NRC Law Variations having the desired effect

Teams with poor set pieces are quickly being found out in in the NRC. Image: ARU/Flitty Images

Teams with poor set pieces are quickly being found out in in the NRC. Image: ARU/Flitty Images

Though the competition itself might be battling for exposure, the variations to the Laws of Rugby, and the little tweaks made to how certain Laws are interpreted by referees has certainly had the desired effect on the rugby being played in the National Rugby Championship.

The biggest change has been the reduction of penalty and drop goals, from three points to two points, and the increase in the value of conversions, from two points up to three.

The effect has been profound. As at the end of Round 4, only nine penalty goals had been attempted in 16 matches, as teams universally prefer to kick for touch when receiving penalties in the opposition half.

Continue reading

Two heads better than one in new Brumbies coaching structure

Laurie Fisher (left) and Stephen Larkham (right) will continue on from the groundwork laid by Jake White..

Laurie Fisher (left) and Stephen Larkham (right) will continue on from the groundwork laid by Jake White..

The biggest sporting saga in the ACT in the last few months has finally been resolved, with the Brumbies confirming their coaching structure for the next two seasons in the wake of former coach, Jake White’s departure back in September.

The Brumbies have promoted both of White’s assistants, with Laurie Fisher appointed to a Director of Rugby role, while Stephen Larkham becomes the club’s new Head Coach.

Using a structure common to European rugby clubs, both Fisher and Larkham take on new positions with the Brumbies for the next two seasons. Continue reading

State of PLAY: How long will McKenzie’s honeymoon last?

Wallabies - McKenzie & Horwill

New Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie and his Captain, James Horwill. Image: ABC Grandstand

The tenure of new Wallabies coach, Ewen McKenzie, hasn’t quite started in the way he and most Australian rugby fans would’ve hoped, with consecutive losses to the All Blacks and the Bledisloe Cup already lost for 2013, and Australia are already on the back foot in The Rugby Championship.

If there’s such a shock in all this, it’s probably that Australian rugby fans expected the turnaround in fortunes would be immediate, as if McKenzie would somehow click his fingers, or use some degree of Jedi mind trick, and that all the issues within the Australian playing ranks would just disappear.

Alas, that was never going to be the case.

Click on the page below to read the rest of my September column for PLAY Canberra magazine.

no.27 SoP

State of PLAY: New era Wallabies awash with new-era Brumbies

With Super Rugby and the Brumbies’ best season in nearly ten years now done, all attention turns to the new era dawning upon the Wallabies.

When Robbie Deans stepped down from the Wallabies’ top job, after the 2-1 series defeat at the hands of the British & Irish Lions in June, the Australian Rugby Union made the bold move of ignoring Brumbies coach Jake White’s impressive international record and instead appointed Reds mentor, Ewen McKenzie. The former Brumbies and Wallabies prop will take the Wallabies through until the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

The appointment was almost certainly made to appease vocal Wallaby supporters and former greats, with the selection of a local over another foreign coach made to quell the growing discontent over the direction the Wallabies were heading.

Regardless of the appointment itself – and it will remain an ongoing debate now that White has steered the Brumbies to a Final, and McKenzie’s Reds dropped out at the Qualifying Final stage – the Wallabies head into a new era in this month’s Rugby Championship tournament. Continue reading