What do the Waratahs and our swimmers have in common?
Waratahs player Berrick Barnes braces as he hits the line. (AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy)
How can there be seven Waratahs in the Wallaby starting lineup to meet the All Blacks on Saturday, and just one gold by the Australian swimmers at the London Olympics?
Both defy description.
The woeful Waratahs lost 12 games, and won four, in the worst-ever performance by the NSW-based side since Super Rugby kicked off in 1996.
Yet, the entire Waratah front row of Benn Robinson, Tatafu Polota-Nau, and Sekope Kepu will be on duty against the men-in-black, plus lock Sitaleki Timani, flanker David Dennis, fly-half Berrick Barnes, centre Rob Horne, and winger Adam Ashley-Cooper.
And if Anthony Fainga’a's ankle injury sustained at training yesterday rules him out, and Drew Mitchell moves onto the wing, there will be eight Waratahs from the kick-off.
Over half the side from a franchise that had trouble beating time.
There can be only four explanations: Wallaby rugby is weak, the Waratahs didn’t turn up to play, excusing Mitchell who was injured most of the time, their attitude was poor, or the coach Michael Foley was even worse.
I can’t go along with Wallaby rugby is weak, which leaves the other three alternatives.
And all three have legs.
Which begs the question: why did the originally selected seven play so well for Robbie Deans against Wales, and so poorly under Foley?
The question obviously answers itself.
Officially, Foley was retained for next season, despite his pathetic record, but saw fit to go west instead to the Force, which opened up yet another tin of worms.
Why was Foley retained by the Waratahs in the first place when he was obviously not up to the task, and why would the Force want a proven loser when they are not too flash themselves and will be without their two best players and Force captains – David Pocock, off to the Brumbies, and Nathan Sharpe into well-earned retirement?
The swimmers in London were a disaster, with the exception of Alicia Coutts who won five medals: one gold, three silver, and a bronze to equal the Australian record haul at the one Games set by Shane Gould in 1972 and Ian Thorpe in 2000.
Coutts won half of the total Australian medals won in the London pool of one gold, six silver, and three bronze.
The same three reasons surfaced: didn’t turn up to compete, attitude, and question marks over head-coach Leigh Nugent and his assistants.
One gold was totally inexcusable with the amount of talent on duty. Six or seven golds was a realistic target.
It is also reasonable to point the finger at the Waratah and Swimming Australia administration for losing the plot
The Waratahs in the previous four Super seasons were always contenders:
* In 2008, beaten in the final by the Crusaders 20-12.
* In 2009, beaten on a countback by the Crusaders for fourth spot.
* In 2010, beaten in the semis by the Stormers 25-6.
* And in 2011, beaten in the quarters by the Blues 26-13.
Nothing shabby in those results.
The Australian swimming teams over the last four Games:
* In 1996 it was 2 gold, 4 silver, and 14 bronze for a total of 20.
* In 2000 at home with 5-9-4-18.
* In 2004 slightly less again with 7-5-3-17.
* And in 2008 an improvement to 6-6-8-20.
All consistently there and thereabouts, but only 10 in London.
Which brings us right back to the beginning, with both the Waratahs and Australian swimming team defying their own talent, when it counted.
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