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The Fall and Rise of Sevu Reece

Sevu Reece was one of the uncapped New Zealand players named in their 39-man squad this morning, but things could have been a lot different following a turbulent few months

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(Photo credit MARTY MELVILLE/AFP/Getty Images)

Sevu Reece was one of the uncapped New Zealand players named in their 39-man squad this morning, but things could have been a lot different following a turbulent few months. 

The 22-year-old comes into the All Blacks set-up following a blistering campaign with the Crusaders which could end in Super Rugby glory as his side face up against the Jaguares in Saturday’s final.

As well as reaching the final, Reece is leading the try-scoring charts with a
whopping 15 tries and 29 try assists.

Things couldn’t look brighter for the youngster as he prepares for the Super Rugby final and the Rugby Championship.

However, only last October Reece was inches away from being signed up by Irish province Connacht from Waikato.

The province and Reece agreed a two-year deal that would have seen him join them in November 2018 and would have made him unavailable for international selection with the All Blacks.

The twist in the move was that Reece was brought to court in after getting involved in an altercation with his girlfriend on a night out.

Reece appeared in Hamilton District Court in relation to domestic abuse, with the judge acknowledging he expressed remorse and apologised, leading to him being discharged without conviction.

Despite being discharged Connacht released a statement later to announce that they would no longer be signing the youngster due to his appearance in court.

“Connacht Rugby and the IRFU have taken the decision, following contact with Sevu Reece in relation to the circumstances of a recent court appearance, not to proceed with a contract to play with the province,” the statement said.

Reece was left wondering if any of the Super Rugby clubs would offer him a contract and nearing the end of October last year he still had not been contacted.

“I would love to have a Super Rugby contract but, at this moment, there is nothing there for me,” he said.

It looked as though Reece would have to seek a move abroad to play at a higher level, until the Crusaders handed Reece a lifeline which has seen him blossom.

In April of this year he was talked about how what happened is the past and he wanted to focus on his career now.

“That’s all in the past and all that has been dealt with. I’m just going to keep working hard,” he said.

Working hard is exactly what he’s done. Going on to become the competitions top-try scorer and claiming a final spot as the Crusaders chase a third title in as many years.

That hard work has caught the eye of All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen, who sees enough in Reece to call him up.

Things could have been a lot different if he had have signed for Connacht, but it’s all worked out for the better in Reece’s eyes.

Less than a year ago it seemed impossible that the Fijian born back would get anywhere near the New Zealand squad. Now, after taking his second chance in both hands, the reality is that Reece will have to be prepared to take this chance as place on the plane to Japan for the World Cup looks ever-more possible.


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Fans flock back to see the Boks in action

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South Africa Rugby - Image Credit Asics

The Springboks came close to a claiming a fifth Castle Lager Rugby Championship title this season, and although there was disappointment in the end, the men in green and gold still performed very well, with a number of Boks dominating the individual statistical analysis of the competition, while South African rugby supporters made the most of the opportunity to return to stadiums.

Due to the COVID-pandemic, the Boks last played in front of fans in South Africa in 2019, and this year just under 300,000 supporters streamed through the gates at the six Tests in South Africa.

For the three Tests against Wales (in Pretoria, Bloemfontein and Cape Town), and the three Castle Lager Rugby Championship encounters on home soil (in Nelspruit, Johannesburg and Durban), 297,298 supporters – or a superb 98.91% of full capacity at the six stadiums – saw the Boks in action in South Africa.

Jacques Nienaber’s team finished the Castle Lager Rugby Championship with four wins from their six matches, their most since 2014 and 2013, when they also finished second behind New Zealand with four wins.

South Africa beat Argentina twice (38-21 and 36-20 for a nett points’ difference of +33), won one against Australia – their first away win in the competition over the Wallabies since 2013 – and lost one Down Under (24-8 and 17-25 for a nett points’ difference of +8), and ended equal with New Zealand on one win and one defeat (26-10 and 23-35 for a nett points’ difference of +4).

Zoning in on individual performances in the last two months of international rugby, Malcolm Marx’s influence in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship was clear for all to see, with the Springbok hooker dominating in a number of key areas.

Marx scored two tries – the same as his team-mates Damian De Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Kurt-Lee Arendse and Kwagga Smith – which placed them joint-third on the list of top try scorers, behind All Blacks hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho with five, as well as flankers Juan Martin Gonzalez of Argentina (4) and Fraser McReight of Australia (3).

But Marx also dominated on the ground, where he topped the list of breakdown turnovers won, with seven. Second on the list was Springbok captain Siya Kolisi with six, followed by Pumas captain Julian Montoya (five).

The All Blacks duo of Ardie Savea and Sam Whitelock, and Argentina’s Pablo Matera, were all on four, while Kwagga Smith and Steven Kitshoff won three each.

Lood de Jager made the most tackles of any Springbok with 62 (he placed fourth overall, behind the Pumas trio of Marcos Kremer (79), Montoya (66) and Gonzalez (66), while Marx and Kolisi came in at joint-ninth with 54 tackles each.

The Boks’ strongest ball carriers were Jasper Wiese (51 carries for 307m won), De Allende (48 carries for 333m) and Marx (40 carries for 222m).

Four players were tied at the top of the list for average metres gained per carry, namely SA’s Mapimpi, Lukhanyo Am, Canan Moodie and New Zealand’s Caleb Clarke, all with an average of 13m, with Clarke’s 540m the most metres gained by any player in 2022, while Mapimpi’s seven clean breaks were the most this season.

The Boks’ starting locks ruled in the air, with De Jager’s 26 lineouts won topping the list, and Etzebeth coming in second with 25.

The top points’ scorers during the competition were Argentina’s Emiliano Boffelli and New Zealand’s Richie Mo’unga, both of whom scored 71 points in their six games, with Bok flyhalf Handre Pollard coming in at third with 32 points in three games.

Content & Images from – South Africa Rugby


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Barrett relishes opportunity in 12 jersey

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It didn’t take long after Saturday’s 40-14 Lipovitan-D Rugby Championship win over Australia for new second five-eighths Jordie Barrett to feel the effects of his changed role.

While he played nearly three-quarters of the earlier Test against Australia in the position, it was a full-fledged effort on Saturday. He remarked that he wouldn’t have to wake up in the morning to feel the effects of the different, and more physically challenging, role at second five-eighths.

 

He was already feeling the effects.

 

“It’s different. I felt like I couldn’t get out of fourth gear, particularly with accelerations, decelerations, and more collisions.

 

“That’s just the nature of being in the midfield. I still love playing 15 [fullback], and I love playing 12 [second five-eighths]. I just enjoy an opportunity to play for the All Blacks.”

 

Barrett was able to give something back by causing his markers to feel his strength with some charging runs at their line.

 

“Rugby hasn’t changed, and if you can get some gain-line off set-piece and nullify it on the other side of the ball, you go a long way toward winning a match.

 

“They’ve got some outstanding carriers, Valentini, Pete Samu and some good outside backs and midfield players with some feet.”

 

He said he prepared for the traffic that came to his area and concentrated on that in his preparation.

“They have some big ball carriers particularly off set-piece and if they can get some ascendancy and gain-line it bleeds out into the rest of their game so I knew that if we knocked it on the head there that we could bring their game to a bit of a halt so it was a big mover there tonight.”

 

“If we could stop them at the gain-line it helps the rest of our boys. Our forwards one to eight were outstanding tonight and it makes the backs jobs a lot easier.”

 

The All Blacks’ Championship-winning effort was driven by a desire to show their worth to home fans and the closeness of their first Test with Australia.

 

“We weren’t too proud of our last quarter last week, and it could have gone in a different direction, so we knew, coming back to New Zealand, and Eden Park, it’s a place where we hold a high account, and we wanted to put on a performance that our fans and New Zealand are proud of.

 

“Consistency is important, it’s what we strive for every day as All Blacks. The last few months haven’t been up to standard but I think we’re heading in the right direction now.”

 

The scrum and maul had allowed the All Blacks to piggyback their way up the field and then kick to gain 50 metres went a long way toward winning Test matches.

 

Barrett said his employing the spiral punt was something he had been working on, especially with the Adidas balls used in New Zealand. David Hill and Ian Foster had been encouraging him to use the kick, and he had been practising it a lot.

 

“If I have got time on the ball I feel like I can peel off an extra 10-15 metres so I was lucky to get a couple away.”

 

Content & Images from – New Zealand Rugby


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6 Nations

Emerging Ireland Matches To Be Streamed on IrishRugby.ie

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All three Emerging Ireland games in the Toyota Challenge will be streamed live on Irishrugby.ie.

The squad arrive in Bloemfontein today (Tuesday) and will train in Greys College tomorrow (Wednesday) ahead of their opening fixture against the Griquas on Friday 30th September.

Related News

The game against the Griquas kicks off at 12.45 Irish time and will be available to view live on Irishrugby.ie.  The match day 23 to face the Griquas will be named on Thursday.

Emerging Ireland play the Pumas on Wednesday 5th October (KO 4.00pm) and the Cheetahs on Sunday 9th October (2.00pm)

Emerging Ireland Squad: Meet the Players – click here

Emerging Ireland Toyota Challenge Fixtures 2022

Windhoek Draught Griquas vs Emerging Ireland
Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Friday 30th September 2022, KO 12:45 (Irish time)

Airlink Pumas vs Emerging Ireland
Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Wednesday 5th October 2022, KO 16:00 (Irish time)

Toyota Cheetahs vs Emerging Ireland
Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Sunday 9th October 2022, KO 14:00 (Irish time)

Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography


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