The Waratahs are the problem team of Australian rugby

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    The Western Force celebrate their 21-20 win over the Waratahs at full time during their Super Rugby match at Allianz Stadium in 2012. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

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    It is clear now that the Waratahs are the problem team of Australian rugby. It wasn’t just that they lost to the Western Force, who were thrashed at home the week before by the Hurricanes.

    It was the lazy, unenthusiastic, brainless and inept way they played to set up their defeat that angered their fans (who booed them during play) and supporters of rugby throughout Australia.

    Compounding the distress about their performance was the nonchalance with which senior players reacted to questions from journalists after the match about their woeful play.

    Benn Robinson, the vice-captain of the side and someone who should be taking responsibility for the kicking tactics that are so woeful and unsuccessful, claimed not to hear the home crowd booing his side.

    And Tatafu Polota-Nau, who admitted he did hear it, claimed he couldn’t care less about the concerns of the Waratahs supporters. Shame on him.

    Tatafu Polota-Nau did hear it, but Georgina Robinson, an excellent and accurate rugby writer for the Sydney Morning Herald, quoted this as his response. “I think they were just booing for the fact that we were kicking too much but I think our decision makers saw the opportunities there. So whether they boo or not we couldn’t care less, because it is part of our strategy to play it down their end.”

    This is one of the most obnoxious, self-serving, insolent and stupid statements I have ever heard from a senior player.

    Full credit should be given to the Western Force for coming to Allianz Stadium (formerly the Sydney Football Stadium), taking on the big Waratahs pack and giving it a hiding.

    The statistics of the match demonstrated that they deserved to win. Possession was 64 percent to the Force and 36 percent to the Waratahs. The Force missed 11 tackles, the Waratahs missed 23. The Force conceded 12 penalties and the Waratahs 10.

    Waratahs winger Tom Kingston (a flyer who was starved of the ball) scored a try that followed an obvious knock-on from halfback Sarel Pretorius. Adam Ashley-Cooper, the other winger, also scored a try.

    But, as a sort of metaphor for the grinding, boring Waratahs style, this try was scored when Ashley-Cooper joined a rolling maul and was pushed over the try line.

    The Brumbies opened the round for the Australian sides by playing a calculating and solid match against the Chiefs.

    Coach Jake White hasn’t got anywhere near the talent (on paper at least) that is available to Waratah coach Michael Foley. But the Brumbies were well-prepared to thwart the Chiefs’ wide game.

    They also exposed the Chiefs from time to time with a terrific rolling maul. White is clearly responsible for the implementation of this tactic. It was well done and hard for the Chiefs to counter.

    If nothing else comes out of White’s coaching stint in this country, if he can coach his team to be as expert on the rolling maul as the South African sides, he will have provided useful input to Australian rugby.

    What the Brumbies need now is for the backs coach Stephen Larkham to get more fluency and attacking flair into the back line. Towards the end of the match when the Chiefs were trying to snatch a victory, the Brumbies fell prey to the Waratah disease and several times kicked the ball away to their opponents to launch new attacks.

    The hard-luck story of the round for the Australian sides was the Reds’ 27-22 loss to the Sharks. At one stage the Reds were leading 17-0.

    The tactic of using Ben Lucas as the fly half and moving Mike Harris out to inside centre worked a treat. I believe that a creative pair of halves, in the Nick Farr-Jones/Mark Ella fashion, can lift even an ordinary side with the energy and thoughtfulness of their play.

    It says a lot for the nous of the Reds coaching staff (as opposed to the lack of nous of the Waratah staff) that they could devise tactics that meet the challenge (almost, unfortunately) of defeating an in-form Sharks, at Durban, with an all-South African refereeing squad.

    Unfortunately for the Reds they lost Digby Ioane (for a stupid dump tackle) with a yellow card. Then a spate of injuries, including Harris and Lucas, meant that Will Genia, who discovered or re-discovered his running game, had to play fly half and also attempt the goals. He missed a couple of shots and this prevented the Reds from clawing back the five-point deficit.

    The Melbourne Rebels and the Cheetahs played out a terrific match. Playing with the verve and crashing runs they had at the start of the match, the Cheetahs went 80 minutes with time up to score the winning try.

    It was thrilling stuff. The Rebels have now lost 12 consecutive matches, but on the evidence of their play against the Cheetahs they are going to be hard for other teams to defeat with any ease.

    James O’Connor is proving to be the great buy for the Rebels that Ashley-Cooper and Rocky Elsom (yet to play this year) have not for the Waratahs. He scored a terrific try and played superbly at fly half and inside centre.

    Now back to the Waratahs. Before the season started I wrote a column for the Sydney Morning Herald that argued that the Waratahs stated ‘attacking kicking’ game was oxymoronic.

    I quoted the ‘three Ps’ of Charlie Saxton, a great All Black halfback and coach: possession, position, pace. It makes no sense to give away possession with aimless kicking. You have to have the ball to score tries. And you obviously don’t have the ball if you kick it to the opposition.

    The article, published before the season started, was titled ‘Foley’s folly – the Waratahs must end the reliance on kicking.’

    On the Monday after the column, The Australian‘s rugby writer Brett Harris, in the grand tradition of News Ltd’s head-kicking culture, attempted to give me a going-over.

    The tactic, he argued, is “designed to regain possession from tactical kicks.” Perhaps. But how can this happen when the Waratahs do not have a chasing game to go with the incessant kicking?

    “Anyone with even the slightest appreciation of the concept of total rugby,” Harris said, “as opposed to simply running rugby, would know that tactical kicking can and does play a key role in an attacking game.”

    “To praise the Reds ‘win smart’ style and at the same time criticise tactical kicking, as this certain columnist did on Saturday, is a massive contradiction.”

    As that certain columnist was moi, I would respond that the Waratahs woeful and losing play against a battling but mediocre Force side rather proves my point.

    The Waratahs hardly regained a kick. Most of the time the ball was kicked straight to a Force player who often had possession inside the Waratahs half. The only attacking aspect of this brain-dead play was the chance it offered to the Force to run the ball back at an increasingly lethargic Waratahs defensive line.

    My guess is that Harris was probably briefed by Foley on the brilliance of the ‘attacking kicking’ concept and swallowed it hook, line and stinker.

    I saw Harris in the press box at halftime in the Waratahs vs Force match. He did not reply to my “Hello, Brett.” He had a mask of intense pain on his face. Or so it seemed to me.

    In any case, I am looking forward to his explanation in The Australian today about the great success of Foley’s tactic and how it will take the Waratahs to a Super Rugby tournament win at last. Clearly its critics simply don’t understand rugby.

    Spiro Zavos
    Spiro Zavos

    Spiro Zavos, a founding writer on The Roar, was long time editorial writer on the Sydney Morning Herald, where he started a rugby column that has run for nearly 30 years. Spiro has written 12 books: fiction, biography, politics and histories of Australian, New Zealand, British and South African rugby. He is regarded as one of the foremost writers on rugby throughout the world.

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    The Crowd Says (135)

    • March 19th 2012 @ 6:54am
      kingplaymaker said | March 19th 2012 @ 6:54am | ! Report

      The kicking style of rugby was made ineffective by the changes in law interpretations two years ago but it seems that many teams still have not realised this, which was proven by South Africa winning 3-0 against New Zealand (under the old interpretations) one year and losing 3-0 the next (under the new ones), and the four running (or more running) teams winning the quarter-finals and the four kicking teams went out.

      Australian rugby is still an amateur affair in mentality and this is behind any number of blunders: the insufficent number of teams, when another in Sydney and QLD would immediately replenish themselves with currently lost to league players, the abandonment of Adelaide, the lack of single private owners, the perpetuation of kicking game styles, the appointment of ‘insider’ coaches like Hickey and Foley instead of more proven foreigners.

      I wonder whether Foley was really qualified to become coach of one of Australia’s top two franchises. If you look to Europe, four Australians, Michael Cheika, Steve Meehan, Tony Hanks and Brian Smith have all had good success and could have been hired for the post, so why chose an unproven insider? Surely all four of those would do better than Foley and Hickey did for that matter (and there are probably others).

      So much of the rugby world is primitive in its conservatism and amateur hang-over culture that it’s easy for Australia to forget that it suffers the same problems.

      If only there were a Western Sydney team to force the Waratahs to compete, private owners to buy some decent backs, a culture where the best coach possible was appointed, and a brutal business ethos from those in charge rather than the amateur rugby club attitude current.

      Really all of Australian rugby’s problems are of its own making and avoidable.

      • March 19th 2012 @ 7:18am
        mania said | March 19th 2012 @ 7:18am | ! Report

        gotta disagree here KPM
        kicking is a great strategy still; provided its 1) a good kick (kick to spaces not faces) and more importantly 2) a good chase (takes high level of fitness and team work)
        having a private owner isnt going to help the tahs and nor is another sydney team
        not sure of the coach either but i doubt a private owner would’ve made a difference on his appointment . its not as if aus has a whole line of top quality coaches banging on the door

        • March 19th 2012 @ 7:41am
          kingplaymaker said | March 19th 2012 @ 7:41am | ! Report

          mania kicking very rarely works as an attacking strategy. It can be used when the team has tried several other things, when their backs are useless so they can’t do anything else, or if there is an unusual golden opportunity. It would be interesting to see what percentage of attacking kicks worked: I suspect it would be extremely low.

          Having a private owner would be wonderful for the Tahs. He would demand both on-field success, an entertaining gamestyle and would have enough money to buy more excellent players such as the excellent backs the team does not currently possess.

          Another Sydney team would also be wonderful for the Tahs as it would force them to compete for the market which is gifted to them at the moment, at least as far as rugby competition goes. They would have to be entertaining and successful otherwise the other team would take over their ground, and their faults would also be shown up by comparison.

          Finally Australia does have a lot of good coaches, mainly knocking on the doors in Europe, have a look at the four I mentioned, but such is the ‘insider’ culture in Australia that they prefer to chose a mediocre insider to a better outsider.

          • March 19th 2012 @ 7:53am
            mania said | March 19th 2012 @ 7:53am | ! Report

            i doubt a private owner would make much difference to the tah’s attitude.
            sure another team in sydney would create a competitive environment which might fire up the tah’s but where would u get the players? dont say league. the strike rate for league players being good/excellent union players is extremely low. your trying to save a sinking ship by ramming another one into it.
            the kicking game is an excellent option provided its used smart. tah’s kick just for the hell of it with no thought into using it as an attack option. bad kicks and no chasers will guarantee this tactic is to fail. tahs’ve been given the instuction to play in the opposition half and cant think outside of the square and follow the game plan robotically

            • March 19th 2012 @ 8:12am
              kingplaymaker said | March 19th 2012 @ 8:12am | ! Report

              mania a private owner can tell the coach that if he doesn’t play attractive rugby he will be fired, he can fire players to make the others buck up their attitude, he can change everything.

              Not to open up a debate about where you get players for new teams, but in brief: league players WITH STRONG RUGBY BACKGROUNDS (as opposed to the rest), foreigners, PI players. Very very easy.

              Only one in a dozen kicks gets anywhere. Normally it justs gives back possession to the other team. I think if anyone compiled figures they would be revealing.

              Besides it’s not only ineffective but deadly boring, so doubly bad.

              • March 19th 2012 @ 8:16am
                mania said | March 19th 2012 @ 8:16am | ! Report

                with the malaise at the tah’s all a private owner could do is fire the coach and all the players

                kicking may be boring but can be real effective. though u need a decent kicker like DC or morneSteyn and a team willing to chase all day

                yeah lets not open another debate on league players sucking at rugby.

              • March 19th 2012 @ 8:27am
                kingplaymaker said | March 19th 2012 @ 8:27am | ! Report

                ‘may be boring’ Well I certainly agree with that part!

              • March 20th 2012 @ 9:29pm
                TonyC said | March 20th 2012 @ 9:29pm | ! Report

                KPM, Queensland Reds are very happy that French team Link Mackenzie was coaching had a private owner and sacked him. If he hadn’t returned would we have seen the Reds and for that matter the Wallabies play as they did last year with some of their players who had been unwanted by other franchises such as Beau Robinson and Radke Samo?

                I thought the time in possession on Saturday was as indicated 36 for the Tahs and probably a lot of that was in the rolling maul where we scored. The 3 P’s strike again.

                Players have to realise it is not 7’s where they try to score off every phase . An analogy would be the Tahs are playing T20 cricket instead of Test match cricket . How many times did we hold onto the ball for more than 6 phases? Let alone 8-12 where we could wear down the defence and find space.

                This year we haven’t got the individual brilliance of a KB, Drew or Lachie who can conjure up breaks from nowhere as far as I can see so we may have to rely on more set plays. The one AAC scored off was great to watch and unfortunate Rob Horne was ruled (correctly) obstruction. More training to make sure this move comes off perfectly next time.

                As a long time fan I’m not giving up on them and will there on Saturday afternoon giving them all the support I can

      • March 19th 2012 @ 10:01pm
        Westie said | March 19th 2012 @ 10:01pm | ! Report

        Good piece. Why doesn’t one of those Sydney rugby moneybags go and buy Billy Slater?

    • March 19th 2012 @ 7:13am
      mania said | March 19th 2012 @ 7:13am | ! Report

      in bennRobinson and TPN’s defence they’re forwards and had nothing to do with the kicking execution of the game plan. what did you expect forwards to say? they arent there for their witty reparte or public relations skills.
      waratahs need a good clean out and a rethink of how they approach a game.
      tah’s need to rethink their strategies. kicking because its the team gameplan is a bit simplistic and shows the team playmakers dont have cajones to play what’s in front of them. tah’s strategy is poorly executed and getting a bit predictable. wheres the chase when balls are kicked? kicking strategy takes team work and fitness. tah’s dont seem to have either

      • March 19th 2012 @ 10:41am
        kiwidave said | March 19th 2012 @ 10:41am | ! Report

        I suppose the charge is that Robinson is the vice captain and should have some sort of input into tactics outside his immediate area of responsibility. I agree though, he probably isn’t about to turn round from a scrum and order up an aimless kick.

      • March 19th 2012 @ 2:06pm
        Behind Enemy Lines said | March 19th 2012 @ 2:06pm | ! Report

        In Robinson’s defence I was at the game and only heard the crowd boo once, very quickly for a stupid kick. The booing can’t have been that loud, especially with only 14,000 people there.

    • March 19th 2012 @ 7:17am
      RedSkippy said | March 19th 2012 @ 7:17am | ! Report

      Tahs looked lifeless. They need fitness to get around the paddock for eighty minutes as what you bench press matters little when it comes to mobility and endurance….

      • March 19th 2012 @ 7:21am
        mania said | March 19th 2012 @ 7:21am | ! Report

        redSkippy – i hate the gym and gym junkies do my head in. unless your atacked by a set of barbells on the field its pointless. Strength should be built outdside of the gym to keep the body in balance. too many players go gym concentrate on certain body parts not realising that its throwing the body out of harmony.
        by all means work on your strength but do it in an enviroment where all the muscles are working together ie on a scrum machine or in a game environment.

        • March 19th 2012 @ 10:42am
          kiwidave said | March 19th 2012 @ 10:42am | ! Report

          As my old coach used to say it’s a rugby team, not a weightlifting team (wouldn’t let us anywhere near the gym).

          • March 19th 2012 @ 9:06pm
            Tommygun said | March 19th 2012 @ 9:06pm | ! Report

            Yep. “Old” coach. Are you lot serious?! If every Tahs player focused on endurance and mobility and threw away those darn weights they would be giving ten kgs a player to every team… All the technique in the world won’t help them at the set piece, or teach them where and when to kick, or to play with some nuts….

            The gym is definately the least of the waratahs problems.

        • March 19th 2012 @ 4:19pm
          Sprigs said | March 19th 2012 @ 4:19pm | ! Report

          That’s why top surfers have Pilates coaches. It’s the harmony, dude.

        • March 19th 2012 @ 9:40pm
          Stripes said | March 19th 2012 @ 9:40pm | ! Report

          Please tell me you have a degree in sport & Exercise science, or strength & conditioning, otherwise leave the professionals to it. I understand the disappointment in your team, but some of the hyperbole about the tahs is ludicrous. Your right in the worth of real life environment, but i doubt your knowledge is very indepth about the tahs training regime.

      • March 19th 2012 @ 12:57pm
        mania said | March 19th 2012 @ 12:57pm | ! Report

        RedSkippy – I agree. tah’s dont seem enthused with the game. they need a good kick up the but to get their minds into the game.
        this is either because they dont believe in the coach or themselves. either way it needs to change else NSW will never have a rugby following ever again.

    • March 19th 2012 @ 7:42am
      sheek said | March 19th 2012 @ 7:42am | ! Report


      While I understand your viewpoint, I would say all Australian players & coaches & administration are the problem for Australian rugby.

      Rugby is under severe pressure from Australian football, which this year will field 18 clubs in the national comp, including for the first time, two in Sydney. Rugby league has appointed an independent commission to run the game, & still has ambitions to improve upon its current 16 national clubs.

      Despite its present problems, the A-League is still bullish about expansion from its current 10 national clubs. Then you have super rugby with only 5 national teams from Australia, & it’s patently clear the talent is spread just about as thin as it can be.

      Compounding Australian rugby’s problem of a lack of player participants compared to the other 3 football codes, is an apparent refusal (it can’t be called an inability any longer) to acknowledge the connection between professional sport & entertainment product.

      If the product is unattractive, it won’t attract players, fans, sponsors, TV exposure & ultimately, revenue streams to expand the game & pay players better money.

      I see no quick turnaround in the problems besetting Australian rugby. Regrettably, it might get worse before it gets better…..

      • March 19th 2012 @ 7:58am
        Justin said | March 19th 2012 @ 7:58am | ! Report

        Sheek JON for all his faults cannot have been stronger at the start of the year in his views that teams must play more entertaining football. The coaches right now should be held accountable as should some of the senior players.

        Did you watch the Tahs match on the weekend? The Force actually attempted to keep ball in hand alot more than previous matches and while a little light on talent had the endeavor which was good to see.

        • March 19th 2012 @ 8:56am
          johnny-boy said | March 19th 2012 @ 8:56am | ! Report

          As mentioned last week Justin the Tahs appear to be trying to emulate the Crusaders of yesteryear of kicking the ball to the opposition and then pressuring them hoping they make a mistake. I wonder why that is ?

          • March 19th 2012 @ 10:48am
            kiwidave said | March 19th 2012 @ 10:48am | ! Report

            The crusaders of yesteryear weren’t so aimless though. They rolled it into the corners wherever possible, takes a bit more accuracy.

        • March 19th 2012 @ 9:34am
          sheek said | March 19th 2012 @ 9:34am | ! Report


          JON’s comments have fallen on deaf ears. Survival in the short-term for players & coaches precedes the long-term health of the game.

          No, I didn’t watch the game (Tahs v Force), but seeing highlights & reading match reports, not much has changed at all for the Tahs especially since the first two rounds.

          Unless things change, more & more people will be doing what I’m doing, abandoning watching live games, & merely keeping tabs through the media reporting.

          I don’t know how fed up fans must become before the players & coaches realise their responsibilities to the game.

          • March 20th 2012 @ 4:28pm
            Stanley grella said | March 20th 2012 @ 4:28pm | ! Report

            There are two teams on a paddock. You can’t play “attacking football” as a game plan. It doesn’t and will never work. The reds grinder out wins last year but everyone remembers the pieces of razzle dazzle and forgets the effort they put in including kicking in between this moments.

            The concept of everyone playing a game plan to bring fans through the door is complete BS in every regard.

      • March 19th 2012 @ 8:09am
        soapit said | March 19th 2012 @ 8:09am | ! Report

        there is no successful sport that exists on the premise you must give the ball to the opposition to play with for you to score. people want to watch excellence, not forcing errors and nothing else.

        • March 19th 2012 @ 8:14am
          mania said | March 19th 2012 @ 8:14am | ! Report

          soapit – reminds of the last time the British and Irish Lions toured NZ. it was a typical NZ winter in that most games featured wind and rain. Cant remember the BIL captain but when asked about why they kicked it so much replied “possession is a liability in this kind of weather” i thought then what a loser attitude to have and that they were going to get a hiding…and they did.

          • March 19th 2012 @ 10:54am
            soapit said | March 19th 2012 @ 10:54am | ! Report

            so long as they get a hiding doing it all’s well. its when teams win world cups and 3rd place play offs that you start to worry.

            • March 19th 2012 @ 11:34am
              mania said | March 19th 2012 @ 11:34am | ! Report

              lol, well i’m not going to complain about how AB’s won the WC, i’m just happy we finally have it

              • March 19th 2012 @ 3:06pm
                soapit said | March 19th 2012 @ 3:06pm | ! Report

                wasnt necessarily talking about the AB’s mate. to be honest i was thinking 2007 but to be fair the boks didnt adopt the tactic until after winning the cup and after they saw what refusing to hold the ball did for argentina (best ever finish by some margin).

      • March 19th 2012 @ 8:13am
        Harry said | March 19th 2012 @ 8:13am | ! Report

        Did you see the Cheetahs v Rebels game yesterday? Great match, better than all the league games IMO.
        But yes, the grass roots of rugby union in Australia have not been well nourished by the present administration.

        • March 19th 2012 @ 8:18am
          mania said | March 19th 2012 @ 8:18am | ! Report

          Harry – grass roots hasnt been nourished by the past 100 years worth of administration

          • March 19th 2012 @ 9:33am
            Harry said | March 19th 2012 @ 9:33am | ! Report

            Without wishing to belittle the fantastic work done by previous generations of rugby part time/amateur administrators and volunteers in this countnry, correct.
            Contrast to the AFL and even soccer.

      • March 19th 2012 @ 9:32am
        Tigranes said | March 19th 2012 @ 9:32am | ! Report


        to be honest, I thought most of the NRL games on the weekend were appalling. The Tahs game was poor, but I thought the Brumbies v Chiefs and Rebels v Cheetahs were fantastic close games. On the other hand, you had the Tigers v Dragons, Eels v Cowboys and Roosters v Raiders which were pretty average as far as games go.

        Soccer is not a good comparison. Soccer has over 1m registered players in Australia and are likely to only have 8 teams in the country in the next competition. Rugby has less than100,000 registered players, and has 5 teams.

        • March 19th 2012 @ 9:39am
          sheek said | March 19th 2012 @ 9:39am | ! Report


          I agree I don’t always find league a better alternative. Right now, neither union nor league is satisfying me. Perhaps I’m guilty of becoming a cranky old man (mid-50s). I tell my wife that one of the advantages of getting older is the right to become crankier!!!

          With soccer, the fact is they do have a 9 team comp at present (8 in Australia excluding GCU), & with so many registered players, they have a far greater potential for growth than union is ever likely to in the short to medium term.

          • March 19th 2012 @ 12:00pm
            AC said | March 19th 2012 @ 12:00pm | ! Report


            I think soccer’s participation numbers can’t be compared to the other codes.

            True, there will be a lot of great athletes in that demographic.

            But there are way more people who play soccer socially than play rugby socially (and into older age) because of the perceived relative safety of the game, and desire to stay fit.

            Park soccer is a game where you can fool around with your mates. This isn’t anywhere near as possible in rugby (Golden Oldies excluded) because of the physical nature of it.

            • March 19th 2012 @ 2:12pm
              Volt said | March 19th 2012 @ 2:12pm | ! Report

              Obvious but valid points. Bring back someone like Tony Daly – who not only has the ticker but can also assist in the weak scrum

            • March 19th 2012 @ 2:34pm
              NSWRU said | March 19th 2012 @ 2:34pm | ! Report

              AC – I assume you are a golden oldies player yourself?

            • March 19th 2012 @ 3:06pm
              LargeCranium said | March 19th 2012 @ 3:06pm | ! Report

              wouldn’t have thought so… i think its more about Trust, encouragement, reward, loyalty… satisfaction

        • March 19th 2012 @ 9:41am
          kingplaymaker said | March 19th 2012 @ 9:41am | ! Report

          Tigranes you have to think of it in terms of what a fan is used to. So a bad rugby game may be better than a good NRL game, but an NRL fan won’t be open-minded enough to realise. It’s only when you present an NRL fan with a wonderful rugby game that they may choose to follow rugby more, simply because it’s so obviously fantastic.

          Sports supporters are so sold on the virtues of their codes that it takes something spectacular to draw them to a new one.

        • Roar Guru

          March 19th 2012 @ 11:39am
          Bay35Pablo said | March 19th 2012 @ 11:39am | ! Report

          Tigranes, participation figures for last year were about 250K from memory. Record high. However, as they say – statistics, statistics & damned lies.

          The problem is those type of rubbery figures probably mean the ARU thinks it’s doing a breat job and can rest easy, when in fact it needs to pull it’s head out of its arse, do more with the little funds it has, and starting thinking outside the box. Fat chance.

    • March 19th 2012 @ 7:53am
      kingplaymaker said | March 19th 2012 @ 7:53am | ! Report

      sheek the Tahs indicate a horrifying possibility: is Australian rugby so amateur and conservative that even the most desperate times will not effect any change.

      If THE New South Wales team is drawing 14,000 fans then things are already beyond desperate, and yet nothing is done. When there are only 1400 fans will anything happen? It seems to be the case that Australian rugby culture is about playing for pleasure, playing in the schools, and that the professional game is of little interest to the hearts and souls of those involved in it.

      • March 19th 2012 @ 9:45am
        sheek said | March 19th 2012 @ 9:45am | ! Report


        If I had all the answers then perhaps I would be running NSW rugby…..!!!

        However, clearly rugby union (In Australia anyway) has failed to dispense with the amateur attitude that rugby is a game for players, & spectator satisfaction is largely irrelevant.

        BTW, I don’t discourage kicking, providing it is done wisely. Offensive kicking (chip & chase, grubbers, centre or corner kicks), designed for quick re-possession or try scoring opportunities, is an excellent tactic. It’s the wasteful kicking “because I can’t think of anything better, or am incapable of thinking of anything better”, that is the problem.

        • March 19th 2012 @ 10:00am
          kingplaymaker said | March 19th 2012 @ 10:00am | ! Report

          sheek having any glint of an answer would immediately disqualify you from running Australian rugby!

          What’s bizarre is that Australia isn’t actually as backward as rugby in the other major countries, but unlike them it can’t get away with it because of the NRL and AFL, and that it is a much smaller country than say England or France. And it’s still incredibly backward!

          As for kicking the occasional kick on offense is ok but it is taken to ridiculous extent and this I think is a hang-over from the old pre-law-interpretation-changes days. These things are rarely effective and are only necessary when the backs aren’t any good, which is perhaps why they originate from the days of the ten-man game when the backs simply weren’t relevant.

          What’s even worse for Australian rugby than the absence of change is the pace of it when it does happen. Once in a decade something seems to happen.

    • March 19th 2012 @ 7:53am
      Justin said | March 19th 2012 @ 7:53am | ! Report

      The positive for the Tahs is their defence which was very solid for most of the match. The negatives are numerous – lineout throws, a lack of midfield punch, nothing from their frontrow and little creativity n the halves/playmakers.

      They have lost close games but have they ever led comfortably this year? Cant recall but I suspect no, which suggests while they dont lose by much they wont win by much either.

      The pack needs a rev up, they need some pick and go to get front foot ball and they need to make some hard decisions in the backs. For me Hangers, Barnes and Horne have never really produced in their positions. I would have Foley move to 10 and have either Carter/AAC in centres or Horne/AAC centres. Barnes out the back to 15 and Hangers on bench.

      They must get some midfield creativity and momentum. Having the two playmakers right now isnt working because neither of them (Hangers/Barnes) can create much so all that is happening is a shuffle or kick of the ball. There is no change of angles, Barnes cant beat nor run over a man, or sleight of hand.

      Like the tactics the selections are conservative and that is just as big a problem.

      • March 19th 2012 @ 8:17am
        Harry said | March 19th 2012 @ 8:17am | ! Report

        Contrast Barnes to JOC in their respective games at the weekend. Very telling – though both were losers!
        The Tahs need to play Barnes at 10, start with Tom Carter at 12 and AAC at 15. Keep Hangers in reserve and Foley for impact. ANd they are missing Drew Mitchell in particular among their injured brigade.

        • March 19th 2012 @ 8:23am
          Justin said | March 19th 2012 @ 8:23am | ! Report

          Harry the differnce between BB and JOC couldnt be more stark could it? JOC looked dangerous everytime he had the ball. He constantly beats the first tackle and looks to offload where possible. Barnes NEVER looks like beating an egg…

          • March 19th 2012 @ 9:14am
            johnny-boy said | March 19th 2012 @ 9:14am | ! Report

            Mind you Justin JOC also looked pretty brassed off at having to play with rank amateurs like Cipriani. Sure he threw an intercept but at least he looked capable of creating something.

            • March 19th 2012 @ 12:24pm
              RebelRanger said | March 19th 2012 @ 12:24pm | ! Report

              and JOC came to life when? could it have been when so called amateurs like Cipriani came on?

              • March 19th 2012 @ 12:28pm
                kingplaymaker said | March 19th 2012 @ 12:28pm | ! Report

                j-b your fanatical hatred of Robbie Deans and Danny Cipriani seems to be based on little more than the fact they are not Australian. Normal patriotism is well and good but it is something of an extreme if any non-Australian coach or player in your eyes is a beastly atrocity.

              • March 19th 2012 @ 12:49pm
                johnny-boy said | March 19th 2012 @ 12:49pm | ! Report

                JOC looked pretty brassed off when Cipriani fumbled the ball towards him along the ground trying to attempt a pass when there was open space. Geez.

        • Roar Rookie

          March 19th 2012 @ 10:31am
          Behold said | March 19th 2012 @ 10:31am | ! Report

          Barnes needs to start at 10 definitely but AAC needs to start at inside not Carter. AAC is their best back line runner and a very experienced player, Barnes needs someone outside him who if he passes it to them is going to get across the advantage line. Horne currently isn’t doing this when Barnes is playing at inside. The lack of experienced wide players means that they continued to prop up the midfield with mediocre experienced players (Hangers/Carter). Foley has not continued to improve as everyone hoped in his two starts he has been okay but because of the lack of depth he should be preserved with.
          On the topic of JOC he is an okay Super Rugby flyhalf. He runs the ball too much, his passing game still isn’t there, his boot is unreliable. His big positive is taking the ball to the line and pop passing in contact to a forward runner. If the Rebels have a quality fly half JOC is much better suited to playing inside centre. He plays a fairly selfish brand of football, which was okay when playing for the Force with their lack of quality in the back line and will be okay for the foreseeable future playing for the Rebels but it isn’t an acceptable way to play in a quality team.

          • March 19th 2012 @ 11:02am
            Justin said | March 19th 2012 @ 11:02am | ! Report

            On JOC – the reasons you point out rightly are exactly why JOC is a 12 not a 10. He has pretty good skills as a 10 but not top notch and he prefers to run the ball rather than set up and direct a team around the park. He is a long term 12 for AUS IMO, always has been.

            • March 19th 2012 @ 11:34am
              kingplaymaker said | March 19th 2012 @ 11:34am | ! Report

              Justin agree on that: playmaking is the main attacking activity of a fly-half then running: JOC is better at the second and so is a 12 or even a 13.

              • March 19th 2012 @ 4:35pm
                Lorry said | March 19th 2012 @ 4:35pm | ! Report


                JOC would be the smallest 13 in history!!

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