Friday Five: Foster bemoans 'unacceptable' RWC Final length

Aussie Super optimism is premature (3:25)

The ESPN Scrum Reset team agree that while Australia's trans-Tasman Super Rugby efforts have equalled last year, the true measure of progress is still to come. (3:25)

Welcome to the Friday Five, where we bring you some of the rugby stories you may have missed through the last week.

You can find our complete Super Rugby Pacific coverage on the links below, with Round 9 of the competition beginning Friday afternoon [AEST].




Former All Blacks coach Ian Foster has had a busy week, after he was unveiled as the new honcho at Toyota Verblitz, alongside star NRL signing Joey Manu. Whether Manu returns to New Zealand to chase an All Blacks jersey down the road remains to be seen, but there is no doubting he will benefit from making the transition out of the spotlight in Japan.

Foster, conversely, has thrust himself back into the crosshairs -- of Springboks fans at leas -- lamenting the time it took to play last year's Rugby World Cup final in Paris, where the All Blacks were beaten 12-11. While the ball-in-play time was actually around 3 ½ minutes longer than the tournament average -- which statistics revealed fell by three seconds from 2019 -- the 2023 decider took 19 more minutes to complete than the corresponding game four years earlier.

Having defeated Ireland in one of the all-time World Cup classics in the quarterfinals and then eased past Argentina with some superb moments of attacking rugby, the All Blacks wanted a game that flowed in the decider.

It didn't come.

"The time that the final took is unacceptable," Foster told New Zealand publication, The Post. "The game understands that they need to change it.

"So, now it's how we commit to doing it. But, I think the other side of the coin is that we've all got to take ownership of that.

"Coaches have to take ownership of that and players have to take ownership of that too.

"We can't allow players to get to the point that they feel they can slow the game down deliberately, because it was happening too much at the World Cup."

World Rugby earlier this year signalled its intent to limit the amount of scrum resets -- a controversial topic in itself because of fears such a law trial might be abused -- and a plan for other "closed law trials" which will further apply the use of the shot and scrum clocks; a one-time, rather than two-time "use it" call for rolling mauls; and a play-on call if a crooked lineout is not contested.

For the moment, though, Foster won't have endeared himself to fans in the Republic. They who laugh last, laugh loudest, though, right?


The European Champions Cup has reached its semifinal mark, with Leinster, Northampton, Toulouse and Harlequins advancing to the final four, the matches to be played early next month.

Northampton eased through to the semis with a 59-22 hammering of an understrength Bulls side, a result that had been expected once the South Africans had named their squad. The reason for that, according to coach Jake White was because of an exhausting travel schedule, which forced him instead to prioritise the United Rugby Championship clash with Munster back at home in South Africa this weekend.

SA Rugby bore the brunt of White's fury, with the coach accusing the governing body of not being adequately prepared for the Bulls' schedule.

But the decision to send out a weakened team hasn't gone down well with Champions Cup organisers, while there has been more than a touch of objection to South Africa's inclusion in the formerly European-only competition virtually since they were first included.

Northampton captain and veteran England lock Courtney Lawes didn't buy White's complaints about the arduous travel schedule however, admitting he was disappointed Saints did not confront a full-strength Bulls line-up.

"My take was it's a very South African thing to do that whole carnival around it, putting it out in the press about the eight different flights, this and that," Lawes told The Rugby Pod.

"I guarantee you that it wasn't eight different flights and the players all probably got there and all very much the same time and maybe the staff got there at a bit of a different time.

"But I guarantee you that a lot of things there were at least exaggerated, to be honest, and it was a great way of them taking the pressure off themselves and essentially putting it all on us.

"Disrupting us, getting us thinking different things and not quite on the ball and that's what I was pretty wary of, to be honest. I was pretty disappointed that they didn't put their best team out."


The Crusaders, if you can believe it, sit second last on the Super Rugby Pacific ladder ahead of Round 9.

They have just one win so far this season, though it really should have been two after Christian Lio-Willie scored in the 79th minute of last week's pulsating encounter with the Waratahs.

Given the late timing of the back-rower's try there was some confusion over whether Rivez Reihana could wind the clock down and end the game without a restart. But when the replacement fly-half nailed the conversion, referee Nic Berry confirmed the Waratahs would get one last chance to steal it, and a series of unfortunate Crusaders events unfolded from there.

Fans immediately took to social media to question Berry's ruling given the television clock had expired when Reihana took his conversion, though Crusaders assistant Tamaiti Ellison said his team had no complaints with how the closing stages of regular time were managed by the Australian referee.

"There was a wee bit of unsureness there because there was two clocks, there was the ground clock we were looking at and the clock on the TV," Ellison told stuff.co.nz.

"Officially there was enough time to have a kick-off because of when Nic (referee Nic Berry) had awarded the try.

"He (Reihana) did a decent job there, but they were always going to have a kick-off, that's the report we've had back from the referee."

After Reihana's conversion, the Crusaders fumbled the restart, before Johnny McNicholl was sin-binned for a deliberate knockdown, which in turn gave Waratahs youngster Will Harrison the chance to send the game to golden point. A botched lineout then allowed the Waratahs to work themselves into drop-goal position, with Harrison again playing the hero.

"In that time of the game, I really pride myself on nailing those moments and I'm pretty gutted about that last lineout, especially in the context of the game," Crusaders hooker Brodie McAlister said of a lineout throw that went horribly wrong.

"You've got to learn from it."


Western Force continue to bolster their squad ahead of next season, with the signing of hooker Nic Dolly coming just a week after the club announced it was bringing Brandon Paenga-Amosa home.

Dolly played a Test against South Africa under former England coach Eddie Jones, but he will become eligible for Australia again in November of this year. The Sydney-born rake has been in England for the past seven years, and with Leicester since 2021, having earlier represented England at under 19 and under 21 level.

"I'm excited to play and just play really well to help the Club on its trajectory," Dolly said in a statement.

"I've been over here for seven years, and I always had a plan to go back home to play rugby.

"The Force approached me and made me feel wanted which was a huge attraction. The long-term plan and direction the club is going is exciting, with Crono [coach Simon Cron] locked in for the next few years. It feels like a great move and a great place to live.

"I spoke to Harry Potter, in particular, along with Carts (Sam Carter) and in terms of culture and what the club is trying to do, it's all been positive and something I believe I can add to, both on and off field.

"I've learned lots in the Premiership and I'm itching to get into it and back playing regular games."

The Force have struggled for depth up front in recent times, but the recruitment of both Paenga-Amosa and Dolly will hold them in good stead ahead of the 2025 Super Rugby Pacific season.


While Super Rugby Pacific still has well over a month of its regular season to run, New Zealand's Super Rugby Aupiki women's competition wrapped up with a pulsating final last weekend.

Trailing 18-5 with 15 minutes to play, the Blues scored three tries to run out 21-18 winners over Chiefs Manawa to claim their maiden title in the competition's third year.

But the tournament, which has just four teams, is widely regarded as being too short. Meanwhile on the other side of the Tasman, Super Rugby Women's has reached its semifinal stage, the Aussie competition having two additional side's to New Zealand's four.

Naturally, a merger that mirrors Super Rugby Pacific makes sense, with Blues and Black Ferns skipper Ruahei Demant using the platform of last week's victory to send a reminder to both New Zealand Rugby and Rugby Australia.

"Aupiki's a really challenging set-up," she said. "If the competition was longer, it would give opportunity for us to be together for a longer period of time.

"I think New Zealand Rugby need to put a bit more money into it so that players have the option to walk away from their jobs and we can get a full week preparation. And the same for our coaches as well... opening the competition up to play the Super W teams would also allow Australia to get better and we need Aussie to be better internationally because we play them the most.

"That will also give our coaches the opportunity to rotate our squads a bit more. We came first, but all the teams that play in Aupiki are hard -- there's actually not much difference between first place and fourth place."