The ‘what if’ moments of 2013

Brett McKay Columnist

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    Kurtley Beale of the Wallabies contemplates a kick on goal. (Photo: Paul Barkley/LookPro)

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    The hypotheticals of 2013. An interesting exercise, as the right question can almost certainly change your thinking of crucial events.

    So ponder these, Roarers, if you will…

    What if the Australian Crime Commission found no links to athletes?
    For one thing, the Melbourne and Sydney sport media would’ve had quieter years!

    Think about it. If the ACC’s investigations into organised crime and outlaw motorcycle gangs found no links at all to sports supplements, or the people involved in their distribution and the administration of these supplements and substances to AFL and NRL clubs and players, we’d be none the wiser.

    It might mean that more clubs and more players became interested in the workings of the alleged masterminds of the whole sordid mess, it might also mean clubs did more research and conducted their due diligence to a point where nothing was certain as to which substances work, and particularly which ones were legal or not.

    However, it might also mean that we know nothing. It might mean the codes, and all the relevant bodies, including ASADA and even WADA, still have no idea that this sort of thing went on, or worse, was still going on undetected.

    There could well have been players winning major individual accolades and representative selections, and teams going deep into finals series and even winning premierships with some degree of knowledge that what they were doing behind closed doors was really pushing the envelope.

    Worst-case scenario would be those that conducted such activity knowing full well they were breaking the rules, and maybe even the law.

    Of course, while we know a fair amount of what went on at Cronulla and Essendon, there might still be plenty more – and maybe even more clubs or players – yet to be released or discovered.

    If the ACC never found the links to start with, would we ever know what went on, even if the clubs themselves did put a stop to the activities? If clubs put a stop to something they thought might be illegal, they’d hardly volunteer that informant, would they?

    Then Justice Minister, Jason Clare, described the now slightly infamous press conference as “a dark day in Australian sport”. How much darker might it all be, if those ACC links were never found in the first place?

    What if Kurtley Beale’s foot didn’t slip in Brisbane?
    This was the curly one Uncle Argyle posed on the Let’s Talk Rugby episode, and though we never really had the chance to go deeply into it, it bears pondering on a wider scale.

    The obvious answer is that Beale kicks the penalty, and the Wallabies win the first Test against the British and Irish Lions. He might still have missed, of course, but that kick is one Beale would land eight or nine times out of ten.

    Suddenly, the Wallabies take the momentum into the second Test in Melbourne, which they did win anyway. With Beale winning the game in Brisbane, this Melbourne win would’ve decided the series.

    Obviously, if you introduce the variable of Beale making that kick in Brisbane, you’re heading into ‘butterfly effect’ territory, but it still makes for an interesting situation.

    With a Lions Series victory, irrespective of style, does Robbie Deans still stand down? If the Lions Series win was the deliverable required of Deans by the ARU, could they really have moved him on?

    Could you really set a benchmark, and then make change anyway after that benchmark was met?

    Push that even further. Where do the Wallabies finish in The Rugby Championship?

    How well or how poorly do they play throughout? Is James O’Connor still the incumbent Wallabies No.10?

    Did O’Connor and Beale still go to Hungry Jacks?

    What about the Spring Tour? Still four wins from five? Do the Wallabies still score nearly as many tries in the five games as in the ten before the tour?

    And what about Ewen McKenzie? He is still employed in Australia now?

    What if everyone handed their homework in on time in India?
    This is the big for me, the one I’ve been thinking about since Australia wrapped up The Ashes on Tuesday afternoon.

    For starters, if all the homework went in on time between the Second and Third Tests in India, and the team discovered and acted on some home truths, do they still lose the Border-Gavaskar Trophy 4-0?

    Does Darren Lehmann instead just go home after the Australia A tour, and Mickey Arthur continue at the helm? Would 3-0 still have been the Ashes result, or might it actually have been worse?

    And that’s all well before we contemplate what the scoreline might now read in the home series.

    More importantly, for mine, it’s interesting to wonder about the makeup of the team.

    Australia has used the same XI in these three Ashes Tests at home, and nine of them played the last Test at The Oval in August. Would this still have been the case?

    Would the team be anywhere near as united as it most certainly appears now? Would the Clarke-Watson relationship be as workable as it appears to be, or would we still be talking about factions within?

    The Ashes Series win has capped a remarkable turnaround within the Australian cricket team, of that there can be no denying. But how similar would the picture look, had everyone followed Mickey Arthur’s direction, and the ‘Mohali Four’ were just four other forward-thinking members of the squad?

    With this one event, back in March, Australian cricket could look very, very different right now.

    So what do you think, Roarers? How different might the sporting year have been but for these moments? And what other ‘what if’ moments are out there?

    Thanks to ‘Uncle Argyle’ for the prompt to this piece, put to me during the marathon recording of the final Let’s Talk Rugby episode of the year a fortnight ago.

    Brett McKay
    Brett McKay

    Brett McKay is one of The Roar's good news stories and has been a rugby and cricket expert for the site since July 2009. Brett is an international and Super Rugby commentator for ABC Grandstand radio, has commentated on the Australian Under-20s Championships and National Rugby Championship live stream coverage, and has written for magazines and websites in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and the UK. He tweets from @BMcSport.

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