Welcome to Wednesday team. That day of the week where the morning is still filled with the reminiscence and disappointment of the weekend just gone and where, in the afternoon, hope again raises its head as we get closer to another two days off work when we can watch rugby again.
This week it’s the Women’s Rugby World Cup in NZ and the As v Japan again. Happy hunting team
World Rugby outlines legacy plans for women’s growth amid world record crowd
World Rugby CEO Alan Gilpin is hoping a world-record crowd at Eden Park on October 8 can be used as a vehicle to grow women’s participation in the sport. Gilpin revealed over 35,000 tickets have been sold for the opening day of Rugby World Cup, headlined by the Wallaroos facing defending champions Black Ferns.
It will smash the record for the highest attended World Cup match for a Women’s World Cup along for a women’s sporting event in New Zealand. He believes this is a ‘sign of confidence’ heading forward, looking at ways to harness the positive support heading into the future. “I think it’s a great sign of confidence this is going to be a great tournament,” Gilpin said.
World Rugby Director of Women’s Rugby Sally Horrox outlined four key ‘pillars’ surrounding the future of the game to drive growth.
This includes raising and changing the profile of the game, supporting the move to professionalism, developing new growth plans and pathways as well as facilitating leadership, planning and investment in the game. “With record crowds set for the opening weekend, it’s clear that women’s rugby is growing in appeal and popularity and our inspirational and incredible athletes are starting to become household names,” she said at the tournament’s opening press conference. The Pacific, including Australia, looms as a key area of growth in World Rugby’s eyes.
With the Women’s World Cup heading to Australia in 2029, Gilpin recognises the need to grow as World Rugby look to introduce ‘WXU’ in 2023, an annual global women’s international 15s competition. “We want to build to a tournament in ’25 (in England) with 16 teams and using the platform of WXU, an annual competition starting next year, to do that,” he added.
Really looking forward to this tournament. I’ve refereed a few women’s games and always found them a lot of fun with some good skills, hard plays and yet none of the macho bullshit that permeates through the men’s games.
Nawaqanitawase adds gloss to Australia A win In Tokyo
A two try cameo off the bench from winger Mark Nawaqanitawase was the eye-catching gloss to an impressive Australia A win in Tokyo.
The Australia A side had impressive high performers. Lock Nick Frost, backrower Langi Gleeson, winger Suliasi Vunivalu, fullback Jock Campbell and hooker Lachie Lonergan all had excellent games while replacement winger Nawaqanitawase made a five star made a impact with two tries in his 27 minutes.
The A team hit the Japanese with four second half tries and finished them with a 21-0 counter-punch after trailing 22-13 at the 54 minute mark. Japanese World Cup coaches, Jamie Joseph, Tony Brown and John Mitchell, were in charge of a Japan XV with a strong vein of test players.
Australian-born duo Jack Cornelsen and Dylan Riley, who both play for the Saitama Wild Knights, were in the Japanese side led by backrower Michael Leitch, the 2019 World Cup standout who has played 75 Tests. There were attacking signs from both sides in the first half even though the scoring was limited to Ryan Lonergan and Japanese flyhalf Hayata Nakao trading penalty goals. The Japan XV led 9-6 at the break and 14-6 shortly after before the Australians clicked in the first of this three game series
Hooker Lachie Lonergan darted through the line after locks Frost and Cadeyrn Neville had been responsible for two quick relays in the lead-up. Vunivalu took a Ryan Lonergan pass on the short side of a ruck and dotted down for the try.
Flanker Brad Wilkin plunged over with his second touch followed by Donaldson dummying to Nawaqanitawase inside who drew a defender. Finally, Donaldson dashed into space and weighted a kick ahead perfectly for the winger to chase and score.
Some players did stand out in this match. I thought Campbell and Lonergan (the halfback) played very well and demonstrated they’re ready for the next step up. It’ll be interesting to see how Edmed goes in this next game and if people maintain their workload. Certainly, I’ve seen enough to scratch Foley, Beale, Skelton and Banks from being required on the northern tour and would rather see some of the A players given a go. The results wouldn’t be worse, I think actually a lot better.
Laws and the unintended Consequences of changing them
Now we all know it’s always the referee’s fault and if he only listened to us screaming at the TV then the game would be so much better, and everyone would be so much happier. It’s fair to say that with the advent of social media supporters have been given a much better platform to complain in the way the game of rugby is managed and refereed. The Queensland Challenger series has introduced a number of law changes and these along with some from Super Rugby have got the potential to change the game. Personally I think people have forgotten that rugby has always been refereed in a subjective manner and unless we go down the American Football path – which I hope we never do – it always will be. The idea that we can find perfection in an imperfect game where so much is going on at all times and where players compete for the ball after a tackle is made is just ludicrous. To be fair things have developed further and some changes, such as the TMO, have gone past the point of working. This is always the case and brings in the unintended consequences of these changes. Here’s my opinion on a couple of the law changes that I’m not sure have been thought through, and the unintended consequences that they may bring. What you need to think of is how you will feel when Australia is either down or up by 2 points in a major match (Bledisloe or RWC final) and the unintended consequences of these changes causes them to lose. If the comments after Foley being punished for wasting time (and acting like a complete self indulgent tosser I might add) are anything to go by then people may not be happy.
20 Minute Red Card – brought in to keep 15 on 15 and ensure that a team didn’t gain too much from a player getting a red card early and the game being 14 on 15 for the rest of the match. Now I personally am against this one as I think that coaches and players are happy to accept the risk and so don’t need to change their technique or behaviour. A worst case scenario for this is Australia 1 up in the Bledisloe where a player such as the new 10 (in the future so not there yet) has been identified as crucial to the game plan. So the bastard Kiwis start a flanker who is 3rd or 4th choice. The coach tasks him with taking the Wallaby 10 out of the game with a late illegal tackle that will see him injured to the extent he can’t take any further part in the game. In the first 10 minutes such a tackle occurs and the Kiwi 6 is sent off. The Wallabies bring on their replacement who isn’t as good and the backline play fails to click. The Kiwis bring on their 1st choice 6 20 minutes later and with a disrupted backline the Wallabies lose and the Bledisloe cup is retained by NZ. Now I may be happy with the result but I’m not sure a lot here would be.
Deliberate Knockdown – changed to be a penalty only. So now all the wingers in the game know they don’t need to learn how to tackle, all they need to learn is how to time their swinging arm to knock a ball down. Sure they’ll give away a penalty but the forwards know how to stop a drive off the lineout and even if it’s kicked, 3 points is better than a potential 7 and if it’s further up the field then that’s even better. I think that this law will absolutely see defenders in all parts of the field knocking the ball down rather than tackling. I mean why not, tackling hurts so why do it if you don’t need to? I think this law will see an increased stop/start game where balls are knocked down and play stopped for penalty after penalty.
Scrum – 2nd collapse free kick if no clear sanction. I must admit this is an area that annoys me a lot. I know for a fact that referees spend a lot of time understanding the scrum and what’s going on. In fact I think referees spend as much time on this as the front row and in most cases have a pretty good idea on what has occurred and then make the correct decision most of the time. The issue we have is mainly with dickhead commentators and journalists who have no idea and so call it a lottery and seem to think that referees just guess what has happened. In part because of these idiots complaining about things they are obviously too stupid to try and understand, the laws that are trialled will see a free kick with no scrum reset or kick – so tap only from scrums that collapse. Now despite my suggestion that referees do see what’s going on I do admit that a front row player can cause a scrum to fall and make it look like a mistake rather than a deliberate act. If I was a prop in a scrum that was being dominated would I take a free kick tap over another reset? Friggen absolutely I would. If you look at the free kicks that are taken with a tap there’s a large percentage where the player taking the tap stuffs up and ends up giving the ball to the opposition, Wright in the last Bledisloe as an example. I think you’ll see a lot more tap and goes and a lot of frustration from plays such as Wright’s one resulting in the dominant scrum not being the weapon it is at the moment. I think that’s sad and a step back in the game. If people don’t want a contest then piss off and play/watch mungo sport but don’t change the essence of this great game because you are too stupid to understand it.
Now there are a lot more changes and while some of them may work out I’d be very careful in getting what you wish for. Rugby is the only true contact sport where contest for possession occurs after a tackle, hit or contact occurs. It is part of what makes this game so great but comes with the sidebar that with so much going on the man in the middle can miss a bit. Now we all love that when our team gains the advantage from it but seem to not be so forgiving when those bastard opposition players get the advantage. Let’s be really careful on what we ask for as we may not get what we really want when it occurs.