Even Kiwi fans are pleading for change
Australia rugby union coach Robbie Deans speaks with players Berrick Barnes and Nick Phipps. (AAP Image/Paul Miller)
No satisfaction in the predictable result of Bledisloe II at Eden Park. Did anyone really expect anything different?
Okay, I know we should never lose hope, and while we have 15 on the paddock then theoretically we should be a chance to be competitive.
You have to admire the Wallabies’ desperate defence, because it could so easily have been 50-blot without it, and with more discipline from the All Blacks.
There would have to be some very bruised and sore Wallabies waking up to the reality of a very unfortunate statistic – first time in 50 years the Wallabies haven’t scored in a Bledisloe match. I can imagine there were a few Panadols taken with the bacon and eggs at the team breakfast Sunday morning.
Some of my pals continue to swear blind loyalty that seems never to diminish. Their attitude is to be loyal, be patient and the cycle will eventually swing back in favour of our national team.
While they wait for the change in fortune, they talk only of the positives and allowing Australian rugby to get the game here back to a level that makes us competitive.
I do admire their loyalty and patience but find it to be naive, and while we all wait for the change in fortune we witness great damage to the Wallaby brand.
The custodians of that brand seem unaware that this process of rebuilding will take time and lots of dollars. Even if the Wallabies totally reversed their fortunes and won the Bledisloe next season, the Wallaby brand will still look dull and tarnished.
During the half-time break my phone buzzed with text messages from my Kiwi mates here and in New Zealand. The bulk of these weren’t taking delight in the Wallaby situation, quite the reverse.
They were pleading for a return to a strong and capable Wallaby side who at the very least give the ABs a solid test and maybe even the occasional taste of defeat.
My Kiwi buddies now have a clear sense that without a major change, it is possible that rugby lovers on both sides of the ditch will lose interest in the Bledisloe contests.
Not lose interest in the great game of rugby by any stretch, but recognising that Bledisloe matches have become predictable, the Wallaby performances generally lacklustre and at times a real disappointment.
I wondered, if we could poll the 150,000 people who paid big bucks to be at the first two games, what they might say about their experience, and what insights the custodians of the Wallaby and All Black brands could glean.
As far as any analysis of the team performance goes, anyone watching would have seen how Cooper seemed to play like a young Wallaby mesmerised by the bright Xenon headlights of the All Blacks. His confidence at this level appears completely shattered.
Barnes was outclassed and took some terrible options in attack, again reverting to kicks as a kind of last resort and in the hope that something good may come with help from a lucky bounce.
The lineout was unreliable and gave up possession at the worst possible times, turning attacking opportunities into more scrambling, desperate defence.
The Wallabies somehow managed to rile the referee and gave the ABs 15 easy points from penalties. Holding the ABs scoreless during Genia’s absence was a credit to the 14 men still on the field.
It was great to see Hooper going hard and making a couple of turnovers, he clearly was not overwhelmed by the occasion and gave his all.
What happens now at ARU headquarters? Will they actually listen to the growing chorus calling for major change? My guess is they won’t and they will continue to allow the Wallaby brand to be damaged.
It may well take a disastrous international series before we see decisive and creative action from Mr O’Neill and his board. One thing for sure is that “if nothing changes, then nothing will change”, and all of us Aussie rugby shareholders will continue to see our wonderful game diminish in value.
In the meantime, I will do my best to join my blindly loyal mates and will ask my Kiwi mates to please be patient, our time will come again, one day.
Might be worth someone who loves Australian rugby conducting an objective and formal brand valuation study comparing the Wallabies, All Blacks and Springboks brands.
We may well be surprised at the vast disparity in their respective valuations.
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