G’day G&GRs and welcome to the first Friday Rugby News under Chairman Albo. Big shout out to new Leader of the Skeleton, sorry Liberal Party, P Dutton, who I am reliably informed is a huge reader of Friday’s Rugby News. You have nothing else to do for the next 6 years (at least) ‘Dutto’, so enjoy.
Today let’s go full throttle ahead with the demise of NZ Rugby & ‘Once were warriors’. Go full 80s and get the curling iron ready, big-up your hair and squeeze into those faux leather pants (you know you still got em Yowie) with ‘The Finals Countdown’ & Finals Fearless Forecast’. Drop in on a galaxy far far away with ‘Confused am I’. Share the love with ‘The United Nations of Tonga‘ and round it all out with ‘Friday’s Goss with Hoss’, this week at the bottom of the page.
ONCE WERE WARRIORS.
Who’d be a Kiwi eh!
You live on a poxy little rocky outcrop, where rugby’s the second best thing the men of your nation are any good at and even that’s under threat (cue spooky music here)……………….or so it seems.
Ok, ok, ok, technically Australian rugby hasn’t won anything against the Kiwis, well, for an ‘extended period’, but I tells ya, just like some guy who simply just cannot carry a tune said, ‘the times, they are a changin’. The gap between Oz and those of middle-earth has shrunk and markedly so. Take the Aussie pacesetters The Brumbies & The Tahs for instance. There is every chance that both sides could notch 3 wins from 5 against Kiwi franchises, that’s potentially a 60% win ratio against Kiwi sides. Hypothetically put a Reds side on the paddock that weren’t so riddled with injury and the story could be even rosier.
Now if that weren’t enough for you. it’s widely acknowledged on both sides of the dutch that the best coaches in UnZed are not in charge of the Nearlies. Indeed the sheen of the nearly all black jersey appears that much more jaded these days. To test said theory the Oirish are NZ bound this July and for all the righteous fanfare surrounding the French side, the Oirish ain’t far off that mark. So one might say that the once impregnable air of AB invincibility will get a wee work out over the next few months. Add to that an ageing side that, from the outside, doesn’t seem to have been regenerated enough in time for France 2023 and…..
Look, I’ve been wrong before, sure I can’t actually remember when, butt uff I wuz a Kiwi bro, I might be shutting brucks a wee but utt prussunt. Juss sayung.
THE FINALS COUNTDOWN
SRP ladder at end of round 13.
After COVID disruptions, form slumps, surprise wins, injury, suspension and annoying disruptions for elections, the final round, round #14 of SRP is upon us with some sides and ladder positions and possible finals foes to be decided, it will make for cracking rugby entertainment and with the odd twist or turn still to be played out.
All teams, times & coverage details courtesy of rugby.com.au
Crusaders v Queensland Reds
Friday 27 May 5:05 pm AEST at OrangeTheory Stadium, ad-free, live and on-demand on Stan Sport
The Reds have it all too play for this week. Currently ranked #7th and at worst that’s where they will finish. But, beat the Saders at Christchurch, get a bonus point and other results go there way and they mathematically could sneak as high as 5th and avoid the Crusaders or Brumbies the following week in the QFs by playing the fourth placed side
Barring Mo’unga at 10 the Saders appear at full strength, while the Reds are still without Taniela ‘The Abattoir’ Tupou , James ‘Jon Snow’ O’Connor & Hunter ‘The Squatter’ Paisami to name a few and for mine simply won’t have the ‘punch’ in attack to trouble the Saders at home.
Fearless prediction: Saders by 30
Final Ladder Ranking: Saders 2nd. Reds 7th and another meeting with the Crusaders in the QFs and ‘goodnight Reds’ for season 2022, it proved too many injuries and too high a mountain to climb.
Fijian Drua v Chiefs
Saturday 28 May 1:00 pm AEST at Churchill Park, ad-free, live and on demand on Stan Sport
The Chiefs travel to Fiji to take on everyone’s second favourite side The Drua at home. Make no mistake this game is a real ‘banana skin’ one for the gents from Waikato. The Drua have nothing to gain, apart from pride, joy and home fan engagement AND a huge Kiwi scalp, so therefore nothing to lose and if you think the Drua are dangerous at the best of times they could be lethal in this one, especially in front of their home fans.
It’s a different story for the Chiefs who currently sit in fourth but could (other results pending) drop to 6th and a possible date with the Brumbies in Canberra. The Chiefs welcome back Brodie ‘Hodor’ Retallick for this one, but even with that they have been inconsistent this year and the result of this game is by no means ‘a certainty’.
Fearless Prediction: The ‘upset’, Drua by 5
Final Ladder Ranking: Drua #11th. Chiefs #6th
Moana Pasifika v Brumbies
Saturday 28 May 5:05 pm AEST at Mt Smart Stadium, ad-free, live and on demand on Stan Sport
Another week, another catch-up game for the Moana Pasifika side and the season probably can’t end soon enough for the battle weary MP side. The Ponies are, injuries aside, at full strength for this one and will just be far too strong and cement third spot on the ladder and a home QF next week.
Fearless Prediction: Ponies by 30
Final Ladder Ranking: Ponies #3rd. MP#12th.
NSW Waratahs v Blues
Saturday 28 May 7:45 pm AEST at Leichhardt Oval, ad-free, live and on demand on Stan Sport and the Nine Network
Regardless of the Blues result here they will finish the regular season as the ‘Big Dogs’ of the SRP 2022 on 54 points, a current gap of six to the Crusaders, so rip, spit or bust they cannot be run down. But, a Tahs win could certainly shake up positions 4-6 on the ladder and make the QFs rather interesting.
The Tahs are at full strength, barring the injured Perese, while Ned ‘Flanders’ Hanigan gets a deserved starting gig after what was a sensational cameo off the bench last round. The Blues have the luxury of being unassailable atop the ladder and have taken the chance to rest a few players as they lead into the finals campaign. most notably Beauden Barrett & Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (RTS)
The Tahs are at home, know how to beat Kiwi sides and will be up for the fight and I completely understand Blues coach MacDonald resting a few players, but in doing so they have left the door well & truly ajar and also, could ultimately change the arrangement of the final eight. Plus it could give the Tahs 3 wins against 5 Kiwi opponents and not a bad confidence boost running into the knockout phase to boot!
Fearless Prediction: Tahs by 12. No bonus point though
Final Ladder Ranking: Tahs #5. Blues #1st
Western Force v Hurricanes
Saturday 28 May 10:00 pm AEST at HBF Park, ad-free, live and on demand on Stan Sport and the Nine Network
Well, for the Force it’s simple: win against the Canes or nothing else matters! The Force are at home and it would be good if the ‘sea of blue’ turns out in numbers, them and the Reds home crowds have been rather underwhelming this season, and if ever ‘Twiggies Piggies’ need a lift, it’s in this match.
To be frank, the Force will need a miracle to get up here. The Canes have the luxury of bringing ‘Three Knees’ Savea off the pine, have a front row with the revitalised Owen Franks in it, pace across the fairies and I just can’t see them getting rolled. I’d love too, but I can’t. Although it would make the Rebels Sunday fixture compulsory viewing if the Force could somehow conjure what would be a rather large ‘upset’.
Fearless Prediction: Canes by 25 with the bonus point.
Final Ladder Ranking: Canes #4th. Force #9th.
Melbourne Rebels v Highlanders
Sunday 29 May 2:00 pm AEST at AAMI Park, ad-free, live and on demand on Stan Sport and the Nine Network
The ‘dead rubber’? The only way this game has any impact on the Top #8 is if the Force roll the Canes and let’s be honest ScoMo leading the Libs again is more of a chance than the Force getting up.
For the sake of fairness though, should the Force prevail, then this is a very ‘live’ fixture and a Rebels win could squeeze the Force into the eight. As for the game itself, it would not surprise for the Rebels to play out of their skin, steal a win and ‘miss’ the eight by a point. It would tie beautifully into their ‘unlucky’, ‘hard done by’, ‘we were so close’ narrative. Either way, any team that enters the finals on a win/ loss season of 4 &10 will be cannon fodder for those sides above them.
Fearless Prediction: Landers. Just, by 5. They have more to play for.
Final Ladder Ranking: Highlanders #8th. Rebels with a losing bonus point #10th
Fearless Finals Forecast
So for all the above what are the likely QF line-ups for next week? Glad you asked:
#1 Blues v #8 Highlanders
#2 Crusaders v #7 Reds
#3 Brumbies v #6 Chiefs
#4 Hurricanes v #5 Tahs (start planning ‘Mad Monday Ardie)
CONFUSED AM I.
It’s no secret I am a fan of Wayne ‘Yoda’ Smith of SMH fame. I don’t necessarily always agree with all he writes, but I enjoy the slightly different ‘lens’ he applies to rugby subject matter and so it be with his latest offering.
I have banged on a lot this year about rugby officials, consistency of interpretation and the application of laws, especially surround high contact & foul play, but here Yoda takes a ‘wider’ view on that very subject. Yoda makes the valid point in his latest SMH offering about the role of the ball carrier in helping reduce or contributing to head contact. Indeed there was an incident or two this weekend past when a few ‘home team’ ball carriers, to the naked eye, ‘appeared’ to raise a forearm going into contact and collecting tacklers ‘rather high’ as a result. I emailed fellow G&GR writers during one game in particular on that very fact. Now, always one for a good conspiracy theory, said tv coverage of these ‘home teams’ (here’s a tip, they were from a nation who’s women dab ‘lanolin’ behind their ears to attract a male) failed to show any replays at all of these potential foul play incidents. Hmmmmm.
Anyhoo, have a read of Yoda’s bit, interested in your thoughts.
The United Nations of Tonga
A lot of love around for Tonga this week and the possible and probable list of players that ‘might’ run out for them based on revised representative criteria. For mine, anything that helps our PI brethren grow, attract or retain players and be competitive is both good them and also for the code across the Pacific region as a whole.
rugbypass.com floated a list of what a possible Tongan test side might look like.
I would be remiss not to include one of my favourite Late Show sketches involving ‘Tonga’ as well.
FRIDAY’S GOSS WITH HOSS.
Ok, this isn’t rugby per se and technically he might end up being the Senator for the Smut & Fireworks capital of Oz (and that’s just Liberal Party staff parties) but you just can’t help but admire the integrity of the man can you. This tweet from Brian yesterday in response to yet ANOTHER horrific headline out of the States.
We all benefit if this man ends up being on the ‘inside’.
Are you not entertained!
Interesting read on FUX from a few Aussie rugby luminaries regarding our code, rules and the ‘entertainment industry’ the game is in. Can’t say I disagree too much.
The return of
sidelined Sideshow Bob.
Good news for The Puppy Killers & Oz fans alike with rugby.com.au reporting big Sideshow Bob Valetini might be available for the finals and get some match fitness into the Pom series. For mine, Bobby V is the player of SRP 2022.
The future starts now.
Another great read from Paul Cully on SMH on just what the next few months could mean for all involved with the code in the run into a potential ‘golden period’ for the code lasting through 2029 and beyond. Indeed there doth seem ‘a bright golden haze on the meadow’.
Final word this week goes to Europe………..take it away boys.
Hoss – out.