Tuesday’s Rugby News looks at Wallaby eligibility, the Bledisloe 3 fallout, The broadcast deal rumours and, George Ayoub retires.
Wallaby Eligibility… Again!
Hot on the heels of our second Bledisloe Cup defeat of the year comes the almost compulsory story suggesting, no, demanding that RA open up overseas selection to all eligible players. Now I get the real rugby journalists need to come up with column inches every week and they need controversial topics to getz-ze-clix but this is really bad and sloppy journalism.
The article in question even has a list of players who may or may not be slightly better than the guys proudly wearing our jersey now. All of them forwards, except Samu Kerevi, which is hilarious when it was Ritchie Mo’unga and his fellow backs who handed out the lessons on how to play wet weather footy to the cobbled-together Aussie backline.
Having no limits on overseas players would devastate the local playing stocks of Australian rugby and make everything from player numbers to television and sponsorship deals harder for those stupid enough to stay behind.
But what do these guru’s of player form expect to happen when these overseas players are parachuted into the Wallaby starting line up inside the test windows without any preparation? Instant success or yet another trainwreck to report on.
The article then goes on to call for wholesale changes listing more fringe forwards who shoulda gotta go While saying Lolesio should stay in the squad and Will Harison should get a shot and that James O’Connor will be back to play flyhalf. At the same time calling for Tevita Kuridrani to come straight into 13, despite not training one second with the squad, even though Paisami and Petaia have been amongst our best performers.
I won’t link to the article, you deserve better.
LSL And JOC Injury Update
First the good news. James O’Connor looks like he’ll be right for Bledisloe 4. Noah Lolesio looked out of his depth on the big stage but the very talented flyhalf only has to look at Jonny Wilkinsons debut in Australia for inspiration for what he can achieve from here. That still leaves us with question marks on the 12 spot. Irae Simone may have done enough but who else could fill the spot?
Now, let’s talk about Lukan Salakaia-Loto’s ankle. The picture here isn’t so clear. Lukan went for scans Sunday night to see how much damage he had done to his ankle. If the results don’t go the big fella’s way oldtimer Rob Simmons is the next in line. I’m a big fan of Simmo, I think we don’t appreciate him enough, but even I think his days of starting test matches are coming to a close. Could we catapult Hosea into the row and start one of the least experience locking combos to run out in gold?
Spare a thought for the four new Wallaby caps from Saturday nights game. Noah Lolesio, Irae Simone, Tat McDermott and, Frasier McReight should rightfully be proud to have represented us on the world stage. I hope they have long careers in the Gold.
“As a leader, you just have to make sure we don’t sugarcoat anything,” he said.
“We have to hold boys accountable and everyone has to be better across the board.”
While there were almost no positives to pull from Saturday night’s drubbing, Alaalatoa did value the reaction he saw from the team’s new faces post match.
“The boys that made their debut last night – it’s a moment to remember forever. To see them gutted on their debut, it shows that it means something to the team. They’re not just happy putting on the jersey,” Alaalatoa said.
“We’ve been in this position before but the longer you hang onto that loss, the worse it will be. That initial feeling of boys being gutted, being devastated is good.”
Broadcast Deal – Are We Or Aren’t We?
A report in the SMH today is suggesting the Rugby Australia is close to signing a deal with Nine Entertainment to show tests matches and one Super rugby game a week on their Nine network and to stream the rest on Stan. The article does point out that they are in fact part of Nine Entertainment so make what you will of that. I find the ‘(owner of this masthead)’ line refreshingly transparent.
Multiple industry sources have said Foxtel considers the deal with Nine is done, although no contracts have been signed. Any successful bid will need to be taken to SANZAAR for formal approval and there is still a chance RA could decide to go with Foxtel. Nine and Foxtel declined to comment.
RA sources also insist no contract has been signed.
George Ayoub retires
Sometimes people just become part of the game and you think they’ll be around forever saying ‘check check’ over the referee’s channel during any high-level game. So it was with more than a little surprise that a press release from RA hit my inbox with a heading screaming ‘George Ayoub hangs up whistle’. My first reaction was WTF he’s not old enough! And I was right he’s only a year older than me.
One of the great characters in the game, Ayoub has refereed four Test matches, 20 Super Rugby games as well as in Sydney’s premier Rugby competition, the Shute Shield with a staggering 180 matches.
From 1999 to 2003 Ayoub worked at NSW Rugby as Referee Manager. 2003 also saw Ayoub be selected as an Assistant Referee at Australia’s home World Cup and in 2006 he was selected as a Referee at the Women’s Rugby World Cup in Canada.
In more recent years, Ayoub was known to the Rugby community with his efforts as a Television Match Official, where he officiated Rugby Championship and Six Nations matches as well as at the Rugby World Cup in 2015.
Rugby Australia, Head of Referees, Scott Young said: “George has been a tireless servant of the Australian refereeing team and has been an inspiration in the refereeing community, especially in Sydney.
“His character, style and manner was highly regarded by players, coaches and administrators alike which has seen him remain at the top level for so long.
“When he left his on field role, George continued as a Television Match Official where he was a part of some of the biggest Test matches in recent years.
“George continues to inspire young referees coming through the pathway and he has helped guide many young officials at both the community and professional level.
“On behalf of Rugby Australia, I’d like to thank him for his many years of service to officiating, in many different capacities.”
George Ayoub said: “I’d like to thank Rugby Australia for the opportunities that have been afforded to me through refereeing that has allowed me to participate at the highest levels of the game.
“Refereeing is a great pathway for young men and women who want to contribute to the game with the whistle in hand.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time and look forward to watching Rugby as a fan for my next chapter and seeing more young refs come through the pathway.”