Western Force

While we are transitioning into International mode and also at Club Rugby too going into the 2nd half of 2024 next month, let’s look back at the 2024 Super Rugby Season following the Blues A+ Grand Final performance that sealed their long-awaited drought for their 4th championship trophy for the first time since 2003 over the Chiefs at Eden Park last night.

It began with the Crusaders largely not being the same team anymore that won them multiple championships despite their late season resurgence where they were one place short of the Top 8 while the Melbourne Rebels had a rare spectacular run on the field in 8th before their poor financial health regardless of this however unfortunately ended the team’s 14 year existence. Plus, NSW Waratahs were at an all-time low once again other than the two wins v Crusaders off the back of numerous injuries in the treatment room, particularly with their front rowers. Queensland Reds also had some fresh breath of under new coach Les Kiss including the Highlanders with their big rebuilding phase over in Otago but then they were both nowhere near past the Quarter-Finals alongside the Fijian Drua off the back of another excellent home season in 7th. Time will tell if the Drua will continue to progress & go Top 6 under a new coach while looking to improve their away form next season.

The same goes with the ACT Brumbies who continues to fall short in the semis yet again as they still continue to hold the title as Australia’s No.1 Super Rugby team, although we did witness a surprise semi elimination in the top-ranked Hurricanes by the Chiefs before the Waikato-based franchise weren’t simply up to the task against the championship-winning Blues last night. Nothing much also happened to Moana Pasifika and the Western Force when they had some wins off the back of a huge off-season drive but both are still underwhelming for the majority. It remains to be seen if the Force will benefit from the Rebels demise in an 11-team competition (short term) next year that would hopefully improve Australia’s record in Super Rugby as well as Wallabies at International level, so they can look to win games again. If not, while we understand of having a national footprint when the world has changed nowadays – three teams may finally be the way to go again with Rugby Australia helping the Force out elsewhere like reviving Global Rapid Rugby & have them play against teams in South East Asia.

And finally, congratulations to the Blues on their fourth championship when they first won this competition back-to-back while Super Rugby was born under Super 12 back in 1996 followed by a 3rd one in 2003 before they finally broken the 21-year hoodoo last night on top of the short-lived Trans-Tasman crown over the Highlanders during COVID back in 2021. They too have been unstoppable who can unseat any team including the top regular-season ranked Hurricanes while setting the standard all along including the Grand Final v Chiefs, even without Beauden Barrett at least in the short term until next year due to him playing in Japan. But it’s all about having an excellent group of players who is still around day in, day out alongside an experienced head coach of Vern Cotter after lifting his first major silverware off the back of long stints in France & Scotland.

So there you go for 2024 as Season 2025 would see 16 regular season matches and two weekly byes alongside a Top 6 Finals system like it was back in 2011-15 with the Top 2 going straight into the semis with 3rd-6th placed teams to play in the first week Quarter-Finals, then the other winning two will face the best two in the Final Four before the best of the best two teams will battle it out in the hope of lifting that championship next time around in 12 months’ time. After that, depending on the four Australian teams performance, Super Rugby would ideally like to say 12 teams but would otherwise have to go with 10.

The South African teams are well and truly happy in Europe following their split back in late 2020 while Japan wants to stay on its own with the Top League, a Jaguares reunion from Argentina may still pose financial and logistical issues & having Canada and USA onboard including a Hawaii-based team is still far off competitively right now for at least the next 10 years.

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Queensland Reds fans just enjoyed another brilliant night on home turf tonight at Suncorp Stadium having been well secure to play Finals this year outside the Top 4 in 5th following an easy win v Western Force 59-13. From the start, the Force had some glimpses with a couple of penalty goals to chip it in even though an attempted TRY at the stroke of half-time was unfortunately denied by the TMO referee due to a knock-on as the Reds collected a couple of big points along the way 22-6.

Then nothing much changed later on where the Reds continue to extend their lead including the completion of another good hat-trick story from Tim Ryan while Fraser McReight scored back-to-back tries in quick succession. Force might be the the last to close out the game with the one and only consolation seven-point TRY whose heavy loss tonight puts them in a difficult position to try and just make the Top 8 when they will fly back home to face the Brumbies next Saturday night but the winner goes the Reds way ahead of the regular season finale meeting on Friday v Waratahs at Allianz Stadium in Sydney following their loss last week that isn’t easy for away teams to play in Fiji v the Fijian Drua. We still got one more game to go to finish off Week 14 of 15 with the rare tomorrow match in Dunedin between the Highlanders v Drua, then the 6th-8th places will remain open for one last time other than the Top 5 teams that are well and truly confirmed up the ladder before it’s Finals time.

Tim “The Junkyard Dog” Ryan loves scoring tries for fun having became an instant favourite amongst the fans for the Reds this year on the right wing following his hat-trick performance tonight. He is someone who has blistering pace who can do anything dangerous with the ball on hand as long as he’s got his numbers there to set up towards the finish line for him and what a talent Queensland has got in their talent production line at Ballymore!! Then we look at another of the Reds’ finest home-grown talented players in none other than Fraser McReight on the openside back row at 7 where he made such a huge difference such as nailing down defensively while being able to score some tries too. This is the man who is also well established in the Wallabies squad as he will look to make the No.7 green and gold shirt of his own in the years to come in place of veteran Michael Hooper but for now, he’s here to help Reds win games every week & with previous finals experience on his belt, he believes that his side can achieve even more beyond the last eight like the ACT Brumbies do all the time.

And versatile back Bayley Kuenzle is the jack of the all trades after he finished the Force’s difficult night on a high not long before full-time with a late TRY and also a conversion kick too. He’s happy to get as much game time as he needs having been in Perth for three years now after he grew up in Sydney and then played for the Brumbies that reflects his important skillsets at Super Rugby level, so he can learn to improve in order to get better and better with the likes of Nic White and soon Darcy Swain from next year again would help him achieve his next personal best. For now, there’s still a long way to go where the Force despite some promising signs earlier on haven’t been good defensively while picking up ill-discipline for the most part.

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The last four weeks of the 2024 Super Rugby season saw some great success with the New Zealand teams still going strong minus the Crusaders still unluckily, while the Australian sides have proven that they are up to the challenge that would make a huge difference to their upcoming Wallabies campaign later this year with three more regular rounds to go.

Then it’s all about Finals Footy once again to round off the season campaign after this from the quarter-final followed by the semi-finals and the Grand Final.

New Zealand teams

The Blues recently became unstoppable having just surpassed the Hurricanes on top of the ladder yesterday as they just got the Highlanders, Crusaders & Chiefs to go, which shouldn’t be too hard to go into the Finals with plenty of optimism for a fourth title. Hurricanes as said haven’t done too bad at times without Cameron Roigard but still had some tough times against Blues yesterday & the Brumbies two weeks ago in Canberra, let’s see if they can hold keep on winning where Moana Pasifika should be easy while Chiefs & Highlanders is a bit difficult.

Chiefs also had some easy wins in recent weeks against the bottom 3-4 teams & the race is on for the Waikato side to hopefully get the job done that might be a bit challenging starting with the Rebels in Melbourne on Friday followed by the Top 2 teams (Hurricanes & Blues). Meanwhile, Highlanders recovered well from their worst trip v Reds (31-0) in Round 9 by putting themselves back in the Top 8 at 7th with some good wins even though it wasn’t pretty. Yes, things are going to get difficult when facing the Top 2 sides other than Fijian Drua in Round 14 but sure they can cause a storm like it was before. 

And last but not least the Crusaders who got themselves another win in Christchurch two weeks ago v Rebels 38-0 with some great improvements to see at times. However, time is running against them as they really need to win big, which won’t be easy against Brumbies & then Blues other than easy finish v Moana Pasifika to hopefully make the Top 8 just in time after Round 15.

Australian teams 

ACT Brumbies are still high and flying bar the Blues loss back in Round 9 as they still sit 3rd with an easy run-in that would hopefully give themselves a good Finals run and then end the drought to take home the trophy. Queensland Reds on the other hand returned to winning ways other than also a close Round 10 loss v the Blues. Now the run-in might look a bit difficult when the Drua is so strong on the home front while they got a few being injured but then you got the Western Force at home followed by the Waratahs again shouldn’t be too hard to seal a good run-in v Chiefs or Brumbies in the Quarters.

Western Force also has a great strong home atmosphere off the back of wins against the Crusaders back in Round 9 & the Fijian Drua last night, which puts them back on track towards an outside possibility of playing Finals footy with the Waratahs next up followed by Reds away & then the Brumbies after that. Then don’t know what to say about the NSW Waratahs when they are at their lowest ebb once again with so many being injured other than two lucky wins v the Crusaders with more losses going against them. The only positive I can say that they’ve put in their best effort to hopefully get themselves up first at the finish line, but then they’re last right now with two difficult games to finish it off (Force & Reds) other than Moana Pasifika.

And the Melbourne Rebels are still hanging in 6th with three tough games to go with two being at home, such as the Chiefs on Friday followed by the Brumbies and then the Drua away in Fiji. It all depends on the other results but they will still make it even it means an extra week of playing considering the Crusaders are still struggling with the Waratahs going way worse. Then the big question mark is whether or not if the Rebels will be back next year & beyond who is still broke despite recent on-field success? We still don’t know when you got a businessman-led consortium group ready to save the club from liquidation but then the powers of Rugby Australia has the final say at Rugby HQ with still no resolution to either stay or go at this stage.

Pasifika teams 

Well, Moana Pasifika had their moments earlier during the season where they were flirting with the Top 8 bubble a few times here & there. However, a recent string of losses meaning they will unfortunately miss out as progress will take a bit more time before Moana can start winning more games from here; They got the 2nd-placed Hurricanes next up followed by the Waratahs & Crusaders, even though all of their final three regular season games are going to be played within New Zealand.

Same goes with the Fijian Drua who always have an outstanding home atmosphere in Lauktoka, Fiji like the Force bar the Hurricanes loss back in Round 9. They might be able to play another week of Finals this year depending on other results with the next two games being at home against the Reds & Rebels other than the Highlanders in Dunedin but their away form still much leaves to be desired which is gonna bite back to haunt them including the 48-10 loss v Force last night in Perth. That is going to be their next big step alongside a new head coach with Mick Byrne agreeing to step up with the national team soon.


2/3rd in with three regular weeks to go as the race for 6th-8th is still on where we could still see an odd upset or two on top of the continued Australian teams’ winning progress & the battle for 1st & 2nd between the Blues and Hurricanes, with the lone Australian side Brumbies and the Chiefs being the outside favourites as they’re all locked up with the QF hosting rights.

While the Reds will surely end up in 5th, The Rebels and Highlanders would most certainly be a given as the Waratahs are unable to improve anytime soon with more injury hit-lists in the treatment room. And who is going to claim 8th?

It’s going to be between the Drua, Force and Crusaders – with the Crusaders hopefully getting the last remaining Finals spot, even though things weren’t the best where lots of new guys have a huge job to fill after so many people including a few big-name players and even the head coach in Scott Robertson getting the All Blacks job have came and gone in the off-season.

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Saturday night’s Super Rugby match at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin, NZ was a tug-o-war for both of the bottom four teams on the table – the hosts Highlanders and the visitors Western Force from Perth. The first half was really quiet for the first 30-35 mins but the Force snagged the one successful penalty goal going into half-time by 0-3. Then the Highlanders have responded well with the one and only TRY from their No.9 Folau Fakatava in the 47th minute and although the Force might have won another penalty or two where they eventually found the second three-point penalty goal, but they were so fortunate to wrap up the night with a huge sigh relief including the home fans. The final score was Highlanders 7-6 Force.

Despite some injury cloud within the Highlanders dressing room, they now move to 8th ahead of Moana Pasifika with five rounds to go while the Force remain last after the Crusaders won for the 2nd time in a while last night in Christchurch v Melbourne Rebels 39-0. With that being said, Highlanders will jet off to Tonga v Moana Pasifika next Saturday afternoon as let’s see if they can overcome the visitors strong crowd to follow up another win to keep their Top 8 hopes alive. Force, on the other hand, will continue their NZ trip once more but then it will be even tougher v the Chiefs in Waikato next Saturday night.

We’ll start with Jake Te Hiwi on the inside centre at No.12 for the Highlanders who is not only defensively sound but can also smash it and create a hole for his team-mates to finish the job done as well. It goes to show he wears the shirt with pride considering he’s from there and has gone through the ranks that earned himself an opportunity to earn his stripes at Super Rugby level as his brute physicality and the way he talks up with his players saw the best out of him tonight. If one 22-year-old isn’t enough for the Highlanders fan to be excited about, how about Oliver Haig on the No.6 blindside back row? He might have grew up in the UK but moved to NZ during his teenage years and he’s loving his rugby here ever since. Surely the physical battle suits him perfectly in the best of both worlds and hemispheres whose showings tonight reflects how capable he is to push the Force out of his way and make them hard to beat defensively while he can back things up and shield the opposition with a brick wall going forward. Still a long way to go but if they can help keep the Highlanders on the right track & play Finals again, then that would be great for both Otago and NZ Rugby as these two here are future All Blacks material.

And Argentinean Santiago Medrano has been a huge part of the Western Force side for a few years now except 2022 after he put in a huge shift to try and stop the Highlanders in his tracks on the front row at tighthead. He’s tall and he’s got brute to muscle his way through the gate when his side won possession earlier on that saw his team-mate Ben Donaldson snag a late penalty goal just before half-time. Unfortunately, the Force just couldn’t make things work when their attacking executions was so isolated with 1-2 numbers having to do all the work by themselves despite having the advantage, which in turn let him and his forwards down defensively. The Force will have to give their all if they are to win the next odd game here and there.

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Week 9 of the 2024 Super Rugby Season ended with the battle of the bottom feeders before all 12 teams will be back on the road to finish off the regular season – Western Force v Crusaders at HBF Park. Crusaders fired off early as always with their strong starts but Force filled most of the first half up with some good momentum going into the break 15-5. Yes, the Crusaders have their moments at times where they thought they were back on track but then half of the side isn’t still up to it as the Force went on to extend their lead including a couple more not long before full-time with a huge win in Perth 37-15.

The man who kept a great eye on the Crusaders’ struggles tonight is Izack Rodda after he made an instant impact off the Western Force bench unexpectedly early on the second row with so much powerful physical straits to lock them down both ways in attack and defense. It led to so many things going his team’s way where the Force made the most out of their opportunities with a good first-half lead followed by an extraordinary 2nd half performance in front of the home supporters as great to see him back in Super Rugby through his previous years with the Reds after a tough last 1-2 years due to injury.

Next up is Ben Donaldson – another key Force player looking to make No.10 on his own every week – having had some inconsistencies before with the Waratahs over the last few years and also for at Wallabies lnternatonally. His kicking game looks near 100% for a start when adding the extra points off the back of the Crusaders’ poor discipline and defense; he’s also able to stretch his attack across the pitch which was another factor to the Force getting past the opposition on the counter attack with numbers on the board and can spot them being isolated which reflects his good defensive awareness all around.

Great to have the wealth of experience alongside a great coach (Simon Cron) & the goal now is to get some winning momentum from here for an outside Top 8 push starting with the Highlanders in Dunedin next Saturday.

And Sevu Reece holds the glue in the Crusaders dressing room where he just became the leading TRY scorer (53) which was an enormous achievement from the wide right. They are so grateful for his explosive pace and most importantly the experience on offer as he still has unfinished business at 27 having returned from a long-term knee injury at the start of this season. But in the meantime it’s just him running the show alone when the forwards simply weren’t on par that led to a pile of discipline and defensive mistakes as well as missed opportunities that isolated him and his backline & the current No.10 didn’t do much good either – looks like the Top 8 chances now looking near nigh now where things will be even harder before they will have to sit out the Finals for the first time in 2024 with the Melbourne Rebels next up at home in Christchurch on Friday.

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Last night, Melbourne has witnessed their own Rugby team winning another game this time v Highlanders in the form of the Rebels and they now sit in 4th place on the ladder with a bye next week before they resume to go all in & hopefully have their first taste of Finals footy. Although they did play in the Qualifying Final back in 2020 v QLD Reds under a temporary Super Rugby AU comp when COVID interrupted our daily lives at the time & the Waratahs weren’t doing much good back then.

However, questions will still need to be answered by Rugby Australia amid the Rebels still being broke as whether or not if they have the resources including the talent pool to support as many as five teams? It’s been a long-running debate that saw two teams end up in the hole including the ACT Brumbies whose existence will not be taken away anytime soon thanks to their decorated history regularly up front that reflects long-running success. There’s another team that won’t be in for the axe at all is the NSW Waratahs whose history is also so strong in a Rugby dominated state/market that goes back to hundreds of years despite their mediocrity over the last couple of years; Same goes to the Queensland Reds – so rule both of them out too as removing those big influences & RA investing more into the Brumbies, Rebels & even Western Force won’t help that much.

While we’d like to go back to the way things were when the Wallabies were oh so good with just three teams in the 1990s and early 2000s, it won’t happen since the world has changed over time with most professional sports here having an excellent national footprint. At the end of the day, it’s still going to be five teams without needing to axe a team again under a few conditions – if the Rebels get cut, 1. I’d to see a like-for-like replacement with the Jaguares coming back this time as a Melbourne-based team by inheriting most of the Rebels players with a few Los Pumas Internationals coming over and 2. Western Force gets some help from Japan and merge with the Sunwolves while still playing most of the games in Perth.

That way, we will able to meet the goal of having all five Australian Super Rugby teams thriving against the long-dominating New Zealand counterparts. Plus, the talent pool will be stronger as ever which in turn will get more quality Australian Super Rugby players coming from all five teams for the benefit of the Wallabies returning to its former glory by winning games & silverware again while expanding overseas selection availability since the Springboks won back-to-back recent World Cups under this model including the next crop of local grassroots kids who will learn massively from the seasoned Internationals playing here.

And hopefully no more fighting after consistently losing to the All Blacks over the last 20 + Bledisloe Cup editions while experiencing the worst World Cup campaign ever where they exited the group stages for the first time last year in France as the worst thing can happen is for RA to face someone in the courtroom yet again like the Force back in 2017, The end.

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Round 8 is now done and we are at the halfway stage of the 2024 Super Rugby Season with one more shortened series of four games next weekend while some teams will undertake the required week-long off the field and all 12 teams will then look to bring it home non-stop towards the end of this regular home and away portion. For now, let’s look back what happened over the past month between Rounds 5 to 8 when we finished March while having an Easter long weekend before entering April and the clocks have moved back an hour with all cold game nights ahead after Daylight Savings was over one week ago.

New Zealand teams

Hurricanes still strong albeit Cam Roigard’s knee injury that will keep him out of the field for six months as let’s see if that unbeaten run continues with games coming up v Fijian Drua as well as two Aussie teams like Brumbies & Waratahs. What else? Blues also on the same wavelength as the Hurricanes where they got the Brumbies next up followed by the Reds and Rebels, so won’t be easy when facing Aussie opposition but they should be alright though with 1-2 wins mainly v Reds and Rebels. Chiefs also not bad despite some losses lately v Crusaders in Christchurch a few weeks ago as well as the unbeatable Hurricanes just now & they have a good next series of matches which we will expect to see them again at Finals time. Then Highlanders have shown that they can always stay in the game but four losses over the last month isn’t a good look whose progress is still in the rebuilding phase which will take a bit more time. And on the Crusaders, great to see them win at last two weeks ago v Chiefs. Although they were unlucky v Waratahs again the other day thanks to Will Harrison’s last-minute drop goal, but they are on the right track though lately as they still need to win the rest if the Saders want to play Finals this year.

Australian teams

ACT Brumbies are still unstoppable who currently sits 2nd with games coming up v the Top 2 such as Blues next Saturday and the Hurricanes after that. Can they be the top ranked side in this comp other than being just the best here that saw them accomplish regular semi-finals over the last couple of years? We’ll see. Melbourne Rebels, on the other hand, got away with really good wins off the back of the Waratahs as that team so far can only win v the new-look Crusaders, as well as Fijian Drua who still struggle away from home and of course, the Highlanders by a comfortable margin. They now sit 4th amid financial problems at the start of this year as nothing is still guaranteed whether if they will be back playing next season & beyond.

Plus, the Queensland Reds good start under Les Kiss has turned sour in recent weeks after three straight losses to the Western Force, ACT Brumbies and now Moana Pasifika. The good news is they are still within the Top 8 bubble in 6th but bad news is they need to win games again if Queensland wish to do well in the Finals and not let it slip out with fear like last year when Brad Thorn had his course as head coach. Meanwhile, the NSW Waratahs are still struggling other than winning games v the Crusaders and they too have a series of tough matches ahead after next week’s bye like Chiefs, Hurricanes and also the Brumbies again. And while the Western Force was fortunate to celebrate the rare home win v Reds, they still haven’t been at their best despite having lots of experienced players. Looking ahead, the run-in fixtures doesn’t look any good to them as an outside finals berth looks less likely but surely they will get some wins at home though like Crusaders, Drua and Waratahs.

Pasifika teams

We all know that the Drua like the Western Force and Melbourne Rebels can have a strong home crowd impact which reflects their impressive winning record there but not so much away from home. They got the Hurricanes and Moana Pasifika coming up at home soon to close out April, so this could mean business for them to get back on track to stay inside the Top 8 bubble and hopefully play Finals again like they did during their sophomore campaign last year. And what about Moana Pasifika? They made some excellent progress at last as seen in the early rounds of 2024, although they had some heavy losses recently until Moana beat the Reds the other day but that was against the top teams. They will need at least 3-4 wins now in order to enjoy their first finals experience as long as the ladder doesn’t change that much over the next 4-6 weeks, but again Moana is making some gradual progress on their third year before they can be more like Drua and win more games in the long run.


All in all, the New Zealand teams are still dominating Super Rugby as the Crusaders downfall should only last this season while Australia has made some great progress too – including a couple of upset wins against some of the established or original foundation teams should I say – with the Brumbies and Rebels being their best so far in 2024. Nothing much will change as wouldn’t mind a couple of more upsets and other team wins that isn’t a New Zealand team or from somewhere in the bottom four, but the only exception we might see is for the Crusaders to win all the remaining games as they can & make the Finals just inside the Top 8 by the time we wrap up Round 12 before all 12 teams will then become eight teams after Round 15.

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It was a high scoring game with a huge encouraging performance from the home team as the Western Force has just secured their first win of 2024 v the Queensland Reds at HBF Park in Perth after a winless first couple of games. They were able to get the ball rolling as many as three tries that puts them way in front throughout the first half, although the Reds finally got their first big score not long before half-time as the scoreline was 28-5. Now the Reds again thought they are back on track thanks to another Tate McDemott TRY but then the Force continued to increase their lead over time where they have absolutely dominant all along even though the Reds were able to pick up some late points towards the end, 40-31. After five rounds, the Reds drop to fifth while the Force push the Crusaders to last & now into 11th just behind the Waratahs (10th) by two points.

Hats off to Bayley Kuenzle who was unbelievable on the wing tonight for the Western Force, even though he usually specialises at 10 or on the centre. But again, his Super Rugby experience & physicality is something the opposition couldn’t underestimate where he always keeps on moving as his two TRY performance alongside his excellent defensive work has put the Western Force on the front seat all along for his team’s first win of 2024 – such an excellent team player. There’s another good player with Super Rugby experience who is doing really well back home in Perth also for the Force and his name is Carlo Tizzano who plays on the openside back row at No.7. He is someone the Reds didn’t enjoy every time he locked up the Reds attack in defense whose form was isolated before he and his team made the most out of their quick and electrifying attacking passage of play including two tries for himself. After a winless first couple of rounds, he and Bayley credits the strong home crowd at HBF Park as they will look to give back more good wins from here starting with the Fijian Drua away next Saturday.

And Reds’ No.9 co-skipper Tate McDermott did the best he can to keep up the scoreboard where his team fell short following his own two TRY performance in between half-time. The attacking build-up is there to see where he knows where to find his men on the counter as promised from the beginning, but then a few poor executions allowed the Force to swoop successfully in return where the Reds were vulnerable at their own end before it was too late with little time remaining. The Reds had a great start under Les Kiss (new head coach) until now which wasn’t easy after making the few hours trip to Perth as they will do so again on the way home before another tough test ahead v the high-flying Brumbies at Suncorp Stadium next Saturday.

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What you need to know so far after one month or Week 4 of 15 in the 2024 Super Rugby Season?  Let’s begin with the New Zealand teams who still enjoy plenty of success except one team at the moment despite a huge off-season overhaul. The Hurricanes have been outstanding with no losses so far on top, Chiefs still enjoying success after topping the table & then fell short at the Grand Final bar the Reds loss last weekend, the Blues aren’t that bad without Beauden Barrett only for this year, Highlanders making some encouraging progress after they missed out the Finals last year & the defending champs Crusaders are a completely different team now with four straight losses & as well as a lengthy injury list.

Meanwhile in Australia, things aren’t that bad over here as there’s plenty more to prove after a disastrous year in this sport including an early exit from the World Cup. The Reds new era under coach Les Kiss has been so far, so good other than the last minute Super Round loss v Hurricanes, as well as regular semi-finalists Brumbies still going strong. Plus, the Waratahs may have taken the odd win v the new-look Crusaders also at the Super Round but have unluckily lost lately both on home turf. Western Force still hasn’t won yet despite injecting more Super Rugby experience & although the Rebels has won some games, but only against Force & Moana on what might be their last season since they’re broke.

And Moana Pasifika has made the step up  with some success after a slow first two years, while the Fijian Drua might have also won v Crusaders on home soil in Fiji last weekend but still have unfinished business to prove if they wish to play in the Finals once again in June this year.

Looking at the next four weeks, things won’t change much unless the Crusaders finally climb back up from the bottom that will shake up the ladder a bit. I would be a bit surprised though if we will manage to see just a few shock upsets here & there.

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Things are going from bad to worse at the Melbourne Rebels who are operating by little by little now. First of all, they’ve entered voluntary administration 1-2 weeks ago while they were owed lots of money in debt. Now not only a few of their staff including the board were forced to leave but also they have just $17,300 left with just a few pieces of office furniture, gym equipment & two cars. Although they will be playing out this season since the fixtures have already been laid out for the over the next few months as there’s no way back, but still no guarantee the Rebels will return in 2025 which will be highly unlikely. 

It will be devastating to see Rugby leave Melbourne where they’ve been the host of the three-day annual Super Round weekend for a few years, which isn’t too far away now for Round 2 at the start of March. They also hosted the home Bledisloe Cup games when the Wallabies v All Blacks over the last two years (2022 at Marvel Stadium & 2023 at MCG) & will be hosting Wales during the 2nd mid-year tour match in mid-July at AAMI Park. Yes, they have also produced a few Wallabies players of their own over the last few years & not being able to play for a local professional team like the Rebels like underage level & then into Super Rugby before stepping up at International level would see them end up elsewhere. Regardless of what happens, there will always be some people wanting to play rugby from a young age in Melbourne & across Victoria.

But if you look at the on-field results however, they barely do anything good apart from the rare 9th placed finish back in 2018 when they benefited from Western Force’s axing from Super Rugby at the time. You might also tell that they do have a great line-up of players too from the off-season despite a huge mess off the field lately, but don’t think it will make much of a difference when all of the players’ contracts including the coaching staff under Kevin Foote will last through the end of June.

Look it’s so hard to tell having looked at options to see the Rebels live on such as merging with another team like the ACT Brumbies from Canberra and even Moana Pasifika. But no matter what you think whether or not if the merged squad would be even stronger, it’s unfortunately not a good idea when merging two teams would see plenty of uproar amongst fans in the Rugby community here. That means, you will be taking out the history they’ve built for such a long time like 27 years & it won’t be good to see that kind of value go, who fear the team they support will soon be gone under a different location & new team identity. It means a lot to them & that will be irreplaceable as Rugby Australia never wanted to do it anyway.

Now here’s what will happen if the Rebels meet their comeuppance, as said, it would be so sad to lose an Australian Super Rugby side as RA always wanted to keep all five teams in order to have a national footprint, which is understandable. 

But the results and lack of silverware including their worst ever World Cup last year is still weighing against them over the last 20 + years as the question is can they support five teams? The answer is no unfortunately because RA proved that they are unable to make room to support themselves financially for all five Super Rugby teams in order to have the best success as we will be down to four after this with the Queensland Reds, NSW Waratahs, ACT Brumbies & Western Force. Yes, there were rumours about the Brumbies also entering the same way (voluntary administration) as the Rebels, who are also running tight on funds. But considering their strong on-field presence year-long round that includes making the Finals every year where they went all the way as the only Australian team here to the semi-finals meaning it will be too difficult to see them go.

Even so with four teams here that was done on more than a few occasions, they still haven’t translated much success into International level as the Wallabies used to enjoy dominating on the field with just three Super Rugby teams of Reds, Waratahs & Brumbies back then in the 1990s & early 2000s. So is abandoning the national footprint plan for a pro-rugby state strategy that would finally see the Wallabies return to winning ways just like Rugby League does mostly in NSW & QLD? This could finally be the answer with the Western Force from Perth either playing in Japan or relaunching their own comp in Global Rapid Rugby considering Andrew Forrest has lots of cash in the bank. They are a side that has been in and out off the comp for a long time since 2006 whose form weren’t bad during most home games last year but still yet never made the finals.

In the meantime, Rugby Australia has lots of issues to address where the silverware cabinet has been mostly empty other than the rare 2011 Tri Nations & 2015 Rugby Championship as time will tell soon enough with or without the Melbourne Rebels.

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