Rugby

Friday’s Rugby News

Friday’s Rugby News

Friday’s Rugby News sees The Rugby Championship Schedule Released, Sad Kiwis,  The Weekend Ahead in Club Land and English Rugby Putting It’s Hand Out

THE RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE RELEASED

SANZAAR logo

After months of “will it be played?”, “where will it be played?”, and “who will play in it?”, the draw for The Rugby Championship has been released, and if you live in NSW then you are in for a real feast of rugby in November/December with all but one of the six rounds to be played there.

Despite the seeming certainty of a draw being released, the ongoing issues around the COVID-19 pandemic mean that this could still change, particularly with both South Africa and Argentina facing real challenges with their case loads.

But onto the good news hey? Rugby Reg has a look at the format and how teams will manage the risk of infection here, but essentially all the teams will stay and train in different locations and simply turn up at game time and play.

All six rounds will be double headers with the first to be played in Brisbane on November 7 with South Africa taking on Argentina to be followed by the Bledisloe clash.

The following five rounds will be shared by the Olympic Stadium, Bankwest Stadium and Newcastle. Hands up anyone who thought at the start of 2020 that Newcastle would be hosting a double headed test match as part of the Rugby Championship? Strange times we live in…

The kickoff times are yet be confirmed but given we will be approaching summer, it would stand to reason (famous last words) that there would be a 530ish kick off, with the second game at 8pm or so.

As excited as I am to see this much rugby being played at this time of year on our shores I cannot help but wonder how the crowds will go even with reduced capacity. If Australia do not perform competitively in the first two games in NZ then I worry the NSW market may not support that much footy, especially if travel remains an issue. I do hope I am wrong and that RugbyAU prices the games in such a way where it becomes an essential purchase as opposed to a luxury one.

 

SAD KIWIS

New Zealand Fan

The Kiwis are sad. Again.

Not content with trying to bully Australian rugby over the makeup of a trans-Tasman competition, then trying to hobble the Wallabies with a ridiculous scheduling of Bledisloe games where they would only have been only able to train for two days together, the NZRU have now complained about the scheduling of the Rugby Championship.

The issue revolves around the last weekend of games to be played on 12 December. Under New Zealand’s current quarantine requirements this would mean their return on 13 December would have them locked away over Christmas away from their families.

Despite the fact that the fixture announcement was a SANZAAR one (note the NZ in the title), NZR CEO Mark Robinson said they,  “haven’t agreed to this schedule and are disappointed at the announcement.” It does make you wonder who from NZ Rugby was at the table when it was discussed.

Fox Rugby has the story here, where something as radical as a boycott of the final round was not ruled out. It is understood New Zealand had been pushing for a 5 week tournament but the other three nations were all keen on the six week version. New Zealand might call it a blindside but I call it a majority decision.

Given there is every chance that New Zealand will have the comp wrapped up before the final round, what are the odds that some of the key players pick up an “injury” and the team that lines up in the final game is very different to that of the week prior?

While I am sympathetic to the idea that the players will be in quarantine on Christmas Day if things stay as they are, this run of boorish behaviour by NZ Rugby paints a grim picture of the time of CEO Robinson. Since taking on the role in January 2020, there has been more open conflict than in the preceding years. It appears Robinson views NZ as being the supreme rulers of the sport and every other nation should be walking his path. What he fails to realise is a) NZ are too small to go alone commercially and b) unlike NZ rugby isn’t close to being the dominant force so you cannot just throw your weight around and expect everyone else to quiver in your presence.

This is more than likely a storm in a teacup and a play to get the NZ Government to relax the quarantine requirements by a few days but does it need to be done by painting Australia, South Africa and Argentina as the bad guys?

CLUB RUGBY WEEKEND PREVIEW

QLD Premier Rugby QLD (Photo Credit: Brendan Hertel/QRU)

This is our chance to shove our noses into the trough that is club rugby in Australia.

One round remains in Western Australia and last week produced an upset with Joondalup upsetting Cottesloe, which led to Associates climbing to the top of the ladder by way of their massive win over Cavaliers. Both the top two sides should win this weekend so it could come down to bonus points in their respective clashes. The same goes for fourth spot, which is a three way battle between Joondalup, Nedlands and West-Scarborough. On paper all three should win and if that’s the case Wests will go through. A slip up will lead to bonus points coming into play.

We are onto the last round in South Australia as well, and the top four is decided but the order is not. Burnside and Brighton could finish on top and with first playing fourth and second playing third, Old Collegians could jump into second with a win, and Onkaparinga could move from fourth to third if they upset Brighton and an Old Collegians loss.

I hope you have detected a pattern as we are on the last round of games in the ACT as well. There is only one final spot left up for grabs with both Eagles and Wests in the hunt for the spot. Wests will need to beat Whites handsomely or win and hope Eagles lose to Royals to secure their spot. On top, a finals preview beckons with Vikings and Owls facing off to decide top spot.

The Shute Shield is still harder to pick than a broken nose with three rounds remaining. Gordon remain on top after their first loss last week to Norths, and with only 10 points splitting first to seventh it is all still to play for. The game of the Week this week is on 7Mate is the battle between Norths and Souths, which is second against seventh. Gordon vs Uni should also be another highlight of the weekend.

Back to the final round pattern thing again, this time in Tasmania, where Devonport are head and shoulders above the pack and flaming favourites for the title. They take on Taroona this week in another top of the table clash. The top three spots are all locked away with only Harlequins and Stags yet to sort out third and fourth.

Finally to Queensland and the Hospital Cup where with three rounds to go we have Uni and Easts with a break on the rest. Uni have the bye this weekend while Easts take on Wests who after upsetting GPS last week are looking to make a late run for fourth spot and a finals berth. Other games see Sunnybank play Bond Uni, injury hit Souths play GPS and Norths take on Brothers.

As I say weekly, have a look at rugby.com.au and the chiselled and erudite Nick Wasiliev’s column for more colour and all the links to watch games being streamed.

ENGLISH RUGBY PUTTING IT’S HAND OUT

320px-Premiership_rugby_logo_2018.svg

As case numbers continue to climb again in the Northern Hemisphere, things are looking pretty grim for a lot of sports in Europe, none moreso than rugby, with the RFU poised to seek a bailout from the UK Government.

With the decision earlier this week to halt the trial return of fans to games across a number of sports, including the English Premiership, rugby now faces the prospect of the Six Nations and Autumn Internationals being played behind closed doors along with the next season of domestic rugby.

Once all this news came out rumblings started to surface that the RFU would be seeking some sort of Government support as reported by SkySports here, which also reported that Premiership Rugby would be seeking a package of it’s own. All of this is probably not surprising, with the RFU alone predicting a losses of over 100 million pounds from no fans at the internationals. This is on top of earlier measures the RFU took including sacking numerous staff, and losses forecast at over 80 million pounds in the community side of the game.

Of course other sports are in a similar boat with EPL clubs allegedly losing a collective 100 million pounds per month.

The pleas may be falling on deaf ears though, as overnight the UK Sports Minister told Parliament that elite sport must “find a way to support itself.”. The BBC reports here that Nigel Huddleston has said support would go to those “most in need”. What this actually means or how the sports are meant to support themselves was not made clear, especially with reports that fans are at least six months away from returning, let alone at full capacity.

 

 

Rugby
@Ben_Marczyk

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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