Singapore 2016 Super Rugby Bid A Chance To Fight Off NRL Push Into Pacific
Singapore's bid for the 2016 Super Rugby expansion franchise "could represent rugby union’s last best chance to fight off rugby league’s relentless push into the Pacific islands," according to Wayne Smith of THE AUSTRALIAN. Chief execs of the three core SANZAR nations, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, "are meeting this week in Sydney to work their way through the due diligence process as they evaluate rival bids from Singapore and Japan to join Super Rugby when it expands to an 18-team competition in 2016." A decision "is expected by early next month." Suggestions that Singapore has established itself as favorite "appear wide of the mark but the Asia-Pacific Dragons’ proposal to build their team around players from Fiji, Samoa and Tonga could well swing the votes of Australia and New Zealand its way." To date, SANZAR "has shown no inclination to involve the islands in Super Rugby directly." That could change, however, following the National Rugby League’s launch last month of its Pacific Strategy, "which was nothing less than a declaration of war on rugby, traditionally much the stronger of the two rugby codes in the region" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 9/3). In Sydney, McCullough & MacSmith wrote NRL Head of Football Todd Greenberg said that Sunday's timekeeping bungle at Brookvale Oval" shows why big games need to be moved away from suburban grounds." The NRL "made no secret" of its desire for more matches in Sydney to be played at ANZ Stadium and Allianz Stadium. A timekeeper failed to hear or see the match referee Matt Ceccin call "time off" with 50 seconds remaining. Greenberg said, "We have made our intentions pretty clear that we have great difficulty at suburban venues and that was highlighted again on the weekend" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 9/2).
WRESTLING TACTICS: In Sydney, Adrian Proszenko wrote it is "the scourge of the game; the biggest turn-off for fans, players and coaches alike." But the NRL admits that "it is all but powerless to stamp wrestling out of rugby league." As the clubs resort to employing jiu-jitsu experts, the governing body concedes that "it has no plan to abolish wrestling tactics from the code." Greenberg said that powerbrokers "were clamping down harder than ever on potentially dangerous manoeuvres, pointing to several recent charges by the match review committee." But when asked whether the tactic was now so embedded into the modern game it could not be eradicated, he said, "That's probably a question more for coaches, on how they play" (SMH, 9/2).