Thursday's Rugby News - Green and Gold Rugby

Thursday’s Rugby News

Thursday’s Rugby News

Thursday’s Rugby news sees the Force travel to Canberra for their match against the Brumbies, and the Waratahs battle it out with the Rebels for an all-important finals spot, while Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper takes a sabbatical and the North V South match is set to go ahead in Wellington.


Pride on the line

Andrew Ready enjoyed scoring hist try against his old team

Friday night’s game of Super Rugby AU see the Western Force travel to Canberra to take on the table-topping ACT Brumbies at GIO Stadium. The venue will welcome an additional 1,500 spectators, raising the capacity to 3,000.

The Canberra side are looking to extend their narrow two-point lead over the Queensland Reds on the ladder, while the Force are still looking for that maiden win in Super Rugby AU. Despite their standings, the WA side are earning the respect of rugby fans all over the country for their solid performances.

“There is a lot to play for in terms of pride, what we want to be proud of and the fans back in Perth,” said Force player Jack McGregor.

“We want to play not only for each other, but the fans back home who have given us so much. We’ve got two more games and we want to put something out they can be proud of.”

The Force go into the clash after suffering defeats to the Waratahs and the Reds, and have been on the road for months. The last time they met, the Brumbies secured a 24-0 victory, so the Force have plenty of motivation heading into the game.

Death blow

Hodge scores for the Rebels.

The second game of Super Rugby AU could be the nail in the coffin for either side, as the Melbourne Rebels and NSW Waratahs battle it out for the third spot on the table. A win would see that side secure a playoff berth.

Saturday night’s game at Leichhardt Oval will prove a pivotal one, with a number of scenarios been thrown around. The Rebels can knock the Tahs out of finals contention with a win, but if the New South Welshman earn maximum points and deny the Rebels a bonus point, they could lock in a finals spot.

The Rebels heads into the clash having won the past two matches against the Tahs, including last month’s 29-10 victory at the SCG. The Victorian team will be buoyed by the results, but are no means assured of a result, with a young Tahs team enjoying a resurgence of late.

“We’ve had two pretty successful outings against them but it’s anyone’s game on the day,” said Rebels playmaker Andrew Deegan.

“They’ve really developed as the season’s gone on but why there’s been a bit of a young turnaround, they still have quite an experienced forward pack with the likes of Hanigan, Dempsey and Hooper.

“They’ve all played a bit of footy, so I guess it’s been about mixing their old forward pack with a bit of youth in their backline.”

Skipper’s vacation

Hooper shapes to pass

It has been revealed that Michael Hooper has inked a six-month deal to play overseas for the first half of 2021, but will return to the NSW Waratahs and the Wallabies for the rest of the year.

Fox Sports are reporting that he will head to Japan to play in the Top League with Toyota Verblitz, linking up with former Waratahs assistant coach Simon Cron.

Hooper said: “This is a great opportunity for me to learn in a new Rugby environment and develop a different perspective on the game.

“I’m really excited in the direction of Rugby in Australia both at a Super Rugby level and at the Wallabies too under Dave (Rennie). The Super Rugby AU competition this year has unearthed some really good young talent and they are all keeping me on my toes.”

Hooper’s six-month release was a part of an interim player pay deal agreed to between the Rugby Union Players Association (RUPA) and Rugby Australia in April during Covid.

Rugby Australia’s Interim Chief Executive Rob Clarke said: “We’re incredibly supportive of Michael making this move in the first half of 2021.

“It’s a prudent decision, especially for someone who has been a devoted servant to the domestic game here in Australia for over 10 years now.

“While he will head overseas for the first six months of next year, Michael has made it abundantly clear how committed he is to Australian Rugby until at least the Rugby World Cup in 2023.”

Sitting on 99 Wallaby caps with 150 Super Rugby games to his name, if anyone deserves a sabbatical it is Hooper.

North V South still on

Photo Courtesy of Keith McInnes

New Zealand Rugby’s much anticipated North v South clash will go ahead, but the game has been moved to Wellington’s Sky Stadium on 5 September.

Initially scheduled for 29 August at Eden Park, a coronavirus outbreak in Auckland has forced the city into level 3 lockdown, meaning the game could not played there.

Wellington is currently at level 2 restrictions, so the game can go ahead, but no spectators will be allowed to go at this stage.

New Zealand Rugby’s General Manager of Professional Rugby & Performance Chris Lendrum said: “We’re delighted that the match can go ahead in Wellington, but obviously it’s a shame that it’ll have to be played without fans in the stands.”

The North and South squads will assemble in Wellington on Monday to prepare for the match.

In some good news, the original Cup contested in the North V South games of old has been found. The Loving Cup was discovered in storage at Eden Park by facilities assistant Michael Brown.

The trophy was presented to the 1924 All Black ‘Invincibles’ by a group of New Zealanders living in the United Kingdom, was subsequently awarded for the North v South games from 1925 to 1932.

  • Yowie

    Sitting on 99 Wallaby caps…

    I got ninety nine caps but a victory over the ditch ain’t one, hit me

    • Geoffro

      bet he dont feel as bad as Sergio Parisse.140+ caps,5 world cups and…..nada

      • Kevino

        You left out two farewell games canned, that bloke has no luck. Was going to play his last game at the RWC against NZ. Nope natural disaster got in the way. Than was going to be given a game in the 6N to say good bye, nope global disaster got in the way.

        • Geoffro

          Shame.Great player,hard to shine in consistently average teams getting flogged most of the time.

  • Nutta

    Go you Rebel scum.

    • Nutta

      Look I see it as a national imperative. It’s important that the rugby community recognise what’s on the line at this time. It reminds of that great inspirational ad from a few years back (just make the obvious tactical swap…)

    • Keith Butler

      Hope you’re right but I have a feeling that they%’really going to cop the Tahts on the rebound just like they did the Reds.

      • Ads

        KHunt missing is a big deal. Rebels favorites for mine!

        • Keith Butler

          Hope so but one of the reasons that this years comp has been so good is it’s unpredictability.

      • KwAussie Rugby Lover

        The Waratahs seem to have that ability to step up like they did for the Reds. Pity they aren’t more consistent though. I’m backing the Rebels for this one as I’m not sure the Tahs have enough firepower

  • Bet the Reds are fingers crossed on the Force upsetting the Brumbies. On form in 2020 almost impossible, but, then again nothing is impossible in football. Predictions: Brumbies by 20 and Rebels by 15.

    • Alister Smith

      to beat the Brumbies they have to virtually give away no penalties in their own half.

    • Mica

      I like the Brumbies, but “CARN THE FORCE”!!!

  • Dud Roodt

    Gees the narrative spread on here about Michael Hooper being the shittest player to ever grace the game is going to take a hammering today, not only has he been regularly selected by coaches like Jake White, Michael Cheika, Robbie Deans & Ewen McKenzie but now Steve Hanson has gone out of his way to sign him to his club.

    • Some people never got over the fact that he didn’t play like they thought a seven should. It’s their problem not his.

      • Missing Link

        Have to agree. After we were blessed with George Smith and David Pocock, we got used to it and then Hooper came along and is a player in a different mold, so naturally “he’s not a 7 and should be playing in the back line”

      • Dud Roodt

        Totally agree. Not every 7 is going to be David Pocock. He clearly brings enough to the table to be considered a fucking good player by the account of any coach he’s had

      • KwAussie Rugby Lover

        Not totally the reason I don’t like him as either a captain or as the Wallaby 7. But, I agree he didn’t and because of that the loose trio was never a balanced entity. Can’t really blame Hoper for that as it was as much the selection of the other loosies by the muppet coach that caused a lot of the problems. I just don’t think he’s that good at the test level. Sure he gives it 110% every game and plays his heart out but I don’t think he’s particularly effective and he certainly doesn’t dominate in a contact the way most other 7’s do.

        • Rugby Truth

          One of the Brumbies tries last week, hooper got blown off the ball at the breakdown by a winger!!!!!

      • Who?

        You’re mostly right, but I think you’re missing part of it.
        Mostly, because you’re right, he doesn’t fit that traditional KPI. But he’s not the only one. SOB didn’t play hard on the ball. SA opensides don’t wear 7, so that can confuse some fans. And by the end, even Richie was less hard on the pill (whereas Pocock never changed in that regard), and Cane’s not as hard on the pill.

        But it’s worth remembering it’s a perception caused by selection. Because, whatever the numbers on their backs, the loose forwards need to complement each other and cover all the roles. Hooper and Pocock got close playing together, but we never had the right 6 or 8 to round out the balance properly. Something exacerbated by Fardy’s non-selection in the early days, and then by the fact that Naisarani (when he was finally ready to be picked to give us that ball runner we needed) doesn’t seem to have a huge impact in other aspects of the game.

        So people looked at a bloke who didn’t play the traditional role in a position where we’ve been absolutely spoilt (not just BamBam and Smith, but also Waugh, and strength before that), who wasn’t placed in a balanced backrow. Which meant that, rather than analysing the coach’s selection failures early on, they looked and said, “That bloke’s not a real 7!” It’s the simpler (lazier?) analysis (and all of us are guilty of that at some point).

        It’s definitely a problem for the fans, and it’s definitely not his fault. But it’s really created by the unbalanced backrows he was placed in since 2015.

        I know I’m in the minority on here (look back at comments over the last few days), but I think he’s grown into the captaincy at national level, his communication with referees last year was miles ahead of 2016, he carried himself with dignity at the RWC… No one’s ever questioned his effort. I don’t see that anyone comes close to him as a candidate to wear the arm band this year. If we get any games…

    • UTG

      NSW Rugby have clearly got to Hansen. It’s sickening to see what lengths they’ll go to to get Hooper selected.

      • Dud Roodt

        Yep, it’s disgusting the reach of that evil organisation. If they can get to Hansen, they can get to fucking ANYONE!

        • Yowie

          No wonder all these Wallabies coaches who have wanted to pick more Reds have succumbed to that sort of pressure.

        • Dud Roodt

          You just watch, now Cronn has infected Hansen with it, Toyota Verblitz are going to sign Al Baxter, Marc Stcherbina, Daniel Halengahu. Top to bottom the infection will reign over that club like Covid.

        • Yowie

          It looks like “Waratah disease” has already spread to Toyota itself and caused the rot to set in retrospectively.

          Toyotas have been over-represented on the roads for decades, but are low/medium-performance and uninspiring (the occasional stand-out excepted) with a small but tiresome fan base.

        • Tah Tragic

          I feel attacked.

        • Yowie

          If you own a Toyota, at least you’re feeling something for a change :p

        • Tah Tragic

          I’ll go sulk in my Landcruiser.

        • Hoss

          I would but some bastards usin it to tow a Land Rover again.

        • Hoss
        • Ads

          “Hilux” aint a bad name for Hooper. Bastard just keeps going.

          The alternate crowd might prefer “Lexus” – an expensive Corolla.

        • Yowie

          “Hilux” works well for Hooper. If you jump on Carsales dot com to look at tray-back utes you’ll see that Hiluxes are quite expensive for what you get.

        • Nutta
        • Mortahs Incoming – custardtaht

          And rolls over…

        • Who?

          Wasn’t Halangahu coaching in NZ..?

    • John Miller

      Hooper is an exceptional footballer, a lionhearted wallaby and has absolutely earned his Nippon sabbatical. And he has indeed been regularly selected. No arguments there. Though, respectfully, there is some subterfuge in your narrative as well. And the nature of those selections is not the same across the clipboard holders. Of the names you’ve mentioned that have coached Hooper, Micheal Cheika – in singularity – has bloodymindedly selected Michael Hooper over (or displaced) a better openside flanker to accommodate his starting 7 jersey. This is the crux of most (reasonable) commentator’s selection criticism during the disasterous MC regime (rather than an indictment on Hooper’s capabiity or prowess).

      It could correctly be said that Hooper was preferred to Fainga’a at the Brums in 2012. Or that Hooper was preferred to Gill or Hodgson by Deans or McKenzie at test level in 2013 and 2014.

      But neither David Pocock or George Smith was available to White for the Ponies in 2012 – Poey was at the Force and Smith was in Japan. With Pocock’s Brumbies signature in 2013, Hooper exited to NSW having been told he was destined for the Pony’s bench/broader squad. Of course, the Brumbies went from the 2012 mid-table to 2013 grand finalists despite Pocock’s season ending injury and largely because of George Smith’s remarkable re-entry into Oz rugby after several seasons with his feet up on the rugby boondocks. In fact, Poey’s injury and Smith’s re-entry came against the Tahs. And GS dominated from he outset:

      On the back of this, George Smith went from short term loan from Japanese rugby to, vague overtures about some dispensation to again don the Wallabies gold, to odds-on favourite for the starting 7 jersey from the beginning of the Lions series.

      Late season injury scuttled Smith from consideration until the very last test of the Lions tour and as soon as he was availalbe, Deans dropped Hooper.

      McKenzie didn’t get to choose from the above Aussie backrow legends. And Cheika’s crimes against rugby over 5 painful, trainwreck seasons are 1st degree and well documented.

      Steve Hanson has got an outstanding, world class footballer for his Japanese squad. Same as when he signed Read. Same as Tony Brown when he signed Pocock and Whitelock. Same as Frans Ludeke when he signed Vermeulen. Same as Hugh Reece-Edwards when he signed Marx. All good coaches go out of their way to sign quality players.

      The landscape has changed again in 2020 and it may well be that Hooper is the best choice for 7 for Rennie’s Wallabies. But even with only youngsters as competition, I don’t think it is as clear cut as many commentators would like us to think.

      • Mortahs Incoming – custardtaht

        I reckon there are 6 million reasons why Hooper will be the 7 and Captain.

        • John Miller

          He’s definitely a decent bet for both gigs.

          And if it eventuates, hopefully the only two reasons that count are: he is the best 7 & he is the best Captain.

      • whatwouldberniedo

        Well said mate. One can only wonder how a Pocock/gill , higgers, fardy row would have gone if given the chance.

        The other 2 compensate beautifully for pococks shortcomings

    • Huw Tindall

      Just waiting for Rennie to pick him at 7 and then see what the keyboard backrow warriors have to say

      • John Miller

        MH is playing well so hopefully, “Well done Hoops”.

        As you’d hope might also be said should Rennie select one of the other strongly performing Aussie opensides.

        On a different note, do the words materialise on your screen through dumb luck or sheer force of will?

  • laurence king

    Good luck to Hooper, get away from the limelight a bit.

    • Nutta

      To be fair, after +10yrs good service everyone deserves a bit of long service leave.

      • Who?

        I told my boss that, given I’ve been in the same job 14.5 years. He said I was dreaming. My boss is terrible.
        I’m self employed.

  • OnTheBurst

    There is literally zero chance that the Force will beat the Ponies in the Capital.

    On the other hand, I said there was zero chance that an orange perma-tanned pussy-grabbing serial business failure would become POTUS, so what do I know about probability

    • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

      Zero change is never ever Zero.

    • David G

      Not much it seems.

      Although I’m sure your knowledge of a domestic Superugby sporting competition is a lot more detailed than that of the complex US Political environment, so don’t be too hard on yourself.

  • KwAussie Rugby Lover

    Thanks Jack, that Saturday night game is going to be a cracker. I admit the unknown in this competition provides a level of interest that watching the Crusaders win again never did in NZ and I am enjoying the rugby here. I hope the Force put up a show but TBH I think they need another coupe of seasons to get settled in this competition before we can be too harsh on them. It’ll be interesting to see which Rebels team and which Tahs team turns up this week. Personally I think the that while the Tahs are a team that can rise to the occasion, ala vs the Reds, I think the Rebels should win this game. Either way it’ll be a cracker.

    Everyone here knows I don’t particularly rate Hooper but I am glad to see him getting something back for the years of service he has put in. I certainly can’t question his hard work and enthusiasm so good on him for getting the time away. It’ll be interesting to see who steps up with him not there and that’s always good to watch as well.

    Pity about COVID stuffing up the NZ game and I personally think it could be a stage setter for the rest of the year. While I’d love to see some internationals this year I won’t be surprised if there are none.


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

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