Wallaby malaise caused by lack of backs
I am convinced that the Wallabies are attempting to reverse the traditional Australian game of having a running backline. They want to play a game of all forwards.
Who needs a backline when you can pick and drive, sometimes gaining a whole metre of ground each time? What use are centres when you have second rowers who can stand outside the flyhalf and run a metre before being tackled? And who needs a sidestep or speed when you can just kick the ball away?
Perhaps it is an attempt to differentiate union from league where – apart from a scrum – everyone plays like a running back. This may be why Sonny Bill Williams had so little difficulty adapting to the backline.
There was a time when the sacred philosophy of the best Australian teams was running rugby. Randwick habitually won games with less than 30% of possession. They also habitually won the Sydney competition and drew the most skilful rugby players to their club. I was there the day they took it up to a full strength All Black team at Coogee Oval.
The Wallabies have copped a lot of flack recently and will again after the Eden Park loss. There is no shame in losing to the best team in the world, even by 22 points, if it was just that you were completely outplayed. But, of course, that is not the case with this Australian team.
They are a forward-dominated defensive unit that has lost the ability to attack. Five tries in seven games says it all. So does 22-0 against. Australia used to lose games to inferior sides because we never had good enough goal-kickers. Now we don’t even have anyone who can score a try.
This, I believe, is because of two obsessions: pick and drive; and kicking possession away. Are the forwards afraid to give the ball out to the backs; are the backs afraid to get isolated in a tackle?
And, why oh why would an attacking team five metres out from the line slow the ball down at the back of a ruck? You don’t see the Kiwis waiting for the ball to come out. They immediately start attacking – because that’s the way you catch the defence out of place. They don’t want to kick the ball in their attacking half because – and the tv commentators harp on this as well – you can’t attack with out the pill! D’oh!
Robbie Deans knows this. His Canterbury side didn’t win the Super competition more times than any other team just because they had great players. His coaching had something to do with it. Now in charge of the Wallabies there can be only three conclusions.
Either his tactics are wrong, his players aren’t following instructions, or he is a New Zealand spy placed here to help destroy Australian rugby.
I’m going to go with number two, which means that anyone not following instructions has to be sacked. Let’s blood new Test players – 15 at once if necessary. Start the rebuilding phase now with losses that can at least be explained away by inexperience. Stupidity is becoming too often the reason.
And let’s get a backline that is fed good ball by the forwards so that they can threaten the opposition every time they run the ball.
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