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Rugby 2009 kicks off all over
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Rollo Manning

Rollo Manning has been a rugby tragic all his life since being named after a Wallaby winger and educated at a private boarding school in Sydney, Australia. Manning has been working in publicity and public relations for 40 years, and during that time has commented on the "game they play in heaven" through radio, magazines and newspaper coverage.

As a correspondent for the Australian Broadcasting Commission, he has broadcast in magazine style programs and live coverage of games. He is currently a regular contributor on ABC Radio in his hometown of Darwin in the Northern Territory of Australia.

Manning has been contributing to eSports for six years and relishes the opportunity to express his views on the first of the two rugbies. He is currently completing work on a study of the inter play between rugby league and rugby union over the past 100 years, when league was formed as the professional arm of an otherwise purely amateur game.

Since 1995, both have become professional and the drift of players is going back from league to union. Where will it end? That is the question Manning is now asking himself.

 
By Rollo Manning
Published on 02/7/2009
 
Rugby action is kicking off with activity on both sides of the equator. The 2009 season is set to begin. Get ready to enjoy exciting action all over the world.

Rugby action is kicking off with activity on both sides of the equator.

The Six Nations takes the stage in the north, while the Super 14 is about to roll across the south.

Can Wales do it again? Will France get back to showing their true colors? Will Scotland emerge from their doldrums? Can Martin Johnson give England the revival they need?

These are just some of the questions on minds around the European rugby circles.

Meanwhile, in the corridors of South Africa, New Zealand and Australia, the question is whether the Canterbury Crusaders can maintain their supremacy of provincial rugby in the Super 14 without Dan Carter and Robbie Deans in the coaching role.

The Australian teams have all done a fair bit of rebuilding in the off season, and with new coaches at the helm in the NSW Waratahs and the ACT Brumbies, it will be good to see if those teams can fare better than in previous seasons.

The Brumbies were at one stage the thrill seekers of the Aussie teams, but under Coach Laurie Fisher they failed to thrive despite the talent in the ranks. Adam Friend may be just the man to bring them back and he has promised to put on some exciting rugby with more running and less kicking.

Chris Hickey takes over from Ewan McKenzie at the Waratahs, and although the Tahs made the finals last year, there are still those that wonder how. It was a negative brand of rugby, and it could be that in 2009, with a good blend of young and experienced players, the man who successfully coached Australian under 19 and 21 sides as well as taking the Eastwood club in Sydney to high levels can do the same for the Waratahs.

Phil Mooney is in charge of the Reds for his second season, and at last will we see the Reds get into the top half of the League ladder?

Over in the west John Mitchell has had a mixed off season with a former judge appointed to investigate his off field demeanor and communications with the players. Mitchell will want the score line at the end of each game to do the talking and hope the Western Force can show the promise they did in their first year in Super rugby just three years ago.

From South Africa the team to watch will be the Natal Sharks, who did so well last year to reach the finals. The Lions could be the "dark horse," while the Stormers are always competitive. The team to entertain, the Cheetahs, will hopefully get a few more wins as they deserve better recognition that languishing at the bottom of the ladder with the Queensland Reds.

As of Friday, Feb. 13, watch your TV guides for these exciting encounters of the "game they play in heaven."