Black Ferns Beat Wallaroos In Front Of A World Record Crowd In Sydney

The Black Ferns held out to defeat a strong Wallaroo’s outfit in the opening match of the two Test Trans-Tasman Series with Australia eventually going down 11-31.

Australia had nine debutants in a match that was played in front of a world record crowd of 28,842, the highest ever for a Women’s International.

Both sides traded blows in the opening exchanges, and it took 10 mins for the first points to be scored, with scrum half Kendra Cocksedge crossing for New Zealand’s first try to give the visitors a 7-0 lead.

Australia’s Emily Robinson registered the first points for the home side with a penalty in the 21st minute to lower the gap to 3-7.

Tries from New Zealand captain, Faio’o Faamausili and Aldora Itunu increased the lead to 3-19 at the break, despite some strong defensive efforts from the Buildcorp Wallaroos.

The second half saw New Zealand continue to ask defensive questions of the Wallaroos with two further tries to Fiao’o Faamausili, ending Australian hopes.

However, it was Australia who had the final word, Alisha Hewitt came off the bench who to finish off a try, following a dynamic run from Shanice Parker and Emily Chancellor, reducing the deficit to AUS 11–31 NZ.

Wallaroo’s Head Coach, Dwayne Nestor said: “We didn’t let the game go and there willl be a lot of positives that will have come out of the game.

“We’ll go back and look at the footage and pick out the good things as well as those things that we can fix, it all about getting into the right attitude for next week.

“I’m really positive about where we are as a side. There are changes we can easily make in order to have a much better game and we will come back a much stronger side next week”

There will be very little time for celebration of commiseration as the Wallaroo’s take on the New Zealand Black Ferns again next week, in the second instalment of the International double-header at Eden Park, Auckland.


10 mins: Kendra Cocksedge try Kendra Cocksedge con AUS 0–7 NZ

21 mins: Emily Robinson pen AUS 3–7 NZ

28 mins: Fiao’o Faamausili try AUS 3–12 NZ

32 mins: Grace Hamilton Yellow Card

42 mins: Aldora Itunu try Kendra Cocksedge con AUS 3–19 NZ


48 mins: Emily Robinson pen AUS 6–19 NZ

59 mins: Fiao’o Faamausili try AUS 3–24 NZ

68 mins: Fiao’o Faamausili try Kendra Cocksedge AUS 6–31 NZ

72 mins: Alisha Hewett try AUS 11–31 NZ

75 mins: Jackie Patea-Fereti Yellow Card

Buildcorp Wallaroos:

1. Emily Robinson, 2. Liz Patu, 3. Evelyn Horomia, 4. Michelle Milward, 5. Rebecca Clough, 6. Emily Chancellor, 7. Georgia O’Neill, 8. Grace Hamilton, 9. Cobie-Jane Morgan, 10. Trileen Pomare, 11. Samantha Treherne, 12. Crystal Maguire, 13 Atasi Lafai, 14. Mhicca Carter, 15 Mahalia Murphy, 16. Darryl Wickliffe, 17. Melissa Fatu, 18. Hana Ngaha, 19 Alisha Hewett, 20. Kiri Lingman, 21. Alice Tonumaivao, 22. Fenella Hake, 23. Shanice Parker

Black Ferns:

1. Phillipa Love, 2. Fiao’o Faamausili ©, 3. Aldora Itunu, 4. Eloise Blackwell, 5. Charmaine Smith, 6. Charmaine McMenamin, 7. Les Elder,  8. Aroha Savage, 9. Kendra Cocksedge (vc), 10. Ruahei Demant, 11. Alena Saili, 12. Theresa Fitzpatrick, 13. Stacey Waaka, 14. Renee Wickliffe, 15. Selica Winiata (vc), 16. Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate, 17. Cristo Tofa, 18. Leilani Perese, 19. Jackie Patea-Fereti, 20. Linda Itunu, 21. Kristina Sue, 22. Krysten Cottrell, 23. Chelsea Alley (15)


Alhambra The Final Whistle

There are some sporting lives that transcend the very game itself, individuals who find themselves, through no fault of their own, as pathfinders for their gender, their country and even their sport.

Responsibilities of this nature can weigh heavily on the broadest of shoulders, but some can carry the load with dignity, grace, poise eloquence and no little skill.

One such individual is Alhambra Nievas-Gonzalez.

Rugby is fortunate to have Ali in its ranks, the values, ethics and all that is good about the game, will continue to shine through in whatever role she turns her hand to, now that she has hung up her whistle.

She has broken down barriers, and prejudices, that have eased the way for those that follow her.

Those referees, of which there are many, have been inspired by her actions, deeds and her example, and as a result, they will not have to suffer such gender scrutiny and intense publicity thanks to her efforts.

We can be eternally grateful that Ali chose our sport in which to grace her presence, those of us who have met her, and watched her on the field of play, can count ourselves lucky, those of us who are privileged enough to call her our friend can feel truly blessed.

As humble and content driving the tractor during the family olive harvest in Granada, as she is performing at the biggest events in the greatest stadiums in the world, Alhambra has closed one chapter of her life, and what a brilliant read it has been.

Gracias amigo hasta pronto.

NSW Revealed As Location For Australian Women’s Rugby World Cup Bid 2021

The Newcastle and Hunter region would host the world’s showpiece event in Women’s Rugby, with the region’s world class sporting facilities and hotels, combined with its offering as one of Australia’s most popular tourism hubs, being the foundations for the bid.  
Competing teams and fans will experience the best of Australia; a lively cosmopolitan major events city, paired with one of Australia’s premier food and wine locations.

Matches would be played at Maitland No. 1 Sportsground and Newcastle Sportsground No 2 with the Finals to be held at McDonald Jones Stadium.
Teams, officials and tournament staff will be accommodated in true “Athletes Village” style in the heart of the Hunter as the best Rugby players battle it out to become World Champions.  

Australia Womens Rugby World Cup 2021 Bid Gets Government Backing

The Australian Government has thrown its support behind Rugby Australia’s bid for the 2021 Women’s Rugby World Cup, it was announced in Sydney today. 

Senator the Honourable Bridget McKenzie, Minister for Sport, was on hand to support Rugby Australia as the final pieces of its bid documentation are finalised before being submitted to World Rugby on August 10.  

If successful, the bid would pave the way for Australia to host the first Women’s Rugby World Cup ever played in the southern hemisphere. 

The Australian Women’s XVs Rugby team, the Buildcorp Wallaroos would take on the world’s best teams including heavyweights New Zealand, England and France in the six-week tournament to be played in July and August of 2021. 

Rugby Australia Chief Executive Raelene Castle said: “The support of the Australian Government for our Women’s Rugby World Cup Bid is a fantastic endorsement of Rugby Australia’s plans to bring the World Cup to our shores. 

“It has enabled us to develop a really strong bid which we are extremely proud of.”   
“Australians know how to deliver world class sporting events and I know, if successful, we will deliver a tournament like no other. 

Senator Bridget McKenzie said: “If this bid is successful, it will be the first time the Women’s Rugby World Cup is held in the southern hemisphere, and the first time we can cheer on the home team – the Wallaroos,” Minister McKenzie said.

“The Wallaroos are inspiring a whole new generation of girls to get involved in rugby and events such as the World Cup provide an opportunity to showcase our great nation and provides flow on benefits to the whole community.

The Australian Government is providing $300,000 to support Rugby Australia’s bid which, if successful, will bring economic, cultural, diplomatic and community opportunities to our shores.

Details of Australia’s bid will be made public today at an announcement in Sydney. 
The Buildcorp Wallaroos are continuing their preparation for the 2018 Trans-Tasman double-header at ANZ Stadium on Saturday August 18. It will be the first time the national women’s team has shared the Bledisloe Cup stage with their male counterparts in Australia. 

The Buildcorp Wallaroos will take on New Zealand’s Black Ferns followed by the Qantas Wallabies and All Blacks in the opening round of the Mitsubishi Estate Rugby Championship. Tickets to the historic double-header are available through Ticketek. 










Leanne Riley Stand Out Scrum Half

Scrum halves are a very unique group of people, they have to develop the art of doing twice the work in half the time.

The number nine is usually a small person with a big voice, and some serious psychological  issues, a personality that allows them to bark like one of those small yappy dogs, whilst thinking they are an Alsatian.

It is also said that a scrum half doesn’t shy away from a scrap, and starts them more frequently than anyone else on the team.

I know these facts to be true, as you see I too was a scrum half back in the olden days, although I was not in the same league, or indeed even on the same planet, talent wise as Leanne Riley.

The Harlequins Ladies and England number nine, definitely has very slight elements of these traits, but they are overshadowed by a sharp rugby brain, a turn of pace and a sublime spin pass.

If we continue with the canine analogy, then I guess maybe a rottweiler and greyhound mix, with a touch of sleek labrador, would be more akin to Leanne’s make up.

Leanne is the heartbeat of Harlequins Ladies, always looking to raise the tempo she is the metronome on which the teams pace keeps its rhythm, using her immense fitness from first whistle to last.

After a long hard season nursing an ankle injury, and enduring a cough that an 80-year-old smoker would have been proud of, a long period of rest, recovery and pampering  were just what the doctor ordered, but Leanne decided to self medicate, and prescribed herself a lung busting, heat sapping, lactic acid extravaganza, and cycled a stage of the Tour de France, (I told you scrum halves have series physiological issues).

It gets worse, rather than complete a relatively easy stage, freewheeling through Paris, sipping champagne, she chose the mountains of the Pyrenees, tackling three peaks in one day.

This involved a 96 kilometer ride at a vertical height of 3200 metres, cycling constantly uphill for periods of around two hours in 30 degree heat, on one of the peaks there was no shade whatsoever, and they ran out of water.

One of my abiding memories of last season occurred after Harlequins narrow defeat to Saracens in the Tyrrells Premier Final.

Whilst everyone was visibly hurting, none more so than Leanne, it was the scrum half herself who was doing the rounds, consoling all her fellow players and fans alike, geeing everyone up, this spoke volumes about her not only as a team player, but perhaps more importantly as person.

She coralled her team mates in front of the posts for a team photo, and that one act changed the mood, all of a sudden the banter returned, and there was laughter amidst the sadness.

An act unseen by most and unnoticed by others, but these are the things that make the difference between a good and a great player.

She started her international rugby career playing sevens, as a member of the successful England team that lifted the Challenge Cup in Hong Kong in 2012, and her full debut for the Red Roses  came in 2013 against South Africa, but the Harlequins scrum-half  had to wait until this years Women’s Six Nations for her first try, It came during England Women’s 52-0 win over Wales, one of her four appearances in the 2018 championship.


First Try For England

The mountains of France have now been replaced by the sun parched Surrey hills, and cycling takes a back seat as the Quins scrum half gets back in saddle for another Tyrrells Premier 15s season, which incidentally has twenty one stages, exactly the same number as the Tour de France.

I have no doubts that this Red Rose will continue to bloom this season, her career is blossoming, and with her drive, determination and talent it is very likely that Harlequins Ladies will be the pick of the bunch when the Premiership reaches its conclusion next April.

Roger Bidgood The Firefighter’s Winter Of Discontent

What a feeling it must be to get your first selection for Wales, all your hopes and dreams coming to fruition, the elation and pride of family and friends, and in a rugby mad nation where it means just that little bit extra.

Roger Anthony Bidgood received such news in January 1987, the Newport centre and full-time fighter was selected to make his Welsh debut against Ireland, he was drafted into the Wales team to replace the injured John Deveraux.  

As the celebrations began little did he think that he would have to wait five years before stepping onto the Cardiff Arms Park turf, to gain that magical first cap.

The delay you would suspect would either be the result of a badly timed injury, or a disciplinary issue.

On this occasion it was neither and the culprit and cause was of a meteorological variety, the game due to played on the opening day of the Five Nations Tournament, January 17 1987, was cancelled due the bitter icy conditions that had engulfed the Welsh capital, and as a result his international career was also put on ice.

John Deveraux had regained fitness by the time Wales were due to play their next match in Paris, against France, so the Whitchurch fireman was left out in the cold, so near and yet so far from his dream of playing for Wales.

It took another five years until Roger was eventually selected for Wales, when he was called up to face Scotland on March 21 1992,  he partnered Scott Gibbs in the centre in a team captained Ieuan Evans.

Wales won the match 15-12, thanks to a Richard Webster try, and eleven points from the boot of Neil Jenkins.

Bidgood went on to gain five caps for Wales, his only international try coming in Wales 42-13 victory over Zimbabwe, in Harare in 1993. Later that year he made his final international appearance against Japan in Cardiff, signing off with a 55-5 win.

The six-foot, fourteen stones centre had a full and varied career, playing for Newport, Cardiff, Pontypool, Pontypridd, Rumney, Caerphilly, Newbridge and Blackwood, along with representative appearances for the Barbarians and Monmouthshire.

He captained Newport in the 1993/94 season, and when his playing days were over he employed his coaching skills at Blackwood, Caerphilly and Risca.

In 2016 he became a councillor on Caerphilly Borough Council representing Plaid Cymru.

“I decided I wanted to give something back to the community and as a proud Welshman there was only one party I could stand for Plaid Cymru”

Thirty one years as a firefighter between 1983 and 2014 are a far greater accolade than any sporting achievement could ever match, but it is fair to say Roger Bidgood lit up many a dark wintery afternoon on the playing fields of Wales.

Deborah McCormack The Surfing Scot Making Waves In Sydney

Three rivers in three different countries signpost the rugby journey of Harlequins and Scotland international Deborah McCormack.

Her life and rugby career to date are indelibly linked with waterways, or to be precise, three rivers, the Medway, the Clyde and the Parramatta river.

England, Scotland and Australia provide the watery backdrop to the story of this popular, friendly, and down to earth forward, who was scoring tries for fun in the Harlequins number seven shirt, during the knock out stages of last seasons Tyrrells Premiership.

For the geographically challenged, Kent, Motherwell and Sydney provide the location for the meandering trio.

Kent is home, and Medway RFC was where her rugby story began, Motherwell the home of her gran, and the strong family tie that led her to international honours, and Sydney, where her current rugby adventure is set.

It’s a long way from her usual training base, Surrey Sports Park, to the Woollahra oval in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, 10,579 miles to be precise, but just a week after a try scoring appearance in a pulsating Tyrrells Premiership final, against eventual winners Saracens, whilst most players were putting their feet up for a well-earned rest, Debs was having none of it, and decided to forgo a British summer,and switch hemispheres, to spender a winter down under playing for the Eastern Suburbs club in the delightful setting of Rose Bay.

Its worth remembering that winter residing on the edge of Bondi beach, bears no comparison to the ones endured here at home, they appear to consist of cloudless skies and temperatures of twenty-one degrees plus, unless her Instagram posts have been photo shopped.

Regular readers of my column, may remember a piece I wrote last November, entitled Deborah Mc Cormack Flower of Scotland, well I am delighted to report that this flower has blossomed, and positively bloomed all season, even when replanted in the back row, during a cold spell in the early spring.

Following a full season of domestic games and six international matches for Scotland, she had earned a well deserved rest, but rather than take the easy option, one of the nicest people in the game put her boots in her tucker bag and hopped on down to Oz.

She is not the first Scottish international export to tread the long path to Australia, in the 1830’s thousands of Scots emigrated to Sydney, mostly builders, tradesmen, engineers, tool makers and printers.

Ships built on one of those three rivers, the mighty Clyde, carried them on a journey that took three months before setting foot on a strange new land far away.

The tartan connections are also evident at the Eastern Suburbs club where the ladies coach is Campbell Aitken, the former Boroughmuir full back.

Scottish links to Australia are plentiful, Peter Dodds McCormick wrote the Australian national anthem “Advance Australia Fair” whilst fellow Scot “Banjo” Paterson wrote “Waltzing Matilda”

After a long flight to Sydney, via Dubai, Debs wasn’t exactly waltzing gently into active service and found herself training with Easts within forty-eight hours of touchdown.

Her first try for Easts came in the victory away to Blacktown, coach Campbell Aitken informed me she scored a brilliant try , catching a missed kick to touch, before throwing a dummy and racing twenty metres to score.

Debs has found Easts to be a cosmopolitan friendly club, with a wide international mix, lining up alongside her have been Canadians, Americans, Brazilians and Irish, she has loved every minute.

Her presence at Easts, has helped to bring on a young inexperienced side, using her wealth of top-level experience to bring on the forwards, particularly in the arts and crafts of line out play, where she has been able to expand the set piece repertoire in the way only a canny Scottish lock can, as a result she has left a lasting legacy at the club, and one of which she can be really proud.

The learning experience has been a two-way street, having had one to one skill sessions with 1999 Wallaby Rugby World Cup winner and “scrum doctor” Andrew Blades, who has also been forwards coach to Michael Chekai’s Australian side, will no doubt have enhanced her already comprehensive rugby education.

Coach Campbell Aitken is a huge advocate of women’s rugby, his ongoing tireless work has ensured the women are getting quality strength and conditioning, together with GPS monitoring systems, and equally importantly getting top billing on match day and playing on the main pitch, something that has really impressed Debs.

A hat trick of tries in her penultimate game against Wolongong University, in a 105-0 win, is likely to get her thrown out of the second row union for being over zealous, but her eye for the try line has always been one her great attributes, incidently that performance earned her a place in the Shute Shield team of the week.

Debs flies back to the UK this week, and straight into pre season training with Harlequins.

Last season, which became this season, has now become next season, how on earth players like her still have to work for a living, and remain amateur, astounds me, these folks are the beating heart and soul of rugby and its values, and surely it is now time to give them some financial recompense, not that she would ever complain.

A big season awaits with Harlequins and Scotland, who have three Autumn internationals, a January game against Spain in Madrid, before the Six nations comes calling once again.

Rivers take us on wonderful journeys of exploration and adventure, that open our hearts and minds to new cultures, new people, and new horizons, but equally importantly rivers bring us back home to family friends and loved ones.

Australia are one of the favourites to host the 2021 Women’s Rugby World Cup, so maybe the Parramatta river will be calling a certain Scottish forward back for one more journey, I for one certainly hope so.

Special thanks to Paul Seiser of SPA Images for the photographs contained in this article., website: