Darry Worthington takes a look at the rugby news that has made the headlines over the past week.
Image Copyright – Steve Haag Sports
This week’s headline news sees the start of Super Rugby AU come into focus, reports that the 2021 British and Irish Lions Tour of South Africa will remain unchanged, Rugby World Cup 2023 seeding issues, yet another Bulls signing and criticism of the proposed rugby hybrid match between the Kangaroos and All Blacks.
Lions Series to Remain Unchanged?
There seems to be some good news for South African rugby fans and the accountants at SARU with reports emerging in England last week that next year’s British and Irish Lions tour is set to go ahead as planned.
While the current global climate could still wreak havoc on these plans, it’s really promising news with tickets reportedly set to go on sale next week.
Here’s the current schedule for the Lions tour:
3 July: v Stormers, Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town
7 July: v SA Invitational, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
10 July: v Sharks, Kings Park, Durban
14 July: v South Africa ‘A’, Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
17 July: v Bulls, Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
24 July: v Springboks (1st Test), FNB Stadium, Johannesburg
31 July: v Springboks (2nd Test), Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town
7 August: v Springboks (3rd Test), Ellis Park, Johannesburg
Super Rugby AU Kicks-Off Looms
This weekend will see Australia joining New Zealand in restarting Super Rugby with Australia’s answer to Super Rugby Aotearoa – Super Rugby AU – kicking off on Friday the 2nd of July.
The start to the tournament hasn’t been smooth sailing at all with an increase in COVID-19 cases in Melbourne causing the Round 2 game between the Rebels and Reds to be moved to from Melbourne to a venue that has yet to be decided in New South Wales.
The Round 1 games remain unaffected, however, with the Reds set to host the Waratahs in Queensland on Friday and the Brumbies and Rebels going head-to-head in Canberra on Saturday.
World Cup Seeding Issues
Back to the international scene now and the IRB is facing a dilemma when it comes to seedings for the qualifying phase for the 2023 World Cup in France.
With a lot of international games being cancelled the IRB is having to look at different ways to seed sides for the pool phases of the 2023 Rugby World Cup. The current idea that is being bandied about is to have seedings based on 2019 form.
In order to have an updated seeding system, both the Six Nations and November tours would have to take place. This looks extremely unlikely at the moment and it looks like teams will be seeded based on where they finished on the IRB rankings at the close of 2019. This is good news for the Springboks, however, as they will enter the tournament as the number one ranked seeds.
Sintu Manjezi Joins Bulls
The Bulls only managed to keep the cheque book closed for a couple of days as Jaken White made yet another signing last week bringing in Sintu Manjezi from the Free State Cheetahs.
Manjezi is a promising lock who has already had a journeyman like a career turning out for the Southern Kings and Griquas prior to his move to the Bulls.
He looks a shrewd signing as his uncompromising approach should suit the Bulls style of play.
Cross-Code Money Maker to Fall Flat Due to League Concerns?
There was a lot of talk doing the rounds last week that a hybrid Test between the Australian National Rugby League team, The Kangaroos, and the All Blacks was on the cards.
A sprinkle of cold water has been poured over this fire, however, with South Sydney Chief executive, Black Solly stating “We have an obligation to help Tonga and NZ Rugby League. We should be promoting our own international game, not some hybrid exhibition match…now we’re going to devalue that for a circus act,’’
He makes a good point as while the game will bet a handsome return for the NZRU and Rugby League Australia, it wouldn’t help any of the struggling League and Union nations in the Pacific who could do with an illustrious Test against the All Blacks or Kangaroos to boost their pockets which are a lot shorter than the two against of League and Union.