The British rugby media has taken aim at Force coach Michael Foley, when the Australian Rugby Union should be the target.
Foley, faced with two games in four days, named a team of no-names for the clash with the Lions tonight in Perth, but will select a far stronger lineup for the Waratahs game in Perth on Sunday.
“Insulting,” cried the British media.
That’s total bollocks.
Now for the facts.
Why did the ARU agree to the pointless Lions-Barbarian opening fixture of the tour in sweltering Hong Kong last Saturday?
The Force had a Super Rugby bye that day, so the tour could, and should, have kicked off on Australian soil in the west. Not with some social game in Asia.
Having stuffed up from the get-go, the ARU effectively forced the Force to play two quality games in four days.
And to compound the ARU’s lack of thinking and planning, the Force-Lions game kicks off at exactly the same time as rugby league’s Holy Grail, State of Origin 1 in Sydney,
Imagine how many viewers are going to watch Fox 2 live for the Lions coverage, when Origin 1 will be live on Channel 9?
Fox 2 will be lucky to rate an asterisk.
Apart from the stupidity of the unnecessary clash, there will be 30,000 rugby fans in Perth, where the vast majority would like to see both games, as well as the many thousands around the country who would prefer to watch both games live.
Having missed the boat by not playing the Force-Lions last Saturday, tonight’s game should have been scheduled for last night, and everyone would have been catered for. And left happy.
So British media, target the ARU for showing no awareness, and leave Foley alone to pick up the pieces of an impossible brief.
The further downside to the incredible scheduling stuff-up is that we won’t see Hugh McMeniman on the comeback trail after two months out with a shoulder injury, nor Kyle Godwin perform against the Lions.
But they will play against the Waratahs on Sunday.
As McMeniman said yesterday: “The game against the Waratahs is for (tournament) points, the Lions isn’t”.
But you have to feel for McMeniman and Godwin, missing a probable once in a lifetime chance to compete against the Lions.
And no doubt Wallaby coach Robbie Deans would have preferred to see the 29-year-old McMeniman, and the 20-year-old Godwin, against the tourists.
But no-one can blame Foley for taking his stance. He’s done some tremendous work with the Force this season, a far cry from the shambles of last season coaching the Waratahs, losing the final eight games.
Foley has carved a niche for himself in the west, and good luck to him.
As for the ARU, they are never far away from shooting themselves in the foot.
And that will never change; it’s all part of the territory.