Friday’s Rugby News

Friday’s Rugby News

Friday’s Rugby News sees Super Rugby AU Week 6, Super Rugby Aotearoa, The Weekend Ahead in Club Land and Taniela Tupou Opens Up


Allan Alaalatoa having a chat.

Allan Alaalatoa having a chat.

As we start the second half of Super Rugby AU there has been some separation of the teams and the apparent cream has risen to the top. This week we have one real grudge match and another game where the Rebels will be keen to keep touch with the top two sides.

First up we have the Brums taking on the Rebels at what appears to be the new home of rugby in Sydney, Leichardt Oval, (Friday 705PM EST, FoxSports and Kayo). The Rebels have made changes galore, particularly to the backline through a mix of injury and a desire to change things up a bit. In the pack, Trevor Hosea drops out of the 23 and is replaced by Matt Philip, Josh Kemeny replaces Michael Wells at 6 and Brad Wilkin starts at 7. There is a new halves pairing too, with Ryan Louwrens rupturing one of his huge biceps and is gone for the season, with Frank Lomani getting the start. Andrew Deegan starts at 10,  pushing Matt Toomua to 12. Big bloodnut Campbell Magnay returns from injury at 13, pushing Andrew Kellaway back to the wing.

The Horses are not without their changes too, as they look to consolidate the top spot and secure the home field come finals time, albeit not on the same level as the Rebels. Andy Muirhead comes in for the seemingly anointed Wallaby in waiting Tom Wright on the wing and Ryan Lonergan comes onto the bench.

This should be a fairly brutal affair and will be interesting to see how they stack up compared to the first game where the Brumbies struggled a bit to gap the Rebels. They were lucky to get past the Reds last week, and they still seem to be missing the backline dynamism that was there earlier in the year.

On Saturday, the SCG hosts the Waratahs and the Reds (715PM EST FoxSports and Kayo), with the traditional rivals once again talking up how much they don’t like each other. The Waratahs welcome back Lalakai Foketi after missing a couple of weeks through injury and Jake Gordon gets the start at halfback after returning via the bench in the last game. Angus Bell and Andrew Tuala come onto the bench to bolster the front row stocks that copped a hammering the last time these two teams met.

The Reds have made just the one change to their starting side, with young gun Jordan Petaia starting on the wing in place of the injured Chris Feauai-Sautia. The bench has seen its share of movement though, with three changes. Josh Flook and Tuaina Taii Tualima resuming their spots on the pine and the potential debut of Zane Nonggorr who is already being dubbed “Thor Junior” by the press.

This young prop was the captain of TSS in the GPS competition and is known for his ball skills and motor. The old YouTube will provide many schoolboy highlights including his willingness to play acting half as he did during the Australian Schoolboys game vs NZ last year, playing an integral part in a cracking 90m try. Given Brad Thorns reluctance to replace his props of late, it might be a case of the experience on the bench for Nonggorr unless the Reds can gap the Waratahs.

Whatever happens in this one, expect fireworks with known niggler Lachie Swinton likely to be in the thick of the push and shove.

Teamlists for both games courtesy of here

Tips: Brumbies by 7, Reds by 12.



Kiwi fans Sydney 7s

With only two rounds left of Super Rugby Aotearoa we are at the very pointy end, with the Crusaders able to seal the competition with a win this weekend, while the Blues have to watch on the bye and hope that the Highlanders do them a favour. The other games sees the Hurricanes hoping to end the season of misery for the Chiefs in what will be the Waikato boys last hurrah.

Saturday (505 EST FoxSports and Kayo) has the Hurricanes playing host to a Chiefs side that will finish as the backmarkers of the competition. As they have in so many games, they were not completely outclassed last week against the table topping Crusaders but just could not find the continuity to make it count when it mattered. Chalk this up to a building experience as the squad continues to work to the gameplan of coach Warren Gatland.

The Canes on the other hand are third and have the only win against the Crusaders and were looking strong prior to their week off last week. Team wise the Huricanes are looking pretty solid with the big names mostly all there in the starting lineup this week. The Chiefs have nothing to lose and have sent as strong a team as they can in the last game. Kaleb Trask starts again in the place of Aaron Cruden with two debutants on the bench including my new favourite player name, Robb Cobb. Bless him

The second game of weekend (Sunday 135pm FoxSports and Kayo) has the Crusaders hosting the Highlanders. The teams are not yet announced at the time of writing but with the opportunity to seal the deal, one would expect the ‘Saders to put out as close as they can to a full strength team. The Highlanders seem to sort of fly under the radar a bit and certainly I underestimated them at the start of the season but their performances have been solid and probably best described as “workmanlike”.

Stay in touch with the team news courtesy of ESPN here.

Tips: Hurricanes by 12, Crusaders by 9.


The Queensland Premier Rugby captains at the 2020 launch. Photo: QRU Media/Brendan Hertel

The Queensland Premier Rugby captains at the 2020 launch. Photo: QRU Media/Brendan Hertel

The first round of Queensland Premier Rugby is in the bank and we saw some pretty big scores with attack the flavour of the day in a few of the games up in the winter sun of the north. Let’s do the rounds and see what else is happening.

We are onto Round 5 in Western Australia and there are still two unbeaten sides, Cottesloe and Joondalup. This weekend should see consolidation of the top half of the ladder, with none of the competition heavyweights facing off against each other. Expect the ladder to take further shape in coming weeks before a few big games towards the tail end.

In SA, Old Collegians dropped their first game of the season against thrid placed Onkaparinga, leaving Brighton alone at the top. At the other end Adelaide Uni scored their first win of the season over Barossa. The game of the week to me seems to be Burnside vs Onkaparinga, third against fourth with only points differential separating them.

Onto the ACT, Owls and Vikings lead the way, with the Owls in particular looking impressive in their 35-0 win over Whites. Vikings on the other hand snuck in with a 22-20 win over Gungahlin Eagles. This weekend it is Owls turn to tackle the Eagles, while Vikings play Wests and Whites meet Owls.

The Shute Shield is into round four this weekend, with four teams remaining unbeaten. Of those, one would expect Randwick, and Sydney Uni to comfortably remain so, taking on the winless Penrith and West Harbour. Norths will retain their status via the bye and Gordon face the toughest test in a Warringah team that is probably better than it’s results thus far indicate. That game will also double as the televised game on 7Two.

Down to the Apple Isle and Devonport are the only unbeaten, after putting Harlequins to the sword last week. Taroona were pipped by Stags in a tight game. This week Devonport will take on the Stags, and Taroona will take on Hobart Lions in my match of the round.

Finals fever has hit the Northern Territory with the semi-finals taking place this weekend. We have the old school 1v4, 2v3 format with unbeaten Uni Pirates taking on the Darwin Dragons in one game with the other one seeing Casurina taking on South Darwin in what should be the closer game.

In old Brisbane town, there were points galore last week with plenty of excitement on offer. This week we see Bond Uni first up off the bye as they take on a Sunnybank side that had fifty put on them by Easts. Brothers take on a Norths team who were closer than expected against UQ last week, while Brothers will be looking to open their account after being defeated by Souths. After conceding nearly 60 last week against GPS, Wests are home to face Easts and GPS and Souths will both look to remain unbeaten.

For some more detail, colour and news around the club traps of the nation, take a look at Nick Wasiliev and his column on He does the club scene more justice than I ever could in this little column.


EDIT Taniela Tupou 122A1859

The known to most Australian rugby fans simply as “Tongan Thor”, has opened up in article with Wayne Smith of The Australian. In the article, Taniela Tupou reflects on the six years since he was spotted committing acts of physical violence against opposing players in Auckland schoolboy rugby, the unorthodox recruitment methods by the Reds and his rise and rise to his current role as one of the veterans of team, despite only being 24.

While it is mostly the story we all know about the viral YouTube videos of him outrunning wingers and the like, the story digs down into how Tupou had already idolised then-Red Quade Cooper and how the Red’s capitalised on this interest as part of the recruitment process, and recalls the excitement of Tupou after he received a message from his idol.

Perhaps more relevant to this day and age, Tupou discusses his development in the last couple of years into not only a good scrummager but a player who can play the entire eighty minutes. In a world where it is almost unheard of for a member of a front row to play more than 50-60 minutes, Tupou has been regularly churning out entire games, even clocking ninety minutes when the Reds played extra time against the Rebels.

Last week he played the whole game while packing down against the two Wallaby looseheads, Scott Sio and James Slipper in what really showed the size of his motor. In a humble way, Tupou was in his words keen to “prove himself” to Slipper, who he considers an older brother.

While some smarter than me suggest his scrummaging is bordering on the illegal at times with the angles he sets himself at, the fact is he earns more penalties for his team than any other front rower. Conversely, I have often noticed that he gives away a number of penalties with lazy offsides and ruck infringements, which to some extent negate the others. Last season for example he was, for a long period of the season the single most penalised player in Super Rugby.

For someone who, barring major injury or losing faith in the game domestically could well break appearance records, it is a good look into the person who is becoming literally and figuratively, a cornerstone of the team.



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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