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CAMPO: More of the same from the Australian sides

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    Tom Carter in action for the NSW Waratahs. AAP Image/David Crosling

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    Another week down and it was essentially more of the same from the Australian sides: more kicking, not enough passing, too much emphasis on structured, defensive play, and a lack of teamwork crippling any attacking instincts.

    The Waratahs were a bit better in their match against the Rebels than they had been versus the Reds, but it needs to put into context.
    The Rebels are a very ordinary team; they just can’t compete against the Big Boys.

    They need some starch.

    They’re relying on James O’Connor at inside centre, but the ball doesn’t go out to him, let alone reach the wingers. Mark Gerard is a great player, but he’s very safe. He’s not going to set the world on fire.

    They really need to get some coaches down to Melbourne to teach them how to play running rugby.

    They are missing the way the game should be played, but unfortunately the Rebels still haven’t secured a team that plays as a unit. They show promise in the backs, but need a forward pack to deliver good ball.

    A proper gauge of how well the Waratahs are going will come against the better sides, with the first test this weekend against the Highlanders.

    The Waratahs have some good players, but as I’ve been saying in this column for a couple of weeks now, the centres don’t create enough space for their outside backs.

    I don’t think Adam Ashley-Cooper passed the ball once on the weekend?

    They have to learn to play as a team. It’s so important. The first Super Rugby side to do that consistently will win this tournament.

    Like the rest of the New Zealand teams, the Highlanders are playing adventurous rugby. They’re taking some risks and throwing the ball around. It makes their games, along with those of the Hurricanes and Crusaders, much more interesting to watch.

    Their basic skills are fantastic. Australian teams need to get out of the gym and practice their basic skills.

    The Australian sides are still too afraid to make mistakes. I’ve been saying that for ten years now.

    Funnily enough, over the weekend, Michael O’Connor came out and said the same thing. Where has he been for the past decade?

    Even though the players are ‘professional’, rugby in Australia is nowhere near ‘professional’, in the same way that rugby league is in this country.

    I was in the park with my son a little back back and overheard a couple of guys talking about how they switched the television the night before from rugby to league.

    This is the danger we’re facing. And it doesn’t look like much is being done about it.

    Unfortunately, the coaching in Australia focuses on defence (the Force are a prime example), and as a result, people are switching over.

    The frustrating thing is that the top brass don’t seem to care. They know that the private schools will always play rugby.

    But that’s not the point: Rugby needs to be entertaining to maintain and then grow its support base.

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    The Crowd Says (113)

    • March 7th 2012 @ 5:48am
      Darwin Stubbie said | March 7th 2012 @ 5:48am | ! Report

      Not really too much in this to disagree with – the std line that seems to pop up is it is only the 1st/2nd week and we shouldn’t expect too much – the rust is getting ironed out …. The problem is 1 of the competitors has started and the games are 1st rate from week one …. AFL will soon be providing high class entertainment also – rugby in the Aust conference isn’t going to attract the new or casual viewer with what is currently being produced .. The only talking point seems to be the kicking % of Harris

      • March 7th 2012 @ 6:24am
        Moaman said | March 7th 2012 @ 6:24am | ! Report

        DS….Could it be that players are themselves to blame rather than the coaching?> I’m just throwing this out there……too much rugby/training for the modern professional player leaving them devoid of flair….taking the fun out of playing.Maybe the coaches should just tell the team to “go out and enjoy yourselves”!!

        • March 7th 2012 @ 7:55am
          Blinky Bill of Bellingen said | March 7th 2012 @ 7:55am | ! Report

          Moaman, I think you are onto something there. 😉

          ‘Go out and enjoy yourselves’ is great in theory but I think the players fear doing that will result in a loss. Which means the only time they feel like doing it is when they are up my a massive score or else staring defeat in the face with just minutes to go.

          I’ve just reasoned that it’s the price we have paid when the game turned professional. But maybe I’m wrong there. 🙁

        • March 7th 2012 @ 8:40am
          sheek said | March 7th 2012 @ 8:40am | ! Report

          Moaman,

          Obviously the leagueies & Aussie rules players don’t spend as much time training & playing, allowing them more time for flair & enjoyment………………..?????!

        • March 7th 2012 @ 1:11pm
          Nath said | March 7th 2012 @ 1:11pm | ! Report

          it’s the fear of losing, the fear of stuffing up.
          if i can use a tennis analogy here. you see it whenever players are trying to close out a set and they stop going for their shot, they invariably stuff it up. the good players are those that have a crack all the way through, regardless of the match situation. geez watch Djokovic in tie-breakers, he never dies wondering, winner after winner.
          in a rugby context, why the hell wouldn’t you have a crack? the only way you’re going to get better playing an expansive game is to actually do that- then by practising and doing it over and over in tough situations you get better. it’s not as if you can flick a switch half way thru the season and say “right let’s chuck the ball around more”. you need to be doing it from round 1.

      • Roar Rookie

        March 7th 2012 @ 12:40pm
        Die hard said | March 7th 2012 @ 12:40pm | ! Report

        I think it comes down to the amount of Rugby these guys get to play. Without starting a second tier arguement the Australian players only really get to play the super games and test matches once they have been selected into a squad. There is not a lot of diversity of development after that. Given the very narrow success/comparison criteria they have from that point it is not surprising that they spend a lot of time in the gym. Compare say Blyandaal, Cruden, Slade and Barret to Cooper and O’Connor. They are similar ages but their experiences are vastly different. Cooper and O’Connor are seasoned internationals wheras the others are still starting out. But why O’Connor is currently trying to “learn” the five eight position now is because he has not had those years to develop the instincts that give time and space and options. Instead these kids are polishing their skills at these levels. Competition and variety breed flair and there is not enough the way the game is played here now.

    • March 7th 2012 @ 6:06am
      matthew said | March 7th 2012 @ 6:06am | ! Report

      I just want to see a bit of fire and intensity in the Aus derbies. There’s no oomph. The crowd is so quiet. The players lack the execution of the NZ teams and the physicality of the South African teams. If you ask me everyone is subconsciously worrying about rugby league and scared they cant offer the same kind of “sports entertainment” and end up only trying half heartedly anyway. That’s the impression I get when I glance at the bland faces of the players on the park and hear the shallow whispers in the stands.

    • March 7th 2012 @ 6:45am
      kingplaymaker said | March 7th 2012 @ 6:45am | ! Report

      The TV figures in the NRL and AFL are frightening and rugby should be terrified not because it’s failling in its own limited, small-scale terms, but more than anything else because of its feeble position in comparison to those two giants. Not only that, but both giants will get richer and richer with more and more teams and will soon start to try and destroy rugby.

      The top brass certainly don’t care and the point about complaceny because the game will always be played in the public schools is correct. And the point is also true that league, from its administrators to its methods is thoroughly professional, whereas rugby is still culturally amateur.

      The likes of John O’Neill and Steve Tew are not amateur products themselves, but are crippled in their ambitions to spread and develop the game by the amateur bodies that appoint and control them.

      The game is still run by coteries from the amateur era and the whole thing is amateur in conception: that means what specators may want is irrelevant, because the game isn’t being played for a market, and why expand the market anyway? The game is a past time for fun, not competitive entertainment in a competitive market place.

      If Super rugby had been conceived and executed in a professional way from the beginning then the NRL might not exist by now.

      Desperate and bold acts will be necessary to rescue it.

      • March 7th 2012 @ 7:13am
        Darwin Stubbie said | March 7th 2012 @ 7:13am | ! Report

        God you write some rubbish – that you believe the NRL would have shut down if SR had spread and expanded is delusional

      • March 7th 2012 @ 2:14pm
        The Great G Nepia said | March 7th 2012 @ 2:14pm | ! Report

        Not sure if I would include Steve Tew in the ‘ambitious’ category. The NZRU haven’t got a clue about running a professional sport, and it’s only the great All Black brand which they milk each year in the ‘same old same old way’ (ie test match after test match – surely there’s other ways you can make money from one of the world’s top sports brands) that props up the balance sheet. each year.

        • March 7th 2012 @ 6:41pm
          ohtani's jacket said | March 7th 2012 @ 6:41pm | ! Report

          The All Blacks make most of their money from their huge Adidas contract.

        • March 7th 2012 @ 7:12pm
          allblackfan said | March 7th 2012 @ 7:12pm | ! Report

          bit harsh there, TGGN.
          The NZRU savings are kept in a hedge fund using US currency which can increase, or descrease, depending on currency fluctuations. In addition, there are different levels of sponsorships for different levels of competitions (ie players). There is merchandising (which Adidas helps with) although I think they can do a lot more in that regard (ie DVDs, player dolls etc).
          The problem the NZRU has is that NZ is a small economy; everyone’s scrapping for a piece of the small pie not to mention idiot outside parties like the NRL and AFL wanting a piece of that pie as well (ie outside NZ).
          Don’t even get me started on natural disasters!!! …
          OJ, I’m sure Iveco’s deal is also noteworthy

          • March 8th 2012 @ 9:19am
            The Great G Nepia said | March 8th 2012 @ 9:19am | ! Report

            Thanks Allbackfan. The problem I have with the NZRU is that they seem pretty one or two dimensional in the way the make money. Revenues have stayed fairly steady over the years, and there does not appear to be any growth in revenues. The only strategy the NZRU seem to have in growing revenue is putting on an extra test against the Welsh each year. I reckon there’s millions of ways you can increase global revenue from one of the world’s great sporting brands, but they all seem to pass the NZRU by because I don’t think they think outside of the square enough.

    • March 7th 2012 @ 7:17am
      Emric said | March 7th 2012 @ 7:17am | ! Report

      David.

      I’ve always believed that the ARU should have a internal competition more like the NPC of course the problem is money. Perhaps there is a simple solution to the problem.

      Using the Ranfurly Shield at home as base model instead of having a week in week out competition the Australian clubs create a shield given to a winner of a single one off competition between the top club sides in the super rugby states (5 states 5 top club teams) the competition can be finished within a few weeks and the winner recieveing the new award – cup, shield whatever gets put up.

      From then on the holding club accepts 5 challenges per year from any club in Australia who wants to have a go at winning it they must accept challenges from 3 top teams and up to 2 minor teams – payment for the players can come directly from the tickets sold to the game.

      lets assume a club has access to a stadium of 10,000 and manages to sell 5000 tickets to the game (I’m attempting to be realistic) at 10 dollars general access and 25 dollars grandstand access 5 dollars for all kids and makes a profit of 60,000 they could offer the about 1000 dollars to each person who played. I know its not a lot of cash but it would leave the union with 25000 dollars to pay for the stadium and make a small profit the games could be played in smaller stadiums to avoid massive fee’s.

      The benefits of this type of competition – The ranfurly shield, and general attitude of New Zealand Rugby in regards to the ranfurly shield is it encourages teams to attack because to win the shield

      It wouldn’t be as good as a week in and week out competition but with more contact between the different states and the fans of those teams getting used to exploring their new competitoin perhaps something could evolve naturally?

      Anyway its just an idea 🙂

      • March 7th 2012 @ 1:30pm
        joe blackswan said | March 7th 2012 @ 1:30pm | ! Report

        that seems a pretty good idea…although coming from perth it seems it will be quite a long wait before we see a game played out west.

      • March 8th 2012 @ 1:27pm
        soapit said | March 8th 2012 @ 1:27pm | ! Report

        except you wouldnt necessarily have the best players playing in it. a lot of good players play for teams that dont win the comp.

    • March 7th 2012 @ 7:36am
      Darwin Stubbie said | March 7th 2012 @ 7:36am | ! Report

      Generally the Aust derby games are dull slogfests – sure the odd decent game gets thrown up but overall they’re not great viewing …. The reds last year were worth a watch in their own conference – but without Cooper all Harris needs to do is start potting drop goals and they are basically the Bulls of old (without the monster pack) ….

      But I’m willing to wait until either the tahs or reds start cross conference games to make the real judgements (the other 3 are poor to average and aren’t worth switching on for unless they’re playing your team) …. t

      • March 7th 2012 @ 8:26am
        p.Tah said | March 7th 2012 @ 8:26am | ! Report

        Who is you’re team DS? I’ve always wondered.

        • March 7th 2012 @ 8:44am
          Darwin Stubbie said | March 7th 2012 @ 8:44am | ! Report

          Manawatu …. So I follow where their players – so this year I’m interested in the chiefs and highlanders

          • March 7th 2012 @ 8:56am
            p.Tah said | March 7th 2012 @ 8:56am | ! Report

            So deep down you love the Highlanders green jersey 🙂

            • March 7th 2012 @ 6:58pm
              Darwin Stubbie said | March 7th 2012 @ 6:58pm | ! Report

              Indeed I did – but I actually also thought the thought process behind it was correct …

            • March 7th 2012 @ 6:58pm
              Darwin Stubbie said | March 7th 2012 @ 6:58pm | ! Report

              I..

          • March 7th 2012 @ 8:58am
            sheek said | March 7th 2012 @ 8:58am | ! Report

            DS – The Green Machine….. The Turbos.

            I think that’s a critical problem with super rugby – not enough green uniforms…..!

            Errrr, make that not a single green to be seen……….

            I remember watching the 1998 Shute Shield grand final at SFS (the last premier rugby GF I attended).

            A veteran David Campese & rookie Chris Latham helped Randwick run riot over Warringah.

            I overheard an English woman behind me remark to her husband (presumedly) early in the game – “Oh, that’s interesting. Both teams have green uniforms. You don’t see that too often, do you”.

            • March 8th 2012 @ 2:53pm
              soapit said | March 8th 2012 @ 2:53pm | ! Report

              what a coincidence, last one i attended as well. was kind of the peak of the sydney comp imo when wallabies still regularly turned out for their clubs

    • Roar Guru

      March 7th 2012 @ 8:17am
      Atawhai Drive said | March 7th 2012 @ 8:17am | ! Report

      The conference strategy has its true believers but this Waratahs supporter is not one of them.

      I would happily watch the Waratahs play the Reds three times a season.

      On current form, one match against the Brumbies would be enough.

      That leaves the Rebels and the Force. Ho hum.

      I much preferred the former system, when each team played every other team once.

      I’m with Moaman and Blinky Bill: enjoyment went out the window when the game turned pro. And Darwin Stubbie is right on the money in saying the NRL hits the ground running every year, as does the AFL. Excuses that Super Rugby teams need time to settle are unconvincing.

      Roll on the Shute Shield!

      • March 7th 2012 @ 10:59am
        Harry said | March 7th 2012 @ 10:59am | ! Report

        You see the same players for the Rebels, Force and Brumbies in the Shute Shield playing their rugby with far less inhibitions, and generally far more skill, than you do in SuperRugby, where they have all the flair programmed out of them, and in a less forgiving environment.

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