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Crouch, touch, pause, disengage - scrum blight set for the chop


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The Breakdown: It's all up in the air

With rule changes and local derby standings boiling away, Wellington readies for a mammoth Brumbies v Hurricanes match-up.

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The IRB has for some time been known as the Irrational Rugby Board, due to its fair share of dopey decisions over the years. Thankfully the IRB picked up their act this week with some crucial rulings, including improving the financial state of southern hemisphere nations hit hard by the World Cup. Following years of lobbying, the Australian Rugby Union has succeeded in securing from the IRB a higher distribution from World Cup revenue, receiving a $16 million plus windfall over the next four years. For the rugby punter, there is also good news. Law trials and proposals include the abolition of ''pause'' in the infuriating ''crouch, touch, pause, engage'' rigmarole before every scrum, the video referee having wider powers, an extra front-rower allowed on the bench, the ball having to be used within five seconds of it being available at the back of a ruck, while a conversion must be completed within 90 seconds of the try being awarded. That's more like it.


There continues to be a Mexican standoff between the ARU and the Rugby Union Players Association over the collective bargaining agreement. But there is some hope the proposed salary cap of $4.1 million per Australian province may be increased following the ARU's financial victory with the IRB. RUPA boss Greg Harris said yesterday: ''We congratulate [ARU chief executive] John O'Neill for the work he has done at IRB level in improving the level of funding, because the organisation has been forced to endure some duress. Hopefully that will release some of the pressure, and due to that hopefully we can get our issues resolved.''

Rocky Elsom ... may know where the Tahs song is.

Rocky Elsom ... may know where the Tahs song is. Photo: Steve Christo


Perhaps it's a coincidence, but after the Waratahs lost their third straight game when beaten by the Bulls we visited their website to check the wording of the team song, which is belted out after every win. All week we haven't been able to connect to their ''Waratahs team song'' section, because according to the site it ''could have been removed, had its name changed or is temporarily unavailable''.


Aaron Cruden ... just how busy has he been? Very, very busy.

Aaron Cruden ... just how busy has he been? Very, very busy. Photo: Getty Images

Peace in our time. After the brain explosions and buck-passing which followed our item two weeks ago, where former Australian Rugby Union boss Bruce Hayman complained about the service at a NSWRU life members gathering at a Waratahs game, it is pleasing everyone is palling around again. Apparently the life members function at last weekend's match was an absolute cracker. Hayman reported: ''The atmosphere was very good, the staff were excellent and there was no waiting for service. The food service was good and the food hot.'' Now we can all get some sleep.


The rugby world is on tenterhooks.

A biography of that wacky former Springboks coach Peter de Villiers is due to appear in June. Proposed titles include I Love Myself a Lot, There is Little Difference Between Winning and Losing Except You Feel Better after Winning, I'm a God-Given Talent, I Know What I Am and Don't Give a Damn, We Went Wild, Wild, Wild - Some of the Guys Went Wilder Than That and I'm Going to Pull a Rat Out of the Hat. And the best commentary line of the week goes to New Zealand's Scotty Stevenson, who said: ''Aaron Cruden has been busier than a one-legged river dancer.''


Sydney clubs are worried they may not have their star players for the premiership finals. With the Super Rugby season going on forever, and interspersed with Test matches, there's not many chances for the rep players to appear for their clubs. And the Sydney Rugby Union has stipulated representative players must appear in at least two grade games to qualify for the finals.


■ Australia's most notorious serial offender official keeps getting himself into trouble. He is being discouraged from attending training sessions, while a recent expenses claim has been sent back because it involves strange casino debts and odd telephone calls.

■ What high-profile Australian rugby figure asked for $40,000 to attend a function in Britain before next year's Lions tour? Sunset Boulevard or what?

■ An Australian province is training very hard, prompting players to privately describe their sessions as ''Robben Island''. That's where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned off Cape Town. And no, it's not the Waratahs.

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Rugby Internationals 2014

Round 1
Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 18 vs TGA 18 Report Stats
FJI 25 vs ITA 14 Report Stats
NZL 20 vs ENG 15 Report Stats
AUS 50 vs FRA 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 47 vs WXV 13 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 29 Report Stats
USA 6 vs SCO 24 Report Stats
CAN 25 vs JPN 34 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sat, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 15 vs ITA Report Stats
FJI 45 vs TGA 17 Report Stats
NZL 28 vs ENG 27 Report Stats
AUS 6 vs FRA Report Stats
Sun, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 38 vs WAL 16 Report Stats
CAN 17 vs SCO 19 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 23 Report Stats
USA 29 vs JPN 37 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
ARG 19 vs SCO 21 Report Stats
FJI 13 vs SAM 18 Report Stats
JPN 26 vs ITA 23 Report Stats
AUS 39 vs FRA 13 Stats
NZL 36 vs ENG 13 Report Stats
Sun, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 31 vs WAL 30 Report Stats
USA 38 vs CAN 35 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 55 vs SCO 6 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Sun, 02 NovTimes shown AEDT
BAR 36 vs AUS 40 Report Stats
USA 6 vs NZL 74 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Sun, 09 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 24 vs SAM 13 Report Stats
ENG 21 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
WAL 28 vs AUS 33 Report Stats
FRA 40 vs FJI 14 Report Stats
IRE 29 vs RSA 15 Report Stats
SCO 41 vs ARG 31 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Sun, 16 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 18 vs ARG 20 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs RSA 31 Report Stats
WAL 17 vs FJI 13 Report Stats
SCO 16 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
FRA 29 vs AUS 26 Report Stats
Mon, 17 NovTimes shown AEDT
IRE 49 vs GEO 7 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Sun, 23 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 6 vs RSA 22 Report Stats
SCO 37 vs TGA 12 Report Stats
IRE 26 vs AUS 23 Report Stats
WAL 16 vs NZL 34 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs SAM 9 Report Stats
FRA 13 vs ARG 18 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Sun, 30 NovTimes shown AEDT
ENG 26 vs AUS 17 Report Stats
WAL 12 vs RSA 6 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
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