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Tuesday’s Rugby News

Tuesday’s Rugby News

Tuesday’s Rugby News criss-crosses the Pacific.
New Zealand, Australia, South America, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa all get a guernsey.


The famous "held up" Haka Photo Courtesy of Keith McInnes

The famous “held up” Haka
Photo Courtesy of Keith McInnes

All Blacks Name their Squad

Much like their defensive line getting away just a little early so to have the All Blacks already announced their squad for the October and November internationals.

For the final Bledisloe test in Yokohama on 27 October they’ve announced a 32-man squad to which they’ll add another 19 players for the remainder of their end of year tests.

The initial squad,

Tight Forwards
Dane Coles
Nathan Harris
Codie Taylor
Owen Franks
Nepo Laulala
Joe Moody
Karl Tu’inukuafe
Ofa Tuungafasi
Scott Barrett
Brodie Retallick
Patrick Tuipulotu
Samuel Whitelock

Infringing Forwards
Vaea Fifita
Dalton Papalii (uncapped)
Kieran Read (captain, ooh, that lined up nicely)
Ardie Savea
Liam Squire
Matt Todd

Assistant Referees
TJ Perenara
Aaron Smith
Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi

Backs
Beauden Barrett
Damian McKenzie
Richie Mo’unga
Ryan Crotty
Jack Goodhue
Anton Lienert-Brown
Sonny Bill Williams
Jordie Barrett
Rieko Ioane
Waisake Naholo
Ben Smith

The other nineteen that will join them are Asafo Aumua, Liam Coltman, Tyrel Lomax, Reuben O’Neill, Tim Perry, Angus Ta’avao, Luke Romano, Jackson Hemopo, Gareth Evans, Dillon Hunt, Luke Whitelock, Mitchell Drummond, Bryn Hall, Brett Cameron, Ngani Laumape, Matt Proctor, George Bridge, David Havili and Nehe Milner-Skudder.

rupa report

RUPA select new CEO

The Rugby Union Players’ Association came into being in 1995 as part of the game turning professional.  They set out to “directly promote and safeguard the interests of its members”.  With (they claim) 100% of professional rugby players in Australia amongst their ranks it’s important they have the best people in place to look after the joint.

They have appointed a new chiekf executive officer after the previous, Ross Xenox, stood down having accepted a role with the Rebels.

Prataal Raj is the new person in the job and brings a wealth of experience having formerly held roles with the International Cricket Council and the Aussie GP.

All members of the selection committee (board members Sally Fielke and Dean Mumm, El Presidente Damien Fitzpatrick and chair Bruce Hodgkinson) voted for Raj with Hodgkinson describing the appointment as “ideal”.

“On behalf of the board, we are tremendously excited to work with Prataal in ensuring RUPA continues to deliver on its core purposes of protecting the standards of professional players, promoting the interests of the players and the game, and preparing players for their lives beyond rugby”, said Hodgkinson.

Raj was also excited with his new position, “I’m delighted to have been offered this role and look forward to working with the players to ensure their interests are staunchly represented,” he said.

“I’ve been a strong supporter of rugby my entire life and am excited about the opportunity to contribute to the strategic direction of the game. RUPA has built its reputation as a responsible and respected stakeholder in the game and I look forward to building upon this and working closely with Rugby Australia, state unions, RUPA’s existing commercial partners and government to further and strengthen the interests of players”.

“I’m also excited to continue driving the evolution of RUPA’s Player Development Program for both male and female rugby players, and I believe the game’s ongoing investment in its players is paramount.

“This investment, and rugby’s inclusivity, are areas the game prides itself on, and I’m looking forward to ensuring our members are supported off-field and that we continue to reinforce and enhance the link between well-being and high performance, and to follow through on RUPA’s mantra of helping our players become better people, better players, and live better lives.”

On a personal note, I hope this really is the culture they’re instilling in professional players across the code, although you could excuse my cynicism given the on-field realities not always matching the press conference sound bites.

Read on and the picture makes sense.

Read on and the picture makes sense.

2018 Americas Pacific Challenge

Kicking off in 2016 to “boost the high-performance pathway for the test arena and to support the Americas Rugby Championship and Pacific Nations Cup as well as November international test window preparation” the long-winded preamble of the series stands in solidarity with the 9 days it took to play a grand total of 9 matches.

The teams contesting were Samoa A, Tonga A, Uruguay A, Argentina A, a USA ‘Select’ XV and Canada, eh.

The tournament runs as a “first past the post” set up so it could have faded into obscurity as the rounds wore on.

HOWEVER, as it turned out, the final match of the tournament would decide the overall winner and without Argentina in a position to challenge for the overall title the tournament was going to award the title to a team for the first time.

Uruguay A and Samoa A entered the 9th and final match without either side having tasted defeat and it all to play for.

Despite the hosts scoring the first try after only 5 minutes they were only up by 2 at the half and it was the Samoans that came home in style, running in 4 converted tries to lead 38-19 until the home side managed a late consolation try to leave the final score 38-26 and crown Samoa A as champions.

The tournament serves as an important testing ground for some of the teams on the periphery of the top echelons of the international game as they continue their preparations for next year’s world cup.

Source and worth a watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M63_Kn3qsGQ

Source and worth a watch          youtube.com/watch?v=M63_Kn3qsGQ

NRC Expansion Talks

The Drua have been the form team of this year’s NRC.  They’ve only lost the one match, and that was to last year’s premiers Queensland country, and have turned their home ground into absolute fortress this year amassing 194 points and only conceding 64 across four matches.

On the back of this success there’s been talk of possible expanding the NRC to include other teams from the Pacific.  Namely, Samoa and Tonga.

RA’s high-performance boss Ben Whitaker is quoted in the Heckle saying, “We’ve had inquiries from World Rugby and clearly the other two nations they are keen to promote are Tonga and Samoa,” he said. “Fiji was a good three-and-a-half years in the making so it does take a bit of time to get things in order but that is a discussion that’s commenced.”

What may speed the process up is Samoa’s seat on the World Rugby Council they secured last week after jumping through (or demolishing) the requisite hoops.

Samoa Rugby Union chief executive Faleomavaega Vincent Fepulea’i outlined his union’s improved position in determining the direct the code takes in their region, “We now have a vote on the Council and this is where issues and directions of the development of rugby”.

“This has been long overdue, we have been left behind for a long time and our Chairman will be in (at) the forefront to advocate the issues for Samoa and our region with decision makers of World Rugby”.

The Drua’s participation in the NRC is funded by World Rugby so Samoa’s elevation to the Council might be the key for a greater presence from Pacific-based teams in years to come.

 

  • onlinesideline

    Its just going to be the sheer entertainment, quality and all round awesomeness of the Pacific Islanders that will lead the way, as usual. They shine where every they go and play, whether it be NZ, Europe or UK. They will make this NRC comp special and we should be doing everthing we can to include them. This is really the level comp they need to as clearly their test teams are a bridge too far for alot of players as well. But any money someone will start talking about including a kiwi team and thats where it will go pear shaped IMO. The NRC has to remain aussie otherwise we are going to have super rugby, twiggyball and NRC eventually all competing for crowd support.Its too much. I dont know what super rugby 2020 is going to look like, but there is a risk its just all too messy. With pacific islanders probably having a presence in twiggy ball, plus the LON coming – this old timer cant keep up.

    • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

      I don’t think anyone would want a Kiwi team, nor do I think the Kiwis will want it. The NRC offers far less money than the Mirre 10 Cup, and the standard is much lower.

      Hopefully one day the standard of the NRC is such thstbee can have the NRC winner vs Mitre 10 winner.

      • onlinesideline

        Standard could hockey stick get better in next 2-3 years though and then plateau a bit but with tricky dicky islanders throwing the ball about – its on and upwards IMO. Just starting but looking the goods.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Mate I think you’re right. Personally I’d like to see the NRC as the equivalent of the Currie Cup or Mitre 10 here so that there was a clear path from Club to NRC to Super to Wallabies. I don’t think it should include a Kiwi team and I’m not sure the Island teams are in the best interest of Australia. Love them there and love watching them but just not sure it helps the development.

      Funnily enough I do see a Kiwi team in Twiggy’s competition. I’d like it to be made up of players who aren’t getting the call up to higher levels yet but on the cusp of this call up.

      • onlinesideline

        I think they add to the comp. It could be a bit dry otherwise mate TBH with the comp being in its infancy. It needs some razzle dazzle and some characters in the game and they always bring something. And TBH, they are so ingrained in OZ culture, many of them having relatives here, it sort of feels like they are a little aussie in some weird way. I dont think it would hurt the comp, put it that way and there is nothing at all stopping more aussie wide expansion just because they are coming on board.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          No I do sort of get it and as you say it really brings another level to the NRC. Maybe a combination of the NRC developing into a proper competition representing the people and providing a clear pathawy for the clubs as well as inclusion of the PI teams is a good way forward. Going to be expensive though as the PI teams won’t have a lot of money, a lot of governance and will need help with the management of the team in a big way.

        • Christopher

          When it comes to Wallaby selection the islanders are certainly considered a little (big) Aussie

      • Patrick

        I think including the islanders in their own right is more for the sport as a whole and not so much for Australia directly.

        I think it is really important to do it and the entertainment is a bonus :)

  • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

    Would really like Samoa and Tonga included in the NRC, offsetting New South Wales’ continued shrinkage – it also means the NRC is less susceptible to sabotage from within if NSW decides it isn’t interested in the future (it seems NSW is the only state not fully on board with the concept). Although, sadly, it really takes the NRC away from being the fully domestic comp that was originally envisioned.

    • Muzz

      The Waratahs were heavily involved in the NSW teams for the first time this year. This coupled with a condensing of playing talent into two teams would have led to better results, but that didn’t happen. Maybe NSW NRC stronger as one??

      • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

        I know they took them over, but the articles written on the other site by what’s his name – Johnny Rugby or something – made evident that they definitely haven’t fully embraced the concept despite this.

        The way that the Waratahs contract their squad on its own is enough to prove this. If Queensland can field two strong teams then it is disgraceful NSW can’t even field one.

      • Brumby Runner

        Muzz, taking this year’s NSW Country side (the more successful of the two NSW sides) as a base, who out of the Sydney Rays would strengthen the squad?

        Paddy Ryan? but he’s gone for next year. Tolu Latu? Jack Dempsey? both likely to be in the Wallabies squad next year and not available. Anyone at all in the backline?

        It will need more than a shrinkage to greatness to one NSW team to make them competitive imo.

      • Andrew Luscombe

        Heavily involved in using it as some mix of youth development and a reserve for the reserve grade players. They aren’t treating it as something to try to win, and their involvement devalues the thing.

        One of rugby’s problems is that every pro or semi pro level is mucked around by the level above. And at the national level you’ve got teams experimenting fairly often in the lead up to the world cup.

  • Jack

    I am surprised that RA would even consider including teams in the NRC that would increase the travel costs , which, if memory serves me, is one of the reasons why RA needed to cut a SR side.

    • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

      All NRC costs are covered by Fox as I understand it.

    • Andrew H

      I think ALL the costs associated with Fiji are borne by WR.

    • RF

      Australian rugby is a mess. That is our priority. Western Sydney has the same population as the Pacific Islands. Tonga has half the population of Parramatta.

      How about we focus on building a National Rugby Championship for the NRC?

  • Nutta

    Welcome on-board to the Samoans and/or the Tongan’s. For years what held these guys back was lack of a local audience to commercially support a pro outfit and then just rampant ‘evaporation’ of any funds they were given. With some proper oversight and a well regulated, transparent environment they will go huge.

    I cannot be but surprised that all this development and expansion opportunity happens when an alternate competition shows up with a bit of cash. Isn’t it wonderous what happens with a bit of capitalism and competition? Suddenly folk seem to be less interested in their own naval gazing. Amazing that eh?

    I well see Onsidelines point about identity and brand confusion. But to counteract that and yet harvest & maximise the talent, personally I reckon Aus, NZ & Polys could quite easily do an amalgamated 2-tier comp of about a dozen sides in each. Relegation & promotion between Div1&2. Div1 would be dominated by Supers 2nds teams and Div2 would clearly be rebuilders and/or developmentals. It’s a good way to get meaningful & competitive games. Div2 would be less quality (obviously) but much more parochial I would say (and thereby their obscurity would make a better watch for older hard-heads like me). But that would be just too much like cooperative, mutual benefit eh? Yeh, stupid idea.

    • Happyman

      Nutta My view is that they Aus and NZ and indeed the islands will need to collaborate going forward as the Saffas will go to Europe. They will want to stay in the RC but they don’t want Super Rugby. They may even try to get into the six nations at the expense of the Italians.

      The teams in the East being Aus, NZ the islands and Japan will have to fend for ourselves.

      • onlinesideline

        Are you sure about that mate ? Or has it been exaggerated a bit / alot ?

        Yeah 1 or 2 saffa teams are bailing north but if its true that they all wanted out of Super, surely we would be hearing serious things from all these clubs as its only basically a year out from 2020 Super revamp. If they bail they would be talking about it now wouldnt they as these things need prep. Maybe the bulk of them want to stay. Personally I would like if they all bail from Super because I dont like their inclusion at provincial level but love the Bokke tradition and test matches of course. But inidications are that 4 teams will stay.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          As I understand it almost all of the South African unions are bankrupt except for the Lions (only team winning) and the Cheetahs, and are seriously considering going north because of the increased prize money on offer.

          Apparently entry into the Heineken Cup will only be allowed if all teams ‘go north’. At the end of the day I can easily see them joining the 6N also given that it will offer them so much more money (all teams receive like $50 million currently).

        • onlinesideline

          Well the crowds were deplorable over there as well. The comp has had it. But on a sidenote, the bokke crowd v darkness was just awesome. If they all want out, then big changes are a comin’ – which is great.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Mate I’m not so sure that this talk of RA moving away is based on fact. Like OLSL I think there would be a lot more talk of this if it were true. I think they may try and split their teams so they have a foot in both camps but not so sure they are wanting to dump Super Rugby. Going North will mean the SARFU relinquishing control of the players in the same way that the NH unions have done and I’m not so sure that they want this to occur. Personally I think the talk is more from people dissatisfied with the current Super competitoin than anything and while I agree the format for this needs to change any ideas that a local competition would gain the same level of sponsorship is a pipe dream. I think that if SA dropped out of Super Rugby then you’d quickly find more ABs and Wallabies heading north for the money and both teams would quickly become 3rd rate rugby nations. NZ less so but it would kill rugby here very fast.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Ireland still has control of players – there’s no reason that South Africa will have to relinquish control of players. Really, given the rate that they’re losing them overseas currently they would gain a lot more control were they to start being paid in Euros.

          I think you’d definitely see most top Aussies and Kiwis head north if South Africa leaves, unless Aus and New Zealand can integrate with Japan. However, from South Africa’s perspective I think they would be crazy not to go north.

        • RF

          “if SA dropped out of Super Rugby then you’d quickly find more ABs and Wallabies heading north for the money and both teams would quickly become 3rd rate rugby nations. NZ less so but it would kill rugby here very fast.”

          If we managed the transition correctly I don’t see that happening. If we didn’t it would.

          The published balance sheets suggest that a modest increase in games (last year Waratahs had 7 home games!) would more than fill the South African TV void (based on published finances, not random guessing) without factoring other benefits in.

          Frankly it would suit all concerned to move South Africa to Europe. South Africa would have their sides in a functioning competition structure which is logistically accessible to their audience, and Australia and New Zealand would have an opportunity to develop a proper top-tier competition for the first time in the Southern Hemisphere since the game went professional.

          The big losers, however, would be Argentina. I would imagine they would be accommodated in the Heineken Cup somehow.

        • Who?

          There’s a significant issue with what you’re proposing. And that is that it’s HEAVILY reliant on good home attendance. That’s great if you’ve got a 2014 Tahs team, or a 2011 Reds team. What happens when you’ve got a 2012 Tahs team (that’s the team that was booed, right?), or a 2015/16/17 Reds team?
          The advantage of high value broadcast rights is that it gives you more money per match (increasing the number of matches increases overheads – your contract values might not go up (but good luck with that), but venue/broadcast/travel costs all increase per match), and it averages out over time. Some years, the broadcaster won’t make their money back on the costs of a team, but a few years later, they’ll rake it in off the same team.
          Then you’ve got to work out how you can schedule extra games, dealing with the international calendar, the level below, player welfare, etc.
          I’m not saying changes are impossible – they may be forced – but I’m pointing out there’s reasons why the current setup was created, and that it’s a real challenge.

        • RF

          True and it certainly isn’t easy, it would take work.

          It is the reality we would face though.

          The broadcast model won’t last much longer anyway, how many people do you know who have binned Foxtel in the last 24 months?

          However, there would be broadcast revenue attached to an elite competition involving NZ and AU sides, and it would be one hell of a competition with significant growth potential too in my view. As you say, there is risk associated. But there is risk associated with whatever we do, whether that be continuing as we are now (a doomed path IMO) or otherwise

        • Who?

          Binned Foxtel in the last 24 months? None! But I didn’t know many who had it before then anyway… I never did (can’t justify the expense). I’d seriously consider Rugby Pass if it were available here, though (I can’t be bothered getting around the geoblocking). So there’s options.

        • RF

          Rugby Pass is available here now! (Initially just Heineken Cup, Challenge Cup and Pro 14).

          That is the future of most rugby broadcasting I expect (below our own tests which will be FTA). I expect the revenue from it will not be comparable to the TV moneybags days which are over now.

        • Who?

          Really?! I wonder why they didn’t email me..? I left my email on there as an expression of interest…
          I don’t see why the revenue shouldn’t equal what other arrangements have provided. Foxtel’s money is sent mainly to the NRL and AFL, whereas RugbyPass’s money is sent purely to Rugby… Sure, other comps, too, but Foxtel also buy other codes and comps…

        • RF

          Yeah launched the weekend before last.

          As far as I know the cable tv companies are paying a premium on live sports as it props up the advertising line of business, which their entire business is based on (which is why they practically give away subscriptions). RugbyPass revenue would be entirely subscription based, with limited audience sizes to target I imagine.

          About $69 per year, what would they max out at here, about 100k? Probably a max revenue of 7m before costs.

        • Who?

          100k homes wouldn’t be a bad effort in Australia. But I thought the subscription costs were closer to $20/month? Or have they offered a reduced price here given the reduced content?
          SANZAAR’s deal is what, $550M, roughly? Over 5 years? So, $110M/year, spread unequally 4.5 ways (Aus, NZ, SA, Arg, Sunwolves?), you would assume no more than $30M/year from Foxtel for RA (Bakkies probably has the exact figures somewhere!). No question in my mind that it’d be a loss leader for them (as sport general is on FTA, too), and a significant part of their revenue would be from licensed premises (a marked that Rugby Pass may not crack easily).
          It’s a brave new world…

        • andrewM

          Or any year Rebels team..

        • Happyman

          Mate there is already talk of two more teams to the Pro 14 next year it would just be a change of names for it to go to the Super teams.
          Currently they have the Cheetahs (Not bad)and the Southern Kings (who are just rubbish). If they dropped the Kings they could put in the Stormers, Bulls Sharks and Lions. which would make it the Pro 17.

          i just don’t believe they want to stay and TBH I don’t think it helps us long term.

        • onlinesideline

          Really ? – looks like its all over red rover then. Awesome. Didnt work for a long time.

      • Brumby Runner

        Happy, the latest news coming out seems to indicate that SANZAAR will postpone any deliberations abour Super Rugby until after the LON (or World League as it now seems to be referred to) is sorted.

        That could mean no news on the Super front until some time next year. Of extra concern, the indications are that TRC will also go the way of Super (ie gone) if the LON gets approval. I suppose that probably makes sense given what we now know as TRC will just be a component part of the LON – or maybe not if the LON is set up for each team from each hemisphere to play all of the those from the opposite hemisphere. It might also be set up as a full round robin competition so I suppose there could be some sort of system allocating points to the present RC teams when they play each other to determine the winner and standings.

        All still very murky and well beyond time something was decided to allow everything to get underway.

    • RF

      If we follow a Celtic model I would be against relegation. Its presence drives problems with salary caps, national unions managing game times of test players etc, and development of youth.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Mate, I’m not so sure on the combined competition. I think for NZ Club, MItre 10, Super and ABs is a pathway that’s proven and working. I can’t see anything el;se providing the necessary funding to work at this stage. Maybe in the years to come and with the LoN coming up who knows but I can’t see a local comp raising the funds needed to support the higher end players.

      • RF

        I don’t think that Super Rugby is working for anyone. Attendances and tv viewing figures are poor, even in NZ. If the national team wasn’t so dominant perhaps there would be more urgency there.

        South African TV revenue would be replaced by an increase in games anyway, finance shouldn’t be a barrier.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Mate finance will always be a barrier because you need the finance to pay the players. Ignoring that is a recipe for disaster no matter how much you might not like it. The money doesn’t come from attendance at the games, the money comes from the advertising that is sold when these games are shown elsewhere in the world. Regardless of what people here think when they put on their national cap, the people who watch this want to see NZ vs Aus vs SA teams above anything else. They are interested in the Arg and Jap teams but not to the same level and if the SA teams weren’t there then the money would drop off very fast.

        • RF

          I wouldn’t ignore finances. I would do the opposite.

          In the last 2 years Australian sides have had 7 or 8 home games per year. The Waratahs matchday revenue in 2017 (a poor year) was $5.9m (excluding associated revenue from sponsorships etc). This was from 7 games and the figure excludes sponsorships etc, and notably was a year without a home fixture against the Reds.

          A properly structured competition would have significantly more home games per year, but let’s say conservatively that you play 12 home games. All things being equal, that would have increased matchday revenue in 2017 by $4.2m. 14 games would be by $5.9m

          This excludes additional revenue from sponsorship etc, and it doesn’t take into account a game against the biggest rival, any bounce in attendances at commercial appeal from being in a better competition either.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          and nowhere near enough to keep players like Folau, Hooper, Foley etc in Australia

        • RF

          If generating the same/more revenue than now isn’t enough to keep those players than so be it.

          If we followed the financial model of countries like Ireland focussing on developing and retaining talent rather than the Galactico model of England and France, then I would be quite happy with it.

          We are never going to compete on the global market against English or French clubs. We are uniquely positioned to retain our own talent.

  • Greg

    Thanks for the news today.

    I loved the “Assistant Referees” named in the squad.

    • Andrew H

      Hehe, thanks.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      If a halfback isn’t an assistant referee he’s not doing his job

      • Greg

        I get it. Don’t worry.

        I mean, as a ref, you are looking for the input from 9 to help you understand the more complex situations. They are just being helpful.

  • mattyjinred

    Is it just me with all the rumblings and movement. Twiggy ball, WR getting actively involved with NRC, LON, Rassie changing contracts and SA looking north for competition. Does it not feel as though a storm is a brewing. I think what we are watching as competitions today will evolve greatly post 2020. Great to see WR getting involved with the NRC, hopefully it can evolve into the true National competition we need.

    • Brisneyland Local

      Feels that way doesnt it.

  • RF

    Population of Tonga is less than Parramatta. The population of the entire Pacific Islands is less than Western Sydney (which is in massive growth). What are our priorities?

    • Ads

      why not both!

      • RF

        In my opinion we should be focussing on growing our game nationally irrespective of the merits of Pacific Island nations.

        We have entire states/territories without representation, not to mention gigantic regions/population bases across the nation.

        • Ads

          Fair enough RF. I think the Drua has been great. I also think if someone else is providing funding (Fox or World Rugby) there is no significant downside. None of that means we shouldn’t do something to support western Sydney etc. I just don’t see them as mutually exclusive.

        • RF

          Sorry to keep beating the drum but there is a downside.

          It undermines the integrity of the competition, makes it logistically worse (have we leaned nothing from Super Rugby?) and it costs developing the game nationally, the whole point of the competition.

          It shouldn’t be Western Sydney v Pacific Islands for the next team. It should be Western Sydney v Adelaide, and for every expansion going down through the list of major cities and/or population regions.

          If we were ever in a position where we have grown the game in all of the key strategic areas nationally, which will never happen, only then should we even contemplate these things. Even then I think it would be madness.

          We can assist Pacific Island growth in other ways.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          ‘We can assist Pacific Island growth in other ways.’

          Realistically, such as what ways? Even if we are not the rugby powerhouse we once were, at least we can feel happy with ourselves at a kind decision that will help the extremely talented players of the Pacific Islands who currently lack the opportunities of bigger nations.

        • RF

          We have to help ourselves first. It is a National Rugby Championship, run by Rugby Australia. Our game is on its knees here and we have neglected most of the country.

          It is up to World Rugby and the Pacific Islands themselves. We can reasonably support growing the game there by exposure for the test teams and by including them in whatever continental tournament complements the inevitable replacement for Super Rugby.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          And yet it has worked fine having the Drua in it, and, indeed, given at the rate that NSW are cutting teams we really need more teams in the comp, which will basically have to come from overseas at this point…

    • onlinesideline

      Thats because most of Tonga and Pacific Islands LIVE in Western Sydney.

    • Nutta

      See I have a slightly different take (and I’m sorry at the inherent racism of it)…
      1. Whitey’s love (and pay) seeing Poly teams play. Having them actually adds to the marketability of the comp and puts paying bums on seats and eyes on screens. We need that cash to make it work.
      2. Have the Poly’s play because it lifts the game itself. It’s better footy with them in and our game benefits from it
      3. Have the Poly’s play because it denies players and community to the Mungo’s especially in Melbs, Brissy and Sydney
      4. Have the Poly’s play because it is a good pathway for the benefit of rugby

      See if we were REALLY smart we would have their sides not only in the comp, but also based in Oz as well. Imagine if we had (say) ExPat Tonga based in Brisbane, ExPat Samoa based in Melb and ExPat Fiji in Sydney – or simply Sydney-Polynesia, Brisbane-Polynesia and Melbourne-Polynesia (or similar). Let the players come through the programme developmentally and then once good enough they can declare their national allegiance (Wobbly or Samoa or whatever) but they are using it as a pathway to either get to Super, UK, Japan or Europe or simply to represent their community. Those young fella’s would be bustin’ to represent their communities and their communities would support it almost religiously.

      The footy would be awesome, the feel-good factor would be massive, the costs lower, the marketability higher, the oversight & governance tighter, the real community engagement would be FKN HUGE, the Wobblies would get a handful of talent unearthed every year whilst their homelands would get less exploitative, professional pathways with community support around them, cashflow and exposure for their most valuable export commodities (rugby players to Europe)…

      It’s win win win win! … and the Mungo’s get nuffin …

      • onlinesideline

        Mate that expat Sydney-Samoa concept etc and basing them in OZ (tapping in to expat population) is a brillaint idea, really – but even though they could still choose their national team they wanted to play for, you would think that would absolutely royally piss off Samoa and Tonga. This would be perceved as another example of a snub by the big countries, anotehr attmept to manipulate islanders into volunteering to play for OZ instead of repping for home country. It would send them off the deep end wouldnt you think ?

        • Greg

          I would like the whities to be able to join the teams as well if based in oz.

          Quite apart from anything the thought of having three local Polynesian teams would be terrifying! :-)

        • Nutta

          I confess I am only pillaging/plagiarizing the ideas of London-Irish etc. And even Brand got a game for them – and other than his name he is a long way from either English or Irish! Look all things being equal I am not talking about apartheid rugby so it’s not as though it would be ‘No Whites’ (wouldn’t Rosa Parks love that one?!). But what I am saying is that these countries want in, we have big communities of them already here that would be 100% solid supporter bases to leverage, it’s a cheaper model with better oversight, it gives the players a fantastic development opportunity whilst still being relatively close to home (than France or UK) and in the bosom of pretty well developed cultural communities, the federal government would love it (funding!) for the community building, World Rugby would love it (funding) for the developmental potential and the oversight… it’s a fkn no-brainer

          But don’t worry – SRU disguised as NSWRU has a plan for one development officer out at Parramatta. That should do it.

      • RF

        No doubt there are many benefits for Pacific Islanders and people of their descent here in Australia.

        I just don’t see a place in a National Tournament for these sides ahead of locations domestically.

        However, ex-pat teams based in Australia, I am totally on board with that. Why not.

      • Brisneyland Local

        Love your work!

  • onlinesideline

    Just a small point: With this Lomax guy being included in the darkness squad and if memory serves me correctly an ex Waratah dude also being included and Pete Samu being picked by Crusaders, THE, top team sincce rugby began, makes you wonder, who is in charge of idenitfying these blokes as keepers or not. Umm do we really not have the cattle ?

  • HK Red

    So Thorn rejected Gill coming back to the Reds because he’s from a previous generation of players and he wants a clean slate. Has he lost his mind?

    • onlinesideline

      That thinking would go a long way to explaining QC actaually. Which I always thought was the true reason. BT just wanted a clean slate with no 2011 influence. (Probably coz they beat him in the final – hahaha)

      • HK Red

        Yeah maybe, but Gill was straight out of school in 2011 in his first year with the Reds. Why you would turn down someone of Gill’s calibre and dedication, an absolute team man…….beggars belief.

        • onlinesideline

          Mate, It does beggar belief, I agree with you 1000% percent. Let him go the rebels and let cards fall where they fall come rebs v reds. Reds going to get absolutely belted.

          Is that actually fact though BT being not interested ?

      • Funk

        Higgers was in the 2011 team???

    • John Miller

      Where was this quoted HKR? Very disappointed if correct.

      • HK Red

        Was in a Wayne Smith article in The Australian…….”reports that another Wallabies openside flanker, Liam Gill, is planning a return from Lyon appear to be wildly premature.”……..”it is understood he has been shopped around the Australian Super Rugby franchises, two of whom are understood to have shown considerable interest. Curiously, the Reds are not one of them”…….”it is not money that appears to be deterring Gill’s former side from chasing him. Rather, it appears to be a case of Thorn wanting to build his own team from the ground up and 26-year-old Gill,” …….”regarded as being of an earlier generation.”

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          That is very short sighted by Thorn if it is true.

        • Greg

          You hear of various teams having a no-DH policy.

          Is the coach in scope?

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Thorn = more stubborn and perhaps even more single-minded than even Cheika.

          That must mean it is the Rebels and the Waratahs as the Brumbies filled their last squad spot today.

        • RF

          I can understand (not necessarily agree) with his positions on Slipper, Hunt and Cooper, this makes no sense though. And encourages me to reconsider my opinion on the exodus of the other 3.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          Huh…. You “understand” with his position on slipper, hunt and QUADE…. .. why are you throwing QUADE in with them? Seems odd. ..

        • RF

          Because he is one of the players cast off by Brad Thorn. Bizarre that you find it odd.

        • idiot savant

          Weren’t Lucas, Lance and Toua signed last year from ‘a previous generation’? Come to think of it, isn’t Jim McKay from a previous generation of coaches?

        • HK Red

          Lance was FB in that same 2011 Super Final, where Gill came off the bench. Did Lucas play much this year? I don’t recall seeing a lot of him, but anyway he didn’t start at the Reds until 2014, so would Thorn have played against him?

        • Who?

          But McKay’s an RA appointment, not a QRU appointment. And certainly not a Thorn appointment.

        • idiot savant

          How did Thorn allow that to happen? It might ironically turn out to be Thorn’s best move!

        • John Miller

          Well, I hope the Rebels are amongst the 2 in the running. They are assembling some sort of squad for next season. From the same publication today:

          “It is understood that Bordeaux-based Wallabies flanker Luke Jones will be announced today as the Melbourne Rebels latest signing. Jones, 27, is joining the Rebels next season in a bid to secure World Cup selection. He has already played three Tests, one against France in Melbourne for coach Ewen McKenzie, the others against Ireland and England. All were in 2014.

          “His recruitment is yet another indication of Rebels’ coach Dave Wessels appeal as a player magnet. The Melbourne side is fast resembling a Wallabies team, with players such as Matt Toomua, Isi Naisarini and, almost certainly, Quade Cooper voting with their feet to join an already powerful squad.”

          Can’t wait to see the Rebels/Reds match.

        • sambo6

          I’m not sure how accurate that Wayne Smith report is…either that, or Thorn is wildly inconsistent in applciation of his mantras….

          1) Higgers was from 2011 team, and he’s Thorn’s skipper of choice
          2) As was Slipper, who he was happy to pick before the drug issues emerged
          3) As was Jono Lance
          4) Jim McKay was definitley from the ‘previous generation’. I know people will say it was a RA appointment, but if Thorn’s stubbornness on the QC issue is any guide, then one would think if he didnt want mcKay, then he would have made sure he didnt.
          5) George Smith is from about 17 generations ago
          6) I wonder what ‘the Lord’ thought of George Smith’s 3 weeks in jail at teh start of the year. Clearly he was less worried about it than whetever QC did.

          So either a lot of the chat flying around about thorn is bullsh!t, or the guy just basically picks people he likes…..which to be fair is every coaches prerogative…as long as he lives and dies by his results. So given most of us dont agree with some of his key calls, if results dont improve massively this year, then I’d say players start to stop playing for him, starting leaving, and he’s then in trouble…..

        • HK Red

          Well summed up Sambo6 and I totally agree. Both Cheika and Thorn have been less than forthcoming with sensible reasoning around their selections and I think it does very much just come down to people they like and won’t be challenged by. 2019 will be an interesting year, I feel for the wrong reasons. Go the Rebels!

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Where’s that from?

    • Brisneyland Local

      Yeah I got word on this yesterday. Thorn will not take anyone that hasnt come in via his Qld Country or U’20″s side. Or not specifically hand picked by him. Then you are not in the game. He wants his people, shaped by him, in his culture. This is starting to get a lot of people offside in the Qld Rugby world.
      I can understand potentially not wanting QC, but rejecting Genia, and now Liam “fucking’ Gill is a step too far.

      • HK Red

        Yeah, QC I can get my head around, but Genia and now LFG?!?!? Think I’m gonna have to change my handle to “HKReb” and watch them from now on.

        • Brisneyland Local

          7. Gill
          9. Genia
          10 QC
          15. DHP
          That looks impressive.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Don’t forget Toomua coming in at the end of the season when it matters

        • Brisneyland Local

          Yeah for got that.
          This Aussie team may beat a kiwi team or two in SR next year hopefully.

      • Damo

        Fox don’t seem to replay many of Lyon’s games but there are plenty of yTube highlights. Gill is playing seriously high quality, mature rugby. He is at just about every breakdown, rock solid in D, plenty of ball carries, scores tries and has been captain on a number of occasions. This, in a team that was semi finalist in last year’s Top 14 and are sitting 3rd this year. Actually why the fuck does he want to come home to try and find a place in rugby environment where our so called elite coaches don’t want him. Stay there mate.

        • Brisneyland Local

          The only thing that disappoints me is I would love to see LFG carve it up in Gold.
          But I absolutely agree with your sentiment.

        • Custard Taht

          Well he might…..I am not sure if Cheika has tried a 3 Openside flanker backrow……

        • Who?

          Surely he’s tried Hooper/Pocock/McMahon at some point?!

        • Brisneyland Local

          Mate you are on fire today!

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Agree. Keep on the rise and come back when Cheika moves onafter not geting out of the pool next year

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        That’s friggen weird. And all for a invisible friend

        • Brisneyland Local

          My invisable friends is better than yours.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          The start of most wars throughout history

        • Brisneyland Local

          Unfortunately yes!

      • Custard Taht

        Guys, you need to stopped getting your undies in a twist over the Wallabies and Australian super coaches selection policies.

        In this case, signing Liam Gill would be a clear breach of Thorn’s “No Liam’s policy” as they already have Liam Wright in the squad……so move along people, nothing to see here.

        • Who?

          So close to right!!! It’s not a ‘No Liams’ policy, it’s a ‘one Liam’ policy. :-P

        • Brisneyland Local

          Pure gold

      • Custard Taht

        I guess he has no aspirations above being the QLD Reds coach.

        • Who?

          Ooh, great point. Can you imagine a national coach who constantly went back to his province for all his key selections?! That’d see nothing but constant complaining! :-P

        • Brisneyland Local

          True

      • Who?

        Wasn’t Genia before Thorn was head coach? And back when they had Frisby/Tuttle/Sorovi on the books already..?
        I’m definitely concerned about the others (QC, Frisby, Vanzati, Hunt, Slipper, LFG), but just trying to stay fair and balanced here. :-)

        • Brisneyland Local

          Thorn was assistant COach, and already slated to take over as Head Coach. As Nick Stiles was severly on the nose.

      • GO THE Q REDS

        Yeah so is he trying to build QLD culture or BRAD Thorn culture? How on earth could you block Liam gill. What a donkey.. .

    • Human

      There is pig-headed and then there is really pig-headed.

      • HK Red

        Thorn clearly believes his experiment to show that desire and hard-work will get you results, is going to be a major success. It worked for him, why won’t it work for everything???? He was a fantastic player, a true workhorse in a reasonably limited position. For a team to succeed he also needs to be able to coach strategy, identify skills deficiencies, identify and develop talent, pick players in the correct positions, have a conveyor belt of old experienced heads and younger eager bucks ready to learn. Graft alone will not do it and sadly I think we’re staring down the barrel of another lost 3-4 years at The Reds.

        • John Miller

          Sounds remarkable similar to the modus operandi of our current National Coach. We have already lost several seasons and numerous players to the regime.

    • PJ

      Was just having a chat with a fella i know who is very tight with a number of Reds players including QC. All is not well within the team a lot of them can not stand BT and his “preaching” a few of them think BT should remember what he was like before he found the lord. They also can not stand Sam Cordingley. I expect the Reds to finish wooden spooners next yr.

      • HK Red

        Given the personalities involved I can absolutely understand that, but I don’t blame any of them, they’re doing their job according to who they are. This debacle is for the board and admin to sort out……..I’m not holding my breath.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Ouch. That’s not good

      • Happyman

        Mate if you follow QC’s Insta you would have seen that the QC highlight where he keeps the ball in slides out picks it up and flick passes behind his back to a team mate is commented on by Luckan Tui. He just tags @redsrugby. Says it all really.

      • Custard Taht

        Number 1 rule in people managment….if you can’t change the people, change the people.

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