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?
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?
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.
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
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.