The Blues coaching group will welcome back Tana Umaga to bolster the ranks for next year’s 2023 Super Rugby Pacific season.
Umaga took a year away from his coaching role to work with his wife on their business producing natural health supplements, although he retained his duties as Assistant Coach with Lakapi Samoa.
The former All Black captain will move into a new role at the club as a Coaching Consultant, establishing development programmes for the Blues assistant coaches, as well as testing the Head Coach and Forward Coach on team planning, strategy and delivery.
Umaga will work closely on planning and delivery around the team culture and environment, including the overall team purpose and weekly mindset strategies.
He will analyse and assess individual player development while observing and reviewing game plans and performances.
“Tana has retained his contact with the club and we have always said that our door will remain open to him,” said Blues CEO, Andrew Hore.
“He is in a position now and has the want to re-join our group, which links him to the coaches he enjoys a close relationship with.
“That said, Tana has a different role with the club and while he will work closely with many aspects of the team and club, he will also take a helicopter role to critically analyse key aspects of team performance.
“In that respect he will work directly with our coaching group and team as well as our General Manager of Rugby, Josh Blackie.
Umaga said he was excited to return to the Blues.
“I’ve never lost the interest or desire to remain in coaching and being part of the Blues again,” said Umaga. “I have enjoyed the challenge with our business but have the opportunity to return to rugby, as well as retain my other business interests.
“Part of the role around the team environment and culture is something that is dear to me and I enjoy, while the coach and player development work and assessment is a new challenge, which I look forward to.”
His role will run for seven months starting on 1 December.
Law innovations announced for Queensland Rugby Challenger Series
The Queensland President’s XV and Queensland Reds Development squads have been announced ahead of next month’s Queensland Rugby Challenger Series, along with several law innovations for the two-match competition.
Recently crowned Alec Evans medallist and StoreLocal Hospital Cup premiership winner Connor Anderson will join the Reds Development squad, with fellow Wests standout Cooper Whiteside also part of the Reds outfit.
Sam Wallis and Conor Mitchell (UQ), Joey Fittock (Bond University), Paddy James (Brothers), Phransis Sula-Siaosi (Souths), Conor Chittenden (Norths), Taine Riori and Matt Smit (Easts) will also feature for the Queensland Development team in the two-game series.
Presidents XV head coach Simon Craig has selected a strong 24-man squad, with Wests’ Ethan Dobbins, Latu Talakai and Ben Navosailagi named as a three-pronged contingent from the premiership winners.
GPS stalwart Michael Richards has been named in the backrow, while the likes of Eli Pilz (Easts), Tyler Campbell (Bond University), Brad Twidale (UQ), Tom Lucas (Sunnybank) and Tayler Adams (Brothers) will also have the opportunity to test themselves at the next level.
Craig said: “We’re excited about the group we’ve put together.
“All have earned their opportunity with their performances in club Rugby, and we’re looking forward to seeing them come together as a group.
“It’s a great initiative by the QRU to provide these players the opportunity to take the next step in the Queensland Rugby pathway.”
28 of the 50 players selected (56%) have Queensland country roots, including Kye Oates (Darling Downs), Lucas (Central Queensland), Pat Morrey (Far North Queensland), Louis Werchon (Sunshine Coast) and Joey Fittock (Gold Coast).
A number of law innovations for the series have also been confirmed by World Rugby to speed up the game and increase ball-in-play time.
Changes to how the set-piece and ruck is time-managed and officiated will be trialled, as well as improved clarifications to deliberate knock-downs and advantage laws.
The series will kick off at Sunnybank Rugby Union Club on Sunday 9 October, in what shapes as a festival of Representative Rugby for Queensland fans.
The Queensland U16s and U19s teams will face their New South Wales counterparts in the opening round of the newly announced National Championships, while the Queensland U15s team will go up against the Waratahs after last week’s Buildcorp Emerging Reds Cup.
The following weekend will see Easts Rugby Union Club play host to the second and final game of the Challenger Series, with the squad for Queensland’s Japan Tour announced the week after.
Queensland will play sister-state club Panasonic Saitama Wild Knights in Saitama on Friday 4 November, as well as a non-capped warm-up match against the Kubota Spears the week prior. Both matches will be played at Kumagaya Rugby Stadium.
Sunday 9 October – Sunnybank Rugby Club
11.30am – Queensland Reds U15s v New South Wales Waratahs U15s
1.00pm – Queensland Reds U16s v New South Wales Waratahs U16s
2.30pm – Queensland Reds U19s v New South Wales Waratahs U19s
4.00pm – Queensland Reds Development v Queensland President’s XV
Saturday 15 October – Easts Rugby Union Club
3.00pm – Queensland Reds Development Vs Queensland President’s XV
Queensland President’s XV Squad
- Alex Smit – Easts – Far North Queensland
- Connor Pritchard – Bond University – Gold Coast
- Ethan Dobbins – Wests
- Jake Upfield – Bond University – Gold Coast
- Jonte Connolly – Brothers – Caboolture
- JP Tominiko – Easts – Gold Coast
- Latu Talakai – Wests
- Levi Samuela – Bond University – Gold Coast
- Maile Ngauamo – GPS
- Michael Richards – GPS
- Pat Morrey – University of Queensland – Far North Queensland
- Rhys Sheriff – Bond University – Gold Coast
- Zac Shepherd – Easts
- Ben Navosailagi – Wests
- Brad Twidale – University of Queensland – Darling Downs
- Dan Boardman – Bond University – Gold Coast
- Eli Pilz – Easts – Sunshine Coast
- Jordan Carriera – Easts
- Kye Oates – University of Queensland – Darling Downs
- Louis Werchon – Brothers – Sunshine Coast
- Meli Dreu – Easts
- Sam Hyne – Brothers
- Tayler Adams – Brothers
- Tom Lucas – Sunnybank – Central Queensland
- Tyler Campbell – Bond University – Gold Coast
- Queensland Reds Development Squad
- Angus Blyth – Bond University – Gold Coast
- Connor Anderson – Wests
- Conor Mitchell – University of Queensland – Sunshine Coast
- Dane Zander – University of Queensland
- George Blake – Bond University – Gold Coast
- Keynan Tauakipulu – Wests
- Matt Faessler – Brothers – Darling Downs
- Phransis Sula-Siaosi – Souths – Gold Coast
- Sam Wallis – University of Queensland
- Sef Fa’agase – University of Queensland – Beaudesert
- Taine Riori – Easts
- Wilson Blyth – Bond University – Gold Coast
- Zane Nonggorr – Bond University – Gold Coast
- Floyd Aubrey – GPS – Cherbourg
- Conor Chittenden – Norths
- Cooper Whiteside – Wests
- Joey Fittock – Bond University – Gold Coast
- Josh Flook – Brothers
- Kalani Thomas – University of Queensland
- Lawson Creighton – Brothers
- Mac Grealy – University of Queensland – Darling Downs
- Matt Smit – Easts – Far North Queensland
- Paddy James – Brothers
- Spencer Jeans – Bond University – Gold Coast
- Tom Lynagh – University of Queensland
Queensland Rugby Challenger Series Law Innovations
- Five-second ruck (strict compliance from use it call)
- 30-second scrum call from when mark is set
- Penalty kicks (60-seconds)/conversions (90-seconds)
- Lineouts 30-seconds from when mark is set
- 30-seconds to restart after conversion
- Infringement against non-compliant team will result in a tap only option
Eg. No scrum option
- Infringement against non-compliant team will result in a tap only option
- 1st collapse – re-set if no clear sanction
- 2nd collapse – if no clear sanction, free kick to feeding team (tap only)
- Defending scrumhalf can’t go beyond midline of scrum (tap only)
- Only contested throws to lineout can be adjudicated as not straight
- Only players within the lineout formation can join a maul formed at a lineout (penalty kick)
- Focus on tackler not rolling, must make effort to roll immediately towards sideline
Deliberate knock down
- To be refereed as either a ‘deliberate attempt to catch’, or a ‘deliberate attempt to knock down’ which will result in a penalty kick only
- Three phases and then advantage over (territorial and tactical advantage consideration remains at referees’ discretion)
Rebels Announce Long-term Partnership With New Kit Provider
The Melbourne Rebels are delighted to announce a long-term partnership with sporting apparel brand, Dynasty Sport.
Dynasty will be the club’s new on-field and off-field apparel partner from 2023, supplying the Super Rugby and Super W teams as well as retail apparel available via the new Rebels Store.
Dynasty Sport is known for creating world-class, ethically, and sustainably produced apparel.
Their technologically advanced fabric is made from ethically sourced recycled plastic bottles. Each jersey is made from 38 plastic bottles, giving a second life to single-use plastic.
“At any one time, the 15 Melbourne Rebels players on the field will have 870 recycled plastic bottles in their playing apparel which means more than 1,300 bottles for a 23-man game day squad” Dynasty Co-Founder, Tyler Rakich explained.
The Rebels join a host of Australia’s premier sporting teams in partnering with Dynasty, including several NRL and Super Rugby clubs. Melbourne Rebels players, members, and fans are set to boast a new standard of quality apparel.
As the Rebels welcome a host of new players this off-season and with the emergence of young talent including Glen Vaihu, Carter Gordon, Josh Canham, Daniel Maiava, and Lukas Ripley, this new partnership aligns perfectly with the Club’s exciting future.
“Dynasty is a brand known across the Pacific for its excellence in apparel and we’re absolutely thrilled to be partnering with them,” Melbourne Rebels CEO Baden Stephenson said.
“We want to be known for having an exciting brand and being a progressive Club that is sustainable and environmentally conscious. Dynasty aligns perfectly with those values.”Tyler and Dynasty have been amazing to work with so far, and we can’t wait for our members and fans to see the exciting new range of merchandise very shortly.”
Rakich said the partnership with the Melbourne Rebels was a perfect marriage of organisational values.
“It’s great to work with an organisation that have a focus on sustainability but also appreciate the value of a well-designed and high-quality apparel range for both the players and fans. It’s hugely exciting for everyone at Dynasty Sport. I would like to thank Baden Stephenson and the Rebels board for their trust and work aligning our two brands for an exciting partnership.”
Our 2023 merchandise range is set to be unveiled in December, with an exclusive member pre-sale from melbournerebels.shop via the new Rebels Store.
Queensland Reds return to Townsville for two historic matches in 2023
For the first time in Queensland Rugby Union (QRU) history, the Queensland Reds will play two games in Townsville next year as the 2023 Super Rugby Pacific draw was officially announced today.
As part of the QRU’s long-term investment in North Queensland, the Reds will return to Townsville not once, but twice as Queensland Rugby celebrates its 140-year anniversary in 2023.
The Reds will kick-off their season against Kiwi powerhouse the Hurricanes at Queensland Country Bank Stadium on 25 February, before taking on traditional rivals New South Wales in Round 11 at the same venue on 6 May.
After last year’s Trans-Tasman clash against the Chiefs in Townsville, the two historic fixtures will continue Queensland’s strong connection with regional communities following the successful Reds to Regions tours across the state in what shapes as a not-to-be-missed opportunity for regional Rugby fans.
South-East Queensland supporters won’t feel left out either with five blockbusters at Suncorp Stadium including home games against both of last season’s Grand Finalists – the Crusaders and Blues, another classic cauldron grudge-match against the Brumbies, plus entertaining encounters with the Force and Fijian Drua.
QRU CEO David Hanham said: “North Queensland is a critical market for Rugby and Townsville is key to the QRU’s long-term strategy for the region.
“These two matches will provide the QRU and our regional communities further opportunity to connect following the successful Reds to Regions visits across the state as we once again bring Rugby to North Queensland.
“North Queensland has been an essential part of Rugby’s history and it was important for us to recognise this with Reds games being played across all of Queensland next year as Queensland Rugby celebrates its 140-year anniversary.
“To have Reds matches in both northern and southern Queensland next year is a great result for Rugby fans across the state and I’d like to thank the Palaszczuk Government, Townsville City Council, Townsville Enterprise Limited, Stadiums Queensland and Tourism and Events Queensland for their support to ensure these two matches could take place.
“We were unable to play at Suncorp Stadium in Round 1 due to a double-booking with a concert on at the stadium. We worked collaboratively with SANZAAR and Rugby Australia to look at options around the draw, but it couldn’t be changed, and so we felt it was a good opportunity to take a second game to Townsville.
“We’ve got five quality home matches at Suncorp Stadium including games against the Blues and Crusaders who finished top of the table last season. We’ve got another match against the Brumbies who we’ve created a great rivalry with, plus exciting clashes against the Fijian Drua and Force which all makes for a great draw next year,” said Hanham.
Tourism and Sport Minister Stirling Hinchliffe welcomed the return of great Rugby to Townsville’s Queensland Country Bank Stadium.
“We built a world-class, state-of-the-art stadium in Townsville to bring more national and international sporting events to North Queensland,” Mr Hinchliffe said.
“There’s pent-up demand for elite Rugby in the North with a growing Reds supporter base and a huge appetite for international and Trans-Tasman games.
“We know when Rugby is live in Townsville, fans from Queensland and interstate will follow and contribute millions of dollars to the region’s visitor economy.
“Our green and gold runway to the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games is primed to deliver two golden decades of opportunity for more first-class Rugby content in the North.”
Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill said: “The Reds return to Townsville for matches against the Wellington Hurricanes and New South Wales Waratahs demonstrates once again Townsville’s reputation as an elite sporting capital.
“To lock in the opening match of the international season, as well as the always highly-anticipated Reds versus Waratahs game, will not only see our city beamed into the homes of tens of thousands of viewers from across Australia and internationally, but at a local level will provide our rugby-loving North Queensland community the chance to engage directly with some of their sporting heroes.”
Townsville Enterprise Director – Visitor Economy & Marketing Lisa Woolfe said: “We acknowledge the work of our local and state governments in securing another world-class event for Townsville and North Queensland.
“This is another coup for our Queensland Country Bank Stadium which time and time again has proven it can be a strong economic driver for our city and showcases our region as the events and sporting capital of Northern Australia.
“Based on hosting previous Queensland Reds and Rugby Union games in Townsville, we estimate the economic impact will be at least $2M to the region and will showcase our destination to millions, putting us top of mind for future visitors.”
In addition to the two matches in Townsville, Queensland will play a historic match in Samoa as Moana Pasifika take their Round 8 home match to Apia while the Reds will also play the Drua in Fiji for the first time in the final round of the competition.
Sunday afternoon Rugby also returns to Suncorp Stadium for the first time in four years as Queensland host the Fijian Drua in their opening match at the cauldron in Round 4.
The match will be one-of-two Sunday afternoon games for the Reds with seven Friday night matches and five Saturday games in 2023.
As previously announced, Super Round is back at AAMI Park in Melbourne where all 12 teams will once again gather for a high-stakes festival of Rugby as Queensland battles the Western Force in Round 2.
The 2023 draw will see all 12 teams play 14 matches during a 15-week regular season including 11 round-robin fixtures plus three additional rivalry matches, as well as a three-week eight-team Finals Series with all 91 matches live and exclusive on Stan Sport.
For the first time Queensland Rugby will offer a unique membership for the two games in Townsville allowing North Queenslanders the chance to get even more involved with the Reds.
Visit reds.rugby for more details on 2023 Reds Memberships at both Suncorp Stadium and Queensland Country Bank Stadium.
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