Monday’s Rugby News looks at the Super Rugby AU results, the World Cup schedule and a parting shot from former RA interim CEO Rob Clarke to one of rugby’s biggest critics
The Reds have survived a major scare, overcoming the Rebels 23-21 at Suncorp Stadium.
The attitude of bend not break was taken too literally by the Reds, who found themselves on the wrong side of the referee, allowing the Rebels to kick 7 penalty goals throughout the contest.
In fact, both teams seemed to find themselves in a match where every single minor infraction was pulled up, with 32 penalties blown over the 80 minutes.
However, the difference-maker was hooker Alex Mafi, who scored the only two tries in the second half to put the Reds in front with four minutes to go.
Rebels flyhalf Matt Toomua would have a kick to win it after the bell, however, he pushed it to the left, allowing the Reds to escape with the victory.
Whilst Reds coach Brad Thorn was pleased with the win, he admits that neither himself nor the fans will take much pleasure out of the 80 minutes.
“What do you take from that? You take the win and you move on sometimes,” he said after the match.
“It’s not preferable there for a crowd or new audience (who want) some rugby played.
“But we’re trying to play, we want what you want and it just didn’t happen that way tonight … but I like that the lads found a way.”
Rebels coach Dave Wessels conceded that the intense ‘Amazing Race’ style pre-season had left them little choice but to play that style of rugby.
“I feel like I’m in an episode of the Amazing Race just travelling around the country,” Rebels coach Dave Wessels said.
“But we travel with 45, it’s not like you can just book like you’re going away for the weekend with your wife.
“I’ve come here under very difficult circumstances…I don’t care if I had to claw by my fingernails, we had to win.
“We were never going to play Barbarian-style rugby, but it doesn’t mean that later in the season we can’t.”
I think that Reds-Rebels game was it for the action for Super Rugby AU this week, onto the Six Nations…Ok fine, I’ll address the Waratahs game but I’m taking it up with the head of news (oh wait, that’s me).
The Brumbies have produced their largest win against the Waratahs, cruising to a dominant 61-10 win at GIO Stadium.
In a repeat of last week’s performance, the Waratahs would open the scoring before falling behind as the Brumbies chose death by rolling maul, with flyhalf Noah Lolesio somehow finding his way to a try at the back of one of two maul tries from close range.
However, the Brumbies went one further than the Reds did last week, going full Gladiator and showing no mercy to the under-strength Tahs.
Winger Mack Hansen would score two tries to seal his hat-trick, with the Brumbies bringing up the 50 after two late tries in the final 10 minutes.
Waratahs coach Rob Penney was shell-shocked after the match, conceding that his time at the top might be over if the higher powers deem it so.
“Not enough words to express the disappointment. I’ve got a shattered group. The Brumbies have taught us a first-class lesson … we just weren’t in the contest,” Penney said.
“We got a really good shellacking tonight. The boys are devastated. They don’t want events like tonight to happen. I love these boys and I’m doing my best.
“If other people think I’m not the right person, I’m not going to stand in the way. What’s right for the group is the important thing.
“We’ve got to be careful. They’re good boys and proud boys and they’re hurting big time. There will be people out there saying we’re not hard enough on them. You can’t whip a dog when it’s down.
“The last thing we want to do is dent any confidence they do have. We care about them. They’re humans first and rugby players second. Bloody good rugby players. They’ll bounce back.”
WC schedule confirmed
The 2023 Rugby World Cup schedule has been confirmed, with a blockbuster match set to kick off the tournament.
The number one ranked New Zealand (at the time of the draw/when 2023 hits, just accept it because it’s bound to happen) will take on hosts and fourth-ranked France on September 8 2023, commemorating the sport’s 200th birthday.
All matches will be played between Wednesday and Sunday to maximise fan and broadcast engagement, with seven double/triple-header weekends across the group stages.
Mark 9th September 2023 on the calendar, which will be Australia’s first game of the tournament against ‘Europe 1’, which will likely be Georgia, given that they should already be playing in the Six Nations.
They will then resume hostilities with their pool buddies, facing Fiji on the 17th in Nice before travelling to Lyon to take on Wales seven days later.
The group stages will conclude for the Wallabies on October 1 in Saint-Étienne against the Final Qualifier Winner, where hopefully we will see a second-string side with Australia’s spot in the finals confirmed.
“The match schedule announcement is the moment when the tournament truly comes alive for fans all around the world and is an exciting milestone on the road to Rugby World Cup France 2023,” World Rugby Chairman, Sir Bill Beaumont said in a statement.
“It has been developed with teams and fans at heart and we are confident it will provide the best possible platform for a thrilling, historic and very special Rugby World Cup in the sport’s 200th year.
“I would like to thank our friends at the France 2023 Organising Committee for their efforts in building the most fair and equitable RWC match schedule ever.
“I know I speak for fans around the world when I say that 2023 cannot come fast enough!”
After helping RA when they needed it the most, Rob Clarke has continued to fight for the sport, going at one of it’s biggest critics.
Having seen the sport cop countless drive-byes from former Aussie coach Alan Jones, Clarke decided to opt for his own version, a ‘yacht-by’ if you will, as he called out the shock jock.
“There are certain individuals, and I’ll mention Alan Jones as one, who I just think consistently takes the negative approach and the personal approach which I find very disappointing,” Clarke told The Herald.
“Alan was one of the Wallabies’ most successful coaches and made a very significant contribution to rugby nearly 40 years ago.
“Yet the last decade or two, the focus of his commentary, in particular on rugby administrators, has been mostly playing the man, or in Raelene’s case, was playing the woman and not the ball or the issue.
Jones’ whole ‘they took er jerbs’ strategy to target anyone non-Australians in positions of power in rugby, most recently Andy Marinos, didn’t sit well with Clarke, who pointed out the diversity across the leadership of various sporting organisations.
“Look around our top sports at the moment in Australia: Andrew Abdo, CEO of the NRL – you can’t get more tribal and suburban-based competition – he’s South African,” he argued.
“So is Craig Tiley, arguably in my view one of Australia’s most respected sports administrators. The interim CEO of Cricket Australia Nick Hockley is English.
“At the end of the day, if they’re the right people for the job, why does their birth place matter?
Australia is one of the most multicultural countries on the planet and rugby is an international sport played in over 130 countries.
“For what it’s worth, I think Andy is an excellent appointment.
“I get frustrated with those sort of things where I think it’s negativity for the sake of negativity. I think that’s sad. They’re the sort of things I wish our game could move through.”