Super League hold off on Toronto decision


Toronto Wolfpack have been granted a stay of execution after Super League teams deferred a decision on the Canadian club’s application for re-entry.

Toronto pulled out of Super League in July after owner David Argyle announced he could no longer fund them but they are keen to return in 2021 under new ownership and recently submitted an 80-page business plan.

Their bid could have been rejected at Friday’s Super League board meeting but instead the PA news agency understands delegates agreed to give Toronto businessman Carlo LiVolsi an opportunity to present more details of his plans to re-launch the club.

The application went before a virtual meeting of the Super League board, which largely comprises owners or chief executives of the other 11 clubs following the breakaway from the Rugby Football League in 2018.

The RFL is known to be supportive of Toronto’s bid but only has one vote, the same as Super League’s executive chairman Robert Elstone, who is thought to have strong reservations over the North American franchise.

RFL chairman Simon Johnson represented the governing body at the meeting, which agreed to a request from LiVolsi for more time to present his argument.

The Super League executive has been given four weeks to weigh up the Wolfpack’s case and that decision was welcomed by Leeds chief executive Gary Hetherington, who is a well-known supporter of the expansion into North America.

“It’s a sensible decision,” said Hetherington.

“It gives both Toronto Wolfpack and the Super League and RFL executives time to work through things properly and it also gives some hope to those Toronto players and staff that they might get paid this year.”

Asked if the delay increases the chances of Toronto’s re-admission, Hetherington said: “You would think so, I’m sure they will be satisfied with the decision.”

Toronto withdrew from their inaugural season in the top flight in July, largely blaming the impact of the coronavirus.

The club were unable to play any home games, depriving them of their major source of income, and Argyle said he no longer had the resources to fund them after his business was caught up in the financial crisis.

There is still some resentment over the way the club pulled out of the league just days before the scheduled August 2 restart and bitterness grew when revelations surfaced that the players have not been paid since June.

LiVolsi insists he will pay the wages in full if the club are reinstated and the GMB trade union which represents rugby league players says it has brokered a deal worth in the region of STG1million ($A1.8 million).

A move to restore Super League to a 12-team competition could count in their favour and St Helens and Warrington are thought to be supportive of Toronto’s case, along with Leeds.

Toronto have operated without central distribution since their entry into League 1 in 2017 but LiVolsi insists that must change if they are to be re-admitted and that could sway some of the less affluent clubs who are loathe to take a cut in funding.





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Wallabies back on full pay but pledge to help Super Rugby mates still on reduced deals


In the latest arrangement, there is greater disparity in terms of pay, based on national representation and whether or not someone is on the radar of Wallabies coach Dave Rennie.

Given Super Rugby AU has finished for the year and the Wallabies are preparing for eight Test matches – two in New Zealand and six in Australia – over the coming months, RA and RUPA recognised the difference in workload between those in the national set-up and others at Super Rugby franchises.

‘It’s a clear sign of the unity and strength of this group of Wallaby players.’

Justin Harrison

After positive discussions, in a far better spirit than those earlier in the year between RA and RUPA, both parties agreed that all 44 players in the Wallabies squad will be paid 100 per cent of their wages for the rest of the year. Wallabies players departed on Friday afternoon for New Zealand ahead of the first Bledisloe Cup Test on October 11 in Wellington,

If RA had not paid Wallabies representatives their entire salaries for the rest of 2020, players would have been entitled to walk from their contracts but the governing body, with major financial issues of its own, has dug deep to keep the top bracket as happy as possible.

There was a big sigh of relief when players boarded a charter flight from Sydney airport with a September 30 deadline on the horizon.

As for Super Rugby players whose seasons have finished, they will remain on 70 per cent of their salaries until December 31.

There was some concern among the ranks that the two tiers would lead to player disunity but Wallabies players have voted to pool a portion of Test-match payments – understood to be $10,000 per match – and give them to those still on pay cuts.

It is unclear what percentage Wallabies players have agreed on, or what the dollar figure is overall, but it does not change how much money RA spends overall.

RUPA boss Justin Harrison said he was happy to see a united front.

“It’s a clear sign of the unity and strength of this group of Wallaby players, their empathy for the rugby ecosystem they are operating in and compassion for the whole playing group,” Harrison said. “I think the players have approached it with maturity and unity.

“Super Rugby players recognise the current state of the game and requirement to make these commitments for the benefit of rugby in Australia.

“RUPA would like thank RA for the honest and forthright approach that was founded on the principles of transparency and participation in solving a common problem. RUPA wants to acknowledge the partnership approach that was adopted and in particular Rob Clarke, Adam Foulsham and Hamish McLennan for their co-operation in navigating through this perilous period for Australian professional sport.”

Players in recent years on Wallabies tours have pooled together match payments and split them evenly between every member of the party, regardless of whether they played or not.

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Super Rugby players without Wallabies commitments this year will receive a variation letter request in coming days, just like they did when their salaries were trimmed.

There is, of course, a chance that some Super Rugby players will reject the offer and explore options overseas.

However, the redistribution of bonus payments will go some way to appeasing those not involved with the Wallabies.

For the youngsters who have sneaked into Rennie’s extended squad, it is a big win, while those who just missed out could feel hard done by.

RA chief executive Rob Clarke was contacted for comment.

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Super Cup: Bayern Munich 2-1 Sevilla (AET) – Javi Martinez scores extra-time winner


Bayern Munich have won four trophies in 2020

Bayern Munich were taken to extra time by a durable and resilient Sevilla in front 15,180 fans in Budapest before adding the Uefa Super Cup to their Champions League trophy.

The showpiece was watched by supporters inside the 67,000-capacity Puskas Arena, the first major European match to allow fans since the coronavirus pandemic forced the game into lockdown.

And they witnessed a hard-fought encounter which saw Sevilla take the lead from the penalty spot on 13 minutes when Lucas Ocampos scored an outrageous “no look” penalty after Ivan Rakitic was bundled over by David Alaba.

Bayern equalised before the break, Leon Goretzka scoring from Robert Lewandowski’s superb touch, with both sides having opportunities to win after the break.

Lewandowski and Leroy Sane saw goals chalked off for Bayern but the biggest chance fell to Sevilla substitute Youssef En-Nesyri in the closing moments, seeing his shot touched away by Manuel Neuer with only the keeper to beat.

Bayern, who last lost in December 2019, clinched victory with substitute Javi Martinez’s 104th-minute header after Sevilla keeper Yassine Bounou could only push out Alaba’s shot.

Bayern’s winning machine rolls on

Martinez
Substitute Javi Martinez scored the winner in extra time

Bayern Munich had to dig deep for victory but there is a fierce conviction in Hansi Flick’s side that made this win almost inevitable, despite another mammoth effort from Sevilla, who had that great chance late on through En-Nesyri.

The European champions, who left the likes of Alphonso Davies out of their starting line-up, looked a little ring rusty despite opening their defence of the Bundesliga with an 8-0 romp against Schalke.

There were still glimpses of the class and threat of Lewandowski and the pace and directness Sane will bring after his move from Manchester City.

Bayern have the look of a relentless, hungry, winning machine and will once again represent a huge threat to their rivals as they prepare to defend the Champions League crown they won against Paris St-Germain.

This victory makes it 32 games unbeaten in all competitions for the treble winners, while they ended Sevilla’s own 21-game unbeaten run.

It was a game with atmosphere as fans returned to the big European occasion, albeit in vastly reduced numbers and also observing social distancing, wearing masks and undergoing temperature checks before the game.

The decision did not win unanimous approval, with opposition from some local officials in Budapest to the game being staged with fans.

It did add atmosphere as fans of both clubs were in attendance despite the rise in coronavirus cases around Europe, with Bayern fans even indulging in some of the traditional baiting in an attempt to Ocampos off as he prepared to take his penalty.

One thing remained unchanged – Bayern Munich ended up lifting the silverware.

Fans
Uefa allowed fans into the stadium as part of a test event in Budapest

Line-ups

Bayern Munich

  • 1Neuer
  • 5Pavard
  • 4Süle
  • 27AlabaBooked at 12minsSubstituted forBoatengat 112′minutes
  • 21HernándezBooked at 90minsSubstituted forMartínez Aguinagaat 99′minutes
  • 18GoretzkaSubstituted forDaviesat 99′minutes
  • 6Kimmich
  • 7Gnabry
  • 25Müller
  • 10SanéSubstituted forTolissoat 70′minutes
  • 9Lewandowski

Substitutes

  • 8Martínez Aguinaga
  • 11Cuisance
  • 14Zirkzee
  • 17Boateng
  • 19Davies
  • 24Tolisso
  • 26Ulreich
  • 30Fein
  • 35Nübel
  • 40Tillman
  • 41Richards
  • 42Musiala

Sevilla

  • 13Bono
  • 16Navas
  • 12KoundéBooked at 55mins
  • 20Santos Silva
  • 18EscuderoBooked at 119mins
  • 8JordánBooked at 45minsSubstituted forVázquezat 94′minutes
  • 25RegesBooked at 70mins
  • 10RakiticSubstituted forTorresat 56′minutes
  • 7Fernández SaezSubstituted forGudeljat 73′minutes
  • 9de JongSubstituted forEn-Nesyriat 56′minutes
  • 5Ocampos

Substitutes

  • 1Vaclik
  • 3Gómez
  • 6Gudelj
  • 11El Haddadi
  • 14Rodríguez
  • 15En-Nesyri
  • 19Acuña
  • 21Torres
  • 22Vázquez
  • 24Fernández
  • 29Gil
  • 31Díaz

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Super Netball | Liz Ellis says the Mi Mi debacle can’t happen again


With all due respect, I don’t know how the Firebirds’ management could have misread the community expectations around playing Mi Mi.

If the league is running an Indigenous round, then the community expects that the player you rely on to promote that very round will get game time. This is especially so when said player has been good enough to play multiple games. Even more so in a year where you can use the new rolling subs rule to get players on and off when things aren’t working.

It begs the question as to whether there was any discussion about this between Queensland Firebirds management and the coaching staff prior to the game, and if not why not?

This whole situation could have been avoided by the Firebirds affording Mi Mi the respect she deserves, and playing her. It’s not tokenism. It’s symbolism. Mi Mi is a symbol of the players we want in our game at all levels.

Not surprisingly, there has been significant backlash. It has also shone a light on the experiences of other Indigenous players in the Firebirds’ system. Both Beryl Friday and Helena Higgins (nee Saunders) have detailed their negative experiences while playing at the Firebirds.

To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, to see one player treated this way is a misfortune, two is carelessness, and to see three starts to look like a pattern that must be addressed.

Whichever way you look at it, we have a crisis. And it is mainly a crisis of confidence that netball is capable of doing anything meaningful about this situation.

We don’t have time for soul searching. The time has passed to look hard at ourselves and seek out where the issue lies.

We need a plan. But we need more than that. We need accountability.

Indigenous round should create that accountability going forward. It has been suggested that Super Netball doesn’t deserve an Indigenous round, and shouldn’t have one until there are more Indigenous players.

It is a fair criticism, but I don’t agree. I do agree, though, that it can’t go forward as it is.

Instead it can be used as a powerful reminder each year of what we need to do better. Firstly, netball must develop a plan to address the issues in the system, and then to coincide with Indigenous round each year there should be reporting to tell us where we stand in terms of Indigenous players, coaches, umpires and administrators.

Indigenous round has to be more than beautiful artwork on dresses and balls. Over time it has become an opportunity for netball to listen and learn. Now it needs to be the point in the year where we report on and hold ourselves accountable to the cold hard numbers.

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NRL 2020: Mose Masoe walking video, Sydney Roosters, Super League, St Helens


Eight months after suffering a serious spinal injury, heartwarming footage has emerged of former NRL player Mose Masoe taking his first unassisted steps.

Masoe represented the Sydney Roosters for three seasons after making his NRL debut in 2010. After a one-year stint with the Penrith Panthers, the forward travelled to England to represent St Helens in the Super League.

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Representing the Hull Kingston Rovers, Masoe was rushed to hospital after injuring his spine in an innocuous tackle during a pre-season friendly against Wakefield Trinity in January.

Round 20

The 31-year-old was left paralysed from the chest down, and there were genuine fears he would never walk again.



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Green shoots emerge but super funds not yet out of the woods


Retirees were terrified as they watched their super fund balances plummet.

Older Australians were both most exposed to the health and economic impacts of the pandemic and were suddenly confronted with tough choice – stay fully invested and watch their savings freefall or switch to cash to stem the hemorrhaging?

There were some loud voices from the industry: “Super is a long-term investment, stay invested, if you get out now you’ll lock in your losses,” was a common catch-cry.

It turns out they were right – for now.

Super funds have just posted their fifth consecutive month of gains.

Research by SuperRatings has found that a typical “balanced” investment option fund returned 1.8 per cent in August, taking gains to 2.9 per cent since July 1. The rolling one-year return for median “balanced” options moved back into the black – up 0.8 per cent – but are still down 2.4 per cent since the start of 2020.

Both “growth” and “capital-stable” investment options are both estimated to have gained about 0.7 per cent over the full year to August.

However, it’s hardly time to break out the champagne. Fears of another market stumble remain.

Scott Haslem, chief investment officer at wealth manager Crestone, says super fund members should brace for another period of “renewed volatility” in sharemarkets over the next few months.

“We have the uncertainty of the US election and Congress in the US seems to be struggling to approve a new stimulus deal. So, after what is likely to be a strong Q3 bounce in [economic] activity around the world, there are question marks over the pace of activity for the rest of the year,” he says.

Stockspot chief executive Chris Brycki: Bringing down super fund fees is more important than ever.Credit:

Haslem would not be surprised to see a “fading of growth momentum” and he points to warning signs overseas as coronavirus cases spike in Europe. “It’s not over til it’s over with COVID,” he says.

It is for this reason that Stockspot chief executive Chris Brycki says bringing down super fund fees is more important than ever. His firm, which offers investors low-cost passive investment portfolios, ranks super funds on their performance after fees each year.

This year, the worst performer was AMP Capital’s Dynamic Markets Fund, which returned negative 15.59 per cent over the past year and negative 2.08 per cent over a five-year period.

“It was the first time we’ve had a ‘balanced’ fund with negative returns over five years,” Brycki says. “That fund tries to time which asset classes to be in and out of. They’ve just got it totally wrong. They’ve been too heavy on oil stocks [and] out of tech stocks.”

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Brycki says the AMP fund is a shining example of how Australians could be retiring with more cash if more super funds switched from paying active managers to index-matching investing.

“This year has shown even well-paid fund managers can’t predict what is going to happen. They can’t necessarily protect your balances when sharemarkets fall.”

However, others claim that active investment managers remain the backbone of Australia’s super success story.

Since August 2005, a person with a starting balance of $100,000 would now have more than $238,000 in retirement savings, according to SuperRatings research.

Still, COVID-19 has forced major many financial institutions to rethink the status quo.

While green shoots of hope are emerging, it is not time to become complacent and super funds should take a hard look at the way they do business to ensure they act in members’ best interests.

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Wallabies 2020, Bledisloe Cup, Jordan Petaia injury, Super Rugby AU final


Queensland Reds star Jordan Petaia looks slim chance of playing in the opening Bledisloe Cup match on October 11 due to a hip flexor injury.

Petaia suffered the injury during the Reds’ loss in the Super Rugby AU final against the Brumbies and the Sydney Morning Heraldreports he could be sidelined for three to six weeks after scans confirmed the injury.

Petaia seemingly suffered the injury setting up the Reds’ first try, running 40 metres before offloading to Harry Wilson.

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Brumbies are 2020 champs!

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Super Rugby: Crusaders captain Scott Barrett ruled out for season, news, All Blacks


Crusaders captain Scott Barrett has been ruled out of the entire Super Rugby Aotearoa season by a toe injury.

Versatile All Blacks forward Barrett will undergo foot surgery and won’t be back on the field before the end of the New Zealand-only competition in mid-August.

It is unclear if the injury will impact on his involvement in the possible Tests against Australia later this year if such matches can go ahead.

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Gregan praises Tahs foresight

Gregan praises Tahs foresight

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Wessels’ intriguing selection call ahead of Super Rugby AU qualifying final


In the backs, winger Andrew Kellaway has got the nod over Tom Pincus, while James Tuttle was ruled out due to a hamstring injury and will be replaced in the starting side by Frank Lomani.

Matt Toomua will steer the ship from No.10 once again, while captain Dane Haylett-Petty remains at fullback with Reece Hodge at No.13.

“What we’ve got to do is pick our most experienced back line we can,” Wessels said. “It’s great to have guys like Dane back fit and playing well. He made a huge difference last week, so I think that’s the most experienced back line we can pick. In play-off games that’s important.”

Utility back Campbell Magnay is also a big inclusion on a 5-3 bench, while Wessels said prop Pone Fa’amausili was still battling a hamstring injury yet could be available for a grand final next week against the Brumbies in Canberra should the Rebels progress.

“The Reds are playing really well at the moment,” Wessels said. “They’ve got a lot of momentum going into the game and I’m sure they’ll be pleased with that.”

Meanwhile, Reds coach Brad Thorn has named an unchanged starting team to the one that demolished the Brumbies 26-7 last week.

James O'Connor has been in excellent form for the Reds this year.

James O’Connor has been in excellent form for the Reds this year. Credit:Getty

James O’Connor remains at No.10, with Jordan Petaia earning another start at outside-centre.

On the bench, prop Jack Straker replaces Ruan Smith, while hooker Alex Mafi returns in the No.16 jersey following a hamstring injury.

The Reds are on a three-game winning streak and will start the match at Suncorp Stadium as favourites, having chalked up four straight wins at the venue.

They knocked off the Rebels 19-3 in round seven, which came after a draw in round two between the sides.

“Finals footy; this is what we play for,” Thorn said. “Melbourne are a quality team and we’re expecting a tough contest.”

Queensland Reds vs Melbourne Rebels – Saturday 7.15pm at Suncorp Stadium

Reds (1-15): Harry Hoopert, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Taniela Tupou, Angus Blyth, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Liam Wright, Fraser McReight, Harry Wilson, Tate McDermott, James O’Connor, Filipo Daugunu, Hamish Stewart, Jordan Petaia, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Jock Campbell.

Bench: Alex Mafi, JP Smith, Jack Straker, Tuaina Taii Tualima, Angus Scott-Young, Moses Sorovi, Bryce Hegarty, Hunter Paisami.

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Rebels (1-15): Cameron Orr, Jordan Uelese, Jermaine Ainsley, Matt Philip, Trevor Hosea, Brad Wilkin, Richard Hardwick, Isi Naisarani, Frank Lomani, Matt Toomua, Marika Koroibete, Billy Meakes, Reece Hodge, Andrew Kellaway, Dane Haylett-Petty.

Bench: Efitusi Ma’afu, Matt Gibbon, Cabous Eloff, Michael Stolberg, Robert Leota, Theo Strang, Andrew Deegan, Campbell Magnay.

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Super Rugby Australia, player strike vs Rugby Australia 2020


Australian rugby is facing yet another standoff over player pay, with players raising the prospect of a strike after a request to cop a 40 per cent pay cut for the remainder of the year.

Players have agreed a 60 per cent cut throughout the coronavirus crisis, a deal due to expire at the end of September.

But cash-strapped Rugby Australia this week approached the players’ union (RUPA) with a proposal for players to finish the year with a 40 per cent cut – an offer the players rejected.

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Tahs find Beale replacement?

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