Fridays Rugby News sees two games cancelled, Tahs sign Gamble, changes for the Wallabies and, bye-bye Ma’a Nonu
Two World Cup Games Cancelled
Typhoon Hagibis could wreak havoc on the Rugby World Cup finals. With New Zealands match against Italy and England’s game against France already cancelled attention now moves to Japan versus Scotland for a spot in the finals.
But while Australia sat tight in Shizuoka – their Friday night game against Georgia unaffected – all eyes quickly turned to Sunday’s games, which included the blockbuster Pool A decider between Japan and Scotland in Yokohama, plus Namibia v Canada (Kamaishi), US v Tonga (Osaka) and Wales v Uruguay (Kumamoto) .
The result of the Japan v Scotland match, scheduled for 7.45 pm in Yokohama, will decide which of those teams makes it through to the knockout stages.
Under tournament rules, a pool match that can’t be played must be cancelled and declared a 0-0 draw, with both teams, awarded two points.
If it does not go ahead, Scotland’s campaign will end in the group stages for only the second time in World Cup history. Japan, topping the pool with Ireland snapping at their heels, will advance to the quarter-finals for the first time.
Organisers said a call on the match would not be made until Sunday morning. The worst of the typhoon should have passed but they cannot predict what damage its winds and rain could wreak on the city and stadium.
“The decision will be made in the morning [Sunday],” Japan Rugby 2019 chief executive Akira Shimazu said.
“In principle, we make the decision six hours before kick-off but we would like to make this as early as possible on Sunday. We will look at the damage, we will consider carefully. We will make every effort so the spectators will see the match.”
Charlie Gamble Signs For The Waratahs
The NSW Waratahs have secured the signature of highly-rated Shute Shield loose forward, Charlie Gamble for the 2020 Vodafone Super Rugby season.
The former Crusaders Academy product has penned a one-year deal with NSW Rugby, after dominating the Shute Shield in 2019.
Gamble has performed strongly for Sydney in the National Rugby Championship (NRC), providing stability for Chris Whitaker in the back row after making a successful return from injury.
Gamble’s rugby journey in Australia started even lower down the ranks at NSW Suburban level in 2018, where he guided Petersham to a premiership and was named player of the competition.
“It really freshened me up, allowed me to enjoy my footy,” Gamble said.
The 23-year-old’s signing follows the appointment of Kiwi Rob Penney as head Waratahs coach to replace compatriot Daryl Gibson at the end of the 2019 Super Rugby season.
Penney said Gamble would prove a valuable addition to his 2020 squad.
“Charlie comes highly regarded and I’m looking forward to working with him,” he said.
“With a full pre-season under his belt and some time back in a professional system, he’ll have every opportunity to make an impact …”
So… Australia’s Mr perpetual motion has finally come to a halt, at least for the moment. It appears the Wallabies captain has succumbed to muscle soreness and will sit out the game against Georgia. He is replaced by loose forward Lukhan Salakaia-Loto.
And in other news, Aussie fan favourite, Rob Simmons has replaced Adam Coleman on the bench.
Forwards coach Simon Raiwalui indicated the shuffling among the reserves was related to Australia having become assured of qualification when pool rivals Fiji lost to Wales on Wednesday night.
It took a layer of pressure off against the tier two Georgians and allowed them to fully rest regular captain Hooper and Coleman, who both had general soreness but could have comfortably played, he said.
“At the moment they’re just little niggles that are nothing too major,” Raiwalui said.
“With that (qualification) confirmed, we decided to go that way.”
It was the perfect outcome for 30-year-old Simmons, who avoided much of the fanfare that may have otherwise accompanied his milestone.
A first-choice lock in the 2015 campaign, he has become more appreciated for is off-field influence and leadership over the last two years. Fourteen of his last 17 Tests have been off the bench.
Matchday captain Pocock hailed the man from Theodore in central Queensland for his reliability and desire to put the team ahead of personal ambition.
“It’s very special for him but it’s typical though, he didn’t want anything made of it until after the game,” Pocock said.
“He’s a well-loved member of the team and of those guys who goes about his business. It’s pretty amazing to have someone like him on the bench, to be able to call on someone with that experience, knowing that he steps up when he’s needed.”
Ma’a Nonu Joins Major League Rugby
Former All Blacks centre Ma’a Nonu has become the highest-profile player to commit to a Major League Rugby franchise, signing with San Diego Legion.
The 37-year-old two-time World Cup winner announced on Thursday he was quitting the Auckland-based Blues Super Rugby team to play in the fast-growing North American league in 2020.
Nonu is a veteran of 103 Tests and more than 300 professional games, winning World Cup titles in 2011 and 2015, five Tri-Nations or Rugby Championship titles and eight Bledisloe Cup series.
He played Super Rugby for the Hurricanes and Highlanders and spent three seasons with French club Toulon before joining the Blues last year.
However, he failed to win New Zealand selection for the current World Cup in Japan, making a comeback to international rugby unlikely.
His signing with San Diego is a major coup for the MLR.
“It is undeniable that he will have a major impact on the MLR this season.”
Major League Rugby played its inaugural season in 2018.
The competition now features 12 teams – 11 from the US and one from Canada – with the Seattle Seawolves claiming its first two titles.