The Rogues Rant

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

With the local Illawarra Rugby scene showing signs of a period of regeneration with several of our Traditional clubs now being able to enter a full complement of teams this year, it’s interesting to see what’s going on in other Country zones. For a couple of years now there has been ongoing discussions between the New England zone and neighboring Central North zone with consideration being given to amalgamating their competitions. Negotiations stalled again this year and they will run separately for the 2018 season as usual. Unfortunately though due to the uncertainty, neither zone has been able to put together a squad for this year’s Country Championships in Warren. With the assistance of Country Rugby officials a solution has been found to get the best of the areas players to the Championships to push for Cockatoo selection. A combined squad to be known as The Northern Bushrangers will participate in the Richardson Shield tournament. Meanwhile in Newcastle the Waratahs club has withdrawn from the Newcastle Hunter Premier Competition for 2018. In recent years the 77 year old club has struggled for player numbers, resulting in only being able to field two sides in 2017. The very difficult but inevitable decision has been made for the club to drop back down the grades in an effort to rebuild the club to its former status. The club has produced something like eight Wallabies with the list headed by Cyril Bourke and the great John Hipwell. Let’s hope that with the efforts of Rugby tragics up that way, this great club can once again be returned to its former glory.

The IDRU 2018 Season Launch will now take place at Shamrocks headquarters at Ocean Park, Woonona from 3.00PM this Sunday 25th March.

The on again off again Australian Schoolboys Tour of Great Britain seems to be back on the agenda again. Rugby Australia has apparently made $100,000.00 available for the tour with the participants to be given the task to fund raise the remaining costs. However it comes together it would be a shame to see this tour go be the wayside. It’s a must though that the tour squad should be made up of the most talented players and not just those who can afford to pay their way.

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The Rogues Rant

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

An interesting weekend of trial matches around the district this week. At Campbelltown on Saturday the Illawarriors will be having another much needed hit out against Southern Districts. University, Wollondilly and hosts Harlequins will also be involved in seven matches played over two grounds starting from 12.45. The Illawarriors had a rigorous afternoon last Saturday against Queenbeyan which saw the ACT side run out 5 tries to 2 winners in the main trial. Clearly in need of more match fitness this week’s hit out is just what the Doctor ordered. The top grade match will start at 5.00PM. In what should be a very interesting afternoon at Eridge Park, Bowral will be hosting Canberra club Royals and reigning Newcastle Hunter Premiers, Hamilton Hawks in trials from 1.00PM. In other trials Shoalhaven are opposed to Wagga Wagga at Shoalhaven Rugby Park from 3.00PM and Camden host Briars from 1.00PM at Camden Rugby Park.   

Where to now for the Waratahs? What’s the point of having some of the game’s best attacking Backs at your disposal if you can’t be competitive in the scrums and at the break down? The Tahs form so far has been far from convincing despite showing their willingness to play the full eighty minutes. Matches riddled with handling errors and the set piece somewhat of a disaster, it looks like Tahs fans may be in for another frustrating year. After a strenuous couple of weeks traveling right across the Southern Hemisphere the Waratahs are drawn to play the in-form Melbourne Rebels on Sunday in Sydney. I hope they get plenty of rest this week, they are going to need it against a very much in form Rebels outfit.

West Australian businessman Andrew Forrest has announced the creation of World Series Rugby which will see the Western Force play seven international matches from May to August. Starting with a match against Fiji on May 4th, the Force will also play matches against the Crusaders and Rebels during the Test window in June, when Super Rugby will be in recess. The matches will prepare the Force for the National Rugby Championships in which they will replace Perth Spirit.

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The Rogues Rant

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

Vikings Mentor Sean Barrett is in for a busy couple of months. As well as overseeing the early season preparations at Vikings, Sean has landed the Assistant Coach role with the NSW Women’s Team. The girls will be competing in the all new Buildcorp Super W Rugby Tournament which kicks off this week. The five round tournament featuring teams from all the Aussie Super Rugby franchises plus the Western Force will run through to a final on the 21st April. Sean and the girls are off to Brisbane to play the very impressive Qld Ladies at Suncorp Stadium prior to the Reds Super Rugby match against the Bulls. http://www.rugby.com.au/competitions/super-w The Qld girls are coached by one of the former characters of Illawarra Rugby, Shoalhaven stalwart Michael Hayes. I’m sure old sparring partners Sean and Mick will enjoy a couple of drinks after the opening match. The NSW girls first home game will be Sunday week against The Western Force at the SFS.

The word is that the Australian Schoolboys Tour may have gone by the wayside. Suggestions are going around that a new Under 18 National format is in the making with an Open National side the ultimate goal. Keep an eye out, I’m also hearing that there could be an Illawarra influence here as well.

After a couple of day long training camps recently the Illawarrior Senior and Colts squads are ready to go for this week’s trial matches at Saunders Oval. Games will get underway against Queenbeyan with Colts at 12.00Noon and two senior matches at 1.30 and 3.00PM. The coaching staff has been very impressed with the effort from the players at the camps and is expecting plenty of enthusiasm for their groups first hit out. Should be a good days Rugby as you can always expect a strong performance from the ACT club sides.

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The Rogues Rant

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

A great day of Rugby in oppressive heat at the Macarthur 10’s a couple of weeks ago at Camden. The Deadwood Timberwolves made it three Macarthur 10’s titles on the trot with a last minute try to snatch the win in a classic final against Sydney Nandi. The Timberwolves are a great rugby story, a group of players who specialize in the abridged forms of the game and donate any prizemoney that comes their way to charity. The $5,000 Macarthur 10’s purse was quickly passed onto the Westmead Childrens Hoapital. The Timberwolves have now donated in excess of $200,000 to charity over the years a wonderful effort in anyone’s book. They will be back next year along with just about all of this year’s twelve competing teams. 

For the first time in the 45 year history of the Kiama 7’s the Title is heading south of the border down Victoria way. The Box Hill Broncos completed an unbeaten days Rugby defeating last year’s champions Warringah 21 – 7 to take the $11,000.00 in prizemoney. In an extraordinary defensive performance, the Broncos conceded just four tries in their 5 matches, disposing of Randwick, Hunters Hill and West Harbour in their Pool matches. A hard fought 10 – 7 win over Manly in the Semi saw them through to the final against the defending champs. Warringah made the final after a 19 – 5 semi win over another surprise packet of the day, Temora from the NSW Riverina. Temora went on to defeat Manly in a tense Plate Final 14 – 12. The Warringah Womens team made it two Vases in a row defeating Sydney Uni 19 – 0 in the final. Host Kiama were no match for Country Cup winners Lakes in the final going down 36 – 0. The South Coast Sharks made it through to the Bowl final before going down to the impressive Cooks Hill side from Newcastle who won 31 – 7. The countdown is already underway for the 2019 Tournament.

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The Rogues Rant

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

After 2 years of research by Rugby Australia in conjunction with Sydney Junior Rugby Union, Brumbies Rugby, and the Australian Catholic University, Rugby Australia has announced the introduction in 2018 of a radical new set of Weight for Age guidelines for Junior Rugby. Under the heading of Rugby Australia Size for Age Guidelines, the aim is to properly assess junior players with a view to being able to move players across age groups. Players deemed to be below or above an accepted height and weight range will be assessed for physical and personal development factors including height, weight, playing experience, fitness and maturity. Once assessed they will be able to be moved between their true age group, one age group below, or up to two age groups above their true age group. The study found that weight alone was not a strong enough factor in moving a player between age groups. From season 2018 qualified independent coaches will be appointed to conduct the assessments before players will be allowed to change age groups. This is a great move and long overdue and I’m sure will be very much supported by the majority of people involved in Junior Rugby right across the country.

All attention now to the Morgans Kiama 7’s this Saturday at Kiama Showground. Teams are coming from all over for what is now very much a stepping stone for aspiring Sevens players. Teams are coming from Sydney, Canberra, Victoria, the Illawarra of course and from Temora, Newcastle, Molong, Jidabyne, Albury, Orange and Grenfell. A total of 60 pool games will get underway from 8.30 for a full day mof entertaining 7’s Rugby. The Womens Final will be at 5.15 with the Plate to be decided at 5.40. The Cleary Bros Cup Final for 2018 will kick off at 6.00PM. As usual it will be a big day in more ways than one.

The IDRU Draw has been finalized and can be viewed in full in the Senior Rugby section of the Website. Round 1 is on Saturday 7th April, the first of three Rounds before a week’s break for the Country Championships in Warren on the 28th/29th April. First up Campbelltown play Shoahaven at Campbelltown, Kiama at home to Camden, Tech Waratahs play Bowral at Saunders Oval, Uni are at home to Premiers Avondale, while last year’s runners up Vikings are away to Shamrocks. It won’t be long, we’ll be into it before you know it.

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The Rogues Rant

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

It was sad to hear of the passing of Ken Catchpole at the end of 2017. Catchpole was an extraordinary Rugby Player, rated by many as the best ever Australia has produced. The little Halfback made his First Grade debut for Randwick as a 19 year old in 1959. Later the same year after a handful of matches in the top grade, he played his first match for NSW against the touring British Lions which NSW won 18 – 14. The following season Catchpole Captained NSW for the first time against the All Blacks at 20 years of age. He made his first Wallaby appearance appointed as Captain at 21 years of age in 1961, playing Test Matches against Fiji, South Africa and France. He made 27 appearances for Australia, thirteen as Captain before a horrific injury ended his career in 1968 aged just 28. Catchpole had his Hamstring torn from the bone along with several Groin Muscles ruptured at the hands of All Black Colin Meads and never played Rugby again.      Rest in Peace Ken Catchpole.

The return to Australian Rugby for David Pocock will be delayed for a couple of months. Pocock has had surgery to repair a damaged Knee Cartilage which will delay his return for the Brumbies in this year’s Super Rugby campaign. It’s a problem that has been apparent for some time and after a stint with Japanese Club side Panasonic Wild Knights surgery was required to bring the knee up to strength for the years ahead for the former Wallaby Captain.

The rumor mill is turning over already this year with word suggesting that the Australian Schoolboys Tour to the UK deferred in 2017 is under threat once again for 2018 due to a lack of Rugby Australia funding. Let’s hope new CEO Raelene Castle can get this all important part of the development program back on track.

The IDRU Draw will be released very soon. An eighteen round program commencing April 7th with a Grand Final date of 15th September to be confirmed. The upcoming trial matches between Southern Districts and the Illawarriors squads will in fact be on March 17th at Campbelltown. Two grounds will be operation on the day with the Illawarriors opposed to Souths 1st Grade at 5.00PM on the main ground. At 3.30 Harlequins will play Souths 2nds, with Wollongong Uni to play Souths lower grades on the top ground at 2.15 and 100PM. On the bottom Field, Souths No.1 Colts will play the Illawarrior Colts at 3.30. after Souths No.2 side play Campbelltown 2nds at 2.15 and Wollondilly V Souths No.3 Colts at 1.00PM.

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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