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Western Force join Melbourne Rebels in striking pay deal for Super W players


New Zealand Rugby will pay all Super Rugby Aupiki players $1800 a week for the duration of a pre-season and four-round competition, funded through its broadcast deal with Sky Sports NZ. In the NRLW the top players earn $16,000 a season, while the majority of AFLW players earn $20,239 per season.

Australia’s women’s Test team, the Wallaroos, will this year earn $1400 a week while they are in camp, with the women’s World Cup scheduled for October in New Zealand.

Australia’s women’s sevens squad are the only women players on full-time contracts, with the minimum contract on parity with the men’s sevens squad.

Rebels boss Baden Stephenson said rugby was falling behind the other codes.

“The club has fundraised, sourced individual player sponsorship and has been well-supported financially by a group of people that really want to demonstrate leadership in this space,” Stephenson said.

“Melbourne has three of Rugby Australia’s top five targeted growth corridors and the women’s game is leading the participation growth. It’s time to invest in the elite pathway.

“We are falling behind the other major codes and it’s crucial to make a start so that we can build on it in the coming years.”

Wisemantel lends a hand in Lismore

There were plenty of people willing to put themselves in harm’s way to help as the Lismore flood disaster unfolded this week, and one of them was Wallabies backs coach Scott Wisemantel.

Wisemantel lives in Lennox Head, which is about an hour east of Lismore, but he jumped into action when he heard about the need for help rescuing people as the floodwaters rose.

He took his tinny up to Lismore and helped out ferrying locals to safety, after they’d been stranded by the huge water levels.

Many people rallied to help in the Lismore floods.

Many people rallied to help in the Lismore floods.Credit:Elise Derwin

Wallabies and Force lock Izack Rodda is also from the same region of NSW, and said on Tuesday he’d had mates who also jumped in boats and helped out.

Rebels see red

“Overkill” was how one Rebels official described Reece Hodge getting slugged with a one-game suspension by SANZAAR for a red card against the Force.

Hodge was sent off after getting two yellow cards for cynical fouls in the second half, the first for knocking the ball out of a Force ruck when they were attacking, and the second for a straight-up pass knock down.

The judicial panel factored in Hodge’s record – namely a two-game ban at the 2019 Rugby World Cup for a high tackle on Fiji’s Peceli Yato. World Rugby guidance says all prior offences – whether similar or not – for a player from the age of 18 can be considered as part of a punishment.

The NRL, by way of contrast, clears prior offence loading after two years.

Hodge was banned for this high tackle.

Hodge was banned for this high tackle.Credit:Getty Images

For some, the need for a suspension at all for a two-yellow red card is debatable. But mostly the Rebels were agitated by the fact if they stood up for Hodge, challenged the one-game ban and lost, there was a very high likelihood the suspension would be doubled.

Rennie’s conundrum

Dave Rennie has to choose between five strong candidates for just three “Giteau Law” picks for the England Test series in July: Quade Cooper, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Rory Arnold and Tolu Latu.

We hear that choice could get tougher in the 2023 Rugby World Cup year if a valuable Wallabies back chooses to head overseas as well. He is being courted with big money offshore. And is it right that Rennie put a phone call to Bernard Foley about joining the Wallabies in early August last year?

Tah for the memories

Waratahs fans hoping they’ll see more of Jamie Roberts after this season will be disappointed to hear the 94-Test Wales and British and Irish Lions centre is still planning to return to the UK with his family in June.

Roberts is a qualified doctor but also has plenty of admirers as an erudite media pundit.

Welsh centre Jamie Roberts.

Welsh centre Jamie Roberts.Credit:Janie Barrett

He told the Times’ rugby podcast this week he had to laugh over the last two weeks as young Waratahs players had come to him seeking advice on how to play in the rain. Roberts said when he was playing in Wales, players would have to seek advice from outsiders on how to play in the dry.

Name and number

Take a close look at the Waratahs’ jersey numbers and you may see the name of your rugby club. In small print inside each of the numbers are the names of all the clubs in NSW.

In the back row at school

Given Billy Pollard was being pursued by rugby league clubs as a back-rower – and had shown the speed of Michael Hooper in almost running the length of the field to score for the Aussie schoolboys – Brumbies coach Dan McKellar admits he considered making the teenager a back-rower in rugby, too.

Pollard had mostly played back row for his school, Barker College.

“You ask yourself is he going to have a thirst for scrum?” McKellar said.

“I thought this kid could end up a back-rower, but he honestly just wanted to be a hooker. He loves it.”

Code shoulder

We have heard about the Drua being on alert for rugby league agents looking for a bit of poaching, but it seems the Fiji rugby league team are wary of rugby types trying to pinch their players, too.

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The Fiji Kaiviti Silktails – who play in the NSW Cup – train on a set of ovals across the road from the Waratahs’ training facility at Daceyville, in Sydney’s east. The story goes that some Waratahs officials decided they should be neighbourly and wander across the road to say hello.

They hadn’t even got close when they were stopped, told to turn around and head back from whence they came. Good chat.



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