Ruck'n Maul
Pacific Tests would re-invigorate Australian rugby
Greg Growden
July 10, 2015
Ruck'n Maul: Greg Growden remains 'astounded' Jame Horwill and Rob Simmons made the Wallabies' squad

The Australian Rugby Union should take the lead from New Zealand Rugby and schedule a Test against Manu Samoa in Apia as soon as possible. Even in a Rugby World Cup year, the Manu Samoa-All Blacks Test on Wednesday will remain one of the highlights of the season. It reminded all of the true international flavor of rugby, providing colour, vibrancy and intensity to an often-sterile environment. Australia once upon a time gladly visited the Pacific Islands, but now their schedule is the same old, same old, a repetition of the same airport terminals in New Zealand, South Africa and Europe. The calendar needs variety to reinvigorate it and to provide the opportunity of rewarding those countries, such as the Pacific Islands, upon which Australia and New Zealand have relied so heavily for their talent. Come on ARU; think outside the square, for a change, and work on organising an Apia Test match.

Samoa 16-25 New Zealand (Australia only)
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Talk of another Super Rugby revamp?

There is a bit of friction among the SANZAR partners, with the poor showing of Queensland Reds and Western Force during Super Rugby 2015 prompting officials in South Africa and New Zealand to mutter again about a competition revamp. The South Africans are concerned about their increasingly massive player drain, while the New Zealanders are worried by feedback citing poor attendances and lack of interest in games that are not local derbies. Questions are also being raised, asking whether Australia actually deserves to have five Super Rugby teams.

Our ARU snouts, meanwhile, say the organisation is "increasingly rudderless as they go through a period of endless reviews, internal and external, none of which produce much". The attempt to keep secret one key ARU board member's planned departure has failed, while another has "lurched from media obsessed to being sulky and distracted". Adding to the disarray is the fact that one ambitious aspirant at the ARU is denying all his previous rugby mistakes (and there are many), while a Crows Nest office colleague has been exposed as his "head kicker". Worrying times - especially in a World Cup year.

Moore right leader for young Wallabies
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Wallabies happy campers on Sunshine Coast

In recent times, harmony has been a problem within the Wallabies player group. Remember the Dublin drinking debacle. But our men walking the corridors at the Wallabies training camp say there was general happiness among the player group when Stephen Moore was named captain with Michael Hooper and Adam Ashley-Cooper his deputies. The group has also welcomed the return of Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell from overseas. Now they just have to produce on the field.

David Pocock talks to locals after a Wallabies recovery session © Getty Images
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Long time between World Cup drinks

Australia hosted the most successful Rugby World Cup to date, in 2003, but don't expect the country to stage another showpiece in a long, long, long time. The ARU chiefs missed the chance to prepare for another World Cup when they opted against bidding for the 2023 tournament. France, Ireland, Italy and South Africa did bid, and the latter is a raging hot favourite to win the hosting rights. South Africa has not hosted the World Cup since 1995, so it is time for them to have another - especially as their organisation of the third world tournament was outstanding. Also the autocratic Louis Luyt is no longer around to cause late tournament trouble. The strong word is that the United States will get any World Cup for which it bids - and the 2027 tournament could easily be staged there. So Australia is looking at 2031, at the earliest.

When is a fiasco not a fiasco?

Opposition towards the ARU's flawed Rugby Link online registration and management system continues to grow. The Sydney Subbies competition is getting rid of it at the end of the season while countless other clubs are furious they have to use it, complaining that it doesn't work. But there is concern within Sydney premiership ranks that Shute Shield clubs will be forced to continue to use the system because the Sydney Rugby Union wants to stay on the good side of the ARU. Ruck'n Maul snouts have suggested the main concern among the decision-makers is not that RugbyLink is a fiasco but that other states may follow the Sydney subbies' lead and drop it as well.

Winds of change may soon blow in Tahs' boardroom

There could soon be a very interesting change within New South Wales' managerial staff, with one smart operator deeply concerned that NSW Rugby Union chiefs may cut back the influence of the Waratahs board. If that happens, this operator has absolutely no interest in working with someone in whom he has no confidence - and a well-known official's powerbase will grow immediately.

Whispers of the Week

  • Much mirth at World Rugby level over one silly suggestion emanating from Australia that future international competitions, such as the Rugby World Cup, should ensure the northern and southern hemispheres are each guaranteed two semi-final spots. No wonder Australia has in recent times dramatically lost its power base in international rugby affairs. They are no longer taken seriously. And for good reason.
  • The fallout from an underwhelming Australian campaign at the recent Under-20 World Cup in Italy continues, with complaints that some involved in the team organisation were often distracted during the tournament. Some travelling supporters remain very unimpressed.
  • Anger at one Sydney club after their coach this month took off early to take up a lucrative overseas position.
  • Two Sydney clubs fought out a local derby and then fought it out at a local bar. Sore losers clearly.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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