Happy Thursday, comrades. The 12 month rugby cycle continues this week. For those who need a fix the English Premiership is worth a watch on Stan as well as the Sevens coming up for those who need some rugby. If I could make one request of our overlords at Stan try and get the Top 14.
As always this is a fan run site and any contribution is always welcome feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org be it with an article an idea or an opinion piece. There’s also a ‘Submit a Story’ option. So feel free to have a crack as the more the merrier.
Rugby by the Numbers
Many of our rugby lite (mungoball) loving brothers love to tell you that rugby is dead or dying. I tell you they’re wrong here are some of the facts.
Attendances at Major Sporting Tournaments
· Soccer Men’s World Cup 3.4 million
· Rugby Men’s RWC 2.4 million Ave crowd 50K
· Soccer Women’s RWC 1.98 million
· Rugby League Men’s World Cup 423,789 Ave crowd 7,762
· Rugby Women’s RWC 150,179 Ave crowd 5,776
The TV Audience for the tourney was over a billion people in total. It was the most spoken about rugby event ever with 3.1 billion impressions on digital and social media. A tournament that showed the best of rugby with 325 tries across the 48 matches, which is an average of 6.77 tries per game.
Are Rugby Australia Doing a Good Job?
It’s been a bit of a blood sport among us fans to bag RA over the past few decades. I’d argue that since Covid they’ve gotten the financial component correct. They’ve cut the programs to the bone (many would argue too far) but they seem to largely be living within their means.
The rival competitions make it a struggle to get the top line junior talent and frankly those that do make it to the end of school are often either targeted by rugby lite or overseas opportunities. Every Brisbane or Sydney club can name ten current players who are either playing in France, Japan or one of ten other semi pro leagues.
In the face of this Australia seems to be living within its means financially. This comes hard on the heels of the Scottish union posting a ten million pound deficit this year, which is difficult to comprehend given that they own Murrayfield and also host concerts there as well as getting the gate. It makes you realize how expensive it is to run a union given that they seem to do a good job from the outside. As a matter of perspective Australia is 98 times larger than Scotland.
Yes they need to address the following: 3rd tier, women’s 15s, junior pathways, etc
So IMHO it is time to lock in behind the current mob as it’s plain to see they’re having a go.
New Zealand’s Coaching Team
The Nearlies coaching staff:
Head coach: Scott Robertson – from Crusaders
Assistant head coach: Jason Ryan – forwards coach
Leon MacDonald – attack coach. He’s the Blues Rugby head coach
Jason Holland – attack coach. He’s the Hurricanes head coach
Scott Hansen – defence coach. Currently Crusaders assistant coach.
Nic Gill – health and performance coach. Been with the team from 2008.
Great organisations have stability in the coaching ranks and obviously winning helps keep that going.
Fun fact the Pittsburgh Stealers NFL team have had fewer coaches since 1970 than there have been Catholic popes.
The choice of the next Wallaby coaching staff will be important but the moves made in the background around coaching development will be the legacy of the current RA board. For those who are in favour of burning it all down these are the guys who got the men’s and women’s RWCs in the next six years.
For those who believe that rugby is done here’s another chance. So, if you’re in Brisbane here’s a chance to go down to the new Ballymore and fill the hill.
The Oceania 7s sees 25 teams from across the Pacific – including the Australian men and women – converge on Ballymore Stadium for 66 matches (35 men’s and 31 women’s matches) across three days.
For some, it’s a final tune-up before the new look HSBC SVNS Series. For others, a chance to secure Olympic qualification for Paris 2024.
Here’s everything you need to know about the upcoming Oceania 7s in Brisbane.
Men’s & Women’s Internationals
Australia’s men and women are already assured a place at next year’s Olympic Games due to finishing second and fifth respectively during last season’s World Series. As such, they’ll play in pools outside of Olympic qualification, but there’ll be no love lost in their final warm-up tournament before the inaugural (and rebranded) SVNS Series kicks off in Dubai next month (2-3 December).
11 of the 13 Aussie women named are reigning Commonwealth and World Cup champions while five of the Aussie men’s side tasted World Series Victory in 2021-22.
The Aussie men will battle it out against Fiji, New Zealand, Niue, and an Oceania Barbarians side in Pool A with the top two sides progressing to a Oceania final for regional bragging rights.
Meanwhile, Australia’s women will tackle a New Zealand Development outfit five times across three days. Don’t be fooled by the development tag, the Black Fern 7s are the reigning World Series champs, and will be fielding a strong team of promising young talent.
Men’s & Women’s Olympic Qualifiers
The stakes here are enormous, with 18 teams fighting for just two Olympic berths. Only one of ten men’s sides will qualify for Paris 2024 while only one of eight women’s teams will book their ticket to France next year.
The men’s Olympic qualifiers see pre-tournament favourites Tonga and Samoa fighting to avoid the repechage with Papua New Guinea, Cook Islands, and the Solomon Islands among those chasing a major upset.
It’s a massive challenge for Tongan men’s coach Tevita Tuifua, who is hoping to steer his country to a maiden berth at the Olympics. “We understand that the Oceania 7s will be a highly competitive tournament with strong teams vying for success. However, we believe in our squad’s abilities, their work ethic, and the lessons learned from past challenges. We are eager to bring our best to the competition and strive for success once again,” Tuifua said. “It represents not only a chance to showcase our talent on the global stage but also a testament to the hard work and dedication of our players, support staff, Tonga Rugby Union, and government. It would be a source of inspiration for our entire nation.”
Samoa’s men’s coach, Brian Lima, branded the Oceania 7s as a chance to make amends after narrowly missing automatic qualification last season. “Although we were extremely disappointed that we missed out on automatic qualification, we are aware that the Oceania 7s is perhaps our best chance to qualify, with New Zealand, Fiji, and Australia having already qualified,” Lima said. “It is critical that we make use of this opportunity because, should we fail, the chances will be even more difficult, with South Africa, Great Britain, and Ireland also vying for the remaining spots in the final Olympic repechage next year”.
Meanwhile, Fiji are tipped to take out the women’s Olympic qualifier and chase another podium finish following their Tokyo bronze medal. Fijiana 7s coach Saiasi Fuli said they’ll use this competition as a platform to gain some game time while keeping an eye on the prize. “It’s a massive opportunity for us as a team to prepare well and play in these upcoming Oceania 7s,” Fuli said. “We are into our preseason phase, and our girls are looking forward to playing in the Oceania 7s and trying to secure a spot for the Paris Olympics. We missed out on the series until the final day in Toulouse, and we as a group had set our goal to rest well, recover, and prepare for the qualification.”
View Tournament Fixture here.
Australian Men’s Squad – Oceania 7s
Australian Women’s Squad – Oceania 7s
Dominique du Toit