Tag Archives: rugby union

Former All Black on the Pathway as Future Wallabies Coach

The Coaching merry go round that has now become synonymous with the Qld Reds has once again reared it’s ugly head with Nick Stiles the latest to fall victim to the position which could be referred to as a ‘poisoned chalice’.

If what former Coach Mark McBain has hinted at recently is true, then player power is still alive and well, in fact, it’s never been better at Ballymore.

With Brad Thorn set to become the 10th Coach in the last 16 Seasons what does that tell you about loyalty and staying strong? Not a whole lot, I would have thought.

Sure, Stile’s record in the 2017 season wasn’t great, in fact, it was the worst of any Qld Reds Coach so far with a 4-11 win/loss record. Also, they finished 14th overall in the Super 18 Competition, but as is the case a lot of the time the Head Coach is made the scapegoat while the players appear to get off Scott free with little or no accountability being taken.

There will be those who are quick to point out that Coaching at the elite level in any sport is results driven and if you don’t perform you’ll fall on your sword and  pay the price. Well that’s  fine if all of the players buy in to that and give the coach their full and unwavering support. Did that happen  at the Qld Reds this Season?

For the Qld Rugby Union (QRU), who are supposedly cash strapped, to continue to sack coaches mid-term time after is beyond belief Now they’ll have to fork out another substantial amount of money with Stiles contracted to the Qld Reds until the end of the 2018 Season, unless they can shuffle him to another position within the QRU.

In 2018, a rookie Head Coach at Super Rugby Level, Brad Thorn will be under the spotlight and he may very well succeed with his tough uncompromising nature and respect  that he had as a player sure to rub off on his players in his new role with the Qld Reds.

An outstanding and distinguished career  in both Rugby Union and Rugby League, Thorn, achieved major success at the highest level. He enters the coaching fold with impeccable credentials as a player, but that doesn’t guarantee that he will be able to replicate that success as a Coach at the Elite Level.

As well as Qld Country are performing at the moment it’s a quantum leap from coaching in the National Rugby Championship (NRC) to being a coach in the Super Rugby Competition.

You can only  imagine the pressure that Thorn will be under next Season, fully aware that if the Qld Reds don’t perform his Career as a coach at the Elite Level may very well be short lived.

I think you will find though, that no matter what. the QRU will persevere with Thorn if what has been reported is true in that the Australian Rugby Union  are impressed with Thorn and that his coaching credentials have been rubber  stamped. It does seem to have some credence, when you consider how Thorn has  been seemingly fast-tracked through the system to become the Head Coach of a Super Rugby Team in a very short time.

It can only be hoped that Thorn’s tenure as Coach of the Qld Reds will be long and successful and act as a pathway to one day possibly becoming the the Wallabies Head Coach. How ironic, if in the future the Wallabies coached by Brad Thorn were to play  the All Blacks. Would Thorn be able to sing ‘Advance Australia Fair’ with the same  pride and passion that he sung ‘God of Nations at thy feet’ and how would he feel watching the ‘All Blacks’ perform the ‘Haka’ before kick off? When you consider that as a boy Thorn’s  dream was to play for the ‘All Blacks’ and to perform the ‘Haka’.

GJ

Staff Writer

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What is the Relevence of Rugby Union in Australia?

From little things, big things grow.”

 

Paul Kelly

 

Watching rugby leagues gala event, the Dally M Awards, live from The Star in Sydney, tonight, one questions what is the future of a code that has been relegated to “boutique” status that rugby union now occupies. Queensland and New South wales are the only true “rugby” states in the Australian landscape with the Australian Football League (AFL) dominating the rest. I am reminded of a guy from Melbourne I was talking to in China, in 2011, and how he remarked that it was incredible to him that Australia did so well in rugby union when most of the country does not understand the game; at the time we were ranked No. 2 in the world behind the New Zealand (who went on to win their second World Cup later on that year).

 

A stark contrast to our near neighbours, New Zealand, that absolutely worship the code from Auckland to Bluff. I remember visiting there in the late 1990s and being amused by the New Zealand Herald’s coverage of news being dominated by rugby union. Even the real estate pages making note of All Black legend Murray Mexted (1979~86) selling a property in Auckland. So often I scan the Courier Mail in the hope that there’s a least some mention of rugby union amongst the voluminous coverage of rugby league and more often then not there is not any.

 

Mal Meninga (Kangaroos Coach) made a great speech praising the exploits of Dally Messenger, from which the awards are taken. Reiterating the fact that this rugby union great was instrumental in the creation of rugby league in this country over one hundred years ago. Built on mateship and looking after the guy who was injured on the weekend playing the game he loves without any recompense from his employer. Once rugby union became professional in October 1995, the relevance of rugby league would then come under question. However, this was not to be, the stranglehold of that code has on the eastern states of Queensland and New South Wales were to prove too strong. The fact that the State of Origin has such a powerful following in those two states, akin to the AFL grand final in the rest of the country, that to supplement it would be sacrilege.

 

Growing up in a decidedly pro-rugby union family the code has always been my passion. To pull on my high school’s 1st XV jersey was an honour that I will cherish to the grave. The opportunities and friendships that it has created for me throughout the world bodes testament to a code that has relevance, just maybe not so much in my home country, Australia. Having played in Canada, USA, Japan, France and even China has opened my eyes to a sport that is truly an international game and growing stronger and broader every year. There is not an international bar in Asia worth its salt if rugby union games are not telecast, sadly that is not the case in Brisbane. I have driven to several pubs on a Friday night trying to find a venue showing the Super Rugby, despite the local Queensland Reds playing, to no avail.

 

After what I described as our annus horribilis the code will surely resurrect itself and hold a prominent position on the Australian sporting landscape. If it takes billionaire, Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest, in Western Australia to inject the capital to garnish more interest in rugby with his IPRC than that is not a bad thing. There will surely be more pain before a silver lining, but the code will survive and hopefully come out better for the anguish that has been caused in 2017.

 

CJ

Editor-at-Large

 

What’s Happened to Rugby in Australia?

“Out of adversity comes opportunity.”

 

Benjamin Franklin

In what could only be described as annus horribilis for rugby union in Australia, 2017 will be left to historians to rake over the coals of a year that no Australian Super Rugby franchise could defeat any New Zealand rival. And that is the benchmark of rugby union here, to beat those pesky Kiwis across the ditch. The Wallabies lost to Scotland in June and were under the pump against the Auzzurri of Italy a week later. Not to mention the drubbing by New Zealand in Sydney in the first Bledisloe clash with 50 minutes of scintillating rugby from the World Champions to go to an unassailable 56-6 lead. The debacle of the way the ARU drew out the axing of the Western Force franchise showed such disdain that rugby has all but been obliterated from the Australian sporting landscape in 2017.

But for an unlikely source in Western Australia, larrikin billionaire mining magnate Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest, fuel has been thrown on the smouldering remains of the code by the announcement of the Indo-Pacific Rugby Championships (IPRC). Drawing on rugby aficionados from Singapore, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Fiji a six-team competition will begin in August 2018. Ideally it will be fully sanctioned by the ARU to allow another avenue for Wallaby selection, but as Twiggy says, “They’re not quite running at the same speed as we do!”

Twiggy’s bold plan.

Leading up to the first Rugby World Cup in Asia, hosted by Japan in 2019, this competition could capitalise on the hype developing in the region. There would need to be marque players, the likes of former Reds flanker Liam Gill have been mentioned, to attract more attention and add to the interest in this competition. If successful, there could be a relegation system with Super Rugby franchises in the current Super 15 format.  

 

It could be a case of putting the cart ahead of the horse, but if such a competition could come off there is the potential for it to make a mark on the sporting landscape. Being able to financially compete with cashed up European and Japanese clubs could see the IPRC making a real identity for itself and it would of course seek endorsement from World Rugby.

 

I, for one, am hoping such a visionary concept could come off. The promotion of rugby in the fastest growing economies of the world is the real key for an international product that has huge growth potential with the upcoming World Cup 2019 in Japan.

 

 

Super 18 Rugby Format is a Farce

The farcical Super 18 Rugby Competition has reached an all time low with the two protagonists now decided for the Super 18 Final, the Lions and the Crusaders.
What doesn’t sit right at all here and the fact that the whole Super 18 Competition is totally flawed is that the Lions never had to play any of the New Zealand teams thereby giving them a huge and unfair advantage.
Could somebody please explain to me how the current format of the S18 Competition can be deemed as a level playing field when the Jaguares, Kings, Lions or Sharks didn’t have to play any of the N Z teams through 17 Rounds of the S18 season?and how a Team which has played in a far inferior Conference (just take a look at the final standings on the table at the completion of the S18 Season) should be allowed to have a Home Quarter Final, Semi Final and Final?
For the Crusaders to now have to travel 11,500 kilometres to Johannesburg to play the Super 18 Final at High Altitude because they finished on equal points with the Lions (65) after the Home and away Season, even though they played in a far Superior Conference, but had only 7 bonus points compared to the Lions who had 9 seems like a travesty of Justice.
It’s little wonder then that the Credibility and Integrity of the Super 18 Rugby Competition has been brought in to question for a while now.
As a proud and passionate All Blacks supporter I hope that the Crusaders can draw on all of their resolve, self belief , superb skills, athleticism and will to win to defeat the Lions, if they do it will be a truly remarkable and memorable achievement with the odds stacked heavily against them.
Until SANZAR changes the current format of the S18 Competition and has every team play each other at least once through the Home and away Season then the Integrity and merit of the Super 18 Winner will continue to be brought in to question.

 

G Jacobs

HSBC WORLD SEVENS GOLD COAST Final Wrap

The Gold Coast 7s party is over for 2013 and the Kiwis finally claim the spoils after two exhilarating days of action defeating the Aussies 40-19 in an exciting Cup Final where initially the local team lead 12-0 after two quick tries. All the weekend action was hot on and off the field with the Robina Stadium bathed in glorious sunshine, until the twilight sessions began, of course. The usual costumed spectators from ninja turtles to ostrich jockeys were in the crowd to support Round 1 of the HSBC Sevens World Series.

 

Last year’s winners Fiji, under new coach, former England boss Ben Ryan, proved not quite up to their usual high standard. Despite a loss to Wales they did top Pool C, however they squandered this opportunity losing to England, 12-26, in the Cup quarter final. As a consolation, they did win the Plate with a rousing 36-0 victory over Kenya.

 

The Bowl was won by France 19-14 after a strong challenge from Canada that went into extra time. France were relegated to the Bowl after losing 5-29 to South Africa and 12-26 to England in Pool B on Saturday. Canada were their due to a count back in Pool C, where the top three teams finished on 7 points. Fiji were given the top berth with Wales second.

 

Team USA took out the Shield Final 22-0 over Portugal, after coming third in a tough Pool A with the likes of New Zealand, Tonga and Kenya.

 

England showed the talent they had in their stocks by defeating South Africa 47-0 in the play-off for third. After a mammoth Cup semi-final loss to Australia 19-24, South Africa, were just too weary to put up much resistance to an English side that had scored the first points against New Zealand for the tournament in their 5-14 semi-final loss. But, the New Zealanders, as they showed all tournament, with an unblemished score line after day 1, that they were always going to be the team to beat. Under coach Michael O’Conner the Aussies came out firing in the Cup Final leading 12-0, however their draining semi-final with South Africa, that went into a second 5 minute extension, proved too much against the much fancied Kiwis.

 

Rugby league school of excellence, Keebra Park State High, proved their versatility by once again winning the national schools sevens title 24-10 over TSS in an all-Gold Coast affair. Forced off the main oval to Robina station reserve due to Australia’s semi-final double extra time with South Africa did not deter from the determination for Keebra Park to secure their fourth straight 7s title, extending their unbeaten record to 40 matches.

 

Numbers attending the two days were 25,320 which is down on last year’s 27,000+. Rugby Union boss, Bill Pulver, will be sitting down with a team of professionals to see how an improvement can be made to have more people attending. The Gold Coast contract is up next year, 2014, and it’s important to keep this location leading up to the 2018 Commonwealth Games, which has sevens, as the Gold Coast is the host.

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HSBC WORLD SEVENS GOLD COAST Day 1

IMG_0110The first round of this season’s World Sevens rugby junket 2013/14 started at 10:30am on the beautiful Gold Coast with New Zealand playing USA in their Pool A match. The Kiwis were victorious over the Americans 38-0. This was followed up by the ever improving Kenyans, with a huge supporter base, smashing the Tongans also by 38-0. With a rain shower threatening, the action was boiling over on the field. And when the Aussies squandered a 21-0 lead over Scotland to draw their match, upsets were looking like a strong possibility.

I was with a nervous Australia 7s coach, Michael O’Conner, watching Samoa playing an impressive Scottish outfit. The latter almost forced another draw, however the Samoans were not giving up easily and managed a 19-12 win. O’Conner said, “We just have to win our next two matches to top our pool.”

Australia then accounted for Argentina 22-7 in the following match with their eyes firmly focussed on the 7:46pm match with Samoa. In the meantime New Zealand was progressing through nicely, easily beating Tonga 26-0 and defeating Kenya 31-0 in the twilight to top Pool A. Last year’s champions, Fiji, were looking alright until they lost to Wales in their last Pool C match 19-22 to Wales. Since Wales had lost 17-24 against Canada earlier in the day the top three teams all finished on 7 points. On count back Fiji topped Pool C.

South Africa had an impressive first day defeating France 29-5, Spain 38-7 and a strong England side 22-14. They topped Pool B and will play Wales tomorrow in the Cup quarter final, with England placed second in Pool B they will have to face Fiji in the quarters.

The Aussies played some of the best rugby I have seen them play to defeat Samoa 12-0 nil in the final match of Day 1. Thereby topping Pool D, which sets them up for a quarter final with Kenya tomorrow at 12:42pm –just like last year when they beat eventual champions Fiji in their last pool match. With Samoa coming second in Pool D, they will have to play the Kiwis at noon in their quarter final.

Basically going to form, Sunday’s action is going to be a mouth-watering feast of 7s rugby. If you are still without a ticket there are a few available at the gate so come on down.