5 Oct

Cup Balls: IRB Fines Player For Sponsorship Breach
by Paul Waite
5 Oct 2011

Mouth GuardAn un-named team at the Rugby World Cup has had one of its players fined for wearing an un-approved jock strap, it was revealed in a press release today.

In this tournament the IRB has been taking a hard line on teams and players who have strayed away from using officially sanctioned products.

‘We have to be very careful to protect the interests of our sponsors’, said IRB spokesman Francois Pissoire.

‘If we let this jock strap slip we would lose their support’, he added.

As the press conference went on, the assembled media learned of other similar breaches of protocol that the IRB investigators had uncovered.

It transpires that England first five-eighth Jonny Wilkinson was found inside a non-sponsored magic supplies shop in Auckland called ‘Disappearing Act’.

‘Lucky for Jonny, he couldn’t buy a successful kick at goal, so we ‘ave let ‘im go’ Pissoire explained.

Not so fortunate were the whole of the French team, who were slapped with a 10,000 Euro penalty for going up Cuba Street and attempting to buy themselves a spine after their nightmare outing against Tonga.

And of course there was the unfortunate case of the Samoan player wearing an un-approved mouth-guard.

‘Naturally billions watching the game on TV would have noticed this blatant attempt to advertise a competitors product immediately, and rushed out to replace their existing equipment. This cannot be tolerated and we have fined the Samoans $10,000!’, explained Pissoire.

‘We must do this so we can carry on our mission to globalise Rugby by donating $100 here and $50 there to the poorer Unions in the World, funded solely by the interest we make from the pallets of gold bullion we have lodged in Switzerland. We trust that Samoa will understand that our hands were tied.’

The Samoan Union could not be reached for comment in Apia, as their phone had been cut off due to an unpaid bill.

At this point what can only be described as a ‘troop’ of 15 IRB officials marched into the room and lined up behind their leader. Several of the press cohorts were visibly disturbed by the shiny polished knee-length boots, brown uniforms and black arm-bands with glittering IRB logo.

‘Allow me to introduce you to our Sponsorship Scrutineers’, Pissoire announced, to which there were several murmurings which sounded suspiciously like ‘SS’ from some present.

It then became obvious why Pissoire needed such reinforcements as he addressed the assembled media more forcefully.

‘It has also come to my notice that none of you are taking notes at these press conferences using official IRB-sanctioned pens. In fact none of you are writing anything, just typing into those stupid laptops and iPhones!’

At this point Pissoire became so angry and animated that spittle was spraying from his mouth, as he delivered his final statement.

‘So all of you are fined $100,000,000 Euro each, banned from the tournament, and we will make a heap of those instruments of the Devil and burn them. Dismissed!’

As the World’s journalists turned to begin filing out of the room, laptops held out ready, Bernard Laprat, Mr. IRB Himself, burst into the room wearing an immense pair of shoes, yellow and red striped pantaloons, a revolving bow tie, big red nose and flappy red hair.

‘Hahahaha! It’s all a big fucking joke!’ he shouted.

Nobody disagreed.

Paul Waite

Paul Waite

Haka editor-in-chief. Please do not feed.

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19 Aug

Bill and Ben Flowerpot Men
by Paul Waite
19 Aug 2011

Count me as one of the surprised when I heard this week that there wasn’t just one Rugby World Cup trophy, but two. But it seems there are also two explanations of how they are used.

Like most I assumed that there was at least one replica of the Cup that the tournament organisers could use for promotional activities without worrying about loss or damage to the real one. However this week the following statement was made (see this NZ Herald article):

"As is common with other major sports tournaments, we have two trophies,
however only one is ever used at any given point in time," said
Tournament director Kit McConnell.

"Both cups are equal in stature. There is no original cup as such, they
are interchangeable and we don’t distinguish between the two. They were
both acquired before the first Tournament so share the same Rugby World
Cup history.

"Both have been used at past Tournaments and both have been in the hands
of winning captains and teams. They both represent the spirit of the
Game."

Well that sounds like bollocks to me. First of all, it’s obviously impossible for them to share the ‘the same Rugby World Cup history’. I didn’t see David Kirk, or any of the subsequent World Cup-winning captains holding up two cups, did you? No. So one of them was used and the other wasn’t, if we are to believe the above statement.

But wait. Tonight’s TV news had another story, also ostensibly emanating from the hallowed halls of Rugby World Cup Officialdom. This story goes differently. It tells us that the older William Webb-Ellis trophy (nick-named Bill) made in 1906 is the one that the skippers hold aloft and the team swigs champagne from, and then the victorious union gets to keep it for two years before it is returned for the final two years to IRB HQ in Dublin. For those last two years the replica (made in 1986) is swapped so the current holders still have ‘the Cup’ gracing their trophy cabinet.

Does it matter? Yes, in my opinion it very much DOES matter. Fans of this great game invest a huge amount of emotion into it, and when those of us fortunate enough to do so get a chance to touch or be photographed with the trophy we want to know that it is the one that Francois Pienaar et al proudly raised to the cheers of the crowd after the World Cup Final. Equally we want to know when we are only holding a replica.

In the immortal words of that classic movie Highlander, There Can Be Only One.

So I’m hoping that the first version of World Cup modus operandum is exactly what it sounds – a load of crap, and the second more plausible (and ethical) methodology is what happens.

So get your act together IRB, and desist with the conflicting stories which make you sound like you’re all smoking Little Weed.

Let the fans know where Bill and Ben really stand.

Paul Waite

Paul Waite

Haka editor-in-chief. Please do not feed.

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12 Sep

IRB Control Freaks
by Paul Waite
12 Sep 2010

hakabuckThe IRB, bless them, are doing what they do best – coming up with stupid laws which detract from the game, and enforcing them.

This recent stuff.co.nz article is another example of the control-freakism that the IRB holds dear.

Apparently one or more of the gin-swilling denizens of the International Rugby Board have decided that ‘confrontations of the haka’ are a bad thing for the sport.

What gave them that idea? Historically there have only been a few times that teams have actively stood up to the All Blacks doing the haka, and each time it has excited the fans on both sides, and added to the mystique and legend of rugby. Ask Maori whether it’s appropriate to stand up and respond and they will tell you that it absolutely is.

At no time has anyone ever been harmed, or has there ever been a hint of violence in any of these confrontations. They are part and parcel of laying down the gauntlet, two prize-fighters staring each other out promising much for what’s to come, and that’s it.

Here are some YouTube links for some previous haka confrontations or responses:

History shows that the IRB have absolutely no grounds for this nonsense. Trying to ‘tone it down’ is just another way of taking more of the game away from the fans. At Rugby World Cups, which should be a celebration of the game, we already have to suffer the iron fist approach to anything which might remotely be seen as an attempt to ‘steal’ monies away from IRB coffers.

So an event in the country or countries unlucky enough to be chosen to host the thing is run like a prison, where everything is “don’t do that..”, “you can’t do this..”. The IRB ought to wake up to the fact that by relinquishing control a bit more, and letting people and businesses in the country key in to the event the Rugby World Cup would be a bigger thing, and much more vibrant. Sure they wouldn’t control everything, but contrary to what they currently think, they wouldn’t make any less money either, and in fact would stand to make more.

With this latest Haka nonsense, apparently the Australian girls at the recent women’s Rugby World Cup in England had the temerity to confront the Black Ferns doing their Haka, and were fined as a result. Turns out the Aussies hadn’t read the fine print in their RWC contract. God’s above, you need a fucking lawyer to play rugby in a competition these days!

So get off the grass IRB, and TRY to connect with the fans of the sport you are meant to be running. Rugby is confrontational at its very essence, and fans and players alike want to feel that they have an ownership of the game they play.

Stop control-freaking us all to death already!

Paul Waite

Paul Waite

Haka editor-in-chief. Please do not feed.

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10 Aug

Luck or favouritism?
by Tracey Nelson
10 Aug 2010

Did the Bledisloe test in Christchurch confirm the accusations thrown about by Springbok coach Peter de Villiers and former Wallaby coach Bob Dwyer in the past two weeks? Are the All Blacks getting favours from the referees?

Certainly if you compare the five TriNations test matches already completed there seem to be some rather glaring irregularities when it comes to the dishing out of penalties and yellow cards. The test match in Christchurch was the first of the five that saw 30 players remain on the field for the full 80 minutes, and yet there was an incident in that game which – going on incidents in the previous four – should have resulted in a yellow card.

The incident in question was in the second half when All Black prop Tony Woodcock led with the shoulder and deliberately charged into the back of Wallaby hooker Sai Faingaa as he was attempting to get up from the ground after rolling clear from a ruck. The entire stadium held its collective breath as the replay was shown on the big screen and referee Jonathon Kaplan signalled Woodcock and his captain McCaw over for a chat.

But instead of the expected yellow card, all Kaplan did was admonish Woodcock, give him a warning of "no more" and award a penalty to the Wallabies. This, after the yellow card Springbok lock Danie Rossouw received for simply pushing McCaw’s cheek and then exchanging half-hearted shoves three weeks earlier in Wellington – supposedly foul play. Equally, the first yelllow card Wallably winger Drew Mitchell received in Melbourne was for a marginally late two handed push on the chest of McCaw after he had passed the ball that was inexplicably deeemed a shoulder charge.

So if the Mitchell shove was deemed bad enough to warrant a yellow card, how did Woodcock get away with not only no yellow card, but also no citing after the game? If – and it’s a very dodgy "if" – Kaplan was under orders not to dish out yellow cards in all but the most serious offences, there should at least been a trip to the judiciary for an act that ticks the boxes under Law 10, Foul Play in the IRB lawbook:

Law 10.4 (f) Playing an opponent without the ball. Except in a scrum, ruck or maul, a player must not hold, or push, or charge into, or obstruct an opponent not carrying the ball.

The one thing we ask from referees is consistency, both during a game and across games. Up until the test match in Christchurch a very firm line had been drawn in the sand by the game’s top referees that foul play and constant offending would be dealt with the use of yellow cards. Suddenly there was an about face, and this time it went in favour of the All Blacks, not just during the game itself but also afterwards when the citing commissioner felt that there was no case to be tried.

If Paddy O’Brien (IRB head of referees) was offended that his personal integrity was questioned by Bob Dwyer after the Melbourne test, then he needs to front up this week and explain why his top referee decided not to yellow card Woodcock. More importantly, for the integrity of the game itself, he also needs to give a very good reason why there was no citing for that incident after the test.

31 Jul

Two Flashes of Genius From Jane
by Paul Waite
31 Jul 2010

The All Blacks took it to the Wallabies on their own patch at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, scoring a resounding 49-28, 7 tries to 3 victory.

It has to be said that what could have been an absolute cracker of a test match was ruined by the muppet with the whistle. I don’t have an issue with referees being reasonably strict interpreting the Laws, but South African Craig Joubert obviously studied at the Hitlerian University of Rugby Refereeing, then presumably went on to do a Ph.D. in ‘The Effects on a Rugby Game of Blowing A Whistle and Waving Yellow and Red Cards Around’.

To say that Joubert had an eagle eye for an offence is the same as saying Stalin was a bit of a naughty boy. It wouldn’t be so bad if all, or even most other referees did the same things, giving the players a heads-up on what to expect, but he’s so different it just makes it all very silly.

Just to show you how silly I thought it was, when Drew Mitchell was yellow-carded for the second time for interfering with the ball after the whistle had gone (preventing a quick play by an All Black) and therefore had to march off for good with Joubert waving him goodbye with a shiny red piece of plastic, I actually felt sorry for the Wallabies! Which, I have to tell you, was quite unnerving since it has never happened to me before.

Well of course we then had a test match with 15 men against 14, with three-quarters of the time left – pretty much a ruined game if ever there was one. Yes, Australia did rally in the second half and provide a huge amount of fight, but the result was never in doubt and that was hard to take.

The kicker was, the game would have been a hum-dinger with 15 vs 15, and the All Blacks would have had to fight that much harder for supremacy.

So let’s get to a bit of the actual rugby. The test started out with two mistakes by the No.10′s Carter and Barnes. Carter was up first, doing that lazy clearance thing I’ve seen as an intermittent fault in his game for a long time. He received the pass, then took ages to run and clear, getting it charged down and giving away a soft try. Just to show that whatever the All Blacks could do, they could match it, the Aussies passed the ball to their own idiot, and Berrick Barnes proceeded to gift none other than Dan Carter himself with a charge-down and resulting try. All within 5 minutes of each other which was quite bizarre.

After that the teams started playing some real rugby, and the All Blacks looked the better side immediately. Their carries went further, and their defence was harder. They also seemed to have that little bit more variation moving the ball. Though the Wallabies moved the ball energetically and fast, it tended to get too lateral too quickly, and they ended up going from side to side.

Of course the refereeing wasn’t helping much. With both sides determined to keep the ball in hand the breakdown and tackling came in for some very anally-retentive rulings from Joubert. Every little real and indeed imaginary thing was picked up by his antenna. A case in point being a collision/tackle made by Whitelock and I think McCaw which had the unfortunate Wallaby sandwiched and flipping horizontally then falling onto the deck. Joubert erroneously saw this as a ‘tip tackle’, but luckily his brain didn’t manage to conjure up a jersey number so nobody got sent to the bin in error that time.

The test was notable for two pieces of shear magic conjured by All Black winger Cory Jane. The first involved the ball being spun to his right wing on the Wallaby 10m mark where he made ground but encountered the fearsome Rocky Elsom coming at him to barge him out of play. Jane calmly fended Elsom with his left hand, giving him time to drop the ball from his right and put in a beautifully weighted centring chip for Mils Muliaina to run onto and score.

In the second he received the ball out on the same wing 15m out with a player to beat and Genia coming at him like an express train from in-field. He fended the first player, stepped past, judged Genia’s speed and angle and checked then changed direction in-field to wrong-foot him just enough to be able to step through and score the try. The clever way he assessed and used all of the dynamics of everything going on around him with split-second timing were just a joy to watch.

Unfortunately for the All Blacks late in the first half Jimmy Cowan got a rib injury and Piri Weepu had to come on. Weepu is a redoutable half-back but we needed Cowan’s style of game against the Aussies, and we greatly missed his fast pass, and darting runs around the ruck. That, together with a game Aussie fight-back saw the All Blacks game drop off in the second half to a level that they will be disappointed with when they review the recording of the test. In the final quarter they were not supporting the ball-carrier anywhere near the level they had been, and lost possession to turnovers several times as a result. This saw the momentum gained in the first half dissipate somewhat, and the machine stuttered.

Even so it had enough umph to score a couple more tries, and the eventual tally of 7 tries to 3, 49 points to 28 will have Graham Henry chortling over his glass of medicinal port tonight. With a 15 point maximum out of three 3N tests so far, only an idiot would put money against the All Blacks for the Tri-Nations this season, although the Bledisloe Cup is the real prize everyone wants to see retained in the NZRU’s trophy cabinet.

The Wallabies will take a little bit of comfort from the fact they battled well with the deficit of 14 men, however it was only a winger they lost, and they were being beaten quite handily before it happened, and now have to play the All Blacks back here in New Zealand. So I doubt much celebrating will be going on over in Camp Dingo tonight, and basically they have to face up to the fact that they were given a good hiding on their own turf whilst probably playing to their best abilities.

For the All Blacks, it was a good performance but it was definitely very patchy. The second half saw some of the wheels wobbling, if not coming off, and there is certainly a lot of improvement to be had.

As for the referee, there was nothing that a cold bath followed by a double labotomy couldn’t see right. I’m not sure how SANZAR or the IRB handle their referees, but I’d like to imagine that a report is being written which contains the phrases ‘over-zealous’, ‘utter wanker’ and ‘should never be allowed near a rugby pitch again’.

Paul Waite

Paul Waite

Haka editor-in-chief. Please do not feed.

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5 May

Headlines
by Tracey Nelson
5 May 2010

Headlines for the week May 4th, 2009

MacDonald farewells NZ rugby

Crusaders fullback Leon MacDonald will return to Japan to play his rugby for the Kintetsu club at the end of this year’s Super 14, which will end an All Black career that started back in 2000. MacDonald spent a season with the Japanese club side Yamaha back in 2004, but returned to Crusaders and All Black rugby at year later. A serious concussion suffered when playing the Springboks in Dunedin cut his international season short last year, and injuries also sidelined at times during this year’s Super 14. MacDonald has played 56 tests for the All Blacks, 116 Super games (Crusaders and Chiefs), and 69 provincial games (Canterbury and Malborough).

Key All Blacks re-sign with NZRU

Mils Muliaina has re-signed with the NZRU and the Waikato Rugby Union through until 2011, while Ali Williams and Tony Woodcock have both re-signed with the NZRU through until 2012. Williams’ contract also contains a "sabbatical" clause allowing him time away from NZ next year. The three join join 2008 All Blacks Richie McCaw, Rodney So’oialo, Keven Mealamu, Dan Carter, Ma’a Nonu, Brad Thorn, Andrew Hore, Neemia Tialata, John Afoa, Andy Ellis, Richard Kahui, Brendon Leonard, Jamie Mackintosh, Rudi Wulf and Liam Messam, who are all signed with New Zealand rugby through to 2011 or beyond.

Latest Playing Apparel Revealed for All Blacks

At a launch in Auckland this week adidas revealed the two new All Black jerseys for 2009. Both jerseys feature a fern pattern across the front. A new all-white All Blacks jersey will be used as a second kit to complement the traditional, famous black apparel. The white jersey includes a white collar and New Zealand’s national symbol, the silver fern, on the left breast in black. It will be worn with the traditional black shorts and black sock with white stripes. The white jersey will only be worn when the All Blacks are playing outside of New Zealand when required in line with the IRB’s revised policy of the away team needing to change jerseys in the event of a clash. The first outing of the white jersey will be against France in Marseille, November this year.

New referees secure Test appointments

Bryce Lawrence has been appointment to control the opening Test between South Africa and the British & Irish Lions this June. In addition to the first Lions Test, Lawrence has also been named as Assistant Referee for the second Test and as Television Match Official for the third Test. He will also control a Tri-Nations match between Australia and South Africa in Perth in August.

Vinnie Munro joins Lawrence in all three Lions Tests as an Assistant Referee, while Chris Pollock and Keith Brown will both referee a Rugby World Cup qualifier each in June as well as officiate games at the IRB Junior World Championship in Japan in the same month.

Heartland Championship teams to trial Player of Origin

Heartland Provincial Rugby Unions will get the opportunity to have a Player of Origin in their 22-man Heartland Championship squads this year as part of a trial undertaken by the New Zealand Rugby Union. The Player of Origin will be in addition to the three loan players unions are entitled to have in their teams under current regulations. A Player of Origin will be defined as a person who from the age of 12-18 played rugby in the relevant Heartland Provincial Union (either for a club or school) for at least three years who is now playing club rugby outside the province.

SANZAR

The NZRU and Australian Rugby Union will continue to work towards expanding Super Rugby from 2011 in partnership with South Africa despite the current impasse in negotiations with SA Rugby. NZRU CEO Steve Tew and ARU Managing Director and CEO John O’Neill said this week that a continuation of the SANZAR alliance at provincial level remains the preferred option for both national unions.

Both New Zealand and Australia are determined to deliver a competition of the highest integrity to supporters and broadcasters and believe South African calls for further compromise will impact on that commitment. Talks will therefore continue on an alternative plan – an Asia-Pacific competition – to ensure a valuable and viable tournament is ready for implementation should resolution not be reached with South Africa on Super Rugby expansion plans.

3 Aug

Dance of the Desperate
by Tracey Nelson
3 Aug 2009

staring_contest“We’re a work in progress” we were told a few weeks ago, and so far that progress seems to be in a backward direction as the All Blacks lost for the second week in a row to further reinforce the Springboks position they took from us the previous week as number one in the IRB world rankings.

It was a debacle. There’s no other word to describe the performance by the All Blacks in the second test against South Africa. From the opening minute when Stephen Donald knocked the ball on from a high kick, through to the dying minutes of the game when the All Blacks conceded yet another kickable penalty, the entire 80 minutes was riddled by handling errors, poor skill execution, lost lineouts, untidy scrums and a bloody-mindedness to play to a highly flawed game plan.

Despite acknowledging they have a team lacking in confidence, and several key All Blacks short of a gallop after coming back from injury, the coaches are unrepentent in sticking to their guns that they played the right game plan against South Africa. When queries were made as to why the All Blacks continued played high-risk rugby in front of their own goal posts, Wayne Smith pointed out “you kick long against this team and it relieves the pressure for about five seconds, two seconds maybe. Then it’s coming back at you in the air with great chasers after it”. Well here’s a thought – how about kicking long *and* into touch to relieve pressure when you’re parked in your own 22? Oh hang on, that would involve a lineout…

Yes, the lineouts. Last week we had claims the All Black lineout had been spied on, such was the accuracy of the Springbok opposition jumpers in Bloemfontein. But even a barbequed sausage could tell you where the All Blacks are going to throw the ball, as the make up and positioning of their jumping pods is fair telegraphed to the opposition and spectators. To all except the lineout throwers it would seem. As to why you would throw long when camped on your own goal line with your primary lineout caller in the sinbin is probably best left unaswered.

The ineffectual All Black lineout has become key to any opposition’s game plan against us – they know we seldom compete on their throw so it’s essentially secure possession for them. Putting a kick deep into All Black territory is almost a guaranteed gain in territory because we don’t attempt to kick for touch so the opposition only need to keep one sweeper back to cover and bring everyone else forward on defence. Equally them putting a kick into touch is also a better than even chance of regaining possession because our own lineouts are a complete lottery. But don’t worry everyone, Steve Hansen doesn’t think we have any major technical issues with our lineout, and that it’s “just a confidence thing”.

Confidence that has well and truly gone out in the window in more than just our lineouts. The 15 handling errors by the All Blacks on Saturday night were the stuff of nightmares, with Joe Rokocoko and Sitiveni Sivivatu contributing 10 of those between them. Then there was the total brain fade by Rokocoko when he inexplicably chose not to ground the ball in-goal for a 22 drop out but instead opted to run the ball out as a wall of Springbok defence descended on him. The All Blacks scrambled back on defence, but when the ball was cleared the first receiver standing in-goal was Ma’a Nonu who didn’t manage to get the kick away and conceded a 5m scrum. A situation made all the more ridiculous when Stephen Donald was standing just outside him and the ball had been secure enough at the back of the ruck to give them time to swap places and allow Donald to clear our line.

It was all too easy for South Africa to target our wingers with the high ball and their good chasers. Time and again the high kick went up and either Habana or Fourie belted up the field to put pressure on in the air. Yet whilst our wingers were mishandling their way around the field Cory Jane, who has excellent skills under the high ball and is no slouch in running it back on the counter attack, was left languishing on the bench. Piri Weepu came off the bench and yet again proved that he is a super-sub, for the opposition that is. Continuing on from his headless chicken passes that cost the All Blacks a chance of winning in Bloemfontein, this time his repetoire included clearing the ball directly into touch from a defensive ruck on our goal line.

The forwards weren’t exempt from idiot maneouvers either. Tony Woodcock was penalised for inexplicably continuing to advance when well upfield from an All Black kick, Isaac Ross chose not let discretion be the better part of valour with the team on a warning for penalties at the breakdown and came from an offside position to fly kick the ball (which yes, was out of the ruck but he was offside) and land himself in the sin bin as well as giving away a very kickable penalty. Jerome Kaino needed two penalties against him to remember to stay bound to the scrum until the ball is out. The only sensible penalty – if there is such a thing – was when Rodney So’oialo chose to dive on the ball from an offside position after it had been knocked on. A decision that gave away three points rather than the very possible converted try that was in the offing for the Springboks.

This Springbok side isn’t that great, they seem as incapable of scoring tries as we are yet they had 56% possession and 72% of the territory. The All Black defence was good enough to keep them from scoring tries, but the discipline was not good enough to prevent Morne Steyn kicking eight penalties. What allowed South Africa to win this game was our game plan which saw us camped in our own half attempting to run the ball out, and a far superior kick-chase game by them which our backline was simply not up to fielding nor countering. The few times the All Blacks made it into the Springboks 22 (which was a mere 4 minutes out of the 80), they scored points. Compare that with the 15 minutes the Springboks totalled in our 22, most of which was spent just waiting for us to make the mistakes. And they didn’t usually have to wait too long.

14 May

ELVs become rugby law
by Tracey Nelson
14 May 2009

The IRB has ratified 10 of the 13 global experimental law variations (ELVs) and they will be adopted into the laws of the game after they were unanimously approved by the IRB’s Technical Committee.

All international matches from May 23 onwards will play with the 10 ELVs, while domestic and regional competitions played across the implementation date, such as the Super 14, will be played under the current ELVs until their conclusion.

The IRB has also looked at the rulings surrounding the breakdown areas of tackles and rucks. What the IRB are proposing is that the tackler or first player to the breakdown will be entitled to keep playing the ball with their hands even after a ruck has formed as long as they remain on their feet. Paddy O’Brien, IRB head of referees, stated this morning on Radio Sport that the ruling, approved by the IRB council, “may make a difference to the dynamics of the tackle”.

The ruling will be used in the upcoming international season in June this year, although O’Brien said “Until we see it in operation, we won’t know exactly how it is going to work out. But I’m confident it will certainly assist refereeing and the players,” he told Radio Sport. He was also quick to point out that it is not a law change, just a change in intepretation of the existing law.

The following ELVs will be passed into law:

Law 6 – Assistant referees allowed to assist referee in any matter he requires
Law 19 – Kicking directly into touch from ball played back into 22 equals no gain in ground
Law 19 – Quick throw permitted in any direction except forward
Law 19 – Pre-gripping of line-out jumpers allowed
Law 19 – Lifting in the line-out allowed
Law 19 – Positioning of player in opposition to the player throwing-in to be two metres away from line-out and the line of touch
Law 19 – Positioning of receiver must be two metres away from line-out
Law 20 – Five-metre offside line behind the hindmost feet of the scrum
Law 20 – Halfback offside line at the scrum
Law 22 – Corner posts no longer touch in goal except when the ball is grounded against the post

6 May

Headlines May 6th 2009
by Tracey Nelson
6 May 2009

MacDonald farewells NZ rugby

Crusaders fullback Leon MacDonald will return to Japan to play his rugby for the Kintetsu club at the end of this year’s Super 14, which will end an All Black career that started back in 2000. MacDonald spent a season with the Japanese club side Yamaha back in 2004, but returned to Crusaders and All Black rugby at year later. A serious concussion suffered when playing the Springboks in Dunedin cut his international season short last year, and injuries also sidelined at times during this year’s Super 14. MacDonald has played 56 tests for the All Blacks, 116 Super games (Crusaders and Chiefs), and 69 provincial games (Canterbury and Malborough).

Key All Blacks re-sign with NZRU

Mils Muliaina has re-signed with the NZRU and the Waikato Rugby Union through until 2011, while Ali Williams and Tony Woodcock have both re-signed with the NZRU through until 2012. Williams’ contract also contains a ‘sabbatical’ clause allowing him time away from NZ next year. The three join join 2008 All Blacks Richie McCaw, Rodney So’oialo, Keven Mealamu, Dan Carter, Ma’a Nonu, Brad Thorn, Andrew Hore, Neemia Tialata, John Afoa, Andy Ellis, Richard Kahui, Brendon Leonard, Jamie Mackintosh, Rudi Wulf and Liam Messam, who are all signed with New Zealand rugby through to 2011 or beyond.

Latest Playing Apparel Revealed for All Blacks

At a launch in Auckland this week adidas revealed the two new All Black jerseys for 2009. Both jerseys feature a fern pattern across the front. A new all-white All Blacks jersey will be used as a second kit to complement the traditional, famous black apparel. The white jersey includes a white collar and New Zealand’s national symbol, the silver fern, on the left breast in black. It will be worn with the traditional black shorts and black sock with white stripes. The white jersey will only be worn when the All Blacks are playing outside of New Zealand when required in line with the IRB’s revised policy of the away team needing to change jerseys in the event of a clash. The first outing of the white jersey will be against France in Marseille, November this year.

New referees secure Test appointments

Bryce Lawrence has been appointment to control the opening Test between South Africa and the British & Irish Lions this June. In addition to the first Lions Test, Lawrence has also been named as Assistant Referee for the second Test and as Television Match Official for the third Test. He will also control a Tri-Nations match between Australia and South Africa in Perth in August.

Vinnie Munro joins Lawrence in all three Lions Tests as an Assistant Referee, while Chris Pollock and Keith Brown will both referee a Rugby World Cup qualifier each in June as well as officiate games at the IRB Junior World Championship in Japan in the same month.

Heartland Championship teams to trial Player of Origin

Heartland Provincial Rugby Unions will get the opportunity to have a Player of Origin in their 22-man Heartland Championship squads this year as part of a trial undertaken by the New Zealand Rugby Union. The Player of Origin will be in addition to the three loan players unions are entitled to have in their teams under current regulations. A Player of Origin will be defined as a person who from the age of 12-18 played rugby in the relevant Heartland Provincial Union (either for a club or school) for at least three years who is now playing club rugby outside the province.

SANZAR

The NZRU and Australian Rugby Union will continue to work towards expanding Super Rugby from 2011 in partnership with South Africa despite the current impasse in negotiations with SA Rugby. NZRU CEO Steve Tew and ARU Managing Director and CEO John O’Neill said this week that a continuation of the SANZAR alliance at provincial level remains the preferred option for both national unions.

Both New Zealand and Australia are determined to deliver a competition of the highest integrity to supporters and broadcasters and believe South African calls for further compromise will impact on that commitment. Talks will therefore continue on an alternative plan – an Asia-Pacific competition – to ensure a valuable and viable tournament is ready for implementation should resolution not be reached with South Africa on Super Rugby expansion plans.

23 Apr

NZRU grants dispensation to Luke McAlister
by Tracey Nelson
23 Apr 2009

The NZRU board announced today that they have approved exemption for Luke McAlister to allow him eligibility for initially selection in the Junior All Blacks who are playing in this year’s IRB Pacific Nations Cup, and in all probability selection for the All Blacks in the TriNations test series that starts in mid July.

Current NZRU policy states that to be eligible slection inthe All Blacks and other national teams, a player must be resident in New Zealand, contracted by the NZRU and have played in the competition immediately preceding selection, although the Board has the discretion to approve the selection of a player who did not meet the above criteria.

At its Board meeting in Wellington yesterday, the Board grantedexemption for McAlister, withthe following conditions:

  • he will play for the Barbarians invitational side prior to his return to New Zealand;
  • he will initially be eligible for selection only for the Junior All Blacks,
  • he would only be eligible for selection for the All Blacks in the Iveco Series squad, if injuryruled out the current contenders;
  • he will subsequently be eligible for selection in the All Blacks Investec Tri Nations squad .

  • The NZRU announced in February that McAlister had re-signed with the NZRU. He will return to New Zealand at the end of the English Premiership season next month.

    The 26-strong Junior All Blacks squad to play in the IRB Pacific Nations Cup and the 26-strong All Blacks squad to play in the Iveco Series will be announced at the conclusion of the Rebel Sport Super 14. A 30-strong All Blacks squad to play in the Investec Tri Nations will be named in July.

  • he will subsequently be eligible for selection in the All Blacks Investec Tri Nations squad .

  • The NZRU announced in February that McAlister had re-signed with the NZRU. He will return to New Zealand at the end of the English Premiership season next month.

    The 26-strong Junior All Blacks squad to play in the IRB Pacific Nations Cup and the 26-strong All Blacks squad to play in the Iveco Series will be announced at the conclusion of the Rebel Sport Super 14. A 30-strong All Blacks squad to play in the Investec Tri Nations will be named in July.

  • he would only be eligible for selection for the All Blacks in the Iveco Series squad, if injuryruled out the current contenders;
  • he will subsequently be eligible for selection in the All Blacks Investec Tri Nations squad .

  • The NZRU announced in February that McAlister had re-signed with the NZRU. He will return to New Zealand at the end of the English Premiership season next month.

    The 26-strong Junior All Blacks squad to play in the IRB Pacific Nations Cup and the 26-strong All Blacks squad to play in the Iveco Series will be announced at the conclusion of the Rebel Sport Super 14. A 30-strong All Blacks squad to play in the Investec Tri Nations will be named in July.