Is There Loyalty Left in ITM Cup Rugby?

It is a sad day when you realise that ITM Cup provinces like Southland are struggling to hold onto their players for the up and coming ITM Cup.  Southland products like Robbie Robinson, Nick Barrett and Brayden Mitchell are leaving for more opportunities, yet ironically the Super Rugby contracts are now made so that players like these can gain a contract with a Super Rugby franchise without having to leave their province.  Marty McKenzie who has found his feet with Southland has also left, making it hard to support to the mighty Stags in some ways.

I am unsure what has gone on behind the scenes, or if it is just an unfortunate coincidence, but the key to succeeding in the ITM Cup is grooming your own young players as they tend to be loyal servants of their team long term.  Southland was successful in the late 2000s, but achieved this through spending more money than they had.  Now, they tend to get young players from other provinces, but it is a shame that Southland stock like Robinson, Mitchell, McKenzie and Barrett won’t be seen in maroon colours this season.  I am still left wondering how provinces like Counties – Manukau, Hawkes Bay and Taranaki are able to keep buying quality players and still fit under the salary cap.  Otago has shown that a team made up of mainly local players can actually compete admirably in the ITM Cup.

Sure, I will still support the Stags, but it is easier to support a team of local players who roll their sleeves up for the province.   Continue reading


Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games Rugby Sevens – Who Will Win The Gold Medal?

The Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games is here and with Rugby Sevens included for the fifth time, it will be interesting to see who wins the gold medal, especially given the lack of stars at the tournament and the inclusion of Rugby Sevens in the Olympic Games in Rio 2016.

Countries are now taking Rugby Sevens even more seriously with Olympic Games glory up for grabs in two years.  This means more money is going into Rugby Sevens and therefore the Commonwealth Games will be more hotly contested than before with New Zealand, Australia, England, South Africa and Samoa the favoured teams.  There isn’t the same depth in this tournament without some of the non-Commonwealth Games countries like Argentina, USA and France unable to attend.

Because the Commonwealth Games clash with the end of Super Rugby, there will be very few Super Rugby players involved, meaning that it will be left up to the sevens specialists to win gold for their team and country.

Bryan Habana is one of the only stars on display with the former Springbok winger being released by his club side.  It will be interesting to see how he adjusts to Rugby Sevens, but his inclusion has me picking a South Africa vs New Zealand final. Continue reading


Should Women Be Allowed In Men’s Rugby Grade?

Southland women’s rugby player April Miller who was playing rugby in the Southland Presidents Men’s Grade has been banned from playing because she is a woman.  Miller is 18 years old and has great pedigree with her father and grandfather playing for Southland and her uncle Paul Miller playing for the All Blacks, Highlanders, Southland and Otago.

The problem is that there is no women’s grade in Southland and her Pukerau team didn’t mind her playing and her team always asked their opponents if it was an issue and their opponents usually didn’t mind.

Will April Miller now be lost to the game of rugby for life?  I am actually from Southland and it isn’t as if the Presidents Grade is a really high level or anything.  I say as long as neither her team nor the opponents mind, then I don’t have a problem with April Miller playing.

What happens if April Miller was going to be a New Zealand Black Ferns representative and her progress is being stopped?  I guess her only other option is to move to another province which offers women’s rugby grades. Continue reading