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Ruck'n Maul
September 11 auspicious date for Australian rugby
Greg Growden
July 18, 2014
Ruckn' Maul: Smiles aplenty at ARU

As the threat of more leading Wallabies players leaving Australia to take up massive offers overseas intensifies, Australian rugby officials have circled September 11 as a crucial date when at last something will work in their favour. This is the day when Brumbies winger Henry Speight will be eligible to represent Australia. After he completely outpointed Nick Cummins during the Brumbies-Western Force match in the final round of the Super Rugby home-and-away season, there is no doubt Speight will be fast-tracked straight into the Wallabies squad and onto a Test wing. The Fijian's arrival in the green and gold will come halfway through the Rugby Championship - but sadly not in time for the Bledisloe Cup Tests against the All Blacks in Sydney on August 16 and in Auckland the following week. IRB laws dictate a player must spend three consecutive years in a country before being called up for international representation.

Kurtley Beale offered money that is hard to resist

The list of clubs interested in Kurtley Beale just keeps growing. Now we hear the Sydney Roosters National Rugby League (NRL) club is hovering. Add them to Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, Toulon and Japanese clubs who are pursuing Beale. Also of concern to the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) is the sight of Beale with several NRL players in recent days. Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie is unlikely to use Beale as a starting player in upcoming Tests, the growing feeling is that the player will depart the rugby ranks. The money on offer is hard to resist.

Waratahs' future on the line

A decision is expected soon over which of the three private equity groups will take over New South Wales Waratahs. Former ARU director Jon Collins leads one group, with the others involving former Wallabies coach Bob Dwyer and Pet Resorts founder David Levy. Collins and Dwyer have strong Randwick links, prompting the two factions to be dubbed "Coach (Dwyer) v Sponsor (Collins)". Waratahs coach Michael Cheika, another Randwick identity, has made a point of not taking sides on this issue. He has met all three parties. But the fear is, no matter which private owners come in, that the head coach will walk away from Moore Park if the Waratahs board does not quickly come up with a new contract that includes a demand from Cheika that a certain NSW official is moved on. A Waratahs source said this week that "Toulon and Argentina have stepped up their interest in Cheika".

Singapore in front early

SANZAR has announced that Japan and Singapore will vie as the home of the 18th Super Rugby team. Japan may be the better-known rugby venue, but the early front-runner is Singapore as it has considerable New Zealand support.

High-profile Force forward seeking release

Western Force should be happy with their rise on the Super Rugby ladder, but some players weren't delighted when an official "launched a tirade against them" after their last match of the season. One of the Force's best-known forwards is understood already to have asked for a release. He would be immediately snapped up by any of the four other Australian provinces.

Waratahs keen for Brumbies III

Super Rugby: Qualifying Finals
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Numerous Waratahs are keen to play the Brumbies in the Super Rugby semi-finals, as they were unimpressed with an unacceptable remark made by one Brumbies player towards a Waratahs forward during their latest encounter; they are also well aware of leadership issues in Canberra. Meanwhile, there are problems simmering in the background at Queensland Reds, while high-ranking officials keep registering their support for beleaguered head coach Richard Graham. One Reds player, who has been on his best behavior for some time, and two team-mates avoided a serious nightclub incident only narrowly after one of them was taunted about the behavior of a former girlfriend.

Here's what to expect from NRC

As the National Rugby Championship fixtures have been released, here's a reminder of how club rugby has been doing its bit to provide top-level football for many decades. Just enjoy some of the tries from the Warringah-Manly Shute Shield match in Sydney last weekend. The passionate and loud crowd support is also noteworthy.

How can Australian rugby rediscover its mojo?

Full marks to those involved in Fox Sports' six-part documentary The Call of the Wallaby, which examines how Australian rugby lost its mojo and what is required to get it back. A highlight of the first episode aired this week was the sight of people being asked in Sydney's Martin Place if they could name any members of the Wallabies' starting XV. The replies were scary.

Whispers of the Week

- Who is the NRC coach who told his squad this week: "It's not just about you; it's also very much about me and my aspirations?" Not surprisingly, that clanger of a comment did not go down well with the troops.

- A well known former Wallabies player with considerable political clout wants to address the Australian Rugby Union board to issue his concerns about the game's direction. A recent television appearance by ARU boss Bill Pulver failed to convince several influential rugby powerbrokers that the future was bright and bubbly.

- A Sydney premiership club is again in financial strife, with sponsorship money having gone missing.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
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