The endless torture of being an Australian rugby fan

Fionn Roar Guru

By Fionn, Fionn is a Roar Guru

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    It is often said that Australian rugby fans cannot stand losing, especially to New Zealand sides. This was true, to an extent, but only really for a brief period in the early 2000s.

    Something struck me while watching the Brumbies go down to the Rebels in an utterly dire game: since then, Australian fans have simply got tired with the lack of basic skills, vision, creativity and consistency displayed by all of our teams.

    How do the Brumbies go from the second half against the Reds to their match against the Rebels in one week?

    Why would Aidan Toua – after finally running the ball and having a fantastic match, rather than kicking it and having an average one – return to his horrible kicking game?

    Why would the Brumbies adopt a conservative game plan in perfect conditions against one of the worst teams in the competition?

    These questions are just some of the many baffling questions that have plagued Australian rugby for the last ten years.

    We may just as well ask why Robbie Deans moved away from the attacking, skilful gameplan that had served him fabulously in 2010 and to a conservative one in 2011?

    Why would he continue to select Quade Cooper at fly-half despite adopting a conservative gameplan?

    Why has Michael Cheika consistently dropped form players for out of form ones? And I am not just talking about Waratahs, players like Stephen Moore – and others – were kept around in 2016 despite a run of diabolical form.

    Why does Cheika think that the ‘Australian way’ of playing rugby means a one-dimensional strategy of always running the ball regardless of the situation? Has he never watched the great teams of the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s?

    The Wallabies currently have a number of supremely talented and powerful backs, but again and again we see them lacking in basic game awareness, catching, passing and kicking skills.

    The only current players who consistently offer support when we make a line break are Michael Hooper, George Smith, Dane Haylett-Petty and Bernard Foley. Even when players are supported when they make line-breaks, the player who makes the break too often fails to get away, or even look for, the final pass.

    There was a situation in the Brumbies-Rebels match on the weekend in which Wharenui Hawera made a line break, his support players were a little slow to react, but even when they eventually did support him, he failed to look to get away the pass.

    Possessing game awareness and the ability to play what is in front of you is grossly underrated by Australians, and vastly more important than simply being a good athlete. This is the reason I would take a Ben Smith, Isreal Dagg, Karmichael Hunt or Haylett-Petty over Isreal Folau any day.

    Despite being a fantastic athlete, Folau has one mode: to run hard and avoid getting tackled at all costs. Too often he runs too far and isolates himself, turning over the ball, or goes for a stupid miracle offload and knocks it on rather than simply taking the tackle. Bismarck du Plessis has, on multiple occasions, given Folau nightmares by isolating him and then turning over the ball.

    The Wallabies side that lost to England in the 2007 World Cup had the following players:

    1. Matt Dunning
    2. Stephen Moore
    3. Guy Shepherdson
    4. Dan Vickerman
    5. Nathan Sharpe
    6. Rocky Elsom
    7. George Smith
    8. Wycliff Palu
    9. George Gregan
    10. Berrick Barnes
    11. Lote Tuqiri
    12. Matt Giteau
    13. Stirling Mortlock
    14. Adam Ashley-Cooper
    15. Chris Latham

    It also had an injured Stephen Larkham watching from the sideline.

    How can Australian rugby have gone so far backwards? Obviously, the answer is at least partially that other teams have improved. England, Ireland and Scotland are out of sight compared to 2007.

    But that doesn’t explain the decline of the current crop of Australians relative to those of ten years ago. How many of the current Australian players would make this team? Will Genia over 2007 George Gregan is maybe the only one.

    This is not to say it is all doom and gloom.

    There are extremely talented players in the sea of mediocrity that is the Australian Super Rugby conference. These players could win us a Bledisloe in the next couple of years, or at least get a win over England.

    The issue is that we have had false starts before. I would have said in 2010 that the Wallabies would win a Bledisloe in the coming three years. Unfortuntaely, they preceded to have a horror show at the 2011 World Cup and then fall apart.

    The 2011 Reds were another false start. As were the 2014 Waratahs. Likewise, the team was improving under Ewen McKenzie, then collapsed again.

    Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie

    After the 2015 World Cup, we had a decent chance of winning the Bledisloe, and then we all saw how 2016 panned out.

    As Australian rugby fans, we need to stop the state bickering and demand more of our administrative and coaching structures nationally.

    No longer can we allow the old boys to promote each other or hire incompetent coaches. Neither can we give Cheika a free pass in playing an awful style of rugby or selecting undeserved players.

    Until we unite with a clear vision of what we want Australian rugby to become, we will continue languishing in a sea of dropped balls, tackles gone missing, and passes and kicks that go unexecuted.

    We need to demand that we play a running, but dynamic and varied style of rugby. We don’t need to become the All Blacks, simply getting back to 2007 Wallabies would be enough.

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    The Crowd Says (173)

    • April 19th 2017 @ 3:00am
      MH01 said | April 19th 2017 @ 3:00am | ! Report

      As a Brumbies fan, I say that Larkham is a poor coach, no idea what his game plan was on sat after a great half of ruby the previous weekend.

      As a Wallabies fan…..geez I expected the Brumbies to fair badly this year, be 3rd of 4th in the conference. Says it all that they are still top.

      The Raiders are looking a much better time investment this year…..this is the first time in a very long time, I’m not really bothering to watch the Brumbies matches, it’s just dire. I find myself watching the NZ derbies and doing other things around the house when the oz games are on or just turning off and checking the result later.

      • Roar Rookie

        April 19th 2017 @ 9:18pm
        Kirky said | April 19th 2017 @ 9:18pm | ! Report

        MH01 You’re spot on when you say as a frustrated Brumbies Fan you think Steve Larkham is a poor Coach as the Brumbies are but a very ordinary team at the moment and it shows big time, therefore the downers the Brumbies are putting up very much proves it.

        Larkham was a quality player but quality players rarely make good Coaches, he is as the Head Coach accountable for the style of play be it good or ordinary and he in fact has done nothing to improve his team since he has been top dog!

        The Brumbies have done nothing for a lot of years and it’s well known that he is a great Fan of Jake White who set the Brumbies literally on a course of bad negative rugby, and Larkham is persevering with this butt ugly style of play and it’s stifling the progress of the ACT team!

        It could be said that they are at the top of the Australian Conference, but all that shows is how bad the rest of the Australian teams really are as when the top Aussie side is lower than the lowest New Zealand side in points accrued , there is something radically wrong with Australian rugby all around the Park.

        Pity hep the Australian National side if or when Stephen Larkham ever gets the top job!

    • April 19th 2017 @ 3:14am
      Matt Jones said | April 19th 2017 @ 3:14am | ! Report

      “How can Australian rugby have gone so far backwards?”
      how far considering that we import the whole backline these days

      • April 19th 2017 @ 11:09pm
        In Brief said | April 19th 2017 @ 11:09pm | ! Report

        But seriously, that 2007 team must have been one of the worst Wallabies teams I’ve ever seen. We’ve actually come forwards in leaps and bounds when you look at that team compared to the Wallabies of 2016/17.

    • April 19th 2017 @ 3:24am
      BBA said | April 19th 2017 @ 3:24am | ! Report

      Agree with the general sentiment of your post although I think you have better props now then Dunning and Shepherdson, and there isn’t much between Fardy and Elsom or Smith vs Pocock. However, what it does highlight is the deterioation in the skills and vision in the backs from 10 years ago, with only Foley giving Barnes a run for money and perhaps Folou for Tuqiri on the wing.

      There is a lack of combinations atm as well in aussie rugby, there are no strong midfield combinations (let alone great ones such as the Giteau / Mortlock pship.

      However the real problem seems to me to be a lack of quality head coaches at superugby level, I tremember another poster awhile back talking about the experience levels of the head coaches of teh Australian superugby teams is very light compared to their NZ counterparts with all 5 teams having a head coach with less than 2 years in the job, with this then flowing down to the assistant coaches. I get the feeling some head coaches are better at being an assistant coach at this stage in their career or the replacement for their role as assistant coach is somewhat further behind the promoted head coach in their role, for example say Darryl Gibson at Warratahs.

      • April 19th 2017 @ 5:17am
        Jock Cornet said | April 19th 2017 @ 5:17am | ! Report

        That 2007 was crap

        • April 19th 2017 @ 7:48am
          BBA said | April 19th 2017 @ 7:48am | ! Report

          Are you arguing that the 2016 Aussie team (until the 2017 team is picked lets say the current Wallabies team) was better than the 2007 team?

          • April 19th 2017 @ 12:29pm
            Jock Cornet said | April 19th 2017 @ 12:29pm | ! Report

            Yep 2015 RWC finalists .

          • April 19th 2017 @ 12:44pm
            Phil said | April 19th 2017 @ 12:44pm | ! Report

            I find it a bit strange Fionn chose the 2007 team as a bench mark.They didn’t exactly cover themselves with glory at the RWC.
            Other than that,pretty much agree with what he says.

            • April 19th 2017 @ 2:27pm
              BBA said | April 19th 2017 @ 2:27pm | ! Report

              I think the point he was making was that the side 10 years ago was better than the side now. Although Jock makes a good point about the 2015 RWC was more successful, however with the benefit of hind sight it does seen that they outperformed in that RWC.

              • April 19th 2017 @ 7:56pm
                Train Without A Station said | April 19th 2017 @ 7:56pm | ! Report

                But on what basis was it better?

                Gut feel?

              • Roar Guru

                April 19th 2017 @ 8:39pm
                Fionn said | April 19th 2017 @ 8:39pm | ! Report

                TWAS, how about results? Were you watching in 2016?

              • April 19th 2017 @ 10:11pm
                Train Without A Station said | April 19th 2017 @ 10:11pm | ! Report

                But what about 2015? That’s essentially the same team.

                Were you watching 2005?

                That was the same team that was supposedly better.

              • Roar Guru

                April 20th 2017 @ 9:43am
                Fionn said | April 20th 2017 @ 9:43am | ! Report

                Difference being that 2005 was a horrendous year—it was the anomaly—in the midst of a few pretty decent years. 2015—Cheika’s good year—was the anomaly compared to Cheika’s two other years very poor years. You know that too. You’re just being argumentative.

              • Roar Guru

                April 20th 2017 @ 10:56am
                Train Without A Station said | April 20th 2017 @ 10:56am | ! Report

                But Maybe the Cheika period is a general anomaly of under performance?

                The whole crux of your argument appears that it goes deeper than the coach.

                And as I pointed out, 2005 wasn’t really an anomaly. 2006 was nearly as bad with only 2 more wins from as many games. 2007 was the anomaly purely on w/l. But then that doesn’t consider the strength of the opposition.

              • Roar Guru

                April 20th 2017 @ 11:19am
                Fionn said | April 20th 2017 @ 11:19am | ! Report

                ‘The whole crux of your argument appears that it goes deeper than the coach’.

                I think the issue is coaching at all levels, and getting some continuity and consistency in selection.

                In 2006 we lost a few tight ones against New Zealand, walloped South Africa once, beat them again and lost once. It isn’t just about wins and losses. It’s about the manner of the wins and the losses.

                So the whole crux of your argument is that we were as bad from 2005-07 as we have from 07-17. I would probably hesitantly disagree, but even conceding you have a strong argument on this point and indeed assuming you’re correct, this doesn’t change the crux of my argument: that the basic lack of skills, vision and abilities from players is frustrating, as is the fact that we don’t seem to be improving.

              • Roar Guru

                April 20th 2017 @ 11:31am
                Train Without A Station said | April 20th 2017 @ 11:31am | ! Report

                It is frustrating.

                It doesn’t necessarily seem to be improving.

                But it never really has been.

                We had an anomaly period, Based around probably 30 total players that changed a lot.

                But even in the highest of this peak in the 90s, remember, the Waratahs never once made the Super Rugby Finals. The Brumbies never won a title. We had one consistently strong team, The Reds. This then changed to the Brumbies in the 2000s.

              • Roar Rookie

                April 20th 2017 @ 11:20am
                Paul D said | April 20th 2017 @ 11:20am | ! Report

                It’s not reasonable to say Cheika has had 2 bad years. You cannot count 2014 as a full year as he only picked up the mantle after McKenzie walked out just prior to the Spring tour.

                He’s had one good year and one bad year out of 2 full seasons. And the bad year had probably the toughest list of opponents that Australia has faced for a season in a long time. That doesn’t forgive it, but it does help to understand it.

                And you cannot hang the blame of the lack of basic skills solely on Cheika. The problem predates him. At least he has got Mick Byrne in for skills, and Ledesma in for set piece so credit where credits due please.

                Everyone want to dump on Australian Rugby and in turn the Wallabies this year before they’ve even played a game. Based on what? the performance in Super Rugby? Well before we go blaming Cheika, or the players for that. Lest look at something else. In 2011 the Reds were coached by McKenzie, in 2013 when the Brumbies nearly won it they were coached by Jack White. In 2014 the Waratahs were coached by Cheika. Who among all the franchises has a coach equal in experience or ability to those previously who have helped an Australian Super side compete at the pointy end? There is not one at any franchise. Larkham, Gibson and Stiles are good assistant coaches at best, McGahon I don’t rate at all. Wessels could be living off the passion of the team but he deserves more time than he’ll probably get.

              • Roar Guru

                April 20th 2017 @ 12:07pm
                Fionn said | April 20th 2017 @ 12:07pm | ! Report

                PaulD, I’m not hanging all of the blame on Cheika, it isn’t his job to teach players how to catch, kick and pass at international level, they should already have those skills.

                That said, he does share a proportion of that blame for selecting players that don’t have those skills over players that do. Just like you don’t pick Morne Steyn at 10 and expect to play attacking, expansive rugby, you don’t pick Folau at 15 or Foley at 10 and expect to kick well.

                I’m not trying to blame any one individual, just point out that the entire system isn’t work – and it is this that is leading to the frustration with Australian rugby.

            • April 19th 2017 @ 8:22pm
              Rebellion said | April 19th 2017 @ 8:22pm | ! Report

              2007 – shocking props, average locks, a soft number 8, an over-the-hill scrum half and an inexperienced flyhalf. Game Breakers: Elsom, Giteau

              2015 – Hooker retuning from a knee op, average locks, average centres, average pace-less wingers and a horribly out-of-form fullback. Game Breakers: Pocock (Folau was out-of-form)

              • Roar Guru

                April 19th 2017 @ 8:31pm
                Fionn said | April 19th 2017 @ 8:31pm | ! Report

                George Smith was insane in 2007.

          • April 19th 2017 @ 11:10pm
            In Brief said | April 19th 2017 @ 11:10pm | ! Report

            Absolutely, no contest.

        • April 20th 2017 @ 4:17am
          Ad-0 said | April 20th 2017 @ 4:17am | ! Report

          I agree. I remember that pack getting totally marmalised by England in the QF?

      • Roar Guru

        April 19th 2017 @ 8:00am
        Fionn said | April 19th 2017 @ 8:00am | ! Report

        Agree with the lack of enough quality coaches. Fix the coaching structure and a lot of Australia’s problems disappear.

        I think this is an issue all the way through though. Our Super Rugby players, despite being great athletes, too often don’t have the basic skills they should have picked up as juniors. Often they’re forced to develop them in either Super Rugby or even in internationals.

        I don’t want to sound too negative, I don’t think we are as bad as some people do. I just find our skills deficit and inconsistency frustrating. It seems that 80% of the time Australian rugby is in a “rebuilding” phase. When was the last time we knew who our best 15 for the Wallabies was? 2010? Early 2011?

        • April 19th 2017 @ 4:37pm
          Jamie said | April 19th 2017 @ 4:37pm | ! Report

          Yes coaching (At all levels) is a worry, I’m a massive Tahs fan and I am worried about this Friday’s game. the Tahs defence has been horrible … and Nathan Gery is the Wallabies defence coach.

          I also expected much more from teh Brumbies this year and I put the blame on Larkham, I am not going to get into the whole Brumbies game plan as i think we all know what that is however they do seem to have some excellent running players yet we see zero creativity, even Speight who has played much better this year is making his own chances, Where is the deceptive play of the Brumbies of old?

          I am afraid that there is a massive attitude problem with Australian rugby and a serious lack of endeavour at times, you are right though we are not as bad as people think but it is very frustrating to watch things like a box kick AND not one player chasing OR even being aware that a box kick is on the cards.

    • April 19th 2017 @ 4:41am
      mania said | April 19th 2017 @ 4:41am | ! Report

      the problem with your passing/offloading can be easily fixed. play touch before and after trainings…simple.

      • Roar Guru

        April 19th 2017 @ 7:55am
        Fionn said | April 19th 2017 @ 7:55am | ! Report

        That’s the thing, mania, you’re right. It is a basic skill that all the players should know already. These are professionals, so if they don’t yet know it they should be able to quickly pick it up.

        So, why hasn’t it been fixed?

        • April 19th 2017 @ 9:56am
          mania said | April 19th 2017 @ 9:56am | ! Report

          i wonder too fionn.
          i coach 10 yr olds. one of the first tasks is to organise what a d line should look like and then take them through one on one tackling.
          why has cooper and TPN never been taught the basics of tackling? if i can teach 10 yr olds to tackle then there has got to be smarter better skilled teachers out there at the ARU’s disposal who can take the elite of aus rugby thru some tackle drills. it might not sink in right away but it will eventually.

          our trainings consist of 20 mins of hard out fitness. every team i’ve coached ive stressed the importance of fitness.
          how can the aus teams (and every other team in the world for that matter) be less fit than the nz teams? how hard is to make your squad run/train till they puke?

          • Roar Rookie

            April 19th 2017 @ 10:43am
            piru said | April 19th 2017 @ 10:43am | ! Report

            There’s no excuse for a lack of fitness – none.

            It’s the one thing every single player can achieve, regardless of talent or background.

            Does anyone know if there’s a baseline fitness level (ie beep test or similar) Super rugby or Wallaby players are expected to maintain?

            • April 19th 2017 @ 4:55pm
              Cliff (Bishkek) said | April 19th 2017 @ 4:55pm | ! Report

              Fionn, Mania, Piru,

              The skills of passing, tackling, kicking, catching – and at speed – and doing it correct 95% of the time should be learnt long before these players become professionals. As kids, as teenagers – not when they become a professional. Although our SR Coaches are not great, it is not their responsibility to teach basic skills with a ball. This should be imbedded in a Rugby Player’s psych a long time before he is a professional.

              And I see peeko below on Fitness – 100% correct. We are not fit – we are not 80 min players. And a player can get himself fit. I also think we do too much Gym. We need it but aerobic and then anaerobic. I did triathlons for a good number of years – age group – 48 to 52 – we got the aerobic right first and then we did the anaerobic second. Not as a footballer – but the 3 skills helped but aerobic first. And we lasted 2.5 hours?

              But for me there is “Something Rotten in Aus Rugby” and I do not think it is going to be fixed too quickly”. No pathways, no basics, grassroots struggling, no good coaches, ARU damn useless, QRU and NSWRU not much better, too much infighting, player power, ex players who are not business people on the board, ARPU – too soft on our darlings!!

              Now I can have a happy day!

              • April 19th 2017 @ 11:14pm
                In Brief said | April 19th 2017 @ 11:14pm | ! Report

                You can also have fun with these things. As a kid I used to run down the length of our house at full tilt passing the rugby ball against the brick wall (between the breakable windows and french doors) and catching it between the wooden verandah posts. Pressure, accuracy and fun all rolled into one.

              • April 20th 2017 @ 4:47am
                mania said | April 20th 2017 @ 4:47am | ! Report

                agree cliff.
                had training last night with my 10 yr olds. at the end of training told them to keep a ball with you at all times and just pass it around. doesnt matter what kind of ball just pass it back and forth between you and your friends.

                is that so hard?

              • Roar Rookie

                April 20th 2017 @ 12:26pm
                piru said | April 20th 2017 @ 12:26pm | ! Report

                In Brief – my brothers and I used to set up obstacle courses in the back yard when we first came to Oz (three kids from country Canterbury suddenly plonked into suburbia, it kept us out of trouble – more or less) we didn’t even have a ball at that stage!

                Tee Rex, thanks for the info – I assume the yoyo levels are measured differently to the traditional beep test, unless you have some of the fittest props on earth! Which is totally possible I suppose.

              • April 20th 2017 @ 1:52pm
                Tee Rexx said | April 20th 2017 @ 1:52pm | ! Report

                Piru,
                It’s the same set up as the beep test, difference is it starts at level 8, skips to level 10, then starts at level 11.1 onwards if I can remember correctly. All rep teams use this now to measure fitness levels along with other new tests. Kind of explains why a lot of Nz forward packs go the distance nowadays.

            • April 19th 2017 @ 11:38pm
              Ulrich said | April 19th 2017 @ 11:38pm | ! Report

              Australia should have something like this. Here’s something I found relating to the Springboks (although from 2009 so I don’t know how accurate it is in this day and age).

              http://www.sarugby.co.za/boksmart/pdf/BokSmart%20-%20Physical%20conditioning%20for%20rugby.pdf

            • April 20th 2017 @ 7:57am
              Tee Rexx said | April 20th 2017 @ 7:57am | ! Report

              Hey piru, I have a fair idea of what the chiefs are expected to achieve in terms of fitness, as it filters right through to all their provinces like counties Waikato etc have you heard of the yoyo test? It’s an upgrade of the beep test. Props are expected to hit 17.5 onwards, while the locks at 18.1 and so forth with the rest. Basically nowadays the props and locks have to have similar fitnesses, Which is not easy I must say some provincial flankers that are so fit supposedly just manage to crack the 18 level mark, says it all really with the level of fitness that New Zealand rugby players are at nowadays.

              • April 20th 2017 @ 7:58am
                Tee Rexx said | April 20th 2017 @ 7:58am | ! Report

                and that’s before training, what follows are a lot of skills and upgraded touch games, ruck work etc

      • Roar Guru

        April 19th 2017 @ 11:49am
        peeeko said | April 19th 2017 @ 11:49am | ! Report

        i am pretty sure they have all the skills. its a different story reproducing them at the high speed top crash tackling intense level of pro rugby

    • April 19th 2017 @ 5:16am
      Jock Cornet said | April 19th 2017 @ 5:16am | ! Report

      You see how great the NZ domestic comp is in creating plYers compared to our failed elitist academies that create good beep testers. Until their is a seismic shift from this and TWAS type thinking we won’t win the bledidloe for the next 15 years. Players don’t come out of thin air.

    • Roar Guru

      April 19th 2017 @ 7:35am
      sheek said | April 19th 2017 @ 7:35am | ! Report

      Fionn,

      I regret to inform you that what we are witnessing, indeed what we have witnessed this past decade, is basically the norm of Australian rugby.

      The eras of 1984-86, 1991-94 & 1998-2002 were the exception to our history rather than the expected.

      Australian rugby has produced many great players but few great teams. We’ve never had the depth to sustain success for more than fleeting moments.

      Any back worth his salt soon defects to league, while forwards retire early to concentrate on a business career. That’s how it’s mostly been.

      The Wallabies high moments are like isolated Islands dotted throughout the Pacific.

      So those who suggest, like me, we should really look hard at completely building new, more efficient structures, might have a point. Why keep doing much the same thing for much the same result?

      Back in 2011 & 2015, I didn’t think the Wallabies were as good as some fans on The Roar believed. They gave me hell for it, but interestingly, my biggest critics in those years have now disappeared from The Roar.

      Yes, it’s amazing how much our game has regressed since 2007, even since 2003.

      • Roar Guru

        April 19th 2017 @ 7:57am
        Fionn said | April 19th 2017 @ 7:57am | ! Report

        I don’t need or expect to be like the great teams of 1984-86, 1991-94 & 1998-2002. I would take the standard we were in 2003/07.

        Heck, I would accept the current results if we played a better brand of rugby. It is the constantly dropped balls, lack of vision and game awareness from players, and the overall inconsistency that frustrates the hell out of me.

        • Roar Guru

          April 19th 2017 @ 9:04am
          sheek said | April 19th 2017 @ 9:04am | ! Report

          Fionn,

          Yep…..

      • April 19th 2017 @ 10:13am
        Mac said | April 19th 2017 @ 10:13am | ! Report

        We have produced many good players. As for good teams, well I don’t know. Lets be real, we are not number 1 in many areas of any sport all the time, unless we are the only ones playing it. So I would suggest we do pretty well staying in the top 3. If we drop out of the Top 5 then yes we are Sh_t.

        Like all Australians I would love to beat the Kiwi’s who are very good at playing rugby. I might be wrong but it is the Wallabies that have buggered the All Blacks record runs a couple of times. So perhaps we need to pull our heads in and realise Rugby is dynamic and forever changing and we are not that bad, nationally. And with the World scene growing as it is what are you all going to say in 20 years when the current top 10 may not look like that of old.

        I agree we can do a whole lot better, especially at Super level to grass roots and the first thing I would do is Stop Kicking so much ball and deny the ball to the attaching opposition, especially Kiwi teams. 2, Drop any player who does not offer support to a line breaker. This is basic, basic stuff. I have lost count of the break outs where a player has no support, its an Australian way it seems all the way down to grass roots.

        Lastly, why do our teams more often start a line attach flat footed. Dump stuff. Easy to defend and lacking in any threat. The Reds one a title a few years back and one difference was they had running forwards onto the ball. Why more impact and at pace more chance of stepping, if they can step. Karmicheal Hunt showed this on Saturday perfectly. No one was going to stop a full flight body at 3 to 5 metres out on the charge. That’s how you attack.

        Fix these elements and we will be a long way ahead. Basics first.

        • Roar Guru

          April 19th 2017 @ 10:16am
          Fionn said | April 19th 2017 @ 10:16am | ! Report

          ‘Lastly, why do our teams more often start a line attach flat footed. Dump stuff. Easy to defend and lacking in any threat.’

          Yep. I’ve noticed that too. It is really pissing me off when I consistently see Kuridrani taking the ball flat for the Brumbies 5m behind the advantage line. Why isn’t he taking it full on and on the advantage line?

          • Roar Rookie

            April 19th 2017 @ 10:47am
            piru said | April 19th 2017 @ 10:47am | ! Report

            This comes back to passing – good flyhalves put the ball where it needs to be and it’s up to the receiver to be there. For all the whinging we do about QC, this is something he generally does quite well.

            Dan Carter is a master of it.

            Far too many Aussie 10s (and 12s and 13s) pass to the man, meaning he has to stand there, wait for the ball, and then get going again.

            What are the backs doing at practice these days?
            We used to run drills doing this endlessly while the forwards did their scrum practice.

            • Roar Guru

              April 19th 2017 @ 10:53am
              Fionn said | April 19th 2017 @ 10:53am | ! Report

              Well that’s the thing, Piru, you’re completely right and it’s the most obvious thing in the world: pass the ball no to the man, but where you want him to catch it.

              How can this not have been fixed?

              And that is part of the reason I massively prefer QC to Foley.

              • Roar Rookie

                April 19th 2017 @ 11:05am
                piru said | April 19th 2017 @ 11:05am | ! Report

                I actually think Cooper should be the Aussie 10 too, it’s just anytime you offer any criticism of him the Quade Brigade goes on the attack and you end up sounding like you’re just having a go at him.

                It’s a fundamental in any sport involving passing that you hit the player in stride.

                They call this underthrowing in the NFL and it is considered a very good way to get your receiver hurt.

                A QB who underthrows consistently doesn’t last very long.

                In rugby, passing to the man (or close enough to him that he has to slow down) is a result of either a poor skill set (which I don’t believe applies to players at this level) or lack of trust in the other player to be where he needs to be.

                Maybe more work on the combinations is what’s needed?

                Do the Wallaby backs not run backline moves over and over when they get together?

              • Roar Guru

                April 19th 2017 @ 12:32pm
                Train Without A Station said | April 19th 2017 @ 12:32pm | ! Report

                The reason why so many defend him is it’s not balanced criticism.

                It always goes one stay into fiction.

                Quade has received too many yellow cards. Yet people now saying he’s received a swag of Red Cards.

                They can’t justify their dislike with fact, so they seem to need to embellish.

              • Roar Rookie

                April 19th 2017 @ 12:39pm
                piru said | April 19th 2017 @ 12:39pm | ! Report

                TWAS would you not also agree past hype on him has been overly hyperbolic?

                I think the Quade hate is rooted in a reaction to people telling us he was the best rugby player in the world.

                Neither is justified

              • Roar Guru

                April 19th 2017 @ 12:48pm
                Train Without A Station said | April 19th 2017 @ 12:48pm | ! Report

                Was he? Even in 2011 plenty claimed he wasn’t a test style player.

              • Roar Guru

                April 19th 2017 @ 12:42pm
                Fionn said | April 19th 2017 @ 12:42pm | ! Report

                Piru, TWAS is right. The main criticisms of Quade that people use to justify Foley are:

                (1) Quade’s poor defence relative to Foley;
                (2) Quade’s lack of consistency relative to Foley.
                (3) Quade doesn’t take it to the line, while Foley does.

                All of these are simple untruths. First, I think, statistically, they are about equal defenders but Quade is slightly ahead, and that he also defends in the front line more often now (could be wrong on the second point). Second, Quade has undoubtedly messed up less than Foley over 2016. Thirdly, Foley played much deeper than Quade for almost the entirety of 2016, as he usually does. Yet these myths persist despite the facts.

                The main argument in favour of Foley is that he has a really good running game and is a great support player. Quade, meanwhile does not run it well, does not take the tackle enough and is a poor support player. This is very true, but this is rarely the argument used to justify Foley’s selection.

              • April 19th 2017 @ 6:19pm
                Daveski said | April 19th 2017 @ 6:19pm | ! Report

                There’s one other thing Fionn and it matters, at least to me. Foley’s attitude, effort and care factor levels are in outward appearance at least significantly stronger than Cooper’s.

              • Roar Rookie

                April 19th 2017 @ 12:59pm
                piru said | April 19th 2017 @ 12:59pm | ! Report

                TWAS that’s a quote – and the context was just as telling

                One of the Fox commentators asked Justin Marshall if Quade was now the best 10 in the world (referring to if he’d overtaken Carter).

                Marshall said, no, but it was possible he was the best rugby player in the world.

                I can’t be the only one who remembers this

                Fionn that’s exactly my point, my post was in support of Quade, and now I find myself in the position of talking him down.

              • Roar Guru

                April 19th 2017 @ 1:14pm
                Fionn said | April 19th 2017 @ 1:14pm | ! Report

                Fair, Piru, I think you’re right. I think people are still unhappy with Quade because he was meant to be the saviour, meant to be the next Larkham (or even better), meant to win us the Bledisloe and meant to win us a World Cup.

                He definitely wasn’t that.

              • Roar Rookie

                April 19th 2017 @ 1:16pm
                piru said | April 19th 2017 @ 1:16pm | ! Report

                Maybe if the media and general public hadn’t prematurely anointed him he’d have had a chance to grow into that role.

              • April 19th 2017 @ 6:49pm
                Fionn said | April 19th 2017 @ 6:49pm | ! Report

                I think it was the injuries more than the hype, Piru. He’s rarely had an uninterpeted season since 2011. And then people jump on him and attack him every time he isn’t perfect.

              • Roar Rookie

                April 19th 2017 @ 6:58pm
                piru said | April 19th 2017 @ 6:58pm | ! Report

                Well, fair or unfair, that’s the sort of criticism you invite when you have that kind of praise being thrown at you.

                Quade himself did nothing to help himself with his press conferences – NZ in particular couldn’t wait to shut him and everyone else up.

              • April 19th 2017 @ 7:33pm
                Fionn said | April 19th 2017 @ 7:33pm | ! Report

                But how many years on do we remember this, piru? I don’t think the Kiwis would have hated him so if he wasn’t New Zealand-born.

              • April 19th 2017 @ 9:19pm
                Rebellion said | April 19th 2017 @ 9:19pm | ! Report

                Piru,
                What is your opinion on Willie Ripia ?

              • Roar Rookie

                April 20th 2017 @ 12:34pm
                piru said | April 20th 2017 @ 12:34pm | ! Report

                Fionn – the fact he was born in New Zealand mattered not a jot to me – perhaps to some it did.

                It was the fact he came across as an arrogant prick that set most people off – I don’t know him so can’t say if it’s a fair representation of him or not – but it’s perception isn’t it?

                What do you mean how many years on do we remember this? Do player comments have a statute of limitations?

                He’s no longer booed in NZ and seems to have grown up a bit (at least to me), good for him, but you reap what you sow don’t you?

                Dan Carter has always carefully crafted a humble, hard working public persona – I don’t know him either so who knows if that’s fair, but that’s the perception of him.

                The result being that this year when DC had a drink driving charge, most people were quick to forgive him. If QC had had the same he’d have been castigated.

                I’m not sure what point I’m rambling to here, but the Aussie media and definitely Cooper’s management put a lot of pressure on him when he was probably too young to handle it, and it’s continued to dog him.

              • Roar Guru

                April 20th 2017 @ 12:48pm
                Train Without A Station said | April 20th 2017 @ 12:48pm | ! Report

                I can understand why you felt that way about Quade at a time. I felt that way. Couldn’t stand the little mulleted p—- when he came on the scene.

                But that time was seriously about a decade ago. From 2010 there was a pretty big shift in his attitude. From the whole “toxic” remarks in 2012 there was an even larger shift again in the right direction.

                What many in NZ seemed to take as arrogance was him daring to try to project confidence in 2011 leading into the RWC.

                Probably a good indication of his character is that he seems to have no probably striking up friendships with NZ and players from other nations, and it’s been like that for quite a while.

              • Roar Rookie

                April 20th 2017 @ 12:36pm
                piru said | April 20th 2017 @ 12:36pm | ! Report

                Rebellion – Ripia?

                All I know of him is that he apparently stole from his mates and is therefore not worth thinking about – good riddance

              • Roar Rookie

                April 20th 2017 @ 1:00pm
                piru said | April 20th 2017 @ 1:00pm | ! Report

                TWAS – he just had a hole dug for him and responded by digging it deeper. Plenty of us have done stupid things when we were young that followed us into adulthood – unfortunately for high profile people they tend to stick around longer.

                Tbh I don’t pay a lot of attention to him, but to me it seemed the attitude improvement coincided with him coming back from Europe. I wonder how much of the perceived arrogance was a result of the people around him?

                Anyway good on him, I hope he’s wallaby 5/8 and it would be nice if they’d trust his tackling enough to play at 10 in defence

              • Roar Guru

                April 20th 2017 @ 1:58pm
                Fionn said | April 20th 2017 @ 1:58pm | ! Report

                ‘What do you mean how many years on do we remember this? Do player comments have a statute of limitations?’

                Fair to say, Piru.

                But I think it’s a real shame if you’re permanently condemned and hated for a few poor comments you make in your youth. As TWAS says, for the past 4 or so years (if not the last 6) he has been much more mature. Yet people still remember his attitude from when he was young. It’s the same attitude I found unfair when some Australian fans continued to hate Lleyton Hewitt when he was in his 30s (and at that point very mature) for the horrendous attitude he showed a 16-21 year old.

              • Roar Rookie

                April 20th 2017 @ 4:45pm
                piru said | April 20th 2017 @ 4:45pm | ! Report

                You are what you do Fionn, and unfortunately it takes a lot longer to craft a good rep than it does a bad one.

              • April 20th 2017 @ 6:45pm
                Fionn said | April 20th 2017 @ 6:45pm | ! Report

                I guess I’m more forgiving because I know everyone would permanently loathe me if they didn’t forgive some of the things that come out of my mouth!

                You’re absolutely right though. Especially with the way the media works – they’ll report the controversial stuff, not the good stuff, even if the controversial stuff is out of context.

                There’s no excuse for the Kiwis to still be booing him constantly though, and they are.

              • Roar Rookie

                April 20th 2017 @ 6:53pm
                piru said | April 20th 2017 @ 6:53pm | ! Report

                I thought the booing had more or less stopped?

                If it hadn’t appeared to have worked during the RWC I don’t think it would have taken hold the way it did – still it’s a dick move and if people are still doing it then they need to wake up to themselves imo/

        • April 19th 2017 @ 9:44pm
          markie362 said | April 19th 2017 @ 9:44pm | ! Report

          Has it occurred to any of you that the reds and waratahs sr winning years occurred because of a dip in kiwi rugby not a spike in australian rugby .the same in 2015.perhaps this is as good as it gets.

          • April 19th 2017 @ 10:12pm
            Train Without A Station said | April 19th 2017 @ 10:12pm | ! Report

            So NZ just wasn’t trying in those years?

      • April 19th 2017 @ 10:34am
        Simmo said | April 19th 2017 @ 10:34am | ! Report

        I do feel ive been spoilt during the late 90s and 2000s era. To obviously think the game would continue in such success on and off the field was foolhardy.
        And there is no innovation or leafership in sight to get us back up there.
        Enjoy the boutique sport that is rugby folks.

      • April 19th 2017 @ 9:20pm
        Frik TwoPlusThree said | April 19th 2017 @ 9:20pm | ! Report

        I would suggest that Rugby in the late 90s early 2000’s were by players who were amateurs who turned professional. They played rugby because they loved it. And it showed in their skill set. Then came the professional era and people looked for a way to earn a living and turned to rugby.

        • April 19th 2017 @ 10:13pm
          Train Without A Station said | April 19th 2017 @ 10:13pm | ! Report

          Not quite.

          Most Australian national players went through the AIS.

          They were essentially already professionals when the game went pro. They just started getting paid.

          • April 20th 2017 @ 2:01pm
            Tee Rexx said | April 20th 2017 @ 2:01pm | ! Report

            Do you think Australia should gamble on luring Pete Samu and Alaalatoa back home? I know they’re not starters for the Crusaders but I think they’ll be great for the Wallabies depth right now, more game time in Oz and hopefully see what they’re really capable of?

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