The Rogues Rant #257

Welcome to The Rogues Rant, an occasional look at all things Rugby

Covid 19 is still making a significant impact on all our lives going into 2021 and will continue to play a role in how the IDRU comp is conducted as well. It’s looking as though last year’s restrictions will be relaxed somewhat but clubs will still have to adhere to some protocols on game day. You will probably have to scan you way into all grounds just like at most other venues around town. Clubs should be able to operate Canteens, Bars and have their change rooms available again but still with some restrictions. The full details should be out within two weeks in time for everyone to prepare for the first round of matches on March 20th.

Speaking of Round 1, the draw is out for First and Second Grade with a couple of special arrangements for Rounds 1 & 2. In Round 1 University and Tech Waratahs will kick the season off on Friday 19th under lights at University Oval. Match times are still to be confirmed but will probably be something like 6.00PM for Seconds and 7.30 for the top grade. In the Second Round the Shoalhaven V Kiama match will not be played until 17th July, one of the spare rounds, as a special event at Shoalhaven Rugby Park. The Third Grade Draw is still to be finalized and is of real concern for Illawarra Rugby. It’s not that long ago that we had 13 teams competing in 3rd Grade. Vincentia, Wollondilly and the Southern Crushers have all withdrawn from Illawarra Rugby and in a disturbing development Shoalhaven, Kiama and Avondale have all advised that they will not be fielding a side in Third Grade in 2021. Several other traditional clubs are struggling for numbers which could see a very small number of sides nominating which puts the competition in question. The 8th March which is the date of the next Rugby Committee meeting has been set as the deadline for clubs to confirm their involvement in Third Grade.

The Waratahs had a good trial win over the Reds in Narrabri last Friday as we get closer to the start of Super Rugby on February 19. With many pundits having a question mark over the very inexperienced Waratahs Squad, the 45 to 33 Blues win should give the squad a boost ahead of their Round 1 match against the Reds at Suncorp Stadium on Friday week. The Reds lost their skipper Liam Wright to an ankle injury on Friday which will keep him out for up 10 weeks. Not the ideal start for the Reds. The Brumbies, Reds, Force and Rebels have all made improvements to their squads and I think we are in for a very interesting tournament. After losing so much skill and experience from their squad I think the Waratahs are in for a long season.

The new CEO of Rugby Australia is on the Job. The very experienced Andy Marinos joins RA after 6 years as CEO of SANZAAR based in Sydney. He brings with him strong relationships with all involved in our sport both locally and internationally. Prior to his role at SANZAAR he spent time as CEO of Newport Gwent Dragons in Wales and was a Board member of Welsh Rugby. He has also been acting MD and a Board member of South Africa Rugby, also serving as GM Commercial Marketing of SAR and as Manager of the Springboks. He has plenty to offer, let’s hope he can stay on top of the political shenanigans he is sure to experience.          

Very little change as far as Coaching is concerned around the local clubs for 2021. Joe Aiono is in charge again at Avondale after their strong season in 2020. Dave Gleeson is back at Camden and Sene Aelua returns also with the big improvers of last year Campbelltown. James Patrick at Kiama, Paul Ridgeway at Shamrocks, Paul Connor at Shoalhaven, Tim Olsen at Tech Waratahs and Phill Green at Vikings are all back in charge. Shaun McCreedy returns as Club Coach at Uni with Dion Miller in charge of First Grade. Steve Talbot is the Club Coach at Bowral heading up a very strong Coaching Staff. Greg Mumm and Gene Fairbanks are back together as the First Grade coaching team with former Brumby and Wallaby Stirling Mortlock joining the group in a Specialist Coaching role. Here’s hoping that we can get back to a full competition this year for everyone to enjoy.

Some dates to put into your diary for season 2021.

Kiama – 20th February – Shute Shield Premiers, Gordon Training Camp at Kiama Showground. Open to all from 10.00AM. The day will include a Junior Training session with the Premiers.                                 

Camden 10’s- 20th February.                                                                                      

Kiama 7’s–27th February.                                                                                              

IDRU Season Launch Luncheon – 12th March.

IDRU Round 1 – 19th / 20th March.

NSW Country Week – 12th-14th June.

IDRU Grand Final – 4th September.      


All opinions offered in this column are the opinion of the author. They should not be considered to represent the views of the IDRU.