Friday’s Rugby News

Friday’s Rugby News

Friday’s Rugby News sees Wallaby Mix and Match, All Black Ring the Changes, European Rugby News, and A New Home for Rugby?



Wallaby coach Dave Rennie has swung the axe in an attempt to find a winning combination for this weeks Tri-Nations/Bledisloe, having lost the opportunity to claim the latter after the capitulation in Sydney last Saturday.

There have been multiple changes and a few players picked out of their usual position with a couple of debuts as the icing on the cake.

In what is perhaps the most controversial move, Reece Hodge gets the nod at flyhalf, despite having played only one test there in 2017. Hodge has also had little experience there in recent seasons at club level, with both Matt Toomua and Andrew Deegan being preferred there at the Rebels.

Coach Dave Rennie has in the past implied Hodge was a victim of his own versatility when trying to find his spot in the team, and this pick is no exception. When asked by what Hodge’s best position was, Rennie said, “I’ll tell you after Saturday.” Interesting time to pick him at 10 against the AB’s given that view but also given the lack of depth at the position in terms of experience, it makes some sort of sense.

Elsewhere, Waratah “hardman” Lachie Swinton comes into the starting side on debut, presumably to inject some mongrel into the pack, which is fine so long as he doesn’t lose his head. And Brumby Tom Wright comes onto the wing for his debut. A third debutant is also likely off the bench, with Angus Bell the reserve loosehead.

In other team moves, Rob Simmons replaces the injured Lukhan Salakaia-Loto in the second row. In the backs, Tom Banks replaces Dane-Haylett Petty, and Hunter Paisami comes in for Irae Simone.

The major milestone for the game is the 100th Test for former Reds captain James Slipper, with the occasion being marked at his old home, presumably in front of a large group of family and friends.

WALLABIES (1-15): James Slipper, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Allan Alaalatoa, Rob Simmons, Matt Philip, Lachie Swinton, Michael Hooper (c), Harry Wilson, Nic White, Reece Hodge, Marika Koroibete, Hunter Paisami, Jordan Petaia, Tom Wright, Tom Banks

RESERVES: Folau Fainga’a, Angus Bell, Taniela Tupou, Ned Hanigan, Liam Wright, Tate McDermott, Noah Lolesio, Filipo Daugunu


Beauden Barrett

A week after sealing the Bledisloe with a thumping win over the Wallabies, the All Blacks have made multiple changes, resting key players across the field and putting up what some would describe as second-string, while still being dangerous enough to take down pretty much every team going around.

Coach Ian Foster has rewarded multiple members of the team with the week off, with the backline in particular looking very different to last week. This includes giving flyhalf Richie Mo’unga the week off, with the second choice being one Barrett, B. Excellent.

Elsewhere in the backline only Anton Lienert-Brown stays in the same spot as last week with Sevu Reece and Rieko Ioane on the wings and Jordie Barrett shifting to fullback. Ngani Laumape joins Lienert-Brown in the centres and TJ Perenara gets the start at halfback.

In the forwards, Codie Taylor, Scott Barrett, Akira Ioane and Ardie Savea all get the start. On the bench Cullen Grace is the loose forward replacement and Crusaders excitement machine (doesn’t narrow it down much!) Will Jordan is in line to make a Test debut.

Coach Foster was pretty blunt in his reasoning for all the changes, telling that “It’s been a big three-week Test series to date against Australia; it’ll be another massive Test, so we’ve brought in some freshness and new energy into the group,” he said.

ALL BLACKS (1-15): Karl Tu’inkuafe, Codie Taylor, Ofa Tuungafasi, Scott Barrett, Sam Whitelock, Akira Ioane, Sam Cane (c), Ardie Savea, TJ Perenara, Beauden Barrett, Rieko Ioane, Ngani Laumape, Anton Lienert-Brown, Sevu Reece, Jordie Barrett

RESERVES: Asafo Aumua, Alex Hodgman, Tyrel Lomax, Patrick Tuipulotu, Cullen Grace, Brad Weber, Damian McKenzie, Will Jordan



Let’s use this opportunity to have a quick wrap around Europe and pick up some tidbits of news on both the international and club scene.

As England prepares to go into another lockdown scenario in the coming hours, the English Premiership clubs are preparing for the 2020 season which is due to start on November 20. With it comes the inevitable COVID testing and early results from the first round of testing has thrown up 17 positives from 718 tests, reports the BBC. That is from 8 teams, with another 4 teams coming on line next week. Fortunately there are no hard and fast rules around the amount of positives and whether the sport can continue, although one would imagine if most of the population is locked down the chances of an explosion of positives declines somewhat.

The continued and extended absence of any fans from UK rugby continues to bite, with many dire warnings over time about how teams are struggling to manage with gate receipts and hospitality revenue all but eliminated. In Wales specifically there has been some joint action with the Welsh teams agreeing to a joint 20 million pound loan with the four provinces splitting the money. The five year loan is designed to cover the loss of revenue that was planned to be distributed by the WRU from their share of tickets from internationals and the like. This is unlikely to be the last of such arrangements with many clubs barely making ends meet, and an extended lockout of fans is likely to spell chaos.

COIVD is playing havoc with the fixture schedule for the Pro14 with this weekend’s clash between Munster and Benetton Treviso being called off due to the number of cases within the Italian team. The home clash for Treviso was put off after last weekends away game with Connacht was also postponed for the same reason. Three cases and four in isolation due to contact was enough to put the game on ice, with the BBC reporting that options are being considered to play the rescheduled games at some point in January.

On the international front and if you are a Scotland fan, it might be time to look away. The top two Scottish flyhalves, Finn Russell and Adam Hastings will miss the entire Autumn Nations Cup Campaign through injury, with Hastings possibly out for the 6 Nations in February as well. With Italy, France and Fiji in their part of the competition, the Scots may struggle to challenge the French and the Fijians without the two key players.





Speculation was rife late on Thursday that a deal had finally been struck to see rugby switch networks in Australia, although no official word had come from Rugby AU as of press time.

The Australian reported that a deal similar to that mooted in recent weeks had been signed and was ready to be announced yesterday.

The deal would see Wallabies Tests on one of the Nine channels along with one Super Rugby game per week. The remainder of the Super Rugby would move to their subscription service Stan. marking the first move of Stan into the sport market.

There was no initial word if the deal included any provision for club rugby or any sort of NRC-esque competition, but I for one am still holding out hope.

It would also see the end of a 25 year association between Fox Sport and rugby in this country.

The general parameters of the deal re the same as those that had been floating around in the media for weeks now; $30 million plus free advertising spend on the Nine Network.

While I am generally positive about the prospects of the deal a few things concern me. Firstly, is one game on free to air really going to massively increase the viewing market for rugby in this country, especially if it is on one of the secondary channels? Secondly, I am as little worried about who might the commentary team be? This is the opportunity to hire Sean Maloney and those dumped over the last few years on Fox and give them the task.

No word yet on the rumour that Phil Kearns and George Gregan were seen huddling on the doorstep of Nine HQ ringing the doorbell trying to get into the premises.





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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