The Rogues Rant #290

October 22 2021

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

By Ron Wood

There have been some interesting developments in Rugby over the past couple of weeks. The Penrith Emus have been accepted into the ACT Rugby competition for season 2022. Penrith will be entering 2 Senior Grades, Colts and Women’s sides in the John I Dent Cup for the 2022 season. Both the ACT and NSW Rugby Boards have endorsed the move with the full backing of the ACT & NSW Premier Clubs. The John I Dent Cup has been in operation for 83 years and has produced many Australian and Super Rugby Representatives. Illawarra Rugby considered a similar move in the early 2000’s which would have seen the Illawarra Zone become part of the ACT Southern Rugby Union. After giving notice to disaffiliate from NSW Country Rugby Union and join the Southern Union, the decision was made by an almost unanimous vote of IDRU Affiliates to remain a part of the NSW Structure. We will never know if the decision to remain with NSW Rugby was in fact the right move to make or what may have developed had a different choice been made at the time. However the move by Penrith may well be the first step towards the much needed restructuring of Rugby Programs right across the neighboring regions, the Illawarra included. I’ll be very interested to see just how this whole process develops.

Changes have also been made at the junior representative level for 2022. In an attempt to reduce expenses, The Country Championships for U14 to U18 will now be incorporated into the NSW State Championship over the June Long Weekend. The Country Zones will compete against each other over the Saturday and Sunday to determine the Country Champions in each age group. Similarly the Sydney Juniors will conduct a Metro Championships on the Saturday and Sunday with the Champion sides meeting on the Monday to decide the State Champions in each age group. All other teams will compete in a Plate and/or Bowl series on the Monday, giving all sides the opportunity to compete right across the weekend. Country representative Squads will also be selected for U14 to U16 Boys and U14 to U18 Girls. The Country U18 Boys squad will selected from an open trial to be held on the 8th May 2022. NSW Country Rugby has committed to this format for the next two years with an annual review to identify possible improvements.

The Wallabies are in Japan with their match against the Brave Blossoms kicking off at 3.45PM Saturday our time. No real surprises in the starting 15 for the Wallabies with Hunter Paisami replacing the injured Samu Kerevi in the centers with Tom Wright on the wing and Reece Hodge starting at fullback. Matt Phillip partners Izack Rodda in the second row with Rob Leota at six. There are four Australian born players in the Japanese squad for the match, with two Aussies debuting for their adopted homeland. Jack Cornelson (son of Greg) and Gunnedah born Ben Gunter, who were unwanted by Australian Super Rugby Franchises, will play for Japan for the first time. They join fellow Aussies James Moore and Dylan Riley in the squad and will be keen to make a big impact. This should be an interesting encounter on many fronts as the Brave Blossoms have been quite competitive of late with the Wallabies keen to build on some recent good form. The match can be seen on Stan Sports.

The appointment of Sean Barrett as Director of Coaching for Illawarra Rugby has been received very positively. The reaction on the IDRU Facebook page was huge with many comments of support posted for the new Head Coach of the Illawarriors. Sean has been involved in Illawarra Rugby for the best part of 30 years as a player with Kiama and a Club and Representative Coach having coached every age group at District level with several Country Championship successes. He has taken the Senior Illawarriors to two Caldwell Cup finals but has so far missed the opportunity to raise the trophy. Sean has expressed a strong desire to get the job done during his three year tenure and is busy building a strong support staff around him. Sean will be announcing his support staff in the near future.      

Just how is Takunda going on Love Island Australia? You didn’t really think I was going to watch the show did you?

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