Well, Happy Monday G&GRs, and a Happy New Year to all ye rugby faithful. Let’s hope that 2024 is a better year for Australian Rugby because let’s face facts it can’t get much worse than 2023. So let’s sit down, grab a large cup of Kwoooffeee ☕, and get into the first G&GR Rugby News of 2024.
As always this is a fan-run site and any contribution is welcome, feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com 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.
Six Nations 2024 -Round One
Ireland 38 Defeat France 17
The opening round of the 2024 Six Nations tournament couldn’t have come soon enough. With a complete lack of rugby over the summer break, this little black duck was craving some hard-core games to come back. And come back it has.
The Froggies certainly missed Antoine Dupont’s leadership, calming influence, and ability to turn a game back in their favour when it’s going against them. The Paddies, on the other hand, came on as strong and slick as ever, and even better at the set-pieces. What really impressed me was their immense pressure at the breakdown. Monstering the Froggies, and picking up turnovers almost at will.
Did the card play a part? Certainly! Willemsee picks up some cheddar cheese (which in my opinion should have been served with some Shiraz on his first incident) and spends his time on the naughty chair. He comes back on, obviously not having reflected on his past indiscretions, and cops a second serve of cheddar! Two pieces of cheddar equals a Shiraz every day of the week, and France ends up playing about 3/4 of the game with 14 players. And to rub salt into the wounds, Willemsee’s second yellow is upgraded to a red based on his indiscretion, so I don’t think he will be back on the paddock for a few weeks. Just saying! But to be honest, red card or not, France wasn’t going to win this match. Ireland post-Johnny Sexpot, was just too good.
Scotland 27 defeated Wales 26
From the start to the finish of this game, Scotland were properly pooing the bed. It is the Scottish lament, just like the Wallabies woes, that must drive their kilt-wearing fans nuts. In the end, they scraped in for victory, by the the width of a Haggis skin. There’s lots of work to do for the Scottish team, and it all can’t be blamed on being a little rusty.
England 27 defeated Italy 24
England recovered from what can only be described as a horrific start, suffering a total defensive breakdown, to just squeak past Italy 27-24 in their opening Six Nations game in Rome. Luckily for the Soap Dodgers, this ends their run of four successive opening 6N match defeats. Italy was out to a very feisty 17-14 lead at halftime oranges, and a last-minute 5-pointer managed to earn them a losing bonus point. This performance is the Italian’s most competitive Six Nations performance against England ever.
England’s new-look post-Rugby World Cup squad consisted of only 12 of the 23 who fronted up for the Bill. And it showed! They looked like a team that didn’t know their defensive plays and who should be where and when! The Poms are at home to Wales next Weekend and Italy faces the hard task of a trip to Dublin to face a red-hot Ireland.
Bring on round two I say. All three games were entertaining in one form or another. Just great to have international test matches back to start the rugby year off.
Super Rugby Trial Matches
Rebels 38 Defeated Waratahs 12
The Rebels have put behind them their off-field financial issues to hand the Tahs a bit of a touch-up in the pre-season trial game. While you can hear the NSW fans screaming “It is only a trial!”, the Rebels looked very solid, with ex-Queensland import LSL standing up for the Rebels.
Wallabies, and another ex-Queenslander, tight head prop Taniela Tupou, played the opening 30 minutes and most importantly got through unscathed. The Tahs were down their captain and gobby scrum half, Jake Gordon, but mostly had a full-strength squad. The Rebels will hope this form continues for their season, to help their perilous financial position. The Tahs will hope this isn’t an indicator of their season ahead!
Western Force 21 Defeated The Reds 19
The Queensland Reds, as promised by new Coach Les Kiss, cycled through 34 players in their first trial game before being pipped at the post 21-19 by Twiggy’s Western Force at Ballymore Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Both teams looked to be still sorting out combinations, with some defensive lapses costing both teams, particularly the Reds.
For both teams, it was interesting to see the deeper squad getting game minutes, an indication of the future of both teams. The Reds played three scrum halves, and all of them including incumbent Tate McDermott, looked like running firecrackers.
Brumbies 43 defeated Fijian Drua 40
The Fijian Drua went down 43-40 in their warm-up against the ACT Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday. The flying Fijians got off to a super quick start dotting down several tries, leaving the Ponies scratching their heads as to what was happening. The Brumbies then seemed to wake up and get on the board, with the Fijians going to oranges ahead 28-24.
The Ponies came out very strongly in the second half dotting down three tries to take a 43-35 lead. The Fijians came back strongly in the last 5 minutes and managed to get in a fantastic try, but weren’t able to take the game. The Ponies looked good, but a worrying sign for the other Super Rugby teams is that the Fijians seem to have built on last year, and should be very competitive this year.
Stan Wallabies Documentary.
Well one thing that really pissed this little black duck off over the weekend of rugby, was the constant trotting out by Stan of ads for their upcoming Wallabies RWC Documentary. In what really should be called a “Mockumentary”, the constant vision of Dr. Evil on the screen jibbering his shit, was totally and utterly infuriating.
In what is described as “a documentary created by award-winning production company CJZ in conjunction with Karlinberg Entertainment (Karl Stefanovic and Richard Weinberg), this extraordinary look inside the Wallabies inner sanctum will offer exclusive access to Eddie Jones as he takes over the team just nine months out from the tournament, and with the hope of transforming the Wallabies into world champions.”
“This is the first time Rugby Australia has given anyone an all-access pass to the Wallabies in over 30 years, giving audiences an unfettered look at the side as they attempt to claim glory, despite the chaos of controversial selections, injury and scandalous headlines all around them.”
Well if the ads are anything to go by, I don’t think I’m going to be able to watch this. Because every time Eddie’s mug came on the TV I wanted to throw something at it. Knowing what we know now, it just makes me angry that Australian rugby was destroyed by this ‘Kamikazee’ coach. This author along with a lot of other G&GR peeps, wrote articles and commented about the fact that sacking Dave Rennie and recruiting Dr Evil was going to end badly, and so it did. Re-living is not something that I think I need to do.
Rugby World Cup – Australian ‘Troll’ charged for online referee abuse.
An ‘alleged’ idiot from Queensland has been charged for sending online abuse to a match official during last year’s Rugby World Cup. This ‘alleged’ vile troll was identified by an AI-driven security system utilised by World Rugby and the perpetrator was reported to Queensland Police.
Chief executive of World Rugby, Alan Gilpin, has indicated that they are hoping for the prosecution of the alleged abuser after forwarding evidence to Queensland police. The perpetrator was subsequently charged with using a carriage service to menace and harass, under Commonwealth legislation.
The Rugby World Cup of 2023 will not only go down in history for some of the greatest matches ever played but also the highest level of match official abuse and trolling in history. In what is shaping up to be a worrying trend, the abuse directed at officials was out of hand. This author believes that World Rugby has to come down on this hard, very hard! Remove the cloak of anonymity of these ‘keyboard warriors’ and support our match officials, whom our game can’t exist without.
In Schmidt We Trust
Well, fellow G&GRs, I don’t know about you, but I for one am very excited about the arrival of our new coach. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think he’s the messiah! But without a doubt, he was the best choice of coach, with the best track record to come in and commence the rebuild of team Wallaby. Unlike many people on the “Shouty” site, I’m not one for this absolute rubbish that the Australian team must have an Australian coach. And only an Australian understands the Australian way of rugby. Never have I heard such utter bullshit in my entire life. We hired Eddie on that basis and look how that worked out for us. You recruit the best person for the job, regardless of where they are from. I genuinely believe that we secured the best available coach at this time.
In a recent interview, Big Joe had some very interesting things to say: “I’ve watched a few of those [World Cup] games back with a different lens and there’s some things I think we can work on and I’d like to think we can improve,” he said. “I’m also realistic and I know how competitive the top of the Test match tree is.”
“I’m looking at the individuals and trying to figure out how we can keep building them. Some of the connections I felt didn’t quite work. I’m not expecting miracles, but I definitely believe we can get a shift and we can keep that shift going in the right direction. I don’t have a magic formula at all, but I know I will work as hard as I can in building the relationships inside the team and beyond the team with the community.”
“At the same time, I’ll be trying to build that performance forward because we need the interest levels to be good. Currently, we are ranked quite well below the four teams that make up the Lions – collectively, you would assume they would be a stronger force,” he said.
“That’s a fantastic challenge for our men to get together and try to turn that around. From what I’ve observed from the outside looking in, there are some really competitive and respected leaders among the Wallabies crew. I’m really open-minded around who will be involved. What will be a priority for me is getting a staff that will have some knowledge of the players as well, so that way we can build a set of selection discussions that lead us toward the right sort of people. I’d love to see some of the players putting their hands up through this Super Rugby season and really challenge themselves and challenge some of the guys that have been there before to perform.”
“High tides lift all boats and hopefully we can profit from that by having some guys performing at their best when they come into camp. It’s pretty hard to pick a team up from disappointment and suddenly springboard into a Test within four or five training sessions.”
I like this guy’s calm and rational approach. In comparison to the last idiot, I’m hopeful that the next two years will see a solid rebuilding of the Wallabies. Let’s not shoot this guy because he doesn’t win the first two matches as Wallabies coach, which seems to be a wonderfully Australian trait.
Anyway, enough of this madman rambling, over to you G&GRs. Have at it!