Rugby News: Beale ‘laser focused’ on Wallabies return, coach fury at ban for ‘malicious’ headbutt


Kurtley Beale is looking to turn his Super Rugby return into a Wallabies comeback after signing for Western Force.

Beale is back in the competition having shown some encouraging form with Randwick following a long stint on the sidelines as he endured and subsequently acquitted was cleared in a criminal trial.

The 35-year-old is expected to make his Force debut on April 20 when they host the Crusaders.

“In some of the chats I’ve had with him, he’s laser focused on wearing a gold jersey again,” former Wallaby Morgan Turinui on Between Two Posts on Stan Sport.

Stephen Hoiles coached Beale in his brief stint with Randwick and said “he was the most dangerous player on the field.”

“I’m really happy for him,” Hoiles said of the move to Perth.

“He needs that. I would have been happy for him to stay, but at the same time, he’s got aspirations to play at the highest level.

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“What he’s done in a really short space of time, he’s played three games, two of them trials at club footy. If you asked every player in our side how was he on and off the field, you’d get seven or eight out of 10 from everyone.

“The guys you’d get 10 out of 10 would be the centres, the 10s, the 15s. He makes people around him better and that’s what I don’t think we have enough (of) — players in Australian rugby that help other people improve.

“I’m hoping that we see a spike in performance from Donno (Ben Donaldson), from Hamish Stewart, from Will Harris who hasn’t really fired over there this year. That’s what good senior players can do. That’s what he should be hoping going over there.

Australia’s Kurtley Beale (right) with celebrates with James O’Connor after kicking and scoring a penalty late in the game during the Autumn International match at the Principality Stadium, Cardiff. Picture date: Saturday November 20, 2021. (Photo by David Davies/PA Images via Getty Images)

“He’s still got it, by far. He’s sharp.”

Speaking on Rugby Heaven, Justin Harrison said Beale would have a point to prove.

“He wants to show Joe Schmidt and the Australian public that he can play at Super Rugby level and be an international standard player, absolutely, but also fit into a team fabric. That’s really important,” said Harrison.

Foote anger at Drua ban length

Melbourne Rebels coach Kevin Foote has reacted furiously to the two-week ban handed down to Fijian Drua’s Jone Koroiduadua after his headbutt on Alexi Mafi last week.

The Drua bench man had his ban reduced from six weeks to two with the judiciary saying in its verdict that his “head appears to have made limited contact with the head of the victim player and rather made contact with the chest area of the victim player.  There was also no injury to the victim player.”

The judiciary added “a sanction of 3 weeks would have been wholly disproportionate to the level and type of offending involved, and applied a further reduction of 1 week to the sanction, resulting in a total sanction of 2 weeks.”

That has infuriated Foote.

The referee shows the red card to Jone Koroiduadua of Fijian Drua during the round seven Super Rugby Pacific match between Melbourne Rebels and Fijian Drua at AAMI Park, on April 05, 2024, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

“There is intent there, whether he lands it or not is irrelevant,” Foote told the Sydney Morning Herald. “If Mafi has his head forward at that stage and he hits him, does that make it worse?

“That is malicious. My understanding is if you make any contact with the head, we have been told that is top, top, top suspension. And he gets two weeks. He [Koroiduadua] was on a mission. There was a late hit on Carter [Gordon] and there was something with Ryan [Louwrens] just before that. But then to obviously headbutt on top of that, I mean come on.”

Foote said he thought the six week ban for Frank Lomani, who elbowed Josh Canham in the head, was appropriate but questioned the consistency of the judiciary.

Female ref for men’s RWC ‘inevitable’

Joy Neville believes it is “inevitable” that the historic feat of a woman refereeing men’s Six Nations and World Cup Test matches will be accomplished.

Neville, a trailblazer for aspiring female officials during her ground-breaking career as a referee, will exit the international stage after taking charge of Sunday’s Women’s Six Nations game between France and Italy in Paris, when the crowd will include her wife Simona and young son Alfie.

But while refereeing retirement beckons for the 40-year-old, she will continue to play a key role as World Rugby’s head coach for elite women officials in the 15s game.

Joy Neville believes it is “inevitable” that the historic feat of a woman refereeing men’s Six Nations and World Cup Test matches will be accomplished


— PA Sport (@pasport) April 10, 2024

Scotland’s Hollie Davidson this season became the first female assistant referee in a men’s Six Nations Test, while England’s Sara Cox has refereed in the Gallagher Premiership and South African Aimee Barrett-Theron is a regular on the United Rugby Championship circuit.

“It is going to happen and it will be a completely-deserved appointment,” Neville told the PA news agency.

“It is inevitable. The calibre of female referees that we have in place now is significant.

“I know a lot of the girls so well, how they work and I am just excited about supporting them further in ensuring they have the support to progress and help them achieve whatever goals they have in mind.”

Neville’s 11-year refereeing career began in a Limerick schools match at under-15 level and she can end it by looking back on numerous achievements.

She controlled the 2017 women’s World Cup final between England and New Zealand and was the first woman to referee men’s matches in European and URC competitions.

Neville also took charge of a men’s Rugby Europe Conference match between Norway an Denmark, while in 2017 she was named World Rugby referee of the year and last autumn became the first female to be part of a men’s World Cup officiating panel, working as a television match official.

And all that after an outstanding playing career that saw her win 70 Ireland caps, captain her country, play in two World Cups and win a Six Nations Grand Slam.

“I felt it was time to take a step away for family reasons,” Neville added. “Refereeing demands an awful lot of commitment and time away from home.

“And while I have enjoyed every single experience and I have learnt so much from the difficult moments and enjoyed the great moments, there comes a point that you realise it is time to enjoy a more normal lifestyle!”

Recalling how she became involved in refereeing, Neville said: “It was one or two days after I announced my retirement as a player.

“David McHugh (former international referee who worked for the Irish Rugby Football Union) called me and was coming to me with something that would demand even more time away and commitment.

“I had never for one second contemplated becoming a referee. When people retire from the game, they automatically think about giving back by volunteering, coaching and so on, but no one really properly considers refereeing.

“I would be lying if I said I didn’t find it difficult at the start, going into a new environment, learning a new skill, learning from my mistakes, understanding different people-management. To be honest, refereeing can teach you so much.

“Yes, I have had difficult moments, but I have learnt from them and learnt how to cope and deal with those situations.

“I remember I refereed my first professional game – Southern Kings versus Ulster in Belfast – and all the media attention was about the first female to referee a professional game and all I have ever tried to achieve was drop ‘the first female’. It is just a referee.

“Just make it the norm and thankfully I think we have broken down that door.”

World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont paid tribute to Neville ahead of her final game.

He told the World Rugby website: “As someone who continues to blaze a trail for aspiring female and male referees, we are delighted that Joy will be continuing to channel her experience, passion and expertise into helping our international match officials be the best they can be as World Rugby’s elite women’s 15s match officials head coach.”

Since her first Test match in 2016, she has overseen a total of 26 Test matches as a referee (24 women’s, two men’s), in addition to a further 20 as Television Match Official (19 men’s, one women’s).

(With PA)

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