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Thread: The Rugby Championship to be cut in half

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    The Rugby Championship to be cut in half

    Cut-price Championship to appease Boks

    Julian Linden, Sport Reporter
    News Corp Australia Sports Newsroom
    8:32PM October 14, 2020

    This year’s cursed Rugby Championship could be scaled back to half its intended size as part of a last-minute compromise to ensure that world champions South Africa take part in the tournament.

    A fourth – and hopefully final – revised draw will be issued around the end of this week, just as soon as the four competing teams and their broadcasters all sign off on the latest changes, which is expected to see the planned six-round competition reduced to just three rounds, all played in Australia, at grounds in Sydney, Brisbane and Newcastle.

    The Springboks are baulking at playing a full six-round competition because their best players have only just resumed matches after the lifting of the extended COVID lockdown in South Africa.

    Citing ‘player welfare’, the Springboks will instead suggest to play the Wallabies, All Blacks and Pumas just once each – under the same three-round format that is used in World Cup years.

    While a shortened tournament will have a big financial impact for all teams, who had agreed to split the money evenly, it is understood that everyone will agree in the understanding that 2020 has been a year where everyone has had to make concessions and this is just another one.

    The two Rugby Championship matches between Australia and New Zealand – due to be held in Sydney on October 31 then Brisbane on November 7 – will proceed as planned.

    However, South Africa’s first scheduled game, against Argentina in Brisbane on November 7, is almost certain to be scrapped with the remaining matches all to be played in New South Wales once the final schedule is decided.

    “The SANZAAR member unions have agreed to provide South Africa Rugby with an additional 48 hours to finalise its internal stakeholder discussions,” SANZAAR said in a statement.

    “This will now delay the scheduled departure of the Springboks from South Africa to Australia.

    “SANZAAR will provide an update on the resolution of these discussions and a timetable for the Springboks’ participation in The Rugby Championship when available in the coming days.”

    Sources have told The Australian organisers are considering up to four different revised schedules for the remaining fixtures but have already ruled out adding a replacement team while waiting for the South Africans to arrive for the second half of the series.

    Organisers had begun looking into the possibility of inviting a Barbarians or Australia A side to play in the first half of the series but scrapped that idea after broadcasters showed no interest.

    The Pumas have already arrived in Australia and are now looking at arranging one or possibly two warm-up matches now that their first championship match has been pushed back until mid-November at the earliest.

    Doubts about South Africa’s participation have been circulating for weeks with the fine print in all of SANZAAR’s statement tellingly including a line each time that the Springboks’ participation was yet to be confirmed.

    The concern for the world champions is that they have not played a test match since beating England in the final in Japan last year to win the Webb Ellis Cup for the third time.

    Already at a distinct disadvantage against their opponents, last weekend’s high-quality Bledisloe Cup match between the Wallabies and the All Blacks was the confirmation they needed that they were not ready.

    Meanwhile, New Zealand not content with getting away with highway robbery in last week’s drawn first Bledisloe Cup test are trying another swiftie ahead of Sunday’s second encounter at Eden Park.

    Anyone who watched the opening match knows the Kiwis got the rub of the green with most of the contentious decisions – including being awarded a try after Rieko Ioane stepped on the touchline in the lead up – and not being penalised for a clear infringement when they were under pressure defending their own line in the dying final few minutes.

    But that hasn’t stopped the All Blacks from a side splitting claim that while they “don’t cry”, they were really upset by what they insists were rough tackles from the Wallabies that went unpunished by the referee.

    “That type of play on the field has got to be dealt with by the ref,” New Zealand’s assistant coach John Plumtree said.

    “There were several occasions where there was some off-ball incidents, but it’s got to be dealt with properly on the field.”

    For experienced Wallabies prop Allan Alaalatoa, New Zealand’s complaints are nothing more than an amusing distraction to what the Australians need to focus on.

    “That’s definitely something we expect from them, especially going off the last couple of years,” Alaalatoa said.

    https://www.theaustralian.com.au/spo...02790c88e7df23

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    And then there were 3.

    Rugby Championship in chaos with world champs’ shock withdrawal

    October 15, 2020 6:51pm
    Source: FOX SPORTS

    The Rugby Championship has been thrown into chaos with news the world champions South Africa are set to officially withdraw from the tournament.

    The New Zealand Herald is reporting tournament organisers Sanzaar and Rugby Australia will announce it on Friday.

    It means the competition will be reduced from 12 games to six and only involve the Wallabies, All Blacks, and Pumas.

    The report says South Africa wasn’t confident the Springboks would have had ample time to prepare for the tournament.

    The Championship will be held in Sydney and Brisbane over a week from October 31.

    There has been a suggestion the Springboks could be replaced by a Barbarians side in the tournament to ensure the draw stays in intact.

    https://www.foxsports.com.au/rugby/r...45b190ee95fa24

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    Veteran valzc's Avatar
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    I guess everyone’s gotta be grateful that there was any rugby getting played at all! It is what it is, but SA will be losing a big chunk of money from the deal won’t they?

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    Legend Contributor Alison's Avatar
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    A Kiwi mate at work told me today that they are changing the name of Eden Park for Saturday to ‘Hooper’s Catch’. Apparently they ran a public competition to rename the stadium for Saturday only and the comp was won by a fish and chip shop called Hooper’s Catch. My mate said that if the ABs lose the Bled game against the Wallabies this weekend, Aus won’t be able to claim their first win at Eden Park since 1986 because the win was at Hooper’s Catch stadium instead! Bloody genius!

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    Proudly Western Australian; Proudly supporting Western Australian rugby

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    Veteran chibi's Avatar
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    Quick, get the Western Force in there to make up the numbers

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    Japan and the Pacific Islands for Aussie Super 9's!

    Let's have one of these in WA! Click this link: Saitama Super Arena - New Perth Stadium?

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    Rugby Australia counting the cost as the Springboks walk out

    Wayne Smith Rugby Union
    6:43PM October 16, 2020
    20 Comments

    Rugby Australia is biting its lip around matters of compensation following South Africa’s stunning decision to withdraw from The Rugby Championship, even as it attempts to ascertain what financial damage the tournament will sustain from the absence of the Springbok world champions.

    The tournament will still go ahead, though now rebranded with the “Tri Nations” tag, to cover the three remaining sides, the All Blacks, the Argentine Pumas and Wallabies.

    “While we are disappointed on one hand, we still have a lot to look forward to here,” said RA chief executive Rob Clarke. “We still have six weeks of great Test rugby (in which the three teams will play each other twice, from October 31 to December 5.) “

    South Africa had always baulked at making a full commitment to the planned six-week 12-match TRC tournament, saying initially that they needed their own government’s permission to leave the republic. But once the SA Government gave the all-clear, SA

    rugby then shifted its concern to player welfare, citing a supposed external, independent medical authority who arrived at the figure of 500 minutes as the minimum game time footballers required before they could be exposed to Test match rugby.

    There is some suggestion that the “external independent expert” might well have been a key member of the Boks’ own medical staff for last year’s World Cup.

    RA attempted to accommodate SA’s concerns by scheduling the Boks to play only half of their allotted games, akin to the reduced TRC schedule of a World Cup year. This, too, was rejected, as were appeals that Argentina has been in effective quarantine for the past four months, just to play in this tournament.

    In the end, all that mattered as far as SA Rugby was concerned was that they would not put their No 1 world ranking in jeopardy by playing slightly underdone. Yet even this is regarded as a dubious motive, given that 13 members of the World Cup-winning party have been based in the northern hemisphere and would have been logging considerable game time.

    “I would have though that rugby players would want to play rugby and this was going to be like a mini World Cup, with double-headers that have never been played before in the Test arena,” said Clarke.

    Organisers will now have to contend with broadcasters who will pay considerable less than full freight for the tournament. And while the various bodies that have made the TRC possible – the NSW and Queensland governments and Tourism Australia – are still backing RA, there is likely to be a scale-down of their support.

    “I think they have got used to COVID impacting a lot of sports this year and so nothing surprises them these days,” Clarke said. “We are in dialogue with then now around what this actually means to them and what we can actually deliver against what the original agreement was and that will play out over the coming days and weeks. But I must say they have been very understanding and for that we are very grateful.

    “I’m not overly concerned by the financial exposure. I think we’ll come out all right in the end.”

    While RA will admit to no more than “disappointment” at the South African decision, officials are privately dumbfounded by a move which will financially hurt all four SANZAAR partners. Still, it does not want to rock an increasingly leaky boat. South Africa looks to be permanently investing in Europe for its Super Rugby-style football, but it has made a firm commitment to the TRC and the SANZAAR joint venture into the future.

    While SANZAAR’s days do appear numbered, it would certainly not be in Australia’s best interests if the organisation collapsed. SANZAAR has endorsed Australia as the only southern hemisphere contender for the 2027 Rugby World Cup, but if the organisation goes under, holding that voting bloc together will not be easy – particularly considering all the strain Australia has been having with its partners of late.

    Clarke revealed that Rugby Australia had actually started approaching players around building a Barbarians-style team to take the place of the Springboks, but quickly came to realise that the idea was unworkable.

    “We looked at it, we looked at it hard. We even went down the path of scouting players who could be available, but the reality is that standing up a team to play essentially Test match rugby in such a period of time with all the logistics of COVID protocols was just impossible. So we did look at it, but we gave up after it became too hard.”

    Wayne Smith
    Senior Sport Writer

    https://www.theaustralian.com.au/spo...8abc1cbd9e08ba

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    Legend Contributor blueandblack's Avatar
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    Surelay it cant be a surprise, since SA has wanted out for a few decades.

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    Immortal GIGS20's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blueandblack View Post
    Surelay it cant be a surprise, since SA has wanted out for a few decades.
    Dont think anybody realised that SA were serious about that, it was simply their consistent threat at the negotiating table because they brought all the money. They used it to get their way and, until recently, nothing more

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    C'mon the

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    South Africa reportedly getting $11m (instead of $16m) for this comp, despite not playing. Must be some sweet sweet TV money...


    SA Rugby to earn R130-million despite Boks' withdrawal

    19 Oct 2020

    RugbyRocks.com

    SA Rugby will not lose 'hundreds of millions of rands' after withdrawing the Springboks from the Rugby Championship, as has been reported.

    In fact, according to Daily Maverick sports editor Craig Ray's sources, SA Rugby will actually earn R130-million.

    This is due to a collective bargaining agreement that guaranteed all four Sanzaar nations would benefit financially even if one was unable to attend the tournament for Covid-19 reasons.

    SA Rugby would have earned R189-million had the Springboks participated, so they are 'only' missing out on R59-million.

    A Tri-Nations tournament – involving the All Blacks, Wallabies and Pumas – will take place in Australia from 31 October to 5 December.

    https://www.rugbyrocks.com/sa-rugby-...oks-withdrawal

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    Veteran chibi's Avatar
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    No wonder they pulled out

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    Japan and the Pacific Islands for Aussie Super 9's!

    Let's have one of these in WA! Click this link: Saitama Super Arena - New Perth Stadium?

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    South Africa withdrawal could leave Pumas isolated on world stage: Ledesma

    By Tom Decent
    October 23, 2020 — 7.43pm

    Argentina coach Mario Ledesma isn’t whinging about South Africa’s late withdrawal from the Rugby Championship but believes it could leave the Pumas in limbo on the world rugby stage.

    However, one thing Ledesma is certain of is Michael Cheika’s enthusiasm in the Argentina camp, which former Wallaby Drew Mitchell believes could be a huge advantage for the South Americans as they look to spring a few upsets.

    After dealing with positive COVID-19 test results, moving base to Uruguay and the logistical headache of getting some of their best players to Australia from Europe, a relaxed Argentina outfit have based themselves in Manly.

    They have three weeks until their first match of the Tri Nations, which came to be after the Springboks’ withdrawal last week that caught other SANZAAR home unions slightly off guard.

    South Africa were more concerned with player welfare than the significant financial hit from their exit. It has left Australia, New Zealand and Argentina to battle it out in a truncated six-week competition.

    Argentina could have felt aggrieved given they were already in Australia yet Ledesma refused to lash out at South Africa despite the fact his players have had less football under their belts.

    “The reason they gave, we are in no position to doubt,” Ledesma said. “From our point of view, we feel really humble and happy and privileged to be here and to be able to play with everything that's going on in our country.

    “South Africa’s been helping us a lot in the last decade. It’s a country that always gave us an opportunity.”

    Speculation is rife that South Africa’s decision may have broader implications. There have been offers for them to play more Tests in the northern hemisphere, casting doubt on their presence in next year’s Rugby Championship and beyond.

    While this Tri Nations tournament has been cooked up by SANZAAR at short notice, a future three-team competition does not appeal to broadcasters and could cause major headaches.

    Where that leaves Argentina, isolated on the other side of the world, is unclear.

    “What I know is it’s a really difficult situation for us because if South Africa goes north and [Australia and New Zealand] play between each other, I don’t know where that leaves us,” Ledesma said. “We’re thinking very much about ourselves and trying to get a good competition for our boys to stay competitive. We were really happy to have a franchise [Jaguares in Super Rugby] and we’re trying to do the diligence to get a good competition for our players.

    “It’s so dynamic and we’re having to adapt.”

    The familiar face of Cheika in Argentina's camp will keep Australia on their toes before the match on November 21 in Newcastle. Ledesma asked the former Wallabies boss to help out around the fringes, and assured him he would be allowed to sing the Australian national anthem in the coaching box.

    “It’s been really good for me and for the staff,” Ledesma said of Cheika's involvement. “We have a very young group of players too and Cheik is someone that believes a lot in himself. He’s pumped, he’s excited. He hasn’t coached rugby in a while … he’s doing a bit of everything. We love working with each other.”

    Mitchell, who played under Cheika at the 2015 World Cup, said his involvement would benefit the world's 10th-ranked side.

    “I think he’ll have a huge impact,” Mitchell said. “He’s just got a wealth of knowledge in many different aspects. Given Mario has got quite a young coaching staff … he’s one of the guys who will benefit having the experience of Michael Cheika who will get in his ear and give a different perspective or different approach.

    "It’s more small bits of wisdom he can pass on, not anything too holistic. From my experience, he’s obviously good around a group, he likes to get involved out there and get his hands on the ball at training. I have no doubt he’s having a real positive impact on the squad.”

    https://www.theage.com.au/sport/rugb...23-p5683e.html

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    Legend Contributor .X.'s Avatar
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    Is Drew Mitchell the biggest whore in Australian Rugby?

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    Immortal GIGS20's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by .X. View Post
    Is Drew Mitchell the biggest whore in Australian Rugby?
    I guess that'll be the case now that Mr I'll never coach against these guys is in Argentine rugby. But it's a long and competitive list so I wouldn't be surprised if others bring up several qualified candidates

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