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Wednesday’s Rugby News

Wednesday’s Rugby News

Wednesday’s Rugby News looks at George Gregan’s assessment of the Wallabies World Cup hopes, alternates to the World League, the outcome of Billy Meakes trip to the tribunal and the Brumbies attempting to turn around their second-half woes.


Gregan still believes it’s coming home

HSBC ambassador George Gregan photographed at Blues Point, Sydney, Tuesday 05 July, 2011, by John Donegan for Fast Track.

Whilst many have already ruled out the Wallabies from World Cup contention, Australia’s most capped player George Gregan believes that the side can win the tournament if they manage to curb their inconsistency.

Despite enduring their worst test campaign in 60 years in 2018, Gregan has backed Michael Cheika and the Wallabies to peak at the right time, similar to what they did in 2015 where they made it to the final.

“They do have time in a World Cup year, which is a unique year. It is about getting it right when you get over here,” said Gregan in an interview in Sapporo.

“I just see the margins now, particularly amongst the top eight teams, getting smaller and smaller. They can flip that switch, they have that in them.”

Gregan noted that the side must show considerable improvement during The Rugby Championship if they wish to build confidence for the tournament stating “It’s about getting it right on the day and if you are a little bit off, you are out. That is the Rugby World Cup.”

He pointed to the consistency showed by fellow Pool D opponent Wales, who have won 14 matches in a row which have included winning the Six Nations Grand Slam and victory over Australia (tough to decide which one is more valuable/tougher) as the benchmark for the Wallabies.

“You have a team like Wales, who have won 14 in a row … all the fundamentals of their game are sound and together but the Wallabies team haven’t had that for a while,” said Gregan.

“I think they (Australia) have just been inconsistent, really inconsistent. They have shown glimpses of what they can do”

“You can see parts of their game improving, but they haven’t put it all together at the same time for an extended period and that is what consistent, good teams do.”

Gregan also believes that Cheika and the Wallabies could thrive under the potential tag of being ‘underdogs’ as compared to the likes of New Zealand, Ireland and Wales heading into the tournament.

“We like going to international competitions and especially if the Wallabies are a little bit under the radar then they can go about their work and do a good block of training… then they will think why not?” he said.

Alternate World League proposed

TRC-Wallabies-v-Springboks-Suncorp-5

With the future of the proposed World League on shaky grounds, Rugby Australia is already looking at other alternatives to the controversial competition.

The World League has faced criticism since it was first proposed, with the main concerns arising due to the makeup of the tournament and the potential for relegation/promotion, along with concerns from the players association due to its extensive workload.

Whilst the concept has received praise from Rugby Australia, Chairman Cameron Clyne have revealed talks are already underway with SANZAAR about potential alternatives to the League if it does not receive the green light.

“We’re working with our SANZAAR partners to create new versions of the Rugby Championship with things going forward to the next broadcast cycle which hopefully will mirror that concept and create something that’s a bit more meaningful,” Clyne said.

Whilst the issue of promotion/relegation in the World League seems to be a sticking point for nations such as England, Clyne suggests that the system would be a major part of the Rugby Championship going forward, noting the intrigue and interest that it can provide to the sport.

“We’re pretty flexible…We’re happy to look at any of the concepts”, Clyne said in regards to potential changes to The Rugby Championship.

“Things like promotion and relegation, those sorts of things which I know are difficult concepts but that adds interest to the game…We’re open to any sort of formats.”

Whilst on the expansion of tournaments, Clyne rejected any claims of disdain in the Super Rugby ranks about the switch to a 14 team tournament in 2021, stating that the revised format has been supported by SANZAAR and Australian Super Rugby teams alike.

“The feedback quite clearly is there are potentially greater opportunities and integrity around a 14-team round robin,” he said.

Changes suggested to the tournament would see the hosting rights to the grand final given to the highest bidder, along with the introduction of midweek games during the Rugby Championship.

The format would seek to undertake a franchise model with city-based teams that would implement a ‘marquee player’ pool, which would have no implications on international availability, which would be introduced with themed rounds designed to bring back support for the sport.

Free Billy

I'm just so relieved Billy's Ok (Credit Andrew Handyside for his handiwork)

I’m just so relieved Billy’s Ok (Credit Andrew Handyside)

Rebels centre Billy Meakes has been cleared to play against the Stormers on Friday after the SANZAAR judicial committee issued him with a warning over his dangerous tackle.

Meakes was charged for high contact on a tackle made on centre Jason Emery during last week’s clash with the Sunwolves, which the Rebels were victories 42-15.

He was cited under law 9.13 which states “A player must not tackle an opponent early, late or dangerously. Dangerous tackling includes, but is not limited to, tackling or attempting to tackle an opponent above the line of the shoulders even if the tackle starts below the line of the shoulders.”

However, Meakes was cleared Tuesday evening of any wrongdoing after SANZAAR released a statement confirming that Meakes would only be issued with a warning for a tackle since the point of contact was below Emery’s shoulders.

“The Judicial Committee, however, found that the act of foul play did not meet the Red Card threshold,” the statement read.

“On review of footage not available to the citing commissioner, it was clear the initial point of contact was below the shoulder line with use of the arms in an attempted wrap.”

“The player’s shoulder rose up post the initial contact and may have contacted the neck of the tackled player although footage was inconclusive.”

Meakes was still given a warning for the tackle due to the vulnerability of Emery, who was in the finishing process of kicking when the point of contact was made.

“The action of the Player in tackling a vulnerable opponent at the shoulder line and rising up was dangerous and as a result a Warning would be issued to the Player (under Rule 8.5).”

This will be welcome news for the Rebels, who will look to extend their two-game winning streak against the Stormers on Friday, as Meakes has been in career-best form for the Rebels with many suggesting that his impressive first half to the season has warranted a spot in the Wallabies side for the World Cup.

Brumbies half-time shakeup

Brumbies feels the burn

Brumbies feels the burn

The Brumbies are looking to shake up their half time routine in a bid to rectify their second-half woes.

The side has led at the half time break in 5 out of their 7 Super Rugby matches, however, they have only converted on two of those wins, which has left them 2nd last as opposed to the potential of being 2nd if they had converted each lead.

The side has been outscored 142 to 66 in the second half, epitomised by last week’s performance against the Crusaders, which saw the ACT side lead 7-0 at half time, before crashing to a 36-14 loss.

Their lackadaisical performances in the second half have been noted by backrower Lachlan McCaffrey, who believed that the side has failed to match the intensity that they deliver at the start of games.

“It is something we have talked about. We have tried a few things around halftime but it comes down to our game plan and mentally 1-15 being switched on, and starting fast,” McCaffrey said.

“I think we are starting games really fast but we are not starting that second half with the same intensity. It is something we have addressed and something we are working on.”

The Brumbies are continuing to take positives from the first half of their games, which have shown that they can hang with the top teams of the competitions.

However, they are more keen on learning from their mistakes, particularly the importance of keeping their full allotment of players for 80 minutes, as opposed to the 20 minutes that they spent with 14 against the Crusaders.

“You have to put an 80-minute performance together. They were bringing All Blacks off the bench, who made a pretty big impact in that last 25 minutes and we just didn’t go with them. Playing with 14 men for 20 minutes in the half also didn’t help.”

The Brumbies will welcome back the majority of their Wallabies contingency, most notably captain David Pocock, along with Scott Sio, Rory Arnold and Folau Faingaa for the must-win clash with the Lions on Saturday.

  • Huw Tindall

    Wait what so a player kicking the ball is now ‘vulnerable’ so you the tackle rules are applied differently or something? I don’t get it. There was nothing illegal about Meakes tackle – hit below shoulder height and attempted to wrap. Who gives a toss if the player he tackled was attempting to kick, pass, dummy, step or run it straight.

    • Funk

      Agree, my other issue is “The player’s shoulder rose up post the initial contact and may have contacted the neck of the tackled player although footage was inconclusive.” If it is inconclusive if it even contacted his neck, how can then then claim it was dangerous? Was Dennis Denuto on the judicial committee…”It’s the vibe…”

      • Brumby Runner

        I have a feeling that statement was to cover the Citing Commissioner’s arse. Both the referee and the video ref at the time had a good look at the tackle and judged it to be ok. Why did the CC bring it up again after the game?

        • Brisneyland Local

          Because it is the SANZAAR citing commission. They are the home of bizarre, disjointed and all over the shop!

        • Bernie Chan

          Beat me to it…they are the lead actors in a farce…

    • Dylan Langes

      Thats why I wrote this yesterday:
      “In another saga of SANZAAR review board leaving fans unsure of what deserves a citation or suspension.”
      and
      “Meakes’ case was heard Monday night at 5pm, so stay tuned for another episode of “He’s making it up as he goes along” as brought to you by the SANZAAR Judiciary Committee.”
      No one knows what’s going on with how the determine whats citable or not or what will earn you a suspension.

    • Nutta

      It’s getting dangerously close to the Nic Nattinui stupidity of last year when the AFL in its ultimate wisdom suspended him for tackling a guy who was subsequently hurt. The AFL position was that Nic needed to be mindful of his significant size and weight advantage in those scenarios and thereby established he had a duty of care to de-power his contact accordingly. WTF?!?!

      • Huw Tindall

        I didn’t know about that aerial ping pong case! Ridiculous. For anyone with a legal background it’s an application of the eggshell skull rule from tort law. This of course is entirely inappropriate for a contact sport for all shapes and sizes.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        That’s bullshit. how the fuck are they going to manage that? I can see some smartarse coach putting on a team of under 18’s and then saying they can’t be tackled

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      I remember last year having a coach rage at me over a tackle I let go. As I said to him “a hard tackle that hurts someone isn’t a penalty if the hit is legal, we aren’t playing tiddleywinks!” Not sure he appreciated it much lol

      • Huw Tindall

        It’s not far short of complaining about getting punched in a boxing match.

        Legally all these cases of getting injured during sport were litigated ages ago under the voluntary assumption of risk rule. Basically you know what you are getting yourself in for so can’t complain when that happens. That even includes accidents and the occasional bit of biff!

  • paul

    “We’re pretty flexible…We’re happy to look at any of the concepts”, said Clyne.
    Translation. Were Broke.

    • Huw Tindall

      I’d have said “don’t really have any idea so we can’t narrow down any of the concepts”

    • IIPA

      Declyne really just makes it up as he goes along. Meanwhile admitting that the current rugby championship isn’t very “meaningful” ?!?!

    • RF

      It is cringeworthy.

      It shows no strategy. The prestige of the RC diminished after evolving from the Tri-Nations, with all due respect to Argentina, and would be further diluted with additional teams. It would be good for developing countries no doubt but it would be had for the elite nations and the standing of the game in those.

      Unless… we virtually confine Super Rugby to the b-level tournament it really is and put all of our eggs in the test bucket and have an extended season making that our bread and butter. I doubt that SA will buy into that and I am sceptical over whether NZ would either. The other nations would jump at the chance.

      We’ve been fortunate to have a surplus with large thanks to the Ireland tour which was hugely successful commercially as well as tickets etc and with lower overheads than hosting England. That won’t happen every year and wasn’t a result of genius moves from RC.

  • John Tynan

    Lackadaisical is an underused word, Nathan, but seems applicable to the donkeys this year.

  • Keith Butler

    “with attacking weapons like Gilbert, The Bovine Sprinkler and Dusty, Australia can be contenders in Japan”. So sayeth Jack Tarrant in the Age this morning. With a nice photo of the three amigos in full G&G gear (must be an old photo). Nearly choked on my coffee.

    • OnTheBurst

      Phipps can’t be allowed to board QF25 to Tokyo, and Beale on current form is carrying the training bags at best…

  • Jason

    I really think we need to start considering the attacking player and the position they put themselves in it’s really not Meakes’ fault the kicker was leaning back etc, if the player fakes and runs the ball — we can’t keep putting everything on the defenders we need to consider what the attacking players are doing too especially when you consider most injuries in a tackle situation are on the defender not the attacking player.

    • Dylan Langes

      Its funny you say that because I recently updated my coaching accreditation and all the stuff around concussions is about protecting the attacker not the tackler yet statistics indicate that the tackler is more likely to get concussed, especially when they have to go lower. Emery was leaning back for a kick/pass and left himself exposed to a rush up defence. Im with you Jason at some point you need to protect yourself.
      I recently got tackled when caught the ball in the wrong spot, got cleaned up and popped my shoulder out. My fault for running the wrong line, not the defender for tackling me and me landing awkwardly.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Absolutely mate. Sometimes in a collision sport things hurt. If you don’t like it, go play soccer.

  • RF

    I do agree with GG that we have a chance (if I was to put money on it I would predict a Quarter Final exit at the hands of Eddie Jones after finishing behind Wales in the group, which would constitute a failure)

    But… Australia is blessed with a winning mentality, it comes in handy in Rugby World Cups and athletics (and is absolutely cringeworthy when it comes to soccer and sports where we are in the 3rd world)

    Two possibilities from one extreme to the other which could result in success…

    1) It comes together under Cheika again like in 2015 and we get to the final against a NZ side not at the quality of the ’15 side and one we’ve put a few decent (and horrific) displays against in the current cycle.

    2) The downward spiral continues, the players take over a la Marc Lièvremont in 2011.

    As I said, likely event is a QF exit to England. If we are really bad we have real banana skins in Fiji and Georgia too.

    • laurence king

      I’d have to agree with you there RF. But the Gregan piece was what. Hope? And based on what? We all know that we’ve got the players to run deep into the competition, but that so far is all we’ve got. Hopefully Johnson and Snozz can bring some pressure to bear on Cheika and we get some better selections and have the best players and combinations for a start.

    • Damo19

      RF, if we do happen to get out of our pool, our results and Cheika’s madcap game plans over the last 3 years may mean we are underestimated (rightly) by Eng, Ire, Wales, SA & NZ. With that we may become someone’s QF banana skin. However it won’t happen 3 times and all of our frailties would be exposed in a SF and that will be the end of it.

      • RF

        Aside from England and NZ I don’t think the others should.

        SA obviously will as they are inherently arrogant but Ireland are in a bit of a crisis, don’t think they will take us lightly. Wales know they will need to be on top of their game to beat us.

        England, France or Argentina in the QF. I’d fancy us against the latter 2.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      I worry that it’ll all turn to shit and Fiji beats us so we don’t get out of the pool. I’m pretty sure that won’t happen but it’s my fear that Cheika will take us there.

  • RF

    Looks like we won’t be seeing Israel Folau again

    • Huw Tindall

      He’s Teflon mate! Personally I don’t give a toss what he says or thinks but understand the optics for the sport and such. RA is buggered either way. Take the moral high ground and lose your biggest draw-card, let it go through to the keeper and be accused in the press contributing to discrimination and such. I think they also underestimate the amount of people with religious beliefs who would be equally put out by RA not respecting their beliefs. Front of mind is the PI community who are quite devout. Really who’d want to be a sports administrator! Fucking mess and you wish they’d just shut up and play the game.

      • Andy

        I’m thinking Folau knows exactly what he is doing, especially after the last episode. Which makes me suspicious as to what his agenda is. I mean, he just signed a new 4 year deal knowing that expressing these retarded views publicly would have to put him at loggerheads with RA and will only put that deal in jeopardy. Maybe that’s what he wants? Or am I being too cynical?

        • Huw Tindall

          To what end though? Just signed a new deal and now wants out? I guess he’ll cop a fine or something. Can’t sack him for being religious.

        • Greg

          If he is promoting views that are not aligned with his employer, then surely it is time for him to move on?

          ps – nothing to do with him being able to tackle like a demon and pass both ways.

        • Huw Tindall

          Maybe it can be a like a band split up – they cited ‘personal and creative’ differences before parting ways.

        • Andy

          No, you can’t sack someone for their religion. But you can sack people for breach of contract and if he had something in his contract pertaining to duty of care/not putting divisive material on social media, as has been rumoured then he could find himself in hot water. Will be interesting how the aru play this considering their messaging on such matters in recent years

        • RF

          Was my first thought.

          Gets his nice signing on fee, renewed endorsements with rugby associated brands, and will walk with some sort of compensation for an NDA and sign a big new contract with NRL or a foreign rugby team

      • RF

        With all due respect to the PI population, I don’t think that they will impact RA’s actions. From a commercial perspective it is not an affluent demographic (or the target audience of RA) and not one that RA has willingly shown much interest in at grass-roots.
        I doubt that cutting ties with Folau would do any long term damage with them either.

        • Huw Tindall

          Probably right mate. They’ve ignored Western Sydney to date and thats a large PI population.

      • Who?

        Exactly. Are they gonna sack Thorn and half the Reds..?

        • Huw Tindall

          As business litigatior kind of guy, this is what I’m thinking a

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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