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Sideline Conversions 5 February (some rugby news and information to start the week)

Above: When the Hurricanes played the Blues at the Tui Brewery in pre-season in 2019.

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Fifteens rugby starts this coming weekend, but not in Wellington. The opening match of the Hurricanes region Academy tri-series is scheduled to be played in Napier between the Hawke’s Bay and Manawatu Academies. From these games, the Hurricanes U20s team is selected.

The U20s programme outline is below (all times and venues to be confirmed):

  • 10 February – Hawkes Bay Academy v Manawatu Academy – Napier
  • 17 February – Hawkes Bay Academy v Wellington Academy – Palmerston North
  • 24 February – Wellington Academy v Manawatu Academy
  • 1 March – Hurricanes 20s Scenarios v Chiefs 20s – Taupo
  • 9 March – Hurricanes 20s v Crusaders 20s – Blenheim
  • 16-23 March –  NZU20s Competition in Taupo

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The Hurricanes start their two-match 2024 pre-season campaign this coming Saturday in Dunedin against the Highlanders. Kick-off is at 1.00pm at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

Their second pre-season outing is next Friday 16 February against Moana Pasifika at the NZCIS Field 1, kick-off 2.30pm. More details on this one and only home Hurricanes home community fixture to come – entry will be free of charge.

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Super Rugby pre-season started for several teams this past weekend. The Crusaders lost to Munster 21-19, the Blues beat a weakened Tokyo Sungoliath team 43-7, the Highlanders beat Moana Pasifika 36-28 and the Chiefs lost 38-14 the Wild Knights on their Japanese tour.

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Ireland’s 38-17 win over France in the opening weekend of the Six Nations was their biggest in that fixture since a 25-6 win in 1975. In 1913 Ireland beat France 24-0, the biggest winning margin of the 37 wins Ireland have had against France.

Wales almost pulled off one of the greatest comebacks against Scotland. Down 27-0, the game finished 27-26.

In 2010 Tonga was ahead 28-0 against Fiji but lost 41-38. Australia was down 31-7 to Argentina in 2018 but rallied to win 45-34 and who could forget the All Blacks 24-22 win over Ireland in Dubin in 2013 when they were down 19-0 in as many minutes. The All Blacks finished the season 14-0.

In 2021, Dannevirke club Aotea was down 43-7 at halftime in their Senior Division 1 semifinal against Napier rivals Old Boys Marist but rallied to win 49-46.

Tawa beat Poneke 42-35 in the 2010 Swindale Shield, coming back from 35-0 down.

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The All Blacks have 14 Tests in 2024 – see chart at the bottom of this article for tests, venues and dates.

The record for most Tests in a season is 15 in 2008 (13 wins, two defeats) and 2021 (12 wins, 3 defeats). In 2008, Piri Weepu played 38 games of first-class rugby.

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On September 10, 2005, Helen Va’aga played for two different NPC teams on the same day. She played the first half for Auckland Thunder (B) in their 45-0 win against North Harbour in Glenfield and then rushed across the bridge to play in the second half of the Auckland Storm’s 31-0 win against Otago. At the end of the 2006 season whilst playing for Auckland she was 42.

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Some significant news from ACC regarding concussions released late last week (and similarly in Australia):

In partnership with seven national sporting organisations [including rugby], Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) has announced the new National Concussion Guidelines for community sport, which bring a consistent standard for recognising and treating concussion.

The guidelines, which come into effect for the 2024 winter sport season, are designed to improve the health outcomes and wellbeing for people who play community sport by introducing a standardised approach to managing concussion.

They provide principles and general advice for the sport community and health professionals to recognise and treat concussion in a consistent way.

The key changes are:

(1) When a player suffers a concussion, they must have a minimum period of 21 days away from full competition and

(2) medical clearance must be obtained prior to return to play.

Obviously this is a good thing and Club Rugby supports this, but will this new mandatory 21 day or three weeks rule have any bearing on available player numbers week to week? Will more players be sidelined at any given time because of this?

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Jason Ryan with some strong and sensible thoughts on referee abuse. What has been the Wellington experience? Please share privately with Club Rugby who agrees strongly with Ryan.

More here: https://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/on-air/weekend-sport-with-jason-pine/audio/jason-ryan-all-blacks-assistant-coach-on-the-social-media-abuse-faced-by-match-officials/

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News from last week about the Melbourne Rebels:

Rugby Australia says they will make “responsible decisions for a sustainable and successful future”, as the governing body stepped in to help operate the Melbourne Rebels alongside administrator PwC.

After weeks of reports surrounding the future of the Rebels, the Super Rugby franchise, who first took to the field in 2011, slipped into voluntary administration on Monday night.

The fall from grace comes amid a financial crisis, where the Rebels have debts of around $10 million.

Read more HERE 

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A pertinent opinion piece in the NZ Herald last week by sports writer Luke Kirkness about the accessibility of sports viewership and the wider issue of fragmentation of sports viewing when many can’t afford the subscription-based model (in NZ Rugby’s case Sky TV) and thus dropping out altogether. Over in Australia, it is even more pronounced with several subscriptions needed to watch different sports i.e A-League football and Super Rugby. An extract from the NZ Herald piece below:

“While many sports are grappling with declining live and televised viewership, New Zealand Cricket (NZC) has emerged as a beacon of strategic thinking by prioritising accessibility over immediate financial gains.

Scott Weenink, the chief executive of NZC, recently expressed the organisation’s willingness to consider a reduction in broadcast revenue if it meant more cricket games being aired on free-to-air television.

NZC’s current broadcast deal is with TVNZ, a shift that occurred after the demise of Spark Sport’s streaming service. It has proven to be a pivotal decision for NZC. Cricket in New Zealand will be on free-to-air television until 2026, with the TVNZ+ streaming service playing a vital role in reaching a broader audience.

In the current economic landscape, marked by a cost-of-living crisis, inflation concerns, and the possibility of a recession, the financial burden on consumers has intensified. Against this backdrop, the subscription-based model that many sports broadcasting services adopt has become increasingly challenging for viewers. As individuals grapple with rising expenses, allocating funds to subscription services for the joy of watching sports is a luxury that often takes a backseat.”

Read more HERE

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Released last week – including two tests in Wellington. On 10 August and 28 September.

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