Rugby

Friday’s Rugby News

'Super Round' ? Well technically yes.
Friday’s Rugby News

G’day Gaggers and welcome to Friday.

It’s hard to believe another Friday has rolled around so quick. Today let’s revisit a less than Super Round in Melbourne. Look at SRP Round #11 and a much needed product review in Total Recall and rinse it out with Friday’s Goss with Hoss, now with new improved flavour.

‘Hoss on Tinder, he looks alright’ Bored Mexican rugby fans.

Super Round?

Hmmmm.

For the record, I didn’t fly down to Mexico to attend the rugby festival last week. I only get one Rugby ‘hall pass’ a year and I wasn’t wasting mine to walk among the the dregs of the human gene pool that are residents of Mexico and Kiwi rugby fans in some sort of primordial soup. I feel dirty and slightly dumber even typing that. No, I’ve used mine this year to attend the Brissie Test v those who bought us small pox, pestilence, mass genocide and rabbits. ‘Ol ‘Blighty’ herself, home of ‘Randy Andy’, The Soap Dodgers in July.

So what to make of the ‘Gala of the Gilbert’ then?

Firstly, I really enjoyed listening to the OS commentators in ‘TJ’ (Tony Johnson) and Justin Marshall. They added to the whole affair and are easy to listen too. They seem to be from the Richie Benuad school of commentary and let the picture tell the story, are unbiased in their views and generally enhanced my enjoyment of the coverage.

Now, contrast that to the never-ending ‘banter’ that infects Oz commentators, which I am sure they think it ‘witty’ and ‘cutting edge’ but has become tiresome, bordering on irritating. If I wanted tired, fairly obvious, & dull humour I would read Friday’s Monday – Thursday’s G&GR news instead.

I would encourage Stan/NINE (‘Stine’ ?) to rid themselves of the ‘The Footy Show’ cringe. You know, the Andrew Mehrtens & Drew Mitchell staged ‘schtick’. It ain’t funny, it ain’t amusing, in fact I feel for the two Stine ‘personalities’, as surely they know it’s drivel of the highest order? I mean all that’s missing from this relic of Mungo Shows past is Paul Vautin walking across a union telecast dressed in drag!

For all of that, the overall coverage was good, but the product was terrible. The quality of the rugby, officiating and game after game of an 80% empty AAMI Stadium made for sad viewing. Certainly I am a fan of the concept of a ‘Super Round’ each year, but surely future endeavours must happen in Rugby strongholds and not the barren rugby wasteland that is Victoria? ‘Sporting Capital’ my arse.

My ‘Super Round’ highlights?

  1. Super W final – that was a hoot, tense, fast, willing and just absolutely joyous to see and who among us could begrudge Fijiana the win!
  2. The Drua and their efforts against the Blues. Beaten, but unbowed
  3. The performance of the Ponies loosies as foretold on last Friday’ Rugby News. Valetini, Brown & Samu were epic. Some of the running ‘lines’ from Sideshow Bob Valetini in attack were sublime and at times I shuddered in anticipation for the poor souls who dared tackle him.

I look forward to Super Round 2023 and welcome the evolution of the concept. And please book ‘TJ’ & Justin Marshall now.

‘It’s a Cinderella Story’. NSW Coach Darren Coleman

SRP Round #11

All teams times & coverage courtesy rugby.com.au

Queensland Reds v Chiefs

Friday 29 April 7:45 pm AEST at Suncorp Stadium, ad-free, live and on demand on Stan Sport

Hard to tell what Reds team might show for this one. For much of last week’s first half, they were strong and dictated terms, but no sooner did Dr Jekyll have control, Mr Hyde later turned up and they conceded 30 unanswered points and in the end the losing score flattered them somewhat. Certainly if Fraser McReight & Dirty Harry Wilson hadn’t played they would have been given a real pantsing.

Not many changes for the Communists this week. They are still exposed at 10 and now with Vunivalu again out with a hammy ‘twinge’, Jordan ‘Of Nazareth’ Petaia still out as a precaution they will be up against it from the Chiefs who racked up 51 points against an undermanned Tahs. But and it’s a big ‘but’ – no inspirational skipper in Sam Cane for the Chiefs this week either.

So, with all that said, what happens in this game and why? A white-hot McReight and sensational & consistent Wilson get the Communists home, just.

Fearless Prediction: Reds by 5.

Western Force v Blues

Friday 29 April 10:00 pm AEST at HBF Park, ad-free, live and on demand on Stan Sport

The Force are back in action this week after their squad was decimated by COVID last week forcing the postponement against Moana Pasifika. Unfortunately the Blues also welcome back a large contingent of stars this week as well and I expect things to get ugly for the Force and their fans as a result.

Fearless Prediction: Blues by 25 and Tim Sampson counting the days till his misery ends. ‘Dead man walking here’

Fijian Drua v Highlanders

Saturday 30 April 2:35 pm AEST at ANZ Stadium, Suva, ad-free, live and on demand on Stan Sport

Brumbies aside, the Drua were perhaps the best performed of the Oz conference sides last week. They refused to just accept their fate and played as only Fiji can. Expressive, physical and with Fijian-flair.

The Highlanders were probably flattered by the scoreboard against the Ponies with Tom ‘Fumbles’ Wright & Nic ‘The Lip’ White blowing a couple of tries between them that would have better reflected Brumbies dominance on the field and the scoreboard.

I think the Drua will claim one Kiwi scalp this season and me thinks their time is nigh.

Fearless Prediction: An upset. Drua by 9

NSW Waratahs v Crusaders

Saturday 30 April 5:05 pm AEST at Leichhardt Oval, ad-free, live and on demand on Stan Sport

Now to my Tahs. 51 points leaked against The Chiefs, contributing factors for sure. A dodgy red card, that perhaps didn’t cost the Tahs the game, but certainly, it cost the Tahs the game. Another intercept pass (Jamie Roberts throws one pass his whole career, one bloody pass and……) two hookers out with head knocks and bing-bam-boom, goodnight nurse. And it got ugly in the last 20 when Tahs fatigue from being down two players and early injuries, saw them well and truly gassed at at the pointy end. At 30-27 I was rather optimistic, 10 minutes later I was rather drunk.

So to this week and the Crusaders who were just awful against The Rebels yet still scored over 40 points.

This week the Tahs are forced to go to Shute Shield for the #16 reserve hooking stocks with Mahe Vailanu getting his first ‘run-on’ start with the Tahs while Porecki & Horton both still ruled out. Gus Bell is rightfully back and their forward pack is still in form and collectively stood up to the Chiefs forwards. The Saders have rested four AB players under NZR’s ‘resting policy’, so are without  Richie Mo’unga, Braydon Ennor, George Bridge and Ethan Blackadder 

Obviously it’s hard to see the Saders putting out another poor showing like that again, combined with the Tahs rake shortages, well, who knows? It could be a rugby ‘Cinderella Story,’ or it could just be plain ugly. I like coach Coleman’s line though that ‘The Tahs are playing with house money’ and I also make it a policy never to tip against the Tahs. So……..

Fearless Prediction: ‘No comment’

Melbourne Rebels v Moana Pasifika

Saturday 30 April 7:45 pm AEST at AAMI Park, ad-free, live and on demand on Stan Sport and Nine Network

It’s fair to say the MP officials are somewhat ‘miffed’ about their lot in SRP this year and who can blame them. A cramped schedule, multiple games over short periods, they have certainly copped the sharp end of the stick. Will that ‘irritation’ turn into a win here?

Maybe.

I am a fan of The Rebels forward pack who always account for themselves with distinction. Last week the Rebs also inherited the Saders dropped ball curse and simply couldn’t exert enough pressure to get a result. The Rebs efforts were further hindered with Matt T’s departure due to head knock, but overall the game made for horrid viewing. On paper the Rebels ‘should’ win this one and they had shown improvement in the weeks leading to the Saders shit-show, but I can’t shake the feeling the MP team are angry and ready to hurt someone.

Fearless Prediction: Rebels by 11. Gordon to come into his own at 10.

Brumbies v Hurricanes

Sunday 1 May 2:00 pm AEST at GIO Stadium, ad-free, live and on demand on Stan Sport

The Aussie flag bearers, the Brumbies round out the weekend with another Sunday arvo game at home, this time against the Canes and what a mouth-watering game this will be and easily the match of the round.

Sideshow Bob Valetini, Brown & Samu v the best loosie on the planet in Ardie Savea. The two yappiest nines in the southern hemisphere, The Lip v TJ Paranoia. A ‘born again’ Scot, ‘Lazarus’ Sio (who was a revelation last week) v Tyrel Lomax, Lolesio v Gordon-Bachop. No matter where you look there are terrific match-ups all over the paddock.

So where will it be won and by how many? For mine the Ponies locks are vastly underrated. I am and have been a Caderyn Neville fan for a long time and he was outstanding last week and Darcy ‘Lurch’ Swain is a real find and always consistent. Plus his ability to disrupt opposition rolling mauls is sensational. It’s these two who I see having a big influence on the outcome here.

Fearless Prediction: Ponies by 12

‘I can’t take any more infringements’

Total Recall.

So, Super Rugby round #10 was exactly 146 seconds old and so began the great card-athon that was Super Rugby Pacific ‘Super Round’.

No doubt many will have differing opinions on that tackle from Gus Bell and there is an interesting insight from Iain Payten on the SMH and insights from Tahs assistant coach Chris Whitaker on the 20 minute red card in Rugby generally, but the fact remains that what followed over the 5 games, was not a particularly glowing promotion of our code.

Nearly 120 penalties across the 5 SRP games. Countless ‘short-arm’ free kicks and your guess is as good as mine regarding ‘penalty advantage’ infringements issued. I would wager that the total count of infringements of all kinds, across the five games would be approaching a figure near the 200 mark.

So let’s break that down. Over 400 minutes of ‘play’ (who wants to have a stab at how long the games actually went?) with approximately 200 infringements issued, that’s an infringement every 2 minutes. Every 2 minutes! If you had a product, any product, that halted this often, how long would you keep it?

I don’t blame the officials, although Nic Berry has been taken off my ‘Hoss’ Christmas Card List‘, but surely Super Round screamed out to us that ours is a product in need of some repair? Infringing should be pinged, no problem. But surely there’s ‘offending’ and then there’s real, game impacting offending?

Now to be clear I am talking ‘no physical harm’ infringing here, like laws around offside, collapsing, in front of the kicker, et al. Not contact with the head, high tackle, tackled in the air type matters. On that front there is a very good article on rugbypass.com well worth a read.

There’s too many examples to list them all here, but if for example, an opposing prop ‘pancakes’ at scrum time and the balls already cleared the front row, isn’t that already an advantage to the team winning the feed? One of the opposition players is prone on the deck already, so they will be longer to the defensive line/ruck/maul, so play on. And ‘advantage’ – what is it and how long does it last? I would suggest 5 phases or 25 metre gain is ‘advantage’ over – play on!

I love the game of rugby union. It’s why I write on these pages for only $275,000 pa, barely pocket change. But if we want rugby union to thrive, not just ‘survive’, then those in charge need to look at current laws and make brave decisions for the good of and the future of, our game.

Our product ain’t just broken, it’s in urgent need of a total recall.

‘You heard it here first eventually’

Friday’s Goss with Hoss

RA – ‘Light at end of tunnel no longer oncoming train!’

Great read on FUX from Christy Doran emanating from RA re their current and pending financial situation.

It would appear the 2020 razor gang decisions are starting to bear sustainable financial fruit and with a golden second half of the 2020s likely ahead (with the cash-cows of 2025 FUKIRS tour, Men’s 2027 RWC, Women’s 2029 RWC) RA are extremely well placed to give the game the legacy and financial stability that it has craved for so long. Well done Hammer, Lex & team, well done.

Fatigued foreigners force Force forfeit?

Georgina Robinson reports in the SMH of Moana Pasifika refusing to reschedule their cancelled game against the Force, saying enough is enough after playing six games in three weeks this season.

I get their point, but when the Force are unable to field a XXIII due to COVID what are they expected to do and why didn’t MP force the issue with Kiwi teams in the same situation…………………………………(rhetorical question really)

Scrum ‘Shot clock’ – yes please.

Anyone else sick of the ‘crouch, bind, pause, stand up, reset, talk, move the scrum, collapse, reset, stretch, talk to ref, reset, stand-up, argue about the other hookers feet’ shit-show that used to be a contest for the ball as well as taking 16 players out of the defensive line to see some attack from the fairies? Yep, me too and so to it seems former Scottish coach Matt Williams on rugbypass.com

Roll up, roll up.

Tickets are now on sale for the upcoming three test series v the Poms – more info on how to get tickets on rugby.com.au

We will be holding an informal G&GR catch-up the weekend of the Brisbane Test. All are welcome to drop in, say g’day and have a drink and chat and put a face to the avatar. More details closer to the time.

Sully – the G&GR chopper still right to ferry me about over the weekend?

Sometimes there’re just no words

Check out this twitter link.

It’s safe, its work & public transport appropriate (I am not a British MP!), but it’s also confronting, yet strangely arousing.

Until next Friday, Go the Tahs.

Hoss-ta-la-vista baby.

Rugby

A Masters from the Uni of Life, majoring in BS. Call the Hunter Valley home and a passionate Wallabies, Tah's and then the also-rans of Oz rugby next. Yearn for the days when uppitty Kiwis knew their place - losing in dying stages of Bledisloe's or as garbage collectors.

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