Tuesday’s Rugby News looks at a big move west, The Cheetahs may get shafted, the Pilecki medalist and, Thorn’s big decision.
Western Force Sign TK!!!!
Yes, You read correctly. Tevita Kuridrani is closing up the house and moving across the country to Perth to play for the Force!
It’s the second signing news this week with Kyle Godwin recommitting to the west after a serious tilt by the Waratahs to turn him into an east coast elitist.
Kuridrani is considered a veteran these days but at 29 he has plenty of rugby left in him and for me, leaving the notoriously slow starter out of the Wallaby squad was a big mistake by the new coaching staff.
The Force also secured captain Ian Prior last week and earlier secured the arrival of former Wallabies prop Tom Robertson from the Waratahs
“I played with Kyle Godwin at the Brumbies, so I’m looking forward to playing alongside him again.”
Force coach Tim Sampson was thrilled to announce Kuridrani’s signature.
“We are delighted to have secured a player of his calibre for next season,” Sampson said.
“Tevita is a class player and has contributed immensely to Australian rugby over the years. I remember watching him when he first came onto the scene as a youngster in Brisbane and suspected then he was a player who was going to go all the way.
“It has been a true honour to play for the Brumbies, a club that gave me a chance to play Super Rugby, and to live out my dreams.”
“Leaving my family in Queensland to come to Canberra was difficult, but I can honestly say it was the best decision I ever made.
“I will cherish the memories I’ve made at this club forever, and I just want to thanks everyone who has made my journey with the Brumbies so special, not least the Canberra community who always made we feel at home here.
“While I’m sad to be leaving the club, I feel the time is right for me in my career to have a fresh challenge and I’m excited for my new opportunity with the Western Force.”
Are the Cheetahs Shafted Again?
Back when SANZAAR decided that despite everything they’d told us 18 teams really wasn’t working for them and Australia would ditch one team and South Africa would move on two. After an *cough* extensive *cough* review RA decided to ditch the Force and the SARU found a home for the Cheetahs and the Kings in the Pro14. At the time I thought it was a brilliant idea and wondered why RA didn’t try something similar with Japan. But that’s another story.
Now, with what looks like the end of Super Rugby as we know it the SARU are making noises about moving their four Super Rugby franchises to a revamped Pro16. Yep, you got it. 14 plus four does not equal 16. And that’s because South African rugby wants the Kings and Cheetahs quietly step back and vanish into the hedge like that famous Homer Simpson meme.
According to Netwerk24, the Free State’s class of 1975 has now written to SA Rugby to express their concern about the Cheetahs’ future and to suggest that the national governing body select just three Super Rugby franchises to join the Cheetahs as the four South African representatives in the PRO tournament.
‘If not that, then the Currie Cup has to determine who the four best teams in the country are,’ former lock Ross van Reenen wrote. ‘Or are the other franchises scared of Cheetahs?
‘After the Super Rugby fiasco a few years ago when the Cheetahs were shown the door, the team had to find their own way and had to fight for the opportunity to play in the PRO14. Now they want to take that away from them too?’
‘We strongly feel that the Cheetahs deserve the right to play in the PRO16.’
Tupou Wins Pilecki Medal
Want to know what the most impressive thing Taniela Tupou does?
It’s not his scrummaging, and it’s not the 80-minute efforts, it’s not the running lines or the bullet passes to put wingers away, and it’s not the amazing speed he pumps out of his massive tree trunk legs.
Nope, it’s that he does all that while chewing gum! Seriously, how doesn’t he swallow it every game?
Now, because of some or all of the things mentioned above Tupou has won this years Pilecki medal as voted by his fellow players.
Being chosen by your peers as the best on-field really is a humbling experience and I’m sure Taniela is standing ten feet tall right now.
Crowned the Vodafone Super Rugby AU MVP this season, the frontrower added the Reds’ top award to his list of achievements in 2020 following a Grand Final appearance with Queensland.
The award is named after the late legendary Queensland prop Stan Pilecki – the state’s first centurion.
Tupou polled 302 total votes across 17 games, edging out Queensland captain Liam Wright (204 votes) and Lukhan Salakaia-Loto (188 votes) in third.
Due to Wallabies commitments, the award was presented in the Canberra changerooms last Saturday evening following the Reds’ Grand Final loss to the Brumbies at GIO Stadium.
Reds head coach Brad Thorn said: “Well done to Taniela. This is great recognition for him after a standout season with Queensland.
“To be voted as the best player by your teammates is an honour valued most in a team.
“In my opinion, Taniela is a world-class tighthead. He outclassed his opponents this year with some dominant scrummaging. What he does on the field is freakish at times for someone his size. He’s got a damaging combination of both power and skill.
“Off the field he is a humble man with a big heart, and as a group, we couldn’t be more proud of his achievement,” said Thorn.
Along with the Pilecki Medal, the Reds presented two other awards, with Harry Wilson named Rookie of the Year and Liam Wright recognised as best displaying the Spirit of the Reds.
Brad Thorn Still Undecided.
Let me start by stating that on the slim chance Mr Thorn is reading this,
Please Don’t go!
Brad Thorn took apart the Reds, stuck in a bit of heart and a little soul and then put them back together again, better in every way except maybe their lineout.
But the big thing is the jobs not really finished yet. The Reds seem to be on the edge of something but they just aren’t there yet and to walk away now might allow the next coach to do a Trump to your Obama. Nekt Minut the affordable care acts gone and heart operations are off the table.
Three more years should do it, Mr Thorne. We’ll crowdfund a lineout guru if that helps?
After the Final loss against the Brumbies, you know that time when you make life changing decisions, Thorn was asked about his future here is what he said.
“I’ve just been worrying about this at the moment,” he said.
“But now that this has come to an end, I’m sure there’ll be chats and what-not going around there.
“But it’s not really something to talk about now, mate. We’ve just come from a pretty big game.”
So not really much of a story actually.