Monday’s Rugby News looks at the Super Rugby Australia final, the surprise selection as the Wallabies forwards coach, Kyle Godwin’s re-signing with the Force and the search for Rugby Australia’s next permanent CEO.
Brumbies claim title
The ACT Brumbies have been crowned Super Rugby Australian champions after they held off Queensland Reds 28-23.
After a tense first half, the home side would manage to kick clear 28-13 thanks to the boot of 20-year-old Noah Lolesio, who contributed 10 points in his return from injury.
As the Reds searched for an answer in the final 10 minutes, they were hampered by a lack of discipline and a faulty lineout, allowing the ACT side to take the inaugural title.
“It was a huge effort from the boys,” Brumbies captain Allan Alaalatoa said.
“Credit to the Reds, they were always going to come back in the second half and they were going to make it hard for us. I’m really proud of the boys that we closed out the game there.”
Despite playing in just his first match in nearly two months, Loelsio was awarded man of the match, with coach Dan McKellar praising his influence whilst backing him for higher honours when Dave Rennie names his first squad for October 11.
“It’s easy to reflect and say that it was an easy decision,” Brumbies coach Dan McKellar said of Lolesio.
“As I said during the week for four months he hadn’t played before the Rebels game and he fronted up that night and we were confident he’d do the same again tonight.
“He was one of our best players and there were a lot of other players that stood up as well.
“If you surround him with experience, a good forward pack, which they’ll have the Wallabies, a good scrum, lineout, maul and he can play. If you get on the front-foot he’s very dangerous.
“He’s certainly good enough and age goes out the window.”
One player that will be racing the clock to be fit for the Wallabies will be Jordan Petaia, who was forced off the field with a groin complaint.
Dave Rennie has confirmed that former English and British and Irish Lions lock Geoff Parling will be the new forwards coach for the Wallabies.
Parling has served as the Rebels forwards coach for the past three years after a successful transition from his 32-cap career, finishing his career with the Melbourne-based club.
His appointment comes after Brumbies coach Dan McKellar withdrew from the role, opting to stay in Canberra in order to work with the club’s impending attack coach with Peter Hewitt on his way to Japan.
Despite the short-notice appointment, Rennie believes that Parling can help transform the Wallabies line-out and maul.
“We’re very lucky to get the services of someone of Geoff’s ability at such short notice, especially considering he already has an intimate knowledge of the players,” he said in a statement.
“He is a good man. He’s technically very strong around lineout and maul and he has impressed me with his work ethic to get up to speed over the last two weeks.
“There have been a lot of challenges so far in 2020 and we’ve had to be agile and adaptable, none more so than Geoff who has already made so many sacrifices while being on the road with Rebels this season but he still jumped at the opportunity to join our team.”
Having experienced the quality of Australian rugby both as a player and coach, Parling was confident that he can help turn the Wallabies into powerhouses, stressing the importance of hard work
“I’ve really enjoyed helping develop the players we’ve had in Melbourne, so to now get the opportunity to join Dave’s coaching team for this Test season is a real honour.”
“There is some great talent here, but we won’t get anywhere without hard work.
“I have high expectations of the group and am looking forward to seeing them rip in.”
Here for God(win)
Perth-born centre Kyle Godwin has turned his back on the Waratahs, recommitting to the Western Force for the next two years.
Godwin had reportedly agreed to a deal in principle with the Tahs, however, he has decided to stay in his hometown as NSW Rugby looks to limit their wage bill for 2021.
Having joined at the start of the Super Rugby Australia season, Godwin was ecstatic with the progress that the club has made in 2020, believing that they can do something special.
“This club holds a special place in my heart and to be able to represent WA again means the world to me,” Godwin said.
“It’s great to re-sign with the Western Force. It feels like a homecoming after beginning my career here all those years ago.
“We’re making the Force a rugby powerhouse, we’re certainly building something special here,
“I’ve experienced the passion of the Sea of Blue and I’m really looking forward to soaking up that atmosphere and support once again.”
This was shared by coach Tim Sampson, who himself recommitted to the Force last week, expressing the importance of keeping home-grown, quality players like Godwin around for the long-term.
“It is great news to have Kyle commit to the club. Being WA raised and a returning player to our club is very important to us,” Sampson said.
“Kyle expressed his desire to return to the club and we were obviously delighted. He has many fond memories of growing up here in the state and has enormous respect for rugby in WA.
“Kyle showed his class recently in the Super Rugby AU competition and deserved every bit of his Wallaby squad call up.
“He loves pulling on the Western Force jersey and I am sure his commitment to the club is going to put a smile on a lot of people’s faces.”
RA interim CEO Rob Clarke has confirmed that he will remain in the position until March 2021 as the code looks to navigate through the difficult period.
Clarke had previously indicated that he would only stay in the role for six months, suggesting that he would vacate the position by Christmas.
However, chairman Hamish McLennan has confirmed that Clarke will stick around in order to provide some much need stability during a period of change.
“We’ve seen lots of good candidates, but I’ve always said there’s no rush and considering the amount of work we need to do with the Rugby Championship and launching the new competition next year, Rob has kindly agreed to stay through until March next year,” McLennan told The Herald.
“We’re making huge progress and having a few laughs while we bring it all together.
“We’ve stabilised RA, got more engagement with the member unions, we’re driving costs down, we got the Rugby Championship, have broadcast negotiations in play and have made real progress on constitutional reform, so Rob and I are going to keep bulldozing forward.”
Having convinced him to stay in the role for an extended period, McLennan was hopeful that he could be convinced to take the role up permanently, however, conceded that it was unlikely.
“He’s pretty committed to going sailing in the Mediterranean,” McLennan joked.
For now, McLennan and the rest of the organisation will continue to search for a permanent heir to Clarke’s throne, with the likes of managing director of sport sponsorship and agency International Quarterback Chris White, former NSW cricket boss Andrew Jones and SANZAAR chief executive Andy Marinos potential options to replace Clarke.