Rugby Australia have confirmed that they will be standing down 75% of their staff in a bid to combat the growing struggles that the coronavirus pandemic is causing.
The workers will be released from tomorrow until the 30th of June due to the lack of finances available to Rugby Australia with the Super Rugby season currently on hold and a strong possibility of the Wallabies summer tests being called off.
In the worst case possible the organisation are predicting a loss of $120 million due to the virus and speaking on the latest developments the organisation’s chief executive Raelane Castle admitted this was the toughest decision she and her colleagues had ever had to make.
“Today we have had to deliver the hardest news imaginable to our incredible, hard-working and passionate staff, that many of them will be stood down for a three-month period so that the game can survive this unprecedented crisis. Since the suspension of our proposed domestic Super Rugby competition, we have been working to understand both the immediate and long-term financial implications for the game as a result of the suspension of the competition, and potential further loss of revenue-generating content as we look ahead to the international season. Our extensive modelling shows that as a code, we could lose up to $120 million in revenue should it not be possible for any rugby to be played in 2020. Of course, that is the worst case scenario, and we are very hopeful that we can recommence the Super Rugby season and domestic Wallabies test matches at some point this year. The measures we will implement from April 1, although extremely painful, are necessary to ensure the sport remains financially viable and to ensure that we are able to come out the other side of this global crisis, fully-operational and ready to throw everything into the rebuild. It is our priority to keep all of our valued team connected and engaged through this period,” she said.
Castle’s has already taken a 50% pay cut since the crisis began and the rest of Rugby Australia’s executives will have a 30% reduction in pay.
It is a tough call to make in order to preserve rugby in Australia and the fear is that things may get worse with a fear that not all four of the country’s Super Rugby franchises will make it through to next season due to the financial losses.
3 changes for Boks
Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber made three changes to his starting team and six in total to the matchday squad for the key encounter.
Two of these changes are in the front-row, where Kitshoff – who made his Test debut against Ireland in 2016 – will mark his career milestone next to Frans Malherbe (prop) and Bongi Mbonambi in a new-look combination for the hosts.
Ox Nché – who packed down with Trevor Nyakane (prop) and Mbonambi last weekend – was ruled out due to the neck niggle he picked up in the first Test, but fortunately for Nienaber, Mbonambi’s hamstring strain has recovered sufficiently for him to start the match.
The other change in the starting XV was at No 8, where Wiese earns his first Test start after making his debut off the replacements bench against Georgia earlier this month.
Nienaber opted for a six-two split on the bench, which sees Nyakane and Vincent Koch provide cover at prop, while Marco van Staden takes over from Rynhardt Elstadt as loose forward cover along with Kwagga Smith, while Herschel Jantjies and Damian Willemse will provide support in the backline.
Damian de Allende, who retains his midfield partnership with Lukhanyo Am, will take one step closer to earning his half century of caps, as he runs onto the field in his 49th Test, while Lood de Jager (replacement lock) will earn his 47th cap if takes the field.
“This is a massive game for us; it is do or die in order to stay in the race to win the series and we selected a team that offers continuity in selection, but also that we thought would be the best suited to achieve the objectives we have set for this match,” said Nienaber.
“Ox did well in the scrums last week and has been ruled out due to injury, but fortunately we have a world class player in Steven who can step into the starting team. The fact that this will mark his 50th Test will make this occasion even more important for him.”
Of decision to opt for a six-two split on the replacements bench, Nienaber said: “We have had an extra week on the training field after a few disruptive weeks in the build-up to the opening Test, so we are confident that the players in the squad will be able to deliver on the physicality and grit that will be required in this match.
“We need to be better in every area of the game this week, and the set pieces will be crucial in laying the foundations we need to execute our game plan effectively.
“We also spoke about our discipline and the aerial battle as a team, and we intend to work as hard as possible at training this week to correct the errors that cost us last week.”
Nienaber expected another epic battle against the British & Irish Lions, and he said the Boks were in the right frame of mind to bounce back from the disappointment they endured last week.
“We disappointed ourselves last week, and we all know how important it is to bounce back with a strong performance and show our fighting spirit and pride as a team and nation,” said the coach.
“For most players the Castle Lager Lions Series is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and we desperately want to win the series, so we will fight as hard as we can on the field to win this week so that we can achieve that goal.”
Ben O’Keeffe from New Zealand has been appointed as the referee for the match, with Mathieu Raynal (France) and Nic Berry (Australia) serving as his assistant referees, while Marius Jonker (South Africa) will be the television match official.
Springbok team to face the British & Irish Lions at Cape Town Stadium:
15 – Willie le Roux (Toyota Verblitz) – 63 caps, 60 pts (12t)
14 – Cheslin Kolbe (Toulouse) – 15 caps, 40 pts (8t)
13 – Lukhanyo Am (Cell C Sharks) – 16 caps, 15 pts (3t)
12 – Damian de Allende (Munster) – 48 caps, 30 pts (6t)
11 – Makazole Mapimpi (Cell C Sharks) – 15 caps, 70 pts (14t)
10 – Handré Pollard (vice-captain, Montpellier) – 50 caps, 477pts (6t, 78c, 93p, 4d)
9 – Faf de Klerk (Sale Sharks) – 31 caps, 25 pts (5t)
8 – Jasper Wiese (Leicester Tigers) – 1 cap, 0 pts
7 – Pieter-Steph du Toit (DHL Stormers) – 57 caps, 25 pts (5t)
6 – Siya Kolisi (captain, Cell C Sharks) – 52 caps, 30 pts (6t)
5 – Franco Mostert (Honda Heat) – 41 caps, 5pts (1t)
4 – Eben Etzebeth (Toulon) – 87 caps, 15 pts (3t)
3 – Frans Malherbe (DHL Stormers) – 40 caps, 5pts (1t)
2 – Bongi Mbonambi (DHL Stormers) – 38 caps, 40 pts (8t)
1 – Steven Kitshoff (DHL Stormers) – 49 caps, 5pts (1t)
16 – Malcolm Marx (Kubota Spears) – 35 caps, 30 pts (6t)
17 – Trevor Nyakane (Vodacom Bulls) – 44 caps, 5 pts (1t)
18 – Vincent Koch (Saracens) – 21 caps, 0 pts
19 – Lood de Jager (Sale Sharks) – 46 caps, 25 pts (5t)
20 – Marco van Staden (Vodacom Bulls) – 3 caps, 0 pts
21 – Kwagga Smith (Yamaha Júbilo) – 8 caps, 5 pts (1t)
22 – Herschel Jantjies (DHL Stormers) – 12 caps, 25 pts (5t)
23 – Damian Willemse (DHL Stormers) – 8 caps, 5pts (1t)
Facts and Stats:
- Handré Pollard needs two penalty goals to equal Jackie Snyman’s record of six career penalty goals against the British & Irish Lions.
- The Springboks need four tries to reach 100 tries against the British & Irish Lions in this 48th Test between the sides since 1891.
- The total Test caps for the Springbok starting line-up is
- There are 238 caps in the backline with 365 caps amongst the forwards. On the bench there are a further 159
- The average caps per player in the backline are 34, the forwards 45 while the players on the bench average 19.
PREVIEW: All Blacks v Fiji
The Steinlager Series ends on a high in Hamilton as the All Blacks face an incredibly physical and skillful Fijian side who will be eager to improve on the 57-23 score line from Dunedin last week.
Match details: All Blacks v Fiji, Saturday 17 July, 7.05pm (NZT), FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton
First game: All Blacks 74, Fiji 13 (27 May 1987)
Last game: All Blacks 57, Fiji 23 (10 July 2021)
Referee: Damon Murphy
FIJI NO SURPRISE PACKAGE
While Fiji’s strong performance in the first Test came as a surprise to some fans, it wasn’t to the All Blacks according to first five-eighth Richie Mo’unga. “We knew what we were going to get and for those who didn’t know, the New Zealand public who don’t watch European rugby, these guys are rock stars over there,” Mo’unga said. Despite a hampered build-up to the first Test with some players not coming out of MIQ until the week of the Test, Fiji pressured the All Blacks in many facets of the game and trailed by just eight points with 20 minutes to go. Fiji Head Coach Vern Cotter believes his side can get even better with another week of preparation under their belt. “The ingredients are there, a brave performance…you can build something from that,” Cotter said.
ARDIE AND ANTON MILESTONES
It will be a night to remember for Ardie Savea and Anton Lienert-Brown who both bring up 50 Tests for the All Blacks. Both players debuted in 2016 as youngsters and have quickly become regular starters and leaders in the All Blacks. Lienert-Brown said it was even more special for him to celebrate the milestone in Hamilton. “This region is probably the reason I am here. It has given a lot to me so to do it at FMG Waikato Stadium is special so I am very grateful.”
Fiji excelled at the breakdown last week in Dunedin and will be looking to edge the All Blacks again in this crucial area. It’s no secret that the All Blacks have been working hard during the week to improve their work at the breakdown and the addition of Ardie Savea to the starting line-up for the first time in 2021 will no doubt boost the All Blacks ability to compete in the tackle zone. Assistant Coach Brad Mooar outlined a simple formula to success at the breakdown: “I think it’s more about just winning the race, beating the opposition to the breakdown, making good decisions and execution as a ball carrier, supporters’ anticipation, and getting into that breakdown,” Mooar said.
This will be the All Blacks 600th Test in the team’s rich history. The first All Blacks Test match was against Australia way back in 1903.
Hear from All Blacks Head Coach Ian Foster on the 23 players named to face Fiji in Hamilton.
Watch the action live on Sky Sport in New Zealand and click HERE for international broadcast details.
All Blacks (caps in brackets):
1: George Bower (2) 2: Codie Taylor (57) 3: Nepo Laulala (30) 4: Scott Barrett (41) 5: Samuel Whitelock – captain (124) 6: Akira Ioane (3) 7: Ardie Savea (49) 8: Luke Jacobson (4) 9: Aaron Smith (98) 10: Richie Mo’unga (23) 11: Sevu Reece (9) 12: David Havili (4) 13: Anton Lienert-Brown (49) 14: Will Jordan (4) 15: Damian McKenzei (29)
Reserves: 16: Dane Coles (76) 17: Ethan de Groot (1) 18: Angus Ta’avao (15) 19: Brodie Retallick (82) 20: Shannon Frizell (13) 21: Brad Weber (8) 22: Beauden Barrett (90) 23: Rieko Ioane (35)
1.Peni Ravai, 2. Samuel Matavesi, 3. Mesake Doge, 4. Temo Mayanavanua, 5. Leone Nakarawa (C), 6. Johnny Dyer, 7. Mesulame Kunavula, 8. Peceli Yato, 9. Frank Lomani, 10. Ben Volavola, 11. Nemani Nadolo, 12. Eneriko Buliruarua, 13. Waisea Nayacalevu, 14. Setareki Tuicuvu, 15. Kini Murimurivalu.
Reserves: 16. Mesulame Dolokoto, 17. Eroni Mawi, 18. Leeroy Atalifo, 19. Albert Tuisue, 20. Kitione Kamikamica, 21. Moses Sorovi, 22. Teti Tela, 23. Manasa Mataele.
World Rugby applies 50/22 law trial globally, bolster concussion protocol
World Rugby announced on Wednesday five law trials which will start next month, including a so-called “50/22” kicking adaptation.
The 50/22 change allows a team to gain a throw-in inside the opposition’s 22-metre area by kicking the ball to touch with at least one bounce from their own half.
The rule was used in recent Super Rugby tournaments and its primary intention is to “encourage the defensive team to put more players in the backfield, thereby creating more attacking space and reducing defensive line speed”, according to the sport’s governing body.
The other laws to come into force on a temporary basis from August 1 include a goal-line drop-out if the ball is held up in the in-goal area, if there is a knock-on from an attacking player in the same area or an attacking kick is grounded by the defenders in their own in-goal.
There are also restrictions on attacking players latching onto team-mates from a ruck and clean-outs which target or drop weight onto the lower limbs at the breakdown.
The final trial allows for a one-player latch before contact, but the individual must “observe all of the requirements for a first arriving player, particularly the need to stay on their feet”.
World Rugby has also moved to strengthen concussion protocols, with independent specialists set to review cases when Test players return to action after a head injury.
They will launch a panel of Independent Concussion Consultants (ICCs) to provide expert opinion on whether players are ready to return to action after head knocks.
The global governing body will fully fund the process for Test-level competitions, with ICCs asked to rule when players look to return to action 10 days or fewer after a concussion or on players deemed higher risk due to previous head-injury history.
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