ACT Brumbies

Friday’s Rugby News

Friday’s Rugby News

Friday’s Rugby News sees Super Rugby AU Draw revealed, Super Rugby Aotearoa kick off, English Pay Dispute Gets Nasty and Coaches Up For Rule Tweaks


Stock Photo. Gilbert Super Rugby ball on grass with goal-posts and stadium lights

The draw for the brand spanking new domestic competition was released on Thursday, bringing us all a step closer to a return to elite rugby here in Australia.

Our good friend Staff Writer has the details on Fox Rugby here and it seems the competition follow the same format as the Super W, with the exception of there being a true home and away format.

The ten week format will then be followed by a three team finals series- first goes straight through to the big dance with second playing third to decide who will meet them.

The game times will also be simple to follow with all games kicking off on either a Friday 705PM or Saturday at 715pm EST. RugbyAU interim big kahuna Rob Clarke pushed this saying, “One of the main features of the draw is the consistent Friday and Saturday night primetime viewing slots on Fox Sports, which rugby fans can set their watches to for the next 12 weeks.”

I for one will not miss the thrill of getting up to do the review of a Reds game that kicks off at 130am, as I’m sure others will understand.

Enough about me though, the comp itself kicks off with the Reds taking on the Waratahs at Suncorp on Friday 3 July. Returning side Western Force will have to cool their heels for an extra week before resuming their hate filled revenge mission against the Waratahs on July 11.

I am sure one of the crew will come in with a full preview of the competition but the Brumbies would have to be the clear favourite. They were the best Aus team prior to the break and will have the winter climes of evening kickoffs in Canberra in their favour too. The Force will be up against it, playing (at this stage) all their games away though I am sure their us against the world mentality will help in some regard.



Rugby begins this weekend once more, over in New Zealand, and of course much has been made of the fact that fans are back. It will probably be an odd sight to see crowds crammed into venues again but to a fan, I am thrilled it’s at a rugby game.

Largely the squads are the same as they were before the interruption with the exception of the 38 year old elephant in the room that is Dan Carter. Aged he may be, but he will certainly add a calming influence to the ten role with the Blues that they have struggled with for a number of years.  It may have been the lack of rugby speaking but I certainly got goosebumps watching the hype video the Blues put out to announce his arrival.

The competition kicks off with a similar ten week competition as the Australian comp, which will lead into what imagines will be some sort of revised Rugby Championship. This year though, Australia will not be disadvantaged by having most of their teams knocked out weeks before the international season begins. If an international season doesn’t properly resume, it could even be possible for some short format competition with the top two Australian sides playing the top two NZ sides. With everything else up in the air, who knows.

Coming back to this week though, and the first two games are on the agenda. Saturday sees the Highlanders hosting the Chiefs and then on Sunday the Blues take on the Hurricanes in what will be a very noisy Eden Park. ESPN Rugby has the teamlists here. At the time of writing, the Blues and Canes hadn’t published their lists yet, so it will be interesting to see if Leon McDonald tosses in Carter.

Forgotten recruit Beauden Barrett is also slated to make his Blues debut in what shapes to be a pretty potent backline. Quite reasonably the Blues are heavy favourites going in, with the Crusaders having pole position for the overall title.



Photo by Keith McInnes

Photo by Keith McInnes

The 25% cut to the salary cap of each English Premiership club that was trumpeted only days ago has already got more hairs on it than a Yeti, with the Rugby Players Association (their RUPA) up in arms about what this means for it’s members.

The cut, which equates to 1.4 million pounds per team will put more pressure on a game that already loses some talent over the Channel to France, with the RPA essentially now also holding out Japan (strict limits on foreign players per game notwithstanding) as another serious exit route for players.

The BBC reports that significant legal action is on the cards unless the decision is reversed. In a strikingly similar action to the tone deaf actions of RUPA in Australia, the RPA is demanding the cuts be reversed and transparency be reinstated. The players, who have only had to suffer 25% cuts since March as opposed to the more draconian steps taken here are concerned that this move is being slid in under the cover of darkness.

While understandable this does nothing to address the issue that many clubs were struggling to be much more than viable, and those clubs coming up from the Championship struggle to stay there. Just prior to the break I wrote about a move by the RFU to cut funding to second tier teams which was only going to serve to heighten concerns about the financial state of English rugby.

While in many ways you cannot blame the players for trying to preserve what is a limited earning window, at the same time there will be a very limited window if clubs go bust, so finding the reasonable middle is key;

Clearly all is not well with the private investment model for the Premiership that was spruiked as the salvation to the money wars being waged by the French clubs, and perhaps those keen on a similar model here should tread carefully.

By way of further update, the English Premiership is currently planning to resume their season on August 15, with Exeter Chiefs currently leading the way.



Brumbies Coach Dan McKellar

Brumbies Coach Dan McKellar

While not all the changes have been set quite yet, the coaches of the Australian franchises are positive about them and the opportunity to try new things during the upcoming Super Rugby AU competition.

Fans get to see some of the new rules for the first time in the Super Rugby Aotearoa but there are no certainties all of them will make their way over the Tasman. The big changes in NZ include the ability to replace a red carded player after 20 minutes and golden point extra time.

Some of the proposed changes here go further than those in NZ, with a few of them already trialled in the NRC in 2019. Things like the 50/22 rule, limiting scrum resets, line drop outs for held up and eliminating marks in the 22 are all in the mix.

Beth Newman over at RugbyAU reports that the Australian coaches are largely positive, with the emphasis being on ensuring any changes don’t hinder our ability to play under the more traditional rules when back in the international fold later in the year. This was emphasised by Brumbies supremo Dan McKellar who said, “When we talk about these law variations and these discussions that I’ve obviously been involved with, the number one principle was that we don’t lose the fabric of the game and that we’re making sure we’re developing players for Test rugby.”

Waratahs coach Rob Penney was thinking a bit the other way aroumd, hoping the demonstration of any changes may lead to reform at a global level. Brad Thorn at the Reds was, perhaps a bit sceptical, saying “(If it were up to me) we’d just be scrumming all day and mauling, I’m probably the wrong guy.”

For the record I am with Thorn, especially when you look at the way the Reds squad has been constructed. They are a bit of a blood and guts team that relies on a very strong set piece, and of course why would you want rules that limit scrum resets and remove 5m held up scrums if that were the case. It may be a case of rethinking the team, and swapping out an out and out scrummager for someone who is a bit of an allrounder.

The Force of course are fine, having played under the Twiggyball rules and the NRC changes last year. The only issue for them will be the lack of light up goal posts, will they know where to aim for?


ACT Brumbies

Passionate about rugby from the grass roots up. Usually found at Brisbane club rugby games, or being involved in the junior and schools system. Love a chat, happy to admit when I'm wrong. I will watch any game of rugby regardless of who is playing, from juniors through to tests

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