Wednesday's Rugby News - Green and Gold Rugby
Melbourne Rebels

Wednesday’s Rugby News

Wednesday’s Rugby News

Wednesday’s Rugby News looks at the future of The Rugby Championship, the Waratahs injury crisis, the cancellation of the Sevens series and the redevelopment of Ballymore

TRC heading to NZ

Isi Naisarani

Isi Naisarani

The Rugby Championship looks set to be based in NZ as Super Rugby continues to work around the sudden spike of corona cases in Victoria.

According to The Australian, the latest spike in Victoria has left officials worried that it could happen in other states, with Sydney positioned as a possible centre for the tournament before the outbreak.

Couple this with the luxury of full crowds (and those precious gate returns), this makes NZ the ideal host for the event, with Rugby Australia set to approve the move in the coming days.

However, there is still the matter of what to do with the Rebels, who look set to relocate North of the border (not down Mexico way) in order to ensure the competition can commence.

With the Qld Government putting in heavy restrictions in playing teams from Victoria, the Rebels have been spared by a matter of days, with their round two clash to be likely held in NSW, with Manly’s Brookvale Oval the frontrunner.

Whilst this is the last thing that the sport needs on top of possible strike action from the RUPA, Rebels centre Billy Meakes is unfazed, focused on ensuring that rugby can return to the masses from Friday.

“For the majority of the playing squad, that is not something that we are concerned about or are involved in,” said Meakes.

“Regardless of what’s going on, the best thing for rugby in Australia right now is getting rugby back on the pitch, back on the screen, getting fans involved and just getting rugby started again, which is what we all are excited about.

“So that has been the main thing we have been focusing on.

“I don’t know there’s too much concern (right now), I think the overriding emotion is excitement about playing.

“There’s uncertainty around where we’ll be in the coming weeks but one thing that is certain is we’re playing the Brumbies and it’s just super exciting to be back out there playing Super Rugby.”

Wounded Waratahs

Karmichael Hunt grubbers through.

Karmichael Hunt grubbers through.

The Waratahs have been hampered by a host of injuries as they prepare to face off against the Reds on Friday.

In a sign that Michael Cheika’s training regime lives on at the club, Jake Gordon, Karmichael Hunt and Lalakai Foketi will all miss the clash with a hamstring injury.

Prop Tom Robertson is also in doubt as he manages a back injury, with the doctor of Scrumanomics unlikely to play in the season opener.

Assistant coach Chris Whitaker floated a few names who could make Waratahs debuts, with centre Joey Walton expected to slot into the line up whilst U20 Australian representative Ben Donaldson will likely earn a spot on the bench.

At halfback, Whittaker admits that Mitch Short will edge out young gun Michael McDonald for a starting spot in Gordon’s absence, with Ned Hanigan set to return after overcoming concussion symptoms.

Whitaker was pleased with the energy and enthusiasm that was being shown by the rookies as they look to prove themselves on a national stage.

“You can definitely see that lift in enthusiasm when the younger guys are in the run-on team,” Whitaker said.

“They’ve definitely got the enthusiasm [but] I wouldn’t say they’re overconfident.

“They’re quite honest in the areas they need to improve on as well, so they’re not going into the game almost too cocky. They just have a lot of enthusiasm where they just want to compete and they want to win.

“When you see them they’ve just got those combinations together.

“You’ve got guys like Ben Donaldson and Will Harrison who have grown up together and played with each other since they were seven years old. It makes a big difference.”

Sevens comp in heaven

Charlotte Caslick and Georgie Friedrichs

Charlotte Caslick and Georgie Friedrichs

The remainder of the 2019-20 Sevens World Series has been cancelled, with New Zealand awarded the men’s and women’s titles.

The season was forced to be cancelled after six events, with the Singapore and Hong Kong events cancelled along with the English and French legs of the tour.

As the leader in both the men’s and women’s standings when the series was halted, New Zealand was announced as winners of both competitions, with the Australians relegated to 2nd (women) and 4th (men).

“While it is very disappointing for players, fans, organisers and everyone involved to have to cancel these events due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the health and wellbeing of the rugby community and wider society remains the number one priority,” World Rugby CEO Bull Beaumont said.

“These difficult decisions have been taken following detailed consultation with our union partners and in line with advice from the various government and public health agencies around the world, given the global nature of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.

“Congratulations to New Zealand on being awarded both the women’s and men’s Series titles following their outstanding and consistent performances prior to the onset of the pandemic, and to Japan for being crowned champions of the inaugural Challenger Series and securing a core place on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2021.”

Whilst is unclear when the Sevens sides will play again this year, Australia has previously indicated that they hope to set up a trans-Tasman or even Pacific tournament as they look to maintain form/fitness ahead of the 2021 Olympics.

Ballymore Beauty Makeover

Ballymore National Rugby Training Centre - NRTC perspective (credit TVS Architects

The home of Queensland Rugby is set for a major upgrade, with plans reportedly approved for a $30 million makeover of Ballymore.

According to the Courier-Mail, well-placed state government sources have revealed that they will match the $15 million already channelled to the project by the Federal Government to transform the site.

The venue will undergo redevelopment in time for the recently-won 2023 women’s football World Cup but fear not rugby purists, the ground will not shake and the Earth won’t open up as unholy ‘football’ posts grace one of the most spiritual sites in Australian Rugby.

Rather, the venue will be transformed into a multi-purpose high-performance training venue for the event, with the view that it will be promoted as an ideal hockey/inner-city training venue for Brisbane’s 2032 Olympic bid.

Forecasts suggest that it will be a major driver for the city as well, with more than 200 new construction jobs created by the shovel-ready Ballymore redevelopment over a period of 18 months.

The Reds will utilise the new National Rugby Training Centre as their main base and it will be an upgraded home for community rugby, with a brand new boutique venue created that will hold 10-12 thousand fans.

It is also expected that it will become the new national headquarters for women’s rugby, a sevens hub and a winter training base for the Wallabies.

The transformation will turn the site into a much-needed revenue raiser for the Reds and Queensland Rugby, with the historic site costing them $1 million on the balance sheet because of depreciation.

  • Yowie

    The venue will undergo redevelopment in time for the recently-won 2023 women’s football World Cup but fear not rugby purists, the ground will not shake and the Earth won’t open up as unholy ‘football’ posts grace one of the most spiritual sites in Australian Rugby.

    We’ll see. I’ll know the soil is cursed the first time post-2023-soccer that a rugby player rolls on the ground in apparent agony after only light contact.

  • Damo

    Very exciting news for Ballymore. And about time. You can only take 1970’s liniment rubdown “rustic charm” so far. The big question I guess is who is going to run this 21st Century, multi sport, multi income stream venue once it is completed. The QRU ??!!

  • idiot savant

    This is not the best news for the Reds. Somehow I fancy a Tahs side with more next gen is more threatening than the old and busted guard with Beale, Hunt, Robinson et al. Still the Tahs will have Ned. Thats some comfort at least for the Reds.

    With the new breakdown laws I wouldn’t mind seeing the Tahs play two open sides late in the game. Tizzano or Gamble in the 7 jersey with Hooper moving to 6 might just upset the Reds applecart. Hooper always grows a leg for these matches and I expect Demspey to do the same.

    And I look forward to seeing a back three of Maddocks, Ramm, and Marky Mark feeding off Donaldson and Harrison. Im still not sure about Maddocks. There is a fair distance between his good and bad games but so there was with his predecessor. Its time for the Tahs to blood the next gen. They have nothing to lose

    • I was thinking “Ooh, new look Tahs, maybe they’ll find some talent” … then it’s Ned is back from concussion and I shifted to supporting the Reds for this match.

      I have no skin in the game, sorry to those of you that do, and I hope the young Tahs do a good job, but I’m thinking the Reds will still do a number on this year’s Tahs mob.

      • Yowie

        It brings a tear of joy to my eye to hear from such a rusted-on, life-member, all-weather Reds fan.

  • Hoss

    Well, in the famous words of Mr Marvin Gaye – ‘lets get it on’.

    The border is open, the sun is shining and ……….(insert deity here) has graced us once again with Rugby and what better way to get it on then Gods-own v The team from the Queensland Peoples Republic of Queensland. (QPRQ)

    Lets run the rule over the sides.

    1. Angus Bell v The Abattoir – two young bulls go mono-a-mono #battyleofthecattle.

    Two big mobile units. Both show promise at pig-packing (scrums) and both look good in the tight and the loose. A lot to like about the showdown and me thinks we are well placed for depth in gold going forward. Throw in 7A’s, Eric Clapton and The SS and we aren’t half shabby in the big boy department. I am not gay anymore, but the thought of big boofy blokes doing their thing stirs the loins #notthattheirsanythingwrongwiththat. Throw in a change to hooker for Tah’s and injuries to Robertson and it could get messy for the Tahs at scrum time – real messy.

    2. Simmons & Holloway / Hannigan v TBA & TBA #surelyweedgethematlock

    The steady assured hand on Gene and co v the rawness and ambition of largely untested, unknown QPRQ locks – it’s a no-brainer. Our ball will be easy and we will pilfer plenty from the Reds pairing – but what can / will we do with it………#nowfuckingwhat?

    3. The Loosies

    What a line up. Lee Magors, rested, refreshed and raring to go look for Hoops to be BIG. BUT – Wilson, FKA, Scott Young, McReight – what potential, what a unit and here’s where i reckon the reds have a large advantage over gods chosen ones. reds to disrupt, pilfer and generally take control of the hand to hand stuff. Am looking forward to seeing Tizzano in action for Tah’s as well. #redsrunriot

    The Fairies – #whocares

    Experience of JOC2.0 v the Tahs own Pat Healy at 10, the nimble skill of the Reds 9 v the Tah’s rookie (dont even know his name) the size, aggression of Hunter Pastrami – yep, me thinks the QPRQ backs will have a field day. I am however to see Maddocks at 15 and expect a good showing from him. Some time in the role could see him the bolter for Gold 15.

    Overall – well it goes against every natural instinct i have, i mean NSW outshines QPRQ in every facet

    – breeding #downwithcommoners
    – topography #huntervineyards
    – hot premiers #loveyougladys

    But I cant see the Tah’s getting within cooee of the Reds. Reds by 18+


    • Yowie

      Well spotted – we shortened the name recently from Queensland Democratic Peoples Republic of Queenslandistan

      The “hot premiers” race is certainly a close one.

    • idiot savant

      Eric Clapton? Shouldn’t he be JJ Cale?

      Loving your work Hoss but think you may have underestimated the Flock’s locks. Gene has been off the pace for a long time, Holloway is good for ten minutes, and Ned? Well lets be honest if he had been running around with any other franchise he would never have played a single test. I think you’ll find Lukhan and Blythe will have their number #exceptforthelineout

      On the loosie front, Im tipping the Tahs to have the edge because they are quicker. Lee Majors, Sour Mash and the outback town with a lisp to start with the Tizz coming on for dual opensides in the second half. Wright is good but a tad slow. ASY is slow and his future might be in the row. Wilson is a hard working tough bastard but not much of a pilferer and McCrate is quick enough. #tahsbetterfornewrules

      But it is hard to see the Tahs winning and holding enough of their own ball to get it done. Still, if its close with ten to go my money is on the Tahs.

      • Hoss

        Love your optomisim, optomertrism, opthomologism – look, i like what you’re saying ok. There will be energy and vigour from both sides i just cant see the sky blue doing enough with the pill to get over them. I like Maddocks at 15, the Funky Bunch scored something like 26 tries before pig-rooters disease came from some third world shit-hole and curtailed a likely Tah’s SR Champions trophy and i like the kid Ramm on the other wing. I just dont see our piggies getting ascendancy enough for a famous victory – more than happy to be wrong, but i just dont feel it in my waters.

    • idiot savant

      Actually just saw the sides. Tizzano not playing. Harris gets his first start. And he will go Wilson hunting. Tahs bench stronger. Reds going with dual open sides which is a smart play under the new rules. Looking forward to seeing what Walton has got.

    • KwAussie Rugby Lover

      Going to be a pretty good battle mate. Lee Majors needs to get stuck in and lead or it could get messy. Looking forward to seeing Harrison go without Beale coming in and fucking things up and if the QPRQ (love it) can get over the mental hurdle of beating the KCT (Kings Cross Tarts) Rock on

  • Nutta

    My tip on Ballymore is that this all a cover for moving a Mungo team in. I would bet a case the NRL has inside dibs to either approve another licence or move/rebrand the Titans into it after the Womens Soccer WC.

    • Yowie

      The residents of Herston will be delighted to see a Rugby League team set up at Ballymore as well.

Melbourne Rebels

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

More in Melbourne Rebels