The Rogues Rant

RoguesRantWelcome to The Rogues Rant, an occasional look at all things Rugby.

Rugby is a simple game. Last week’s Test Match between the Wallabies and Pumas was a case in point. In the first half of the match the Wallabies did not go forward. In attack their backs ran sideways and failed to make an impact on the Argentine defense. In defense the one on one effort across the field was woeful. There execution of the basic skills of the game was appalling. By halftime the Pumas led 31 – 7 scoring four tries to one. During the break Coach Cheika delivered an old fashion bollocking to the players. He changed the whole front row. In the second half the Wallabies went forward. In attack the backs ran straight and played direct. In defense the players made their one on one tackles and blotted out the Pumas attack. Five second half tries followed and the win came Australia’s way. It’s not rocket science.

It’s the last round this week of the National Rugby Championships. It’s been a very disappointing year for the NSW sides who are anchored to the bottom of the table with the Eagles only win of the year coming against the Rays who are last on the table without a win. The most disturbing thing about this year is that the general rugby public has pretty much not engaged at all with the NSW sides. There needs to be a total rethink on how these sides are constructed. There needs to be a clear and distinguishable path for players to move through from club rugby to these entities to create some form of tribalism that the general public can identify with. The Shute Shield and district competitions around the state are being well supported but there is no direct line for fans to follow through to the NRC. The last round this week will have a huge bearing on the finishing order for the finals with the top four still to be decided. The Force host the Fijian Drua in Perth with top spot on the ladder up for grabs. No matter the result both sides will be in the finals, but their opponents in the upcoming semis will go down to the wire. Qld Country should beat the NSW Eagles in Tamworth to secure their spot in the finals but it’s possible a loss could see them miss out. The match with the most bearing on fourth spot though will be Brisbane City and Canberra Vikings in Brisbane. The loser will finish fifth and won’t be needed for the finals. The final match has no bearing at all on the finals with Melbourne at home to the Sydney Rays. My tips for the last round – Fiji to just beat the Force, Qld Country to beat the Eagles and take second spot, Canberra Vikings to win over Brisbane City and deny them a finals berth, and Melbourne Rising to win over Rays leaving the Sydney side on the bottom of the Table.

All opinions offered in this column are the opinion of the author. They should not be considered to represent the views of the IDRU.

Junior Gold Cup 2018

junior gold cupAs the local season is done and dusted for 2018. A number of our under 15s young Illawarrior and coaches have been training hard for the upcoming games in Junior Gold Rugby program. These games will be held from Sunday the 30th of September to the 4th of October at East rugby club in Sydney.

The Junior Gold cup has been in around the rugby landscape since 2011 as part of the Rugby Australia Pathway to identify talent at an early age along the road to becoming a Wallaby.  The past three weekend camps have been intensive. 

The Illawarra is represented by Players: Tom Cusack, Jake Hickey , Jack Neich Anthony Moata’ane  and Jaden Legaspi. With Coaches Tony Leader Smith and Ian Westwood also in attendance.  

Good luck to all. Report will follow next week on the Young Illawarrior progress.

The Rogues Rant

RoguesRantWelcome to The Rogues Rant, an occasional look at all things Rugby.

What a great event Grand Final Day 2018 proved to be. The five clubs involved produced three very entertaining matches for the healthy WIN Stadium crowd to enjoy. But the day belonged to Bowral Rugby Club who took home both the 1st and 2nd Grade Premiership Trophies, with Camden taking the 3rd Grade title. Much has been said and written about the resurrection of the Bowral club over the last five years, and I reckon that there would not be anyone involved in Illawarra Rugby that would begrudge the Southern Highlands club their first title in nineteen years. In the dark times of 2012, the Blacks finished last and had a couple of losses in which they conceded more than 100 points. The Blacks finished second last in 2015 after the clubs return to first grade from a couple of rebuilding years in the lower grades. President Mark Freund masterminded the rebuilding of the club refusing to allow the club to fold. Then along came astute coach and former Reds, Brumbies and Western Force player Gene Fairbanks. In his first year at the club they rose to finish 4th on the table before going down to University 19 – 12 in the Final. In 2017 they finished one better at 3rd on the Table, but lost again to University in the Minor Semi, but all the things were now in place to see the club rise to the top in 2018. With veteran halfback and 2018 Geoff Shaw Medal winner Tim Small leading the way the rest is now history. Well done to Gene Fairbanks, all his coaching staff and all the players right through the club who have played their part in the return of this famous club. Huge congratulations and well done to the irrepressible Mark Freund.

Believe it or not its 24 years since the Wollongong Waratahs and the Tech College Rugby Clubs amalgamated to form what is now Tech Waratahs Rugby Club. The club has gone on to feature in six IDRU Grand Finals winning four Premierships over the years since. Some of the old Waratahs boys have decided it’s about time they had a reunion before too many guys shuffle off to the big scrum in the sky (their words not mine). The gathering has been arranged for Saturday 6th October at Illawarra Leagues Club, Wollongong at 6.00PM. Upwards of 100 are expected to attend with the theme of the night to be “The older I get, the better I was”. For more information and to let someone know that you’re coming, contact Ron Wessel on 0417 691742 or Bryan Leo on 0412 329001 or check out Waratahs Rugby Club, Wollongong on the dreaded Facebook.

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Bowral Rebirth Complete With Grand Final Victory

MatchReportThe Rebirth of the Bowral Rugby Club is complete after the Blacks heroic 34 – 18 Grand Final win over red hot favorites Avondale in summery conditions at WIN Stadium. With the hard working Bowral forwards led by big front rower Todd Pearce taking the match right up to the much vaunted Wombat pack, the Blacks reversed the Major Semi-Final result of two weeks ago to take their first IDRU title since 1999.

In an epic decider the Blacks scored four tries to three, with IDRU Player of the Year, Lachlan Huntington producing another masterful display scoring fourteen points and guiding his side around the park with an expert kicking and passing display. But it was an outstanding defensive effort from the Blacks that contributed most to the turnaround from the Semi in which they conceded seven tries to the Wombats.

After a hard fought first forty minutes the match was very evenly poised at 13 all at the break but the Blacks finished the stronger of the two sides putting on three tries in the last twenty five minutes of the game. The Bowral supporters showed their appreciation for the performance of front rower Todd Pearce as they cheered the big man from the field in the dying minutes of the match. Pearce led the Bowral pack superbly laying the foundation for the historical win.

In a sometimes spiteful first half Avondale played their customary power game testing the Bowral defense throughout with the first try to Fly Half Antonio Ale coming after eight minutes of play. Fullback Silipa Tuigamala joined in a backline raid drawing two defenders before setting Ale away for the try wide out. Tuigamala missed the conversion but added a penalty goal soon after to extend the Wombats lead to 8 – 0.

With twenty three minutes gone Huntington kicked a long range penalty goal minutes before Halfback Tim Small put on a try for winger Tom Mooney from a scrum forty out. Small went to the blind drawing two defenders releasing Mooney down the eastern touchline. With a big in and away Mooney left Tuigamala in his wake and scored wide on the right. Huntington’s conversion from the sideline gave Bowral the lead at 10 – 8.

Read more: Bowral Rebirth Complete With Grand Final Victory

The Rogues Rant

RoguesRantWelcome to The Rogues Rant, an occasional look at all things Rugby.

If you enjoyed watching the Shute Shield on 7Two each week this year it’s no thanks to the Rugby hierarchy. In what would be of no surprise to many Rugby Australia and NSW Rugby made no financial contribution to getting this coverage on free to air TV. Rugby nuts Nick Fordham and John Murray, the President of Eastern Suburbs Rugby Union Club, put up their own money to finance this very successful high rating exercise. When approached for assistance to promote the venture the governing bodies decided not to assist with the promotion of what is grass roots rugby once again. Certainly no surprises there.

The proudest man at WIN Stadium this week no doubt will be Bowral stalwart Mark Freund. Mark will be on the field for the second grade Grand Final with a bunch of his best mates. The big easy talking humble front rower has seen the club through the darkest days of the last ten years. Even when the club was at deaths door a few years ago Mark as President, wouldn’t hear of the demise of the great Southern Highlands club. The success the club is now enjoying would not have eventuated if not for the drive and determination of Mark and his band of workers who have dragged the club back from the brink and now deserve all the success that is coming their way both on and off the field. Well done Mark Freund.

Plenty of points scored last week in the NRC. Three sides now have two from two. Western Force were impressive winners over NSW Country Eagles by 54 – 28 and are looking as though they are going to be hard to beat each week. Fijian Drua is on top of the table after thrashing Brisbane City 66 - 5 and has a one point lead over Western Force. Queensland Country are one point behind with two from two also after a one point 29 – 28 win over Melbourne. This week Queensland Country has the Drua at home while the Eagles play Melbourne at Mudgee. The Sydney Rays play Brisbane at Woollahra Oval while on Sunday Canberra is up against the Force at Vikings Park. Three from four for me last week, my tips this week are, Drua, Eagles, Rays and Force.

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Huntington IDRU Player Of The Year

2018 27 Lachlin HuntingtonBowral Blacks exciting Fly Half Lachlan Huntington took out the big prize at the IDRU Grand Final Dinner on Wednesday night. Huntington who will have a key role in Saturdays Grand Final against Avondale, was on hand to receive the IDRU Player of the Year Award for 2018.

Huntington polled top points just ahead of runner up, Shoalhavens Steven Brandon, capping off a big maiden First Grade year with Bowral. After starring for the Blacks Grand Final winning 2nd Grade side in 2017, Huntington stepped up to the top grade this season making the No.10 jumper his own and guiding the side to great success. The award presentation comes on the back of his twenty point haul in last Saturday’s Final victory over University which propelled the Blacks into their first Grand Final since 2002.

Bowral coach Gene Fairbanks was again awarded the Coach of the Year prize for the third year in succession but shares it this year with University Coach Dion Miller. Mark Brandon from Shoalhaven took both the Points scoring awards as leading try scorer and highest overall point’s scorer.

The all-important Volunteer of the Year Awards both went to the Campbelltown Harlequins club. Faith Everingham took the senior award, while Adam Campbell was awarded the Junior Volunteer of the Year.

After being named as the Referee for Saturday’s 2nd Grade Grand Final between Bowral and Campbelltown former IDRU Player of the Year from several years ago, Andrew Strode was awarded Referee of the Year.

In a bumper season for the Dexter Porter Blood Cup with a record number of clubs participating and the highest number of donations made for the season, Shamrocks took home the trophy for 2018.

Read more: Huntington IDRU Player Of The Year

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