Rugby

Friday’s Rugby News.

Nicloa Sturgeon welcomes the Wallabies to far-northern England by singing the traditional '500 miles'. Prince (?) Harry is to the right of the picture.
Friday’s Rugby News.

Never fear, Friday is here!

Hello earthlings and welcome to Friday’s Rugby News.

It’s a rugby weekend again and what a weekend we have. Let’s first preview the Wallabies against The Haggis Eaters in ‘If you ain’t first, you’re last’. Go inside camp Wallaroo and a look at my favourite player with ‘Amazing Grace’. Look into the NZR boys club with ‘Women’s Rugby Sucks’. I host another FRN ‘exclusive interview’ (*) with Matt Durrant of ‘Gold Digger’ fame in ‘The Prospector’. And round it all out with ‘Friday’s Goss with Hoss’ currently in talks with the brilliant, insightful, talented and really, really good looking folk at RA, to become head of marketing.

‘Hey Rennie, listen up’

IF YOU AIN’T FIRST, YOU’RE LAST.

Wallabies team to play Scotland at BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh on Saturday 29 October, 5:30pm BST/3:30am AEDT. Live & exlcusive on STAN & Nine.

After what feels like six months since the Wallabies last trotted out the team to open the northern battles, first up against the bladder blowing, skirt wearers of Scotland, has been named. Like all selections some on G&GR will be chuffed, some baffled and others, like me, reasonably ok with it all. My main criticism is the side just seems so ‘vanilla’.

Selectors have recalled Tate McDermott to starting #9, Tom Banks to #15, Michael Hooper to #7 and with Matt Gibbon, Ned Hanigan, Noah Lolesio & Jock Campbell (in line for a likely debut), notable inclusions on the bench.

Let me be brutal for a second. If the Wallabies don’t win first-up against Scotland then for mine the northern tour is all over bar the shouting, before it really even gets going. And if the Rennie rumblings that’ve reached the Ponderosa are to be believed, coach Rennie may feel the same too, with sources providing whispers on the wind that DR might just jump before being pushed should the northern adventure go belly-up. But more on that as the tour unfolds I guess.

Christy Doran of FUX Sports wrote an interesting piece that said even members of RA had called for DR to throw off the shackles of conservative selections for this tour, selections that IMO have hampered the growth of our young talent dramatically. This close to the RWC the fact that selectors are not cognisant around who our 9 & 10s are for the 2023 do are baffling. And reports that Lolesio was all but initially cut from the touring side altogether are equally disturbing, with his last minute inclusion seemingly a ‘heads he’s in, tails he’s out’ situation. How’s that for building a young guy’s engagement & confidence?

McDermott tells the SMH that the Wallabies have worked on a more controlled and varied game to suit NH conditions, with an emphasis on controlled kicks as opposed to the dross kicking we’ve seen this year. With that said I’d opine The Lip has a better kicking game, where Tate has more a running game. Either way I wish Joe Dirt success for his rare start.

I reckon the Italian match is a chance to trot out more youth and give them so exposure. I’m a fan of Gleeson’s, but to be fair I’m yet to see what he or Flanders offers over and above Dirty Harry Wilson? I’d certainly take Gleeson as a squad development player but, at this point, not at the expense of Wilson. His non-selection, for me, sums up Australia’s woes under DR. We ‘seem’ to have plenty of talent that simply has stagnated, or worse, regressed, under his watch.

In a nod to ol’ school training methods and in a bid to drive better discipline when it counts, the Wallabies have had ‘punishment’ added to training (why do I reckon Lord Laurie’s fingerprints are all over this) with Tom Decent of the SMH reporting that ‘burpees’ and ‘laps’ have been introduced as punishment for offenders of offside and additional punishment added to repeat offenders during training.

For all of the above Scotland are not without a few notable selection head scratches of their own. Coach Townsend has left both Hogg & Finn Russell out of the match day XXIII in what seems a very curious & brave call? With a year week of rain predicted in Edinburgh the match shapes as a typical NH test. Control possession, kick smartly for territory and accumulate points. There’ll be time for running for sure. But meat & potatoes must come before the gravy.

One of the things I most keenly await is seeing ‘Hoops’ back on the field and playing with a smile & joy and free of the shackles and burden of captaincy. Go well Mr Hooper, you bloody legend.

Wallabies XXIII:

1. James Slipper (c) (123 tests) 2. David Porecki (7) 3. Allan Alaalatoa (60) 4. Nick Frost (5) 5. Cadeyrn Neville (3) 6. Jed Holloway (6) 7. Michael Hooper (121) 8. Rob Valetini (27) 9. Tate McDermott (18) 10. Bernard Foley (73) 11. Tom Wright (18)12. Hunter Paisami (20) 13. Len Ikitau (21) 14. Andrew Kellaway (18) 15. Tom Banks (20) Replacements 16. Folau Fainga’a (33) 17. Matt Gibbon (2) 18. Taniela Tupou (43) 19. Ned Hanigan (25) 20. Pete Samu (28) 21. Nic White (56) 22. Noah Lolesio (14) 23. Jock Campbell (0, debut)

Scotland (XV – 1, they’re long odds?)

Scotland (1-15):  Pierre Schoeman, Dave Cherry, Zander Fagerson, Sam Skinner, Grant Gilchrist, Jamie Ritchie (c), Hamish Watson, Matt Fagerson, Ali Price, Blair Kinghorn, Duhan van der Merwe, Sione Tuipulotu, Mark Bennett, Darcy Graham, Ollie Smith Replacements: George Turner, Jamie Bhatti, Willem Nel, Glen Young, Jack Dempsey, George Horne, Ross Thompson, Damien Hoyland

Fearless Prediction: Wallabies by 6

‘How sweet the sound’

AMAZING GRACE!

How good is Grace Hamilton! Now that’s not a question, but a statement of fact, yep a ‘fact’ on Friday, go figure. I’ve watched most of the 2021 RWC matches and all of the Wallaroos and let me tell you our #8 has a fire in the belly at present and is in sublime form. But the thing I really admire most is the attitude she displays on & off field.

This weekend our Wallaroos, our only national rugby side to win consecutive matches so far this year, take on perhaps rugby’s greatest side ever (in terms of 28 consecutive wins, not even the fabled cheats ABs come close to that), the Red Roses of England. On paper this looks like the 185BC Colosseum match up of ‘The Plucky Christian VIII’ v The XXXV Lions of Africa’ with many pundits expecting one way traffic for the Red Roses. Well, not this pundit and not with Grace Hamilton on our side and on fire. Hamilton leads the entire competition for carries with 64 and the last two matches has a perfect 100% tackle completion rate with 33 from 33. Just think about that for a minute. Our Wallaroo #8 has not missed a tackle.

During the week our #8 talked with former G&GR golden boy, and now dark side of the Force correspondent, about the noise around the team being happy to make the QFs. “My first mentality when we got told the goal was quarter-finals I took that as an insult, I’m here to win the World Cup, I’m not here just to compete and make quarter-finals,” .

Bammo. What a statement. No false bravado, or talking opponents down, no ‘psychological advantage’ trash-talk, just the talk of a competitor, a bloody good competitor, there to give her all. After a mammoth 28 hit-ups against the Welsh and a perfect 15 tackles, Hamilton also went on to tell the Dark Syth: “There’s nothing more that I love than playing for Australia. It’s literally the most amazing thing in the world and to have my family supporting me, they’re here every game and the girls backing me. For me, it’s just about doing the best for the team.”

You can catch the full and engaging interview with Grace on rugby.com.au Oh & check out the 2021 RWC stats on rugbyworldcup.com

For the G&GR Hansard as well. Records are made to be broken. A bit more control and correct options from our Wallaroos 9 & 10 axis and it’s Wallaroos by 15.

I’m really enjoying the spectacle and quality of rugby at this RWC, everything is there to enjoy. The physicality, athleticism, skills, attitude and professionalism (imagine if our lot had proper support structures and contracts along the lines of the Red Roses). It’s been a great tournament so far and even better when our girls get up this weekend.

The Wallaroos and England will kick off at 11:35 am AEDT at Waitakere Stadium on Sunday, October 30. Coverage will be ad-free from 11:00 am AEDT and continue throughout the game on Stan Sport and Channel Nine

Gotta love women’s rugby.

‘Women’s rugby live, instead of the ABs. Good one Alexander’ NZR Committee meeting.

WOMEN’S RUGBY IS A JOKE!

How else could you read into NZR’s colossal own goal with the scheduling of the Nearlies v Nippon fixture for the exact same time as the Black Ferns play in a RWC in their own bloody nation!

I mean, Whisky Tango Foxtrot is that? Someone needs to be commercially executed for this one, it’s not just ‘careless’ or ‘dumb’ it sends a message to women’s rugby that will reverberate around the globe. Look, I understand the Nipponese side are likely to register a first historic win over the Nearlies in the fixture (by 12 points too) but come on NZR, this is bush league administration at best. It’s not as if you didn’t have 12 MONTH’ NOTICE THE BFs WOULD PLAY THIS DAY & TIME, was it?

But don’t just take my word for it (you really shouldn’t, ever), stuff.co.nz has more.

‘Once I thought I found a gold 10, turns out it was just an old Spanner’

THE PROSPECTOR

Much said and written recently over the rugby documentary ‘Gold Digger – The Search for Australian Rugby’, so what better way to put a definitive ‘full stop’ to the story then by going one-on-one (*) with writer, producer, narrator, make up artist and basically the brains behind it all, Scott Morrison Matt Durrant:

H: Matt, thanks for taking the time to join us today on Friday’s Rugby News. It’s a pleasure and a relief to finally have another astute, professional, knowledgeable and articulate presenter on G&GR’s shite site. My shoulders were getting sore.

MD: Thank you Hoss, pleasure is all mine.

H: Matt, let’s start with the question I keep getting inundated with by email, phone, fax and social media, basically all on G&GR are busting to ask you.

MD: Sure

H: Why wasn’t I included on the show? I mean you spoke to someone on G&GR staff, ‘Matt’ something, who as far as we know is a mailroom cadet. Why not get an opinion and insight that really matters, especially about the Tahs?

MD: Hoss, mate, firstly I apologise. We did hold preliminary discussions with your agent, the fee was simply too high and some of the requests, well, were, umm, just too ‘unusual’.

H: Look, let’s just leave that one alone. So, what started you on the journey to produce ‘Gold Digger’?

MD: One word Hoss: ‘frustration’.

H: With the state of rugby in Oz you mean?

MD:No, there was nothing to watch during lockdown. I’d already watched Breaking Bad, the Walking Dead is shite and Game of Thrones Season 8 was bloody dreadful, so I needed to find something to do and thought the ‘Wallabies are crap’, let’s take a look why and fill in some time as well’.

H Fair nuff. You do a deep dive with Benny Darwin mate and explore his theory around the ‘TWI’, which I believe is ‘Those Wednesday Idiots‘, is that correct?

MD: Team Work Index Hoss.

H: Sorry, that’s what I meant.

MD: Yeah look, Ben has a model that suggests that the more players play together, the better the combos and…..Hoss, are you snoring?

H: Ummm, no mate, laboured breathing from the onset of instant heavy chest infection I reckon.

MD: Anyhow, Ben suggests that fewer players, playing together more often would really strengthen the Wallabies.

H: So, is Ben related to Cameron Clyne, asking for a state friend?

MD: Huh?

H: Well when he says that we can really only ‘support’ three sides, how did The Reds & Brumbies take their potential (and deserved) axing?

MD: We never actually said that Hoss?

H: Yeah, but you didn’t ‘not’ say it either? I just thought it was the natural conclusion, that for the benefit of the Tahs Australian Rugby, those two sides would be axed.

MD: Right.

H: Back to the ‘TWI’, are you certain it’s not about Wednesday’s G&GR? Certainly it’s an interesting proposition, but wouldn’t that very same proposition work with five teams, better managed under a central contracting system from RA allowing for a structural rethink while incorporating TWI into said structure?

MD: It’s not about Wednesdays Hoss, but I see how you can land on that supposition. Your idea about the co-existence of centralised contracting and the TWI sounds like a potential sequel to Gold Digger!

H: What’re co-executive producer pay rates again? Anyhow, we’re running out of time mate and you must be tired being up there in London and the difference in hours for our chat?

MD: Yeah mate, we’ve been through two different PMs during this interview alone!

H: I’ll do the funny stuff here thanks Matt. What’s next, given you’ve stated you feel your rugby ‘deep dive’ is probably now done?

MD: Working on a concept now mate and was going to call it ‘Sex in the City’, but have run into some obvious copyright issues.

H: In 25 words or less Matt, what’s the concept?

MD: The absolute corruption of power and the wielding of said power for self-promotion & sexual gain.

H: Perhaps you could call it ‘The Liberal Party in Canberra’ instead?

MD: That’s why Fridays are the best on G&GR ,Hoss.

H: Amen Matt & thank you for your time today. Good luck with future endeavours.

MD: Cheers Hoss.

You can catch ‘Gold Digger – The Search for Australian Rugby’ on Binge

(*) Matt may have technically not played any actual part in this ‘exclusive interview’.

You heard it here first eventually!’

FRIDAY’S GOSS WITH HOSS.

Boks to smack Blacks in Twickers cash-grab ‘warm-up’.

rugby.com.au reports ‘The arch rivals will face each other at English rugby’s headquarters in southwest London on August 25, just two weeks before the All Blacks launch the 2023 World Cup against tournament hosts France in Paris.

I would add it’s a big gamble so close to the RWC for the loser in terms of momentum and ‘scarring’. Rest players and it’s really a pointless exercise. Play a full strength side and lose, well……….

Signs of life?

Shhh, lean in, I’m afraid if I whisper it too loud the wind will take it away and will make it ‘not so’. Could there be fragile green shoots of something approaching accountability from the Wallaby players, as opposed to the coaches always copping it in the neck? The Ginger Ninja tells rugby.com.au

‘I haven’t seen Dave Rennie miss a tackle so there’s no doubt we need to front more’. 

Deeds over words is a good place to start me thinks

Tahs Terrible Toll

Despite your protestation I acknowledge there is much love and affinity with my beloved NSW Waratahs on these pages. Like the JK Rowling of the 1600s, Billy Shakespeare said ‘methinks you doth protest too much, so shut your faces’, the Tahs and subsequently the Tahs touring side, ‘The Wallabies’ have been rocked by injuries. rugby.com.au has an update on those Wallabies in the Tahs recovery ward.

Northern Exposure

Check STAN for all details, times & coverage for the northern autumn games for all nations. Tom Decent from the SMH also has a terrific piece on all things Wallabies this northern tour.

Until next Friday – go you golden teams. Make us proud.

When I wake up, well I know I’m gonna be – you know you want to play it. da-da-da-da!

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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