Thursday’s Rugby News

Thursday’s Rugby News

Thursdays Rugby News sees Round 2 squads, The Battle of the Broadcast, Dane Zander’s debut and Eden Park to host World Cup final 2021.




Cameron Orr. Photo credit: Reds Rugby / Brendan Hertel

Cameron Orr. Photo credit: Reds Rugby / Brendan Hertel

Friday night sees another Aussie derby in Canberra when the Brumbies host the Melbourne Rebels.

Brumbies coming off a strong win against the Queensland Reds had made just one change due to injury, with Darcy Swain ruled out due to injury. Former Rebel and Red Cadeyrn Neville will get his first start for the Brumbies, with Nick Frost in line for a debut off the bench.

Noah Lolesio holds his starting spot after a strong debut performance at 10.

The Brumbies will be looking to continue their nine-match wining streak as they chase the record of 13 in a row.

The Rebels will be looking to make amends for last weeks poor performance that lead to their first loss against the Sunwolves.

“We are a good team that played badly. I don’t think we are a bad team,” Rebels coach Dave Wessels said.

“We were very unhappy with our performance in round one and that’s not to take anything away from the Sunwolves, they played very well,” Wessels said.

“But we weren’t happy with our level of physicality in the game, that’s where it started and we looked at that hard this week. We need to better on Friday night, we will be better on Friday night.

Wessels has made a handful of changes include his front row with Matt Gibbon and Ruan Smith replacing Fereti Sa’aga and Jermaine Ainsley. 

Michael Wells gets a first start, replacing Rob Leota at 7. Wallaby Luke Jones has been ruled out with back soreness, meaning a debut is on the cards for South African Gideon Koegelenberg.

Theo Strang and Andrew Deegan miss out on selection this week as Campbell Magnay returns from injury and there is another potential Rebels debut with reserve halfback Ryan Louwrens coming on the bench.

Melbourne Squad

1. Matt Gibbon 2. Anaru Rangi 3. Ruan Smith 4. Ross Haylett-Petty 5. Matt Philip 6. Angus Cottrell 7. Michael Wells 8. Isi Naisarani 9. Frank Lomani 10. Matt Toomua 11. Andrew Kellaway 12. Billy Meakes 13. Reece Hodge 14. Marika Koroibete 15. Dane Haylett-Petty


16. Steve Misa 17. Cameron Orr 18. Jermaine Ainsley 19. Gideon Koelenberg 20. Rob Leota 21. Richard Hardwick 22. Ryan Louwrens 23. Campbell Magnay

Brumbies Squad

1. Scott Sio 2. Folau Fainga’a 3. Allan Alaalatoa © 4. Murray Douglas 5. Cadeyrn Neville 6. Rob Valetini 7. Tom Cusack 8. Pete Samu 9. Joe Powell 10. Noah Lolesio 11. Tom Wright 12. Irae Simone 13. Tevita Kuridrani 14. Solomone Kata 15. Tom Banks


16. Connal McInerney 17. Harry Lloyd 18. James Slipper 19. Nick Frost* 20. Will Miller 21. Ryan Lonergan 22. Bayley Kuenzle* 23. Andy Muirhead


The 2016 Shute Shield Launch. Photo by

It would appear the key to the Rugby broadcasting deal could be the Shute Shield, with Rugby Australia and Fox Sports both out for the rights for the Sydney club competition.

Rugby Australia are hoping to create a broadcasting bundle, to include, club footy, Super Rugby and Test matches which appears to have hit a stalemate, with Fox Sports going straight to the Shute Shield

The Sydney Morning Herald are reporting a letter was sent to the head of NSRU along with Sydney Rugby Union board and the Shute Shield club presidents outlining a broadcast plan post 2020.

The Shute Shield is currently broadcast on the Seven Network and Club Rugby TV, with the deal in place until 2024.

The deal has heavy financial burdens on the Club competition  with SRU paying $250,000 to Seven and $50,000 to Club Rugby TV, and the Fox Sports deal would appear too good to be true.

The offer to Shute Shield from Fox Sports looks like this: The match of the round will be shown live on Fox Sports, with all other matches streamed live through Kayo Sports (with dedicated production crews at every match.) 

All finals matches will be shown on the main channel with the Match of the day shown on delay through the Seven Network.

This move would be enticing for many of the clubs, who would have all their matches now featured on the Kayo platform, thus creating more exposure for the club. Fox Sports also plans to handle the the $300,000 cost paid to Seven and Club Rugby TV.

The move from Fox comes as Rugby Australia begins to renegotiate its broadcasting deal, with Optus now presenting themselves as a competitor to Fox Sports, who have held the broadcast rights for 25 years.

Rugby Australia are looking to create a package that includes Club Rugby in Sydney and Brisbane, Super Rugby and Test Matches to create a 35 week per year product for broadcasters. 


Dane Zander trial Reds v Rebels

At Nudgee College, Dane Zander failed to make the first XV. Three years on and he was packing down in the Reds front row against an Australian veteran prop.

After school he continue to ply his trade for Norths colts team before making his Premier Rugby debut in 2018 before getting a shot at the NRC, where he caught the eye of the man they call ‘Crapper’ Cameron Lillicrap.

At the end of the season Zander was called in for a meeting with Lillicrap and Queensland head coach Brad Thorn.

“After NRC I had a meeting with Thorny and Crapper and they said, you have an opportunity, but they just wanted me to drop a bit of weight,” Zander said.

“Same sort of thing as Feao (Fotuaika). They used that as an example, they said: ‘This happened to Feao, he came in and did the hard work and that’s what could happen to you if you do the hard work.’

“Thorny was just like, ‘You’ve got the talent, we just want to fix some things’ and that’s when I just wanted to put my head down and do the best I could and get my opportunity. They were giving me an opportunity, so I didn’t really want to waste it.”

The dream of a Queensland boy to represent the Reds was too good to pass up on.

“It’s always been my dream since I’ve been a little kid,” Zander said of being a Red.

“I still remember coming to the games when I was only five or six and I always wanted to be a Red, so it’s an amazing feeling.”

The 20-year old has shed 10kg in the off season, and earned his debut off the bench last Friday night. His 31 minute outing saw him pack down against former Red James Slipper and hold his own. So much so that he received praise from his Captain Liam Wright.

“Dane Zander against Slips (Slipper) performed really well and held his own in the scrum and got us some key ball when we needed him to.”

The young prop will join the Reds in travelling to South Africa, where he could face Springbok props, but that doesn’t phase Zander.

“I thought I’ve developed my scrummaging a lot, especially in NRC under Cameron Lillicrap I’ve learnt a heap off him and also playing with Ruan Smith and JP Smith too,” he said.

“And in defence, just trying to be as aggressive as I could.”

He also has a message to those chasing the dream of being a professional player.

“If you don’t play First XV or Australian Schoolboys, it doesn’t matter. As long as you just try and keep chipping away, you never know what can happen.”



Eden Park Tour

Eden Park Tour

The Aukland fortress has been named as the venue for the Final of the 2021 Womens Rugby World Cup.

The tournament had previously been held in the Northern Hemisphere in the summer, will be moved to the Southern Hemisphere springtime, kicking off in mid September.

World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont believes that this tournament has the best chance to help expand the womens game.

“Women’s rugby is the single-biggest opportunity to grow the global game, and we are confident that New Zealand 2021 will be one of the great Rugby World Cups, attracting a new fan and player base for the sport,” he said.

“RWC 2021 follows a hugely successful 2017 event in Ireland which broke attendance and broadcast records, having a hugely positive impact on women’s rugby. Last year we successfully launched ‘Try and Stop Us’, a campaign that aims to drive increased participation and engagement among fans, audiences, players and investors in the women’s game.

“It is a privilege to be here in New Zealand and to see the huge amount of work that has already gone into ensuring this will be another spectacular tournament for the world’s best women’s teams.”

New Zealand Rugby Chief Executive Mark Robinson is excited that NZ could host the tournament for the first time.

“This is an event we are very excited to be hosting and we can’t wait to have the world’s best women’s teams play here.  The Black Ferns love playing at home and I know they are excited at the prospect of retaining the Rugby World Cup at home.

“Together with the support from Central Government, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development, and Whangarei District Council we are committed to working alongside World Rugby to deliver an exciting event that continues to grow the game and deliver benefits for rugby in New Zealand and globally.

“As part of the bid team that presented to World Rugby in Dublin in 2018, it is now a real privilege to continue to be involved in the delivery of the tournament and to see preparations come to life.

“We share World Rugby’s global ambition to get more women and girls involved in rugby and RWC 2021 is a great way to showcase women’s rugby at an elite level and provide inspiration for boys and girls to get involved in our game.”



Once captained the 3rds Rugby team, but then again so did Nick Farr-Jones

More in Rugby