Wednesday’s Rugby News sees the Brumbies and Wallabies poach a Chiefs flyer, South Africa and Argentina name their squads, the Steelers keep rolling on and World Rugby continues to grow
Brumby signing enters Wallabies Pulu
The Brumbies have signed exciting Chiefs flyer Toni Pulu on a two-year deal for the 2019 season. This news has been followed by the revelation that Pulu is immediately available for selection in the Wallabies after a dispensation by World Rugby.
The former Chiefs flyer holds an Australian passport and has previously played sevens for Niue — his ancestral home.
But a Rugby Australia spokesman told Fox Sports that World Rugby had cleared the 29-year-old speedster for Wallabies takeoff should coach Michael Cheika wish to select him.
Pulu is considered to be one of the fastest wingers in the game currently, debuting for the Chiefs in 2016 with the coach at the time, Dave Renne, labelling him the fastest man in New Zeland Rugby.
“Quicker than all our players, quicker than Damian (McKenzie) and Brad Weber,” Rennie said. “He ran a 4.78 (seconds) this year over 40 (metres)…There’d be no-one quicker than that in the country.”
Pulu joins fellow New Zealand recruit Pete Samu in returning home (sort of) and he was excited to be joining the Canberra side.
“I am thrilled to be joining the Brumbies and am looking forward to beginning a new stage of my rugby career in Australia,” Pulu said.
“The Brumbies are a well known and well-respected organisation and I have been impressed by what I have seen and heard when playing against them.”
“They are known for their free-flowing rugby and for their unique family culture. I have enjoyed my time with the Chiefs immensely but am very much looking forward to moving to Canberra and settling in with my new club.”
Brumbies coach Dan Mckellar was thrilled with his new acquisition, which will superbly complement the attacking style of football that Mckellar looked to play in 2018.
“With the changes we’re making in our game, and the style we’re looking to play, we’ve got to recruit guys that match that,” McKellar said.
“Toni has genuine speed, but not only that, he’s a natural footballer too, he sees space well, communicates and has an excellent offload game. He’s come from a team which has had a lot of success and play a similar style to the one we want to play so he’s a good fit for us.”
Pulu is an exciting signing for the Brumbies and will fit in perfectly in a lightning back three with Tom Banks and Henry Speight, the latter who earlier in the week confirmed he will join Ulster on a short-term deal until December.
Rivals confirm Rugby Championship squads
Both Argentina and South Africa have announced their preliminary squads for the upcoming Rugby Championship.
Former Wallabies scrum guru Mario Ledesma has stamped his footprint on the Argentinian side, naming 36 men in his debut squad for the Pumas.
Ledesma will be looking to ensure that players carry their form from the Jaguares, who reached the Super Rugby playoffs for the first time in the just-ended season, onto the international stage with the Pumas.
He has included seven uncapped players in his squad, which include Lucas Favre, Marco Ciccioli, Diego Fortuny, Santiago Grondona, Franco Molina and Mayco Vivas.
The side is as followed:
Forwards – Matias Alemanno, Rodrigo Bruni, Marco Ciccioli, Agustin Creevy, Lucas Favre, Diego Fortuny, Santiago Garcia Botta, Santiago Grondona, Marcos Kremer, Ignacio Larrague, Tomas Lavanini, Juan Manuel Leguizamon, Pablo Matera, Vivas Mayco, Santiago Medrano, Franco Molina, Julian Montoya, Javier Ortega Desio, Guido Petti, Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, Juan Zeiss.
Backs – Gonzalo Bertranou, Emiliano Boffelli, Sebastian Cancelliere, Tomas Cubelli, Jeronimo de la Fuente, Bautista Delguy, Joaquin Diaz Bonilla, Bautista Ezcurra, Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, Martin Landajo, Juan Cruz Mallia, Matias Moroni, Ramiro Moyano, Matias Orlando, Nicolas Sanchez.
Rassie Erasmus, South Africa’s Director of Rugby, announced a Springbok squad of 35 players on late Monday.
The side includes the return of second rower (and man-beast) Eben Etzebeth, who returns from a long layoff from a serious shoulder injury that sidelined him for the entire 2018 Super Rugby season.
Etzebeth is joined by the return of serial flopper over the ruck, Malcolm Marx and Warren Whiteley from injury along with the inclusion of three uncapped players in Lions backrower Cyle Brink, along with Stormers flyhalf Damian Willemse, and Bulls loose forward, Marco van Staden.
The Springbok side is below:
Forwards – Cyle Brink, Jean-Luc du Preez, Thomas du Toit, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Eben Etzebeth, Steven Kitshoff, Siya Kolisi, Francois Louw, Wilco Louw, Frans Malherbe, Malcolm Marx, Bongi Mbonambi, Franco Mostert, Tendai Mtawarira, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Marvin Orie, RG Snyman, Akker van der Merwe, Marco van Staden, Warren Whiteley
Backs – Lukhanyo Am, Ross Cronje, Faf de Klerk, Aphiwe Dyantyi, Andre Esterhuizen, Elton Jantjies, Jesse Kriel, Willie le Roux, Makazole Mapimpi, Lionel Mapoe, Lwazi Mvovo, Embrose Papier, Handre Pollard, Ivan van Zyl, Damian Willemse
The two sides start their campaign with a clash against each other in Durban on August 18.
Steelers keep rollin’ in World Championships
The Steelers ended Denmark’s unbeaten run in the top of the table Pool A clash by defeating the Danes 61-49, all but securing their berth in the Semi-Finals.
They raced to 16-12 at quarter time and never relented, leading by 11 tries at halftime which was the narrowest margin for the rest of the contest.
Powerhouse skipper Ryley Batt (30 tries), was again the focal point for the Australian offence, while Chris Bond (15), Andrew Edmondson (8), Jayden Warn (5) and Andrew Harrison (3) also crossed for tries.
Australian head coach Brad Dubberley said that while he was pleased with the win and to end Denmark’s winning streak, he conceded it was far from a flawless display for the defending Paralympic and World Champions.
“It was good to have a game like that because we didn’t want to get to the finals without having a battle and having to work for it,” Dubberley said.
“But I think the frustrating thing was we were probably a bit too slow to get to jobs that we were allocated and the communication on the court wasn’t there to the level we expect.”
It’s awesome to see an Australian rugby side dominate like this and hopefully, they can continue this form when they face both Ireland and Japan today.
Australia and New Zealand dwarfed by Rugby’s global expansion
Rugby has continued its push throughout the globe, with recent survey results indicating that the largest nations around the world are continuing to embrace the sport.
The survey was conducted by Neilson Sport found that there are more rugby union fans in China, Brazil, India and the US than there are people in Australia and New Zealand combined, with one in three of the world’s 800 million rugby union followers are Indian, Chinese, American or Brazilian.
Asia, North America, South America and Africa have the fastest-growing fan-bases with 112.5, 52.8, 38.2 and 32.7 million respectively. Remarkably, India, with a national side far from even contending for a regional rugby title, has 25 million fans, as many as Australia’s entire population.
The top 10 rugby fan nations are now the US, China, India, France, South Africa, Mexico, Brazil, Japan, Italy and Argentina.
The survey showed the average age of rugby fans has fallen two years to 36, indicating the code is successfully attracting younger audiences. Also, more than one in three fans are now women or girls in both traditional and emerging rugby nations.
World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper says the survey shows the broadening global appeal of the sport after the recent addition of a sevens competition at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
“World Rugby is committed to ensuring a thriving, growing, inclusive game that is accessible to all and this research, which demonstrates significant fan growth, reflects a sport that is effective in attracting a new, younger audience in non-traditional rugby nations, despite huge competition for eyeballs and attention,” he said at the Rugby World Cup 2019 trophy tour in Delhi.
“The research also demonstrates that rugby has significant growth potential in both traditional and non-traditional markets … we will use the insight to guide our decision-making and approach to growing fans and participants in rugby globally.”