Vikings Edge Out Premiers To Secure Second On Ladder

MatchReportIn a pulsating entertaining match at University Oval, Vikings have boosted their premiership credentials with a thrilling 26 – 21 victory over the University Bulls. In the round six IDRU Builders Club Premiership match a large crowd enjoyed a closely contested eighty minutes in which the lead changed seven times before the Blueys lifted late to pinch the result from the defending premiers.

Coming off a disappointing effort against Shamrocks last week, the students started the match with high intensity out enthusing the Blueys at the breakdown throughout the first half. In a sign that there was not much between the sides in the opening half each side scored two tries before the Bulls went to the break with a one point lead. Vikings crossed for two second half tries to secure the bonus point win, confirming second spot on the table and leaving Uni seventh after six rounds.

The Bulls welcomed back skipper Paul Tuala and veteran Donovan Nepia who were instrumental in the early stages of the match. With Nepia showing his outstanding kicking game getting Uni out of early trouble, it was a Uni trademark rolling maul that produced the first points after four minutes. Hard working flanker Damien Mei got the five pointer for Uni to take an early lead of 7 – 0 after Nepia’s conversion.

Both sides contributed to what was a very high paced game, keeping the large Ladies Day crowd enthralled. On the back of four phases of play close to the Uni line, diminutive Vikings No.8 Simon Watts stole a try for his side sneaking down the side of a maul from close range. Illawarrior halfback Tommy Sawden converted for the scores to be equal after twenty minutes.

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The Rogues Rant

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

A big get together of some of Australia’s big names in the Rugby Coaching business will take place at Australia Rugby HQ next week. Incumbent Wallaby Coach Michael Cheika and his skills coach Mick Byrne will be meeting with past coaching luminaries Bob Dwyer and Dick Marks among others to have a look at the current parlous state of Australian Rugby. Anyone who thinks these guys can come up with a quick fix to Rugby’s current woes needs serious help. As many rugby commentators have been saying for quite some time the current state of Aussie rugby has been developing for something like ten years, and we can expect that it will probably take just as long to turn things around. The whole Australian Coaching and Development structure is just not working. We don’t have the competition structure in Australia to allow players to grow and develop through to international standard as that which exists across the ditch. Until a progressive competition and coaching structure is developed in Australia which will allow talented young footballers to be identified and then developed, nothing will change. The ARU should get someone across the Tasman and check out how it’s done over there, it’s obviously working for the Kiwis.

Super Rugby is looking even sicker as each round goes by. The uneven convoluted draw is really going to be shown up for what it is by the time the finals come around. “A Mess”. Surely it must be changed from the conference system in 2018 when the team numbers are reduced or the chance of a similar debacle will still exist. It must get back to every team playing each other once, finishing with a four or six team final series. Have a look at this year’s points table at this stage based on overall competition points. The five Kiwi sides are inside the top seven positions. The Australian sides are all in the bottom half of the table. It’s likely on current form that this situation will only get worse by seasons end. Despite the obvious anomalies, under the current competition structure, an Australian side will make the finals, at least three teams from the African pools are guaranteed a finals spot, but one or more of the Kiwi sides will miss out on the finals. TV money has too much influence on the competition but for the sake of Rugby as a whole the integrity of the competition must take precedence over the TV content.

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The Rogue Rebuked

In the most recent Rogues Rant dated May 4, I related a tale about some self- soaping sponges. I have received correspondence from IDRU Life Member John Martin in which John was able to throw some more light on the said incident way back in the 1970’s. I unreservedly apologise to the Manager mentioned in the story for suggesting that this was something less than a particularly brilliant form of subterfuge perpetrated by the young Man. I present John’s Rebuttal.

A Rebuttal.

I refer to a recent Rogue’s Rant, in which he described an incident from a Country Carnival in the Seventies which involved a Team Manager providing a self-soaping sponge for the players to use during the half-time break.

The Rogue preserved the Manager’s anonymity by using a cryptic sobriquet, but from the clues provided, his identity was clear to me and I would like to elaborate further on the incident.

This particular match was against a strong Newcastle side and a soapy sponge was in fact provided at half-time. This was not an oversight by a novice manager however, but a brilliantly conceived strategy designed by the Manager to play mind-games with the opposition. I distinctly heard him explaining to the Team Captain, one Geoffrey (Bunter) Shaw that the sight of the Illawarra players, feigning anger and frothing at the mouth, would be extremely unsettling to the Newcastle players and would be worth at least ten points in the second half. This indeed did prove to be the case and Illawarra went on to record a memorable win.

This was no “novice manager,” as the Rogue describes him, but a rugby psychologist, years ahead of his time. The Rogue should wash his mouth out for suggesting otherwise.


Editors Comment – Shame on you Rogue, You should have realised this to be what it was, a brilliant piece of Rugby Genius.


Wombats Five From Five

MatchReportThe Avondale Wombats have continued on with their perfect start to the season with a comprehensive 41 – 8 victory over Bowral at Eridge Park. The Blacks matched it with a disrupted Wombats side for the first forty minutes to be within six of the lead at the break. With five unanswered tries to Avondale after the break the Wombats have laid down the gauntlet to all the other sides in the comp declaring them-selves the team to beat.

With Avondale coach Murray McDonald relegating two key first graders to seconds this week after they missed training, the Wombats started the match with several players in unaccustomed positions. Bowral took full advantage and had the better of the first twenty minutes of the match.

New Fly-half Donovan Du Randt opened the scoring with a try after fourteen minutes of absorbing football from both sides. Bowral worked a complex backline play deep in the Wombat half, which broke down but Du Randt cleaned up a loose pass to zip away from the Avondale defence and score with an angled run to the right corner, for a 5 – 0 lead.

Avondale took the lead after a try by winger William Taiti-Taanoa which came from scrappy play on the halfway line. The wingman swooped onto a loose ball and scooted away. Forced to kick ahead when left without support he won the race to the ball regathering just short of the line to score. As the Avondale forwards were starting to show more go forward, with lock Tom Taiti-Taanoa showing the way, their second five pointer went to centre Nua Alone. Alone scored after regaining a pin-point Andre Itula kick from twenty out. Fullback Jacob Kara converted both tries for Wombats to lead 14 – 5 after thirty five minutes.

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The Rogues Rant

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

RoguesRantThe Rogue had a great trip on the weekend to the beautiful north coast city of Port Macquarie. The weather was perfect for football and probably the biggest crowd for quite some time turned out for the tournament dominated by a very good Newcastle Hunter side. The Illawarriors got off to a shaky start in Saturdays semi against Central North but clicked in the second half for a resounding 55 – 17 win and a spot in the final. Right from the kick off in the final the Newcastle side powered up and managed to maintain their intensity throughout the final never allowing the Illawarriors into the match thoroughly deserving to take home the Caldwell Cup once again. To Shaun McCreedy and all his coaching and support staff, and all the players who represented our zone with great integrity, well done, you did the Illawarra proud. Word is that the tournament will be going way out west next year to the Western Plains Zone.

I shared the long drive north with several other old rugby tragics which resulted in some hilarious conversations with many very funny rugby anecdotes being related. I’ll share one with you which tells the story of a then recently retired Illawarra rep player who took on the role of Manager of the Illawarra Rep side way back in the early 70’s. The squad arrived in the host city and our enthusiastic new Squad leader set off shopping for supplies. In those days there were no traveling Physiotherapists and it fell to the Manager to supply the medical support and game day refreshments etc. The medical supplies amounted pretty much to the old magic Sponge and Water Buckets with Oranges providing the refreshment. At half time of the first match our opponents were astonished to see the Illawarra players were frothing at the mouth. Our novice Manager had purchased self-soaping sponges much to the disgust and bewilderment of his young charges. What happens on tour stays on tour so no name to this story but I’ll give a cryptic clue! Think of a long legged, feathered Nordic Warrior.

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Illawarriors Fare Well In Cockatoo Selections

NSW Country LogoDespite a disappointing end to the NSW Country Championships last weekend in Port Macquarie, nine Illawarrior players have won selection in the Country Cockatoos and Colts Training Squads. Caldwell Cup Finalists Illawarra and Newcastle Hunter have provided a total of fourteen players to the senior squad with seven coming from each of the recently dominant country zones.

Wollongong University star Paul Tuala is one of four players to make the squad from the Illawarra Premiers. Hooker Wayne Ngatai, Prop Andy Papworth and Lock Andrew Rae join their captain. Also included is Kiama Flanker Leighton Cowley, Shamrocks front rower Jesse Roche and Bowral Blacks speedster Henry Yuill.

The Cockatoos will be preparing for a short but solid program beginning with a match against NSW Suburban at Camden Rugby Park on Sunday June 4th. Following will be a match with the Brumbies Provincial side in Canberra on Saturday 17th June. The last match for the Cockatoos will be the big clash with Queensland Country in Newcastle on the 1st July.

The Country Cockatoos Colts squad has also been announced with the Illawarra represented by Shamrock Halfback Cory Aylett and Camden front rower Kieran McCourt. The Colts will also be playing at Camden on June 4th against the Junior Waratahs and NSW U/19’s. They’ll also play on the same program as the seniors against Queensland Country in Newcastle on the 1st July.

Congratulations to all our Illawarriors on making the squads, we look forward to seeing you all go around in the famous Gold Country jersey.


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