Welcome, G&GRs, to Monday’s Rugby News.
I trust that your weekend got better after the utter shitfuckery of tipping results from Friday night… What the fuck even was that?! Apart from the Super Rugby, we’ll have a review of the TikTok Women’s 6N matches, a review of the Banks red card and Simon Cron taking the coaching reins at the Force in 2023.
Don’t forget there’s a Moana v Blues match on Tuesday at 5pm! Then the Reds and Ponies showdown again this weekend (dumb scheduling that…).
SUPER RUGBY – ROUND SIX
Moana Pasifika v Hurricanes – Well, my Friday night of tipping sure didn’t think this was a possibility (I went Canes by 30… egg meet face) let alone seeing a golden point thriller in Auckland. Despite two pieces of cheese handed out to MP, the competition’s other newcomers created their own piece of history by winning their first match in Super Rugby Pacific! A similar sentiment to Buzz Lightyear’s, “this isn’t flying; this is falling with style”, if you’re going to win a match, at least make it memorable! Despite the Hurricanes dominating possession and territory, they failed to take their chances against an undermanned and underplayed Moana – this is probably a theme of the weekend. Well done, Moana Pasifika! Moana Pasifika 24 – Canes 19
Check out the winning moment below:
Rebels v Drua – I had the pleasure of bringing 24 of my students along to the match. Unfortunately, the teams played shit rugby for the first 20 or so. The Drua, in particular, couldn’t scrum, catch or go forward. I mean, shit, if the Rebs are towelling you then there are some problems! That all being said, the last 15 minutes or so was simply breathtaking. I recall telling some of the boarding staff, all of whom are rusted on AFL supporters, that, if any team could make it interesting, it would be the Fijians. Well fuck me! An exhilarating passage of play where the total points passed 70! The stadium, despite its pathetically small crowd, was going ballistic with Drua supporters urging their team on. The Rebels could *almost* consider themselves fortunate to have held on; however, credit where it’s due as they did score a quick try to put the result beyond doubt. Rebels 42 – Drua 27.
How bloody good:
Force v Brumbies – I got home from my duty at school and managed to watch the first half. All of a sudden, the family snap chat was going ballistic. Seeing that ‘red card’ was mentioned, I was nervous as it could only mean that my beloved Ponies got themselves into a spot of bother. Well, we’ll touch on that further down…. In the interim, gee whiz there were some sublime pieces of rugby. Andy Muirhead really showed what a potential faux pas the Wallaby selectors made with a hat-trick of tries against Toni Pulu. Considering the relative inexperience of the Brumbies side (definitely not a ‘full-strength’ side), I was pleased with how we played throughout the phases of the match. I tell you what, I do love the way in which Ryan Lonergan plays rugger. His combination with Rod Iona was pretty useful. Personally, my favourite try was from Ryan himself after Len Ikitau’s break from the try line – see below. Full credit to the Force for their part in making the game happen, too. The Stan commentary noted that the half-time score was the most amount of points between two Australian teams… not bad! Force 38 – Brumbies 39.
The referee in me is still PISSED OFF at the ridiculous clash between the referee and the teams. How fucking hard is it to sort this out….?!
Highlanders v Blues – The Blues are still making their own lives difficult in their win over the competition cellar dwellers in the Highlanders. The Blues lost their talisman of sorts, Beauden Barrett, to probable concussion in the 41st minute. Despite Stephen Perofeta being in good form himself, it will always throw a team when you lose a player like Beaudy. At least Blues coach, Leon MacDonald, maintained his Kiwi sense of humour: ““Look, it was a no-brainer,” said MacDonald. Pretty sure a certain URC advertising company got the sack for attempting their version of humour…. 😉
Both teams pushed each other to the very end with committed defence; on this occasion, though, the Blues were able to come away with the choccies. Highlanders 25 – Blues 32
Chiefs v Crusaders – The Crusaders have spoiled the Chiefs’ Hamilton homecoming (after seven straight away matches!) and gained an almighty slice of revenge with it.
A 34-19 victory on Saturday night has the perennial champs back on track in Super Rugby Pacific, in their first outing since their last-gasp defeat to the Chiefs in Christchurch 14 days ago. It’s always hard to write the Crusaders off as we all know their capabilities. Two injuries to the Chiefs side in Retallick and Tupaea didn’t help their cause, either. In usual fashion, the key moment was Sevu Reece’s try. He was injected half a dozen minutes into the second stanza, the Fijian flyer brought plenty of energy and then some. To score, the play was Havili got on the outside of Ollie Norris, drew Shaun Stevenson then Reece did the rest, going 50 metres as he dummied past Kaleb Trask and left Bryn Gatland with no chance. Geez he’s quick and hard to mark! Chiefs 19 – Crusaders 34
Reds v Waratahs – Well, the Tarts have come crashing back to earth faster than the storm that hit Suncorp Stadium in the lead-up to the match. Oh my days that was a lot of water. Thoughts still go to the people in Qld and NSW who are expecting further rain this week, too.
The Queensland Reds overcame the dismissal of prop Dane Zander and the sin-binning of co-captain Tate McDermott to retain the Bob Templeton Cup with a 32-20 defeat of the NSW Waratahs at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night. The Reds were down to 13 men for 10 minutes either side of halftime; however, they survived to stamp their authority on the contest with three tries in the space of 15 second-half minutes. Queensland’s hopes of a bonus-point win were dashed in the dying stages when Waratahs replacement Tom Horton crashed over. Obviously not the result the Tarts wanted, but it may well be a result that they need (per se) to realise they have to lift their game against the top class teams, especially with the Kiwi games fast approaching.
WOMEN’S 6 NATIONS – ROUND ONE
Scotland 5 – England 57 – England begin their 6 Nations campaign in style, running in nine tries to secure their 19th consecutive victory. Scotland showed plenty of attacking intent, and deserved more than the five points they picked up – but England took their chances clinically. Across their last three meetings, England had beaten Scotland by an average of 55 points – and they kept up that consistent dominance with a 52-point margin of victory here. While England were always in control, it didn’t feel that one-sided a contest. The key difference was that when England got deep into Scottish territory, they scored – while the hosts missed a few opportunities to make territory count. It’s worth remembering that England have improved in recent years, with the Premier 15s helping to build strength in depth. They’re the World Cup favourites, and outclassed New Zealand twice in the autumn – so by that measure, Scotland have got better too. This is the area where I can see the Australian and New Zealand sides (as well as the Pacific sides) in deep shite. The game in the North has improved 100-fold in the past half a decade and we are being left behind. It’s been said time and time again here that our female game is so underrepresented. This urgently requires remedying.
Ireland 19 – Wales 27 – Wales Women halted a run of seven straight 6 Nations defeats with a stunning win over Ireland at Dublin’s RDS Arena. A late double from replacement prop Donna Rose helped to seal the win for Ioan Cunningham’s side, who are coming into their first campaign since the Welsh Rugby Union handed full-time professional contracts to 12 players at the start of the year. A dozen more have since taken up part-time deals. A bit of a sloppy start from both teams; however, like their male counterparts, both teams improved as the match went on.
France 39 – Italy 6 – France made the perfect start to their Women’s 6 Nations campaign with a 39-6 victory over Italy. Italy dominated possession, especially in the first half, but it was the hosts who were by far the more clinical, running in five tries at the Stade Des Alpes in Grenoble. Tries from Madoussou Fall and Emeline Gros helped France to a 17-6 half-time lead, and Lea Murie, Emilie Boulard and Chloe Jacquet all crossed in the second half.
TOM BANKS RED CARD
Much to my chagrin, the commentary surrounding Tom Bank’s red card against the Force was one of dismay and the usual calls of, ‘the game’s gone soft’, and, ‘we’re not playing tiddlywinks’. For those people, kindly fuck off. Sorry not sorry. This is a clear case of exactly what World Rugby and their associated associations are trying to get rid of.
Firstly, let’s break the decision down and establish the facts:
- Banks was approaching at a distance
- He was approaching at speed
- He made no effort to go low
- There was direct contact to the head with significant force
Therefore, as the law stands, the officials have no option but to issue a red. For those that are blaming Gus Gardner for ‘ruining the match’ and saying that ‘the referees ruined the game’, and, ‘it’s a shit call’, etc. then you’re wrong. Refereeing is reactive. Referees cannot judge intent. Referees can only manage what they are presented with. Referees can referee within the laws and how these are interpreted (I appreciate this is a whole other argument) currently within the match guidelines.
Secondly, what many viewers are failing to recognise is that World Rugby/SANZAR, etc. has a duty of care to the TACKLER as well as the TACKLED player. Banks has clearly come off second best in this tackle and, even with a red card with at least three weeks suspension (as a guess), he looks like he’ll be spending some time on the side-lines post-concussion and maybe a fractured cheek. Banks got this entirely wrong and, with any luck, will have the hard work put in on the side-lines to correct his form.
Finally, I have heard the arguments from the Stan commentary team and others on social media channels re Pulu changing lines. For me, as one of the most blatant Ponies supporters, I simply don’t see it. Banks never gave himself a chance to make a legal tackle. Indeed, if we check the footage of a VERY similar tackle from the Reds game with Petaia, which is rightly being celebrated for the try-saver that it ended up being, my contention is that Banks had every opportunity to perform something similar.
I know I’m going to be mostly preaching to the converted; however, if this can educate even one person then we’re on to a good thing!
SIMON CRON TO THE FORCE
The Force announced this morning that Simon Cron will return from Japan to take over from Tim Sampson at the Force. I must admit this came as quite a shock to me as I have nothing but admiration of how Tim Sampson has approached his role. A mate of mine did say that five years is quite a period of time; however, a mid-season announcement like this is pretty fucking rude. I’m not complaining that Cron is coming back; however, it could mean yet another strong Aussie coach is headed away from the shores. There’s even a part of me that’s disappointed that the Brumbies have Larkham coming back (I don’t think this is the right move tbh… but time will tell).
From Perth Now:
“The Western Force have made a shock coaching move, with former Waratahs assistant Simon Cron set to replace Tim Sampson in charge of the Super Rugby club. The Force appointed Cron, current coach of Japanese club Toyota Verblitz, to lead the club for the next two Super Rugby Pacific seasons. The Force confirmed the switch via a 3:10am (WA time) press release. The surprise move comes after the club refused to extend current coach Sampson’s contract but he will remain in charge for the rest of the season. Cron has coached the Australian under-20s, Sydney Rays in the National Rugby Championship, led Northern Suburbs to a Shute Shield premiership and is working under former All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, director of rugby at Verblitz where he has apparently turned down a further contract extension”.