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.

News came through to the Rogue this week of the recent ill health of University Rugby Club President Bob Wheway. Bob missed Bowral’s Grand Final success last week whilst recovering from an encounter with a Cardiac Surgeon. I’m happy to report that Bob is up and about, well on the way to a full recovery after recent triple bypass heart surgery. Look after yourself Bob from all your friends around Illawarra Rugby.

The Wallabies have slipped to seventh on the International Rankings after their latest loss to the Pumas. This week they are up against a very confident South African team straight from their historical win over the All Blacks. Coach Michael Cheika has tweaked the touring party a little for their matches in the Republic and South America over the next two weeks. The Wallabies will need to win at least one of these games if they are to avoid finishing at the bottom of the table for this series. They have the job ahead of them. This weeks match is in Port Elizabeth at 1.00am Sunday morning from the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

With four rounds gone in this year’s NRC, the points table has an unexpected look. It’s hard to get a line on the form with varied results the order of the year so far. Fiji and Qld Country are on top with three wins each, one point ahead of Vikings and the Force also with three wins each. Brisbane are outside the top four with two wins, then come Melbourne and the Country Eagles with just one win each and the Rays at the bottom having lost all three matches so far. With three rounds left to play before the finals it’s not likely that we will see either of the NSW sides figuring in the final series. In this week’s matches I’ll go for Fiji Drua over the Eagles, Canberra Vikings to beat Melbourne, Qld Country to win over Brisbane and the Force to beat the Sydney Rays.

Rumour has it that a northern Sydney Shute Shield club could have a prominent Illawarra Coach at the helm in 2019. Watch this space!

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

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