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Thursday’s Rugby News

Thursday’s Rugby News

Thursday’s Rugby news sees bringing back players from overseas for the Wallabies, a round six Super Rugby double-header in the Gong, low numbers of concussions at the World Cup, and the race for Rugby Australia chairman heats up.


Bring them home?

Coleman and Arnold pack down a scrum.

Reports suggesting Rugby Australia is reassessing the Giteau Law has caused debate over the make up of any potential law change.

As the rule stands now, Australian players plying their trade in Super Rugby or those have played 60 or more Tests and given seven years of service playing in Australia can be eligible to play for the Wallabies.

The Giteau Law, or more technically put the Mitchell Law (as Drew likes to remind everyone) was implemented before the 2015 Rugby World Cup to lure Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell back to the Wallabies. Both men were in Toulon and had given more than seven-years of service in Australian rugby and sat above the 60 cap threshold.

Since then, the player drain overseas has only increased, with players in their prime taking up lucrative contracts elsewhere.

Which raises the point, how does the game in Australia incentive players to stay on home soil?

Already there is a raft of potential Wallaby bolters playing rugby all over the world that could see a comeback if the the Giteau Law was adjusted, including Samu Kerevi, Liam Gill, Rory Arnold and Sean McMahon.

Who would make your Exiled Wallabies XV?

 

Friday double-header

Brumbies head to Wollongong.

Australian Super Rugby teams dominance over their Kiwi counterparts has rolled over to two weeks, as questions are now being raised around the viability of the New Zealand franchises. In all serious, round 6 represents a crucial time for the Aussie teams.

With the schedule thrown into disarray, the first game of the round between the Brumbies and the Sunwolves has moved to Win Stadium in Wollongong at 2.45 AEST. This game will now be a double-header, with the Waratahs and Chiefs being played at 7.15PM AEST.

As former Prime Minister Bob Hawke one said – “Any boss who sacks anyone for knocking off early to watch the Brumbies game is a bum.” Ok so i’m paraphrasing, but if anyone is in the area, take the afternoon off and enjoy a few beers at the rugby. Dan McKellar is encouraging fans to get to the game.

“We’re looking forward to getting up to Wollongong for what’s become a Super Rugby double header and to seeing plenty of our supporters at the game on Friday.”

Wedged in between the Brumbies and the Tahs game, the Reds take on the Crusaders over the ditch in Christchurch at 5.05pm AEST. The Queenslanders will be without James O’Connor, with Isaac Lucas stepping into flyhalf. It will be a big ask for the Reds, but a win over last year’s champions would stamp their mark on the competition.

With the monkey off their back after a win over the Lions, the excuses are over for the Waratahs. A win over the Chiefs will be crucial to their campaign. Beale will lead the team for the first time, with Simmons ruled out with an ankle injury.

“He’s got a deep desire to make sure the young blokes perform well and do well in the Waratahs jersey and that’s manifesting itself in a really positive light across his own leadership involvement,” commented coach Penney.

On Saturday 7.15pm AEST, the Rebels take on the Lions in Melbourne. After a big win over the Highlanders, the Rebels are feeling good, but have plenty to work on against a toothless Lions team.

Check in for all the team sheets here.

Concussions down

Russia’s flanker Vitaly Zhivatov is tackled during the 2019 Rugby World Cup (ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)

According to World Rugby, the new high tackle framework implemented in 2019 led to a stark drop in concussion-related injuries compared to 2018 data.

Introduced just four months out from the 2019 Rugby World Cup, the implementation of the framework saw a 28 percent reduction in concussions at the tournament compared to the 2018 elite competition average.

The ‘framework’ was formulated to create a more black and white system when it came to judging contact to the head and discipline around high tackles.

World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont was quick to take credit.

“These hugely encouraging outcomes of this study endorse our unwavering evidence-based commitment to injury prevention, particularly our continued efforts to protect players from concussive events on the rugby field wherever possible.

“The significant reduction in concussion incidence provides compelling evidence of what can be achieved when competition owners, match officials, disciplinary officers, players and coaches fully buy in to the High Tackle Sanction Framework. Failure to do so can have significant player welfare and performance consequences.”

This report should be taken with a grain of salt. During the World Cup, the new policy was controversial because of the number of red and yellow cards and suspensions it led to. However, anything that reduces concussion and prolongs players careers has to be a good thing, right?

“At Japan 2019, and all test matches since implementation in May 2019, we have been looking to protect players by changing culture and getting the tackler lower,” said World Rugby Chief Medical Officer Dr Éanna Falvey. “These very positive outcomes suggest that teams embraced the challenge, resulting in a reduced injury risk, which is very encouraging.”

A new challenger emerges

Rugby rights negotiations still hang in the balance.

Georgina Robinson for the Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that a new candidate has emerged for the Rugby Australia board who will challenge chairman-elect candidate David Mortimer.

Former Ten boss and News Corp senior executive Hamish McLennan is on the shortlist for three vacant director roles, alongside Mortimer, V8 Supercars chairman Peter Wiggs, former Wallabies Richard Harry, Daniel Herbert and Joe Roff and others.

At one point McLennan was the right hand man to News Corp founder Rupert Murdoch, and is liked for his top-notch corporate, media and governance experience, but his lack of rugby credentials are giving people pause.

The RA shareholders are in the final stages of agreeing their nominations, which must be published on Monday, 21 days out from RA’s March 30 annual general meeting, and Mortimer remains the frontrunner for the chairman’s role.

However, McLennan’s appointment could impact TV rights negotiations, given his long history with News Corp. Could Foxtel re-enter the fray?

Optus, Ten and Foxtel are considered the main players in the process, as well as Qatari-owned BeIN Sports, and so-called ‘streamers’ DAZN and RugbyPass.

If Foxtel was to part with rugby in Australia, it would certainly have a tremendous impact on their subscriber base.

 

  • Mortahs Incoming – custardtaht

    I think the Double Headers are great, and something that should be considered more often….not over the top often. So hopefully the crowds come, maybe even have a free TP promotion to get the crowds in.

    • Yowie

      …maybe even have a free TP promotion to get the crowds in.

      https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-03-05/toilet-paper-truck-catches-fire-brisbane/12027262

      First the broadcasting revenues are up in the air, now this. When will Super Rugby catch a break?

      • Geoffro

        Quick,hand me the tissues….oh,hang on.

    • Geoffro

      Win Stadium,Sunwolves,1445 Fri arvo kickoff. As much as I hate to say it but 1 roll of TP will probably be adequate cover for the crowd

      • Mortahs Incoming – custardtaht

        Shudders……..

      • idiot savant

        Thats if you can buy one

        • Yowie

          Some of the lunchroom chat at work today involved some tut-tutting from staff about some individual toilet rolls being advertised on Gumtree (or whatever) for $100 each.

          Clearly the general population doesn’t recognise and appreciate quality piss-taking as much as we would like.

        • Geoffro

          Became fairly apparent when I saw one ad for slightly used merchandise

        • laurence king

          I’ll have a dozen rolls then

        • Geoffro

          Since security wont be needed for “crowd” control they should deploy them to the restroom doors to deter desperate thieves

        • laurence king

          Don’t laugh, there is not a skerrick of a loo roll to be purchased in my little town, so we in our little gallery are just leaving the one roll in the loo, to deter any doomsday preppers

        • Who?

          Got a heap of emails today saying, “Free toilet paper when you come and visit *insert holiday location here*.”
          Also, apparently one of the local jewellers had a sign up saying, “Toilet paper – $9,999 for one roll. Comes with a free 1ct diamond!”

        • Geoffro

          Funny/My wife volunteers for a homeless charity and today uncovered what she described as thousands of rolls in a storeroom so at least the dispossessed who dont have a dunny to call their own can still get the paper gold–free

  • AllyOz

    A little off point but anyway I will throw it out there….do we overvalue the worth of rugby to Foxtel.

    Foxtel has 3.14 million subscribers (an rising…revenue is falling but subscriber numbers are up when you include the two streaming services Now and Kayo).

    Our high rating games of super rugby attract 40K – 60K. And as for Shute Shield being the saviour:

    “(FTA ratings for Shute Shield) dropped to an average of 28,000 viewers in 2015, rose to 29,000 the next year, fell to 19,000 in 2017, 16,000 in 2018 and dropped to 13,000 last season. For the past two seasons, Foxtel has broadcast a replay of the match of the round.”

    In the last year of the ABC’s broadcast they attracted an average of 40K for Shute Shield (so it’s figures back then rivalled what we are currently getting for Super Rugby now).

    • Dud Roodt

      There’s certainly two sides to this coin.

      Yes Foxtel subs are slightly up, although counting streaming subs is difficult as churn is so much higher and a month to month proposition. Also, the issue with losing rugby for Foxtel is that of the relatively small number of people who tune in to each and every game, a lot of those people are legacy, full fee paying subscribers – some from the very beginning in 1995 and paying $140/month. So losing them isn’t losing $25/month, it is often losing $140/month.

      But on the other side is that RA are asking for more money for far less product.
      With the loss of the Force (and the 2 SA teams) there are now less games, and more importantly less local derbies. Additionally, the Australian SR teams are considerably weaker when compared to their standing 5 years ago, as are the Wallabies.

      So it’s a tough one. I can see Foxtel’s argument for being pissed off RA expect more for less, but it wouldn’t have been seriously negligent of Castle not to put the game out to tender.

    • KwAussie Rugby Lover

      Good points well brought out

  • Wonky Donkey

    Is Mortimer a placeman tasked with securing fox sports with the broadcasting rights for rugby? Or will the right be secured before the new chair is elected.
    Ooo conspiracy. Eddy Bravo will be on it.

  • idiot savant

    Hamish McLennan took on the hardest CEO gig in Australian network television and made a real fist of it. Very few have managed to run Channel 10 as well as he did. He’s smart and a listener and can think outside the box. He is the best candidate I have heard discussed yet. Go get him Raelene.

    • Yowie

      With that connection, perhaps Channel 10 would be interested in a “Big Bash Rugby” format?

      Eg “power plays” where the defenders get messed around for a bit, fireworks and BS when the ball gets kicked into the stands, etc.

      I can’t wait to see the Sydney Stingers take on their traditional rivals the Adelaide Afterburners.

      • Damo

        And during the power play period players are allowed to enter the breakdown from anywhere. “In breaking news Richie Mccaw has announced he will come out of retirement…”

        • Yowie

          As a spectacular made-for-tv return from retirement Ruchie could fly his helicopter to the first breakdown and enter it by diving off the landing skid straight into the top/side of the ruck.

        • Geoffro

          aaand realises nobody is flying the chopper which crashes causing more fireworks,mayhem and fun..Works for me

        • Yowie

          …creating a metaphor for the fortunes of the new form of the game.

      • laurence king

        Cage rugby?

    • juswal

      Sav, the CEO does not recruit the board. It’s the other way around.

      Under the Arbib constitution, the RA board is a self-feeding organism that answers only to itself. The board’s candidates committee (convened by the board chair) puts up a panel of candidates, and the directors vote new chums in. Then they elect one of themselves to be chair. The functions of the board’s chair are unspecified. Clyne operated as a parallel CEO; that was his prerogative, but it’s not conventional and probably not optimal.

      What we’re seeing in the SMH is unknown board members (and John O’Neill) using Geerob as a mouthpiece to try to stall Raelene’s broadcasting negotiations and take over the deal. Why would directors want to do that? Are they thinking about the interests of the game and the fans, or about the commercial interests of their corporate mates?

      • idiot savant

        Thanks Juswal. Explains a lot!

  • laurence king

    Considering an exiled Wallabies IV, I expect that we could come up with a pretty good side. But I think that for the most part, we’ve got the players here to cover most positions in the Australian team. The only position we are short of imo is in the second row. I’d consider bringing back Arnold and that’s about it. We are about to start a rebuild and I wonder what people thought about how the new regime would go about it. Do we shore up some positions with o’seas players for awhile or do we just start afresh?

    • Hoss

      Afternoon Mr King. Great question.

      Me personally, I start with a scorched earth policy and build again. If older / previous players are in form and deserving of a spot great. But the old ‘nucleus’ of the previous team achieved exactly three-fifths of Sweet Fanny Adams so for me Dingo 2.0 starts with a clean sheet of paper and I also reckon a fair bit of goodwill from the rugby public regarding results and team (for a while at least).

      • Yowie

        …I also reckon a fair bit of goodwill from the rugby public regarding results and team (for a while at least).

        At least dozens of milliseconds I reckon.

        Personally I’ll refrain from shouting “What are you doing to my Wallabies you Kiwi bastard!?” at my TV until the at least the second Aussie handling error.

        • KwAussie Rugby Lover

          I’m impressed you’ll give us one. Thank you

        • Yowie

          Well, Deans copped a lot of unfair flack and doubt early on, so why not double the grace period this time.

        • Ads

          I’m no apcademic, but I’m pretty sure 2 x 0 is still 0.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          I don’t remember that, Yowie. I don’t remember him copping any flak in 2008 really. 2009 was an absolute horror year, and I think the criticisms in that year were well deserved given our standard of play and results.

        • Yowie

          One doesn’t need to be Columbo to successfully interrogate my jokes and BS for lack of factual rigour, but I was mainly referring to the period around Deans’ appointment (pre-commencement) where questions were raised about whether a non-Aussie coach could even motivate an Aussie team, or if the whole idea was a disaster waiting to happen.

      • Geoffro

        I’ll be surprised if any of the incumbent wallabies remaining onshore aren’t included in the squad this year but departures still leaves plenty of room for fresh blood

    • KwAussie Rugby Lover

      I’m with you. My preference is for a new start with young players who don’t carry the baggage of the team that took the Wallabies from 2nd in the world to 7th. Maybe one or two could stay but I would prefer a new start myself.

    • Jason

      Even then I’d hardly say we’re short at second row, Rodda is world class then we also have Lukhan Salakaia-Loto who is a very serviceable lock. That’d mean over the whole of the rest of Super Rugby we’d need to find only one starter/bench lock. That’s pretty okay.

      • Who?

        I’d rather try to drag back the Arnold brothers than Skelton.

        • laurence king

          I’ve always wondered how that would go

      • laurence king

        And I tend to think that if LSL had not been shoved into the 6 position, he’d be a lot better now than just servicable.

        • Jason

          Yes and no. I think having the ability to play the 6 is where Global Rugby is headed, Eddy is doing similar things with England. I don’t disagree that if he’d stuck to just playing lock he’d probably be better as a pure lock. But he’d also have probably not played in the World Cup, he’d have not developed the ability to play at 6. IMO in my Wallabies Dream Team he’d be coming off the bench, his ability to play 5 or 6 is so valuable. It means you can have a whole new locking pair, OR you could have a whole new backrow. His strength in the scrum even for a 5 is outstanding so he can come on at 5 and prop up a struggling scrum, then as a 6 he’s able to just monster people. We’ve not seen him get much opportunity to run the ball as much as I’d like to have, but having seen him a bit at club rugby he’s very fast for a giant human!

          Ultimately I see him as a Will Skeltion except he didn’t need to leave Australia to do it, and he’ll probably end up being even better than Skelton.

  • KwAussie Rugby Lover

    Thanks Jack,
    Personally I would rather see new younger and hungry players come into the fold than older players from overseas. Perhaps one or two along with one or two still plying their trade here in Aus but I’d much prefer the bulk of the team to be new younger players with some serious efforts to develop them and without any of the baggage from the last 5 years.
    Friday should be interesting. I’m going to see if I can get off work early and binge in my room on beer, chips and rugby. Could be a messy weekend.
    While I hate the inconsistency around the referees rulings on the high tackles I do agree that it is something warranted and necessary to look after the players welfare. The worst part of the RWC for me was how neither the referees, players or coaches had worked with it before and so there was a steep learning curve in a pretty important competition that just seemed to be a stupid decision. I think it should have been in place either 2 years before the RWC or after the competition. Still glad to see it’s working.
    I don’t know enough about the players in the game of who’s who on the board. I just hope we get some good people who can set up plans to make rugby better here. Maybe I’m just naïve.

    • Who?

      KARL, I’m with you on the inconsistency in the high tackle rulings. But I’m not as certain that it wasn’t implemented before the RWC. It was obviously there in TRC, but remember the rash of YC’s and RC’s in 2017? I remember Steven Luatua getting four weeks for nearly decapitating someone in the first round (was initially 8 weeks, but good behaviour…), Cooper getting the same for clocking someone as they dove for the tryline…
      But it steadied through the Super season, and was largely ignored by TRC in 2017. So, the issue wasn’t the timing of the crackdown, or the nature of the crackdown (seeing it wasn’t a law change – unlike trials at lowering tackling below the waist) – it was the inconsistent nature of it, and then the inconsistent on field rulings.

      • KwAussie Rugby Lover

        Absolutely right on the implementation. It was more the way the Referees and TMO’s were told to focus on it to the extent they did at RWC. Pretty dumb really

  • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

    Looking forward to see Clyne move on or out – whatever comes first. We desperately need blood and direction at RA Board. Someone with a background in entertainment instead of banking would be a start.

  • I think the timing for the high tackle framework was stupid. I think it’s still got some really rough edges. And there are, as has been dissected on this site, certainly referees who apply it very badly post-RWC.

    That said, a 28% reduction in concussions is a huge improvement. It’s still decades too early to tell what that means for the long-term health indications for ex-players but it’s our best marker by far so it’s good news on that front. And on a purely selfish note, its good for us, the fans, because it means we get to see more of our favourite players playing the game too.

    I think there needs to be a modification to the mitigation for players being low when you tackle them. If the player is under waist height when you hit them, if it’s a tackle, starting point becomes a penalty, and it’s only if you do something like punch them, or it’s a shoulder to the head you look to go up to a RC for the punch, YC if it’s a shoulder in a tackling action, RC if it’s a shoulder hit. If the tackler is also that low, mitigate it down to “rugby incident, no offence.”

    I don’t remember what match it was, but someone lined up to tackle a player around the thighs, the other guy slipped and the tackle hit the ball and rode up to hit him in the head. PK. It’s the right call under the framework but you shouldn’t penalise someone for setting up that low and accidentally hitting a guy who slips and puts his head into your arms… You’re going to start encouraging people to dive into your tackles at that rate which is not what you want.

    But that kind of adjustment is why the timing was so bad. You need enough matches to see this kind of crazy, once in a blue moon event, say “OK, the referee was right under the framework, we need to tweak the framework for it” and not introduce it just before a RWC.

    Here’s to a huge reduction in concussions and healthier players!

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

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