The Rogues Rant

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

The Wallabies performance in last week’s opening Bledisloe Cup match was nothing short of appalling. The defense from Cheika’s men in the first fifty minutes of the match was simply not up to the required standard. If the Kiwis had not emptied their bench for the final stage of the match the All Blacks may well have run up eighty points on the night. Why should we be surprised with what we saw on Saturday night given the performance from the Aussie sides against Kiwi sides throughout the Super Rugby not only this year but over the last few. It is clearly a fact that Australian Rugby is way behind what is coming out of New Zealand and I think we can expect a lot more of what we saw last week in the years ahead. Let’s hope it doesn’t last too many years for the long term sake of the game in Australia. We have got a lot of work to do to turn this mess around!

The Western Force won the right to appeal the ARU decision to cut them from Super Rugby in the Supreme Court this week. The Judge reserved his decision and it will be a week or two before the decision is known. The Force have pledged that they will be continuing to operate and are looking at alternatives should the decision not go their way, with a possible future in Asia being investigated. The ARU have also reportedly knocked back a very generous offer from businessman Andrew Forrest to provide grass roots rugby with $M50 in funding in return for securing the future of the Western Force in Super Rugby. The ARU have said that their hands are tied in regard to the future structure of Super Rugby with the decision already made by SANZAAR that an ARU team is to be removed. Given the Force’s performance in this year’s Super Rugby tournament, and the performance of other WA teams in other national competitions it must be very hard for Rugby WA to accept what is happening.

There was plenty of concern shown for Avondale winger Mani Tuigamala at Ocean Park last Saturday after he was left unconscious on the ground following a three way collision. The young man spent the most part of Saturday night in Wollongong Hospital being checked out and thankfully was given the all clear. There must now be some question as to whether he will be OK to take his place on Grand Final day, but Wombat coach Murray McDonald is hopeful that the very talented speedster will get the go ahead from the Doctor to play. The Emergency Department at the hospital looked more like an Ocean Park change-room, with Tuigamala joined by Vikings pair Beau Midgley and Michael Ashby. Midgley suffered a badly broken nose but should be available for the Blueys in this week’s Final against University. On the other hand Ashby has a broken Cheek bone and will miss the remaining matches of Vikings season.

The Referee appointments for this week’s finals are very interesting. Youngster Ethan McIntosh has got the First Grade Final between Vikings and University. Veteran John Maughan has Second Grade with last year’s First Grade Grand Final Referee, David Gunning going around in Third Grade. McIntosh impressed in last week’s sudden death semi at Camden showing plenty of composure under pressure and steals a march on his fellow Referees toward the Grand Final day appointments. Form is everything for Referees as well at this stage of the year and all three whistleblowers will have plenty of eyes on them this week.

I think we can expect a big crowd at Vikings Oval on Saturday for what will be a very close match up between Vikings and University, with the winner to go up against the unbeaten Avondale side at WIN Stadium on Grand Final day. I reckon that we may even need an extra twenty minutes of play before we know who will be the Wombats opponents. There is nothing between these two sides going into this match. Both clubs have injury concerns with Uni going into the match without young Flanker Takunda Chimwaza and several other players carrying long term niggling injuries. The Blueys will be without Michael Ashby, a player who they will find impossible to replace and they also have the experienced Andrew Barrett unavailable overseas. Barrett will be back in town in time for Grand Final day but many Vikings supporters are ruing his absence for this big match. University showed how well they can play in these big matches, playing perfect finals football to eliminate Bowral last week. On the other hand Vikings kept Avondale very honest on Saturday making the Wombats earn their passage through to the decider. I really think a draw at the end of eighty minutes is a very real possibility on Saturday but I will go for a Vikings win on their home ground to see the top two sides of the year to fight it out for the title on Saturday week. Vikings to win.

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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