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Wednesday’s Rugby News

Wednesday’s Rugby News

Wednesday’s Rugby News looks at a potential revamp to international rugby, the confirmation of a returning Wallaby, Cheika’s plans for his European adventure and a post-World Cup exodus continues for a giant Rebel.


A whole new world (league)

A new competition hopes to bring more meaning and weighting to contests like this

A new competition hopes to bring more meaning and weighting to contests like this

A new World Rugby League has been floated by the major Rugby CEO in the quest to revamp international rugby after the World Cup. The discussions for a new league was high on the agendas as leaders from Tier 1 nations wrapped up a meeting on Tuesday morning at the World Rugby summit in Los Angeles.

The proposed World League concept, which was first mooted by World Rugby deputy chairman Gus Pichot earlier last year, would see a knockout finals format featuring the top nations from the respective northern and southern hemisphere competitions.

It’s not yet known what the outcome of the meeting, with Castle due home in the coming days, but the meeting has the potential to be a watershed moment for international rugby, with World Rugby keen to reduce the number of seemingly random and pointless “friendly” Test matches.

“At the moment 56 per cent of the games in international rugby in the world are friendlies and that’s what we’re looking at and maybe swinging it back towards more meaningful, competitive games and that may be even with interaction between north and south,” World Rugby CEO Brett Gosper told reporters in Sydney in 2018.

“There’s a number of models out there but I think ultimately (north vs south competition) would help add more meaning to a Six Nations or a (Rugby) Championship so it could only be good news for everyone.”

The proposed tournament would be a welcome financial windfall for Southern Hemisphere teams such as Australia, South Africa and New Zealand, which have suffered significant financial downfalls as compared to their Northern counterparts.

The tournament was not expected to interfere with the Super Rugby competition, indicating a September-November timeframe for the tournament, with further discussions about the tournament expected later in the year.

He’s b(aa-c)k

adam ashley cooper waratahs stormers

As we return for the first edition of Wednesday’s Rugby News for 2019, another inevitable return has been confirmed.

Wallabies outside back Adam Ashley-Cooper has finally been confirmed as a Waratah for 2019, signing a one-year base contract to return to the side that he won the 2014 Super Rugby title with.

This move has been in the pipelines for almost half a year and will unlikely come as a surprise to most rugby fans, the only shock being to those like myself who were under the assumption that he had already been signed by the club until he was missing from their confirmed squad list last week.

Ashley-Cooper has become a stalwart of Australian rugby for over a decade, recording his 117th test cap against Italy in November and Daryl Gibson will hope to draw on this experience to help develop and nurture the younger players in the squad.

“Adam’s record speaks for itself and you cannot replace the international experience that he brings to the team. He is an incredibly talented player and a highly respected leader, and I have no doubt that the younger players in the team will benefit from having him in our environment,” Gibson said.

“His contracting supports our plan around managing our players better in 2019 and further creating depth in our squad.”

Ashley-Cooper has returned from the luxuries of €uropean and Japane$e rugby to Australia in the hopes of making his fourth appearance at a Rugby World Cup, attempting to tie the record held by George Gregan.

“The conversation’s always remained very positive with Cheik. Anyone playing Super Rugby this year’s in the shot to make the Rugby World Cup team, that’s why we play the game,” Ashley-Cooper said.

“That’s why I’m returning to Super Rugby because everyone that plays the game wants to compete at the highest level and that’s the Rugby World Cup.”

Ashley-Cooper’s return to Australian rugby is a nice boost to the outside back stock of Australian Rugby and his selection in the Spring Tour squad suggests that he is prime position to return back to Japan in Gold.

His return also makes him one of the few players currently in the Wallaby set up who have played under both Michael Cheika and the newly minted director of Rugby Scott Johnson, who was the assistant coach under John Connolly for Ashley-Cooper’s first World Cup in 2007.

No Cheikpoint with Aussie Scott

When Cheika found out he was going on an European holiday

When Cheika found out he was going on a European holiday

As the Six Nations commences on the weekend, there will be one key observer in Michael Cheika, who will head to Europe to scout out the competition ahead of the World Cup.

Cheika will watch fellow pool C competitor Wales play France in Paris on Friday night, and will then head to Dublin for the Ireland v England blockbuster on Saturday.

The interesting aspect about this trip is that Cheika does not plan to meet with the current Scotland director of rugby and his future boss, Scott Johnson. This comes as Johnson attempts to remain professional within his current role, opting to focus solely on his role with Scotland rugby until the end of the tournament.

Johnson is set to take the role of director of Rugby Australia in mid-March as part of widespread changes within the high-performance structure, which included the appointment of a third selector along with a revamp of Cheika’s support and back-room staff.

Rugby Australia has begun an application process for these positions and has started to call for expressions of interest through its old boys’ union of the Classic Wallaby network.

One of the key figures who has been canvassed for the role is Test legend George Gregan although the 139-Test halfback was not in a position to commit at the time.

Gregan is a figure that has been on the radar of Australian rugby for a considerable amount of time, with Raelene Castle, high-performance boss Ben Whitaker and Cheika himself all previously indicating that they were keen for him to contribute in varying ways to the team’s preparation.

Gregan has one of the smartest brains in rugby union in my opinion and he should be at the top of the list of potential candidates for one of these roles.

Hopefully, despite the strenuous nature and demands of the position, they can find a way to get him involved within the high-performance aspect of Australian rugby.

London Calls for Coleman

Adam Coleman and Michael Hooper warm up

Adam Coleman warming up his hands to catch the big bundle of money he’s set to receive

The World Cup season brings a lot of things with it: excitement as we count the days down like Christmas, the bleating from across the ditch about it being “their” year (which to be fair it probably will be), countless arguments about bolters for the squad.

But one aspect of the season that always comes back to Australian rugby is the consistent brain drain of talent that occurs at the end of the tournament.

It appears we have the first sign of the pre Cup exodus in the year as lock Adam Coleman is reportedly set to follow the big money on offer in €urpoe, with the Rebels captain negotiating with English club London Irish for after the World Cup.

Coleman looks set to join fellow Australians Curtis Rona and the bar bandit Nick Phipps who are both expected to sign for the cashed-up London side under the tutelage of Australian Les Kiss.

Coleman’s expected departure continues the trend similar to what’s being seen in the Amazon, as the deforestation of our tall timber continues at the expense of chasing money with fellow Test second-rowers Rory Arnold and Sam Carter also out the door to €urope at the end of the year.

Arnold will depart the Brumbies for French club Toulouse, while Carter – who has been seemed to have fallen out of favour with Wallabies coach Michael Cheika, believing to be in talks with Irish province Ulster.

This reflects the significant challenge that Rugby Australia face in maintaining their playing stocks as competitions such as the Premiership become increasingly aggressive in the poaching of players after the World Cup on the back of fresh investors pumping in £200m million.

Coleman’s departure, along with his fellow second rowers will leave a massive mark on Australian rugby, whilst providing a (Wallaby) golden opportunity for some of the younger players to shine such as Tom Staniforth, Harry Hockings and Darcy Swain.

  • Huw Tindall

    Quick fire response while I procrastinate:
    – World League = I’ll consider it if it happens every 2 years and acts as world cup qualifier.
    – AAC = for Super Rugby minimum wage it’s the bargain of the Century 117 tests and 2 super titles. Cheap at twice the price.
    – Chek @ 6Nations = who cares if he doesn’t meet Johnson. Nothing they can’t talk about and I’d rather Chek have a squizz at the opposition. Who the third selector is will be very interesting. If Gregan’s commentary is anything to go by he’ll be terrible in the role.
    – Coleman chasing £ = disappointing but he isn’t a Brodie Retalick. Also, it’s right after a world cup so he can bugger off for 2 years to cash up and learn the dark arts up north before coming home in the lead up to RWC2023.

    Back to work :(

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Hey Huw, love that I can start the day with this and build into work. I tend to agree about Gregan not being the one they want. TBH I don’t think anyone will work well with Cheika unless he or she just rubber stamps what Cheika wants. In some ways, despite not liking Cheika at all, I do agree with him on the process around selection. I believe it is the head coaches prerogative to pick the team he or she wants and that they are then held accountable for the results. The thing missing here is any semblance of accountability for Cheika. Putting in a selection panel, especially one where he doesn’t have the final say just provides him with a ready made excuse where he can say he wanted X to play but the selection panel voted for Y and that’s why they lost. I also think Cheika is the sort of guy to use that excuse.

      • Hoss

        “You know how advice is – you only want it if it agrees with what you wanted to do anyways.”

        • Brisneyland Local

          If the facts don’t support your argument…..change the facts!

      • Huw Tindall

        Will be interesting to see how it works with Chek but the panel is part of the setup now so whoever replaces Chek post RWC will have to work with them too!

      • Happyman

        Mate my left field pick for selector would be Justin Harrison. Just come back from Europe and I saw him on Bein Sports as a commentator when we played at Twickers 2018.

        No nonsense no bullshit type of guy who has not been sucking at the tit of RA so has no interest in the status quo.

        PS I think he is also doing the Classic Wallabies replacing Hoiles so has Rugby’s best interests at heart.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          It’ll be interesting to see what the criteria for this is. Of course we’ll never know as RA won’t tell

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Morning Nathan, thanks for this.
    First day back after the Australian Day weekend and I’m so glad I’ve got this to wean my way into work. I’m a bit doubtful about the World league. I think annually is too much and it would devalue the RWC. If it was the year after and the year before and it set the standings for the next cup then I’d agree but I wouldn’t like to see it occur the same year as the RWC.
    I saw the issue in Europe with AAC as someone who thought they were above the rules. It came across to me as very self centred and arrogant and I’m not sure that’s the person we want to bring Australian rugby forward. TBH I’ve never been that impressed with his play and while he has a lot of experience, I’m not sure it’s good experience and that he can offer much positives. I will wait and see but I’m not as positive as some others here.
    Sad to lose Coleman. I think with some decent coaching in Europe he will be a massive player. Him and Arnold seemed to me to be the form locks that could build a Whitelock/Retalick legacy for Australia and I still think poor coaching, mismanagement, inconsistent selection and stupid tactics from the rock show coaching the Wallabies had more to do with his slump in form than anything else.
    The Cheika/Johnson relationship is going to be interesting. Not surprised they won’t meet up and TBF Johnson has got a lot on with 6 Nations starting. But I still think it’s got potential for a rocky time ahead

    • Brumby Runner

      KRL, I agree entirely about Coleman and Arnold. Arnold is another example where imo Cheika has completely mismanaged the situation.

      I must say that I am still a bit bewildered about what role and how much influence Johnson will have over Cheika. There won’t be another test side selected until the shortened RC just before the RWC this year. Hardly time for a three man selection panel to do anything but rubber stamp the team Cheika wants.

      So many posters here have loudly proclaimed that there was insufficient time left before the RWC from the beginning of last year to do anything about Cheika, but the expectation seems to be that Johnson will bring him to heel in, what is it, three or four test matches in the month or so before the RWC? Tell ‘em they’re dreamin’.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Maaaaate They’re dreeaaaaming!

  • Keith Butler

    Interesting news re Adam Coleman. Big loss for The G&G and the Rebels. Two years with a NH club, experience a totally different game, make a few bucks and then recycle back home in time for the next RWC. What’s not to like.

    • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

      It’s annoying, for sure, but with the rise of Rodda and Lukhan he would have needed to show more than he did this past year to stay a first pick.

      And yes, I know he was injured a lot of this year. As I said, a big loss.

  • Brisneyland Local

    Morning oh beloved GAGR’s. I have kwoffee, no EA, and my GAGR column to read and spew forth pearls of wisdom (allegedly) about. BL’s caffeine affected ramblings:
    – I agree with Huw. Every second year and acts as a world cup qualifier. That would be an excellent way to run it. Which guarantees that that will not be what they do.
    – AAC. Here we go. Another chance for AAC to infect another group of players with his arrogance, usurping, mutinous ways. Between him and BEale they should not be allowed near any junior players. Heaven forbid that they can carry on like a bunch of twats too! I would rather have seen the base wage go to some kid that would actually work hard for it.
    – Coleman, sad but inevitable.
    – Cheika / Johnson. SO he gets a free business class trip to Europe. Gets to watch a bunch of games. That in his brain will only confirm (because he is so stupid) that his game plan is far superior. He will not talk to Johnson, who admittedly will be pretty busy at the moment. But hey why start this fight earlier than it has too.
    Over to you GAGR’s!

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Sad isn’t it?

      • Brisneyland Local

        Unfortunately so

    • Hoss

      Off the long run again Big Briz.

      I need to take umbrage with your portrayal of Gilbert.

      I had occasion during the off season to belt out a few Yothu Yindi classics on my Dyson 3000 with KB, a bowl of blow in the corner of the lounge-room and a few scantily clad AAC ‘sister-in-laws’ sprinkled around the house. Sure we took some photos and texted them to our mates with some neanderthal comments attached that lead to massive payouts, end of careers, was captured on video and disseminated to the world and left a trail of human destruction behind him – but he did say sorry – twice (making it 4 times now) – what more do you want ??

      I hope this goes someway to your understanding and on behalf of Gilbert i accept your apology.

      • Huw Tindall

        Your Dyson is two birds one stone – musical accompaniment and nasal assistant

      • Brisneyland Local

        You left out that you were all done for DUI on the drive back, and that you and Gilbert also punched your captain the face a few times.
        But you are right, he did apologise, and we know that that makes it all better.
        Well at least that is what I tell my 9 year old!
        But not even she buys that one anymore.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Bahahahwahahaha can’t wait to see the YouTube clips.

    • Huw Tindall

      $110K or whatever the Super base wage is for 117 tests, 2 super rugby titles, and one disciplinary suspension. That’s value in anyone’s books!! I also understand they’ve made a return on it already with an uptick in female Tahs memberships this week.

      Seriously though AAC is one of the gus who 9/10 times makes the right call under pressure. Is a first rate defender, has a nose for the try line, and can cover many positions. In this Super season with a lot of Wallabies resting he’ll be invaluable for Gibson and the side.

      • Brisneyland Local

        My nephew was on SR base contract and it was $30k. I doubt AAC is on that.
        I don’t doubt his playing ability, but his involvement in player coups, and two suspensions (Dublin incident and latest girls in the room one), still make him a liability. It is his culturally mentality not his capability that I dont like.

        • Huw Tindall

          Was that the full squad? Including match payments and any per diem kinda stuff? Just double checked the articles around the last CBA that RUPA organised with RA and the quote was average player will receive $225K. Sure Izzy and the like will inflate that figure so the median payment will be lower but $30K seems a bit rough!

          Do you really think he’ll undermine Gibson on a 1 year contract? It clashes with his on field record. The two suspensions are pretty meh too if I’m honest. Listening to some pods with older players and they had no written team rules. Just be sensible. I’m not sure how much to read into it. I’m a believer in the old ‘treat them like kids, they’ll act like kids’. Also, the first player coup led to a Brumbies super title and the second a RWC final! Maybe he’s onto something! If he’d been in the Wallabies the last while maybe he’d have shafted Chek and we’d be having a different conversation!

        • Brisneyland Local

          $30k was the base contract. He did receive match payments when selected in the team. Per diem only existed on trips away from Qld. there was no rental assistance, or living allowance etc etc. He wasnt the only one. I met a number of his mates that were on the same contract. It was pretty poor to be honest.
          I dont think he would have shafted Cheik, it was the shafting of Link that got Cheik the job. And AAC a recall to the Wallabies.

        • Happyman

          I am with you BL should be in the same box as Beale never to be picked again.

        • Brisneyland Local

          Concur!

        • Huw Tindall

          It’s little wonder they play league then is it! Even more respect for blokes running around in the 35 man squad now.

        • Brisneyland Local

          Yep. that was my thoughts exactly. I asked my nephew why he didnt play league as they had offered him a $100k starting contract. He said he had never played league in his life, and never would. SO no he is playing in Japan. Earning a motza.
          #respecttothelittleguys

        • Huw Tindall

          Just to round this out AAC is on $85K according to the Telegraph. Happy to know he isn’t diverting inordinate amounts of money from keeping young talent in the country.
          https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/sport/rugby/nsw-waratahs/nsw-waratahs-land-adam-ashleycooper-on-cut-price-deal-for-2019-super-rugby-season/news-story/a38c980907596f12b309831a7079e97a

        • Brisneyland Local

          Yep, agree. Would hate for for a youngster to be missing out.

      • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

        AAC could reasonably be expected to make the right call on defence 9 out of 10 times for most of his career.

        However, by 2015-16 I’m not sure if that was the case: Dane Coles kept scoring tries through him in his last few outings vs the All Blacks.

        He could not be expected to make the right call on attack in the centres simply because his passing game was so limited.

        What he could be counted on in attack at both 13, the wing and fullback was to run and straight and as hard as anyone, and often getting through. However, by 2015-16 he had evidently slowed down a lot, his defence had declined and his passing never really improved.

        Perhaps he is a good buy for the Tahs, but it does stink to me of one of the old boys taking a spot which may be better off going to an up and comer.

        Then there are the huge question marks about his impact on team culture.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Mate I agree. It seems the classic Australian Hype about a single player changing the world is up and running well. I really don’t get this, it’s like comments about get player X or Y, and sometimes both, into the Wallabies and that’ll set them right. When is rugby here going to wake up and realise it’s actually about the team, the training, the skills, the tactics, the culture, the people and the commitment of the whole entity to the goal. Until this happens I’m not sure any changes will actually be effective.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Especially since he’s a grandpa.

          Sexton surely entirely changes Ireland!

        • Huw Tindall

          Fair enough and I understand the doubt over his worth. On balance though I just think it’s an astute investment by Gibson. Dont think he’ll make the Wallabies except maybe as spare utikity back but when guys like Reece Hodge play a utility role I think AAC won’t be pulling on the jersey this year.

  • Bobas

    AAC was elligibal for World Cup selection regardless of playing in super rugby. He just knows it’s easier to be selected in the tah quota.

    That and he was keen for another few Shelbyville nights out with KB.

    • Brisneyland Local

      Even Shelbyville has a Monorail!

      • Bobas

        I thought they closed that place down

        • Brisneyland Local

          Gold!

  • Duncher

    Am I the only one that cannot see a test match as ever being considered a “friendly”? That really shits me! It’s a test match!!!!!

    • Keith Butler

      Reminds me of a story, that happens to be true. Playing a game (back in the UK) against a side celebrating its centenary (or something). There’s been a bit of handbags at 50 paces. We pack down and my TH plants one straight on the nose of his opposite number. “Steady on mate” says the aggrieved LH “ it’s a friendly”. My TH replies in broad Midlands accent “ there’s no such thing as a bloody friendly”.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Ah yes those were the days. No replays on TV, No Assistants to stick their noses in and a bit of old fashioned “Contact Counselling” to help level the field. Now that I’m older and refereeing I’m not so sure I miss them that much

        • Keith Butler

          Ah KWL, a poacher turned gamekeeper as they say. Can’t say that I’d fancy being a ref in today’s game. Too bloody fast for my liking.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          I know. First two things I learnt was 1. How many rules I didn’t know and 2, how much bloody running referees do

        • Brisneyland Local

          And how many lungs they cough up on the sideline!

    • John Tynan

      I was going to say the same thing. Soccer-centric countries like England and Argentina probably see parallels, but a test match is a test match…

Rugby
@NathW1997

Loved rugby since the day I could remember, got the nickname Footy to show that, I watch Matt Dunning's dropkick every night before going to bed

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