Wednesday’s Rugby News looks at the axing of the 2021 Sydney Sevens, the Force out for some sweet revenge, Glen Ella’s plea amid a copyright battle involving the first nations jersey and the Aboriginal flag along with the Reds firing shots at the Brumbies
Sydney Sevens Scrapped
World Rugby has confirmed that the 2021 Sydney Sevens has been cancelled as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
The sevens circuit has been out of action since March, with only six legs played in the 2019-20 season before it was brought to a halt.
Along with this, World Rugby has confirmed that the Hamilton leg has also been canned, with WR CEO Brett Gosper revealing that they will work with their Australian and NZ counterparts in order to establish a series of Oceania events to adequately prepare them for the Olympics.
“We continue to closely monitor the ongoing and dynamic global situation with COVID-19 and the health and wellbeing of the rugby community and the wider public remains sacrosanct,” he said in a statement.
“While it is disappointing not be able to go ahead with the Series events in New Zealand and Australia in January 2021, we are working very hard together with all host organisations, participating unions and other stakeholders to bring a safe, secure and highly impactful return to action as soon as possible and we look forward to returning to Sydney and Hamilton in future.”
RA CEO Rob Clarke admitted that the news was ‘incredibly disappointing’, conceding that it was necessary to ensure the safety of players, staff and fans.
“It is incredibly disappointing that the Sydney Sevens won’t be taking place in 2021. It has fast become one of the most exciting events on the global Rugby calendar and I want to thank World Rugby as well as our Government partner, Destination NSW, for their support and understanding,” Clarke said.
“Rugby Australia and World Rugby have prioritised the health and wellbeing of our players, and our fans, in this decision but we look forward to welcoming everyone back to Sydney in 2022.”
This comes as World Rugby confirms $2.5 million (USD) of funding will be allocated for Olympic qualified programs to help with their development and preparations, with Australia expected to receive approximately $200k (USD).
Revenge is sweet
After effectively ending their Super Rugby stay in 2017, the Force have now the perfect opportunity for a small slice of revenge as they look to prevent the Rebels from qualifying for the finals.
The two teams were locked in a fight for survival when SANZAAR and RA made the call to reduce the number of teams in Super Rugby, with the Force primarily kept alive due to the efforts of Andrew Forest via Global Rapid Rugby.
Having been welcomed back from exile, the Force will be looking for the first win of the season whilst maintaining the Rebels near-decade-long streak without a finals appearance.
With their previous clash against the Melbourne side going down to the wire, centre and USA international Marcel Brache was confident that they could finish on a high if they stick to their gameplay.
“The Rebels have got a good list of players and will have threats all across the park, so we are expecting a strong and formidable pack,” Brache said when speaking to media on Tuesday.
“We will be focused on our processes and what helps us tick over the best, so come Saturday those things will become part of our routine.”
After spending the past couple of months on the road, young back Nick Jooste was confident that the group were primed for a strong performance in their adopted home of the Hunter, where they were based for the opening rounds of the comp.
“The boys were really sharp today at training, there is a lot of motivation for us to finish the season strong,” Jooste believes.
“We are really focused on ourselves this week.
“If we can pull out our best performance, which we have been building up to all competition, it should be enough for us to have a good game and get the result.”
Indigenous jerseys W(H)AMED
With the Reds and Brumbies set to play in their Indigenous kits on Saturday, you may notice something missing from their designs: the Aboriginal flag.
The reason for this is that WAM clothing company currently own the copyright for the design of the flag and have been actively forcing sporting organisations and teams to pay a significant fee to use it.
Most recently, their asking price prevented the AFL from adopting the flag into their ‘Indigenous round’ celebrations.
This has now extended into the Wallabies new First Nations jersey for 2020, where it was revealed by The Herald that the company were asking for a flat fee to use to design, alleged to be a significant ‘six-figure’ sum.
This has angered Wallabies legend Glen Ella, who helped launch the inaugural Indigenous jersey in 2017, telling The Herald that it was ‘disheartening’.
“We’re proud of who we are and we want to represent our country and our people,” Ella said.
“Not being able to use the flag, as I keep saying, is very disheartening.
“It’s been a symbol of Aboriginal people and their struggles for many years. I was there that day and I helped promote the original jumper [in 2017]. It was a historic day.
“To have the then Australian Rugby Union use that on their national jumper – you can’t buy that.”
Ella dismissed the idea that sporting bodies like RA are being selfish by not paying up, believing that it should be common use to help represent and celebrate Aboriginal and Indigenous Australians.
“We’re not trying to make money off it. We just want to represent the people. That’s what it’s there for. To represent the people,” Ella said.
“What else do we use? As Aboriginal and Indigenous people, we need to be able to use that flag.
“I understand that people make a lot of money from selling those type of things but, in terms of the national perspective and Test matches and things like that, you should be able to use the flag.”
The Reds haven’t forgotten their narrow loss to the Brumbies just over a month ago and Wallaby Lukhan Salakaia-Loto believes that the side has a score to settle on Saturday.
The Queenslanders were pipped at the bell thanks to a late Mack Hansen penalty, with the Reds looking to rectify it ahead of the finals.
“It was a pretty gut-wrenching way to go out and lose the game,” Salakaia-Loto said.
“I’m sure we can get one back up on them this week.”
After giving up a soft penalty that cost them an all-important try during the narrow loss, the 23-year-old had some choice words for the officials and winger Tom Wright.
“I hit him too hard or something,” the Wallabies forward said when about the incident.
LSL then decided to target prop Scott Sio after the pair engaged in a bit of back and forth during the contest, claiming “I’ll have to wait until the second half when he comes off the bench behind ‘Slips’ to hear a bit of the chat.”
Despite this, Salakaia-Loto admitted that the Brumbies have earned the right to trash talk as the Reds look to deliver on their immense potential.
“They’ve done it so far, they’re sitting up the top of the ladder, so they’re obviously doing something right…but they’re coming up here now. It’s good that we’re back home in front of our fans,” he said.
“We’re not looking past this week. We’ve got to focus on us and really work hard to get a result this week,
“We’re no longer a team of potential. We’re doing what we say we’re going to do.”