Rugby News

2 July 2004

Rugby News IN THIS ISSUE * Union v League - player's best interest? * New Zealand U/21 World Cup Champions * Australia above England in world rankings * Conflict of interest surfaces again at SARFU * Romania beat Six Nations contenders * England's Henry Paul kicks car * Australia v Pacific Islanders * Mallett guides Stade Francais to championship * Referee Andre Watson's final whistle * The word from Jonah * Heineken Cup 2004/05 - fixtures and pools NEWS UNION V LEAGUE - PLAYER'S BEST INTEREST? Following the on-off-on-off nature of the attempted wooing of Australia's number-one rugby league player, Andrew Johns, into a NSW Waratahs jersey, ARU spokesman, Strath Gordon, has called for an accreditation system to ensure player managers are "acting in the best interest of the whole player, not just trying to cut the biggest dollar deal". "Lifestyle, life after rugby and other qualitative issues need to be taken into account with any negotiation, not just cash," says Gordon. "An accreditation system would go some way to ensuring we were dealing with people who had the players broadest interests at heart. "On the whole the ARU's relationship with player managers is good. Most players are able to come in, get their contact signed and move on quickly. It becomes frustrating when the process gets dragged out through the media over a long time and we are forced to 'play games'. That's not how we like it. We don't like negotiating with players through the media. Fortunately, most players don't want that either but one or two player managers like to play it that way. Inevitably, there is conflict when someone doesn't get what they want. The Johns situation is a classic case in point. The ARU made a decision and some people simply had trouble living with that decision. "Clearly player agents want competitive tension in the market. When the ARU indicated it would not support the signing of Andrew Johns, that tension was absent, leaving only Newcastle in the market. NSWRU were lured back into the market and ultimately forced up the price that Newcastle and the NRL were prepared to pay for him. No wonder John Fordham was smiling at the media conference." Though supportive of its ideals, leading player manager Greg Keenan reckons calls for a regulatory body are a waste of time. "I'm not sure having a system of accreditation would help. I'm for the free market approach, where you're judged by your results. If a system [of accreditation] is brought in, it wouldn't be difficult to pass, and all it'd do is give credibility to fringe operators." Johns' manager John Fordham agrees. "There have been several attempts to establish a player manager accreditation system but none of the structures I have seen have hit the mark. I believe the best accreditation a person can have is an established reputation for acting with honesty and diligence." NEW ZEALAND U/21 WORLD CUP CHAMPIONS Disciplined and fluent rugby in tough conditions has allowed the Baby Blacks of New Zealand to put away a brave Ireland 47-19 at Glasgow's Hughenden Stadium. Ireland were not disgraced and after wins over France and Australia, rugby authorities in the Emerald Isle could be forgiven for looking forward to the next decade. For the men in green the back row of Brendan O'Connor, Jamie Heaslip and David O'Brien was outstanding, while Kiwi centres Luke McAlister and captain Ben Atiga created chances for hat-trick hero, winger Tony Koonwaiyou. The Irish mounted a typically valiant late charge but New Zealand held on, defended their title and celebrated long into the night. Unsurprisingly, the Irish did also. AUSTRALIA ABOVE ENGLAND IN WORLD RANKINGS Australia's 51-15 win over England in Brisbane has seen them rise above the world champions into second place in the latest official IRB World Rankings. Clyde Rathbone's hat trick helped Australia to beat England by more than 15 points and so go above them in the rankings. In Bucharest, Romania's one-point win over Italy increased their ratings points at the expense of the Italians, but not by enough to overhaul Canada in 13th. Italy remain in 11th, just ahead of Samoa. England's rating since 1 January 2004 has dropped by 6.70 points, the most of any of the 95 Member Unions of the IRB. In contrast, France - Six Nations Grand Slam winners - have seen their rating increase by 3.34 points. But the team with the greatest increase since 1 January is the Netherlands, who have seen their rating shoot up by 5.11 points from a record of five wins and one loss so far this year. CONFLICT OF INTEREST SURFACES AGAIN AT SARFU Brian van Zyl, managing director of the Natal Sharks, has written a letter of complaint to SA Rugby accusing Springbok selector Andre Markgraff of influencing the movements of Natal players. According to van Zyl, Markgraff asked Sharks coach Kevin Putt to release Mzwandile Stick and Enrico Swartz to other provinces. Van Zyl is also unhappy Markgraff was instrumental in five-eighth Willem de Waal not joining Natal. "This is a conflict of interest, considering his position as convener of selectors," said Van Zyl. "If he wants to get involved in having players released he should work through the CEOs and certainly not the coaches or players." Meanwhile, robust lock Victor Matfield has been cleared to play in the Springboks opening Tri-Nations match against the All Blacks in Wellington on July 24. ROMANIA BEAT SIX NATIONS CONTENDERS In Romania's greatest victory since their 1990 win over France, the Oaks overcame the Azurri of Italy to record a famous 25-24 win in Bucharest. With 10 minutes to go the Italians were down by 22-5 but came back to lead by two with seconds remaining. But a penalty goal from fly-half Ionut Tofan condemned the Italians to an ignominious defeat despite scoring 4 tries to 3. ENGLAND'S HENRY PAUL KICKS CAR In a ploy that (presumably) wasn't a novel approach to goal-kicking training, Gloucester and England Sevens star Henry Paul has been let off with a caution after police arrested him for kicking a car. Gloucestershire Police spokeswoman Kate Nelmes said: "At 3.20am this morning police were called to St Anne's Terrace, Cheltenham, after reports of a disturbance. A 30-year-old man from Cheltenham was arrested on suspicion of criminal damage after allegations that a car had been kicked. He has been given a caution for criminal damage." AUSTRALIA V PACIFIC ISLANDERS Wendell Sailor has made Wallaby selectors job of dropping him for this Saturday's Test with the Pacific Islanders a lot easier by pulling out with a hamstring strain. Boom winger Clyde Rathbone, who's hard-running, three-try debut on Sailor's wing had some pundits declaring him the "new Tim Horan", will start the match in the No.11. Matthew Burke comes on to the bench, as does Chris Whitaker at the expense of Matt Henjak. The visitors go into the match with confidence high following their barnstorming 68-21 win over New South Wales and 48-29 victory against Queensland. However, it remains to be seen how they will perform against the might of the Wallabies on an Adelaide Oval expected to be wet from recent rains. Will their free-running pack be able to tough it out in the mud? Will their backs' handling skills be affected? Whatever happens, it's sure to be entertaining with the Pacific Islanders coaching staff of John Boe, Willy Ofahengue, Wayne Schuster and Michael Jones promising their team will play unpredictable rugby. Australia 1-Bill Young, 2-Brendan Cannon, 3-Alastair Baxter, 4-Justin Harrison, 5-Nathan Sharpe (vc), 6-Radike Samo, 7-Phil Waugh, 8-David Lyons, 9-George Gregan, 10-Stephen Larkham, 11-Lote Tuqiri, 12-Matt Giteau, 13-Stirling Mortlock, 14-Clyde Rathbone, 15-Joe Roff Reserves: 16-Matt Dunning, 17-Jeremy Paul, 18-Daniel Vickerman, 19-George Smith, 20-Chris Whitaker, 21-Matt Burke, 22-Chris Latham Pacific Islanders 1-Soane Tongauiha, 2-Aleki Lutui, 3-Taufaao Filise, 4-Inoke Afeaki (c), 5-Ifereimi Rawaqa, 6-Sione Lauaki, 7-Alivereti Doviverata, 8-Sisa Koyamaibole, 9-Mosese Rauluni, 10-Tanner Chan Vili, 11-Stitiveni Sivivatu, 12-Seremaia Bai, 13-Seilala Mapusua, 14-Lome Faatau, 15-Norman Ligairi Reserves: 16-Joeli Lotawa, 17-Tevita Taumoepeau, 18-Leo Lafaialii, 19-Semo Sititi, 20-Steve Sooialo, 21-Seru Rabeni, 21-Sereli Bobo MALLETT GUIDES STADE FRANCAIS TO FRENCH CHAMPIONSHIP Following Nick Mallett's successful stint in charge of Stade Francais - with the team becoming French champions for the twelfth time after a 38-20 win over Perpignan - there have been calls for him to return to a role in SA Rugby. Mallett, however, will be loath to return to an administration that sacked him despite the Springboks near-record results. REFEREE ANDRE WATSON'S FINAL WHISTLE This Saturday's match between the Wallabies and the Pacific Islanders will be the final international match for top referee Andre Watson. He was given the choice of his final game by the IRB after he informed them of his intention to retire. After 27 Tests, two Rugby World Cup Finals, five Super 12 Finals, and six Currie Cup Finals, Watson retires as the most capped referee in South Africa's history. His first Test was Australia v Canada in Australia in 1996. "It has been a wonderful journey." Watson said, but the travel has kept him away from home too often. He intends to continue his involvement with rugby refereeing at a national level and has entered into discussions with SARFU about a career in refereeing administration and development at the elite level. THE WORD FROM JONAH In a recent discussion with a Sydney journalist, Jonah Lomu showed he had a positive outlook for his future. When asked about the comment 'Watch this space' at the end of his autobiography Jonah: My Story, and the possibility of his returning to rugby for the 2007 World Cup in France, Jonah replied, "Oh, definitely. It all hinges on how successful the transplant is. I keep my strength up by doing exercises after I've been on dialysis." He was also asked about his toughest Wallaby competitor. Jonah said "the one who would take the icing on the cake would be George Gregan. He's like a parasite. He gives it to you and you just can't seem to get rid of him. He disappears and then he pops up in the weirdest places and he causes havoc. "He's only half my size, but mate, he brought me down. He does really, really well and he's a feisty character. He is a great leader and an awesome player." HEINEKEN CUP 2004/05 - FIXTURES AND POOLS 2003/04 Champions London Wasps play semi-finalists Biarritz in their opening game on the fourth weekend in October. They have also drawn Leicester Tigers in the same pool (Pool 1). Runners-up Toulouse have Glasgow, Northampton and the Welsh Scarlets to contend with in Pool 3. Lawrence Dallaglio's Wasps team won the 10th anniversary season of the Heineken Cup as well as the Zurich Premiership in 2003/04, however, the captain was cautious ahead of the new campaign saying, "Now we know just how hard it is to win the Heineken Cup we won't be taking anything for granted as we try to match Leicester Tigers' feat of making it back-to-back victories. "The games against Leicester Tigers are going to be huge affairs. We know each other inside out and there is a massive amount of respect for what they have achieved at Leicester." Specific dates and times are expected in mid-August pending final discussions with the broadcaster. For a list of Pools and Pool Matches click on the link below. THIS WEEK Saturday 3 July Test Match United States vs France at Hartford,Connecticut Test Match Australia vs Pacific Island Warriors at Adelaide Sunday 4 July Test Match Japan vs Italy at Chichibu Stadium, Tokyo LAST WEEK Saturday 26 June Test Match South Africa 53 d Wales 18 Test Match New Zealand 41 d Argentina 7 Test Match Australia 51 d England 15 Test Match Romania 25 d Italy 24 Sunday 27 June U21 World Cup`3rd place playoff South Africa 44 d Australia 10 U21 World Cup Final New Zealand 47 d Ireland 19 IRB WORLD RANKINGS as at Monday 28 June 2004 RANK COUNTRY 1 New Zealand 2 Australia 3 England 4 France 5 South Africa 6 Ireland 7 Wales 8 Argentina 9 Scotland 10 Fiji 11 Italy 12 Samoa 13 Canada 14 Romania 15 USA 16 Uruguay 17 Portugal 18 Japan 19 Tonga 20 Morocco 21 Korea 22 Georgia 23 Russia 24 Chile 25 Ukraine
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