Rugby

Monday’s Rugby News

Monday’s Rugby News

MONDAY’S RUGBY NEWS

Monday’s rugby news runs an eye over the latest Super games, Vegas Sevens, World Rugby respond to the World League criticisms and Cheika goes on a rant.


Super Rugby Round Three

Liz Patu is in hot water after the weekend.

Liz Patu is in hot water after the weekend.

The Brumbies, evidently still giddy after last week’s half century, came back to reality with a sickening thud as the Hurricanes ran rings around them.  The score after 80 minutes was 36-13.  Of course, being an Australian team, they found a way to concede another try leaving the final score 43-13.  Read GAGR’s thoughts on the match here.

Over to Melbourne and the much-esteemed Rebels took on the Highlanders.  The hype was much deserved as the match swung from one side’s favour to the other and then back again.  Both teams had their moments, and chances but in the end the Rebels hung on in incredible circumstances, taking the match, 24-19.  We dispatched one of our writers (in first class comfort*) to report on happenings from the craft beer capital.

In the Super W, the Rebels couldn’t repeat the feat as they were blown away, 69-0 by the Brumbies.

After the excitement of the Rebels rolling the Highlanders, Saturday’s games had a lot to live up to.

And did they ever!!  Well, the first game did.  The competition’s whipping boys, the Sunwolves, hammered the Chiefs in every imaginable way (including, importantly, the scoreboard) as they recorded their first ever away win, 30-15.

Suncorp then was the scene for the 2011 grand final rematch.  Could the “new” Reds under Thorn pull off a coup against his old team the Crusaders?

In short, no.  The final score of 22-12 flattered the Reds as the visitors racked up their 18th consecutive win.   And to add injury to insult, Jordan Petaia’s injury could be quite serious, potentially ruling him out for the season.

There was some good news for the sunshine state with the Reds Women doing it in a canter against WA.  A biting allegation and a citing for Liz Patu put a damper on the 28-3 win.

For the night owls there were two matches, the Bulls beat the Lions and Stormers edged the Sharks.

The round finished with the Jaguares hosting the Blues.  The Aucklanders came into the match off the back of some sad news and try as they may, they went down 23-19.

Assistant coach Tom Coventry summed up the sometimes-cruel realities of professional sport, “We tried to leave the emotion out but we were very aware and tried to perform for him”

“I don’t think it had a big impact on the way we played which was more about our structure and various times just being unable to nail the key moments”

Las Vegas Sevens

Lewis Holland is sitting out the remaining matches after being found guilty of a dangerous tackle.

Lewis Holland is sitting out the remaining matches after being found guilty of a dangerous tackle.

The Sevens circus rolls on.

This weekend it’s Las Vegas and the Aussies started in red hot form.  Playing in the first match of the weekend it was a four try to nil, 26 points to blot, routing of Wales then followed up with another four-try showing against Scotland 24-12 to set up a “whoever wins this match will top Pool D” clash with Fiji.

The teams had played twice previously (in Hamilton and Sydney) and both times it was the Fijians that got the nod.

It was third time lucky for the men in gold.  The 26-15 win set up a quarter final showdown with Pool A runners-up, Samoa.

The win spelled the end of the luck for the Aussies as they lost Lewis Holland for the rest of the tournament (and the first couple of matches in Vancouver) after he copped a 3-match suspension for a dangerous tackle.

The Aussies again scored four tries and again scored more tries than their opponents but thanks to their wayward goal-kicking (none from four) and the Samoan’s unerring accuracy (three from three) sees them through to the semi-final.

“We opened the door to move up the ladder and finish on the podium this weekend and produced some quality performances in our pool matches.

Coach Tim Walsh pointed to his team’s lack of conviction in their play being their undoing,

“Sadly, we let another opportunity slip and closed that door on ourselves.

“We played with fear and waited for something to happen.

“Across the squad we are hurting and bitterly disappointed with ourselves.

“Tomorrow is a test of character and we will turn up to perform when we take on England.”

This morning the Aussies will take on the Poms for a chance at a chance to finish in fifth place (that’s not a typo).  The winner of this match will face either the Blitz Bokke or Fiji.

Elsewhere, New Zealand has a chance to stop USA’s run of second-places by virtue of their semi-final showdown.

The other semi sees the Aussie-vanquishing Samoans take on Argentina.

World League Backlash

International Triple Header

Tonga have a proud tradition of producing talented rugby players

Mooted last year in September, the World League would see 12 teams (six from each of the hemispheres) play intra-hemispherical games during the first part of the year (namely, Six Nations and Rugby Championship) and then the traditional inbound July and outbound end of season tours would serve to accommodate the inter-hemispherical matches before the top four played off for a grand champion.

The teams to bump up the numbers for the south are Japan (currently ranked 11th) and USA (currently ranked 13th) which has drawn the ire of many as it excludes any nation from the Pacific.

Currently, Fiji sit 9th, Tonga 14th and Samoa 16th in the world rankings. All three countries have a proud tradition in the game and it would be folly to ignore the ongoing influence of Islander players on the modern game.

There’s even a suggestion of protest action at this year’s World Cup.

Head of the Pacific Rugby Players Welfare and former Samoan captain, Dan Leo, clearly highlighted the importance of the Pacific to rugby, “The World Cup would lose. I don’t think the competition could go ahead if you took out a quarter of the players.  We provide almost 20% of all professional players in terms of heritage and almost a quarter of the players at the next World Cup will be of Pacific Islands heritage.”

It’s all caught the eye of World rugby CEO Brett Gosper, who took to twitter to allay fears.

Talking to AFP (not the federal police, the media organisation) Gosper continued to try to assuage fear, “Therefore, there is no question of closing out the Pacific Islands as we would be adding two more emerging unions to the top table whilst financing a second-tier competition with all the benefits that would bring to the players.”

At this point, with so many tweets, accusations and innuendo surrounding the topic it’s hard to see what’s going on, however, what is clear to even the most casual of observers is that World Rugby can ill afford to ignore the Pacific.

 

“I still love it”

CheikaSuit

“What?”

That’s the message from embattled Wallaby coach Michael Cheika.

Pressure has mounted since the World Cup in 2015, where the Wallabies finished second after a break-out tournament, exceeding the expectations of many.

The cries got ever louder last year as the team slumped to its worst performance in decades, culminating in a review at the end of the year that saw a new director of rugby, Scott Johnson appointed, who Cheika will answer to.

Known for his hard-to-read demeanour and cauliflower ears Cheika has shaken off the ongoing questioning of his team and position stating, “It’s a game you love and it doesn’t matter how many bullets people want to throw at me, I still love it.”  Which is in some ways reassuring but hardly wins matches.

In the video, posted on the Wallabies’ Facebook page, he continued on, “we’ve got ourselves a good plan for building momentum this year, I think that’s really important for us” which again, (at least to this writer) sounds very scripted.

He did say something that even the most ardent fan or cynical detractor could agree on,

“We (the Wallabies) will be going into the tournament, all the tournaments this year, both Rugby Championship and World Cup, as underdogs. We have to take advantage of that.”

See below for both videos in their entirety.

 

Rugby

Turned to writing for GAGR before my over the top rants about rugby landed me in hot water. Hoping this will keep me a little more measured.

More in Rugby