The Cross Border Rugby – Players Are Positive About Tournament’s Future
In the week leading up to the second and final weekend of the new Cross Border Rugby 2024, we spoke with international rugby players who are all now at JRLO side Kubota Spears Funabashi Tokyo Bay – Dane Coles and Bernard Foley – who discussed the new Cross Border Rugby tournament and their views on rugby in 2024.
The Kubota Spears side is coached by South African Frans Ludeke, who won Super Rugby titles at the Bulls but has been in Japan for several seasons and was one of those who applied for the JRFU Head Coach job which was awarded to Eddie Jones.
The side is currently mid-table and in a fight to secure a semifinal spot to try and defend their title, but turn their attention to the visiting Super Rugby Pacific side the Gallagher Chiefs, who last weekend were humbled at the hands of perennial Japanese title contenders Saitama Panasonic Wild Knights in a 38-14 loss.
The Future Of The Cross Border Rugby
Dane Coles, the retired RWC 2015 winning All Black hooker, is relishing playing some opposition he is experienced competing against New Zeeland in the Cross Border Rugby 2023 as Kubota is set to face the Chiefs on Saturday 11th February 2024.
“It was huge seeing the weekend or the Panasonic boys getting up and giving it to the Chiefs. I’ve been really impressed with the level of rugby over here – it’s bloody awesome. I think with the Kiwi teams and hopefully the Aussie teams coming over, they’ll get something out of it as well, so I think he’s a winning product in Japan. Hopefully, they can expand it over the next couple years and see where it goes.”
He also said of the weekend’s matchup “I know Clayton (Clayton McMillan – the Chiefs coach), and I think they’ll be pretty keen for a response. He’s a pretty tough coach, so I think they’ll bring a different attitude to our game, but our boys will be up for it and are really excited by the challenge. I think a lot of the All Black boys are coming back for this one. We are looking forward to getting stuck in and playing.”
Coles in particular, but the experienced Wallaby Foley also talked of how the Super Rugby format seems to be a waning competition and that a new lease of life is needed for the fans and the players.
On the format and timing of Cross Border Rugby, Foley added that the timing of the games might need to be looked at in the future but he liked the idea.
“I think it’s probably better to have these games not in the middle of our season. I think we need to find a window where we can play both sides at sort of their full strength, and whether that is a tournament that coincides or a championship style tournament.”
Only Liam Williams was selected for the The Cross Border match against the Chiefs, with Foley and Coles both helping the team prepare.
What Do They Think Of The State Of Rugby – Too Much Interference and Stoppages
One of the topics the players answered was their feelings about the game as a spectacle and as top professionals – they were all adamant that officials’ interference had become too much in rugby and the flow of the game was too interrupted. They also remind us that rugby is still a collision sport.
Coles discussed the RWC 2023 in France, “I think the World Cup was good, I suppose the interference and trying to make the right calls all of the time needs changing – like the delays – that was the frustrating part. The cards and the slowing down and trying to get every little bit exactly 100%. “
He is respectful of the match officials and they are following the governing body’s plans and also raised the issue of abuse directed at those in the game.
“The abuse that we’re getting (players and officials) was obviously pretty shocking. People want to see a game that’s not determined by cards, I suppose, and let the boys play. No one goes out to intentionally get carded – so yeah there is too much influence.”
Foley agreed with Coles – an Australian and a Kiwi agreeing shows the levels of frustration in the game!
He said, “If I look at the game back in Australia, at AFL & NRL, they’re doing all they can to speed up the game. So more ball in play and bringing that fatigue factor into the game, which is going to open it up which is going to be more exciting for viewers,” said Foley.
“I think we have to do something in regards to having more ball in play time and less interference, less stoppages. Even with my experiences of going back and playing tests at the end of 2022, I found the game wasn’t as aerobic as it had been, it became more intense and more short, sharp passages of play, but then with long, long periods of recovery.
So that made it more of a power game, probably becoming a bit more like the NFL, right? So can we get a product that is going to entertain fans and keep everyone engaged?”
Rugby News 2024
- Cross-Border Rugby 2024 – Round 1 Preview.
- JRFU Fixtures 2024 – Brave Blossoms, Japan XV, Sakura XV.
- Cross-Border Rugby 2024 – A New Chapter For Japan and New Zealand Rugby.
- New Pacific Nations Cup Gets Underway In 2024 – Japan Hosts The Finals.