Opinion: Could The Rock answer SBW's call as a rugby player?

He's made himself available for the New Zealand Sevens team, but after accepting Sonny Bill Williams' SOS call - where exactly would Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson fit in on a rugby field?

New Zealand's Sonny Bill Williams scores his first international sevens try, Day1, HSBC World Sevens Series, Westpac Stadium, Wellington, New Zealand. Saturday, 30 January, 2016. Copyright photo: John Cowpland / www.photosport.nz
New Zealand's Sonny Bill Williams scores his first international sevens try in Day 1 of the HSBC World Sevens Series in Wellington. Source: Photosport

Johnson breathed excitement into NZ rugby fans everywhere this morning when he replied to the NZ Sevens convert's tweet that he was 'ready' to cover some of the injured members of the All Blacks Sevens.

"Just say the word and I'll come running. Don't know how far, but I'll come running."

The offer comes after Johnson confirmed he had played rugby as a child when he lived in New Zealand - "toughest sport I've ever done," he said.

But the Hollywood A-lister has done other sports; most well known for his wrestling career, The Rock also grew up playing American football where he developed skills that could genuinely help him in the black jersey.

The then 1.98m tall, 130kg Johnson was a highly sought after signature for college football, but he agreed to a full scholarship to the University of Miami as a defensive tackle, where he (ironically) played for the Hurricanes for four years. 

Coach at the time, Ed Orgeron, told ESPN the 19-year-old giant was something special.

"He was a highly recruited kid. We were excited to have him," he said.

"He was developed and was extremely quick. He was a hard worker and a humble young man."

Former WWE wrestler and actor Johnson shares a special message for the USA women’s football team Source: 1 NEWS

Johnson's speed and size are two highly sort after attributes in rugby union - matched with his strength spurred by the genetics of a wrestling family and an undying passion for the gym, the base skill set the actor has would be a much deeper pool to work with than many would think.

In his four year career at Miami, he recorded 78 tackles on defence - an impressive number considering his position in grid iron and one that also shows he can bring big men down too.

Though it is unconfirmed what jersey number The Rock did wear while he played rugby in New Zealand, had he continued the sport with such skills available to him, he could have very easily ended up like the man who called him out - Sonny Bill Williams.

An impact player in the midfield, Johnson could use his size, strength and speed to bust open line breaks and shut down his opposite with tackling prowess. Granted, he probably wouldn't have the offloading reputation Williams has but if he ran as hard as he did in American football, he may not have to.

Not to mention there would be the odd wrestling move he could use at the breakdown to clear out any defenders trying to turnover the ball.

World Rugby consider Test calendar shake up, propose 'League of Nations' concept

In a radical shake-up of the Test rugby calendar, World Rugby are considering implementing a 'World League' concept to give meaning to the international game.

Based on European football's UEFA Nations League, a proposal of a 12-team league pitting northern hemisphere sides against their southern counterparts, in order to do away with meaningless series' between countries.

Teams would be split into four groups of three, with teams playing three pool matches, before a semi-final, and final. A different host country would hold each pool's matches

French outlet Midi Olympique reported that World Rugby vice-chairman Agustin Pichot had pitched the concept to NZR CEO Steve Tew, as well as French and South African counterparts, Bernard Laporte and Jurie Roux.

The move would see both the Rugby Championship and Six Nations competitions remain intact, however it would do away with the June and November windows.

Such a move would see Super Rugby and the northern hemisphere club season run interrupted.

"If you ask me as a businessman, the business side of it is not working," Pichot told The Guardian earlier this month.

"If you ask me as the playing side, it's not working. Is the international game under threat? I think it is. Look at the balance sheets of some nations and you can see exactly where we stand."

If the current world standings were to be implemented, the likes of Fiji, Tonga and Japan would join the northern and southern hemisphere nations, giving the supposed minnows more opportunities against the top tier. 

Autumn International, Twickenham, London 8/11/2014  
England vs New Zealand All Blacks
New Zealand's Ryan Crotty is held up short
Photo: James Crombie/www.photosport.co.nz
The match is the first between the All Blacks and England since 2014. Source: Photosport



Bill Cosby’s sexual assault accusers hope to see him behind bars this week

Two of the women who have accused Bill Cosby of sexual assault decades ago said overnight they hope he will be sentenced to prison time this week.

Bill Cosby, left, arrives with his wife, Camille, for his sexual assault trial. Source: Associated Press

Lise-Lotte Lublin and Chelan Lasha, who appeared with attorney Gloria Allred, also said they hoped they would be allowed to read victim impact statements before Cosby is sentenced on three felony counts of aggravated indecent assault .

Cosby was convicted of drugging and molesting a woman at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004 in what became the first celebrity trial of the #MeToo era. A two day-sentencing hearing begins tomorrow in Montgomery County.

"I really think it's important that he spend some time behind bars," said Lublin, who said Cosby assaulted her when she was 23 in 1989. The then-model said Cosby prodded her to take two drinks to relax. "At some point, he should acknowledge what he's done, and do the time for the crime."

Lasha, who wept during her testimony at the trial last spring, said she prays Cosby is sentenced to 30 years. "He deserves every year."Lasha said she was a teenage aspiring actress in 1986 when she lay immobilized and unable to speak as Cosby touched her breast and rubbed himself against her leg. She said he gave her a pill he described as an antihistamine."He ruined my life at 17 years old," Lasha said. "I have nightmares about it this very day, and I want them to go away, just like him."

More than 60 other women accuse Cosby of sexual misconduct during his 50-year show business career. Five were allowed to testify, while others came to watch the court proceedings.

Allred said she believed the sentencing would be "sending a message" in the #MeToo era. She said Cosby should be sentenced to "a substantial period of time," shouldn't receive probation or house arrest, and shouldn't remain free pending appeal."Mr. Cosby should not be treated differently because he is a celebrity," she said. "Judgment day has finally arrived for this convicted sexual predator who betrayed the trust of so many women."

Lawyers for the 81-year-old, legally blind Cosby are expected to stress his age, health problems, legacy and philanthropy. Prosecutors hope to call other accusers to paint Cosby as a sexual predator deserving of prison.


Second woman accuses Trump's Supreme Court nominee of sexual assault

The Senate Judiciary Committee scheduled a hearing Friday for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, a woman who says he sexually assaulted her as a teenager, as a claim of sexual misconduct emerged from another woman.

The New Yorker magazine reported today that Senate Democrats were investigating a second woman's accusation of sexual misconduct by Kavanaugh dating to the 1983-84 academic year, Kavanaugh's first at Yale University.

The New Yorker said 53-year-old Deborah Ramirez described the incident in an interview after being contacted by the magazine.

Ramirez recalled that Kavanaugh exposed himself at a drunken dormitory party, thrust his penis in her face, and caused her to touch it without her consent as she pushed him away, the magazine reported.

In a statement provided by the White House, Kavanaugh said the event "did not happen" and that the allegation was "a smear, plain and simple."

A White House spokeswoman added in a second statement that the allegation was "designed to tear down a good man."

Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, called for the "immediate postponement" of any further action on Kavanaugh's nomination.

She also asked the committee's chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, to have the FBI investigate the allegations of both Ford and Ramirez.

The New Yorker said it contacted Ramirez after learning of a possible involvement in an incident with Kavanaugh and that the allegation came to Democratic senators through a civil rights lawyer. She had been considering speaking to the magazine for at least a week.

Meanwhile, Republicans were pressing for a swift hearing and a vote.

Christine Blasey Ford says she’ll give evidence against Brett Kavanaugh, as long as Senators ensure her safety. Source: Breakfast

The magazine reported that Ramirez was reluctant at first to speak publicly "partly because her memories contained gaps because she had been drinking at the time of the alleged incident."

She also acknowledged reluctance "to characterise Kavanaugh's role in the alleged incident with certainty."

The magazine reported that after "six days of carefully assessing her memories and consulting with her attorney, Ramirez said that she felt confident enough of her recollections" to recall the incident.

The new information came hours after the Senate committee agreed to a date and time for a hearing after nearly a week of uncertainty over whether Ford would appear to tell her story.

The agreement and the latest accusation set the stage for a dramatic showdown as Kavanaugh and Ford each tell their side of the story.

The developments could also determine the fate of Kavanaugh's confirmation, which hangs on the votes of a handful of senators.

President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is sworn-in before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, September 4, 2018, to begin his testimony in his confirmation hearing to replace retired Justice Anthony Kennedy. Source: Associated Press

Watch: Former All Blacks Malakai Fekitoa, Julian Savea combine for brilliant long range try for Toulon

Former All Blacks Malakai Fekitoa and Julian Savea have combined for a stellar try in Toulon's big 33-3 win over Agen, at Stade Mayor in Toulon yesterday during a French Top 14 competition fixture.

Toulon led 19-0 at halftime over Agen with Fekitoa scoring a long range stunner late in the second spell.

In the 75th minute of the match, Fekitoa delivered a wide skip ball for Savea just outside Toulon's own 22 metre line, off a scrum set piece move.

Savea opted to kick, with the star left winger regathering the ball inside Agen's 22, before offloading the ball to Fekitoa who went in under the goal posts to score.

Toulon play Clermont Auvergne in their next Top 14 match this Sunday, at Parc des Sports Marcel Michelin stadium in Clermont-Ferrand.

The pair came up with a bit of magic in their side's 33-3 win over Agen in the Top 14 competition. Source: Top 14 Officiel