NFL-style ‘combine’ to kick start new domestic competition

Rugby

Senior Australian rugby players have pitched an NFL-inspired rugby ‘combine’ to Rugby Australia [RA], in a bid to boost excitement ahead of a proposed domestic competition.

Similar to the NFL combine, players would compete in skills tests with the Sydney Morning Herald reporting players would take part in power, skill and speed-based events such as the bronco shuttle test, a 40-metre dash, kicking challenge and the weight sled dash.

Players have proposed the ‘combine’ take place over one day the weekend before the domestic competition kicks off. Players will compete in challenges accumulating points for their team on a leader board with one team declared the winner.

“The ‘combine’ concept is structured much like an ‘athletics track and field’ model with the ‘events’ being rugby specific to highlight the talents of our particular athletes,” the authors propose according to the Herald. “Each ‘event’ will have a competitor from each club, with an ultimate event winner.”

Brumbies prop Scott Sio, who only learned of the idea on Monday, said he was happy to take part in what was being proposed.

“I don’t know if that’s old mate Matt Toomua trying to stir up a bit of in house competition between each Super Rugby team,” Sio told media. “The luxury that we have these days is there’s so many different ways to promote the game through social media, so the reach that we can achieve within that is massive. It’s about having creative ideas in and around how we can keep growing the game.

“I think we’re at a big disadvantage there though, with big Taniela Tupou and his athleticism up in the Reds, so I might have to put in a few extra sessions.”

RA is currently looking at a July 4 domestic reboot with all four Super Rugby sides and the Western Force to compete across a 10-week, round robin competition, similar to New Zealand’s Super Rugby Aotearoa. Players are said to be returning to training as early as next week.

Melbourne Rebels chief executive Baden Stephenson, who represents the Super Rugby clubs on RA’s ‘Return To Play’ committee which is currently laying down plans for the new domestic competition, told AAP plans were coming together.

“It’s progressing really well and at this stage the draft date is the third and fourth of July although there’s a lot to happen before that’s absolutely confirmed,” Stephenson told AAP. “The conversations and the draft draw include the Western Force but there’s a lot of work still to get done there.

“There’d be more interest in a domestic competition if they are in it and they’ve got a good team and good coach and were preparing for Rapid Rugby so it makes sense if it can all align.”

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