Tuesday’s Rugby News looks at the LA Sevens results, a Six Nation paywall, GRR starting up, and the Tahs defending their man.
Aussie Men forth at LA Sevens
The Australian men had a good weekend at the LA Sevens. Currently ranked sixth in the competition our guys managed an impressive fourth place just going down to New Zealand 21-19.
The team started the weekend with three straight wins against Scotland, Samoa and host USA to top Pool C, and then clobbered Ireland 36-0 in their quarter-final matchup to set up a semi-final game against a red hot Fijian team losing 43-7.
Australian men’s coach Tim Walsh said he felt the team had taken a step forward in Los Angeles and would be looking to continue that in Vancouver next weekend.
“This tournament has highlighted that the team has the ability to perform at the top level and under pressure,” he said.
“We had a great performance on day one and carried that momentum into day two against Ireland, however, were unable to break through a strong Fijian defence and found ourselves in a highly competitive match against New Zealand playing off for third.
“Lachlan Miller had an outstanding weekend in the gold jersey, the way he continued to find space and his support play was second to none while Nick Malouf continued to lead from the front, especially in that final game against New Zealand.
“There has been a lot of progress here, and we want to carry on our work into Vancouver.”
The trans-Tasman rivals went toe-to-toe in their playoff but it was the Kiwis who ultimately clung on for the medal.
South Africa and Fiji met in the decider and it initially looked as though Fiji would romp home after jumping out of the blocks.
The Blitzboks clawed their way back into the contest to even things up at full-time.and Sakoyisa Makata’s extra-time try proved the ultimate winner.
Six Nation not looking at our mistakes
After years of falling ratings tucked away on pay-TV screening games to a small percentage of the population Australian rugby knows a little about selling your soul for the cash. In all that time the powers that be up north have smiled smugly while their competitions flourished.
Now pay-TV’s chequebook is opening for the Six Nations and the union’s eyes are wide with anticipation. This year’s Six Nations, which ends on 14 March, is shown for free on BBC and ITV. The games have not been behind a paywall for two decades.
But not everyone is onboard. The Six Nations is an “integral part of Welsh culture and identity” and must remain on free-to-air television, the leader of Plaid Cymru said.
Adam Price has written to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) asking for it to be protected on terrestrial television.
“Both the Six Nations and the game of rugby itself is an integral part of Welsh culture and identity,” he said.
“It is bitterly ironic that as we celebrate St David’s Day – the patron saint of Wales, and take pride in all the little things that make us proud to be Welsh, we discover that we may soon be priced out of our own culture.”
The Six Nations chief executive officer, Benjamin Morel, said a report that a decision had been taken to move all the matches off free-to-air TV was “highly premature” but the door has been left open to such an outcome.
The Rugby Paper said Sky Sports had become favourites to land a deal worth £300m and bring the Six Nations off terrestrial television “until 2024 at the earliest”.
The BBC and ITV combined to outbid Sky when the last TV deal was negotiated, securing a deal said to be worth £90m.
However, no joint bids are being allowed in the next round of negotiations.
“By ruling out any joint bids it’s almost as if the Six Nations are clearing the way for Sky,” the Rugby Paper quotes an industry source as saying. “There is a very real danger that they will be prepared to sacrifice the big audiences on BBC and ITV for more money.”
All Systems Go For GRR
Global Rapid Rugby kicks off in eleven days but it hasn’t been all clear sailing for Australia’s newest rugby comp. The Coronavirus in Asia has hindered travel arrangements and forced a re-gig of games and locations.
“We are ready and can’t wait to launch our competition,” Global Rapid Rugby CEO, Mark Evans, said.
“The situation in China and its effects elsewhere have meant the schedule has been amended a little but, I’m proud to say, there is not one hurdle we have not been able to overcome. The health and welfare of the players, the coaches and our fans has been our number one concern and we have followed the advice of all relevant authorities, including the World Health Organisation, every step of the way.”
The major alteration to the schedule surrounds home games for the China Lions, a team jointly supported by the China Rugby Football Association and New Zealand domestic powerhouse Bay of Plenty that was drawn to play three home games in Shanghai and two in Rotorua.
Restrictions on sporting teams entering China means that games can no longer be played in Shanghai. The Lions will now play three home games in New Zealand and Rapid Rugby is working closely with Rugby Australia to provide a venue for two games in Australia.
“It’s exciting to think that within six hours, six teams representing the rich tradition of Australia and New Zealand, the exciting potential of Asia, and the raw talent of the Pacific Islands will be on show and growing the game of rugby,” Evans said.
“It is all systems go for Global Rapid Rugby in 2020.”
Waratahs Report Eye contact.
Gun Green And Gold Rugby photographer Peter Mitchell was the right man in the right place when he got the shot of the night in the Tahs 29-17 win over the Lions.
Peter’s photo of Lions skipper, Ruben Schoeman, examining Rob Simmons eyeballs from behind has made news today with the Waratahs officially calling on SANZAAR to investigate the incident.
Footage of the incident in the 23rd minute shows Schoeman trying to stop Simmons going through the middle of a maul and then touching, albeit for a short period of time, the second-rower’s eye with his middle and ring finger.
Simmons did not appear to react to the contact and got up and continued to play. The incident occurred just after Schoeman returned to the field from an earlier scuffle with Simmons that saw him yellow carded.
World Rugby laws state that “a player must not physically or verbally abuse anyone. Physical abuse includes, but is not limited to, biting, punching, contact with the eye or eye area”.
The Waratahs said Simmons did not suffer any injuries as a result of the incident, however, admitted the photo was not a good look for the game.
A SANZAAR spokesperson said only that “normal citing procedures will apply”.
For too many years Australian rugby has had a ‘what happens on the field stays on the field’ attitude. It’s good to see a club standing up for it’s players.