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Tuesday’s Rugby News

Tuesday’s Rugby News

Tuesday’s Rugby News looks at a possible bid for a spot in Super Rugby, Dave Rennie’s plans for the future, Eddie Jones talks rugby, and there’s talk of a crossroad, we all know what happens there.


Japan Might want in too?

Japan during National Anthems

While Australia and New Zealand continue their war of words over the direction rugby will take in the two nations Japan could be ready to take a part of the pie for themselves.

Both countries have created makeshift domestic competitions featuring their respective franchises – and, in Australia’s case, the Western Force – but plans for a cross-border league between the two nations has sparked debate and controversy.

However, Japan Rugby Football Union director Yuichiro Fujii is looking capitalise on the re-structure of Super Rugby as part of his task of strengthening the Brave Blossoms ahead of their 2023 World Cup campaign.

Fujii believes that Japan’s top clubs must compete against the best teams in the Southern Hemisphere if the national side is to enjoy the kind of success they found at last year’s World Cup, where they finished as quarter-finalists for the first time ever.

“It will improve the level and value of the domestic league and gain us international experience,” Fujii said, according to Kyodo News.

Kyodo News said a potential format could see the Top League champions and another squad made up of players from around the league – similar to that of the Sunwolves – take part in a new competition.

Fujii said the July international window would need to be moved to autumn – potentially in place of the Rugby Championship, which has been the subject of being re-scheduled to March and April – to free up room on the calendar for such a league.

“If it’s held in June and July, it wouldn’t overlap with either the Top League or national team activities,” he said.

Rennie Might Leave Early.

Dave Rennie has hinted that he may not stay in his job as Wallabies coach after the 2023 World Cup.

No other Australian coach was available or considered up to the task, with Rennie appointed to lift the Wallabies from their lowly seventh world ranking and help groom a successor.

“I’m not certain,” he told The Australian newspaper Monday when asked if he planned to be around for the 2027 World Cup, which Australia are keen to host.

“The ideal scenario is that the next coach is Australian and there needs to be some thought around that. If there is someone ready to go after the (2023) World Cup, that may be in the best interests of Australian rugby.

“You can’t think too far ahead in this game,” added Rennie, who is on a deal that takes him to the next World Cup.

“I’m fully committed to the (2023) World Cup but what happens beyond that … there has to be an emphasis around identifying and developing other coaches to coach Australia.”

In the meantime, he has been closely following Super Rugby AU, the domestic Australian competition that replaced the southern hemisphere tournament after it was shutdown because of COVID-19 in March.

With three rounds complete, he was impressed with the quality of last weekend’s games, particularly some of the new talent on show such as ACT Brumbies’ centre Noah Lolesio and New South Wales Waratahs’ fly-half Will Harrison.

“There is a lot to like about both these young boys,” he said, adding that “it is a good blend of experienced guys who are playing good footy at the moment and some really good kids coming through”.

Fast Eddie Wants Fast Rugby.

Happy Eddie Jones at post-match press-conference.

Eddie Jones lives and breaths rugby so when he talks about speeding up the game and introducing fatigue we should at least listen.

Eddie Jones wants the number of replacements cut, referees to make decisions faster and television match officials to make clear and concise calls quickly to help speed up a game he feels has become too patterned and formatted.

The England head coach, who has returned to the country after spending lockdown in Japan, is concerned the space that used to open up in the final 25 minutes of a match as legs and minds grew weary is no longer a feature of the game.

“We have let fatigue go out of the game,” he says. “Apart from increasing the reserves to eight, we have had to have head-injury assessment, which has slowed the game down; we have had increased TMO involvement and more protocols, and we have encouraged referees to be debaters.

“I was watching a game on the weekend. Five minutes in, a team is defending its goal line and the referee tells the captain he will send the next transgressor to the sin-bin. He says he has to talk to his team. Why do we allow the captain to slow the game down even more?

“We have got to get fatigue back because we need space. Otherwise, we will end up like NFL. I support going down to six replacements and encouraging referees to make a decision and get on with the game. We have to find some way to tidy up the TMO. You only have to watch rugby league in Australia where it is clear and concise: one or two looks and a referee knows if a try can be awarded.”

“A major area is decision-making, especially half-backs and full-back,” he said. “We are seeing too much of an emphasis placed on pattern and formation rugby, taking away from the development of 9s and 10s. You want them to be making decisions and if the balance between contest and continuity keeps on going in the right direction, which we are seeing in the early stages of Super Rugby in New Zealand, they will come to the fore.”

 

Australian Rugby at a crossroads

Stock Photo. Super Rugby ball plus stadium lights

Rugby Australia appears to be getting a little cranky with the latest slight dished out by the New Zealand Rugby Union.

Rugby Australia is hardening its resolve around a five-team Super Rugby future despite New Zealand’s unilateral invitation to contribute as few as two to next year’s competition.

An RA board meeting will on Monday discuss New Zealand Rugby’s Aratipu review, which was released on Friday with a pitch for an eight- or 10-team competition, including its own five sides and a Pasifika team.

later this week RA boss Rob Clarke will take an operational call from his Kiwi counterparts to discuss in more detail the review and what NZR has in mind for the future of the trans-Tasman partnership.

But RA chairman Hamish McLennan said Australia was firm on defending its five-team footprint – the Waratahs, Reds, Rebels, Brumbies and Force – and would continue to explore striking out on its own with an Argentinian, Japanese and South African flavour.

“We’re looking at two plans, one with the Kiwis and one without. The call as I understand it, between [NZR boss] Mark Robinson and Rob [Clarke] was quite perfunctory,” McLennan said.

“It’s pretty obvious to me that we have the chance to build the best professional competition in the world together, with a bit of a twist, so I hope they can seize the opportunity. As countries we are best alone, better together.”

  • ATrain

    A few thoughts

    “A major area is decision-making, especially half-backs and full-back,” he said. “We are seeing too much of an emphasis placed on pattern and formation rugby, taking away from the development of 9s and 10s.” Eddie

    Yeah I agree Eddie but I thought you were one of the driving forces behind the programmed, multi-phased plays, chess style coaching in the first place. Still, if this is just acknowledgement that things have gone too far then that’s cool.

    OK – I don’t personally think we have five teams that can match NZ’s five at the moment but, the way this is shaping, I think I would rather we just looked to merge some of the GRR teams in to give us a 10 team comp of our/SE Asians own. If NZ don’t think we are good enough and want to play hardball then let them go it alone and hopefully we both survive and can come together down the track. It should be NZ’s comp with us invited to participate, it should be a jointly managed effort or we aren’t in it at all.

    Telling your prospective partners, through the media foghorn, that you think they aren’t good enough to play with you hardly seems the best way to build a long term relationship. It’s a bit like walking up to a sheila in a club and saying, “you’re ugly but there’s no-one else here at the moment so I suppose I will dance with you until someone else turns up” (interchange bloke for sheila if that suits you).

    However, I think that much of this is just posturing and negotiating via the media, I personally think a bit of direct and honest discussion out of the way of the media spotlight might be more productive.

    • KwAussie Rugby Lover

      Fuck I hope you’re right mate. I think Aus asking for 5 teams is probably a stretch but I can understand it and I’m not against it. I don’t think having a local competition with GRR would work as the level of play would drop significantly and teams and players would look better than they actually were. I also question what laws you’d use as the wallabies would be forced to play international rules and having players develop skill sets for different laws will have an adverse affect on their play with the international laws.

      • ATrain

        Yes you are probably right. I don’t think all GRR sides are up to standard but maybe 3 of them, with some imports tipped in, might get to a standard that would test us. However your points re: rules are very real considerations. Our blokes would be rushing to scrums and trying to score SUPER TRYs or whatever they call them but running out of gas with 10 minutes to go. It would be less than ideal. I would be tempted (as I have mentioned earlier) to take NZ’s offer if they will allow the 3 sides with the longest history but then also partner with Twiggy to take the Rebels into GRR. Then hopefully, after the next world cup, they might have developed enough so that we could merge GRR into Trans Tasman or take our sides out and into some form of GRR.

        • Running to scrums a reflex… I’m sure most fwds wouldn’t need convincing to walk instead?

          “Power” Try.
          Came out of the same shitbucket as “Super” Time.
          Corny and annoying, maybe.
          I don’t like the terminology in the slightest, though I guess some do.

          I do however like its purpose, running the ball out of the 22, instead of constant no-thought exit kicks.

          The idea isn’t to do it all the time, but deciding when to run or when to kick.
          Take a chance when it appears and be rewarded..

          One of the things that “Safe” Oz rugby stopped doing a long time ago.

        • Perth girl

          Have you discussed this with Matt Hodgson who is director of rugby for GRR? It seems to me there are alot if people on different sites saying what Twiggy should do, as for the Rebels coming into GRR, I don’t think so! However we are willing to cherry pick from their team and coaches!

        • ATrain

          If you have Matt’s number I am happy to give him a call.

          Yes it is easy to spend other people’s money and I am sure Twiggy will do whatever he thinks is best for his business and for WA Rugby and that is as it should be.

          However, up until a month ago, he was committed to GRR and, at this stage, hasn’t indicated that it won’t continue. So if GRR is going to continue and if RA agrees to enter and fund a team in GRR under the conditions and aims that GRR has set for all participating teams why wouldn’t Twiggy be interested in it. I am not asking or expecting Twiggy to pay for it but bringing in another Australian team would add depth and interest to the GRR if it is going to continue – a six team competition, IMHO, is a couple of teams short of what I consider a ideal competition structure needs.

          The Force are welcome to cherry pick talent from anywhere they like and while they have made great gains in developing local talent, they still rely on players from the eastern states and overseas – Kiwis, Saffers, US and the pacific islands (like most of the eastern states) – so there is still a fair way to go before the majority of the team could be based on locally developed talent. As far as I am aware you have never had a home grown coach. I remember a former All Blacks coach and a former Qlder, the previous bloke who the Rebels “cherry-picked” was a defensive coach at the Stormers and the Brumbies before being given the head coaching job with the Force and the current one came up through Qld A , Tuggeranong Vikings/Brumbies.

          People have expressed opinions on how RA should spend their money, on who NZ or SA teams should play against etc. It is a comments page. People comment. Why shouldn’t they be free to comment on what happens with the WA team. We are all interested in what we think will be best for Australian Rugby in the long term – at least I am – and I would love to see WA Rugby grow as that is a benefit for all rugby in Australia.

      • Not sure if Id agree with you KArl.

        Point taken, but GRR actually isnt as different as you imagine.
        Faster, and hence more physically demanding isnt a bad thing and the mental reflexes are much the same.
        Think some of the laws are “silly” by all means, but dont overthink it :)

        • KwAussie Rugby Lover

          Yeah fair enough but if you get say a 10 spending all year kicking for a position to help his side and then when he’s fatigued or under pressure making the same kick and getting a different result. I think that’s a real possibility. Although the laws is an issue I think the bigger issue is the low standard of rugby that won’t prepare players to play tests

        • Depends on your interpretation on what is low standard.
          With all the calls for rugby to be more open and flowing, 9/10s to have more control, Fast Eddie Fatigue Syndrome etc etc..
          All valid points which may or may not become the norm.

          If so I guess then any Old School fwds heavy, set piece, pointless kicking players/squads/coaches would be considered low standard?

        • KwAussie Rugby Lover

          Not at all, although I’m not sure NZ or any of the tier 1 teams have played that for a few years now. I’m talking about the individual skill level of the players and the teams in GRR just don’t have the same number of skilled players that is needed to bring players up to a test standard.

        • “I’m not sure NZ or any of the tier 1 teams have played that for a few years”
          Agreed, excepting Oz, though there has been change lately.

          Might be interesting to see how many skilled players return from overseas when positions are open to them locally, not locked down to 4 teams.

    • idiot savant

      If we changed a few eligibility rules it might deliver a higher standard of Australian teams. Why couldn’t we allow 5 imports in each of the Australian sides with some caveats around the halves. And then get the kiwis to allow any of their players playing for Australian sides to be eligible for the All Blacks. Then get one of Wiggsy and Kearnsy’s mates to stump big dollars on a marquee player. It would only reduce our playing stocks by 25 players out of a total squad of 150 or more. And our players learn some tricks, kiwis get a reason to turn up and watch, International broadcasters have an increased interest, broadcasters pay big bucks, top Australian players stay home. Win win.

    • Fast Eddie certainly was behind chess-board rugby, and you can see parts of it still linger – he has preplanned moves for the early part of the game for example – but beyond that, he has largely moved on to systems rather chess.

      He puts two or three plans strategies into players minds for a given part of the pitch and leaves it to them to decide which one best suits the situation, rather than “three to left, one to the right, kick” total control. It’s why England can look so good, from a centre-field ruck on the attacking 22, they can set up in the same way, and depending on what the 9 and 10 see pull out a variety of plays to challenge the defence that’s in front of them, rather than saying “well, the playbook says do this…” However, if you’re good enough to hurry the decision makers, or your defence is good enough to shut down all those options, you can still beat them.

    • Tomthusiasm

      I think RA, after reducing to four teams a year or two ago, and not having a broadcast deal in place, are a bit cheeky to try and sweep these issues under the carpet and demand 5 teams. An 8-team trans-Tasman comp actually seems like a good option to me, even just trial it for next year. Spread the best Aussie players across three teams, like the old days. Even if RA did agree to it, which I doubt they will, can we be sure there will be travel between the two countries by Feb 2021?

  • Nutta

    Morning Cobbers.

    Oz vs NZ – we are better off together. But if NZ want to be pricks then let them go. I was over the Yarpies on that front well and truly years ago and if the Kiwi’s want to be the new Yarpies then piss off now and save the angst. I think they are still pissed (rightly?) over the 2003 administration shenanigans. As-per A-Train I reckon it’s posturing. But this is big boy business now lads so either make a deal or move on.

    Nippon – I am more in favour of team that allow you to play in consistent time-zones. That decreases fatigue on players and keeps it relevant to viewers (so we get better product with more appeal). Japan is a bloody long haul. So is SA and Argentina to be honest. I think the furthest away we want is a team ex Singapore and even then they need an appeal to the viewer. Beyond that the cost and toll it takes on product makes it unsustainable. For me, I would have the 4x Oz and 5x NZ teams, I would base one Polly Team out of NZ and the other two out of Oz (mostly for cost and governance reasons – say one in outer Sydney and one in outer Brisbane). That’s 12 teams. I would also seriously consider a Northern BaaBaa team out of Singapore (for colour and cash). That keeps it all fairly local, tight and manageable but still big enough to have real presence and marketing/sponsorship appeal.

    Fast Eddy – I agree with his sentiment about speeding up the game and reintroducing fatigue. Cutting the bench is good. Reducing the midfield TMO Nuremberg Trials is likewise good. I would put a Referees Discretion limit of (say) approx 20sec to pack a scrum and the team not ready gets short-armed. Do it twice and it goes long-arm. Do it 3rd time and your No9 gets sin-binned. That will stop that shite.

    Dave Rennie talking coaching development? So it really does take a clean-skin outsider to come to Oz and talk sense about coaching development like it’s a revolutionary idea? It reminds me of Big Jake coming to Canberra and (re)introducing the concept of a sound set-piece – good scrum, lineout and driving maul. He was accused of being heretical and undermining Oz Rugby values if I remember correctly. Now, +10yrs later, the embarrassing scrum is gone, we have more No1’s & No3’s than we have competent No9’s & No10’s and the leading try-scorer is a fkn No2?!?!?

    • KwAussie Rugby Lover

      Mate I think both NZ and Aus will be worse off apart than together. I has a similar situation on Saturday, although in lineout setting and did exactly that. After the penalty all of a sudden the lineout setup wasn’t an issue so damn right it works.

    • Cornchips

      Japan is further but in a closer timezone than Perth so I don’t think it’s that much of an issue. I personally think including Japan’s existing clubs would be perfect and making a champions league type of competition. domestic comp > international club comp > international tests

      • Nutta

        You may well be right about time zones. But certainly in terms of product, 8hrs to Singo is better than 10hrs for Tokyo for player maintenance. But I’m thinking more about trying to keep it relevant to an Oz & NZ based audience so it has an impact and generates audience and following here and was mulling if a BaaBaas full of Northerners would get more traction with Oz and NZ audience than Japanese teams would.

  • KwAussie Rugby Lover

    Thanks Sully, I think the biggest obstruction to any decision going forward will be the availability and cost of travel. Bringing in the Japanese or Pacific teams sounds good, and I’d personally love to see them as I think they’d wake a few people up, but is the COVID restrictions going to allow this in 2021? Maybe 2022 is a better timeframe to start looking.

    I’m liking what I hear from Rennie more and more. As he says RA needs to be in the process now of identifying a couple of local coaches who may take his place and putting in a structure that will allow them to gain experience so they can be assessed against the requirements of the job. I also think talk about extending any coach for more than 3 years is fraught with danger unless there is a very clear out clause for both sides. lets face it if there had been a decent out clause we wouldn’t have had to put up with Cheika for at least the last 2 years. Eddie makes a few good points about the amount of time that there is with making decisions, however, what he fails to address is how he has to then accept that there will be the odd mistake and when this happens he needs to not pull the referees down about this. Always makes me laugh how people complain about the referee’s taking too long, but when they think their side has been done poorly it’s all the referees fault. Every player makes mistakes during a game and we need to accept that the referee will as well, especially if we want faster decisions and a quicker game.

    I still hope RA and NZRFU can get together and make something work for both of them. Both countries going alone will only be to the detriment of rugby here and there and it saddens me that there is so much selfish talk. TBH I still blame the media as much as anyone and I just hope there’s some sensible discussions about this.

    • Dally M

      Not sure how you can blame the media when you have the NZRU, the past AB’s coach and the current AB’s coach all giving statements dissing Oz Rugby. Not the best way to open negotiations.

      • Nutta

        Centralised control means centralised messaging?

        • Happyman

          The state media in NZ does not print anything without the OK from the overlords.

          Much like the Kremlin, Beijing and Pyongyang. The NZRU runs the country. So any message has been vetted by the politburo.

        • Yowie

          Some regimes have gulags and camps where political prisoners have their human rights violated, others have paddocks where sheep….

        • KwAussie Rugby Lover

          Nothing wrong with Baaarbara and Meeeerry

      • KwAussie Rugby Lover

        Because the media reported it as though it was the official NZRFU position and it wasn’t and isn’t. It’s just a report with the opinion of those who made it, I doubt very much that anyone in the NZRFU would agree 100% with everything in it and they will be looking a lot wider than the very narrow view of the report. I think both Hansen and Foster were dumb to comment the way they did and a real journalist worth his/her salt would have written a report that said that, instead we get the typical troll journalism we see who deliberately write articles to wind people up because that’s the only way they know how to operate.

        • Dally M

          Robinson has said that the board had reviewed the report and approved a number of key recommendations.

          He then used language that inferred that Oz needed to apply to join and would be considered based on what they could bring – “As well, we will also be working with Rugby Australia to seek expressions of interest from their current Super clubs and other interested parties to join the competition and that work will begin in earnest. We are excited and interested to see what our Australian neighbours will bring to this competition,”

          Then continued the theme rolled out by Hansen & Foster – “We want teams that are competitive and that fans will want to watch go head to head, week in, week out.”

          Can’t blame the media for picking up on that and running with it.

        • KwAussie Rugby Lover

          Yeah but nothing Robinson didn’t specify what those key recommendations were. Sorry but I think the media have been their typical shit stirring selves like they always are. What gets me is the people that know they do this to stir shit up and get a reaction but still react to it as though it’s gospel

      • UTG

        And the NZ players saying it is ‘too physical’ just playing NZ opposition. Obviously, they’ve never seen a game of League before.

        • Yowie

          is that you Eddie? :p

        • idiot savant

          Thats the sell. Kiwis need Aussie teams to take a breather! Chance to play your reserves and keep the A team fresh for kiwis derbies. We just need to get the pitch right.

        • KwAussie Rugby Lover

          The idea that league is so much more physical than rugby is a myth put out by Mungo’s who need something to justify the boring run tackle run tackle run tackle run tackle run tackle and kick bullshit that their game is. Having played both I know they do have the odd big hit but 80% of the game is running back and forwards doing nothing unless the ball comes your way. Constantly hitting a ruck and maul and driving over is much more physical than the odd hit up in League

        • UTG

          I also have experience in both and that stuff about low work-rate in League is simply not true particularly at the professional level. Your dummy-half in League, most comparable to a 9 in Union, can make 50+ tackles per game in the middle. Wingers take the shit hit ups out of a team’s own end.

          I don’t know why the League and Union fanatics need to get into pissing contests about the other game. League is more physically abrasive, Union takes more guile and skill. They’re different games and should be appreciated as such.

        • KwAussie Rugby Lover

          I agree they are different and should be treated as such but I completely disagree that League is somehow tougher and more physical. I mean as soon as they contact each other they stop and restart and only a few of the tackles are actually big hits, most are no bigger than any tackle in rugby.

    • idiot savant

      I think the game in Australia would be better off if we went alone for domestic rugby. Super rugby, where we play kiwi teams all the time, has been a disaster for the growth of the game here. We’ve gone backwards in lock step with the growth of the 5 nation multi team super rugby comp. And last weekend we saw how playing for tribe and to win a gold jersey (rather than to win a super rugby competition) lifted the standards. There is only one catch – money. Broadcasters will pay so little for an Australian only comp that we will lose all our best players overseas. And to think its actually the super rugby competition that has devastated local support which in turn creates low ball offers from broadcasters for local product. Its f****** Catch 22! Wheres the bombardier? I am the bombardier!

      • KwAussie Rugby Lover

        I think it’s a combination of that and the poor performance of the national team. Players in the Super teams have moved backwards, haven’t rectified their deficiencies and still been picked by a clown to play for the Wallabies. There’s a lot that needs fixing and I think the pathways and framework for coaches and administrators is crucial

    • Happyman

      Mate it is interesting a couple of inconvenient truths.

      At the moment they have the better product.

      We have the bigger market.

      It is a case of mutually assured destruction if they go down seperate paths.

      Best course of action is japan, NZ and Aus. The market is already so large.

      My view is run the comp and any player can play for any team and be available for his country. Eg Sam Whitlock plays for Tokyo as an example. .

      It won’t happen but you know it makes sense.

      • KwAussie Rugby Lover

        I’m not so sure it makes sense and can understand the reluctance around it. If I was the AB coach I’d want to have more control over my players than I would get if they were in a team in another country. I couldn’t be sure they’d be getting the same level of training and working on what I want them to work on. Probably able to be overcome but I can understand it

        • Who?

          I don’t see why having freedom of player movement and a universal comp wide salary cap is unattainable.

          Players would sign with their franchise, AND with their national body. Any player who was a national representative the previous year would:
          – be expected to be available for national training camps (an equal number across all teams – say, twice through the season, from Monday lunch through Wednesday lunch?), and
          – be expected to rest the same number of games through the season (12 team comp, 14 round comp (2 byes), miss 1 game in rounds 1-6, miss another game in rounds 7-12, if you miss 2 games in that period through injury, you’re not required to have a rest week).
          That allows equal access to Aussie players in NZ and Kiwi players in Japan. But it also saves coaches from themselves, where last year we had Gibson not resting his Wallabies until the last two rounds (like an imbecile).

          Maintaining the national contracts as well as the franchise contracts means franchises can’t claim sole access to a player, and it means they’re able to pay ‘local’ players significantly less than full market value. An English player in the Trans Tasman Comp wouldn’t receive a top up, so, to contract one, you’re likely paying a lot more as a franchise than you would for an Aussie player of equal market value (because he’d get an RA top up).

          Of course, the likelihood that NZR or RA would consider such an arrangement is low odds…

  • Yowie

    Eddie: “…You only have to watch rugby league in Australia…”

    It took until the penultimate paragraph, but I knew we’d get to Eddie Jones talking-up League. At least some things are constant in these crazy times.

    • Nutta

      The new Alan Jones?

      • Yowie

        Could be. Have we heard Eddie’s views on what Julia Gillard’s dad died from, and how we should respond to Jacinda Ardern talking?

        • Nutta

          As long as Eddie doesn’t bring up shoving socks down throats or hessian sacks in the harbour then no-one needs to die of shame.

  • laurence king

    GAGRs, what would be the possibility of and logistics required regarding the setting up of a stand alone rugby chanel by some cashed up rugby fans and buggering off fox. Then selling some of that to free to air.

    • idiot savant

      Not enough money in it to keep players here. Its the broadcast deals that pay the player salaries, by and large. Thats why we’ve always needed to be part of a bigger comp because there is big money offered for kiwi and Saffa product.

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@Only1Sully

Just another Rugby tragic. Shane "Sully" Sullivan has been in man love with the game since high school in the 70's. He inflicts his passion on family and anyone who will listen. He can't guarantee unbiased opinion but he can tell you the Reds are Awesome! To read non-rugby content head to http://www.onesully.com.au

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