Wednesday's Rugby News - Green and Gold Rugby

Wednesday’s Rugby News

Wednesday’s Rugby News

Wednesday’s Rugby News sees a whole bunch of stats, the Waratahs preparing for the Dunlop clash, the Brumbies and Reds talking improvements, and a big achievement for New Zealand Womens Rugby.

The Stats Don’t Lie

Happy Rebels Harris and Neville congratulate Debreczeni

Well, here’s a funny thing. Four rounds in, and we’re getting analysis reports.

Analysis group Rugby Vision have released some pretty interesting stats about Super Rugby 2018. I don’t actually know how the hell they calculate these results (or that they might be jumping the gun on this whole thing), but they seem pretty accurate. And it’s pretty obvious who is dominating the Aussie conference.

In what is some pretty poor numbers all around for the Aussie Conference, the Rebels have a given a whopping 61.9% chance of topping the Aussie conference, and a 77% chance of making their debut finals appearance. The website also believes that they could go even further, giving them a 29.2% chance of making the semi-finals.

The next best performer was the Waratahs, being given a 20.4% chance of topping the conference, and a 39% chance of playing finals footy.

These stats really pale in comparison to the New Zealand conference, with four teams being given over an 80% chance of playing finals footy, and two more teams being given a seventy per cent chance of making it to the semi-finals.

The only other strong performer is, unsurprisingly, the Lions. They stand as the only team higher than the Rebels that will be guaranteed to top the Saffa conference, with 87.4% chance.

They are also the team that is being given the third highest rating of walking away with the trophy this year, with a 22.1% chance. The Crusaders are second (26.8%), which leaves the Hurricanes (28.4%) as Rugby Vision’s pick to walk away with the goods.

The Rebels meanwhile, have been given a measly 1.3% of winning the competition. But it could be worse. You could be the Sunwolves, and be given an 85.9% of picking up the wooden spoon.

You can check out the stats here for every team.

Judgement Day

Michael Hooper switches on the afterburners.

Michael Hooper switches on the afterburners.

With the Brumbies, Reds and Sunwolves sent to the slaughterhouse by a ruthless Rebels outfit, that leaves only one team left for them to beat to complete a clean sweep of the Aussie conference.

The Waratahs will be hosting the Rebels this weekend, and the hosts more than aware of the efficiency of this Rebels side when it comes to beating their opponents.

They have been having plenty of troubles of their own as well, with their scrum being demolished in their 38-28 loss to the Jaguares last week. Daryl Gibson also believes that a lack of energy in defence was a contributing factor.

Add to this that Ned Hanigan has been ruled out with a shoulder injury, and also that the squad will have reduced workloads this week following their two week tour, giving them less time to figure out a game plan.

But, with Wallabies pair Sekope Kepu and Rob Simmons returning, there is some hope that maybe, just maybe, the Tahs can spring an upset.

“[Defence] is one of the things we will be addressing, what was a real strength of ours in the first two games, getting back to something close to that quality of defence,” Gibson said to 

Gibson believes that the Tahs will need to shut down the likes of Will Genia and Amanaki Mafi, who have been the most important players for the Rebels this year.

“(How we) reduce their effectiveness is a large part in how you win the game,” he explained.

“They’re playing really sound football, and really taking their opportunities in each of their games.

“We’ve just completed the toughest part of our year so we’re looking forward to just seeing where we stack up.

“That, for me, is the most interesting part of the game.”

Searching for the Spark

Christian Lealiifano

Christian Lealiifano

It’s not only the Waratahs who will be searching for a spark to reunite their season.

The Brumbies have had a frustrating fortnight, with losses against the Reds and the Rebels. Quite a few fans (including myself), have begun to question exactly what the hell is going on down in Canberra.

Assistant coach Peter Hewat admitted that the last few weeks haven’t been good for the team, and called for the team to lift their enthusiasm for their upcoming first home match of the season against the Shorkies.

“I think we were down on energy against the Reds and probably again on Friday night,” Hewat said on Tuesday. 

“I think we started the game well but we lost a little bit of spark through the last 20 of both halves, really.

“Whether that’s fatigue or the travel we’ve done, we’ve got some things there that we are working on and adjusting.

“That’s something that we are looking to get into our game – some enthusiasm and some spark – it’s a mindset thing.

“It’s really pleasing to be home this week… but that’s been no excuse in terms of our performances.

“We have shown in patches what we are looking to do but we need to now just get a more consistent performance and getting those passages of play over 80 minutes of rugby.”

Meanwhile, the Reds have had the exact opposite in terms of results, with two gritty wins on the trot for the first time since 2014.

After earning his fiftieth cap on the weekend, Chris Feauai-Sautia made it clear that the Reds focus will be on building momentum for their two match tour. They have a tough assignment on their hands in Buenos Aires, but are determined to not suffer the same fate as the Tahs. Following that will be an equally crucial match against the Stormers in Cape Town.

“You start playing with happiness and enjoy your footy,” said Sautia to 

“We want to continue that momentum on tour.

“We have two big games – one in Argentina before going to Cape Town to play the Stormers.

“We have the belief and it’s there for us to take.”

Personally, I reckon it’s a very doable assignment for this Reds outfit to at least get one win on the road. They have the talent and a much stronger forward pack, so anything is possible. Touch wood.

History is Made

Sydney 7s Australian Women celebrate the men

Twenty-three years ago, the men’s game was professionalised. So while it’s annoying it’s taken this long for the equivalent to happen to the female game, I am viewing it in a more ‘better-late-than-never’ frame of mind.

In a first for Womens Rugby, the NZRU will offer their female players permanent, paid contracts to represent their country in rugby.

This comes in the form of thirty, $45,000 contracts for members of the Silver Ferns outfit, including maternity leave entitlements to encourage players to return to the game, and full access to medical and life insurance.

Womens rugby has made progress towards professional payments in the past, with the English Womens’ team receiving payments up until last years Womens World Cup. However, since then the RFU has diverted the funds to Sevens.

There has been progress to the eventual global professionalisation of Womens Rugby, including here in Australia (where, starting this year, our female players will start to receive match payments for representing the Wallaroos).

The Super W has also been another stepping stone for Women’s rugby at home, but it does not yet provide contracts or pays it’s players.

The NZRU’s plan however is the first, fully organised and permanent contract for female players, and hopefully is a sign that global professionalism for Womens Rugby might be on the horizon.

Womens Rugby has seen a real explosion in growth the last few years, with World Rugby reporting a 60% increase in female rugby players since 2013, and an 150% increase in registered female rugby players in that same time period.

To put that in perspective, nearly a quarter of ALL rugby players are now women.

“This is a significant milestone for the women’s XV game,” NZRPA CEO Rob Nichol said to The Guardian. 

“It is a long-term sustainable model that offers genuine pathways and support for female players on and off the field, and that we can build on in the future.

“It signals a very real career path for women’s XV rugby players, one that will allow them to thrive in rugby but most importantly one that will provide an equal focus on helping talented people to achieve engagement and success beyond the game, within their families, communities and chosen careers.

NZRU boss Steve Tew also acknowledged the event, and signalled this as a focus towards the Women’s game receiving structural off-field support.

“The Black Ferns – and the Black Ferns Sevens – have rapidly grown in profile, statue, and relevance on the international stage. This agreement supports them to be the best they can be when wearing the black jersey.

“If we want to support players to continue to give their all, we need to ensure we’re providing the best environment in order for them to perform at their best.”


  • Patrick

    Go NZ! Hopefully we can match them on paying the women in the very near future, because otherwise our ladies will never catch them :(

    Otherwise, go Rebels! Can anyone else see the glaring flaw in Gibbo’s genius plan? (Hint: the Rebels have seven players in front of Genia and Mafi, it’s hard to be sure if the Tahs do).

    • David Creagh

      I would also like to see the Women get paid for their time but I do agree with Andrew Hore, lets get the foundations right first and then move on to professionalism. Cynically, I suspect that this is the Kiwis wanting to maintain their dominance so lets make it a job for the top 30 players to keep one step ahead.

  • Sevenwithasixonmyback

    Jakey Gordon head-to-head with Will Genia will be a thing to watch…
    Go Jakey!

    • John Miller

      We could do far worse than a Genia, Gordon (or Ruru) 1-2 in the Wallabies 23 this season. Pre-injury, Ryan Louwrens was the pick of the Australian halfbacks in 2017 but alas, he is now embedded in 2018 rugby purgatory and will either be a lesser version post-injury, decay from the perception of little competition or have no mandate to represent the Wallabies even if he is still outstanding. Despite Powell’s profile at the Brumbies (and favour from the national coach), I’ve been more impressed in Ruru’s cameos behind Genia. I’d even select Matt Lucas for his fearfully powerful right cross (which absolutely decimated one rather brutish Rebels forward this weekend).

      Alas, if history repeats, the Wallabies will again be anchored with the brain-snap prone, trainer-bullying, sneaker-hating, injured and match-unfit (but clearly training paddock busting) Eastern Sydney Scattergun.

      Regardless, looking forward to the Sanchez-Jake head-to-head this weekend.

      • John Tynan

        haha “Eastern Sydney Scattergun”…

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          That is gold

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        I was hoping Powell would step up this season but last week he was terrible. Snarky comments when he had referee protection and shit passing. He’s lost my support

  • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

    Great to see Woman’s rugby making strides. I watched the Force – Rebels game and can already see a couple of players getting Future Force contracts. If you like to play professionally move West. I am proud to join the Force Foundation

    • Perth girl

      Well said Future Force will be providing 3 or 4 places for women to get the same benefits as the men in the academy. Are there any SR teams giving their women the same opportunity?

    • McWarren

      So do some ladies have a contract or are you predicting it to be the case? I hope they do that would be fantastic.

      • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

        Predicting. As far as I know, none of the ladies are yet in the Future Force yet.

  • Brisneyland Local

    Well fellow GAGR’s it is a bit quiet on here today so I thought I would throw this out there to spark some dicussion. Here are BL’s tips for the next round:

    Chiefs vs Bulls – Chiefs by 7
    Highlanders vs Crusaders – Game of the round. Highlanders by 2.
    Brumbies vs Sharks – Make or break for the Pony’s. Brumbies by 5.
    Stormers vs Blues – This one is hard to pick, but have to give it to the Stormers at home. 5 points.
    Lions vs Sunwolves – Lions by 15.
    Jaguares vs Reds – Reds by 1. Not that confident here but a great scrummagging battle cioming up!
    Waratahs vs Rebels – Rebels by 12 points. Battle of the week front rows on this one.
    Over to you GAGR’s.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Chiefs by 17+
      Want to wait and see the teams first but if the Crusaders injury list stays then Highlanders by 7
      Agreed on Brumbies
      Blues by 5 (country bias)
      Lions by 20+
      Reds by < 12
      Rebels by 15
      I think the Reds will be too intense for the Jaguars and agree the Rebels will be fired up. I think if the Blues carry on from last week they'll take this one as well.

      • Brisneyland Local

        Might have underestimated on the Chiefs.
        Nothing worng with country bias I say old boy!
        Lets see how we go.

    • John Tynan

      Bit like KRL, I’m afraid old mate.
      Add 10 to your Chiefs score
      Agree on injury list, tips it to ‘Landers
      Danger game for Brums, and I’m going for Shorks, I don’t see where the Brums can improve.
      Either Blues from last week turn up and win, or Les Bleu turn up and Stormers win – can’t work out which way I swing on that one
      Lions also 20+ for mine
      With you on Reds though – defintiely <3 for another heart stopping Sunday morning
      Rebels by 3 tries I reckon. Rebs have stronger weak FR.

      • Brisneyland Local

        Yeah might have been a bit light on the chiefs.
        Would love to see the REbs do the Tarts over by 3 tries, but think the Tarts will be playing for their lives.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        The only thing I’ll say for the Brums is that this game has it all on the line so think they’ll step up because they have to. Lose this and their season is gone

  • John Tynan

    Nick, I don’t like to critique the content when I can only barely contribute through the comments section, but I have to point out one glaring inconsistency in your reportage re: the stats.
    Quote 1 ” …but they seem pretty accurate…” quickly followed by Quote 2 “…The next best performer was the Waratahs….”
    While there’s nothing mind blowing about Brums/Reds/Tarts and given they seem hard to split at the moment, (let alone the Pingers), surely one of those statements MUST be wrong?

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      I must admit I don’t see the Tahs as the next best either

    • Para 5:
      “These stats really pale in comparison to the New Zealand conference, with four teams being given over an 80% chance of playing finals footy, and two more teams being given a seventy per cent chance of making it to the semi-finals.”

      Who are the 6th team ?

  • McWarren

    Time to pick a Wallaby team on form so far this year:
    1. JP Nel
    2. Jordan Uelese
    3. Chris Hemsworth
    4. Coleman
    5. Rodda
    6. Cottrell
    7. Korcyk
    8. Holloway
    9. Genia
    10. Debra
    11. Naivalu
    12. Hodge
    13. Kerevi
    14. English
    15. Banks

    Only one person picked out of position I think? Being Tom English.

    Let the games begin!!

    • Hoss

      Was going to do something similar Macca – well played.

      The concept of purely in form is a strong foundation for a weekly GAGR topic / article.

      Interesting conundrum isnt it, form is temporary / class is permanent ? Do you pick class players out of form or honest players in form ? i think i know how the National Selectors lean.

      Not sure on the likes of English, Banks over a Koribete / Sefa or Folau, or Hodge over Beale, but nice problems to have and dare i say some good depth – especially in the locks / loosies. A whole heap of young bucks lining up for 4,5,6,7,& 8.

      My main beef with your team – where is Tongan Thor ? Surely the form prop in Oz ?

      • McWarren

        For the Tongan Thor read Chris Hemsworth. isn’t that Thors real name? Or am i just making shit up. Probably.

        Yep that conundrum seems to only play out on these threads. The national selectors always go with their perceived version of class.

        I’ve always been a Tom English fan. He works hard, has speed and is pretty consistent. I could’ve gone Koribete but I think English and Sefa just edge him at present for consistency. Folau is just isn’t timing it at the moment. Now I didn’t see the Tahs game in Saffa so I might be doing him a disservice.

        Looking forward to seeing Dempsey, Holloway and Hooper in action for the tahs sooner rather than later. With Kepu back and some weight in the seconds the Tahs could have a good pack. Even as a Reds fan I can see the talent in that pack when/if it fires.

        I do love the depth in locks and loosies. It would be nice if for an extended period of the season all eligible locks and loosies were fit and not suspended.

        And lets face it Debra isn’t going to knock Foley, Lealifano or Beale out of the 10 spot in reality. But the kid seems to be enjoying playing outside Sanchez so he makes my form team.

        • Brumby Runner

          JP Nel???? Surely has already been capped for the Saffas. Think you might mean JP Smith.

          When it comes to the front row, you certainly do seem to making things up.

        • McWarren

          Yep you are correct. Well spotted. Though I think Nel is capped for Scotland isn’t he?

        • McWarren

          Front row? again your probably right. I just thought it would be nice to have a front 3 who could hold a scrum up and push forwards. silly me.

        • Funk

          Does anyone even know the Smith’s eligibility? Born in SA moved here in high school, JP played for burmbies then back to the stormers, on to japan and then now for the reds??? That will be a fun one for some one to work out….
          Pretty sure the reds have now also signed Ruan as well.

        • AndrewG

          Their family moved to Queensland in 2006 but JP and Ruan moved back and forth between here and SA at different periods. They wouldn’t have done the 60 consecutive months immediately prior but they might be getting close to the 10 year cumulative residency …

        • Hoss

          Ahhh – i get it Hemsworth / Thor – its pm and i mentally clock off around 11ish – nothing like solid 3 hour days.

        • McWarren

          take it easy Hoss. Its a long season.

        • Brisneyland Local

          Mate you and I have the same work ethic! It’s good to be the King!

        • Hoss

          Heavy sits the crown mate

        • Brisneyland Local

          And as my old boss once said:
          “Always leave your spare capacity at the top!”

      • idiot savant

        National Selectors is singular not plural ill think you’ll find

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Class is permanent mate. Maybe the real question is “Do they have the class needed?”

    • idiot savant

      Nice idea Macca. The number 7 jersey is interesting. I dont think anyone has really excelled in the 3 games so far. I think the best game Ive seen in that number was Cotterell v Reds but that might have been because he had one less forward to play against. Id have Timu at 6 just pipping Timani, though I wouldn’t mind seeing RHP get a run there. Naisarini at 8 for me. Lance at 10. Debra has Genia in rare form to pass it to him, so thats not fair. Beale at 12. English’s form just gets him the nod for 13. Folau for me at 15. Hes not been blessed with opportunities but he strikes like a panther when gets one.

    • Bernie Chan

      Seriously mate…Chris Hemsworth is not a prop…too tall…too good looking for a lock so he must be some seagulling backrower….but never let one’s best position get in the way of selection. And Thor “is mighty…” so can play anywhere he likes.

  • Moz

    If the Tahs want to shut down Amanaki Mafi, they just ned to get a scrum half to punch him in the guts! Drop the big fella!

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Bahahahawahaha. Gold mate

  • Simon

    I suspect the method of calculation for that Rugby Vision thing is calculating Power Rankings to determine the probability of each team winning any individual game, and then running a big Monte Carlo simulation to determine the percentages.

    If so it should be taken with a slight pinch of salt this early in the season, as the Power Rankings are influenced by last season’s results, which for some teams like the Rebels aren’t really relevant.

  • McWarren

    KRL I left reality behind by suggesting the team should be picked on form, so picking players in position is the least of teams shortfallings.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Hahaha true mate

    • McWarren

      Sorry ‘least of my teams shortcomings’.

  • Bay35Pablo

    ““[Defence] is one of the things we will be addressing”
    Yeah! Who’s the bloody defence coach that let that slip?!?!
    Oh wait, Gibbo.
    Here’s hoping that opening 20 minutes vs the Jags will be the only blip this season and we can get back to some of the early form, and hopefully Kepu can bolster the pack.


Die-hard Brumbies/Country Eagles fan now based in Sydney. Author, anthropologist, musician and second-rower trying to kick start a writing career in an increasingly bonkers world...

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