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PapanuiPirate

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Joined February 2015

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Rabid Canterbury, Crusaders and All Black supporter currently based in Sydney. Active player in the Sydney subbies rugby competition.

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It’s funny Geoff, I find the lack of star players next year exciting, but as a Crusaders fan that’s because I’m always excited to see the new generation. If I were the Rebels, Bulls or Highlanders fan I imagine I might feel a little differently.

Losing the pulling power of the big names is going to be a problem, especially in Australia. Losing SK at the Reds is catastrophic as I really felt he was going to be the next face of the game in Australia. Pocock’s impending retirement is also going to leave a big gap. Who is going to be left to lead the games image? Michael Hooper is a hell of a player, but I’m not sure he inspires the public they way you would hope.

The Wrap: The Crusaders do it once again for Christchurch

Thanks for another Super season of wraps Geoff!

The intensity of this final is something that has been missing for a few years. What this last fortnight has really highlighted is that the Jags have got a real big game temperament, something plenty of us thought they might lack beneath the emotion they often use as their catalyst.

Overall this has been one of the best Super Rugby seasons in memory, with great stories and great players across the board. The Chiefs making the finals from such a poor start was remarkable, as was the fall of the Rebels from midseason. Next year however will be the real acid test. With so many test players across NZ, Aus and SA leaving after the world cup, and the middle tier of players already gutted over the last cycle, will we maintain this sort of quality?

The Wrap: The Crusaders do it once again for Christchurch

I think Castle will survive, largely because while the saga and its cost implications are painful, they were caused by Castle trying to have faith in RA’s player investment. Folau was on big money because he was worth a lot to the code. The cost of losing Folau during contract negotiations over a social media cause would have been massive on paper. Both in terms of on field success, and I imagine future commercial opportunities once the first incident had blown over and Folau was back being a superstar.

Castle made a judgement call based on RA’s best interests. Unfortunately it appears she made the wrong call. It’s yet to be seen how far this goes and frankly I don’t see Folau winning a court case even at the high court (which is the only place he might win given there is no religious discrimination law in NSW). So this may not cost RA anything beyond administration and brand damage.

The TV deal might be out of Castle’s hands. You can’t blame the CEO for a market shift. Also Foxtel aren’t the only player in the market and sports content is still premium ad space in a challenging media market. There’s a lot of water left to run there and given the circumstances even a small decrease in TV rights revenue might be seen as a success.

On another note Will, how about next week you try looking for a positive thing to write about rugby, just for a change?

Will Raelene Castle survive the Folau scandal?

I’m a bit worried about what happens if they don’t have Nonu next year, which seems likely. He’s providing what they have missed for so long in that backline, real glue and top notch decision making.

I want to see some more carrying from Papali’i because he looks great with ball in hand and it’s the only thing consistently missing from his game. Him and Akira Ioane are something to build on. I was immensely impressed with Scrafton off the bench. He hasn’t been on my radar (and I keep my nose out for good locks) and with Tuipulotu and Goodhue that’s an engine room for the future.

I guess one positive has to be that this Blues team has a pretty one-eyed Cantabrian like myself interested in their progress!

The Wrap: Super Rugby’s week 13, lucky for some

Always look forward to the wrap Geoff, and I’m never disappointed with it’s contents!

The Blues are having by FAR the most frustrating season of recent years. We are used to them losing games they maybe should win, and not being as good as they should be. This year the look like a genuinely good team who find ways to lose. I just can’t work out what it is about them that stops them getting over the line! They have an excellent roster, a solid coaching team, a competitive enough game plan. What else do they need other than maybe a bit of luck?

I’ve made this point in the past but teams that are relying on props to give them their go forward often fade at the back end of games. Reds and Blues might fall into this category and affected them both last round.

The Wrap: Super Rugby’s week 13, lucky for some

Cheers Riccardo.

My concern with Whitelock is that he is limited. He’ll buckle in and do a job but he won’t be a dominant force. He’s closer with his defense but still a bit short of punishing.

Your argument FOR Whitelock, that he is a genuine lineout option, is why I don’t want to see a Cane, Savea combo. They are both just short of 190cm and while the leap quickly they aren’t genuine lineout options. The ABs like having a proper 4 target lineout, it’s one of the reasons their lineout has been so good for so long.

Six options for the All Blacks' No.6 jersey

Nick, Wales produces top quality 7s like Ford made Model Ts. They get pumped out of every region.

The thing I like about Welsh 7s is their physicality. Most of them are good link players, excellent over the ball and terriers to the tackle but can also smash guys on both sides of the ball when required.

Could be problems if both Moriarty and Faletau aren’t available though. They are less blessed for big 6s and 8s.

Breaking down the Wallabies' back-row conundrum

Oh look, more back-row debate. Thank you, more please!

Short answer? Shannon Frizell. Long Answer? Below:

What it comes down to for the All Blacks is what do you want the whole complexion of the back-row to look like, and how does that affect your game?

Historically New Zealand like a very traditionally balanced back-row, so a hard hitting and carrying enforcer at 6, a fetching link player at 7 and a wide ranging high skilled generalist at 8. Also they like 2 lineout options in that back-row. Obviously Kaino, McCaw and Read was pretty much the perfect collection of those roles and athletes.

Thing are different now and the players available are much less orthodox. I would argue NZ has only 1 out and out fetcher anywhere right now (Matt Todd) but both incumbent 7s are decent enough at ruck time. Cane is less of a link player than the usual 7, playing a fair bit tighter, and takes on something of the enforcer role defensively. Ardie is really closer to the skill-set of kiwi 8 than a 7, but he is decently productive at the ruck. Squire is a fairly traditional 6 but doesn’t nail his core roles every game and sometimes struggles to get involved. Read is slowing and spends a lot more time in tighter exchanges than amazing with his skillset all over the park.

So a question of who is the 6 depends on who is the 7 and the 8. And to an extent, who is the 5 and 6. If I wanted to get as close to the traditional mix as possible I would probably go with Matt Todd at 7, Ardie Savea at 8 and then Frizzell fits at 6. But let’s be honest that’s unlikely to happen as while Matt Todd is a great player he’s probably not considered to be a first choice flanker.

So let’s make a couple of assumptions. First that Kieran Read will be the starting 8 as the incumbent captain. Second that Ardie Savea is now the in-form back-row in the country and has a level of incumbency following Cane’s injury last year. That leaves either picking a 7 and pushing Read or Savea to 6 or picking a 6 that supports Savea and Read. To me what I am missing now is a second line out jumper, another decent carrier and that enforcing defender. I’m going to rule out Scott Barrett as he will likely be the bench lock/6. Luke Whitelock just hasn’t got the carrying I want, Tom Robinson is energetic but no enforcer at the tackle zone. I’m left with a straight shootout between Luke Squire and Shannon Frizell. With this in mind I would go with Frizell. I’ve seen enough from him at the end of last year and through Super Rugby this year to suggest he is the man that can balance out the likely other back-row candidates. Squire just can’t seem to stay fit, stay on form or nail his role consistently.

Six options for the All Blacks' No.6 jersey

Oh back-row debates, why can’t I quit you??

Fun analysis Nick, showing the positives and negatives!

I’m on record for my preference for a more traditional balanced back-row. The exception is where you can get a 7 who is properly capable of owning the role at 6 and bringing some of their skills at 7 to the table.

Welsh 7’s are a great example of this. Warburton was one of the great 7s of his time but his style of play later in his career was closer to that of a 6 anyway. Defensively astute he developed a focus for making dominant tackles and picked up his tight-loose carrying. Tipuric looks to be making a similar late career transition as he slows a little. Also importantly Wales have the sort of players that can support the dual open sides playing at 8, like Ross Moriarty and Taulupe Faletau.

Australia doesn’t have 6/7s in my opinion, rather they have out and out 7s, and they don’t have top drawer support players. Neither Hooper nor Pocock are really strong enough defensively to make dominant tackles consistently in the tight loose, neither brings sufficient ‘hard’ carrying capability. Even worse, they haven’t had a support player who really makes up for these deficiencies.

If you have the players then sure, dual open-sides can work. But you need the right type of athletes in your open-side stocks and the right 3rd back-rower to support and complement them.

Breaking down the Wallabies' back-row conundrum

Those biggish guys tend to leave you a bit narrow and a bit light though Harry. Those years when McCaw played at 6 or 8 for the Crusaders were a good example, not a bad backrow but not quite tall enough and not quite enough go forward. if you swap McCaw for a slighter bigger guy then you issues like England does when playing Robshaw at 7, plenty of work and strong but diminished loose forward presence in the wider channels.
Biggish guys are good for plugging gaps, but not for forming a consistently impactful backrow.

Breaking down the Wallabies' back-row conundrum

He seemed to have his phone on him when I saw him walking out of Sydney Uni circa 12:30pm on Wednesday DC.

Tah-Tah, Izzy: Rugby Australia, NSW Rugby confirm they'll sack Folau

Plenty of money and commercial opportunity for Adidas and AIG in Germany, Russia and Spain. It might actually be worth more to them as they aren’t competing to be associated with rugby like they might be in more Rugby saturated markets.

Like I say it’s complex but the commercial argument certainly isn’t set in stone.

Nations League proposal set for the scrapheap as England reportedly opt out

Money is certainly the issue, though as I understand the southern hemisphere unions LOSE money on their northern tours at present due to the extensive cost of touring parties and the pittance provided in match fees.

Key here is I have said stop touring the 6 nations countries. Can still travel to the US, Canada and some of T2s in Europe. Cheaper, they have better leverage with the smaller sides to split the gate receipts and broadcast monies and can spread their sponsors brand to more markets.

So I think maybe they can end up in a position of being not substantially worse off, though it’s extremely complicated.

Nations League proposal set for the scrapheap as England reportedly opt out

Just so disingenuous. The fears around player welfare boil down to “it’s okay for the southern hemisphere players to have to travel around the world down there but not for ours to have to”. Also clearly England’s fear of relegation is ridiculous, given they have never gotten the wooden spoon in the 6 nations and haven’t had a wooden spoon finish since 1986. Not even mentioning they would have to lose a play off game to the winner of the second tier compeition which will be made of teams England has NEVER lost to.

Seems to me they just don’t like the idea of ceding any authority to WR and would rather sell their soul to private interests in the name of “independence”.

The only reasonable response from SANZAAR nations will be to refuse all games to 6 nations teams. Let them play each other over and over again all year, diluting the contests, reducing their revenues and let them bath in the shortsightedness of their decision.

Nations League proposal set for the scrapheap as England reportedly opt out

But you can’t do that without adding more games which can’t be done due to player burn out, or removing games between T1 nations which people actually want to watch and which drive revenue.

This way 3 tier 2 nations (1 in the north and two in the south) get solid game time for two years and if they manage to hold their spot then we might see the occasional tier 1 side getting knocked down and another T2 side getting a crack. Also it allows World Rugby to collect cash to then pay to help further develop T2 nations.

Whether or not it ruins the world cup is really a matter of perspective, and how different you find a year long ladder of matches which largely already exist, compared to a tournament with what could be 4 knockout rounds.

Pacific Nations may not get snubbed after all as World Rugby unveils Nations Championship details

On the current proposal, Fiji would get 11 games against top tier nations for as long as they can stay in the top flight. After that, any team that manages to get promoted gets 2 years of top level rugby. It’s not consistent but it’s a whole lot more than they get at the moment.

As for the world cup, expanding it to a full 24 team competition across 2-3 months would be a very different prospect. As I said above, this would then be a full world tournament as opposed to what is really just a season ladder.

Pacific Nations may not get snubbed after all as World Rugby unveils Nations Championship details

It;s also too hot in November in the SH and we are used to NH games in November anyway. I don’t see it as being a huge issue.

Pacific Nations may not get snubbed after all as World Rugby unveils Nations Championship details

Depends very much on how the revenue gets distributed PK. WR could provide match payments to players to boost the attractiveness of playing for your country. (I get the feeling this might be why the player association is being so vocal). At that point threatening to pay players per game will just bring clubs back to the pack.

Actually now I think about it WR should ABSOLUTELY pay match payments to players in this league!!!

Pacific Nations may not get snubbed after all as World Rugby unveils Nations Championship details

Bit of equivocation on my part there Geoff, I agree that it’s the Unions that matter.

I hope it’s enough of a carrot for them. The problem as I see it is that the home nations see the 6 Nations as an unassailable product. It’s hugely popular, every game is a sell out and it’s very profitable. If they feel they can live off that foreever, regardless of how big the club game gets, they may not see the value of Nations Championship.

Pacific Nations may not get snubbed after all as World Rugby unveils Nations Championship details

I don’t know what their avenue of attack is though PK.

They can’t complain about not having international players available, as largely this should result in less clashes with fewer international sides competing in November. No change to the 6 nations as it stands.

Of course if World Rugby boosted reg. 9 to include a longer stand down or to include weeks before or between international matches then they might have something to cry about.

Pacific Nations may not get snubbed after all as World Rugby unveils Nations Championship details

Hi Geoff,

Therein lies the rub though. What’s in it for the Northern Hemisphere teams?

I guess the opportunity to host that final if their team doesn’t make it? Could be juicy, but otherwise they would have to be choosing the greater good of the game over their own financial security given the inclusion of promotion and relegation.

Pacific Nations may not get snubbed after all as World Rugby unveils Nations Championship details

So when you compare to the existing season there are 4 big changes.

– 2 new teams in the RC.
– No home and away in the RC
– Possibility of relegation in the 6 nations.
– Trips south for European nations become tours instead of series.

Looking at things from this perspective there is functionally very few meaningful differences. However it really does open up the game and provides a wonderful international structure which can compete year round with club rugby eyeballs.

I actually really like the idea of relegation once every two years. It stops the bottom spot from being an absolute turnstile and gives the promoted team a year to get used to the higher level of rugby. Also the centralisation of the revenue, so long as it’s distribution remains transparent, goes a long way to equalising the international rugby dollar.

With a chunkier, more internationally flavoured world cup (maybe with a cup and shield style approach for the top 12 and bottom 12 teams?) I think it could live alongside what is essentially just a ladder for what are mostly existing games.

Pacific Nations may not get snubbed after all as World Rugby unveils Nations Championship details

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Pacific Nations may not get snubbed after all as World Rugby unveils Nations Championship details

Most of the noise has said the finals will be played at neutral venues, with people mentioning Camp Nou in Barcelona and Soldier Field in Chicago as possibilities.
Given the timing it’s highly unlikely that it will ever be hosted in the southern hemisphere. That’s a bummer but it’s another carrot for European unions. Italy might not like the idea of being at risk of relegation, but they probably love the idea of holding a New Zealand V Ireland final in Milan or Rome.

Pacific Nations may not get snubbed after all as World Rugby unveils Nations Championship details

One of my favourite players calling it quits at probably bang on the right time.

In my opinion he is probably the the most complete 8, if not the most complete player full stop, to ever play the game. The sheer variety of his skills, especially during the 2011-2014 period, is just mind boggling. He has certainly slowed over the last few years, and I’m not sure he ever really had the same gravitas as captain that McCaw had, but then again who does?

I see him as the last of the traditional freaks who have dominated the All Black for the last 10 years. Players who were in strange ways very traditional in their gameplay but were just out of this world in terms of their ability to to perform their roles and the special ability to add more.

He leaves a big hole, with no clear captain in line and no clear replacement in the 8 Jersey.

Kieran Read to depart New Zealand Rugby after World Cup