NSW won’t be Super Rugby AU whipping boys


But the 27-year-old has a message for any doubters.

“Look, to be honest, the last time you guys wrote us off and we played the Reds we won 45-12. I don’t really care,” Gordon said.

“I think we have a great bunch of young guys here with an extreme amount of talent. You only have to look at Mark Nawaqanitawase – probably the best aerial guy in the competition.

“We have great outside backs in Joey Walton, James Ramm, a young guy like Will Harrison, Angus Bell in the forward pack. We have class across the whole park.

“I know we have lost a lot of maturity in Rob Simmons and Michael Hooper but that’s something we have to live with and to fill that void. We will be an exciting team.”

Gordon pointed to the final four or five fixtures of last season – in which the Waratahs improved – as proof they can match it with the top Australian teams.

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“Reflecting on last year, you look at the last four games of our Super Rugby AU and I think we played some really good rugby. We want to run with that,” he said.

“We’re quite clear on how we want to attack and defend and we want to play with a lot of pace and be ferocious in the contact area.”

NSW coach Rob Penney said Gordon has “unanimous” support from the players, which made the captaincy decision easy.

“He’s got unanimous support from his peers, which is obviously a big one. He’s highly regarded by and endorsed by Hoops, who’s still keeping in contact,” Penney said.

“But underpinning all of that really is his outstanding character. He’s a really easy to get along with character that people will embrace. And he’s a fierce competitor. We’ve lost a couple of people and Hoops in particular, brings that competitive edge every week.

“Jake has got a lot of that in him and I look forward to him unleashing himself and bringing that hard part of leading by example, as Hoops did.”

While the Waratahs intend on climbing the Super Rugby AU ladder, Penney is also well aware of the responsibility the Australian sides have to promote rugby now that one match every weekend will be broadcast live on Nine.

“I think it’s really important for the game here that when young people watch other codes, there is a freedom and free flow about it. And we have to emulate that. We can’t be stodgy and set piece driven all the time,” Penney said.

“We have to be able to show that rugby is a beautiful game when it’s played quickly and the continuity of rugby is quite unique. That’s a really exciting component of our game.

“But still retain the essence and the brutality of the defence, the collisions and the breakdown.

“Keeping the purists locked in but shining a light on the faces of the young kids who are watching a multitude of different sports so they say, ‘Shit, I want to have a go at that rugby game and play at a genuine World Cup at some point’.”

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Rugby Union: Josaia Raisuqe referee lift celebration video, Fijian winger gets ban, National Rugby League (LNR)


Fijian winger Josaia Raisuqe, who lifted the referee to celebrate the final whistle in a French second division game, has been banned for five weeks, the National Rugby League (LNR) announced on Wednesday.

At the final whistle, as his team Nevers held on with 14 men to win 30-25 at Beziers on January 8, Raisuqe lifted the referee Laurent Milotte. The referee brandished the red card.

“At the end of the match, the first person I saw was the referee and I lifted him up,” Raisuqe told Midi Olympique newspaper. “It was awkward, but I didn’t want to hurt him! I was just happy.” A clip of the incident went viral on social networks.

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Winger red carded for WEIRD celebration

Winger red carded for WEIRD celebration

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Rugby news 2021: Matt Toomua, Ellyse Perry, shock split, new romance, Wallabies


Wallabies star Matt Toomua has quickly moved on from his five-year marriage with Australian cricketer Ellyse Perry, unveiling a new romance on social media.

The 31-year-old is reportedly dating 29-year-old psychologist Naomi Cameron, with the couple posting photos of themselves on Instagram.

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According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Cameron and Toomua met mid-last year while he was in Canberra playing Super Rugby.

Naomi Cameron and Matt Toomua.
Naomi Cameron and Matt Toomua.Source: Facebook



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#icare: Elinor Snowsill speaks out about trolling of women’s rugby players


Elinor Snowsill plays fly-half for Wales and Bristol Bears

It has been a tumultuous week for Elinor Snowsill.

While the Wales and Bristol fly-half was coming to terms with so much uncertainty ahead, trolls on social media told her they did not care.

And so the 31-year-old spoke out on Twitterexternal-link using #icare, a hashtag which has now been shared by several of the sport’s biggest names.

Snowsill wrote: “Do those men trolling articles about women’s rugby genuinely think we are going to believe them when they say they don’t care?

“The simple act of commenting to declare the statement proves the opposite to be true.

“‘#icare about my sport, as do millions of others.”

Organisers are aiming to start the Women’s Six Nations in spring or summer but the postponement will affect preparations for the World Cup, due to start in September.

With most Premier 15s players being amateur, Covid-19 testing has not been possible in the league and so it was decided a break was necessary to stop the spread of the virus.

And so while she finds herself in a precarious professional position, like so many others in the pandemic, Snowsill has also had to deal with ongoing social media trolling.

She told BBC Sport of “relentless” online abuse in August 2019, after the BBC Elite British Sportswomen’s Survey found that 30% of female athletes had been trolled on social media.

The abuse has not gone away and, though Snowsill says it does not affect her personally, she felt compelled to speak out to protect future stars of the sport.

“It doesn’t bother me that these people don’t care about our sport,” she told The Women’s Sport Show.

“What bothers me is the environment it creates. Young boys and girls looking at that post and seeing how many people don’t care about it.

“It’s the values it’s bringing up the next generation of players with.”

This is not the first time female rugby players have stood up for their sport.

When Ireland used players to launch their men’s kit but models to launch the women’s jersey in August, Wasps player Florence Williams’ tweetexternal-link sparked a viral campaign.

#IAmEnough was used by players to discuss the issue of body image in women’s rugby, with Scotland’s Rhona Lloyd one of several internationals to lend her voice to the cause.

“The fact these hashtags are gaining so much momentum shows how far our sport has come,” Snowsill continued.

“People do care now, enough to gather that momentum.

“It’s a form of bullying and we’ve got to call them out for it.”

Reaction to #icare

England World Cup winner Tamara Taylor tweeted: “Women’s sport is sport. Isn’t it time to just accept that?”

World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont also used the hashtagexternal-link in reference to a story on recently retired England international Katy Daley-Mclean, calling the fly-half “an inspiration to the next generation of girls and boys”.

Former men’s Premiership player and Bristol Bears Women assistant coach Tom Lindsay showed his support.external-link

He wrote: “Every day this incredible group of athletes keeps raising the bar, whilst breaking through adversity and batting off negative comments.”

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Australia up to host mini rugby World Cup


Cash-strapped Rugby Australia has thrown up the prospect of hosting a mini World Cup during the Southern Hemisphere winter in what would be a huge boost to rugby-starved fans.

With France due to tour Australia in July and the Rugby Championship featuring South Africa, Argentina, and NZ set to go ahead in 2021, the prospect of a mini World Cup doesn’t seem far fetched.

RA chairman Hamish McLennan plans to ask other nations to also join, with the proposed tournament to run in parallel with the Rugby Championship.

“We are still expecting the Rugby Championship to go ahead this year but perhaps we can add to it and create a mini World Cup,” McLennan told the Financial Times.

“We have the French (coming) in July but if anyone else wants to come out, great. We have a significant British and Irish population here and South Africans. We are open to creating a new tournament and keeping the international calendar going.”

South Africa didn’t make it to Australia in 2020 for the Rugby Championship due to player welfare concerns and logistical difficulties.

It remains unclear whether the world champions are definite starters for this year’s edition.

European and South African rugby calendars remain up in the air due to the growing spread of COVID-19.

Australia has been one of the best countries in the world at handling the pandemic, and the prospect of sizeable crowds at international rugby matches has the potential to generate much-needed income for the sport.

The next official rugby World Cup will be held in France in 2023.





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‘Like Horan’; Grealy eyes Super Rugby


Mac Grealy has taken the best bits of Kalyn Ponga’s game and is seen as the next Tim Horan at the Queensland Reds.

But after shunning the NRL and earning a maiden Reds contract the exciting fullback or winger is expected to handle the hype when he inevitably makes his Super Rugby debut.

The 18-year-old from Toowoomba boasts incredible footwork and an on-field presence that has former Wallabies lock and Grealy’s long-time coach Garrick Morgan excited.

“He was one of the easiest guys to coach and is a great leader too,” Morgan told Channel Nine.

“It’s massive; he’s got all the X-factor that you need.

“I haven’t coached anyone like him before and the only qualities that similar are Tim Horan, so I compare him much to him.”

Grealy has cherry-picked bits and pieces from athletes across both codes but says Newcastle Knights and Queensland Maroons No.1 Ponga has always been a favourite.

“I love to attack, if I can take someone on I will,” the teenager said.

“I like to pick and choose from a few (players) but back when I was a younger kid Kalyn Ponga was pretty big.

“I like to bring a bit of that into my game and a few tricks from other players and make that into one.”

The teenager has some traffic ahead of him to earn a Reds debut, with Jock Campbell starring at fullback last season and NRL recruit Suliasi Vunivalu joining Wallaby Filipo Daugunu in a deadly strike wing combination.

They’re part of a Reds squad loaded with Wallabies that is expect to push for Super Rugby AU and trans-Tasman silverware this season.

Coach Brad Thorn hasn’t been shy in rewarding young talent though, with Josh Flook and Zane Nonggorrbut already debuting last year before earning their first contract, alongside Kalani Thomas, Ilaisa Droasese and Grealy on Friday.

Morgan has no doubt Grearly can handle the level and the hype when he does earn a debut.

“Australia has learnt a lot of lessons throwing people into the deep end early,” he said.

“But he’s intelligent, a leader and thrives under pressure, just loves it.

“When the chips are down he’ll lift a team and score the try.”





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Rugby news 2021: Israel Folau, Catalans Dragons contract, Super League, Toulon, Bayonne


Controversial cross-code superstar Israel Folau has reportedly been linked to a return to rugby union.

The three-time John Eales medallist was embroiled in an ugly split from Rugby Australia in 2019 after posting what was perceived as homophobic content on his Instagram account.

Folau then took his craft to the Super League, signing for the Catalans Dragons and flourishing during his maiden season in the 13-a-side tournament.

He needed just six minutes to snare his first try for the club, but the competition was understandably disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

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NRL 2021: CEO Andrew Hill departs Bulldogs, Trent Barrett, rugby league news


Bulldogs CEO Andrew Hill has reportedly parted ways with the club despite overseeing an impressive rebuild over the last six months.

The Daily Telegraph reports Hill, who joined the club in 2017, has left his role, however a reason why remains to be seen.

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Under Hill’s watch, Trent Barrett was appointed head coach and the club has made a number of key signings including Nick Cotric, Kyle Flanagan and most recently Corey Allan, as well as Josh Addo-Carr and Matt Burton for the 2022 season.

Round 1

Hill also played a major role in locking in All Blacks legend Steve Hansen as high performance consultant as well as securing a major sponsor, Laundy Hotels.

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European rugby cups suspended over virus


The European Rugby Champions Cup and Challenge Cup tournaments have been temporarily suspended after French authorities ruled that the risk of French Top 14 clubs taking part was too much of a risk.

Both rugby union competitions have been suspended with two rounds of group fixtures outstanding amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“Following a directive from the French authorities that the participation of TOP 14 clubs in the Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup at the current time constitutes too great a public health risk, EPCR has no choice but to announce today that the 2020/21 tournaments are temporarily suspended,” European Professional Club Rugby said in a statement.

The Champions Cup and Challenge Cup feature top teams from across Europe’s rugby union leagues, including from England, France, Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Italy.





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Andrew Webster answers the big questions facing rugby league this season


Nevertheless, the intoxicating scent of rugby league is never far away. We can already sense the draaaahma.

These are the burning issues for the season ahead, as I exclusively see it.

Can Mitchell Pearce bounce back?

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I spoke to the Knights halfback the day it emerged his wedding had been called off because he sent some lewd/racy/flirty text messages to a female club staffer.

(One day, they will invent a breathalyser for mobile phones and it will be the greatest invention of all time).

Pearce was furious that a very private matter had become very public.

He denied to me then that he’d lost the support of his teammates, that he’d had it out with Lachlan Fitzgibbon (who is good friends with the staffer’s boyfriend) and he was concentrating on winning back his partner.

He was also adamant he could remain as captain. Then, last week, he stood down.

I’ve covered more Pearce scandals than I care to remember — from the incident involving the girl in the yellow dress to him having simulated sex with a poodle-cross – and he’s bounced back from all of them.

You can see what will happen here. Pearce will stay sober and focused throughout the rest of the year, steering the Knights to the finals.

Then the club will really have to make a hard decision: re-sign him or let him go?

The future of NSW and Roosters captain Boyd Cordner is uncertain.Credit:Getty

How long before Boyd Cordner plays again?

The Roosters captain was seen sipping water at Pearce’s buck’s party in early December, talking up the possibility of playing again despite a serious run of concussions.

When he was concussed in Origin I — before controversially returning to the field — some at the club wanted him to sit out the season. Some have been concerned we’ll never see him play again.

My mail is the Roosters are pushing for the NSW captain to sit out 12 matches before his return.

Only time will tell how that affects his selection for the Blues, but it will be an emotional moment when we see him take the field again — provided he’s been given medical clearance by the NRL.

Cameron Smith: what’s doing?

For a bloke who is apparently unpopular with the fans, he sure can sell a book. Almost 60,000 copies of his autobiography moved off the shelves in the lead-up to Christmas.

It remains to be seen, though, if there’s one more chapter to write.

Will the 37-year-old join the Titans or Broncos or just retire, as many predict? Answer: no idea.

According to his management, he also has no idea because he’s undecided about whether he wants to keep playing.

Will there be another chapter to Cameron Smith's playing career?

Will there be another chapter to Cameron Smith’s playing career?Credit:Getty

You can bet the competitive sinews within Smith want him to keep playing.

The Titans keep denying they’ve talked to him, although more than a few people have told me club boss Mal Meninga is cagey when the subject is raised.

Given Smith’s penchant for waiting until the last minute to do anything, expect an announcement a few minutes before kick-off in Thursday night footy.

Will the rule changes turn the game into touch football?

Let’s hope not.

The game turned into a point-scoring frenzy last year after the return to one referee and introduction of the six-to-go rule.

Sure it was entertaining, but the shock announcement late last year of further rule changes to make the game “faster, more free-flowing, entertaining and unpredictable” worries me.

I am predicting Wayne Bennett’s side will win it this year. You heard it here first — unless, of course, it doesn’t happen.

“Defence” is not an evil word. The game’s custodians should be mindful of keeping the balance right.

No team will benefit from the faster game as much as South Sydney with the speedy pinballs of Damien Cook and Cody Walker running wild.

They were unlucky to not reach the grand final last year. I am predicting Wayne Bennett’s side will win it this year.

You heard it here first — unless, of course, it doesn’t happen.

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Which coaches are under the most pressure?

Brad Arthur needs to reach a grand final or serious questions will be asked if a change is needed for Parramatta to win the premiership many were predicting in May last year.

Michael Maguire has re-signed for another two seasons at the Wests Tigers, but if they don’t reach a finals series soon I fear for the mental health of their fans, especially the sober ones.

After getting knocked back for head-coaching jobs at several clubs over the past 10 years, Kevin Walters finally gets his chance at the club he loves most — the Broncos — to show us if he can actually coach.

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