Tuesday’s Rugby News looks at South Africa’s TRC involvement, ANZACS, Wykes at the Tahs and, the Ballymore redevelopment.
SA may not come!
In news out of South Africa… Well when I say news I mean a tweet from an English Journo about South Africa, It seems that the Springboks are undecided about playing in the TRC. Player welfare is the main reason being thrown around and it’s probably fair a fair enough statement.
South Africa have had a much tougher COVID 19 than either Australia or New Zealand have had and their players haven’t had a handy dandy internal competition to keep them fit.
On a side note if South Africa don’t play again do they keep their number one ranking points forever? You know like Australia are reigning Tri-Nations champs… Forever!
Anyway, the Bok would be facing some pretty strong financial pressure to rock up just like every other sporting body in the world right now and it wouldn’t surprise me if they came and just tried to limit the damage to the reputation as much as possible. Adding to their woes is the decision to allow most of their player to work overseas unlike our system where most of the players are locally based.
It doesn’t appear like the Japanese players will be available and there is pressure on the European players to stay there as they try to ram as many games in as possible to raise revenues.
It must be said that there has been no statement from South African Rugby regarding this matter.
But What If They Don’t Come?
If South Africa stay home it will throw the TRC into disarray! Argentina has done the hard yards and been away from home for weeks already in preparation.
Having one team sitting out every week is not going to make broadcasters happy after they were sold a doubleheader every Saturday for six weeks!
But don’t worry I have a cunning plan that could make everything go off without a hitch.
My plan is to revive the ANZACS. Just bear with me for a sec.
Australia and New Zealand are currently carrying huge squads of over 40 players each because of COVID19. What if we pared those back to 30 and feed the rest into a fourth side? What you’d end up with is about a matchday squad which would need supplementing with a few Australians to make up the difference. Australians because of quarantine issues but happy for Kiwis as well if it works.
All of a sudden we have our fourth side and a side for Kiwis and Aussies to get behind!
What do you think?
Waratahs Second Row
NSW have been short on locks for a couple of years now. They managed to pick up Rob Simmons after he was cruelly discarded by the Reds a couple of years ago and he’s played some good rugby while he’ss been there. But now he’s moving onto greener pastures.
Today the Waratahs have announced his replacement with another veteran in Sam Wykes. IMHO Sam is reasonably underrated and will do well in the Waratahs environment but the Tahs still only have one other ‘real’ lock on the books and a couple of very hand 4-6 guys to cover the position.
Originally from Sydney and once a part of the NSW Waratahs Academy, Wykes has come full circle after a playing career that has featured stints both in Australia and Japan.
Part of an end of season tour of the United Kingdom in 2006, Wykes earnt three NSW caps (#1545) making his debut against the Northampton Wanderers.
He would eventually go on to make his Super Rugby debut with the Western Force the following year, making 87 appearances over seven seasons for the Perth-based franchise.
The towering lock then made his way north to Japan, turning out 21 times for the Sunwolves alongside stints with both the Panasonic Wild Knights and Coca Cola Red Sparks in the Top League.
Wykes said he was looking forward to joining the club he trained with in his youth.
“I was here [at the Academy] in my early days and it’s nice to be back and involved in a pretty exciting time for the club,” Wykes said.
“I had one more year left in Japan, but like many others COVID cut that short for me.
“There were opportunities to head back overseas, but the opportunity to return home with my family and be around friends I grew up with for a time in my career made it an easy choice.
If you’ve followed rugby in Queensland for any amount of time you can remember when the Reds played out of Ballymore and probably think it’s a pretty special place. The noise the crowd made every time Ili Tabua, affectionately known as the human skewer, touched the ball, or standing on the hill soaking up the atmosphere, standing at the bar next to Wallaby greats after the game, trying to keep the rain out of your Bundy and watch the footy while your missus dragged you to the stand.
But the Reds moved on to a bigger more accessible stadium and Ballymore fell into disrepair and only gets a mention on the QRU’s financial reports in the red column these days.
But there’s been some good news with the Federal Government and now the Labor party stumping up some cash for the proposed redevelopment. As long as Labor wins the Election due in a couple of weeks.
Of course, this has all happened before with John Howard committing to fund the project just before losing his election and K Rudd knocking it all on the head.
Unless that commitment is mirrored by bipartisan support from the LNP, the long-planned project could remain in limbo, although the public support given by Prime Minister Scott Morrison to the Wallabies of the eve of their epic Bledisloe Cup draw against the All Blacks on Sunday suggests that should not be a major obstacle.
Successive Rugby Australia chairmen and chief executives have made frequent trips to Queensland to lobby for this project which they regard as the biggest and most significant rugby infrastructure program in the country. The existing McLean Stand at Ballymore will be replaced by the $30m high-performance centre although it is expected that the new grandstand will continue to bear the name of the Queensland family which has produced no fewer than seven Wallabies — two of whom captained Australia, Bill McLean and his nephew Paul McLean, the immediate past chairman of Rugby Australia.