Thursday’s Rugby news sees Kurtley Beale set to become the most capped Tah of all time, and old fashion grudge match in Super Rugby, the Force kick off their season, and concerns being raised over the diversity on the RA Board.
Big milestone for boy wonder
When Kurtley Beale runs out on Sunday for the NSW Waratahs, he will equal Benn Robinson’s state record of 148 games. Love or hate him, any rugby fan would agree that Beale has been a terrific servant of the Australian game, in a career that includes three World Cups, 92 Wallabies Tests and over 50 tries while playing in Australia.
From the first time he broke on to the scene as a young flyhalf at St Josephs College, he caught the attention of every rugby scout in the country, and his highlight reel went viral. His videos from his high school days are doing the rounds, and it is no doubt that he was a prodigious talent.
His high school heroics led him to be signed by the Waratahs at the age of just 16. From there, he took the Waratahs to the 2008 Super Rugby final, going down 20 points to 12 against the Crusaders.
Since then he has won a Super Rugby title in 2014 with Waratahs, in between stints with the Rebels and the Wasps in the English Premiership, and just last week captained NSW for the first time.
Along with the rest of the veterans in the side, Beale has struggled with form this season, and is rumoured to be leaving Australia to take up a contract with Top 14 club Racing Metro.
But, past indiscretions aside, his legacy will be his magical plays, and his contribution to the Indigenous rugby community on and off the field.
What more can be done to encourage young Indigenous talent to stay in the game, so we can see another Kurtley Beale running the cutter at the top level?
Aussie Super Rugby fans will have to wait until Saturday to get their rugby fix, with the Queensland Reds taking on the Bulls at Suncorp on Saturday 7.15pm AEDT.
The team are hoping James O’Connor will return from an ankle injury for the game, but he is yet to train. The Reds put on a good show against the Crusaders last weekend, out-scoring them four tries to three in a 24-20 defeat. Crucial kicks were the difference and hopefully this can be remedied, with young gun Harry Wilson even putting his hand up for goalkicking duties.
For the last couple of weeks, the message from the team is that they are sick of guttsy losses, and this match-up presents an opportunity to get the points against a Bulls teams that won their first game of the season last weekend.
And then … Sunday arvo footy is back again for a classic Aussie derby. The ACT Brumbies will be looking to extend their good form when they take on the NSW Waratahs in Canberra on Sunday 4.05pm AEDT for the all-important Country Round.
There has been good banter between the teams in the lead up to the game, with a few barbs being flung back and forth between state lines. There is no love lost between the two traditional rivals, with the Brumbies uncanny ability to uncover hidden gems from the Waratahs scrap heap, and vice versa. The war of words started early with Brumbies Tom Cusack and Connal McInerney roasting Tom Staniforth, who moved up to the Tahs from the Canberra side.
“Probably one of the softest carriers in the game,” quipped Brumbies flanker Cusack.
“He’s let go of himself a little bit, around the edges,” reckons hooker McInerney. “I saw him at the hotel in Wollongong and he’s getting around looking like a tall prop now.”
Fire up for this one, as form is rarely an indicator who will come out on top of this clash.
Rapid rise in the West
The Global Rapid Rugby season will kick off this weekend, with a double header at HBF Park, with Manuma Samoa taking on South China Tigers, followed by the Western Force doing battle with Malaysia Valke, propped up by players from the South African team.
The other round-one fixture will be Fijian Latui hosting the China Lions under lights in Suva.
Six teams will compete for $1 million in prize money, backed by billionaire mining magnate Andrew Forrest.
Teams will be playing for sheep stations this year, with competition points and a grand final berth lending legitimacy to the comp.
Force Legend has Matt Hodgson has backed the competition since day one, and it is exciting to see the inaugural season receive a groundswell of support from players and fans alike. Twelve players in the Force squad taking part in the competition have made their way through the club’s academy.
“It shows you that rugby is alive here in WA and we do have a good set-up here,” said club stalwart Kieran Longbottom.
“So many guys playing around the world today have come through this academy system. The proof is there.
“We know what’s going on here. And this is the next opportunity to continue that growth and inspire the next group of guys to come through.”
Who will be the next local product to have a breakout season this year?
Jobs for the boys?
Following the news that Supercars chairman Peter Wiggs, former Wallaby Daniel Herbert and ex-Virgin Australia boss Brett Godfrey are set to join the board at the end of the month, concerns are being raised about the reduced diversity of the nominations, including female representation.
Moving forward, it appears that Salesforce ANZ chief executive Pip Marlow will be the only female director on the board, along with chief executive Raelene Castle, after the departures of Carnival Australia chair Ann Sherry and former Australian Sex Discrimination Commissioner Liz Broderick.
Sherry has been quoted as saying that the nominations are “tragedy and a missed opportunity” for the sport, considering rugby was the first to launch a professional full-time women’s program, have a groundbreaking pregnancy policy and introduce pay parity in its men’s and women’s professional entry-level contracts.
“I read about the nominations coming off the back of spending Sunday night at the MCG watching the women’s cricket [T20 World Cup final], an event no one would have imagined was possible and an event even Cricket Australia probably didn’t believe was possible, but they’ve completely shifted their position on the women’s game and made history,” Sherry said.
“Then here we are in rugby, we had a march on everybody when we professionalised our women’s sevens programs, they went to the Olympics and won gold, they generated momentum, and now we only have one woman on the board.
“You can’t have women in the game rendered voiceless, and it feels like we’re going back into the past, not into the future.”
Is this a step backwards, or just a case of right ‘man’ for the job?