Thursday’s Rugby news sees the Brumbies welcoming spectators, Hamish McLennan extending the olive branch across the ditch, Mack Mason on the outer at NSW Waratahs and the Rebels relocating to Canberra.
The Brumbies are back…
The ACT Brumbies club has announced that they are planning to invite somewhere between 1000 – 1500 spectators to attend their opening fixture of the Vodafone Super Rugby AU competition when they take on the Melbourne Rebels on 4 July at GIO Stadium.
Paying Brumbies members were contacted via email to give them the first opportunity to enter into a ballot system for tickets. The Brumbies will host a random draw to decide which members will be permitted as spectators once the exact attendance numbers are confirmed.
There will also be a limited number of Corporate Hospitality attendees who will be permitted under ACT COVID-19 restrictions.
It is hoped that more attendees will be allowed into the ground for the Brumbies second home Super Rugby AU fixture against the Reds on 1 August, once further easing of restrictions from the ACT Government takes place.
“We’re really happy that we will be able to have some of our members at our first game of the Vodafone Super Rugby AU competition,” said Brumbies CEO Phil Thomson.
“We’d like to thank the ACT Chief Health Officer and the ACT Government for their support in allowing this to happen. We’re hopeful we will be able to have more of our members and supporters at games throughout the season.”
Brumbies inside centre Irae Simone is excited to get out on the paddock. “Now that we have a date, there’s a new spark to the group. There’s a lot of motivation now the boys have something to look forward. They have a lot of goals they want to achieve.”
“Training has been awesome. The boys have been ripping in, and come 4 July, the boys are pretty keen for it.”
Meanwhile, Blake Enever has left the club on compassionate grounds, effective immediately, and there is speculation he might join the Reds as cover in the second row.
World Cup carrot
Reports suggest that Rugby Australia would be open to offering New Zealand hosting rights for the 2027 Rugby World Cup, with a possibility the country across the ditch could host some pool matches or even finals. It may be part of a strategic move to convince the Kiwis to throw their support behind a trans-Tasman competition next year.
As the only horse in the race for now, it is looking positive that Australia will host the 2027 World Cup. It would be a huge boon for the country, with World Rugby reporting that the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan is been heralded as the best to date. It was certainly the most economically successful Rugby World Cup ever, with nearly £4.3 billion generated in economic output according to The economic impact of Rugby World Cup 2019 report published by EY.
New Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan appeared on Sky Sport New Zealand’s rugby show The Breakdown to float the idea of getting the Kiwis involved in the tournament.
“We want to win it and if you got a few pool games or a pool, I’d be up for that,” McLennan said. “At the end of the day there is a lot of history between the two countries … and if you supported us in that way, I’m very open to it.
“If we can do more cross-Tasman in Super Rugby that is great. I want to have a friendly and co-operative relationship with you guys. You’re a fantastic rugby nation but when it comes to the World Cup, as you would have seen, we’ve put an advisory board together that is second to none.
“The SANZAAR nations have to stick together. If we can secure the World Cup that would be great for the game in this part of the world and it is due to come down to the southern hemisphere. My understanding is the Argentinians and the South Africans are notionally supporting our bids. So we’ve got to give it a real shot.”
New Zealand beat out Australia to host the Women’s Rugby World Cup in 2021. A joint hosting bid between the two countries is not unprecedented, as Australia and New Zealand await news on their joint bid for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
World Rugby will make a call in 2022 as to who will host the tournament.
Mason on the outer
It seems that Mack Mason’s time in a sky blue jersey may becoming to end, as it appears he may not be taking part in this year’s Super Rugby AU competition. It has been reported that Waratahs flyhalf has been based in Queensland during COVID-19, and won’t be eligible.
Mason has been in Foley’s shadow for years, after getting limited time in the box seat during his three year stint in NSW. It has often been bemoaned that Mason has been dealt a poor hand in the selection policy at the club, where limited opportunities coupled with some poor performances has seen him being leapfrogged by Will Harrison and Ben Donaldson in the pecking order.
He debuted in 2017 after receiving a late call-up against the Crusaders. A few months later he trotted around in Melbourne as part of an extended Wallabies squad.
Mason started twice in 2019, once in a 31-30 loss to the Sunwolves in Newcastle and then again during a 49-12 defeat to the Highlanders in the final match of the season.
“I got hung out to dry a little bit but that was on my own performance,” Mason said in January of the Sunwolves game. “That was probably the only week I’ve really thought that [I’m] really struggling.”
Even at the start of this season, many predicted Mason to take over at five-eighth, and started in the trial against the Highlanders. However, he injured his groin in another practice game against the Reds off the bench.
Now he is nowhere to be seen and it appears very unlikely the Waratahs will offer him a new deal.
The Rebels will move to Canberra on Friday ahead of their Super Rugby AU opener against the Brumbies on 4 July.
After consultation with other stakeholders, the Rebels have decided to make the temporary move to the capital, leaving scope to remain there if required. This follows a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases in Victoria.
In a statement released late Wednesday, Rebels CEO Baden Stephenson said the club needed to be “fluid” and act with the best interest of players and staff in mind.
“This is undoubtedly a very fluid situation and we are committed to keeping our people safe and healthy in accordance with government advice and regulations. At the same time, we will do all that we can to ensure the successful delivery of the Super Rugby AU competition,” he said.
“We’ve been in constructive dialogue with Rugby AU, SANZAAR and RUPA for the last 24 hours and we have all agreed that decisive action is required.
“There are a lot of Australians far worse off than us in these challenging times and we are still grateful for the opportunity to return to play and hopefully make our fans proud.”
“This competition was always going to throw up some curve balls and I think the teams that have the ability to adjust on the run will be successful,” he said.
“We aren’t changing our performance expectations at all. We have a very tight team and are looking forward to preparing and spending some time together on the road.”
All of this comes amidst speculation of a player strike, just weeks before the start of Super Rugby AU. Some sources have suggested the strike is being proposed by a group of Rebels players, while other reports say it has wide-ranging support from players at other clubs.