One Percenters: Super W finals confirmed, Rennie addresses Wallabies speculation

by Beth Newman, Emma Greenwood and Iain Payten

The Super W finals will be standalone fixtures this season with the grand final to be played at Sydney's Leichhardt Oval on April 7.

Queensland and the Brumbies will face off in the Super W playoff next Sunday at Ballymore at 2:30pm local, 3:30pm AEDT, vying for a chance to face the Waratahs women for the title a week later.

NSW Rugby confirmed on Sunday night that the grand final would be held at Leichhardt Oval as a standalone game on Sunday April 7, kicking off at 4:30pm AEST.

Last season the Waratahs and Queensland played the first half of a double header at Allianz Stadium before the Waratahs-Lions clash but that won't be feasible this time around.

This year, though NSW's men don't have a home Super Rugby match on the weekend of the grand final with Brisbane and Melbourne the only double header options, a move that would have robbed the Waratahs of their home advantage.

The Waratahs and Queensland pulled a 2,500-odd crowd for their recent regular round clash at Leichhardt Oval and the Waratahs side embraced the opportunity to play the standalone fixture.

Rennie addresses Wallabies speculation

Chiefs coach Dave Rennie calls for a fairer system. Photo: Getty ImagesDave Rennie has pointed to his contract with Glasgow until mid-2020 as a reason why it’s “unlikely” he’ll be in the mix for the Wallabies coaching job after the World Cup.

But only a cursory glance at the recent past will tell you that a late arrival wouldn’t be reason enough to rule Rennie out of contention.

Rennie addressed speculation at the weekend about his name being linked to the Wallabies job post-World Cup.

Incumbent Michael Cheika has said he’ll move on if the Wallabies don't win it, meaning new DOR Scott Johnson will be scouting for possible replacements this year.

Rennie knows Johnson well from the Scotland connection, and the former Chiefs coach has plenty of admirers.

“It’s just a bit of speculation, as often happens when there’s a potential job up for grabs,” Rennie said.

“I certainly haven’t spoken to anyone, and my contract with Glasgow takes me through until the middle of 2020. I’d imagine from an international point of view most of these jobs are going to be gobbled up straight after a World Cup.

“I knew that was probably going to be the case when I signed on for another season, so it’s just speculation.

“You never say never, but what I’ve said is I’m assuming that, like a lot of teams, they’ll probably make changes in coaches immediately after the World Cup. That’s November 2019. I’m committed here until July 2020, so that’s why it’s unlikely.”

A Wallabies coach only taking up the role full-time midway through a year isn’t uncommon, though.

Robbie Deans signed with the ARU at the time and then coached the Crusaders to a Super Rugby in 2008 before crossing the ditch in June to take up the job.

Even Cheika coached the Waratahs in 2015 before taking up the Wallabies job full-time and in fact, Johnson has only just come home after finishing up with Scotland in the Six Nations, despite being appointed last December.

Rennie not only Northern Wallabies contender

Rennie isn’t the only European-based coach linked with the Wallabies job.

Exeter’s well-regarded coach Rob Baxter is also a man to keep an eye on after having an informal chat with an Australian rugby official last year.

Baxter, who coached the Chiefs to a 2016-17 English premiership title, lifted Exeter from division two and has been mentioned as a potential future England coach.

But he also has a clear affinity for Aussie rugby players: he made Dean Mumm captain at Exeter, and has also had Dave Dennis, Greg Holmes, Nic White and Lachie Turner at the Sixways in recent years.

Rugby mourns Manu Sutherland

Manu "Chiefy" Sutherland, pictured here with Classic Wallabies forward Owen Finegan, passed away last week. Photo: SuppliedNSW and Australian rugby lost a stalwart this week in long-time development manager Manu Sutherland.

Sutherland has been a fixture of rugby in Australia and NSW for 45 years, including 15 years working for Rugby Australia, most recently as a talent scout and Pacific Islands program manager.

He was Sydney Uni's inaugural development officer from 1996-1998,  working for NSW Rugby until 2003 before moving to the natoinal body.

His impact was felt across the state and the nation and the entire rugby community has been mourning the loss of one of the sport's most loved figures. 

A memorial service will be held for Sutherland on Monday March 25 at Sydney Uni grandstand no. 2 at 3pm.

World Rugby considers rugby version of league's 40-20

Rugby could have its own version of rugby league’s 40-20 rule after a three-day player safety symposium in Paris.

The new law would be more of a “50-22”, allowing a team with the ball to earn an attacking lineout if they kick from their own half into the opposition’s 22 with the ball bouncing.

World Rugby’s argument behind the idea is that it would reduce the likelihood of players running up against a defensive wall consisting of the majority of the opposition team and reduce the frequency of head-on collisions.

Other laws being considered are the ability to upgrade a yellow card to a red card

Reds confident they can cover post-World Cup departures

Queensland are confident they have the depth to cover any post World Cup exodus from Ballymore as they continue to look to the future.

French giants Stade Francais confirmed during the week the Wallabies winger had been signed to a three-year deal.

He joins Reds centre Duncan Paia'aua (Toulon) in having confirmed a Ballymore departure after the World Cup, with whispers no.8 Caleb Timu could also leave.

The biggest blow could be captain Samu Kerevi though, with consistent rumours the off-contract centre will head overseas after the World Cup.

Reds attack coach Jim McKay admitted it was a challenge to retain top players.

"You've got a group that you're trying to build something with and you upskill them and upknowledge them and then there is a challenge to keep hold of players because they have opportunities," he said.

"Also, you haven't got complete autonomy over what happens.

"But we can only do our best and that's where the (Reds) Academy is really important and while we've got them, we'll still try to improve them as much as we can."

Penitani added to awards board

The Aussie Sevens finished third in Canada. Photo: World RugbyFormer Aussie Sevens star Tiana Penitani will have a say in who walks away with gongs at this year's World Rugby Awards.

Penitani, who now has a regular commentary gig on the World Sevens circuit, has been added to the panel for the Men's and Women's Sevens Players of the Year, which now consists entirely of former players.

The ex-international joins legends of the game like George Gregan in her appointment to an awards panel as World Rugby looks to refresh the makeup of their commitess to reflect the changing face of rugby.

Gregan is on the panel for the Men's Player of the Year, last year won by Johnny Sexton, and said it wouldn't be an easy call this year.

“I’m really looking forward to an exciting rugby calendar which culminates with Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan," he said in a release.

"There will be some outstanding individual and team performances throughout the season so deciding who will be the World Rugby Men’s 15s Player of the Year is going to be a challenging one. I look forward to joining my fellow panellists and making those decisions together.”

The 2019 World Rugby Awards will be held in Tokyo on Sunday November 3, the day after the 2019 Rugby  World Cup final.

Classics head to Moree

The Classic Wallabies headed to Moree in the north of NSW in their latest community visit.

A host of ex-Test players held a free kids coaching clinic before taking on the Moree Bulldogs as part of the weekend.

It's the first of a number of trips the Classics have planned this year ahead of the Rugby World Cup.

Coleman's legacy growing at alma mater

Students from Adam Coleman's high school don Rebels jerseys ahead of the Adam Coleman Cup. Photo; SuppliedAdam Coleman's legacy has been honoured at his former high school with the development of a tournament in his name.

The Adam Coleman Cup is contested by New Town High School in Tasmania, where Coleman attended high school, and a Barbarians side from other local schools

This year, the school was sent some Rebels kit to give them a kick start and the students donned it with pride earlier this week.

McGahan departs Reds

Tony McGahan is making the move to schoolboy rugby, stepping away from an academy role with the QRU.

McGahan was the side's defence coach but was moved into a role as the state's head academy coach late last year.

The former Rebels coach is headed to Brisbane rugby nursery St Joseph's College, Gregory Terrace to head up their rugby program.