Tuesday’s Rugby News sees alarm bells for the Tahs, Ellia’s ankle, Eddie warning the Six Nations bosses and, that broadcast deal.
Alarm Bells In Tah Land
The Waratahs have had a nightmare of a start to their Super Rugby Season! They’ve been smashed by both the Crusaders and the Blues in their first two games. They currently sit fifth in the Australian conference with a for and against of -38.
But it’s not all their fault. Yes, I’m going to defend them. Yes Really.
When Rugby Australia snavelled Tatsy Taylor from Scotland to put some muscle into the Wallabies defence it probably didn’t realise it would cost the Waratahs a defensive coach. Steve Tandy left at the last moment to take up Taylor’s old position in Scotland and his replacement really hasn’t had time to put his stamp on things.
Phill Bailey is no mug, a League international and a respected coach, but the Tahs haven’t had time to work out what Phill has to offer.
“Our defence was a bit vulnerable, that’s a big work-on for us, and it’s nowhere near where we need to be with that,” Penney said.
“I did feel like a couple of times we were short out wide, on reflection I don’t actually know what that is at the moment. That’ll be something we look at,” halfback Jake Gordon said.
Ellia Greens Ankle
Fans lost their shit this week when this photo showed up on Ellia Green’s Instagram feed. Especially when the caption stated “Definitely not ideal but not Impossible either, challenge accepted” immediately worst-case scenarios seemed to be everywhere.
Green was inundated with well-wishes from teammates and World Series stars alike, with Carlin Isles replying: “Better be speedy! The Olympics needs you.”
So what’s the story? Is Green, gasp, in danger of missing the Olympics?
Breathe easy because Aussie sevens officials say no.
The ankle surgery was a general clean-up, and the expectation is while Green may miss tournaments in the next month or two as she rehabs, the 173 days before the start of the Aussie women’s title defence begins at the Tokyo Olympics should be more than enough to see the star flyer back on her feet and scoring tries.
Eddie Jones Warning Six Nations
Hot on the heels of the news that South Africa wants into the Six Nations is a timely warning from Eddie Jones. Jones warned that expansion to seven or even eight teams could stuff the Six Nations in the same way as expanding from 12 teams to 14 stuff Super Rugby.
It’s hard to disagree with Eddie on this one.
As calls persist for World Cup champions South Africa, Japan and Georgia to be added, Jones believes tinkering with a winning format is ill-advised.
“It’s called the greatest rugby tournament in the world and I think it is. So why would you want to add other teams that are going to decrease the level of competition,” Jones said.
“I can only talk from experience. Super Rugby was the golden egg of rugby – brilliant, 12 teams, competitive. As soon as it had gone to 14 and 15, it had lost its allure.”
“You want the best teams playing against each other. There’s something about the Six Nations – because of the history of the relationships between the nations, it makes it more outstanding.
“The competition is much harder contested than the World Cup. It’s become a lot more physical and it’s only going to get more so.
“You don’t want this type of game every week, but southern hemisphere coaches certainly admire the Six Nations.
“From the first Six Nations I did to now, I think we’ve seen a general rise in the quality of the teams.”
That Broadcast Deal
After, what seems like, weeks of Chicken Little articles claiming ‘the sky is falling’ on Australian Rugby a couple of articles yesterday were, shall we say… Less hysterical.
Firstly Green and Gold Rugby founder Matt Rowley talked sense here. Rowley stated ‘
According to a coalition of self-interested voices led by Newscorp (65% owners of Foxtel), RA have recklessly passed on Foxtel’s offer for the next 5 years of Australian rugby broadcast rights that would price them flat for a decade. Reckless, apparently, because rugby in Australia is a hot mess being led into TV rights oblivion by a team who need to know their place, take what they’re given and be grateful for it.
The only way RA can test the value is to take those rights to market. Not only is this Governance 101, but at a time when ASIC is taking Harold Mitchell to legal task over allegedly manipulating Tennis Australia rights, there is no real choice.”
Then Georgina Robinson stated that it’s not just about money and that ‘Sports place their prospects for exposure and growth in the hands of broadcasters and must take a hard look at competing business models when they sign multi-year deals.’
Up until now Australian rugby has grabbed the money and hoped that they could buy exposure and growth with it. But it really hasn’t worked out for them. Foxtel never had enough subscribers to really showcase rugby like RA wanted it showcased. And understandably Foxtel wasn’t keen to let free to air broadcasters have a live feed of their product.
‘Robinson continues with: As reported in the Herald’s media section on Monday, Rugby Australia will this week send out non-disclosure agreements to Foxtel, Optus, Amazon, Rugby Pass and Australia’s three commercial free-to-air networks.
The agreements are the precursor to the sport’s first open-market tender process for the broadcast rights to its club-to-Wallabies schedule until the end of 2025.
Not all those parties will sign and return them, but by week’s end the ones who have are the ones that will be regarded as seriously interested in what the next five years of Australian and international rugby has to offer their businesses.
That Foxtel is on that list gives the lie to five days of furious speculation that the majority News Corp-owned pay television provider has walked away from the game it helped champion for the past 25 years.