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A Tale of Two Rugbys

AdamS Roar Guru

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    It was the best of games, it was the worst of games, it was a game of nous, it was a game of baffling drudgery.

    It wasn’t a dark and stormy night. I’m in Thailand and it was a balmy 32 degrees.

    I do have Setanta on cable though which is, quite luckily, 24/​7 rugby. Both the England v All Blacks game and the Wallabies last tour match against Wales were being shown, oh, the joy!

    One small gripe, the England game was live and the Wallabies replayed directly after, but, better than nothing and I had supplies enough to last the night.

    Fridge fully stocked with of Thailand’s finest ales I settled in for an enjoyable night of rugby. What I was served up with was dour, bland, boring mush. Dinner over, and the cook thoroughly chastised for a poor attempt at lasagne, I sat myself down in front of the telly and prepared for the night’s entertainment.

    On the back of two close losses to the number two and three ranked teams the young English side did not disappoint. They gave an early scare by fronting up for the anthem in Barney jackets, but mercifully shed them to reveal their proper kit.

    They pushed hard, they ran hard, running angles and hitting gaps in a weakened All Black line. Apart from an exciting 10 minutes after half time the All Blacks, showing age, the strain of a long season, and a nasty stomach bug, had no answer to this outright aggression and gave up a record losing margin in an enthralling game.

    Now for the Main Event. The Wallabies farewelling Nathan Sharpe against a weakened Wales struggling to find players to fill positions. Surely this would be the game that would send the message that fast, inventive, running rugby is not dead in Camp Wallaby.

    What better way to see out a retiring trooper than with a dragon slaying try-fest. After all, we had beaten a stronger Welsh side in our last three meetings.

    A few early kicking duels to no good effect, A missed penalty that a more aggressive team may have opted to send into touch. At the 10 minute mark I took stock. Despite having nearly all the possession we had done nothing.

    Nada, zip zilch. Kurtley at 10 is serviceable, but he has no plan. More importantly the rest of the back line has little idea of what he is going to do. We dominated the line outs and the breakdown but could not find it in us to attack.

    Wales saw this and the next 60 minutes were a rerun of dinner, boring, dour and bland kick happy rugby that Wales was definitely getting the better of. Despite injuries forcing a very odd team indeed with four opensides on at one point, the Welsh were not only holding us out, it was they who were breaking lines and threatening.

    The only scoring plays were 50m penalties. We did not once look like threatening the Welsh line.

    I briefly tried to liven myself up with a impromptu drinking game, the rules were simple: every time we kicked away possession I would finish my drink. It was soon clear that not even a prodigious thirst brought on by being in tropical paradise with not much to do could keep up with that and I soon fell by the wayside.

    Our centres won’t offload or pass. Neither do our wingers on the rare occasion they get the ball with space. Where are the patterns? Where are the set piece attacks that they must surely train and drill endlessly until the movements are instinctive?

    And Phipps, yes he gives fast service, but with the five second rule everyone is giving fast service now. The service he gives is like a fast food chain, not much waiting but what your end up with is crap. Big loopy slow passes that the runners have to both break step and take high, ensuring they have the wrong body position and no momentum into contact.

    Contrast this with the snappy, waist high gain line passes that were a hallmark of England’s earlier effort. Beale and Barnes both kicked the leather off the ball for usually little effect. Too few kicks found touch and too many formed the basis of a Welsh counter.

    Yes we won the game, with a final lucky break and a dodgy pass in the dying seconds that would not have been called in other circumstances.

    Is this what a million dollars a year of senior coach delivers? Schoolboy errors and a totally ineffective style of play? What exactly are we getting for our money? For that much money, couldn’t find time to teach them how to pass, how to take a high ball, run a few drills perhaps? Expert soldiers train simple tasks incessantly, ensuring that when needed, the skill will come into play.

    Sharp took and missed the conversion, a move fitting but no doubt infuriating punters everywhere, closing a hard fought career with a highlight reel where the last year is all rubbish.

    As I waited for the conversion a single thought clattered up through the pile of empty Thailand’s finest that surrounded me: ”Time Gentlemen, time.”

    To assist him on his departure,I have taken the liberty of writing his farewell speech.

    “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”

    You’re welcome Robbie.

    This video could win $10,000!

    It's one of the favourites to take out the Club Roar most popular video award on Monday!

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    The Crowd Says (23)

    • December 3rd 2012 @ 7:39am
      mania said | December 3rd 2012 @ 7:39am | ! Report

      funny. even more funny is the AB’s lost but by the sounds of this article, wb’s lost.

    • December 3rd 2012 @ 8:08am
      Jack said | December 3rd 2012 @ 8:08am | ! Report

      Beal is a liability at test level. His jigy jiggy two step before he hits the line stops back line momentum and his kicking game is far from test standard. His turnover rate is way too high. AAC could not set up a try with one man to beat and two in support. He ran the wrong angle, failed to draw the fullback and then threw a forward pass. Basic schoolboy stuff. Robbie Deans may be vindicated and assured of his job but Oz Rugby is not assured of large crowds, high ratings or revenue growth. The game under Deans is a boor to watch, negative and defensive. Here’s a survey to run: how many fans who in times past sat up to watch the spring tour games now do not. Its not about winning ugly its about trying to win with a game that will match the ABs. (on a day when they fit and well).

      • December 3rd 2012 @ 11:09am
        carvin said | December 3rd 2012 @ 11:09am | ! Report

        I am an absolute rugby tragic and passionate wallabies supporter, but I can only spend so much more of my life watching such crap. The only reason WBs won was that Wales went into their shell with a 3 point lead and stopped throwing the ball around, which they did so well in the first half. Certainly had me wondering in the first half how and why they could find space everytime they got the ball out the backs with simple but well executed decoy running and draw and passing, and how after having almost all the possession for the first 30 odd minutes, WBs managed one line break through nothing other than crap defence. Their is something seriously wrong with the management/direction of this team, and Australia has a real problem at number 10. Your comments on Beale as a 5/8 are bang on the money. Hopeless, and always has been. Exceptional running full back though when he’s on.

      • December 3rd 2012 @ 12:36pm
        Blinky Bill of Bellingen said | December 3rd 2012 @ 12:36pm | ! Report

        Jack – Bang on with this question “how many fans who in times past sat up to watch the spring tour games now do not. ”

        There must be alarm bells going off at ARU HQ about the health of the game and the fact that even the most ardent Wallaby supporter has a breaking point that has now been reached. Surely those in charge of making decisions must know this!

        Even I am spotting less and less comments coming in on The Roar from respected guys & gals. Facts are that customers who aren’t happy will only complain so much before walking away. 🙁

        In Oz change is happening all over the place at provincial level as fans expressed their disappointment or simply failed to show-up. But we seriously need to get a move on at Wallaby level as I sense that the good ship Wallaby is leaking more water than we are managing to pump out. And the result of that will be that more & more fans (customers) will simply opt to spend their hard earned folding stuff on another product that will make them and their family happy.

        • Roar Guru

          December 3rd 2012 @ 8:27pm
          Jiggles said | December 3rd 2012 @ 8:27pm | ! Report

          BBB I stayed up to watch rugby on Saturday night, but it was the All Blacks v England game I decided to watch, not Australia. I don’t regret it either.

    • Roar Rookie

      December 3rd 2012 @ 10:08am
      Neuen said | December 3rd 2012 @ 10:08am | ! Report

      15 FB Israel Dagg
      14 W Cory Jane
      13 C Conrad Smith
      12 C Ma’a Nonu
      11 W Julian Savea
      10 FH Dan Carter
      9 SH Aaron Smith

      Where is the weakened AB back line?

      NZ struggled to adapt quicky enough and gave away penalties which they were punished for. Then after the break two tries in 3 minutes it looked like Englands spirit would be broken but the turning point of the game was Barritt’s try. It was off the training paddock and it was brilliant .Aaron Smith also showed everyone he tackling skills which almost looks like he got some tips from Mike Catt which is to dive out of the way rather than tackle a bloke.

      So no excuses England just beat NZ at their own game.

      • December 3rd 2012 @ 10:53am
        TheGreyGhost said | December 3rd 2012 @ 10:53am | ! Report

        I think he’s referring to the Noro Virus when he says “weakened”.

        I don’t believe that personally. The game was won and lost at the breakdown. I believe NZ suffered here on two fronts. First, they’ve been susceptible in the tight all season and suffered when the opposition floods the area and then probes around the fringe relentlessly. Secondly, England were allowed to compete for the ball at the ruck in un-supported body positions. Check the difference between Clancy’s rulings on ENG v NZ and Barnes’ calling of Wales v Aus. Barnes was pinging players as soon as a knee touched the turf. Clancy was allowing full bridging and the “ruck monkey”. NZ didn’t like it and Aaron Smith spent his 65 minutes with hands raised appealing to Clancy to penalise. But Clancy was not forthcoming…in fact he didn’t whistle for an Englishman off his feet at ruck time until 78 minutes had elapsed. Then he could suddenly see ALL of them, and 30 seconds later a yellow card was issued. Suddenly, quick ball flowed and NZ looked themselves for a brief spell.

        It’s all about the breakdown. Don’t get me wrong I’m not complaining, NZ were naive to not adapt, as they had seen similar adjudication during the first half of the final NZ v SA RC match, but had apparently not learned.

        Add to that the restart where Clancy bizarrely pinged Read for competing and then watch the subsequent restarts as NZ are too frightened to compete for the ball and risk a yellow from the tetchy, and apparently anti-All Black referee.

        • Roar Rookie

          December 3rd 2012 @ 11:11pm
          Neuen said | December 3rd 2012 @ 11:11pm | ! Report

          Penalties conceded

          England – 11(Ruck/maul=5; Scrum=1; Offside=3; Other=2)

          NZ – 13(Ruck/maul=5; Scrum=3; Offside=4; Other=1)

          Lost possessions/ Turnovers conceded

          Eng – 19 (Ruck/Mauls=3; Penalties=2; Free Kicks=2; Lineouts=1; Handling errors=6; Forced into touch=3; Other=2)

          NZ – 17 (Ruck/Mauls=4; Penalties=3; Lineouts=2; Handling errors=5; Forced into touch=2; Other=1)

          “Other”=Things like stripping of the ball. If a penalty or free kick happens at a set piece (e.g., lineout scrum) it is counted in
          penalties and free kick because the set piece, used to restart play, has not been completed

          Free kicks conceded

          Eng – 3(Scrum=1; Lineout=1; Other=1)

          NZ – none

          Who did he favor? Seems consistent to me.

          I agree with the rucks and mauls and te flooding of the breakdown as I mentioned that in another article. But another factor was Englands tactical kicking and the chase made a big difference.

          Contestable time in opposition’s 22

          ENG – 1st half=1:58; 2nd half=2:39; Total game=4:37
          NZ – 1st half=0:14; 2nd half=3:9; Total game=3:22

          The old rule of play the game in your opponents half was very well applied by England. Dagg was caught out a few times

          You want a complete break down and comparison between international referees have a look at this PDF
          http://www.ruckingoodstats.com/context/file?id=3402

          • December 4th 2012 @ 2:18am
            TheGreyGhost said | December 4th 2012 @ 2:18am | ! Report

            Clancy “evened things up” late in the second spell where he suddenly could see English men off their feet and committing cynical offences (cue yellow card). In the last two minutes NZ came within a whisker of scoring twice. First Vito dropped the ball cold with the try line beckoning, and secondly, what was more than likely a try was not even referred to the TMO. How many times have you seen that? not often.

            I’d make four further points.

            1) What on earth was Read penalised for when he competed for the restart? And why was a “team warning” issued for “jumping in the air too early”? I’ve scoured the law book but can’t find a transgression related to that.

            2) Why was the NZ scrum penalised so quickly? and yet the English scrum reset so many times?

            3) The English scrum was twisted beyond recognition on four occassions, every single time it was the ABs who were penalised. Why?

            4) Why was the England 9 given so much time at the back of the ruck? There were significant delays there, well beyond the 5 seconds.

            As far as I can tell, the entire game, with the exception of the last two minutes were called under laws and interpretations more akin to 2003 than 2012.

            • Roar Rookie

              December 8th 2012 @ 4:03am
              Neuen said | December 8th 2012 @ 4:03am | ! Report

              1) You are right there the referee was wrong on that occasion.
              http://www.sareferees.com/laws/view/2829901/

              bit so where England
              http://www.sareferees.com/laws/view/2829900/

              2) Because he caught NZ scrumming illegally England not

              3)Because of illegal scrumming which is deem to be dangerous? Again time and specific incidents. NZ were penalized 3 times and England once in the scrum

              4) You have to give a better example here. Like time in the game and specific incidents. If you can see the ball do not mean the ball is there to be played. There might be something holding it up or it might be out and NZ not reacting to it. Could be a lot of things.

      • Roar Guru

        December 3rd 2012 @ 3:03pm
        AdamS said | December 3rd 2012 @ 3:03pm | ! Report

        Not taking anything away from the English, they played hard and fast and deserved the win.
        The AB’s though did look flat the whole game, apart from the 10 min after the half where,perhaps with a little help from the team doctor, they had some zip. Maybe the virus, maybe the long season,they just didn’t look up for the match.

    • Roar Guru

      December 3rd 2012 @ 10:34am
      sixo_clock said | December 3rd 2012 @ 10:34am | ! Report

      Barnes, W owed us a forward pass didnt he?
      Nathan should have backed himself, he was accurate!
      Agree on Beale, He’s a winger, not a 10 or 15. Harris or Lealifano should battle it out next year.
      Dingo does not have the players to do much better so agree to diagree. Centres that don’t/can’t/won’t pass is one massive flaw.
      The Welsh were not the force they once were.

      Can’t wait for the conspiracy theories re: the ABs.

    • December 3rd 2012 @ 10:38am
      Tony said | December 3rd 2012 @ 10:38am | ! Report

      I thought it wasn’t a bad game, close with too much kicking in most of the 2nd half. Both the Wallaby’s and Welsh could have scored a few tries if breaks were finished, both with multiple 50m plus breaks. Cover defense was very good. I also watched a bit of the French Top 14 and saw the halfback we should have playing, Luke Burgess, who was best on ground it that game for Toulouse. But at the time he left, lots of people were very critical of Burgess and he was soon always 2nd choice behind Genia.

      In terms of Deans, he consistently beat Ewan McKenzie while coaching Super rugby, including 2 finals, where McKenzie coached the Tahs to play a lot like the Wallabies are now ironically enough. Quade Cooper enabled McKenzie to coach a different style and for the Wallabies, this sometimes worked (and was great to watch when it did) and obviously at the Worl Cup, it didn’t.

      So the Campo like Quade made both coaches look good at times and as tests are funnily enough the sterner ‘test’, he more frequently struggled for Deans – unlike Carter, who over time has become consistently, rather than sometimes ‘world class’.

      Poor Quade, he has fallen for the spin from Nasser, a classic agent parasite who would prefer to keep his players alienated from others to create and us and them dynamic and so ensure they keep providing him with a paycheck, even while they alienate their prospective fan bases. Mundine, Sonny Bill, Quade, a pattern? ANyway he is an awesome attacking rugby player who needed someone to tell him some home truths – you need to be able to tackle well, you need to stop drinking in any public area, your worth as a person depends on your moral character, not how you have played your last game and yes, like most players, you have had some bad games, but rather than bag the team, the coach, the environment etc., you need to buckle up, eat some humble pie and learn from it.

    • December 3rd 2012 @ 12:31pm
      PJ said | December 3rd 2012 @ 12:31pm | ! Report

      settle down everybody they hve won 3/4 games after a long year with half their full strength team misisng – they can only improve when the other half of the team come back in

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