The Rogues Rant

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

What does the future hold for Illawarra Rugby in 2018 and beyond? It is impossible to argue with the belief that the wholesale payment of players in the Illawarra is not good for Rugby in our region. The IDRU has taken the bold step to declare the Illawarra Rugby competition amateur from the 2018 season, and for this they should be commended for making their decision with the best interests of Illlawarra Rugby in mind. Anecdotally I can tell you that there have been plenty of players paid by their clubs to play Rugby in the Illawarra over the last twenty years or so. There have also been plenty of players given some form of financial assistance in order to enable them to be able to make the sort of commitment required in this day and age. It’s a lot harder for young guys these days to get quality employment which enables them to be able to make that commitment to Rugby. Times are different in 2017 than to what they were in the 1970’s and 80’s and it’s not as easy to fit rugby in with working opportunities and family commitments. I reckon some consideration should be given to allowing for some form of limited paid marque player signings at clubs to enable clubs to attract quality players not only to their clubs but to the district in order to maintain and improve the standard of rugby in our region. Also some consideration should be given to the payment of expenses for players to attend training and matches which can go a long way to making the difference as to whether players can or can’t make the required commitment to rugby. The changes are certainly going to have an impact on how our competition looks in 2018 and will have to be a work in progress if we are to get the balance right in the best interest of Rugby right across our district.

After three rounds of the NRC competition the NSW Country Eagles have limped out of the blocks with two losses from two starts. With losses to the Greater Sydney Rams by 44 – 23 and newcomers Fiji Drua by 31 – 14, the Eagles are languishing at the bottom of the table with only Melbourne behind them. A round four match up with Canberra Vikings will test the Eagles even more with the Vikings sitting equal third with two wins from three starts. The Eagles after making the final last year will need to get cracking pretty soon if they are to stay in the hunt this year.

The Wallabies inconsistent form continues despite a big 45 – 20 win last week over the Argentinians in Canberra. The first half again saw the Wallabies fumble their way through the forty minutes with a lack of physical presence at the breakdown and trailed 10 – 13 at the break. Fortunately in the second forty with the Pumas dropping off the pace somewhat and the Wallabies stood up and took control of the match for a big 45 – 20 win. Sean McMahon and Michael Hooper were outstanding with Kurtley Beale and the irrepressible Israel Folau running amok. Now it’s off to Bloemfontein to meet the Springboks at a ground where the Wallabies have had little success over the years. The Springboks are coming off a thrashing from the All Blacks and will be keen to get the points in front of their home fans. I’ll go for a Springbok win. The match is at 1.00 AM next Sunday October 1st and then the Wallabies head to Argentina a week later.

The Super Rugby Draw is out for next year with the tournament back to fifteen teams. A more manageable three conference set up has the Japanese side included in the Australian group without the Western Force. This time around all teams play against teams from their own conference twice as well as playing all but two of the other conference sides. For me it’s still a bit of farce with eight teams qualifying for the finals, that’s more than half the field. TV content still dictates over an even competition structure. Not good enough!

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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