Australia head coach Dave Rennie said the Wallabies are disappointed after coming within a whisker of snapping their New Zealand hoodoo as the Bledisloe Cup opener ended in a dramatic 16-16 draw.

Reece Hodge had the chance to secure Australia's first win in New Zealand in 19 years and first in Wellington since 2000, but the replacement back's monster kick from inside his own half hit the post in additional time on Sunday.

The Wallabies ushered in a new era under Rennie – overseeing his first match in charge since replacing Michael Cheika, just like All Blacks counterpart Ian Foster – rallying through second-half tries from Marika Koroibete and debutant Filipo Daugunu, having trailed 13-3 to Jordie Barrett and Rieko Ioane five-pointers.

And Hodge almost snatched an incredible victory in the 83rd minute after the full-time siren sounded, however, his long-range kick cannoned off the woodwork in wet conditions at Sky Stadium, where James O'Connor eventually kicked the ball out of touch following nine thrilling extra minutes.

"We're disappointed," Rennie told reporters in his post-match news conference. "We're certainly not celebrating in the changerooms.

"We had our chances. I thought we played with a lot of courage."

"We let ourselves down," added Rennie, addressing the breakdown, though the Wallabies won nine turnovers – only the second time in the last decade they have won more in a Test against the All Blacks.

"We found a lot of space in behind them, we had a lot of ball but the quality of our cleanout just wasn't good enough and it's area we need to be better next week. We gave away 14 penalties and a big chunk of those were post-tackle."

"I'm really proud. We were under the pump early," Rennie said. "I thought we defended well for big chunks of the game, we were able to apply pressure through our kick game and scored a couple of good tries at important times.

"We had our chance right at the death, one off the post and then setting up of a drop goal and we ended up going wider. They put you through it!

"The quality of our clean out wasn't good enough and they were able to stifle a lot of ball. We knew the collision area was going to be important and they won that battle."

Both Australia and hosts New Zealand were playing for the first time in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic, with a strong crowd in attendance to watch the first of four Bledisloe Cup fixtures.

Wallabies captain Michael Hooper made his 100th Test appearance – becoming just the 12th different player to reach the century mark for Australia – and his 47th as skipper.

Hooper led from the front as the Wallabies impressed against their trans-Tasman rivals, after trailing 8-3 at half-time, with Koroibete and Daugunu crossing over, with the latter becoming just the fourth Australia player since the beginning of this century to score a try when their career Test debut has been against the All Blacks, per Opta.

O'Connor and Barrett traded penalties at the death, after Australia had led with 90 seconds remaining, setting up a grandstand finish.

"It was a good start to our year. We haven’t been together for almost a year," said Hooper.

"We've got a new group here and a few debutants tonight. I’m very proud of our team, they fought all the way through. Man, it was close … a kick off the post … but we go again next weekend and hopefully we’re up to the challenge."

Australia's Reece Hodge hit the post with a long-range penalty in extra time as the Wallabies and New Zealand played out a breathtaking 16-16 draw in game one of the Bledisloe Cup.

Hodge had the chance to secure Australia's first win over the All Blacks in Wellington since 2000 as the full-time siren sounded but the replacement back's 54-metre kick agonisingly struck the post on Sunday.

The All Blacks and Wallabies continued to go head-to-head for nine additional see-sawing minutes before the visitors kicked the ball out for a draw as New Zealand came close to claiming victory in a stunning finish in wet conditions.

It was a battle of the debutant coaches as New Zealand head coach Ian Foster and Australia counterpart Dave Rennie oversaw their first Tests in charge since replacing Steve Hansen and Michael Cheika respectively.

The All Blacks and Wallabies were both playing for the first time in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic, and a crowd was in attendance at Sky Stadium for the first of four Bledisloe Cup showdowns.

It was a lively start as the All Blacks crossed over first via Jordie Barrett – the younger brother of Beauden who missed the clash with an Achilles tendon problem – after the Wallabies were carved open but the former was unable to convert the try nine minutes in.

Led by centurion captain Michael Hooper – making his 100th career Test appearance – the Wallabies looked threatening in attack and continued to cause the All Blacks problems, but New Zealand managed to extend their lead to 8-0 on the boot of Barrett, who converted his first ever penalty at international level.

Having failed to capitalise on their possession and good field position, the Wallabies finally got on the board just past the half-hour mark when James O'Connor nailed his penalty.

The All Blacks thought they had taken a 13-3 lead into half-time after Rieko Ioane crossed over, but replays showed he failed to ground the ball following a swift breakaway – Australia handed a reprieve.

Denied a try on the stroke of half-time, New Zealand were not to be denied a second time as Aaron Smith shook off two defenders to put the All Blacks 13-3 ahead just four minutes into the second half, after Australia's O'Connor saw his penalty sail wide of the post minutes earlier.

Australia refused to surrender as they crossed over at speed, Marika Koroibete unstoppable as he powered down the left flank and grounded the ball to cut the deficit to 13-8 before debutant Filipo Daugunu levelled proceedings as the crowd went silent in the 63rd minute.

Daugunu – played in by an incredible through-the-legs from Nick White – became just the fourth Wallabies player since the beginning of this century to score a try when their career Test debut has been against the All Blacks, per Opta.

O'Connor and Barrett traded penalties down the stretch to level the match and set up a grandstand finish, which saw Hodge almost snatch victory for Australia inside his own half.

Over eight years since making his Australia debut as a fresh-faced 20-year-old off the bench against Scotland, Michael Hooper now stands on the cusp of a notable landmark.  

Having impressed for his country at the Junior World Championships in 2011, Hooper continued to catch the eye in Super Rugby with the Brumbies.  

A first taste of international rugby ended in a 9-6 defeat, but fast forward to October 2020 and Hooper is set to win his 100th cap against New Zealand when the two rivals clashing at Wellington's Sky Stadium in Sunday's Bledisloe Cup fixture.  

We take a look at some of the best numbers behind the Australia captain's career.


HUNDRED NOT OUT

Hooper will become the 12th different player to reach a century of appearances for Australia; George Gregan, Stephen Moore, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Nathan Sharpe, George Smith, George Genia, Sekope Kepu, Matt Giteau, Stephan Larkham, David Campese and Rob Simmons having also done so.

A 100th appearance will place him joint-11th on Australia's list of Test appearances alongside Simmons, but still 39 short of Gregan's overall record.

He has won 48, lost 47 and drawn four of his 99 games thus far, racking up 95 points for Australia in that time.

No forward has scored more than the 19 tries Hooper has tallied, with Rocky Elsom and Jeremy Paul his nearest rivals on 14.

Since making his debut, no player in world rugby has achieved more Tests than Hooper, with team-mate Kepu on 96 and All Blacks duo Aaron Smith and Sam Whitelock on 92.

Kepu has played alongside Hooper the most with 89 games, while Simmons (76) and Israel Folau (71) have also featured regularly with the flanker.

Whitelock and Kieran Read have each faced off against Hooper 22 times for New Zealand – more than any other players in his time as an Australia international.


LEADING BY EXAMPLE

Hooper has captained the Wallabies on 46 occasions so far, with only Gregan (59) and John Eales (55) leading out the team more often.

His 19 wins in the role is the fourth highest total for an Australia skipper, Eales leading the way on 41.

No one can boast more than the 10 tries Hooper has scored as captain, while only Stirling Mortlock (171) and Eales (156) have more than the 50 points he has contributed to the cause when in charge - and both that duo had kicking responsibilities during their careers.

All Blacks star Beauden Barrett has withdrawn from Sunday's Bledisloe Cup opener against the Wallabies due to an Achilles tendon problem.

A tight Achilles tendon means full-back Barrett will sit out game one of the series in Wellington, where he will be replaced by New Zealand team-mate Damian McKenzie.

Barrett had been named in the starting line-up alongside younger brother Jordie to face trans-Tasman rivals Australia.

"Beaudy's Achilles flared up a little bit at training yesterday [Friday] afternoon," All Blacks head coach Ian Foster said on Saturday, on the eve of his first match in charge.

"It settled down overnight, not too bad and he's kicking out there now, but we made a decision, first Test, to pull him out early.

"It certainly looks like that [a one-game injury]. He's kicking now and running around but we just felt the way it tightened up and impacted on him yesterday, we didn't want to take that chance tomorrow [Sunday]."

All Blacks captain Sam Cane added: "He probably could have played at a push but there's a fair bit of rugby ahead.

"It's disappointing for Beaudie obviously ... but he knows it's the smart decision."

McKenzie replaces Barrett, despite not being named in New Zealand's original matchday 23.

"He's a quality 15 and ready to go, and it means less disruption to the rest of the squad. All the other positions stay the same," Foster said.

All Blacks star Beauden Barrett has withdrawn from Sunday's Bledisloe Cup opener against the Wallabies due to an Achilles tendon problem.

A tight Achilles tendon means full-back Barrett will sit out game one of the series in Wellington, where he will be replaced by New Zealand team-mate Damian McKenzie.

Barrett had been named in the starting line-up alongside younger brother Jordie to face trans-Tasman rivals Australia.

"Beaudy's Achilles flared up a little bit at training yesterday [Friday] afternoon," All Blacks head coach Ian Foster said on Saturday, on the eve of his first match in charge.

"It settled down overnight, not too bad and he's kicking out there now, but we made a decision, first Test, to pull him out early.

"It certainly looks like that [a one-game injury]. He's kicking now and running around but we just felt the way it tightened up and impacted on him yesterday, we didn't want to take that chance tomorrow [Sunday]."

All Blacks captain Sam Cane added: "He probably could have played at a push but there's a fair bit of rugby ahead.

"It's disappointing for Beaudie obviously ... but he knows it's the smart decision."

McKenzie replaces Barrett, despite not being named in New Zealand's original matchday 23.

"He's a quality 15 and ready to go, and it means less disruption to the rest of the squad. All the other positions stay the same," Foster said.

All Blacks star Beauden Barrett will start at full-back for New Zealand in their Bledisloe Cup opener against trans-Tasman rivals Australia.

Barrett will continue in the role as the All Blacks host the Wallabies in Wellington on Sunday, with younger brother Jordie named on the right wing.

New Zealand head coach Ian Foster – in his first Test in charge – has also selected Richie Mo'unga at five-eighth against Australia, while George Bridge has been given the nod ahead of Caleb Clarke in the back-three.

Debutants Clarke, lock Tupou Vaa'i and loose forward Hoskins Sotutu are among the reserves, including Dane Coles.

"We really wanted to see how players adapted and fitted in and how comfortable they were coming back into the environment and so there were a number of positions that we wanted to keep an open mind about," Foster said.

"We're excited by the group.  There's a lot of talent in there and we've got players jumping out of their skin and wanting an opportunity. It's been fantastic to come together and know at the end of the week there's a Test match.

"There's been a lot of hard work, but the tightness of the group and the desire and the excitement about playing an international game is right up there."

 

New Zealand: Joe Moody, Codie Taylor, Ofa Tuungafasi, Patrick Tuipulotu, Samuel Whitelock, Shannon Frizell, Sam Cane, Ardie Savea, Aaron Smith, Richie Mo'unga, George Bridge, Jack Goodhue, Rieko Ioane. Jordie Barrett, Beauden Barrett.
Replacements: Dane Coles, Karl Tu'inukuafe, Nepo Laulala, Tupou Vaa'I, Hoskins Sotutu, TJ Perenara, Anton Lienert-Brown, Caleb Clarke.

Uncapped trio Hunter Paisami, Harry Wilson and Filipo Daugunu will make their debuts for Australia against New Zealand in Sunday's Bledisloe Cup opener.

Reds trio Paisami, Wilson and Daugunu are in the Wallabies team to face the All Blacks at Sky Stadium in Wellington, where Brumbies playmaker Noah Lolesio could also make his debut after being named on the bench.

James O'Connor will play his first Test in the number 10 jersey since 2013, but Australia star Jordan Petaia is absent through injury, while experienced full-back Dane Haylett-Petty also misses out as he continues to regain his fitness.

Dave Rennie is preparing for his first match in charge of the Wallabies since replacing Michael Cheika as head coach in November last year.

"It's a privilege for me to be able to announce the first Australian side of the year and especially to name a number of players who will wear the gold jersey for the first time," Rennie said.

"I've been impressed with how quickly the squad has come together. There's a good group of men here and the last three weeks has given us a chance to work hard and learn more about each other.

"We need to demonstrate that brotherhood and connection on Sunday."

 

Australia: James Slipper, Folau Fainga'a, Taniela Tupou, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Matt Philip, Harry Wilson, Michael Hooper, Pete Samu, Nic White, James O'Connor, Marika Koroibete, Matt To'omua, Hunter Paisami, Filipo Daugunu, Tom Banks.
Replacements: Jordan Uelese, Scott Sio, Allan Alaalatoa, Rob Simmons, Rob Valetini, Jake Gordon, Noah Lolesio, Reece Hodge.

New Zealand will not have to quarantine over Christmas after their second Rugby Championship meeting with Australia was brought forward.

The All Blacks were scheduled to face the Wallabies in Sydney to close out the six-week tournament, which was pushed back due to the coronavirus pandemic, on December 12, meaning that after returning to New Zealand they would still be in a 14-day period of self-isolation on Christmas Day.

However, SANZAAR and tournament hosts Rugby Australia have rescheduled the Bledisloe Cup Test, which will now open the tournament in Sydney on October 31.

South Africa's second Test against Argentina will still be played on December 12 but has been moved from ANZ Stadium to Newcastle's McDonald Jones Stadium.

"This year has been a year of continued adjustment where the SANZAAR partners have had to compromise on a number of levels," said SANZAAR CEO Andy Marinos.

"It is important to further acknowledge the sacrifice of a number of the players and team management that will have been away from home for close to six months by the time the Rugby Championship has concluded. This is again a testament to the strong values that encompass our game.

"The 12-match Rugby Championship is now all set for kick-off. The Argentina Pumas have already arrived in Australia and we all look forward to an exciting and vibrant tournament that will undoubtedly showcase the best of southern hemisphere rugby."

Rugby Australia's interim chief executive Rob Clarke added: "I'm pleased this draw is now resolved and that the SANZAAR joint venture has reached a suitable compromise.

"Each party has had to sacrifice something, and I think that is a true indication of the strength of the SANZAAR alliance."

West Indies legend Curtly Ambrose’s 7 for 1 demolition job of Australia, in Perth, is widely considered to not only be his best performance but one of the best of all time.  From his perspective, however, the bowler does not rank it as highly as one would imagine.

The 1993 winner-takes-all showdown between the teams was decided by Ambrose’s magical 32 ball spell - from 85 for 2, the Australians tumbled to 119 all out. West Indies closed the first day on 135 for 1, and that was effectively that. The match was over by lunch on the third day. 

In recently reflecting on the match itself, however, the bowler explained that the almost perfect circumstances for fast bowling was one reason the spell did not rank at the top of his list.

“When people ask me about some of my top spells, I will include that, because seven wickets for one run in 32 deliveries is unheard of but I’ve never had it at the top of the tree,” Ambrose told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“It was the best spell, yes, but when you looked at the game itself, the first morning of a Test match, the pitch was ripe for fast bowling.  Everything was there for a fast bowler.  I was not under any pressure or anything, that is why I never rated it as my best spell,” he added.

  Interestingly, the WACA groundsman was subsequently dismissed for preparing such a home away from home pitch for Ambrose and the other Windies bowlers.

“The spell against South Africa, I would put it ahead because of the nature of the game.  Our backs were against the wall.  When we bowled England out in Trinidad for 46, I would have that spell ahead of it as well because of the nature of the game.  The 8 for 45 against England in Barbados is the same thing.  The situations were all different but that 7 for 1, I was not under any pressure on the first morning with a good pitch.”

Jhaniele Fowler was perfect from the field as the West Coast Fever rallied from nine points down to defeat the New South Wales Swifts Sunday to advance to the preliminary final of the Suncorp Super Netball League.

It was an epic clash at the USC Stadium between Caribbean shooters, Fowler, who scored 55 goals and Samantha Wallace, who sunk 34 from 35 attempts, as the Fever won 67-62 in what was described as one of the matches of the season.

NSW Swifts got off to a fast start winning the first quarter 17-15. They remained in in control of the match in the second quarter as super shots from Wallace and teammate Helen Housby (10 from 14) saw the Swifts outscore the Fever 19-14 to lead 36-29 at the interval.

The Fever made four changes at the half which seemed to spur the team to life. Through Fowler’s impeccable shooting they rallied to win the quarter 19-12 to tie the score at the end of the third.

Fowler continued her onslaught as the Fever snatched the lead and went on to win the intense counter by five.

Fever shot 94 per cent from the field in victory while the Swifts shooting fell to 88 per cent in the heartbreaking loss.

 

West Indies legend Clive Lloyd has pointed to a continued lack of inclusion of former players at the board level of regional cricket as being a significant hindrance to improving the fortunes of the struggling team.

Though typically the realm of lifelong administrators and businessmen, the cricket boards of the sport’s big three, England, India, and Australia have included former players at the top level of the game’s governance.  Currently, India is the best example with former captain Sourav Ganguly serving as president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, on a body that also included Brijesh Patel.  The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) recently added former captain Andrew Strauss as a non-voting member but also includes women’s player Lucy Pearson.  For Cricket Australia, Michael Kasprowicz resigned from the board earlier this year but two-time women’s World Cup winner Mel Jones remains a member of the board.

“The board should have four ex-cricketers.  Knowledgeable, intelligent people who want to take our cricket forward,” Lloyd told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“When I was at Lancashire on the committee, we had 16 or 17 people on the committee, but we had to have six cricketers, that was enshrined in the constitution because it’s a cricket club.  That’s why cricket is taken care of in England.  All the clubs have the same situation.”

“We do not have a Test cricketer of note on our board.  If you look at all the other boards, Australia have had four captains on their board.  India have had some of their ex-players on their board.  England, who they have coaching the team, and the ECB have their ex-cricketers…cricketers are involved in the development of the game. (In the West Indies) If you decide to be a part of the board and you are somebody of some standing, they don’t seem to want you because they believe you will overshadow them.”

The current Cricket West Indies (CWI) body does have Michael Findlay, who played Test cricket for the West Indies between 1969 to 1973 along with Julian Charles and Enoch Lewis who played cricket at the regional level.

 

 

 

 

Michael Cheika will attempt to plot Australia's downfall during the Rugby Championship after taking up a role with Argentina. 

Cheika, who stepped down as Wallabies head coach following the Rugby World Cup last October, has agreed to work as an external advisor for Pumas boss Mario Ledesma, who served as his assistant during his Australia tenure. 

Ledesma believes Cheika can have a significant influence during the six-week tournament in Australia, which starts on November 7. 

"With Michael, we started talking at the beginning of the year," Ledesma said. 

"I proposed to him the idea of working together again and he was immediately interested. We agreed from the first moment. I noticed [he was] very excited. He always liked Argentine rugby a lot. 

"He is a person who can bring us a lot of experience both to the group of players and to the staff. As was the incorporation of 'Tano' [Marcelo Loffreda], in the first days of August. 

"Undoubtedly, it is an excellent opportunity to continue learning because he is a person who thinks a lot about things outside the box who has an innovative and super creative vision, different from that of many coaches that I could cross. 

"In addition, when the Championship was confirmed in Australia, we were able to dialogue and listen to their recommendations about places to train, schedules and even issues related to the weather. 

"For his part, we have already been conducting several talks with him and the entire staff, about issues of the game, defence, attack, types of exercises, individual techniques and others. So that exchange was spectacular."

Cricket Australia (CA) has announced the one-off Test against Afghanistan and the ODI series against New Zealand have been postponed due to the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Australia were due to face Afghanistan in the longest format for the first time in Perth in November, but that one-off game will not go ahead as planned. 

The rescheduled IPL season - which is due to finish in early November - created issues over Australian players quarantining upon their return from the Twenty20 tournament in the United Arab Emirates. 

New Zealand's limited-overs tour in January 2021 has also been called off amid "the challenges around international travel and quarantine restrictions" caused by the global health pandemic. 

CA hopes to find new dates for the fixtures in the coming years, with the postponements meaning India will be the only international side to visit Australia during the 2020-21 season.

"Cricket Australia looks forward to working with our good friends at the Afghanistan Cricket Board and New Zealand Cricket to deliver the matches at a time when, hopefully, the restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic have eased," CA's interim CEO Nick Hockley said in a statement.

"We all worked incredibly hard to make the series happen this summer, but the challenges around international travel and quarantine restrictions ultimately convinced all parties that the series would need to be played at a later date.

"CA looks forward to welcoming the Indian men's team for a full schedule of matches this summer in what promises to be an incredible contest across all three formats.

"CA would also like to take this opportunity to thank our wonderful partners for their understanding and support as we have navigated the complexities of hosting international sport during a pandemic to deliver a thrilling summer across men's and women's cricket at international and domestic level."

Australia are due to face India in a four-Test series, as well as three one-dayers and a trio of Twenty20 fixtures. Details over the schedule are yet to be confirmed.

Rugby Australia has vowed to do "everything in its power" to find a "reasonable resolution" after New Zealand Rugby (NZR) refused to rule out boycotting the Rugby Championship.

NZR on Thursday stated it had not agreed to a schedule that is due to see the All Blacks play their last match of a six-week tournament on December 12, which would leave the players in quarantine for Christmas.

Mark Robinson, the NZR chief executive, said the fixture list broke a commitment from Rugby Australia and governing body SANZAAR for the All Blacks to play their final game of the competition on December 5 - enabling them to spend the festive period with their families.

Rugby Australia interim chief executive Rob Clarke says there is ample time to reach an agreement over the scheduling and is confident the four-team competition will be a success.

Clarke said: "For absolute clarity - on two formal occasions - Rugby Australia was supportive of altering the draw so that the Rugby Championship could be played over five weeks.

"On both occasions, that proposal was rejected which means there was never an agreement to finish the tournament on Saturday 5 December 2020.

"That being said, no one wants players and team management to be away from their families and in quarantine over Christmas."

Clarke added: "Rugby Australia will do everything in its power to help assist New Zealand Rugby and the team in finding a reasonable resolution, and in urging them to exhaust every possible alternative.

"There are still more than two months to go before December 12 so we have plenty of time to find a solution.

"We will continue to work with New Zealand Rugby and support them however we can, just like we are doing with the Springboks and Argentina in assisting with their travel plans, as well as making their stay in Australia as safe and as comfortable as possible during the tournament.

"There have been a number of sacrifices made by each of the SANZAAR joint venture partners to get this far and I want to thank all of them for their flexibility and adaptability.

"There is obviously a lot to achieve in the coming months but I'm confident that under the leadership of each of the joint venture partners, that the 2020 Rugby Championship in Australia will be a great success."

Australia's new era will begin with the same captain as Michael Hooper was reappointed by Dave Rennie on Wednesday.

Head coach Rennie, who replaced Michael Cheika after last year's Rugby World Cup but began work in June, named a youthful first squad earlier this month - including 16 uncapped players, eight of whom debuted in Super Rugby this season.

However, there was still room for six-year Wallabies skipper Hooper, although no captain was initially indicated in the selection.

Rennie had previously said no decision had yet been made on the identity of his on-field leader, but he announced a "straightforward decision" on Wednesday.

"I've been really impressed with Hoops," Rennie said. "We've spoken a lot over the past nine months and it's highlighted his passion and commitment.

"He's a good man with an outstanding work ethic and he's a great role model for our young men coming through.

"He's keen to lead and is highly respected by the Wallaby family. In the end, his appointment was a straightforward decision."

Hooper added: "It's an absolute honour to be the Wallabies captain and I want to thank Dave and the Wallabies management team, as well as Rugby Australia, for their support and endorsement. 

"It's a privilege to wear the Wallabies jersey, I feel proud to lead my team-mates and to represent those players that have before and all Australians.

"I'm really excited about this group and the direction we are heading. We have already spent some quality time together, defining who we are and what we stand for and what we plan to achieve in the coming months."

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