Welcome, G&GRs, to the news day formerly known as
inferior journalism compared to Mondays to Thursdays Friday’s Goss with some Hass, Hess, Hiss, Huss bloke… maybe the former Australian coach, Dean Rinny will know him? Or the local magistrate in the Hunter may let him out ‘on bail’.
today we have the Tasmanian Yelling at Clouds 2.0, a preview of the SRP semi-finals, Hammer thinking expansion is a good idea among other ‘innovations’, and *gasp* Australian rugby is run by elitist Sydney private schoolboys. Who’da thunk it?
To avoid the confusion of last week, I, Charlie, have written every bit, apart from the “Yelling at Clouds” part, unless I said something I shouldn’t have, in which case blame KARL. Filthy Hobbitses corrupting me. That said, if it was good, then you’re welcome!
Any takers for a one off (or more permanent) Friday Rugby News Day *cough Ally Oz cough* then let Sully know – firstname.lastname@example.org
MEANDERINGS FROM THE TASWEGIAN
Still continuing my role as the Old Man that Shouts at Clouds I offer another piece of the demise of English professional rugby as we know it. It paints a desperate picture of clubs living way beyond their means. Three have already gone to the wall but the big question is how many more will follow. I don’t know enough about the financial structures of our Super franchises but I can’t think they approach this level of financial mismanagement. So let’s get into it.
It’s been kicking around for weeks and the inevitable has occurred, London Irish are toast. Another famous club gone to the wall £30m plus in debt.
The article makes very sombre reading and should be a wake up call to all and sundry. You just cannot, cannot live beyond your means. I find it slightly ironic that club benefactors/owners put millions in and yet still go cap in hand to the RFU for more money and then piss it up the wall spending stupid money on so called marquee players (outside the salary cap) who block the development of young talent. I’m talking to you Bath (Finn Russell) and Leicester (Andre Pollard) . Both earning over £1m. In the case of the Irish they have one of the largest wage bills in the Premiership. You all remember Adam Coleman; left these shores 4 years ago to make his fortune in the Premiership. Well he’s achieved it in spades. Now I know that it isn’t his fault but due to injury he’s appeared in just 39 games in 4 season, not bad when it’s reported to be earning £900k p.a. Value for money, I don’t think so.
So who’s to blame. Clearly the RFU must bear a shed load of responsibility for this debacle. Back in my playing days it was the bastion of English, upper class arrogance and self entitlement. I suppose it was fortunate that at that time, the game was strictly amateur but even as it evolved in the 90s that sense of entitlement remained the same. Will ‘Bum Chin’ Carling coined it beautifully calling them 57 Old Farts. From the outset of professionalism it seems that this epithet hasn’t changed. As to the clubs, for decades the Premiership tail has been wagging the RFU dog to the extent the Premiership has become the be all and end all as far as the RFU is concerned; funding for the 3rd tier, the Championship, is a pittance and below that junior clubs thinking they can follow their professional cousins by buying success are sinking without trace. The article below sums up the situation nicely and yes the PRL must take their share of the blame.
The English premierships Professional Game Agreement is due for renegotiation in 2024. It will be interesting to see what the RFU and PRL come up with, but to quote the old Stranglers song “Something Better Change”.
Keith “Cloud, Cloud, Go Away…. I told ya to fuq off already, Cloudy ba$tard!” Butler
SUPER RUGBY SEMI FINALS 2023
Crusaders v Blues – We have the 2022 grand final rematch in Christchurch on Friday evening. This shapes to be quite the interesting battle. On the one hand, the Saders have never been beaten in any Super Rugby final at home. On the other hand (likely the one with an excess finger of two over there), they have a severely depleted squad. Now, that’s not to say that the Canterbury Production Line isn’t working (rugby gods know it is) but will these players be enough to hold off the Blue Wave? I think not with the Blues by three in a close tussle.
Crusaders (1-15): Tamaiti Williams, Codie Taylor, Oliver Jager, Scott Barrett (c), Quinten Strange, Sione Havili Talitui, Tom Christie, Christian Lio-Willie, Mitchell Drummond, Richie Mo’unga, Leicester Fainga’anuku, Jack Goodhue, Braydon Ennor, Dallas McLeod, Will Jordan
Replacements: Brodie McAlister, Kershawl Sykes-Martin, Reuben O’Neill, Dominic Gardiner, Corey Kellow, Willi Heinz, Fergus Burke, Chay Fihaki
Blues (1-15): Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Ricky Riccitelli, Nepo Laulala, Tom Robinson, James Tucker, Akira Ioane, Dalton Papalii (c), Hoskins Sotutu, Finlay Christie, Beauden Barrett, Caleb Clarke, Bryce Heem, Rieko Ioane, Mark Telea, Zarn Sullivan
Replacements: Kurt Eklund, Jordan Lay, Marcel Renata, Cameron Suafoa, Adrian Choat, Sam Nock, Harry Plummer, Stephen Perofeta
Referee: Angus Gardner (RA)
Chiefs v Brumbies – in another interesting match-up, the undefeated Chiefs A Team (their “B” Team suffered their only loss) come up against a Brumbies side that is rediscovering their groove post-resting policy madness cost them momentum and form. The Chiefs have quality all over the park, with expected big games from Retallick, Taukei’aho, Jacobson and Stevenson. If the Ponies coaches are smart (well, they have a bloke with a PhD, no, that doesn’t mean a pretty huge dick, Yowie), they’ll have looked at the blueprint that the Reds set up last week. Beating the Chiefs is achievable if you can pin them down in their half and make sure DMac doesn’t have room to run sideways. Accordingly, they have selected a monster pack, including the better Hooper at 6, Pawn Star Pistol at 7 and Bobby at 8 and JDeb to likely kick the pigskin back from whence it came. As I have the journalistic liberty: Ponies by five with Luke Reimer scoring under the posts with Sam Cane’s hand not holding the ball up 😁
Chiefs (1-15): Aidan Ross, Samisoni Taukei’aho, George Dyer, Brodie Retallick, Tupou Vaai, Samipeni Finau, Sam Cane (co-c), Luke Jacobson, Brad Weber (co-c), Damian McKenzie, Etene Nanai-Seturo, Anton Lienert-Brown, Alex Nankivell, Emoni Narawa, Shaun Stevenson
Replacements: Tyrone Thompson, Ollie Norris, John Ryan, Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Pita Gus Sowakula, Cortez Ratima, Josh Ioane, Rameka Poihipi
Brumbies (1-15): James Slipper, Lachlan Lonergan, Sefo Kautai, Nick Frost, Cadeyrn Neville, Tom Hooper, Pete Samu, Rob Valetini, Nic White (c), Jack Debreczeni, Ollie Sapsford, Tamati Tua, Len Ikitau, Andy Muirhead, Tom Wright
Replacements : Connal McInerney, Blake Schoupp, Rhys Van Nek, Darcy Swain, Luke Reimer, Ryan Lonergan, Noah Lolesio, Corey Toole
Referee: Nic Berry (RA)
AUSTRALIAN RUGBY RUN BY PRIVATE SCHOOL ELITES
In breaking news that will shock every single person to their core, Luke Pentony has exposed RA, and rugby in general, for being an elitist white boys club based in Sydney’s eastern suburbs and north shore. Indeed, RA has been infiltrated by the Shore School oligarchy, with an unwritten hereditary rite of passage from the Shore Prep School to the RA Boardroom for “The Chosen One”. Apparently, Pentony believes in such blasphemous ideas such as public school ‘children’ playing rugby, a wider spread of cultures in the sport (i.e., west of Victoria Road in Drummoyne), improving the depth of the player pool in both men’s and *gasp* women’s rugby, and introducing names that sounds more ‘normal’ than “Stirling Mortlock”.
How very well dare he?
SUPER RUGBY TO BE ‘INNOVATIVE’
“The commission’s official purpose is to “drive commercial revenue, oversee rules and regulations, shape the future strategic direction and generate fan-first initiatives”. So what avenues will the commission explore? Ideas being floated such as a draft, a salary cap, a player transfer or a trade system all have their merits but, whether they serve the best interests of the competition and the sport overall will likely be investigated and ruled upon by the commission. “I think there will be more and more work as the commission stands up to investigate those areas, with urgency,” Robinson told Paddy Gower Has Issues. “We’re incredibly open-minded to all these possibilities. Nothing is off the table as it relates to the way we’re viewing the future of the competition.”
While club registrations are down, Blues CEO Andrew Hore told Paddy Gower Has Issues that digital engagement and broadcast numbers are trending upward. “People are following,” he said. “They’re there. It’s getting them back to the ground. “This sport needs to be treated like any other world-class international competition, and actually have people working on it all the time. “Working out what the fan wants, making it far more fan-centric doesn’t take a lot, and then you start to get the tribalism building again and people travelling again which is fantastic.” Some progressive innovations can be expected over the coming Super Rugby seasons, for now Robinson is without doubt “the game is still really strong in terms of its connection to people’s hearts and minds.”
Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s amazing that the heads of respective unions are even talking considering the frosty exchanges over the past two season. Furthermore, they’re right that ‘something’ needs to be done. That said, I’m not sure that following what other sports are doing is necessarily the right thing for rugby to do. I’ve made it quite clear elsewhere that the concept of a draft is bloody silly (indeed, I think impossible anyway with the CBA signed until 2026) and myopic to think that this won’t benefit the Kiwi players, among other ‘fan-centric’ ideas. I can recall cringing when watching the IPL cricket auction in passing earlier this year and noting how overly excitable the whole thing was. What bosses seem to be failing to recognise is that, while looking to diversify, it can’t be at the expense of what the rusted on supporter i.e., the people we already have, want to see.
Further, Hammer oddly going out on some weird junket (must be too many Cadbury Caramilk Wallabies) about the Rugby Championship potentially moving to significantly earlier in the calendar year, only to be rebuffed almost immediately from the organisation that he chairs was yet another example of Hammer going full “Horsey Guy”. Interestingly, it appears that expansion is once again on the table (because that clearly worked last time) and the US markets are being sourced as another way to capture
a dollar a new audience of rugby fans. Personally, I think this is a dreadful move. Trans-Atlantic/continental travel is what killed Super Rugby for good last time. Why are we in such a rush to do that again? Surely the introduction of, you know, a proper third tier is of more importance. I still think the provincial “A” sides, the Islander “A” teams and potentially inviting a Chairman’s XV from the Shute Shield and Hospital Pass Cup, is the best way to go.
Now, far from me to be negative, because clearly things do have to change. Australia simply cannot afford to be the only country where rugby union is going backwards in terms of interest and participation. But we do have to think well outside the box, and I applaud the top dogs for at least starting the ball rolling and throwing ideas out there. Things could be solved by:
- cheaper pies and chips
- full-strength beer
- a new stadium in Canberra
- rugby on a main FTA channel
- merging the Reds and the Tahs to become the Reta…. never mind
- not allowing the Saders to play finals irrespective of ladder position
- accepting Twiggy’s money instead of PE
- Australian referees for all matches and KARL in the TMO box for ‘balance’.
- No SDs or Saffas allowed
- Australia not being able to lose the Bledisloe Cup irrespective of result
- David Pocock becomes RA CEO, Chairman, Aus cricket captain and PM in one go.
Is it that much to ask?!
Have a rip-snorter weekend, folks. I’m heading to Geelong to referee this weekend, so if there’s no news on Monday, it’s likely that had something to do with i!