Monday, July 24, 2017

Rugby Africa Gold Cup Round-up #5

by Ciarán Duffy


It’s getting to the business end of the competition with two more games in the 5th round of this years competition.  

Uganda 24 – 48 Namibia

Namibia continue their march towards retaining the Africa Gold Cup, handing Uganda their first defeat of this years competition.  Uganda had lost the first Elgon Cup meeting with Kenya, but only the second one was part of the Gold Cup, which they drew.  

Namibia started well but it was the Cranes who took the lead, Asuman Mugerwa touched down, the try was converted by Philip Wokorach.  Cliven Loubser kicked Namibia’s first points, they then took the lead with a try from Justin Newman.  Wokoroch kicked a penalty to level the game up with 15 minutes gone.  Namibia then took control, Damian Stevens and Johan Tromp scoring tries to give the Welwitschias a 22 – 10 lead at halftime.
Namibia extended the lead in the second half, David Philander scored the bonus point try before Justin Newman got his second of the match.  Eric Mula and Philip Wokorach scored tries within 2 minutes of each other to cut the deficit to ten points, both tries were converted by Wokorach.  Namibia would get two more tries with Niel van Vuuren and Gino Wilson the scorers.

Zimbabwe 22 – 41 Kenya

Kenya remain in contention to lift the trophy they last won in 2013.  Darwin Mukidza kicked the Simbas into the lead, but it was Zimbabwe who got the first try, Hilton Mudariki got over the line, the try was converted by Tich Makwanya.  The two sides exchanged the lead as Samson Onsomu touched down for Kenya before Takudzwa Kumadiro restored the Sables lead.  It was Kenya who were ahead at halftime, David Chenges try was converted by Mukidza to give the Simbas a 12 – 17 lead.

The second half began with Moses Amusala extending Kenyas lead to 12 points with a try.  Zimbabwe responded, Makwanya kicked a penalty and Connor Pritchard got a try to put them within 2 points.  That would be it for the scoring from Zimbabwe but Kenya weren’t finish, they would extend their lead with tries from Martin Owila and captain Wilson K’Opondo.  Mukidza converted both tries and added a penalty to keep Kenya in the hunt for the title

Namibia remain top having taken maximum points from their four games.  Kenya are the only other team that can win, they remain 2nd and won’t finish any lower than that.  Uganda remain 3rd having played one more game than Zimbabwe in 4th.

The title will be decided next week, here are the scenarios:
  • If Namibia avoid defeat they’ll be champions.
  • If Kenya win with a bonus point they will be champions.  
  • If Kenya win and Namibia fail to take more than 1 point from the game, Kenya will be champions.

Table:


Pld
Pts
GD
1
Namibia
4
20
+170
2
Kenya
4
18
+129
3
Uganda
4
11
+38
4
Zimbabwe
3
7
-12
5
Senegal
4
1
-128
6
Tunisia
3
0
-197

Next weeks fixtures (Kick off times in Irish time)
Zimbabwe v Tunisia (13:00)
Namibia v Kenya (15:00)

Ciarán Duffy (@TheVoiceDepth) is a Leinster supporter and self-proclaimed ‘big cheese’ of Post To Post (@PostToPostSport).   He’ll write about anything rugby under the condition he gets to take it too seriously.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

More thoughts on the Pro12+ revamp


Last week I offered 200 words for a post on Scottish Rugby Blog about the proposed changes to the Pro12.  Now the changes have gone from “proposed” to “imminent”, it’s time to offer some more - here are a few headings to ponder...

MONEY?

Like it or not, this has to be seen as a good move for the Celtic Rugby nations simply because it guarantees extra revenue, and the fact that it appears to be a six-year deal with the South African franchises the Cheetahs and Kings means it’s a lot more than just a short-term fix.

TIMING?

Why so soon?  Why not wait a year to get it right?  Well I must refer you to the “money” heading as outlined above.  If the “alickadoos” seem to think they can get this expansion and all the unique logistical challenges that come with it done in a matter of weeks, then I say let them try.  It does leave them exposed to criticism as it offers an easy explanation should anything go wrong, but I guess we need to hope it never comes to that.

SEASON TICKET?

I don’t see why this needs to be a problem.  I have paid for my 2017/18 season ticket, and for that I expected 11 'domestic' and 3 European matches at the RDS/Aviva.  From what I have heard about the new format, I don’t see things being any different, though I would be annoyed if I was deprived the chance to see any of the three other Irish provinces at some stage.

BRANDING?

Overall I support this plan, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to agree with every aspect.  For example, I hope against hope they don’t call the new competition the Pro14.  I wasn’t wild about Pro12 in the first place.  Expansion was always on the cards...in fact, there was even talk about the Italian clubs pulling out at one stage.  So when the number of clubs is so variable and can literally change over the course of one off-season, why commit yourself in the name of the competition?  Especially as there is the strong possibility of US franchises hopping on board in the very near future? If something like ‘Pro Rugby’ is available for trademarking, I say go for it now.

UPDATE : Thanks to Edinburgh Rugby fan account @TheBlack_n_Red for this observation re : new branding.

CONFERENCES?

Here’s where I have a major problem.  I really don’t see any need to break up the fourteen clubs into two ‘conferences’, though in real terms they seem more like ‘pools’.  

The distinction is that the word ‘conference’ generally implies some kind of common theme among those involved, normally geographical.  In the USA, NBA basketball and NHL hockey have east and west conferences.  In American football, they have slightly different origins in that the NFL was formed by a union of two different leagues which became the conferences.  In Super Rugby, the conferences were designed to ensure at least one playoff game in Aus, NZ & SA.

We have been harping on the use of a conference system on this site for many years now, but only along geographical lines.  Personally if I were to go that route with these 14 clubs I’d split them into three, one Irish with 4, one Welsh with 4 and one ‘International’ with 6.  There would be one drawback in that it would reduce the likelihood of all four provinces making the playoffs or qualifying for Europe, though I still think that's a sacrifice worth making for the sake of the competition.

But the way this is new format being proposed, with each of the five nations’ clubs being split between two conferences, makes little sense to me (though I’d be open to having it properly explained).  Why not keep the one “ladder”???  Does that option mean everyone HAS to play everyone else home and away?  Just keep the schedule at 22 matches for everyone.  Even if a team has an unfair advantage in their schedule, they’ll get found out in the playoffs.

EUROPE?

(hat tip to @rava_ian on Twitter for reminding me of this point)

I haven't seen anything about this but I'm going to assume that the South African teams won't have anything to do with qualification for the Rugby Champions Cup. I'd be concerned if they did, not because of their geographical location, rather because it would literally double the amount of logistical problems. We'll see.

ANY OTHER NEGATIVES?

We'd hope the recent success of teams like Glasgow and Scarlets would help raise the profile of the league among our oft-sceptical Celtic cousins even without the changes, but there's a flip side to that argument...how will we all feel about this new format next May if either the Cheetahs or the Kings win the grand final? Or worse still, both of them are in it? Again, let's just hope that doesn't happen!!!

One thing to help appease any reservations we may have would be the announcement of new big money signings throughout the league over the coming season. Whatever about the financial advantages, a lot of work will have to be done on the PR front over the coming months to help sell the changes, and with five different countries' worth of fans to appease, that will take some doing.

CONCLUSION?

I can see myself posting again once I see the calendar and the branding have been formally announced, but for now my glass is definitely half full. On the ever-slanted playing field of European provincial/club rugby these days, we literally can't afford to be anything less. JLP

Monday, July 17, 2017

Rugby Africa Gold Cup Roundup

by Ciarán Duffy


Round 4 is the only game round with every team in action

Kenya 45 – 25 Senegal
The Simbas remain unbeaten in this years competition ahead of next weeks difficult away trip to Zimbabwe.  Steve Sargos had kicked Senegal into an early 3-point lead, but Darwin Mukidza responded by scoring the first two of his three tries to put Kenya 12 – 3 ahead.  Senegal would hit back, with Sargos getting a try, and it seemed like the game was turning against Kenya when Jacob Ojee went off injured.  However, Joshua Chisanga and Dennis Muhanji would get over to give Kenya a 24 – 10 lead at halftime.  

Further tries for Kenya scored by David Ambunya and Ikambili, the latter getting his first international try, stretched their lead.  Kenya did leave some tries out there and lacked the edge they showed last week.  Despite this, nothing could stop Mukidza getting his 3rd try of the game.  Senegal were able to keep some respectability on the score board as George Mendy got two 2nd half tries.  

A bonus point win for Kenya keeps them in the title hunt, Senegal still with just the 1 point having played more games than anyone else.  You can watch some of the tries here.

Uganda 78 – 17 Tunisia

Man of the match Philip Wokorach got 31 points as Uganda blew Tunisia away.  The first of his three tries came in the 8th minute as Uganda were on top right from the start.  Charles Uhuru got the second soon after before Alex Mubiru touched down on his 50th cap. Uganda led 43 – 0 at halftime with further tries from captain Brian Odong, Ivan Magomu, James Odong, and a second for Philip Wokorach.  In the second half Michael Wokorack got the Cranes up to 50 points with a try.  Tunisia were nowhere to be found in the first half, but they got three tries in the second, scored by Isam Ouwham, Dhia Dhieb, and Graa Yahya.  Uganda got a total of 11 tries, Mathias Ochwo and Solomon Okia also touching down in a game where the result really was never in doubt.  

Uganda remain in contention, but have a difficult run in with games against Namibia and Zimbabwe.  Tunisia have next week off, they play Zimbabwe in two weeks before a crucial final game against Senegal.  

You can see the tries and hear from some players here.

Namibia 31 – 26 Zimbabwe
Reigning champions Namibia kept their 100% record in this years tournament despite trailing 20 – 7 at halftime.  Namibia led early on with a converted try from Damian Stevens.  Zimbabwe went back in front when Hilton Mudariki scored off the back of a scrum, adding to Makwanyas earlier penalty.  Winger Takudza Kumadiro touched down with the clock in red to give Zimbabwe a 13 point lead at halftime.  The lead was extended to 16 when Makwanya kicked another penalty.  Namibia had a stint of pressure which resulted in Darryl de la Harpe getting over the line.  Gino Wilson would get another as Namibia cut the gap to 23 – 17.  The boot of Makwanya restored Zimbabwes two-score lead.  JC Greyling got Namibias 4th try, and with four minutes left Johann Tromp used his pace to score what turned out to be the winning try.

Namibia remain top by two points having taken the maximum 15 points from their first three games.  Zimbabwe are 4th, having only played 2 games.  

Table


Pld
Pts
PD
1
Namibia
3
15
+141
2
Kenya
3
13
+110
3
Uganda
3
11
+62
4
Zimbabwe
2
7
+7
5
Senegal
4
1
-128
6
Tunisia
3
0
-197

Next weeks fixtures (kickoff in Irish time):
Uganda – Namibia (12:00)
Zimbabwe – Kenya (14:00)

Ciarán Duffy (@TheVoiceDepth) is a Leinster supporter and self-proclaimed ‘big cheese’ of Post To Post (@PostToPostSport).   He’ll write about anything rugby under the condition he gets to take it too seriously.

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