs and along with the other run ons helped seal the win.

    • Hoss

      Whats your tip for the result KB ?

      • Keith Butler

        With home advantage, all NZ officials, or White Maggots as the Mayoress calls them, it’s difficult to see past the Landers for this one. Mind you the Rebs have a decent back line and Louwrens and TwoMoos went OK against your Tahs. They also added a bit of starch at lock so it could go either way. I reckon your mob will give the Pussycats a good stroking. Blowing a gale in the Apple Isle.

        • The analysis the other day said that the Kiwi officials seemed to offer the least home town bias I thought?

          I think this is a tough one to call, both sides aren’t quite sure of their identity this year. Imagine it’s France possible vs France probables of 2 years ago – it depends for both of them which side turns up!

        • Keith Butler

          Who can forget the NZ ref in the Saders/Tahs game a few years back and Beale’s vicious assault on Joe Moody but you’re right they are better than their SA counterparts. As I posted earlier, the Rebs pack has a bit more starch in it and that might swing it our way. Here’s hoping.

        • Neil Pocock

          Lol that’s funny and so true

  • KwAussie Rugby Lover

    Thanks Jack
    Great story on Tombs and I hope things go well for him. Always good to hear stories of success like this.
    Some big games this week and a lot of pressure on the Reds to show they have moved forward. I like that Penney is showing confidence in the youngsters but not sure that he’s got it right on where the issues are. I put them squarely on the older more experienced players as they’re the ones causing most of the issues. I think the Tahs are in for a long season.
    Be interesting to see what develops with Ponga. Glad that he’s looking high but he’ll need to prove himself at a lot lower level before he can wear the black jersey no matter what it means to him. Hope he’s got patience and willing to learn.

    • Yowie

      but he’ll need to prove himself at a lot lower level before he can wear the black jersey no matter what it means to him

      Weren’t you paying attention in the early 2000’s? Any Mungo with a profile gets a free ticket straight into the Wallabies starting side. I assume it’s still the case in other countries?

    • Reds Revival

      I’m picturing a foggy night on a long bridge. NZRU on one side with Savea, the ARL on the other with Ponga.
      NRL: You send Savea over first.
      NZRU: Not until you send Ponga over.
      NRL (Aside): Have we got the rope tied around Ponga’s waist to drag him back?.
      Okay, send them both at the same time. You go first.

      • Who?

        Trouble for the NZRU is that, if they tried the rope around Savea’s waist, they’d need a full scrum to drag him back – the man has leg drive! :-)
        .
        Not sure I see Ponga having an easy time unseating the current ABs 15. Some bloke called Beauden..?

      • KwAussie Rugby Lover

        Not sure Ponga is such a great catch. Even if he comes over it’ll be 3-4 yrs before you’d see him in black. And even then only if he rocked it and demonstrated he was willing and able to learn.
        I’d be sad to lose Savea but he’s replaceable and I think his reasons are fair enough

  • Wonky Donkey

    Given the success of the force against the competition last year, it seems to have allowed the team to pick more local players. That will really cement the comp as a development pathway and even out the competition.

    Im excited for the kick off. The jerseys look good, the comp is well televised and the memberships were cheap.

    I know the games a little different and some people cant accept that it irks me a little too, or its west coast and irrelevant but i do hope people over east get behind even if its a highlight reel once a week.

    • Hoss

      Who’s broadcasting it mate ?

      • ForceFan

        IRumour is that the games will be live streamed in 2020.

      • Wonky Donkey

        My shed. free Emu Export for all attendees.
        Nar, I didnt realise they hadn’t confirmed a tv deal.

  • Brumby Jack

    UPDATE: Brumbies V Sunwolves on the 6th of March has been canned. Should be be taking this virus more seriously?

    • Yowie

      Nah. According to the Beijing Morning Herald it’s all fine and under control.

      • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

        China is doing a good job, outside China we need to wait and see…

        • Dud Roodt

          China is also highly likely to be massively under-reporting the actual number of cases they know about, and not mentioning the number of people who are dying without being diagnosed so don’t count in official figures.

        • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

          Massive under reporting is not only a Chinese issue. It will be until a simple inexpensive diagnostic test is available as most patients’ symptoms are mild and cases are only recorded for patients that seek treatment. Also several countries still don’t have the ability to confirm SARA-CoV-2.

        • Who?

          Exactly. It’s not like we’re anything like accurate in diagnosing things here. A couple of years ago, we had a horrendous flu outbreak. My entire family was part of it. We definitely had it – it wiped us as a family for a term. But those who were tested came up clean, and not everyone was tested. At least partially because it’s very hard to find a doctor who is manages to be personable, polite and caring, whilst also demonstrating a double digit IQ (to give confidence that they didn’t pay for someone else to do their assessments).
          .
          In other words, I don’t have a very high opinion of the vast majority of doctors… Most I’ve visited in the past fifteen years have been money-grubbing fools incapable of diagnosing a case of cranial rectal coincidence. Like the idiot Ob/Gyn who didn’t pick my wife as having pre-eclampsia, in spite of my wife’s insanely elevated blood pressure through 12 hours and three doses of medication, and in spite of the fact she was retaining so much fluid that she was literally deaf. My wife lost 22kg of fluid over the next 3 weeks (to go with 3kg of baby!). That Ob/Gyn had the reputation of being the top doctor in the region. Then there’s the GP who told us our daughter just had the sniffles (which she did, constantly, but we only took her in when the snot was green and she was clearly unwell), treating us as if my wife had Munchausen’s, even after the hearing people sent him a letter demanding he send my daughter to an ENT as she was functionally deaf due to the snot in her ears. And that GP was head of a regional body.
          .
          So whilst I’m sure the Chinese government suppress information, and have a strong history of doing that, I don’t imagine we’re much better, because we don’t screen everyone and people like me (especially men!) just don’t bother wasting our out of pocket money on seeing someone who’s less effective than spending $20 at the chemist.
          Please accept my apologies, I’ll get off the rant now, but be assured that’s barely the beginning of where I could take this……..

        • Yowie

          I haven’t had much success with one of Gwyneth Paltrow’s “jade eggs” either.

        • Neil Pocock

          Yep, we almost lost my wife to an incompetent Indian lady Doctor who was imported to fill an apparent shortage in doctors….. (turns out the there’s a massive gulf in requirements/skills between Indians and your typical western trained doctors)
          She thought my wife was just whining/complaining…..3hours latter she’s fighting for her life and the hospital is flabbergasted how she missed the signs!

        • Dud Roodt

          Of course not, but I think the way media is controlled there means we are probably only getting a part of the story. There are still videos leaking of Dr’s in Wuhan saying there are probably 10 x the number of infected patients than what the government is reporting.

        • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

          On the other side once China decides to act they are impressive, compliance is also part of the culture and if you refuse to comply they have ways to make you comply they we will find unacceptable.

        • Possibly not any more. They had a massive jump in their figures about 2 weeks ago when they went from reporting confirmed cases to suspected cases.

          Although the system there doesn’t want to be open, and I’m sure there’s an inherent momentum against it, there’s quite a lot of rewards from the WHO and so on for being open which is what is meant to have led to that jump and change in reporting patterns.

        • Dud Roodt

          I think it would be naive to think they are still not clamping down on reports in an attempt to stop fear-based public outcries.
          There are dr’s in Wuhan still leaking videos saying the numbers of infected patients are exponentially higher than the government is admitting.
          And as Hannes said, it is not only China who lies about this. The Philippines supposedly only has 3 cases so far. I was speaking to a client in manila yesterday, as I’m meant to travel to many of the affected countries next month for business, he said there are thousands of people with the disease bu the government is refusing to acknowledge it.
          Much like Indonesia.

      • Reds Revival

        Even though the Chinese referees have a penalty differential of +753 against foreign teams, I absolutely believe them when they say there’s no problem with any sort of virus in the beautiful homeland.

        Long live Mao!

        • Who?

          That post really works with the colouring of your avatar! :-)

    • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

      The key risk is an escalation to a global pandemic that is still unlikely. However if 25-70% of global population catch the virus and 1-2% of cases are fatal, it could be the worst pandemic in recent history. What we need to do now is drastic action to contain and stem the spread. If successful, we can limit COVID to a one season Hubei province epidemic that is eradicated by mid year. If not it may become a serious sickbed that returns seasonally like the flu. We are at a tipping point and should take the containment of this virus very seriously without over-reacting. The risk is low, but the situation is dynamic with potential to escalate quicker than we can act.

  • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

    Cannot wait for GRR to kick off and to see interest in rugby grow in ASAP. It is important not only for WA but also Australia rugby that this competition succeed.

  • Rugby Lady

    Bring on the double header in Perth for Rapid Rugby. A great start for families with gates opening at 4pm. With the usual free carnival rides & pre game entertainment.

    Despite the hurdles of the virus it’s great to see the full comp kicking off. I hope it helps make rugby in each of the regions involved stronger.

    A great looking season a head. Thanks for the coverage G&GR.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/1faae607fbb446b5133d47ef82d20eb9293c24385ddab9b81b03d9bcd78da326.jpg

    • Mica

      Great to see it being taken to Fiji and Samoa – I reckon they’ll be sell outs and it will be some atmosphere!!

Rugby

Mad rugby supporter from Newcastle. Offering unbiased takes on why the Brumbies are the best team in Super Rugby.

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