One Percenters; NSW I take out Schools Champs, new faces to join men's Sevens squad

International
by Beth Newman, Emma Greenwood and Iain Payten

NSW I has taken out the Australian Schoolboys Champs in Sydney this weekend, in the first season of a new-look representative structure.

The top Blues side beat out QLD I 58-5 in the final capping off a dominant display in the week-long championships.

The ACT finished third overall beating the Combined States 36-7, while NSW II beat QLD II in the fifth place playoff.

A host of these players will play in the Academy Series matches through out the year, linked with the Super Rugby outfits, with an Australian Schools and U18s team to be announced in September.

That process is part of a shift towards opening up the representative team to players beyond the traditional rugby schools and younger boys who have finished school, also aiming to retain more up and coming talent in rugby.

The Australian Schools Rugby Union did name a Barbarians team after the tournament, a group that included Caleb Timu's younger brother Keenan.

 

Meanwhile, the Sydney Junior Rugby Union girls took out the second Schoolgirls and U18s championships in Narrabeen.

The Sydneysiders beat out NSW Country in the final of that tournament, 46-5.

Brisbane City came third, beating the Melbourne Rebels U18s 24-5 while RugbyWA finished fifth with a 24-0 victory over the ACT schoolgirls Blue team.

ACT Schoolgirls White finished their tournament on a high with a 48-0 win over South Australia.

RESULTS

Australian Schoolboys Champs

Final

NSW I 58 - QLD I 5

Third place

ACT 36 - Combined States 7

Fifth-place Playoff

NSW II 26 - QLD II 10

Seventh-place playoff

Barbarians 36 - Victoria 22 

Schoolgirls and U18s champs

Final

Sydney 46 - NSW Country 5

Third place

Brisbane City 24 - Rebels 5

Fifth-place Playoff

RugbyWA 24 - ACT Blue 0

Seventh-place playoff

ACT White 48 - SA 0

Dunbar to join Sevens

Sydney Uni and former Rebels squad flyhalf Stu Dunbar is set to link up with the Aussie Sevens ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Australia's men kick off their 2019-20 season on Monday with their focus on November's Olympic qualifier in Fiji.

Dunbar will be one of a number of new faces in the group, with Trae "Quadzilla" Williams also officially joining the squad, while Lachie Miller and Matt Hood have both been upgraded to full-time contracts.

Strength and conditioning coach Craig Twentyman has been called into a role with the Wallabies through to the World Cup, with Will Stuart stepping into Twentyman's shoes for them.

Aussie men's Sevens coach Tim Walsh has been open about widening the net to try and bring new talent into the group and was the man who triggered James O'Connor's homecoming.

O'Connor now seems set to play XVs exclusively but their discussions are a sign of Walsh's open-mindedness when it comes to vying for Olympic qualification and success in Tokyo.

Wright back to where it all started

Liam Wright has been named in the opening Wallabies squad of the year and could make his Test debut in South Africa. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleyLiam Wright is likely to have plenty of family support on hand if he pushes his way into the Wallabies 23 for a chance to make his debut against South Africa next week - but there's one thing none of them will do if the 21-year-old gets a run.

Born in Durban, Wright and his family headed to Australia when he was just seven but he has plenty of family still based in South Africa and some could yet make the dash to Johannesburg from the coast if he is named to make his debut.

A run in South Africa would complete a fairytale rise for Wright, who is shaping as a World Cup bolter.

"It'd be awesome, you couldn't script it," he said.

"I probably grew up watching the Springboks more that the Wallabies for a few years being over in south Africa, so it was always a dream to play over there, it would be so special.

"And to be able to have extended family there as well, it'd be awesome."

One thing no one will do is turn up in a Boks jersey.

"I don't think they'd dare," Wright said.

"I think Mum would kick them out of the WhatsApp (family group) if they did."

White edging towards Canberra return

Nic White in action at Wallabies camp. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleyWallabies squad member Nic White looks increasingly like heading back to Canberra when he officially returns to Super Rugby in more than a year's time.

White has signed a deal with Rugby Australia, making him Test eligible, but is yet to ink a final deal with a Super Rugby club.

The scrumhalf still has one season left on his deal with Exeter in England and with the Super Rugby season starting earlier in 2020 because of the new global calendar, he would effectively be unavailable to play until 2021.

Though he has plenty of time to make a call, White is believed to be leaning towards returning to his former club the Brumbies when he officially returns to Australian domestic rugby.

With Will Genia and Michael Ruru heading overseas, the Rebels had begun to look like a possibility but it seems the 29-year-old is keen to head back to familiar surroundings.

Melbourne have locked in Fiji international Frank Lomani for 2020 while promising nine Harrison Goddard is also on their list.

Wallaroos open doors for Japan opposed session

Test rivals often go to extraordinary lengths to keep spies out of their training sessions, not wanting their opponents to know anything about their preparation.

So it was surprising to see the Wallaroos face Japan in an opposed session in Newcastle earlier this week ahead of their Test clash on Saturday.

Coach Dwayne Nestor conceded it was a somewhat strange move but said both sides learned plenty from the exercise.

"It was a little bit of an unusual thing, playing a trial against a team you're going to play a Test match against at the weekend," Nestor said.

"That was a tough thing to get our head around but when you look at what we got out of it, it was pretty positive.

"We identified some things that we could sharpen up and it definitely helped our preparation."

Aussies take silver in Pacific Games

Australia's women's Sevens came home with a silver medal from the Pacific Games in Samoa this weekend.

The Aussies, with a team made up of the next generation of Sevens talent, finished second behind Fiji, going down in the final.

Australia made it to the final off dominant performances over Samoa and Papua New Guinea earlier in the day.

Koroibete welcomes new arrival

Marika Koroibete's South African trip was delayed somewhat this week as he awaited the arrival of his second child.

Well, the wait wasn't a long one at all with Koroibete's wife Emma giving birth to son Isaiah on Tuesday of this week.

The Wallabies winger was on a plane soon after and training with the Wallabies in Sun City by the end of the week.

Rugby Club foundation commits to grassroots funding

NSW's Rugby Club Foundation has made a public pledge to continue its commitment to aiding rugby development.

The RCF, which counts former Wallabies Owen Finegan and Stirling Mortlock among its members - had provided 23 grants to community rugby programs in the 2018-19 financial year and expect that to continue to grow.

RCF grants committee chair Paula Ward said they had high hopes for the program going forward.

“This round of grants is the largest the Foundation has been able to deliver to date, and complements the Foundation’s commitment to supporting NSW Rugby’s Development Officers," she said.

“The board’s vision, since becoming a well-established foundation, is to share the spirit of the game, and we’re proud that we continue to impact on the game at the coalface, and also very fortunate that our members share our vision and values – It truly is a collective effort.”

Gold Blooded tour heading north

The Gold Blooded tour hit its halfway mark this week, with less than a month to go until it wraps up in Perth.

There are plenty more stops for the tour, though, with the team heading to Queensland this week and heading to towns including Biloela and Rockhampton.