Tuesday’s Rugby News looks at the new Chair of RA, emerging talent, Cockbain on the Tahs and, a crazy Crusaders record.
A New Chair For RA
In a shock move, (not really) Rugby Australia has promoted Paul McLean to Chairman effective immediately. The move, that seems to be all about optics, is temporary while a permanent Chair is found.
Cameron Clyne, the old Chair and Melbourne Rebels superfan, was coping lots of flack for being heavily involved in negotiating rugby’s new broadcast deal after tendering his resignation. Personally I don’t get it. Clyne suddenly didn’t forget everything he knows just because he’s changing jobs in a month or two.
Clyne will still remain on the board as a director until the Annual General Meeting, at which point his official replacement will be named.
Rugby Australia is currently interviewing for three new board directors, who will be elected at the AGM.
One of those people will be identified as a future chair to ultimately take over from McLean after an undefined period.
In a statement released on Monday morning, McLean said the board had decided a change would aid in the long-term transition.
“The Board has collectively made the decision to make this change, with the full support of Cameron, to enable us to provide support and a comfortable transition for the new chair following the AGM,” he said.
“As the most senior Director remaining on the Board beyond the AGM, I have accepted the chairmanship during this transitional period.”
“Ultimately, there are some major pieces of work that are either nearing completion or getting underway, including the negotiations around the media rights, Rugby World Cup bid process, World Rugby positions, and a Collective Bargaining Agreement, and we believe this change will provide added stability at a crucial time for the business.”
JO’C Deja Vu
When the then Australian coach, Robbie Deans, selected James O’Connor as flyhalf for the Wallabies I thought he was off his rocker.
Last weekend O’Connor played flyhalf for the Reds in the record win against the Sunwolves in a display that won him player of the round in at least one publication. And speculation is everywhere that he is now the frontrunner for the vacant Wallaby ten jersey.
O’Connor’s journey back to Australia, the Reds and possibly the 10 jersey is full of missed opportunities and self-discovery and will probably make a great book one day, but I’m glad he got here eventually.
The O’Connor of 2020 is “facing his fears” in the playmaking spot and showing why he deserves a second chance in a gold no.10.
“For me, it hurt me. It genuinely hurt and I can admit that now,” O’Connor said of the 2013 series.
“I thought I played average, I thought with the knowledge I had of the game and the time I’d had in the saddle, looking back on it, I did all I could.
“When I came into 10 at the Wallabies last time, I hadn’t spent enough time there. I thought I could do it and I guess a lot of people did believe me as well but I didn’t understand the game well enough.
“I’ve come from a rugby league background and as much as you play at schoolboy (level) and you can do the job in Super Rugby because it’s a very attacking style, at Test level it’s a very different game. It’s (a challenge) now that I’m ready for.”
“Going back there now, you can’t run away from your problems, you can’t hide from things and for me, it’s facing (fear) head on, you take it on and once you defeat it, that’s the whole point of life, to experience these challenges,” he said of playing at flyhalf.
Cockbain Looks To Brumbies and Reds.
The embattled Waratahs are looking to their Australian rivals for a way to move forward from their horror 0-3 start to the Super Rugby season.
Development has been the Waratahs’ mantra this year and in the preseason coach, Rob Penney said they would commit to giving their young talent the chance to make mistakes and grow, even if it means some short-term pain.
Cockbain said they were still committed to that approach despite their results.
“We’ll continue down that path,” he said.
“Teams like the Reds have done that recently and they’re starting to see a few benefits in that, in and sticking with their young players and promoting them through.
“It’s not as if we’ve got someone to bring in to replace those guys either, we’ll look to nurture them along and just support them.
“They’re going to make mistakes, that’s fine, but that’s a learning process and as long as they are learning from that then we’re happy with that.”
Cockbain said it was on the coaches to ensure that their youngsters were also owning their own development in a way.
“It’s just being really clear with how we want them to play and also working with them in review to, say they didn’t stick with a plan, it’s just to sort of ask them, ‘What were you feeling here, what can we do to help you? Do you need more clarity around this process?,” he said.
“That’s the art to coaching is to figure out what they need and you do that by asking the right questions.
33 Home Wins In A Row!
Is a ridiculous record. But that’s just what the Crusaders have done. Imagine you’ve bought season tickets and you’re just about guaranteed your team will take home the chocolates. My Reds nearly did it in 2011 but this is far beyond anything like that.
The Crusaders defeated their south island rivals, the Highlanders, 33-13 in a less than 80-minute performance.
The Crusaders, now 3-1 before their first bye of the season, scored four tries to lead 26-8 at halftime, then managed only a try apiece with the Highlanders in a less dominant second half performance.
The Crusaders’ first half tries were mainly opportunist or against the run of play.
They were stronger than the Highlanders at set pieces but exerted no control over the match and were frequently stretched in defence.
“We talked about getting our rhythm right this weekend and we got a wee bit of that throughout the game and I felt we nailed it at stages.”
The Crusaders produced moments of exceptional rugby from players such as winger George Bridge and centres Braydon Ennor and Jack Goodhue.
The return of their full All Blacks complement later in the season will likely boost their form.