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Rugby News: Coach wants NRL 'glam' in SRP, Samu's Sevens return, NZR's $180m done deal, ABs' praise for Tahs

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2nd June, 2022
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Former British Lions player and current Melbourne Rebels assistant coach Geoff Parling has given a sober assessment of the state of Super Rugby, and wants to see more done to match the “glam” of the National Rugby League.

Parling, acknowledged as one of the world’s top set piece coaches, was the special guest on The Roar Rugby Podcast this week, and spoke about the difference between European rugby and SRP in the wake of epic scenes that greeted La Rochelle’s Champions Cup win on the weekend.

Geoff Parling joined Brett McKay and Harry Jones on The Roar Rugby Podcast

More than half of the French town’s population turned out for a raucous street parade.

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“I certainly think the product in Europe is flourishing more than Super Rugby if I’m honest,” said Parling, who played for England and won three English titles in his career before joining the Rebels as a player and then coach.

“If you look at the crowds in those finals and probably the commercial opportunities for players in the UK, and the opportunities for people involved in rugby are definitely bigger over there.”

He said the introduction of Fijian Drua and Moana Pasifika showed Super Rugby was working hard to overcome the absence of South African teams but added there was “something still to work at.”

Part of that is the complexity of the laws and the inconsistencies in refereeing.

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“There are too many stoppages still in the game, and we have to somehow try and quicken it up,” Parling said.

“That’s rugby in general and I feel for Super Rugby to really push it, it needs less law changes, make the product a little simpler for people who are watching.

“The interpretations are definitely different in the hemispheres.

“Even having a New Zealand ref and an Australian ref is very different. If you look at our first line out from the game at the weekend, the ball was in, played away great tempo, getting on with the game,  and it actually got slowed down and we had to reset it. I didn’t see what outcome they were trying to get from that.

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“Quicken the game up, try to get a great product for everyone to watch. I’m a rugby purist and I’m saying that.”

Parling pointed to the NRL as a positive role model for rugby promotion.

“Try to get it a bit more glam, possibly. Something I’ve noticed coming over here, compared to rugby league in England which isn’t glam at all, as you’d appreciate, the NRL here is glam and done very well.

“I don’t think there’s a single answer. I think lots of people are working hard to try and find a solution and push the game.

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“The last couple of years since Stan Sport came on board I think they’ve been doing a really good job of producing the product in a different way but I think every one knows there’s still a way to go.”

Parling, meanwhile, outlined the final controversial moments of last weekend’s one point win over the Highlanders and revealed the role played by a retiring club great James Hanson.

The Rebels had a chance to play on after the siren to score a converted try that would have helped the Force secure eighth and a place in the finals instead of the Kiwis.

“If you listen to the ref mic he [Toomua] want to have a crack with a maul and ‘Chibba’ Hanson was screaming at him, ‘just kick it out’.

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“We were one point up, we’d won a game in what’s been a pretty disappointing season and we need to take that win.”

Big boost for Sevens hopes

Australia’s Sevens coach John Manenti is hoping to secure Wallabies star Samu Kerevi and Waratahs’ inform winger Mark Nawaqanitiwase to play at the Commonwealth Games next month.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports Kerevi is set to reprise his Tokyo Olympics role for the sevens team, which scored a famous final victory over New Zealand last weekend to give themselves a shot at the world title this year.

The Herald reported that Kerevi, who will play in the series against England as one of Dave Rennie’s three overseas-based picks would miss the two Tests against Argentina in August but would return for games against South Africa.

Silver Lake deal goes through

New Zealand Rugby’s provincial unions have signed off the $NZ200 million ($A180m) Silver Lake deal with all but one of the 89 votes from 26 provincial unions cast in support.

NZ Rugby chairman Stewart Mitchell said it was a “transformational moment” in the history of NZ rugby.

The deal will see $NZ37m distributed immediately with the 14 NPC teams receiving $1m each, 12 heartland unions $500k each ($6m total), Māori rugby $2m, community clubs $7.5m, Players’ Association $5m.

“This is a transformational moment for rugby in Aotearoa at every level of the game and will enable us to move forward, change, and take advantage of the massive opportunities in front of us,” said Mitchell.

“It has taken us some time to reach this point and that is because our members care so deeply about our game, our communities, and our people.

“I would like to thank the Provincial Unions, the Māori Rugby Board and the Players’ Association for their support, and Silver Lake for their patience and understanding of the values and traditions of rugby in Aotearoa as we have worked through the complex details of this proposal. I would also acknowledge the hard work and dedication of our management and staff over the past 15 months as we have navigated COVID-19 and the challenges it has presented.

“Our collective challenge now is to grasp this moment and ensure we invest in the right areas of the game, in particular at the grassroots, in teenage and women’s rugby, and in the technology which will allow us to engage with our fans around the world and ensure rugby is re-imagined for the next generation.”

Tahs ‘so hot and cold’

Former All Blacks Jeff Wilson and Mils Muliaina are at a loss as to what to expect from the Waratahs when they face the Chiefs in Saturday’s quarterfinal in Hamilton.

“I don’t know what to make of the Waratahs. I genuinely don’t, given you look at their form through the course of the season they’ve been so hot and cold,” Wilson said on The Breakdown Podcast this week.

“Every time you start to think they’re going to get some momentum and they’re playing well… on the weekend they lose to a baby Blues team – it was a second tier team that went over there.

“They were very good against the Highlanders in Dunedin. Whether or not that was the big game for them to secure their place in the playoff and then they took a breath (against Auckland), maybe that what they did.”

Wilson said that man to man he backed the Chiefs to have enough to win the match.

“Having Michael Hooper back makes a significant difference to [the Tahs] but I think they’re there for the taking,” said Wilson.

“My biggest concern for the Chiefs right now is they’re not dominating the area that will benefit them most and that’s the breakdown, and creating off that and going through the middle of teams.

“They’re trying to make things happen when they haven’t done the work on the inside, they’re not getting that momentum going forward.”

Muliaina said the Chiefs were not performing as well as the start of the season but had the “goods to be able to win.”

“The one area I have concern about is they haven’t got momentum in terms of a settled backline – their back three haven’t really connected,” he said.

“The Waratahs will be feeling a little bit of heat because they lost to a fairly young Blues outfit, and to go to Hamilton it might be just enough for the Chiefs to find the motivation they need and give something back to their fans.

Wilson, though, said the Tahs, had definitely close the perception gap over the course of the season.

“If I’d asked you at the start of the season if the Chiefs are going to play the Waratahs in a quarterfinal in Hamilton, we would say I’d be 90 percent confident the Chiefs would win that game, I don’t think it’s 90 percent right now.”

Muliaina agreed: “No, not with what the Waratahs have shown. They’ve been a big surprise. They have got real punch.”

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