There are some positives for Australian rugby
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To quote Dennis Hopper in Apocalypse Now: “Dialectic logic is there’s only love and hate, you either love somebody or you hate them.”
While Dennis Hopper may have completely misrepresented dialectics (I think he may have been smoking something), this quote often comes back to me reading Australian rugby blogs.
Maybe that’s the way it is with all blogs – only the extremes feel inclined to comment, so there seldom seems to be any middle ground between love and hate.
So, given the rampant negativity about – and I myself am a contributor – I thought I’d try to imitate Brett McKay in aspect (albeit I will never be able to achieve his style) and try to find some positives from the perspective of an Australian rugby fan.
One thought that came to mind is that although Australian teams aren’t faring as well, I think the standard of the whole competition has improved.
The Lions and Cheetahs have been in the bottom five every year since 2006. Watching either the Lions or the Cheetahs isn’t as painful as it once was. The Force and even the Rebels are no longer easy beats either.
We any longer have a few teams in another echelon and the remainder battling for scraps. It’s fair to say no team in the Super rugby competition can be taken for granted and that’s got to be a good thing, doesn’t it?
A strong competition between the top three ranked nations in the world has got to be good for the standards in all three of those nations.
Another thought that occurred was that in previous years we have had one or two good Aussie teams, then daylight and then the rest. I looked back at some stats to justify this perception so – fair warning – some boring facts and figures coupled with amateurish statistical analysis follows.
Last year we had the Reds – who were head and shoulders above the rest of the Australian teams – then the Waratahs a distant second, then the other three not even making it out of the blocks and taking up positions 12, 13 and 15.
But in 2010 we had third, fifth and sixth then the Force in 13th. In 2009 we had fifth, seventh and eighth followed by the Reds in 13th. A similar sort of spread continues back to 2006.
So I thought to look at the average place of the Aussie sides in the Super rugby completion and the picture is not a good one. It looks like this:
- 2006: 8.8
- 2007: 9.8
- 2008: 7.8
- 2009: 8.3
- 2010: 6.8
- 2011: 9.2
- 2012: 9.8
By the way, I’m counting the Brumbies as fifth at the moment, based on points, as opposed to third.
Admittedly the increase in the number of teams in 2011 skews things a bit but comparing the average place of New Zealand teams (7.0) and SA teams (7.2), we are clearly not doing too well.
But maybe this is good news in disguise – a really, REALLY good disguise – as well. In New Zealand the Crusaders are always in the top 4. It’s not a one-horse race in Australia. We’ve seen the Brumbies jump from 13th to be genuine contenders. And a few years before that we saw the Reds jump from 13th to fifth to first.
If the Waratahs can have a Brumbies- or Reds-style clean out and rejuvenation, if the lesson that star teams aren’t made up of star players starts to further sink in at the Rebels, if the Force can get a top-notch coach and string a few wins together, if at least some of our injured come back better than ever and if we continue to get some good youngsters coming through like we have this year…
Anything could happen!
Ridiculously optimistic I know but I urge fellow Aussie rugby fans to now bury the hatchets, get over our fury at the relentless kicking, put the incredulity at some of Deans’ selections aside and get behind this young, jury-rigged Wallaby side.
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