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Greg Growden
Greg Growden | Columnist Index
After more than 30 years with The Sydney Morning Herald and Fairfax Media in Australia, Greg Growden now writes exclusively online for ESPNscrum. Never afraid to step on toes, you can expect plenty of compelling insight from one of Australia's most renowned rugby writers.
Ruck'n Maul
Jaco Peyper could be in for a tough, tense night
Greg Growden
July 25, 2014
Ruck'n Maul: Brumbies finding their range with acid comments

Sporting rivalries are sometimes overblown. Not in the case of New South Wales Waratahs and the Brumbies; there has been a genuine edge to their relationship for many years, and it is no surprise they have opted to take pot shots at each other during the lead-up to their Super Rugby semi-final at Allianz Stadium on Saturday. The Brumbies clearly believe they can distract the Waratahs with cleverly aimed remarks, while the New South Wales players remain unimpressed about several unsavoury comments directed at them during their latest match in Sydney. Israel Folau admitted during the week that he was sledged in that game, but inappropriate comments were also directed at a Waratahs forward. The rapport between several opposing players is far from bosom buddy - to the extent that South African referee Jaco Peyper could be in for a tough, tense night. Victory and a Super Rugby final berth may revolve around which team best holds its composure.

'Long way to go' before Michael Cheika commits to Tahs

Tevita Kuridrani is knocked unconscious while attempting to tackle Jacques Potgieter, Waratahs v Brumbies, Super Rugby, ANZ Stadium, Sydney, June 28, 2014
The Waratahs-Brumbies semi-final shapes as a highlight of the season © Getty Images
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The Waratahs' contract re-negotiations with coach Michael Cheika haven't exactly been smooth. We reported recently that Toulon were making a play for his signature, and also that he was demanding the removal of a senior official if he was to remain at Moore Park, and Waratahs sources have told Ruck'n Maul "there is still a long way to go" before Cheika agrees a two-year extension. NSW officials are nervous that Cheika will depart, especially as Toulon are but one of several overseas clubs chasing him. Argentina have also intensified their pursuit of Cheika to be their director of rugby, with claims this week of a lucrative five-year deal. There remains the distinct possibility of Cheika being involved in the Pumas' Rugby World Cup campaign next year.

ARU may become involved in Reds coaching appointments

Queensland Reds, still coming to terms with their lacklustre season, will next week go one step closer towards determining next year's coaching contingent. A panel is meeting to review four candidates. We hear there is likely to be Australian Rugby Union (ARU) involvement in the final outcome.

Matt Carroll remains a loss to Australian rugby

Sydney's rugby league media have reported this week that former ARU official Matt Carroll is in line to replace Jim Doyle as the National Rugby League's chief operating officer. This is just another reminder that the ARU, when it discarded many of its most experienced staff members last year, should not have let Carroll go.

Brumby Jack welcome in Northern Suburbs

The Waratahs' decision to ban Brumby Jack from the Super Rugby semi-final stoush was petty, and whiffs of a publicity stunt, but the ACT mascot still has many friends in Sydney. North Harbour Rays, who plan to have mascot races at their home National Rugby Championship games this year, were straight on the phone to announce "Brumby Jack is welcome in our house any time". A Rays spokesman said: "In fact we are inviting him to our first home game to make an appearance at our pre-match function."

Vale, Kevin Skinner

Super Rugby preview: semi-finals
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Footballers wanting to be boxers is the latest trend, with Sonny Bill Williams and Quade Cooper among those joining the pugilistic ranks. But it is nothing new. One of the best boxers/rugby players was All Blacks prop Kevin Skinner, who died this week in Auckland aged 86. Skinner played a leading role in the All Blacks' famous series win over the Springboks in 1956. Skinner, the New Zealand heavyweight boxing champion in 1947, was recalled to the All Blacks team to handle South African aggressors Jaap Bekker and Chris Koch. Skinner belted Koch after warning him about barging through the lineout. Koch got the message. Skinner then swapped to loose-head at half-time in the Lancaster Park Test, and got in first when Bekker threatened to punch him. "It was a real beaut to the side of the head," Skinner recalled. "He would have gone down too if he hadn't had his arm around the hooker." All it took was two punches. Then Skinner became peacemaker. As New Zealand Herald columnist Wynne Gray wrote this week: "There were only two punches but that grew so much in Auckland folklore that Skinner wrote a letter to the Auckland Star asking for the hyperbole to stop." Different times.

Tui Ormsby making history

Congratulations to Tui Ormsby who will be the first Australian player to compete in four Rugby World Cups. The 36-year-old police officer is part of the Wallaroos squad involved in the Women's World Cup, which starts in France next month.

Quote of the Week

"The glory boys, those pretty boys out of Australian rugby, who have a long history of not living up to the hype, are finally delivering on their promise."

- Former All Blacks captain Taine Randell on the rise of the Waratahs.

Whispers of the Week

- Concern among Australian Super Rugby players over claims of a contaminated drug test.

- Uncertainty over whether Kurtley Beale remains in rugby, especially if he is unable to secure a Wallabies starting spot, has prompted interest in Manly Sea Eagles NRL player Brett Stewart at Tahland.

- There looms interesting maneuverings at Australian Rugby Union board level, with a notable woman in line to be appointed.

- An Australian franchise official is getting ordinary reviews from his players. His codename is "WOS 0015", with WOS standing for "Waste of Space".

- An ambitious official tried the 'Don't you know who I am?' line when kicked out for tired and emotional post-match behavior at a recent major representative game. It didn't work. Supposed allies quickly fled the scene.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
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