The Rogues Rant

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

It will be the 2018 Vodafone Super Rugby competition next year and with the competition returning to 15 teams it’s hoped that interest in the competition can be rekindled after a couple of disjointed years of late. There will certainly be plenty of interest in how things go in Melbourne. The Rebels have won the signature of former Western Force mentor David Wessels as head coach for 2018. Wessels is bringing a busload of players with him from the Force and the club has recently announced the big signing of Will Genia till the end of 2019. Undoubtedly Australia’s number one halfback, the 78 Test, 114 game Super Rugby veteran will bring plenty of direction to the southern side. I reckon we can expect plenty from the Victorians in 2018.

With Wallaby Scrum Coach Mario Ledesma moving back to Argentina, Michael Cheika is on the lookout for another scrummaging expert for the Wallabies. Former Illawarra junior Dan Palmer, who has done great work at the Brumbies as Scrum Coach, having created the most consistently performing pack amongst the Australian Super Rugby franchises, is apparently on the short list. Former Reds Coach Nick Stiles has also been mentioned but Cheika appears to be taking his time in order to get the best man for the job. It’s certainly a good approach from Cheika as it is absolutely essential to get this one right.

We’re in for a couple of interesting weeks with the Wallabies coming up. The Wallabies just managed to finish second in the Rugby Championships after some inconsistent performances. After two draws against the Boks and two frustrating losses to the All Blacks they finished just one point ahead of the Boks in second behind the unbeaten Kiwis. They’ve played some good Rugby during the tournament which showed that with better composure and commitment they can take the All Blacks to their limit. I reckon that Cheika is taking the Wallabies to a new level with his selections giving plenty of players the opportunity to show what they can bring to the team. The third Bledisloe match will be played next Saturday in Brisbane and then a very interesting match against the Australian Barbarians, coached by Alan Jones the following week in Sydney. Jones and Cheika are really getting into the spirit of the game exchanging very friendly barbs in the Press in the lead up. Jones has included plenty of players looking for opportunity in his squad and another interesting selection sees South African Jaques Potgieter returning to Sydney for the match. Potgieter will add a bit of mongrel to the event which he is very capable of doing better than anyone else in world Rugby. The Ba Ba’s match is at the SFS on Saturday afternoon the 28th October.

With two rounds left to play in this year’s NRC tournament the final four seems to be decided. The Canberra Vikings had a massive 71 – 14 victory over the Sydney Rays this week and hold a one point lead on the table over second placed Queensland Country. The Vikings only have one game left and will more than likely have to settle for second spot. The Queenslanders will finish on top although the second placed Fijians are still capable of spoiling the party. Brisbane City will make up the fourth spot in the finals after an impressive 51 – 24 win over Melbourne Rising. My tip is Queensland Country on top followed by Canberra Vikings, Brisbane City and the Fijian Drura in that order. Interesting to see no Sydney based sides in the finals with only the Melbourne Rising behind all of them on the table. It would appear that the Sydney basin isn’t as influential on Australian Rugby as some would have you think.

The Senate inquiry into Australian Rugby has become a bit nasty with barbs flying between former ARU Chief Operating Officer Rob Clarke and the former Western Force boss Mark Sinderbury. I can’t see the inquiry achieving anything good for the sake of Australian Rugby given the emotions involved in this entire Super Rugby debacle. The sooner we can get things back to the playing field and out of the politicians hands the better.

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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