The countdown to the 2019 Rugby World Cup’s on, with the global showpiece kicking off in a year on Thursday – and Michael Cheika remains the man for Australia.
often think about a letter to the editor. Something significant: Global warming, carbon tax, Afghanistan. But I’ve never done it; can’t be bothered, apathetic. So why now? A Rugby Test – hardly earth shattering. But I think I know why.
Global warming counts for something whatever your view. Afghanistan counts. A carbon tax counts. And because it counts, there is action.
So I can sit back in the comfort that others will look after it and solve it one way or the other. I can afford to be apathetic.
But not with rugby. Because the problems are not being solved . They are being perpetuated. And no one seems to want to recognise that the Emperor has no clothes.
I had the privelage to play a curtain raiser for NSW Sub District in 1973 at Ballymore. We won that day and the full significance of what followed probably did not dawn on our alcoholic haze. Tonga beat Australia resoundingly, 30 – 12. Australia were woeful. It was a day of shame.
38 years later another day of shame. I am ashamed to be an Australian Rugby supporter. I am ashamed of Australian rugby. A week ago I could have moved to Queensland so great was my pride in what the Reds had achieved. In a week all is lost. I may leave the country next week.
There are no excuses. We are, I don’t know how, the number two nation in the world. I don’t want to hear that it wasn’t our top team.
Can you imagine the All Black dirt trackers losing? No. And the team that ran on today had in it six forwards who at various times have been run on choices. And in the backs four players who similarly have been first choice players.
Haven’t we been fed the spin for the last two or three years under Deans that our depth has improved markedly?
I’s time for a few home truths.
Deans may be a great coach. If he is then he certainly has not been for Australia. He has coached us to our worst ever Test loss in South Africa only three years ago at Johannesburg 53-8.
He has coached us to our first loss against Scotland since 1982. He has coached us to our first ever loss against Samoa.
He has the worst win/loss record of any Australian coach that I can remember. Worse than Greg Smith. And let’s not have excuses about rebuilding. Every coach who has a three year term or more is rebuilding constantly.
The measure of the man is perhaps his choice as a captain.
A captain who firstly should not be in the team. How anyone could pick Elsom ahead of Higginbotham is beyond me. Elsom has poor handling skills, a poor rugby brain, and poor running skills. There is more to running skills than running hard.
Elsom has no idea where he is running, who he is running for apart from himself, or what to do with the ball when his running is finished. Could Elsom have done what Higginbotham did in the final for the Reds last week, or in setting up Giteau’s try today? The short and only answer is no; a resounding no.
As for his captaincy, I firstly find it offensive that a man who is honoured with the captaincy of the Australian team would even suggest that if contractual terms cannot be agreed he will be off overseas. I am sure that the ARU does not simply pay what is asked.
I would hope that however in the case of the Australian captain any offer would properly reflect the prestige that accompanies that position. If I am wrong on that then we really are in trouble!
Why is that no other Super Rugby province seems to be chasing our Rocky. I am no Phil Waugh fan but one thing I will say is that he had heart and he seemed to treat the Waratahs as a family about which he cared. I did not notice Elsom in the stands with the Brumbies in a year when they needed every bit of glue they could find.
A captain would have been there (notwithstanding that he was not the Brumbies captain ). Elsom does nothing for this team as a leader. He is not a leader.
We have a coach who can’t win and a captain who can’t lead.
This is not to be seen as an attack on Deans. But it is time at least we started calling a spade a spade and cease this mindless view that Deans is some sort of visionary and tactical guru. His utterings quite frankly are more reminiscent of Chauncey Gardiner.
If I hear again that these young men will learn from this (i.e another bad loss) or that it is all part of the journey then I will truly despair. Deans may already have uttered these words at a post match conference.
It is time to stop learning and perform. The journey is over. Now is the time to perform.
I am sure that we have the players to do better. But we need the right mix and the right captain. We do not have time to appoint a captain for the next five years or more.
Appoint Nathan Sharpe and give him a leadership team of Pocock, Horwill and Genia so they are groomed for the harsh reality of the post World Cup era. It will be difficult enough particularly if we go out again in the Quarters.
My apologies to global warming, the carbon tax and Afghanistan. I will get to you.