One Percenters: Aussie sevens eye Tate, Kerevi on the tools and positive broadcast talks

Super Rugby
by Beth Newman and Emma Greenwood

They've recruited Tom Cusack and Trae "Quadzilla" Williams but the Australian men's sevens coaches aren't done yet.

We hear Tim Walsh is keeping a close eye on whether dynamic Reds halfback Tate McDermott is selected in the Wallabies' squad for the Rugby Championship and World Cup campaigns.

If not, there could be a play on to lure McDermott back to the Aussie sevens program for the Oceania qualifier in November, and juggle Super Rugby and the Olympics in 2020. Just as Cusack is doing.

McDermott played a handful of tournaments for the Aussie sevens team as a teenager before focusing on 15s with the Reds.

There is also interest from the Aussie sevens camp in speedy Brumbies utility Tom Wright, who switched back to rugby from Manly's NRL team this year.

Kerevi and Malolua Construction Services 

Samu Kerevi's playing future may not be in Queensland but that doesn't mean his focus will be totally away from the state.

Kerevi is all but certain to be plying his trade in Japan next season with Suntory but he could yet have business interests back in Brisbane with great mate Scott Malolua.

Malolua, who made his first run-on start for the Reds on Friday night, is a chippie by trade and a good one according to Kerevi.

The pair, who have been mates since meeting in schoolboy rugby almost a decade ago, have dreams of flipping houses - although Kerevi is likely to be more of a silent partner.

"He's a chippie and he's a pretty awesome chippie now and we're thinking of starting our own business together turning over houses," Kerevi said last week when talking of Malolua's journey to Super Rugby after taking a year out of the game to finish his trade qualifications.

"I'm more behind the desk, organising stuff and making sure everything runs smoothly and he'd be doing most of the work.

"I'll have all the gear but no idea. I'd just be making sure he gets paid right."

"Positive" broadcast discussions ahead of 2021 deal

Fox Sports might be undergoing some very public belt tightening as it ponders its next round of broadcast agreements but Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle says they have had positive discussions with the broadcaster ahead of the next rugby deal.

The current broadcast deal, that encompasses Super Rugby, Test rugby and NRC, expires at the end of 2020 and discussions have already begun for the new agreement.

SANZAAR has already flagged a new competition format for 2021 and beyond, with the Sunwolves being axed from the competition, but there is little other detail about arrangements after next year.

Fox Sports are reportedly closely considering their future deals as the sporting broadcast landscape changes, classifying some sports as 'marquee' and others as 'non-marquee', with resources for the latter being cut back.

"We're in the very early stages of discussions with our broadcasters, as are our SANZAAR partners, as we go into these discussions," she said.

"We are at that stage where we can't talk about any detail because of commercial in confidence but certainly we've had some very positive conversations with Fox to date."

While Castle wouldn't say specifically whether rugby would be in the marquee bucket, it is believed the organisation is confident rugby will not be cut back on under this new classification.

Rugby and football have been two sports heavily speculated to be on the outer but comparing the sports' ratings this season, rugby comes out on top.

March's Waratahs-Reds derby was watched by 128,000 people on Foxtel, with no free-to-air coverage, while the A-League's Melbourne Derby later that month had 55,000 on Foxtel and 65,000 on 10Bold.

"All I'd say is certainly our initial conversations with Fox is that they recognise the value of rugby to them both at a domestic level, but certainly at an international level," she said.

"They recognise that what we have in our competitions are the best players in the world playing in our Super Rugby competition, if not 50% but at least 50% of the best players in the world. That's the best rugby content in the world so we are confident we will have some really positive conversations with Fox.

While there has been concern about the future of any second-tier competition in Australia as well, it is believed a competition like the NRC would be included in discussions down the track.

Castle said the key in the negotiations was striking a balance between content and return on investment.

"We have a conversation with our broadcasters about all of the opportunities we have to promote rugby and for us it's a balancing act of how do we best use all of those properties that we've got to get the best outcome for fans, making sure there's access to content as well as having the best commercial return," she said.

"So that's always a balancing act that we're trying to work though."

Junior Wallabies have a loyal band of travelling supporters 

The Junior Wallabies have plenty of support of their U20 world championship campaign, with plenty of friends and family having headed to Argentina for the tournament.

The Aussies will round out their pool campaign in Santa Fe against England on Thursday morning (AEST) before heading to Rosario for the finals.

Their supporters have already attracted the attention of World Rugby's media department, who posted a photo of the gold-clad gang with Aussie flags, Wallabies gear and blow-up boxing kangaroos.

There's plenty more to cheer too after the team ensured its semi-final spot with a win against Ireland, reaching the final four for the first time since 2011.

Wessels hits back at reports of financial battles

Rebels coach Dave Wessels has hit back at a report that suggested the Rebels would not be able to afford to host a Super Rugby final if they were to qualify.

Reports surfaced on the eve of the Rebels-Waratahs match last week that the Melbourne Rebels could not stump up the $75,000 fee required for playoff game and also suggested the club was charging community teams up to 

It was a report the club emphatically rejected on the day and Wessels questioned the timing of the story.

I" thought the timing of that wasn't by chance," he said.

"That's the environment we work in in Australia, I think people have put that there by purpose, on a game day, which is disappointing."

Wessels was somewhat cryptic when asked whether he felt the report had originated from NSW or the Waratahs.

"I'm saying it came from someone within Australia," he said.

Wessels admitted the Rebels' finances weren't as healthy as they might like but said that was the nature of sport.

"I don't think anybody gets into sport to make money. I think that's probably true of (Chelsea owner) Roman Abramovich or all sorts of people," he said.

"I think the club is lucky in that we've got a lot of people that care deeply about the club and we're in the same position probably as all the Australian franchises financially but do I think the lights are going off tomorrow? Definitely not but I was disappointed at the timing of the article."

Phipps adds graduate to list of achievements

It's been a big week for Waratahs halfback Nick Phipps.

Phipps played his final NSW home game on Saturday night but he ticked off another impressive achievement this week.

The 30-year-old completed his Masters of International Business  this week, a degree he began back in 2007.

Brothers claim treasured prize

Brothers have claimed the inaugural Bola Kefu Memorial Shield, winning their Queensland Premier Rugby clash 38-26 at Crosby Park on Saturday.

To honour the rich history of the clash, the Brisbane clubs decided to commemorate the occasion with a shield acknowledging stalwarts Epi Bolawaqatabu (Brothers) and Fatai Kefu (Souths) and the rich Pasifika culture at both organisations.

This year's clash was at Brothers' home ground at Crosby Park, which also celebrated its Pasifika night on Saturday.

The shield is contested by all grades from colts to premier men's and women's to celebrate the diversity through the entirety of both clubs.