After all the excitement and surfeit of local rugby over the last week, we move into a rather quiet weekend in rugby terms. With the New Year being celebrated over the weekend, there will be little time for rugby, but plenty of time for family reunions and traditional Avurudu games and sweetmeats. On the schools front the Petes, Wesley, Trinity and Dharmarajah are unbeaten so far.
Last year’s champs, Pathana appear to be having a torrid time this year and the flair and finesse that they displayed last year appears to be a forgotten memory. Royal has fired in fits and starts and a change in the coaching staff this year does appear to have had the desired result. Trinity after a rather slow start has settled into a rhythm and looks a close knit unit. The Petes appear to be the team to beat. After the departure of Sanath Martis, a number of pundits had predicted a gradual demise of Peterite rugby. The Year 2012 was maybe a rough year with so many stars leaving the side and creating a void. This year the Petes appear to be more organised, and the bench strength appears to be good. The coaching staff has increased and I am not sure that all of the new additions are warranted. Wesley having been promoted to the big league has shown that they belong to the big league. Up to now they have remained unfazed by the reputation of the opposition and continued to play basic rugby. There are no superstars in the side and they play good 15-man rugby. They have so far won all of the three games. Their next big hurdle will be against Royal. If they continue in the same vein no opposition will too big for them. The next set of games is scheduled to commence on 26 April, and until then rugby enthusiasts will have to switch on to the international scene for their weekly diet of quality rugby.
The Super Rugby will be in the ninth round this week with some key games to be worked off. The Chiefs vs. the Reds will be great to watch. The Reds have in recent weeks been bolstered by the return of Genia and Quade Cooper. The Brumbies and the Reds occupy the top slots in the Aussie conference, and the Chiefs and the Hurricanes do the same for NZ whilst in the SA conference the Sharks and the Cheetahs are in the top slots. With lots more rugby to be played it is too early to predict a clear winner, but as of now the Chiefs and the Brumbies are the teams to beat.
With the Lions’ tour of Australia around the corner, all eyes have been on the selection process of both camps. Wallabies coach Robbie Deans appears set to overlook Quade Cooper for the British & Irish Lions’ series, with James O’Connor seemingly favoured to wear the no. 10 jersey. Reports indicate that Cooper still looks to be on the sidelines after the controversial playmaker claimed a “toxic” Wallabies environment last season. Cooper has 38 tests under his belt but looks likely to sit out the series, unless circumstances change soon. He has shown his flair and enthusiasm after pairing with Genia for the Reds. Whether that will be adequate to change the thinking of the selectors and earn him a recall is a million dollar question that is yet to be answered.
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