Tuesday’s Rugby News looks at the Ballymore redevelopment, Jake Gordon’s ankle, a Trans Tasman Bubble and, the travel burden for some teams.
As a country boy all my early memories of rugby in Brisbane involved Ballymore, the hill and the McLean stand. On the day that Super Rugby AU 2021 started demolition started on the old McLean Stand and, I guess, in a way, work started on the new modern McLean stand. While a few have tried to cling to the past and ‘save’ the stand having worked out of it professionally (pfft) I welcome the redevelopment.
This from the press release.
More than 90 per cent of the old stand will be recycled or reused, with the aluminium bench seating donated to local clubs. The old wooden benches will be reconditioned and auctioned off to the public support the Queensland Rugby Foundation.
During the next 18 months we will build the Ballymore National Rugby Training Centre and New McLean Stand – a $35 million project which is the first stage of the redevelopment of Ballymore.
This new facility will be the new national headquarters for women’s rugby and the Buildcorp Wallaroos, a new training base for the Reds and a 21st century home for our academy and education programs.
It will include an integrated 3010-capacity grandstand which will allow more major events and elite rugby games to be held at Ballymore.
It will be the start of a new, reenergised community sports precinct which will be a crucial part of providing training and matches for major events such as the 2025 British and Irish Lions Tour and the bids for the 2027 Rugby World Cup and 2032 Olympics.
This project is jointly funded by the Queensland and Commonwealth Governments.
This is an exciting time for Queensland Rugby and I look forward to keeping you up to date with the progress at Ballymore.
Chief Executive Officer
Queensland Rugby Union
Jake Gordon Ankle
If there was one guy in Rob Penney’s Waratahs squad that the coach didn’t want to get injured it was probably his halfback Jake Gordon. But that’s exactly what happened 65 minutes into their game against the Reds last Friday.
Waratahs coach Rob Penney said Gordon had suspected syndesmosis and was on crutches after the match.
“Jake has a bit of an ankle injury. It’s hard to say, it looks like a high ankle sprain, but it’s too early to tell. He’s on crutches. He’d be a big loss. It wouldn’t be great for us, he’s our new captain. But someone will step up,” Penney said.
Penney couldn’t say how long Gordon was expected to be out of action but a similar injury to Reds captain is expected to take ten weeks. A similar timeframe for Jake would end Super Rugby AU for him.
Add inside centre, Joey Walton with a similar injury and the suspension of Izaia Perese, and it’s looking like an entirely new midfield for the Tahs next game… Against the Brumbies… Away.
In recent years, Penney would have been able to choose from one of Sekope Kepu, Tolu Latu, Bernard Foley, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Israel Folau, Kurtley Beale, Nick Phipps, Ned Hanigan, Tom Robertson, Karmichael Hunt, Rob Simmons or Michael Hooper to lead the way.
But those experienced heads have departed over the last few years. The decisions to let those players go can’t all be attributed to Penney, as he’s only been in charge for 15 months, but at a time when the Waratahs needed to keep their last remaining greybeards, the Kiwi and the organisation have not managed to stop the bleeding.
Penney said wouldn’t do anything differently, however. “Don’t regret it. Don’t regret the discussions we had and the decisions we made there,” Penney said. “We have people in the organisation that will do a job (as captain), yeah.”
Trans Tasman Bubble?
Andy Marinos is chatting to the NZRU about the possibility of all games being played in the same location if things go pear shaped virus wise. Word is the Kiwis are already planning for a third round of Super Rugby Aotearoa, and it’d be crazy to think RA aren’t doing the same.
However, RA has not given up on the competition and Marinos told reporters in Brisbane that “all options on the table”.
“One thing we’ve learnt out of last year is that we’ve got to be adaptable,” Marinos said.
“We’ve got be able to pivot quite quickly, so we are engaging with the Kiwis are looking at how best we can put this together.
“We are largely beholden to what government regulations are going to be at the time, but there is certainly an emphasis from both sides to make sure that it happens.”
The challenge with an Australian bubble for Super Rugby would be a 14-day quarantine for everyone when they returned home. This of course would hamper the player’s preparation for the Rugby Championship and another 14 days after that.
Perhaps the best option would be to have bubbles in one city in each country.
Rebels Travel Burden
Rebels coach Dave Wessels has questioned why his side and the Force have had to carry the burden of COVID-19 restrictions so far. The Rebels will have to fly into Brisbane on Friday to prepare for that nights game against the Reds.
The Rebels escaped the lockdown in Melbourne and the subsequent 14-day hotspot quarantine imposed on the greater Melbourne area by the Queensland government only hours before they came into force.
Interstate flights out of Melbourne had been cancelled, buses weren’t available and the Rebels players were forced to make the seven-hour road trip to Canberra in their own cars, some of them leaving so hurriedly they were unable to say their goodbyes to their wives and children.
But while their sacrifice will enable the Reds-Rebels match to proceed on Friday as scheduled — and not, alternatively, at a neutral venue at, say, a country town in NSW — the time line meant the Melbourne side couldn’t fly from Canberra to Brisbane on Thursday, which Wessels wanted to give the Rebels a chance to prepare properly.
Had they escaped Melbourne a day earlier, there would be no problem but then the Victorian government had not announced a lockdown at that stage. Still, if last season’s competition is any indicator, any team forced to fly and play on the same day almost invariably loses.
“The frustration is that if the Queensland government has an issue with the game then it should be a problem for the Queensland Reds to sort out, not the Melbourne Rebels,” Wessels said.
“The broader points is that we — and the Western Force — have been the ones who have been inconvenienced significantly by this and it is happening again. Why is everybody in the competition not sharing the load?”
The answer to that is that the hotspot occurred in Melbourne. None of that was any fault of the Rebels but they are the ones paying the price for it. It would not have been possible, for instance, to switch the Reds-Rebels match to Melbourne’s AAMI Park this week because that could have jeopardised the entire competition. Nor could the Reds have approached the Queensland government for a dispensation for the Rebels, not when Premier Anastasia Palaszczuk has imposed a uniform hard line on any relaxation of quarantine regulations, even in matters of life and death.