Monday’s Rugby News recaps an exciting round of club rugby, Irae Simone ready to jump at a Wallabies berth, Dave Rennie’s statement over kneeling and David Pocock’s retirement
With the Tri-Nations yet to commence, club rugby across the country stepped up and delivered some cracking encounters.
Starting in Adelaide with the Coopers Premier and it was Southern Suburbs that would nab the minor title, defeating Woodville 51-7 thanks to a Savenaca Ronavuso hat-trick.
In the main event, Brighton would claim the major championship, dominating Old Collegians 43-22.
Josateki Tuilawaki and Jack Jenkins would cross for doubles as Brighton made it two titles in three years.
Heading up to the Queensland for the Premier Rugby preliminary final and it would be Easts that bounced back from a shock loss, overcoming Bond Uni 28-3.
Former Wallaby and captain Ben Mowen led from the front in his final season at the club, scoring the opening try of four as Easts never look fazed despite a lightening streak delaying the contest by 90 minutes.
The Tigers shoot for their first premiership since 2013 when they face Uni of Queensland on Sunday.
Finishing in Sydney with the Shute Shield, minor premiers Gordon booked their spot in the Grand Final for the first time in 22 years after overcoming Easts 28-10.
Despite trailing 10-3 with 30 minutes to go, flyhalf Rodney Iona would steer them over the line as he set up three tries.
They will face Eastwood in the decider, who delivered one of the great finals matches as they overcame Norths 12-9 in wet and wild conditions.
The match headed into extra-time as neither team could be separate after 80 minutes, with Norths flyhalf Angus Sinclair missing a kick in the 98th minute that would’ve sealed their path as the highest-ranked side.
Irae ready to go
Brumbies centre Irae Simone is ready to step into the Wallabies set up if called upon by Dave Rennie after Matt Toomua was ruled out with injury.
Simone has bolted into contention as a result of a lack of depth at the inside centre position, with the alternate being blooding young gun Noah Lolesio into flyhalf and shifting James O’Connor.
The 25-year-old was near speechless when asked about potentially debuting for his adopted home country.
“It would be huge…words can’t describe it,” Simone told reporters about a potential debut.
“All the sacrifices you and your family had to go through … it makes you reflect on your journey and that’s what I’m truly grateful for.
“Hopefully I do get the opportunity and it’s something that no one can take away from me if I get the opportunity. It’ll be a memory I won’t forget and hopefully we get the win.
“I train like I’m going to play. My role is get my job right, learn my role, learn my detail, get my shit right and own it. The team stuff will fall into place. Nothing’s been said though. There’s a lot of chat and white noise.”
He’s received some major backing, with former Wallaby Drew Mitchell believing that the Wallabies must stick with picking players in their natural position.
“I think you play players in their position,” Mitchell said.
“For too long we’ve tried to fix things by putting the best players in the XV. Because they can play the position doesn’t mean they should play the position.”
The Wallabies will look at further ways to honour their Indigenous heritage after coach Dave Rennie confirmed that they would not kneel before the third Bledisloe Cup match against the All Blacks.
With the Wallabies set to wear their ‘First Nations’ jersey for the all-important third test match on September 31 at ANZ Stadium, fullback Dane Haylett-Petty hinted that the side would consider taking a knee before the match to recognise the injustices facing Indigenous people.
This caused significant debate across the rugby community, with 1991 World Cup winner and Aboriginal affairs expert Nick Farr-Jones claiming that there was no issue in Australia.
As the squad regroups in the Hunter Valley ahead of the Tri-Nations, Rennie has shut down any suggestions of them kneeling, confirming that the team did not wish to make a political statement whilst wearing the newly designed Indigenous jersey.
Instead, Rennie was hopeful that they could embrace the Indigenous history and culture of Australia heading forward.
“No we won’t,” he told reporters.
“The key thing is, this is about honouring our Indigenous people, we want the focus to be on that.
“We talked about the Indigenous jersey, the group would like to see that represented every week in our Test jersey, not just as a one-off, so I think this is a first step in regard to embracing that part of our history.
“We’ve talked a lot about who we are, and who we represent, and we’ve got a lot of different cultures in our group, but we’ve spent a lot of time talking about past, present and future in regards to our first nations people and this is a great opportunity to honour that next weekend.”
In actual playing-related news, the Wallabies have received a major boost after it was confirmed that flanker Ardie Savea would remain in NZ after the birth of his child.
Meanwhile, they have added Isi Naisarani and Connal McInerney to their squad, with Tom Horton dropping out.
So long, partner
Former Wallabies flanker David Pocock has confirmed that he has retired from all forms of rugby union.
Pocock made the call to walk away from Australian rugby in September last year, opting to take a deal in Japanese rugby after the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
“After retiring from the Brumbies and international rugby in 2019, I have decided to hang up the boots entirely,” Pocock said in a statement to his fans.
“It was a childhood dream to play at a Rugby World Cup and the last 15 years of professional rugby have been an amazing adventure.
“I feel incredibly lucky to have had the opportunities I’ve had and so much support along the way.”
He was set to return to Japan where he was due to play under former Wallabies coach Robbie Deans at Panasonic Wild Knights.
In true Pocock fashion, he will turn his focus towards helping others, launching the Rangelands Restoration Trust to help regenerate nature and land in his home country of Zimbabwe.
“Regenerative agriculture aims to work with nature rather than against it,” he said on the project.
“It can repair degraded land and draw carbon out of the atmosphere while producing great, healthy food and creating more habitat for wildlife in our farming areas.
“The Rangelands Restoration Trust aims to build models of land management that regenerate degraded rangelands, while creating wildlife habitat and improving the prosperity of people who depend on the land for their livelihoods.”
Pocock would make his debut for the Wallabies in 2008, pulling on the green and gold on 83 occasions across his 11-year career.
He also played 112 matches for the Brumbies and Western Force in Super Rugby.