NRC Opening night: some quick thoughts

National Rugby ChampionshipThe National Rugby Championship kicked off in Brisbane last night, with players from both Brisbane City and Sydney Stars at risk of growing gills by the end of a very wet game.

There’s been numerous articles and match reports written about Brisbane City’s 45-20 win over the Sydney Stars (particularly this one from my Roar colleague Scott Allen only 30 minutes after full time last night), so I’m not going to go into that sort of details. But I did want to offer up some immediate thought on the new comp, based on the first game:

  1. Brisbane City (and Queensland Reds) centre Samu Kerevi was a handful all night. Image: QRU/Sportography

    Brisbane City (and Queensland Reds) centre Samu Kerevi was a massive handful all night. Image: QRU/Sportography

    If the rest of the games are half as good as last night, we’re in for a treat over the course of the NRC. 10 tries is going to be an entertaining game on a sunny day, but in torrential rain?!? Obviously the law tweaks promote open rugby, and that’s certainly going to happen, even on a damp night.

  2. Reducing penalties to 2pts had the desired effect – not one shot at goal was taken last night. But penalties were still given, meaning we’re still just tackling the effect, not addressing the cause. If teams know the opposition won’t kick for goal, they’re just going to keep infringing.
  3. Converting tries is crucial. Sydney dominated the first half, scored four tries but converted none of them into a stiff wind. Brisbane City jagged a second against the run of play, converted it for 8pts, and therefore only trailed by 4, despite being well outplayed to half time. Then, when they did get on the front foot after halftime, Brisbane’s wave of tries iced the game in no time at all.
  4. Already some players to watch. The whole point of the NRC was to highlight the next wave of Australian rugby stars, and on last night’s show, they will stand out.

National Rugby Championship – Round 1 preview

NRC teamsThe Roar: And so it begins. Six months after its announcement, and seven years after the demise of its predecessor, the ARU’s new professional nine-team national rugby competition, the National Rugby Championship, kicks off tonight at the spiritual home of Queensland rugby, Ballymore Oval.

There was mixed news putting all this together, with all three clubs hosting homes games this Saturday and Sunday telling me that the live streaming options that the ARU had spoken about from day dot won’t be forthcoming. The ARU will have match replays of each round every Monday, with is something, but it’s not exactly the best way of getting eyes on a new competition…

ARC veterans look forward to doing it all again in the NRC

Beau Robinson, Cam Treloar, and Pat McCutcheon all played in the Australian Rugby Championship back in 2007...

Backing up: Beau Robinson, Cam Treloar, and Pat McCutcheon all played in the Australian Rugby Championship back in 2007…

The Roar: Australian rugby’s new domestic competition, the National Rugby Championship kicks off in Brisbane tomorrow night and there’s players all around the country starting to get feelings of déjà vu.

Though it’s certainly not a definitive number, a quick scan through the NRC squads shows that there’s upwards of fifteen players – excluding those in the current Wallabies squad – who also played in the first incarnation of professional domestic rugby, the Australian Rugby Championship in 2007.

In the lead-up to the NRC’s inaugural round, I spoke to three of them: Reds flanker Beau Robinson, who’ll turn out in the navy blue of Queensland Country; sometime Roar colleague and NSW Country Eagle Cam Treloar; and Waratahs flanker Pat McCutcheon, who’ll Captain the Sydney Stars in the NRC this year…

#Scrum5: Bledisloe 1 edition

Wallabies Rob Horne, Kurtley Beale, and skipper Michael Hooper (foreground) attempt to take in Saturday night’s 12-all draw in the First Bledisloe Cup Test of the season. The Bledisloe Cup campaign for 2014 kicked off on Saturday night, and after Sydney had been soaking up the late-winter sunshine for weeks, Mother Nature decided the Harbour City needed a drink. And the Olympic Stadium copped it properly, completely killing off all hopes for an expansive opener to the trans-Tasman series. Or did it?

Here are the talking points from Saturday night’s First Bledisloe Test, as I saw them:

  • Weather deprives healthy crowd of the desired contest. And a result;
  • Wallabies tactics didn’t adapt to the conditions quickly enough;
  • The Wallabies were also their own worst enemy;
  • So what, then, can the Wallabies turn around in a week? and
  • And what of the All Blacks?