Rugby

Friday’s Rugby News.

'Why are they called Kiwis son? Cause they're soft in the centres and ripe for the picking!'
Friday’s Rugby News.

Namaste G&GRs and welcome to Friday’s Rugby News.

After the great emotional purge of last week let’s rid ourselves of all negative energy and instead gather in peace and tranquility today. So light up your favourite incense stick, find a quiet reading spot and start the healing process with ‘Serenity Now’. Get a look at the new & improved psyche of Dave Rennie 2.0 in ‘Bugger Serenity Now’. Preview this week’s Bledisloe #2 with all the ‘white noise’ surrounding it in ‘Hoodoo Gurus’. Take a look over the neighbour’s fence with ‘Loig Love Letters’. And wrap it all up with ‘Friday’s Goss with Hoss’ now two days cat kicking free.

“I forgive you, you rotten French tart’

SERENITY NOW.

Nigh on a week has passed since the side from Middle Earth was handed the game from the French Nigel Owens, Monsieur Raynal. And while a sad state of affairs for the once might rugby nation of Hobbitland that match officials must continually hand them victories they simply do not deserve. It’s time to park our melancholy, channel our anger and forgive those filthy, cheating mongrels dressed Nearly All in Black who trespass against us, as our XXIII brave and true step back in time, journey across the dutch in search of a redemptive arc, a historic win and what I think we can all agree, should also mean Bledisloe winning glory, or a ‘Clayton’s Bledisloe’ if you will.

Of course this week the ghost of Raynal will linger large. M. Raynal will be one of he ARs for this match. Indeed I would encourage Spanners to quickly take every penalty kick for touch and if some of those kicks were to repeatedly strike said AR in the side of the melon, one could argue that in the propensity for haste some directional control might be forfeited. Such is the desire to play to the letter of the law from our men that some sacrifices may be encountered, but, it’s for the ‘good of the game’.

Of course I expect Monsieur Raynal to be an exemplary model of officiating consistency this week regarding the micro-management of nanoseconds and expect to hear a lot of:

‘Le check, le check, 4.36 seconds since zee penalty woz awardead ze gold and still no kick. Me sinks yellow card is due. If zay sink I no award penalty, zay sink wrong’

le check le check’ ze gold 2 haz takon 3.49 zeconds to throw ze ball into ze lineout’

‘Le check, le check Hakarena haz run 6.49 seconds over, penalty try ze oronge’

It’s been fascinating watching from the bleachers this week. Those up north have turned for an opinion from retired NZ fanboy and ‘opinion for rent’, one Nigel Owens, for his view. And to my complete dismay he sided with the Kiwis. The same guy who missed 618 neck-rolls by the Kiwis on Pocock in the RWC2015 final. The same guy who overruled that Speight try against NZ in NZ. The same guy whose refereeing ‘legend’ has completely dwarfed his actual refereeing ability. Yep, that guy.

We have also had the wisdom and insight of Mr Personality & dead man walking, NZ Coach Fozzie B Bear with his smugness at his post-match presser. Just what was the old chestnut of ‘good people making good All Blacks’ again? Foster is the perfect ‘Exhibit A’ for the demise of this once noble concept. I can imagine Shag Hansen or Ser Ted probably handling that with a tad more dignity, perhaps along the lines of:

Yep, we got a bit lucky with that call, but really proud of the team for staying in the fight and finding a way to win from there.’

Add to that the noise around Darcy Swain’s card, or lack of a red thereof, and all the righteous indignation and false piety out of NZ, it’s been an interesting week. Worth noting, though, that a Queen’s funeral type ‘hush’ fell over NZ when footage of replacement prop Fletcher Newell doing exactly the same thing to Scott Sio (who is out injured this week as a result), not only replicating Swain’s clumsy tackle, but doing so directly in front of the French imbecile (as footage from Christy Doran of FUX Sports highlights) but strangely without a penalty, citing, ‘check-check’ or nary a whisper out of NZ players, coaches, press or fans alike?

Equal measures for equal actions? Not where the Nearlies are involved, never has been, will it ever be thus?

That calls for serenity now, Gaggers. Serenity now.

Plain, simple, no fuss. I like it.

BUGGER SERENITY NOW.

1new.co.nz reports our own maestro of mellow, Mr D Rennie has ‘lit the fuse’ on what promises to be a spicy encounter for Bled #2.

When commenting on that decision, Rens (as Natho calls him) is quoted as seeking a ‘Pauline’ from World Rugby with a ‘please explain’. This request allegedly produced a concession the Wallabies playmaker was harshly treated. DR goes on to say:

“They agreed with our concerns. We sought a bit of clarity. We’ve got that. It’s not going to help us win on the weekend. We’ve decided to take it on the chin and move on.” he said.

Moses also went on to throw his two bob and a small hand grenade in regarding some carry on from Rieko Ioane after the last try. Now, I admit my Polynesian is a little off, but I understand Rieko Ioane to roughly translate to ‘Dane Coles’ in Anglo-Celtic.

“Rieko Ioane had a lot to say to our boys after the final try, mouthing off at Folau Fainga’a around disrespecting the haka. Which is a bit odd because as New Zealanders would know, when a team does a haka you respond with a haka. We don’t have the luxury of having a haka so our response is (to get) in the boomerang shape and to move forward. They’ve thrown down a challenge and we’re accepting it.”

“Is the expectation that we just stand there, they throw a challenge at us and we do nothing? Just take it?” he asked. We think it’s a very respectful way of responding, and it’s unique to us because of the boomerang shape. We won’t be stopping that.”

I recently recall reading a breathtakingly brilliant piece about the haka somewhere and the Wallabies response to it. I also recall someone equally brilliant comments made in, say last Friday’s Rugby News saying that the Maori Dane Coles used a deliberate ‘throat slitting’ motion, spitting and calling the Wallabies ‘dogs’ as they accepted the challenge of the haka too.

Seems to me one of the ramifications of that decision last week seems to have ignited a fire in the belly of our coach too. You’re right, DR, the battle lines have been drawn, stick it to them. There’s no turning back now.

Bugger the serenity.

This will be the year.

Our ‘Hoodoo’ Gurus?

Our XXII has been announced for Saturday’s Eden Park fixture. The same Auckland graveyard (ain’t the whole place one large catacomb of the walking dead?) where we have famously not once since the fledgling island nation finally got electricity (around 1986).

I acknowledge that 36 years is a tad long to wait to win a match at one ground, but this week’s been a bit different to others in the lead up. There’s been a quiet, steely resolve around the Wallabies since last week and talk of ‘disappointment’ very quickly turned into ‘channeling emotions’, ‘resolve’, ‘belief’ and refreshingly from our team, of talking about needing to do better. I said last week that despite the abomination of that decision that it was also quite possible that it could also be a ‘spark’ that incites a significant response from the Wallabies and not just this game, but a wave that carries us through to the RWC2023.

Every significant point in a successful team sports journey has a ‘flash point’, an ‘awakening’, a single event that may not initially look to be as momentous as it later turns out to be. Perhaps we all witnessed that moment for our Wallabies in the 79th minute last week.

There are several changes to both sides this week. With Swain’s deserved suspension, Philip suffering a knee injury and Leota an Achilles injury the Wallabies have made a number of personnel and positional changes to the side diddled out of victory last week.

Big ‘Dirty’ Harry Wilson makes his starting return for the first time since the English series and somewhat surprisingly at #8, meaning Bobby V moves to #6 with Pete Samu staying at #7. Cadeyrn Neville returns at starting lock alongside Jed Holloway. Angus ‘The Bull’ Bell has recovered from his toe injury to replace Scott Sio on the pine. Likewise Nick ‘Elsa’ Frost replaces Swain on the pine.

All that aside, the fairies are unchanged from last week with all starting & reserve players holding their spots.

The Wallabies retain size across the forwards and cohesion among the backs. Ikitau had a poor outing last up and he’s too good a player to trot out back-to-back stinkers. I’d love to see a match where the Aussies can keep all fifteen players on the field for the whole match, because for mine the Kiwi side selected for this match offers our best chance this century to end the Auckland curse.

The Nearlies have made six changes from last week’s side as well:

  • Skipper Sam Cane is out with Ardie ‘Three Knees’ Savea returning at #8
  • Dalton Papali’i, Akira Ioane complete a new-look loosies setup
  • Jordie Barrett comes into #12, with brother Beauden at fullback
  • Codie Taylor back in the run-on side, whilseDan ‘is there a bigger knob in world rugby’ Coles (which is also Anglo-Celtic for ‘Rieko Ioane’ apparently) misses out altogether.

Looking over the Kiwi side and for me it’s a solid ‘meh’.

Sure you have both Beaudy Barrett & Princess Mo’unga on the field at once and that’s a a fair-to-middling attacking threat, but the centres look vulnerable & soft in D. And while I acknowledge Savea is back in, it’s also worth noting, in my opinion, that Sideshow Bob Valetini has dominated Savea in SR matches this year and I expect bib Bobby V to continue said domination. Akira Ioane & Papali’i make up the loosies and again it’s a ‘meh’ from me. When you also factor in that, somewhat surprisingly, their best ‘go forward’ player in Taukei’aho is on the pine for Taylor (who to be honest has been so out of form I don’t know how he gets a start in the XXIII at all?) that even with the vaunted Hodors at #4 & #5 it’s hardly a daunting or frightening pack. Plus I thought Slips, Porecki & 7As totally outplayed the Kiwis starting piggies last week, our loosies were strong and as a forward pack we bettered them physically.

Fearless prediction: All hoodoos must end at some point and they longer they last, the closer they are to ending. This one will end this Saturday as our XXIII go down in history as ‘the Hoodoo Gurus’. Wallabies by 12. Not even two French ARs can ‘gift’ the Kiwis this one.

Wallabies:

1.James Slipper (c) (122 Tests) 2. David Porecki (6 Tests) 3. Allan Alaalatoa (59 Tests) 4. Jed Holloway (5 Tests) 5. Cadeyrn Neville (2 Tests) 6. Rob Valetini (26 Tests) 7. Pete Samu (27 Tests) 8. Harry Wilson (11 Tests) 9. Jake Gordon (15 Tests) 10. Bernard Foley (72 Tests) 11. Marika Koroibete (50 Tests) 12. Lalakai Foketi (3 Tests) 13. Len Ikitau (20 Tests) 14. Tom Wright (17 Tests) 15. Andrew Kellaway (17 Tests) Replacements 16. Folau Fainga’a (32 Tests) 17. Angus Bell (19 Tests) 18. Pone Fa’amausili (2 Tests) 19. Nick Frost (4 Tests) 20. Fraser McReight (7 Tests) 21. Nic White (55 Tests) 22. Reece Hodge (59 Tests) 23. Jordan Petaia (21 Tests)

Nearlies.

1. Ethan De Groot 2. Codie Taylor 3. Tyrel Lomax 4. Brodie Retallick 5. Sam Whitelock (captain) 6. Akira Ioane 7. Dalton Papali’i 8. Ardie Savea 9. Aaron Smith 10. Richie Mo’unga 11. Caleb Clarke 12. Jordie Barrett 13. Rieko Ioane 14. Will Jordan 15. Beauden Barrett Reserves: 16. Samisoni Taukei’aho 17. Ofa Tu’ungafasi 18. Nepo Laulala 19. Tupou Vaa’i 20. Hoskins Sotutu 21. Finlay Christie 22. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 23. Sevu Reece

Match Officials:

Referee: Andrew Brace (IRFU) Assistant Referee 1: Some French clown (FFR) Assistant Referee 2: Pierre Brousset (FFR) TMO: Ben Whitehouse (WRU)

‘Signed with the NRL? Better call Saul!’

LOIG LOVE LETTERS

A heading like this would see many assume loig players receive ‘Saul Goodman’ business cards for the usual plethora of sexual assault charges that permeate gaol ball each season. But not in this instance.

What is it with people’s fascination with loig defendants players coming to rugby to ‘help’ the Wallabies? Paul Cully penned this in the SMH recently and either he was:

  1. Drunk
  2. Kidding
  3. He was drunk & kidding, or
  4. Some combination of the above

But my response is ‘no’, just bloody ‘no’, not again, not ever.

I acknowledge there are athletes who played God’s game as youngsters, but, for reasons only known to them, instead chose the heady heights of the Rooty Hill RSL Rascals or the Long Bay Lions in a sprawling code that covers Western Sydney and some parts of Brisbane and (fingers crossed) can sometimes see them trot out against the might of Papua New Guinea or Lebanon over that of union and Paris, Jo’Burg. Twickers, Cardiff or some other minor suburban backblocks. Their call, fair play to them, play on. Should a player like this want to come back to union, great. Start at the bottom and should form and skill dictate, you’ll be rewarded accordingly.

But this constant BS about ‘parachuting’ them into top tiers of rugby is the thinking of the meek & feeble minded. Indeed, I’d wager it actually works entirely against the code in a longer-term ‘developmental’ sense. It provides no more than a ‘sugar hit’. Indeed a ‘sugar hit’ that has rarely ever worked and that it sends entirely the wrong message to grassroots players about pathways, hard work and opportunity. Like all sugar hits, you usually end up ‘crashing’ and all that’s left to show is a headache long after the initial ‘rush’ faded away.

Let’s look at the last four ‘cross code’ recruits I can recall: Messrs Rogers, Tuqiri, Sailor & Voldemort.

Of the four who would you say was best in terms of quality of play and long term development of the game? Further, which of the four were better than established rugby players of the time and how did they leave our game better than whence they found it?

But back to Mr Cully’s thought starter and I should also acknowledge that RA CEO and renowned Kiwi basher, Hamish ‘The Hammer’ McLennan has been beating the same drum (but methinks his is more sabre rattling to keep possible and probable future stars in the code as directly opposed to ‘raiding NRL ranks’). Cully mentions Latrell Mitchell from Souths as a ‘possible’ candidate. Now, for the record, I do not like rugba loig as a sport and not because I am some rugby toff, just because I find it a God-awful, boring spectacle. The players are surely fit, they are fast and not without athletic dynamics, skill sets, strengths and abilities. I acknowledge all of that, but for mine, I find the game so one-dimensional and dull that I just personally don’t follow it. The same way I don’t follow gridiron or curling. It’s just not my cuppa tea. But, I know enough about loig to suggest that should union trot after someone like Mitchell who even loig fans appear to have trouble liking would seem to me not to be the panacea that union needs or wants.

More to the point, why keep stealing rotten fruit, when you can instead plant seeds of your own and sustain a better harvest later? Why not use the pending war chest from the ‘golden era’ to shore up grassroots so we read more about the signings and retentions of promising young talent or ‘prodigies’ (why is every school kid now a ‘prodigy’ – cause they stand out against other 75kg 15 year olds? That would be great if it weren’t for rugby being played by 120kg rugby behemoths wouldn’t it?). Why can’t these young players be players of ‘potential’ instead?

Why not a fixed budget allocation to fund dedicated ‘rugby scouts’, as direct employees of RA? You know, the type that Nutta has regularly & eloquently raged for on these pages over many a year. I’d wager it a better investment than ‘poaching’ loig players. For a fraction of the costs of poaching, RA could support a network of rugby scouts that could identify and retain young boys & girls ‘early doors’ before the creep onto AFL & loig radars. Sure, we would never retain them all, but I’d argue we’d retain more than we are now and at a fraction of the cost of missing them and then buying them back later?

Nothing succeeds like success. So should the Wallabies start to win and win well (as I expect them to tomorrow) then surely we have quiet a ‘retention story’ or ‘package’ to promote to promising up and comers:

  • Current Womens 7s Commonwealth Gold Medalist’s
  • Current Rugby 7s World Champs – Men’s & Women’s
  • A winning Wallabies side (TBA)
  • a 2025 FUKIRS tour
  • A home men’s world cup in 2027
  • A home women’s world cup in 2029
  • A Brisbane Olympics in 2032

You want to start retaining, attracting talent? Then I’d start above, the only missing piece to the jigsaw is a winning Wallabies side. Get that happening and I’d be saying to Mr Cully, ‘Latrell who’ and finally these love letters to loigies can stop, and stop forever.

You heard it here first eventually!’

FRIDAY’S GOSS WITH HOSS.

Exocet’ hits 50.

In all the noise from last week, one moment was overlooked. Marika ‘The Exocet; Koroibete got his 50th Cap last week. For a player who puts everything he has into every game that’s a fantastic achievement to MK. Here’s to another 50.

You stay classy Fozzie

Mr Foster, you might learn something about this from Dave Rennie and Swain’s suspension:

“It was clumsy and reckless,” Rennie said. “There’s no malice in that. I was part of the judicial process last night. It certainly met the red card threshold and he got punished accordingly”.

Fozzie, the truth will set you free. Wukka, wukka, wukka.

‘Jock’ Dempsey The pipes, the pipes are calling.

Jack Dempsey likely to switch allegiance and play for Scotland? He’d be mad not to. Injury robbed us of the best of Jock Jack in Oz, I wish him health, happiness and success with the Haggis Eaters.

Bled #2 Coverage

The Wallabies’ clash with the All Blacks will be shown LIVE on Stan Sport and the Nine Network.

Stan Sport & 9GEM, 4:30 pm AEST with kickoff expected at 5:05 pm AEST.

Score tries for me Argentina!

When the Wallabies win Saturday with a bonus point and keep the Nearlies to no bonus point of their own, then that very much makes the RC table still ‘alive’ for the Catholics v FISMs fixture Sunday morning. With bonus points likely to decide on this year’s RC crown, there’ll be many an anxious eye cast over The Catholics v FISMs encounter 12.55am AEST Sunday 25th September on STAN.

I watched a replay of their last game and it never rose above exceedingly dull viewing with a ref rightfully blasting the pea every 30 seconds. Here’s hoping the Los Pumas discover their running game, tire out the Saffa beefcake and romp home while denying The Pope’s Lot a BP of their own. If I were SANZAAR I’d already start engraving ‘Australia’ onto this year’s trophy I reckon.

2022 RC Ladder

‘Utt’s tighter thun a sheeps…..’ NZ expert.

Until next Friday, stick it to them Wallabies. Stick it right to them!

Hoss – out.

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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