Force head north
The Western Force are on the move again and will play their final two ‘home games’ at Cbus Super Stadium after relocating from the Hunter Valley.
After spending the first five weeks of the competition sipping shiraz and playing golf, the WA side are packing up and moving to Kingscliff, and will travel up to the Gold Coast and back for their games.
The Force have the bye this week, and their next two home games are against the Waratahs and the Reds on the Gold Coast. The Force’s round 7 and 8 games were originally set to be played in Perth but government restrictions in WA mean that teams would still have to quarantine for two weeks if they were to try and play games in Perth.
Their round 9 clash against the ACT Brumbies is still scheduled to be played at GIO Stadium on Friday 28 August in Canberra.
This move follows the news that Queensland has classified the ACT and NSW as hotspots and entry will be restricted.
In some good news, this recent development won’t affect the Super Rugby AU competition, with all five teams able to travel in and out of Queensland with a government exemption.
The Melbourne Rebels are another team that are yet to lock in their final home games, with their matches against the NSW Waratahs and the Force on 29 August and 4 September still to be confirmed. Those clashes were originally going to be played at AAMI Park, but that has changed after Melbourne went into stage four lockdown, and those fixtures will likely be relocated.
We have reached the halfway point of the revamped Super Rugby AU season, as finals contenders start to emerge and the fixtures reset. In this weekend’s Super Rugby AU games we see The Melbourne Rebels seek redemption against the ACT Brumbies after putting together a few wins, and the rematch between the NSW Waratahs and the Queensland Reds.
Leichhardt Oval will again be host to rugby on Friday night for the Rebels and Brumbies game. The Brumbies claimed the chocolates when the two teams met in round 1 of Super Rugby AU, winning 31-23.
The match up that will have new Wallabies coach Dave Rennie interested is between hookers Jordan Uelese and Folau Fainga’a, considering the shakey form of hookers throughout the competition, especially when it comes to lineout time.
Fainga’a has 4 tries to his name, benefiting from the Brumbies potent rolling maul. His set piece combination with Allan Ala’alatoa, Scott Sio and James Slipper puts him in a good position to snag the Wallabies starting role.
Victorian local Uelese is finally starting to find his feet in 2020 after some solid performances, but will need to take his game to the next level.
Meanwhile, Waratahs lock Ned Hanigan said “There’s always plenty to play for and the Queensland -NSW game is something every player from both sides wants to be a part of.”
Their round 1 clash certainly delivered on spectacle, and both teams are gearing up for more of the same on Saturday night. The Waratahs lost that game 32-26, and has reignited the rivalry between the two states.
If Jake Gordon is to believed, powerful backrower Lachie Swinton is already “practising tackling at home on the pillow case.”
Organisers of the Six Nations have revealed the news dates of the suspended competition, and includes a triple-header of games set to take place Saturday 31 October. Venues and kick-off times for some of the remaining four fixtures were also decided.
The 2020 Six Nations Championship will reboot on Saturday 24 October when Ireland face Italy at the Aviva Stadium, with a kick-off time to be confirmed.
The remaining fixtures will then be played the following week with a triple-header of games taking place across the day.
First up will be Wales and Scotland, although a venue has not been confirmed, as the WRU are unsure if the Principlaity Stadium will be available.
That game will be followed by England going up against Italy at the Stadio Olimpico, and Ireland facing France at the Stade de France.
“In rescheduling these matches, the health and safety of players, associated staff and supporters has been at the forefront of our thinking,” read a Six Nations statement.
There are still plans to invite Japan and Fiji to a new eight-team tournament.
“In recent weeks, Six Nations has also been progressing contingency plans for an alternative tournament format in place of the Autumn Internationals for 2020, primarily driven by travel restrictions not allowing many international teams to play the scheduled matches,” the statement read.
Decisions are still being made around match schedules, operational details including venues as well as commercial arrangements. An announcements is expected to be made later this month.
Phil Kearns has been announced as executive director of Rugby Australia’s World Cup bid advisory board, putting him in the driver’s seat for the 2027 World Cup bid.
Kearns, who played 67 Tests for Australia, will lead the team as they engage with Federal, State and Local Government as well as international stakeholders including World Rugby Member Unions and he will be a key conduit for the Rugby World Cup 2027 Bid Advisory Board.
It is a savvy move from new Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan, who has managed to placate a man who only a few months ago was leading a captains revolt against the organisation.
Rugby Australia Chairman, Hamish McLennan said: “Phil has an impeccable international reputation both in the corporate sector and with his network of contacts throughout the rugby world.
“Phil will be front and centre of Rugby World Cup bid team and will lead our international relations to put Rugby Australia in the strongest possible position to win the right to host the 2027 showpiece.
“As part of his role, Phil will be spend time overseas to be a key contact with the World Rugby Member Unions, to showcase our bid and to highlight why we would be a tremendous host in 2027.”
It seems that this appointment has all but ruled out Kearns running for Rugby Australia’s top job, telling rugby.com.au, “I think this will put paid to that aspiration.”
“I think there’s a couple of really big roles in Australian rugby at the moment, this is certainly one of them,” Kearns said.