Thursday’s Rugby News sees changed up rules for Twiggy’s World Series, some big news out the Rebels and Brumbies, the Queensland Super W team naming their squad, and Giteau reflecting.
Twiggy brought a smile to the face of many a rugby fan with his announcement of the Force‘s return on Tuesday. With it came a series of exhibition matches the team would play, which he dubbed ‘World Series Rugby,’ the new name for the IPRC.
But outside of the fixtures and the plan for this year, not much is known about WSR. With plans to kick off in 2019, many are wondering if the competition will even come together in that timeframe.
But according to Michael Lynagh, if there’s any time to start a competition in Asia it’s now, particularly with a World Cup around the corner.
“With the World Cup being staged in Japan, the profile of rugby in Asia will be on a high,” Lynagh said to The Australian yesterday.
“The six-team competition that Andrew promised is still very much on the agenda.”
It is confirmed that Twiggy is already deep in talks with the Hong Kong Rugby Union and Singapore Rugby Union.
Not only that, but WSR is looking to change the rules around, particularly around scrums, lineouts and tries.
Referees could give an instant penalty rather than a scrum reset, and on top of that a lineout can also be put on a countdown, meaning that if the team fails to organise the lineout within the time limit, it will be thrown in and played on.
The big one is with the tries though, with any tries originating from inside the 22 earning an whopping ten points! There would also be disincentives to kick penalties, with teams only earning one point for short range goals and three points for more ambitious attempts.
To be honest, it sounds like a bit too convoluted to me, in spite of the obvious benefits of trying to speed up the game more. Why not just take a lead out of the rulebook from the NRC? That’s a pretty bloody fast game!
With the talks well underway, should Twiggy and the Force be successful with WSR, it could make them a potentially powerful player in the landscape of World Rugby.
Putting on me tin foil hat here, many (including in The Australian) have noted that, should Super Rugby dissolve at the end of 2020, Australia and New Zealand may look to Asia to reboot their competitions.
If Twiggy already lays down the infrastructure with WSR and makes it work, a new Tans-Tasman/Asia-Pacific competition could already be primed to go. I’m just saying, you never know.
Ins and Outs
The match between the Melbourne Rebels and the Brumbies is shaping up to be an absolute cracker, with the Rebels coming off two big wins and the Brumbies being brought back down to earth in Brisbane. But, with the match due to kick off tomorrow, there have been big changes in both squads.
Starting with the hosts, the Rebels have been dealt a huge loss with Captain Coleman being ruled out due to sternum soreness.
Coleman has been looking awesome as the skipper, directing the Rebels round the paddock brilliantly. However, he has failed to pull up from the six day turnaround in Tokyo and friend of the pod Dave Wessels has decided to give him a much needed break.
“Unfortunately for Adam with the travel and a six-day turnaround that he hasn’t pulled up from a knock against the Sunwolves in time for Friday night but it’s exciting to welcome back Marika, Dickie (Richard) and Ben,” Wessels said to rugby.com.au.
In his place, Ross Haylett-Petty will come into the starting lineup alongside Matt Phillip, with Marika Koroibete, Richard Hardwick and Ben Daley all coming onto the bench. Tom English has been named as skipper.
“Ross thoroughly deserves his chance to start – he works incredibly hard around the field for such a big man and brings some real intensity in the contact areas,” added Wessels.
Meanwhile, the Brumbies have had the exact opposite happen, with a whole bunch of names returning (and potentially debuting).
The first big one is the return of Scott Sio, who missed the Brums first two starts due to injury. His inclusion in the scrum (alongside Lolo Fakaosilea, who takes starting honours in place of Tom Cusack) will do much to return the Brums set piece to it’s usual standard, after it was ripped apart last week by the Reds.
The debut inclusion here is a certain favourite NRC player of mine who has played for the Vikings and the Country Eagles, Folau Faingaa could prove a handful too when he comes on from the bench.
Faalelei Sione and Richie Arnold are two other faces that have also been called onto the bench, and should give the forward pack a lot more grunt later in the game.
The Beast is Back
The Queensland Super W have named their starting squad for their first clash against NSW, which will take place on Friday at Suncorp Stadium before the Reds play the Bulls.
NSW are favourites for this clash, but Queensland have proved to be more than a handful this year after they knocked their rivals over earlier this year to win the Brisbane Tens.
Their squad includes nine Wallaroos, but that’s not the scary part about this Queensland squad. The real scary part is Alysia Lefau-Fakaosilea, who has been named on the wing. She was a one-woman wrecking ball that gave the NSW girls nightmares at the Tens, and I pity the soul who is named to be her opposite number.
And just cause it’s such a good highlight reel, here it is again:
It’s going to be an absolute peach of a game, so I really recommended Queensland rugby fans get down early to check it out.
Rugby fans can look forward to the next chapter in this rivalry on Saturday afternoon,” Queensland coach Michael Hayes said to rugby.com.au.
“NSW have dominated Women’s XV rugby for some time and our side are hungry to back up their performance at the Tens with a win in the XVs format.
“We’re lucky to host NSW in the tournament opener here at Suncorp Stadium and I encourage the Queensland rugby community to get to the game and show their support for a great new addition to the Australian rugby calendar.”
NSW are still to name their squad, as of Wednesday night.
Giteau the Kiddo
Back in 2011, Matt Giteau lost his shit when he wasn’t selected for the Wallabies 2011 World Cup campaign, opening venting about it online.
It was a controversial move at the time by Robbie Deans, and one that didn’t sit too well with many fans either.
However, now he admitted it was time to set the records straight when he spoke to Fox Sports last night.
Calling himself out for being immature after he was dropped, Giteau said that decision proved to be one that was better for him in the long run, which saw him rediscover his form at Toulon, and subsequently be selected for the Wallaby World Cup campaign in 2015.
But above all, the decision allowed him to grow as a player and as a person.
“At the time I don’t think I handled it too well,” Giteau confessed.
“Probably pretty immature, I handled it.
“Even if I wasn’t playing well in Super Rugby in previous years, I was still picked for the Wallabies.
“So I was very fortunate to have coaches that backed me.
“In this one instance I had a coach that preferred to back someone else.
“But for me it was really humbling.
“When I went over to France I felt like I was starting back at the bottom and I had to prove myself again, so I think it was a really important step in my rugby career.”
The 35 year old has been training back in Canberra for the last little while, but will return to his Japanese club Suntory in May. He was instrumental in landing the club their first Top League title last year.
With his international career all but finished, he admitted that he made the right move to head over and try his luck in Japan.
“I think the last title that I won in Japan was very satisfying,” Giteau said.
“It just reinforced that I made a good decision to move there, right time.”