This week in rugby

This week in rugby

What's this? A name change for the weekly round up?

Nope. After it's Christmas break, I've decided to end it. Several reasons for this, main one being that it wasn't all that popular. I don't get much of a chance to write on a weekend, so it was generally a roundup 3 or 4 days after every paper and rugby publication had done the same article. Also, with #rugbyunited being a worldwide thing, having a regular series solely based on the Premiership seemed a little daft, plus, we head into a European break now, so the series would have once again been placed on the back burner. 

So the new format will be my take on various news articles or talking points that I've stumbled across over the past week or so. Obviously, anyone that has a story they'd like me to cover, you can drop me a tweet over on  @RichC_K or on the #rugbyunited Facebook group.

 

Marler's marching orders (leading to a mini rant!)

We'll start with Harlequins and England prop Joe Marler getting a red card in the magnificently topsy turvy match vs Sale...

Here's a link to the video, if you haven't seen the incident. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bdLgsDGy6T0

​The shoulder to the head of a player that is in a totally defenseless position earned Marler a 6 week ban, with a week added due to previous indiscretions and then reduced for remorse shown since the incident (which is totally pointless in putting into the report if it all cancels out, surely?) 

For me, that's totally fair. It was an over the top shot that could have caused injury. With the current laws focussing so heavily on player welfare, it was a red card all day long.

However, several of the usual clickbait led Facebook rugby pages have had comments made, either by them, or by their members, discussing how the 'Games going soft'.

The shot's to the head, be they deliberate, unintentional or freak accident are now a total no go area. There is no grey, it's black and white. I get really fed up of the 'it's not like it used to be' brigade, especially with regards to head shots. Ask the likes of Andy Hazell or Shontayne Hape, two of the many players forced to retire following concussion, about the impacts of head injury. There are many studies currently underway in regards to the long term damage caused by head injuries in rugby (as well as other sports) and rugby is one of the leaders in the focus on player safety in co-operation with these studies. The nature of the sport of rugby union is that head injury will always happen and  the fact they put strict guidelines in place with cards and bans will hopefully lead to these incidents only being accidental and brainfarts like Marler's will become a thing of the past.

Marler will miss the opening two matches of the 6 Nations. With the young props coming thrrough the England ranks, this poorly timed ban may be a blow to Marler's international ambitions.

On the move

A few big transfers have been confirmed, and a huge rumour or two aree doing the rounds.

The biggest rumour emerged today regarding All Black international Lima Sopoaga moving to Wasps, I've yet to see this confirmed at time of writing though.

Another big rumour has gone around regarding Ben Youngs on the move to Bristol, who despite some huge names being added, haven't yet managed to snag an England international. Tigers Simon Cohen has denied this will happen, however, money talks, and Bris are certainly wealthy enough to change a mind or two!

A man definitely on the move, but not too far, is Matt Banahan, who is switching Bath's blue black and white for Gloucester's much prettier cherry and white (not that I'm biased). The 6 foot 7 man mountain has been hailed by David Humphries as a man who fits Johan Ackermann's playing style and as a role model for the youngsters in the Gloucester backline.

In one of the least shocking transfer confirmations this week, Ireland's Simon Zebo has been confirmed as a Racing 92 player for next season. This one was more or less confirmed months ago and this was just an announcement to make it official. With his fleet feet and elusive running style, I think he's a great match for the Top 14!

Dragons have bought another Wales qualified forward in for next season, with Worcester Warrior Huw Taylor joining the Dragons revolution alongside Richard Hibbard and Ross Moriarty as Bernard Jackman looks to make them a real force in the Pro 14.

A more immediate signing for Ulster as Stephen Donald, former RWC winner with New Zealand, has put pen to paper at the Kingspan until the end of the season. The 34 year old (who I admittedly thought had retired already) will replace inspirational Aussie, Christian Lealiifano who is set to return home shortly. 

 

Wales injury woes

With the 6 Nations looming large, Wales have been dealt another blow with Dan Lydiate joining some huge names in the treatment room. Lydiate, as well as Sam Warburton, Taulupe Faletau and Jonathan Davies are all already confirmed as missing the tournament and huge question marks hanging over Hallam Amos, Ross Moriarty, George North and Liam Williams. 

Rumours that Gatland is looking at bringing in Worcesters free scoring winger Josh Adams and Gloucester's tackling machine Lewis Ludlow irregardless of the much maligned 'Gatland's Law' may not be too wide of the mark.

In other news.

Australia are about to be leading lights in gender equality by making both the mens and women's sevens sides equally paid. Alongside England now paying the ladies teams match fees, (the Aussies will also be paying fees to their womens XV as well) this is a huge fillip to the Women's game and it's great to see them being given a chance to develop and become financially rewarding for all the dedicated women that currently give up their time to play. 

4 players in New Zealand playing across various forms of rugby have been suspended for PED's (performance enhancing drugs). Womens international Zoe Berry, former U20's and Sevens player Glen Robertson, and lower level players Rhys Pederson and Ben Qauqau-Dodds have all been given lengthy bans ranging from 21 months to 4 years for posession of either stimulants or steroids. This is hot on the heels of the outspoken Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu's comments regarding recreational drug use in the sport, especially regarding players based in New Zealand, is there a worry that drugs are becoming a big issue in New Zealand?

 

Feel free to tweet or FB me about the new format, anything you'd like added or anything you'd like to see discussed next week!

see you soon!