It was another busy week in rugby around the world.
What have you missed?
Carter on Rapid Rugby’s radar
Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest launched Rapid Rugby this week and while some radical new laws have raised eyebrows we hear there is another hair raising move in the works.
One of the all time greats of the game – All Blacks legend Dan Carter – is Forrest’s primary recruiting target.
Carter is currently plying his trade for the Kobelco Steelers in Japan having spent the past three years running the show at Racing 92.
The legendary flyhalf is believed to be earning more than $2 million per year and it’s understood a figure well north of that mark – almost $1 million more – will be required if Rapid Rugby are to lure the World Cup winner to Hong Kong.
How much interest Carter has in taking up any proposed offer remains to be seen but he didn’t completely dismiss the idea earlier this year.
“Obviously when ideas like that are put out you kind of wait for them to be set in stone and become official before you start looking at opportunities like that,” Carter said in January.
“But if it was to happen, you’d be silly not to have a look at it.”
Carter isn’t the only high profile star on Forrest’s radar.
Sean McMahon has been highlighted as a potential recruit but we hear he hasn’t budged on his desire to stay in Japan.
Matt Giteau’s name has also been raised but his return would also surprise.
Cheika chats with fans
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika often speaks of the messages of support fans send in for the Wallabies even in a disappointing year like 2018.
On Saturday in Padova, he didn’t have to read a message to hear from a fan.
Sitting out in the open air coaches box in Stadio Euganeo, a Wallabies supporter stopped on the way to his seat to yell out to Cheika and hand him some advice about the importance of defence.
Cheika took it in his stride, agreeing with some of the man’s points, all in good humour and speaking post-match said they took note of all the fans sticking by them.
“We are staying solid and showing our supporters that, “Yeah, it’s not going great, but we’re starting to get things together” and to keep believing in that way,” he said.
“I’ve been really appreciative of a lot of the support we’ve had back home, we’ve shared it with the players, they’ve enjoyed it.”
Classic weekend in Orange
It was yet another terrific day put on by the Classic Wallabies in Orange at the weekend, when several hundred wide-eyed kids – and a few older types as well – got to rub shoulders with ex-Aussie players.
The Classics, run so well by Steve Hoiles, put on a coaching clinic for lots of enthusiastic youngsters on Saturday morning and ex-Wallabies such as Dean Mumm and Mark Gerrard were stoked to see so many young girls engaging in the session.
Wally the Wallaby was also a very popular figure.
Later in the day the Classic Wallabies side, featuring Radike Samo, Morgan Turinui, Sam Payne, Stephen Moore and Justin Harrison, took on the Central West Barbarians, and as is the way of these things, there were a few over-eager types, hookers doing chip-and-chases and no-one really keeping score.
The festivities continued well into the night at the after-match function, we were not shocked to hear.
Full marks to all involved in the Orange trip, and the many others put on by the Classics this year. Keep an eye on on the Classic Wallabies website for more of the events next year.
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Tandy joins Tahs
Welshman Steve Tandy is set to join the Waratahs as defence coach for 2019.
Tandy’s addition will expand the NSW coaching staff after head coach Daryl Gibson took charge of defence in 2018.
Tandy spent time with the Waratahs during the Super Rugby season and quickly established strong relationships with the players.
A former coach of Welsh side Ospreys, Tandy brings a wealth of international experience to the club.
“The players responded well to Steve during his time with us earlier this year,” Gibson said.
He came over here for his own development and provided us with a different perspective on how we approached our game and now has the defence portfolio for him to develop and implement.
“That is a part of our game that we need to improve on markedly in 2019 and it will be Steve’s role to help us strengthen that area.”
To’omua as close to Horne tragedy as anyone
The injury plight of former Wallaby Rob Horne has touched many people across the rugby community but few were as close as Horne’s former Test teammate Matt To’omua.
To’omua was playing for Leicester that day against Horne’s Northampton when he went down with the injury, though to be just a concussion.
“I was right next to it when it happened off the kick-off,” he said.
“At the time, I didn’t really think much of it, shows how dumb we are in rugby, I thought it was just a knock out, if you can say that.
“But yeah, I thought it was just a little stinger or something and then heard he wasn’t having much feeling in his arm, so that wasn’t great.”
The Premiership rallied around Horne after he was forced into retirement, staging a testimonial game in October to help raise money for his recovery.
That’s a gesture To’omua said showed the kind of person Horne is.
“But glad that the community got behind it, particularly the English rugby community. It showed the impact that he had and in such a short space of time.
“I think that was pretty special how everyone rallied together and got that game going at Twickenham.”
To’omua said injuries like Horne’s added a little perspective to rugby but in some ways it was easier not to consider the possibility of that kind of injury..
“It does when you lose, yeah. A little bit. To be honest with you, it’s something you almost want to be – ignorance is bliss – because you probably don’t want to realise the gravity or the nature of the sport because it’d probably get you down a bit,” he said.
“Sometimes you don’t really want to think about it too much because it’s not great and you’re only one tackle away from things changing a fair bit.
“But, at the same time, we’re pretty lucky to do what we do. So, pretty fortunate in terms of our injury history and hopefully it can stay that way.”
Cheika and Hansen find common scrum ground
Refereeing a scrum is no simple task
The world’s top rugby coaches all attnded World Rugby’s referee meetings last week and though England coach Eddie Jones described the meetings as a “waste of time” there were some common grievances aired.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said the stability of scrums was a big sticking point in discussions, and the positioning of second rowers, something his New Zealand counterpart Steve Hansen brought up in the meeting.
Australia has been punished with the whistle at scrum time in Europe and Cheika said there needed to be more understanding of all the contributing factors when it came to infringemenrs.
“In the scrum they are asking for stability, That is what they are saying.Our props are binding but their guys are getting up, the two locks and the back five,.so you know what sort of transferrance of weight that is,” he said.
“So that pushes Scotty (So) up, if he doesn’t want to go backwards, because that is where the transferrence of weight comes from.
“If it stops him from going forwards it would be a penalty against us, but if he goes up he struggles with the bind.
“They want stability but they are letting the locks come up and that is creating instability in the scrum.
“And then that transfers everywhere, foot movement etc.
“We then expect the guy who is being pushed up to keep his bind. In this instance Scotty is paying for it and I am not 100 per cent sure why. It’s a tough thing to referee because ref’s haven;t been in there and they are looking for the signals, a certain shape that they see to penalise.”.
Hodge takes a seat in recovery
Reece Hodge is still working his way back from a fractured ankle but the utility is finding ways to keep his rehab interesting.
This week he had a crack at one of the world’s most brutal sports – wheelchair rugby.
Hodge posted a pic after a session of the sport this week, heaping praise on some of the sport’s athletes.
Great to see a player mix it up in rehab, that’s for sure.
Aussie women in running for national prize
Some exciting news for the Aussie women’s Sevens – the side has been nominated for Team of the Year in the AIS Sports Performance Awards.