All we want from the Wallabies is commitment
Wallabies' Sekope Kepu is tackled by Richie McCaw and Tony Woodcock. AAP Image/Paul Miller
As I tried to remove myself from a bar late one night, a friend of mine pleaded: “Don’t do a Houdini. Drinking is like defence, it’s all about attitude”.
How could I argue? You’re either up for a tackle or you’re not. Line speed is either quick or lethargic. Nobody goes missing in action.
The great test victories are built on defence. And defence is built on the same things that great nights out are – commitment, momentum, attitude and mateship.
Casting your eye over this Wallaby side, all of those things are missing. Sure, they held the All Blacks to one try at Eden Park, but that in itself defied all logic. It had more to do with luck than their attitude in defence. It’s arguable that the All Blacks were so bemused by what was unfolding before their eyes in Auckland that they took their foot off the pedal.
Anybody who watched the shift the Argentineans put in against South Africa will tell you how phenomenal it was. It couldn’t have contrasted with the Wallabies’ night out in Auckland more starkly.
The Pumas played for their country like it was the first and last time any of them would. Their defensive line absolutely swarmed. The ball was pursued like a girl on Mad Monday. With vigour. They hung off every word that their outstanding leader, Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, used to will them on.
Not one Argentinean looked happy as the full time siren went and a draw was inked in the history books. They wanted to win badly.
The desire that the Pumas had wasn’t about tournament bonuses. Most of them are putting in a triple shift just to play, given that they are based almost exclusively in Europe. Nor was it merely about the pride of their team. It was about the 45,000 supporters who had packed out the Mendoza Stadium, and the kids playing football instead of rugby in their country. They wanted to do the game justice.
As Lobbe said after the game: “We wanted so badly to win before our supporters and it was an awesome occasion – being the first Pumas team to play at home in this Championship is something we will remember with pride for the rest of our lives.”
Errrr, no sign of rugby brands or “we just weren’t accurate enough” nonsense there.
Now some of you are going to disagree. There will be allegations of melodrama, victimisation of Generation Y and unfair comparisons. After all, how can the understated Aussie work ethic be compared to Latin desire and passion?
But be honest. Who really thinks that the Wallabies left everything on the field in either Sydney or Auckland? I don’t. Would all of us be so disillusioned if we thought they had? No, we wouldn’t.
Argentina were hopelessly outclassed by the Boks on paper. So how did they come so close to a boil over? The breakdown of course. The Argentineans flooded it, won every personal battle and played with desperation.
In a single word: commitment. Unadulterated, raw, vicious commitment. Not the type of commitment you make to the cheese and kisses to be home by 10pm on a boy’s night out. Not even the kind of commitment you make to your employer to do your best. This was life and death commitment from Lobbe and co.
And what of the South Africans? As Heyneke Meyer said: “We have let our country and ourselves down. It was not good enough, it was unacceptable. I was very disappointed.”
I’m sick of hearing that we can still be proud of coming second too. It’s that attitude that turns second into third place, third into fourth, and so on. If the Wallabies put their best foot forward, fine. But that is not happening.
It’s time for the Wallabies to get real. No more clichéd nonsense. Give us commitment. Leave it all out on the field. Play for each other. We aren’t asking for any more.
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