This week the Top 5 delves into the new TMO protocols, looks at the fun side of Japanese Rugby, catches up briefly with one the the Brumbies faves, is impressed by Gibson and glances at the opening weekend of Super Rugby.
JAPAN TOP LEAGUE ALL STARS
On Saturday the Sunwolves played their only preseason match against the Japanese Top League All Stars. While reports of the match don’t sound like it was enthralling viewing (lots of errors, scrappy play), the All Stars wore one of the BEST jerseys I have ever seen.
2月18日の、トップリーグオールスターズのジャージーデザインも発表になりました！#DreamMatch2017 #sunwolves #TLAllstars #rugbyjphttps://t.co/BiB8vClVF9 pic.twitter.com/39ClAKa5WO
— JapanRugby TopLeague (@JRTopLeague) 10 February 2017
Awesome, isn’t it!
Now look carefully at the Top League logo in the header … can you see him?
２／１８（土）＠ミクニワールドスタジアム北九州 JAPAN RUGBY DREAM MATCH 2017の両チーム試合登録メンバーを発表しました❗ https://t.co/K0QdjYECO3 #sunwolves #TLAllstars #DreamMatch2017 pic.twitter.com/cZvSvN34wx
— HITO-Com SUNWOLVES (@sunwolves) 16 February 2017
Gotta love the creativity!
CHRISTIAN IN REMISSION AND IN CANBERRA
As was reported over the weekend, and in yesterday’s Daily News, Christian Lealiifano is back in Canberra and his leukaemia has reportedly gone into remission. Saturday marked the 100th day since his bone marrow transplant in Melbourne, and he raced back to Canberra so he could be at the Brumbies Meet the Player Day, much to the pleasure of Brumbies fans who were not expecting to see him there. I spoke to him on the day, and he said how pleased he was to be back in Canberra and that it was so good to be at the event that morning. He appeared upbeat, happily chatting with fans, posing for photos and signing autographs, he was definitely one of the most popular there!
While he won’t be taking the field this year, just his presence at the club once again must be uplifting for the rest of the team, after a pretty tough few weeks with injuries already impacting their season.
SUPER RUGBY IS BACK!!!
Woot Woot! Are we excited yet? Just 2 more sleeps to go until the kick off of the 2017 Super Rugby season. Yep, it all starts this Thursday (still not sure what the go is with a Thursday start) when the Rebels take on the Blues in Melbourne. On Friday the Reds play the Sharks in Brisbane, The Brumbies are in Christchurch to play the Crusaders on Saturday while the Waratahs will host the Force.
It’s our first real chance to see new players, old players in new colours such as Brumbies Legend George Smith donning the red, players returning to old stomping grounds, QC and Moore returning to the Reds and new head coaches … again such as Stiles at the Reds!
Will the opening round give us any indication of how the season will play out? Will teams come out firing or will it take some teams longer to get going? Will there be bold predictions for Champions after this round? Remember … last season the eventual winners, the Hurricanes, were absolutely smashed in the opening round 52-10 by the Brumbies! So clearly first round form does not indicate how the whole season will go.
But that won’t stop us from wildly speculating about who will make the finals based on this coming weekends results now, will it!
TMO AND JUDICIAL CHANGES
The new season brings with it some changes in the way the TMO is involved in decisions. From this year, when the on-field referee goes upstairs for a decision, they must first give their “on field” decision. The TMO can only over-rule this decision if there is “compelling evidence”. This will give the referee more accountability, they can no longer just throw it upstairs for a decision. So for example instead of the TMO having to look at every angle and go through every slow motion replay to make a decision on whether a try has been scored or not, the referee will say they think it was a try (or not) and the TMO can only overrule that decision if there is clear evidence. No more benefit of the doubt decisions (hopefully!) It will be very interesting to see the language the referees use in their communications with the TMOs.
The only exception is with foul play, where the TMO does not need the referee’s input before making a decision.
On that note, don’t be surprised to see more red cards this year, as a high tackle that is deemed to be deliberate and with intent will be an automatic red card. Last year there was a lot of confusion about why some were red, some were yellow and some were penalties. This year they will be going hard to eliminate the high tackles.
Along with this, SANZAAR have made changes to the judicial system.
The changes to the SANZAAR Judicial Rules for 2017 include:
- Permitting an incident to be referred back to the Citing Commissioner for review if new evidence becomes available outside the existing allowable time frame for determination.
- The introduction of a three-person Foul Play Review Committee
- The exclusion of the regular season bye rounds in any sanction
- The ability of Judicial Committees to issue a warning for foul play offences that in their opinion do not quite meet the “Red Card” threshold.
Hopefully this process will put an end to the heated discussion about whether a bye counts and the possibility of Super Rugby players being named on the bench for 4th grade games so they can serve their ban without missing a Super Rugby match. As bye rounds are excluded, teams will no longer be able to claim that their player was going to play in the local comp that weekend in order to make it count towards their suspension.
A permanent three-person committee rather than a roster style rotation will hopefully bring more consistency to what has in recent times been a very hit and miss process. Only time will tell!
For those interested, the Super Rugby Judicial Process Guide can be found here.
Gibson looking to the future
Daryl Gibson has given a refreshingly open and honest account of difficulties he faced in his first year as head coach, and his plans for the Waratahs.
Speaking to the Sunday Telegraph, Gibson admitted that recruiting Zac Guildford failed to pay off, and it altered the way he went about recruiting. Rather than focussing on high profile players, Gibson has made a point of signing young, local players with the aim of building towards a second premiership. In fact, in 2017 83% of the squad is from NSW. He has aimed at players between 23-28 years of age with the idea that this group of players will form the foundations for the club for the next 5-10 years.
Gibson also admitted that it was his mis-judgement which led to poor performances by the Waratahs in 2016. Rather than playing to the strengths of the group, he started with “this is the way we want to play” thinking, which meant the players were trying to produce skills they didn’t necessarily have.
Gibson has clearly learnt a lot from his first year as head coach, and it looks like he has the Waratahs on the right track.
Now if only we could get other coaches in Australia to follow suit!