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Thread: Super Rugby: Dark days continue for Australian teams

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    Super Rugby: Dark days continue for Australian teams

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-05-1...ntinue/9756148

    The Reds were thumped by the Sunwolves, the Waratahs suffered a horrendous choke against the Crusaders, and the Rebels and Brumbies played in front of a tiny crowd in Canberra in another dire day for Australia in the Super Rugby.

    The NSW Waratahs were crying foul after giving up the biggest lead in Super Rugby history in a heartbreaking 31-29 loss to the mighty Crusaders.

    Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson, himself a multiple championship winner with New Zealand's powerhouse franchise, was full of praise on Saturday night for the Crusaders after they overhauled a 29-0 first-half deficit.

    But he rued no action being taken against Crusaders prop Joe Moody for taking out Waratahs centre Kurtley Beale in the lead-up to the home team's first try in the 35th minute.

    "That's an elbow to the throat of a player unprotected. It's a red-card offence. The try should not be scored. The guy should not be on the field," former Wallaby-turned-Fox Sports analyst Rod Kafer said in commentary.

    Gibson was unable to hide his frustration after the Waratahs had to settle for a losing bonus point to retain their Australian conference lead.

    "A couple of decisions proved really costly — obviously the Joe Moody incident with the elbow, which the referees missed," he said.

    "In my book, it's an elbow to the head so I'm sure the powers that be are looking at that."

    'We need to start cheating better': Former Wallaby

    Former Wallaby Stephen Hoiles said he was growing tired of Australia's Kiwi rivals pushing the limits of the law.

    "The reality is, we've got to start cheating better," Hoiles said on the Fox Sports coverage of the Waratahs-Crusaders game.

    "That's what we as Aussies need to do. We need to start running players off the ball.

    "We have to be a little bit craftier off the ball. That's what Australian rugby needs to do.

    "We can't let the referee make all these decisions."

    Reds hit new low

    Queensland Reds coach Brad Thorn says his side "got what they deserved", with the pumped-up Sunwolves claiming their first Super Rugby match win of the season with a 63-28 hammering in Tokyo.

    Kiwi-born five-eighth Hayden Parker did much of the damage for the Sunwolves at Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium with a personal tally of 36 points.

    He finished off a brilliant first-half team try and kicked 12 goals from 12 attempts, while Sunwolves winger Hosea Saumaki also had a day out, collecting a hat-trick of tries.

    While the Sunwolves deserved the win, the Reds did themselves no favours.

    Through lazy play, they conceded 12 penalties to hand their opponents 21 points, their attack lacked creativity, defence was lacklustre and their kicking game was below par as well.

    Thorn said his team was simply beaten by the better team on the day.

    "There was lot of poor, basic footy out there and we got what we deserved," Thorn said.

    "Hats off to Hayden Parker who scored 30-odd points; the forwards were good; they were really good at the breakdown so well done to them," Thorn said.

    "They were by far the better side."

    Second-worst crowd ever turns out for Brumbies-Rebels game

    Those Super Rugby woes are extending off the field with the Brumbies playing in front of their second-smallest crowd for a home game.

    Just 5,283 supporters turned out at Bruce Stadium on Saturday night for the ACT team's clash with rivals Melbourne.

    That figure sits only behind an attendance of 4,000 back in 1999 when the Brumbies smashed the South African-based Bulls.

    Staring down the barrel of a sixth-straight defeat, the Rebels overcame a 14-point deficit with 20 minutes remaining to bury the Brumbies 27-24.

    A Rugby League World Cup match between France and Lebanon attracted more fans (5,492) at the same venue last October.

    While it was a cold Canberra night against the Rebels, the turnout for a conference derby is of concern to the Brumbies and Rugby Australia.

    It adds to the frustration of Australian teams losing 39 straight games against New Zealand opposition, with the second anniversary of the last win fast approaching.

    "It's really sad to be honest, as a rugby union person," Brumbies coach Dan McKellar said.

    "It was obviously a cold, damp evening. Everyone in this room and here tonight wants the game to be thriving. The reality is at the moment it isn't.

    "Our form is playing a part of that and I've got to front up and take ownership of that 100 per cent."

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    Cheetahs president message to SA teams come join us

    Cheetahs boss: SA rugby has a future up north
    2018-05-13 06:04 SHARE THIS
    Harold Verster (Gallo Images)
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    Johannesburg - This time last year, the Cheetahs and the Southern Kings were the poor cousins of South African rugby, facing Super Rugby relegation and destined for the northern hemisphere cold in PRO14 rugby.

    A year later, the Super Rugby franchises - their lot depressingly familiar to last year - would kill to be in the Kings and the Cheetahs’ shoes, if Lions president Kevin de Klerk’s recent utterings about looking north are anything to go by.

    As if that wasn’t enough, Cheetahs managing director Harold Verster, whose team capped their debut season by going as far as the semi-finals qualifier against the Scarlets last weekend, has done little to convince them that they are wrong to be envious, telling them life most definitely is better up north.

    “The PRO14 overlaps with the Currie Cup and we don’t have our home derbies like we did in Super Rugby,” said Verster. “We miss our derbies, but not the travel and, for some reason, their culture of rugby is similar to ours - I’ve made more friends in a season than I ever did in Super Rugby.

    “But I must say, it’s a fantastic competition to be involved in.”

    Being involved in the PRO14 - which pays the same as Super Rugby - may not have brought bigger crowds or off-the-charts ratings when it comes to broadcasting, but, Verster said, it is a competition with great prospects for the teams, the players, sponsors and the supporters.

    “If we can get involved in the European Rugby Champions Cup, we’ll be involved in something even bigger than Super Rugby,” an excited Verster said. “The figures are sensitive and confidential, but the money is bigger than Super Rugby’s by a country mile.”

    Verster said that, for the Cheetahs and the Kings to be in line for the top tier European rugby competition, SA Rugby had to be a full partner of the PRO14, something he said would pave the way for his team to be involved as early as a year or two from now.

    Not that there haven’t been hiccups in the Cheetahs and the Kings’ maiden PRO14 campaign, especially the fact that the latter won only one of their 21 games.

    “There is a little concern over the Kings, but they will get better once they’ve been able to prepare to start the season,” he said.

    The sparse crowds watching games that are sometimes played during the off-season - December and January - had given Verster et al a lot of homework, not only for next season, but also to overhaul their business model to suit their new circumstances.

    “We’ve just done a business review to look at our business going forward,” he said.

    “There are lots of changes we need to make to our business. We need to think about playing in smaller stadiums because they play in 10 000 - to 15 000-seater stadiums; we play in 50 000-seaters and it looks empty. But if we go smaller, the vibe will be great.

    “We need to promote and market the competition because too many of our people don’t even know who Benetton or some of these teams we play against are. We’re also thinking of changing our season tickets to a combined package deal (Currie Cup and PRO14), where our season ticket holders can tour with the team to Ireland and we can have party areas for kids.

    “We’re now focusing on a new generation of rugby fans, not just black fans, but white and brown ones, too. These young kids and young workers want stadium Wi-Fi and a party, and social integration is very important to them - we’ve got four to 500 of them, we want to grow them to about 5 000.”

    But the immediate perks have also been pretty rewarding: the Cheetahs’ sponsors were pretty happy with their exposure in Europe and no less than four players - Clayton Blommetjies and Uzair Cassiem (Scarlets), Francois Venter (Worcester) and Tom Botha (Ospreys) - were sold.

    “We got Clayton from Varsity Cup and now we’ve sold him for millions. And the sponsors we’re looking to bring on board pay in pounds.”

    With PRO14 thinking about expanding to 16 teams (Griquas and Pumas could get the nod in their new guise as franchises), Verster said the future was definitely up north.

    “There’s a future for South African rugby in the northern hemisphere, and it doesn’t have to be the Super Rugby sides. It’s a brilliant strategic move by (SA Rugby chief executive) Jurie Roux. This is an investment that will pay off in about three years.”

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    Western Force thump Tonga side in second World Series Rugby match

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    7:16 PM AWST
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    Another big crowd turned up for World Series Rugby to watch the Western Force post a 47-17 victory over a Tongan representative side in Sunday's clash at nib Stadium.

    Pre-match fireworks, dancers, a magic show, and even a sideline marriage proposal entertained the 16,323 crowd
    .

    The Force scored the first three tries of the match to race out to a 21-3 lead, but their advantage was whittled down to just four points by halftime following a spirited Tongan fightback. However, the Force obliterated their opponents in the second half to cruise to the seven-tries-to-two victory.

    WSR founder Andrew Forrest has lived up to his promise to provide plenty of entertainment as part of the rugby experience. And while no seven-point tries have been scored just yet, the on-field play has generally been free-flowing and fast.

    A crowd of 19,466 turned up for last week's WSR opener, when the Force defeated the Fiji Warriors 24-14. Although the crowd was a bit smaller on Sunday, it still dwarfed the 5283 that watched the Rebels' 27-24 win over the Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday.


    It meant that for the second time in as many weeks, the largest crowd at a rugby match in Australia was produced by World Series Rugby. The concept will now go on a short break, before resuming on June 9 when the Force take on Super Rugby side the Melbourne Rebels.

    The Rebels are coached by former Force mentor Dave Wessels, and the WSR encounter looms as an intriguing grudge match of sorts.

    Force coach Tim Sampson was proud of the way his players responded after half-time on Sunday, and was particularly impressed by the team's hot start.

    "Something we spoke about this week was remaining composed," Sampson said. "We knew these blokes were going to come out like a bull at the gate, and they did. Those first few tries were outstanding."

    Force winger Rod Davies was left nursing an AC injury to his right shoulder after crashing heavily into the ground after attempting to catch a high ball. Sampson is hopeful the injury isn't too serious.

    The visiting side was made up of Tongan players plying their trade in Australia, NZ, and Tonga.

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