The Rogues Rant

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

Who is Raelene Castle? She is the person with the task of leading Rugby Australia out of the Doldrums in 2018 and beyond. Castle recently announced as the new CEO of Rugby Australia, replacing the outgoing Bill Pulver, takes over in January 2018 with a huge task ahead. Castle is an Australian born New Zealander, born in Wagga Wagga in the 1960’s. Her father Bruce Castle was a Kiwi Rugby League representative who spent a couple years in Wagga Wagga as Captain/Coach of Turvey Park Rugby League Club. Castle’s mother Marlene is a four times Commonwealth Games Bowls representative for New Zealand, so sport has played a significant part in Raelene’s life. From a successful Commercial Marketing background Castle was the CEO of Netball New Zealand for six years before holding the top Job at the Canterbury Bulldogs. After four turbulent years as the Bulldogs CEO, Castle moves into the top Rugby job with plenty of work to do to resurrect the fortunes of Rugby at all levels. With her broad experiences in her past positions she is well placed to hit the ground running in the overall Australian sporting landscape. Let’s hope she can bring all aspects of the Australian game together for the sake of Rugby right across the country.

NSW Rugby and the Waratahs have moved into their new home at the UNSW David Phillips Sports Complex. The facility is to become a High Performance Hub for the NSW Waratahs with the Waratahs head office and training base re-locating from Allianz Stadium. The UNSW Logo will also become a part of the Waratahs playing strip in 2018 as the two organizations enter a partnership aimed at providing high performance facilities for the University and the wider community. The Waratahs will continue to play their Super Rugby home games at Allianz Stadium.

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Response to the Rogues Rant

The Rogue received an email from Ken Phillis up the Northern Beaches way this week. Ken wanted to comment on the last Rant in regard to the IDRU Amateur status, as below:

Dear Rogue,

I am writing this as a rugby fan not as a representative of the Shamrocks Rugby Club. The introduction of Amateur status in the Illawarra next year has been well received at our Club.

I personally disagree with your comment of Clubs paying Marquee players as not all Clubs can afford to pay players. As you stated already some Clubs are trying to entice players to other Clubs with cash inducements. This would again favour the strong rich Clubs and the minor Clubs would lose the star Juniors they have developed in their Club. This has happened to our Club.

We have always relied on developing talent through our Juniors; consequently we are a strong Club. If we brought in a couple of Marquee players from  Sydney or overseas and paid them, what would that say to players like Rhys Peters, Izaak Lunney, Rory Davis, Tristram Storm etc who have come through our Junior ranks and play for nothing.

Our Club relies on getting finance from a few sponsors, our main income is from our successful canteen. We are totally responsible for our ground and Clubhouse and this costs us a lot of money each year.

Recently we spent money on fencing our entire ground and currently we are replacing the field lighting with the latest technology. Our aim is to provide good facilities and amenities for our players and members for years to come.

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The Rogues Rant

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

For the second year running the Wallabies year has ended in frustration and disappointment. After an appalling start to the rep season against the All Blacks in Sydney the Wallabies slowly got their act together throughout the Rugby Championships, and finished the local matches with a great win over the Kiwi’s in Brisbane. A romp against Japan and a dominate performance against Wales in Cardiff lifted everyone’s spirits for the remainder of the Northern Tour. But just as we saw last year the Wallabies fell away badly against the Poms and Scotsmen, looking jaded and way off the pace as their opponents registered their biggest wins in history on the Wallabies. So once again we are asking the question, just where is Australian Rugby heading.

IDRU Rugby Chairman Steve Tresidder has won a spot on the NSW Country Board for the next two years. Steve’s new job was confirmed at the Country AGM two weeks ago at which the well-respected Peter Veenstra was bestowed with Life Membership of NSW Country Rugby. Peter has recently retired as General Manager of Central West Rugby and after many years of service with Country Rugby is looking forward to a well -deserved rest. I’m sure his many friends in Country Rugby will get plenty of opportunity to say G’Day as it will be impossible to keep him away from the Rugby.

On the local front long time Shamrocks clubman Tom Ellicott has joined the IDRU Board for 2018. Also at the AGM last week at the Builders Club former IDRU Rugby Chairman and longtime Referee Peter Leiner was confirmed as the latest Life Member of the IDRU. Peter has spent a lifetime in Illawarra Rugby, firstly as a player with the original Waratahs Club, before taking up Refereeing and the last ten years as Rugby Chairman. A much deserved reward for a true servant of local Rugby. Well done Peter.

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The Rogues Rant

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

The Wallabies take on Wales Sunday morning our time after their big win in Japan last week. The form of the Wallabies has steadily been improving this year culminating in the big win over New Zealand in Brisbane. Hats off to Michael Cheika, who once again, has shown that given the opportunity he can bring the very best out of his players. The Wallabies effort against a somewhat depleted All Blacks side in Brisbane was full of merit. The players showed a level of commitment and confidence in one another that has been missing from the side for some time. The form of Kurtley Beale since his return from Europe has been pivotal in the side’s performance. For mine Beale’s performance since his return has risen to a new level. He is now more willing to play with more vision in creating opportunities for the players around him. Keep it up Kurtley, players like 3rd time John Eales Medal winner, Israel Folau certainly appreciate your work.

What a great tournament the NRC has been this year. The final this week sees the top two sides The Canberra Vikings and the Brad Thorn coached Queensland Country meeting in Canberra. There were no NSW teams in the finals after a nail biting final round of matches. The NSW Country Eagles let themselves down by drawing their final match against Brisbane City, 38 all in Orange. The next day Perth got up 29 – 26 over Queensland Country to pip the Eagles for fourth spot and a place in the finals. Perth couldn’t get past the Vikings in last weeks semi going down 40 – 35 to miss a spot in the final. Queensland Country thumped the Fijians 57 - 21 in the other semi to qualify for what will be a very interesting match on the Canberra Vikings home ground at Tuggernong at 7.30 on Saturday night.

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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.

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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.

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