Welcome, GA&Rs, to Monday’s Rugby News! Today, we’ll check out the action in Buenos Aires, the viewing figures from Thursday’s match in the Sporting Capital of the World, the Super Round to return to, you guessed it, the Sporting Capital of the World(!), a brilliant view on ‘Final Whistle’ from World Rugby feat. VRRA and Australia’s own Amber McLachlan and pondering Lurch’s judicial hearing.
SPRINGBOKS v LOS PUMAS
South Africa emerged from Buenos Aires as New Zealand’s main rival for the Rugby Championship after beating Argentina on Sunday (AEST).
The Springboks were made to work hard before securing a 36-20 triumph against a spirited Argentina side in their Rugby Championship Test in Buenos Aires on Saturday. Despite delivering a relatively dominant first half performance, the Boks went off the boil after half-time and allowed the Pumas to come back into the match before late tries from Damian de Allende and Malcolm Marx secured them the result and an important bonus point. Marx scored another try for the visitors in the first half and their other points came via a five pointer from Jaden Hendrikse, a conversion and a penalty from Damian Willemse, two conversions from Frans Steyn as well as a penalty try.
Some woeful discipline from the Pumas in the first half, matched by the Boks in the second half, led to a penalty count of 34, or, a penalty every two and a bit minutes. No doubt this fell well in the Bok’s favour.
All four teams could still win the most fiercely competitive championship in the last round next weekend and, in the unlikely event of the All Blacks losing to Australia at their Eden Park fortress for the first time in 36 years, the Springboks are in prime position to take advantage. They and the All Blacks are on 14 points – the All Blacks have a vastly superior points differential – Australia has 10 points, and Argentina nine. Who knows what the fark will happen as I think I’ve now seen everything this Championship.
VIEWING NUMBERS FROM THURSDAY’S BLEDISLOE
There have only been two mid-week Bledisloe Cup matches and both have ended in high drama: the Gregan tackle of 1994 and the ‘Raynal Ruckus’ of 2022.
So the faint-hearted can consider themselves warned: the midweek Bledisloe Cup fixture appears set to be a semi-regular occurrence after a successful switch in Melbourne left broadcasters, the Victorian government and Rugby Australia all happy. In one of the strongest ratings performances in many years, the Wallabies-All Blacks clash drew in 630,000 viewers on Channel Nine nationally and, with 70,000-plus streaming the game on 9Now, finished with an audience of more than 700,000. That surpasses the 630,000 who tuned in to watch the Wallabies take on England in Brisbane in July and combined with Stan viewership figures (which do not get released but believed to be over 300,000) informed sources said the Bledisloe Cup clash would have drawn in an audience of more than 1 million viewers. But given the experimental nature of the switch to Thursday night, which was done to avoid the AFL finals in Melbourne, the strong television audience and a sell-out crowd of 53,245 at Marvel Stadium is being viewed as a big success by all parties. Sources with knowledge of the situation say the Victorian government officials were very pleased with the success of the Thursday Bledisloe Cup, and with the potential to lure visitors to the state for a long weekend, is a fixture they’d be keen to do again. Key figures at the Nine Network are also open to more midweek Tests and flexible Wallabies scheduling, which takes in day matches as well. In the hours prior to the Bledisloe Cup Test in Melbourne Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan was asked if more midweek Tests could be on the cards. “Absolutely. State of Origin is played midweek. Why not?” McLennan told reporters. “It’s all about creating clear air for the game. We did an experiment in Adelaide which paid off playing in the afternoon. We’ll schedule more and more games in prime time. Thursday is a good night for sport.”
**Edit** I forgot to say that clearly rugby union is not dead. One million viewers and a huge amount of coverage (bad press is good press, amiright?) on the socials and on the MSM. I thought the servers on G&GR and the other site were going to blow up last Friday!
SUPER ROUND 2023 – MELBOURNE!
The world’s best rugby players will come back to Melbourne in an action-packed weekend of Super Rugby with ‘Super Round Melbourne’ returning to AAMI Park from Friday, 3 March through to Sunday, 5 March 2023. The second iteration of Super Round Melbourne will be more than just rugby with event organisers
actually planning any additional music, entertainment, food offerings and interactive experiences to be held around AAMI Park for fans to enjoy. Activities celebrating the cultures that make up the Super Rugby Pacific competition will be held across the three days, with a record number of South Pacific fans expected to travel to Melbourne to experience a unique weekend of Rugby.
Now, I’ll be the first to be ridiculously critical of the inaugural Super Round. The standard of rugby was good. The weather was cracking. Everything else was farking pathetic! Now, if I had my way I’d do a lot of things differently, but if you’re good at something, you don’t do it for free (except refereeing, but I’m not really ‘good’ per se!). I really do hope that the official organisers, some Kiwi company, SANZAAR or whoever the fark actually runs the competition these days (including Rugby Victoria and Melbourne Rebels, they are just as responsible in my book) and anyone else involved gets their collective shit sorted.
On a side note, we will almost certainly be having a G&GR reunion so get your leave/bail/flex time/parole/permission stamps, etc. sorted well in advance please, ladies, gentlemen and Hoss.
Match schedule for Super Round 2023
Friday 3 March
6pm – Crusaders v Highlanders
Friday 8pm –
Wests Bulldogs Rebels v Hurricanes
Saturday 4 March
5:05pm – Moana Pasifika v Chiefs
7:45pm – Drua v Tahs
Sunday 5 March
2pm – Brumbies v Blues
4:30pm – Force v Reds
SWAIN AWAITING JUDICIAL HEARING
Watching live in the stadium it seemed like one of the most insane cheesings ever. Upon closer inspection, it seems Swain could well be set for a stint on the sidelines. How a bloke manages to fark it all up in the space of 26 seconds (i.e. the time it took for him to replace Rob Leota to being cheesed by the aptly named cheese-loving surrender monkey), let alone be such a grub, is beyond me.
There has been a bit of chat behind the scenes among the crapparazzi about this. While I’ve always pegged Swain as a loose cannon from Vikings (where he has long been known as a penalty magnet who gets away with murder courtesy of his local club/super/national coach, Chuckles McKellar), it seems about time that someone takes him out the back and shows him exactly what it means to be a rugby player. There’s no doubt he’s a decent enough rugby player, but Jesus farking Christ, he’s directly responsible for two match turning moments in one season all through shitfuckery of his own doing.
I’m expecting quite a hefty lay off, though who knows what the WR ‘Chocolate Wheel of Justice’ will bring up this time.
AMBER McLACHLAN GETS ‘THE CALL‘
World Rugby have released four instalments of ‘Final Whistle’, which follows four female international referees on their journey to the WRWC in Noo Zeelund in a few weeks’ time. It’s a fascinating documentary of the efforts these women have put into their refereeing careers and shows both the progress made by our leading female officials, as well as the cutthroat nature of the profession. Happy watching!
NOTE: the episodes are last (episode 4 – Amber) to first (overview) with episode 2 being Hollie Davidson and Kat Roche and episode 3 being Sara Cox.