Thank goodness for the Force, all is forgiven for now

Spiro Zavos Columnist

By Spiro Zavos, Spiro Zavos is a Roar Expert

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    Okay, okay! I know, I know. I’ve been tough on the Western Force and argued that the franchise should be shifted to Parramatta.

    But after this weekend’s lacklustre play from the supposed Australian heavyweights, the Brumbies, the Reds and the Waratahs, a carryover from their boring rugby in the first round of Super Rugby 2017, I’ve had a conversion.

    I am now a convert to the Western Force cause. The franchise should be endorsed as the fifth Australian Super Rugby side and should be based in Perth.

    Admittedly, this road to Damascus conversion is on the strength of one game, the Force’s splendid victory over an ancient, leg-weary, over-the-hill Reds team on Thursday night. But sometimes one result, in this case the 26-19 victory, can be decisive in forcing people (like myself) to change their minds.

    My take on this result and the results posted by the Brumbies and the Waratahs is that they provide a good case for retaining the Force in the Super Rugby tournament, and for retaining Perth as the city where the team should reside.

    As it happens, this is the opinion of the veteran Wayne Smith who wrote a provocative wrap-up of the Force-Reds match in The Australian. The headline to the article gave the clue where Smith was going: ‘Clueless Reds give Force plenty of ammunition to fire at SANZAAR‘.

    The ammunition Smith refers to it relates to the splendid nature of the Force’s win and the correspondingly depressing nature of the Reds’ defeat.

    The ammunition needs to be directed at the ARU, as well as to SANZAAR. The ARU seem to be hell-bent on appeasing everyone in SANZAAR, including the A for Argentina, and neglecting their prime responsibility which is to the Australian rugby community.

    The main point I would make here is that the ARU has not smashed any talk of Australia not fielding five Super Rugby teams. In fact, there seems to be some official complacency that Australia about dropping one of the five Australian sides.

    The expansion from three Australian Super Rugby sides to five has been to the undoubted benefit of the game here, and to the strength of the Wallabies.

    If the argument that having five sides somehow dilutes the strength of the Australian franchises, how is it that it was only when there were five Australian sides that the Reds and the Waratahs won their Super Rugby championship trophies?

    Going back to the Force, Wayne Smith made the point in his article that “nine of the 23-man Force squad learnt their rugby growing up in Perth.”

    He then asked the relevant question: “Is that not what expansion is all about?”

    One of the best aspects of having five rather than, say, three or four franchises is that more players are exposed to big-time rugby. Players are discovered and go on to play for the Wallabies who might never have even been given the chance to play Super Rugby under a three or four-franchise system.

    For me, the outstanding Australian player of the round was Chance Peni. But if the Force was not in the Super Rugby tournament, he would never have had a chance to show off his talents at the highest provincial level.

    Right at the start of the Force-Reds match, Peni stood up the Reds veteran George Smith before blazing away for an electrifying try. Sometimes you need only one play to tell you that a player has the ability to be an exceptional asset to any team he plays for. That one play did that for me as far as Peni was concerned.

    But who is Chance Peni?

    The Western Force website had this information about the player before the season started.

    “Western Australian product Chance Peni returns to his home state after spending the last five years plying his trade in rugby league. The New Zealand-born talent came through the RugbyWA pathway playing in Western Australia junior teams alongside fellow homegrown Force players like Luke Burton, Ross Haylett-Petty, Harry Scobie, Richard Hardwick and Kane Koteka before being lured east …”

    The website went on to note that Peni played league for the West Tigers and represented for the Junior Kiwis and the Cook Islands in a league Test.

    He showed great pace to score his try and was aggressive on defence. He looked to be, admittedly on a very early showing, the sort of abrasive talent, on attack and defence, that Michael Cheika needs to add to his Wallabies squad to replace the older legs that have had their days of glory.

    It needs to be noted, also, that this growing of young rugby talent in Perth is taking place at the schoolboy level too.

    The ARU has published the play-on list for the Australian Youth Boys Rugby Sevens squad. It includes 14 players from NSW, 12 from Queensland, four from Victoria, three from Western Australia, two from the ACT and one each from South Australia and the Northern Territory.

    Having said all this, I still would argue that Sydney needs two Super Rugby teams to ensure that there is a Super Rugby match in the heartland of Australian rugby each week.

    If the second Sydney team is not the Force, then who should it be?

    It should be, unfortunately, the Brumbies. I say “unfortunately” because for a long time the Brumbies were Australia’s best, most successful and most innovative team.

    tevita-kuridrani-brumbies-super-rugby-2016-tall

    Their origins from the bits and pieces left over from the first Waratahs’ squad and their subsequent domination of the other established state sides like the Waratahs and the Reds is the stuff of legend and real legends like Stephen Larkham, George Gregan, Joe Roff, Stirling Mortlock and many others of blessed memory.

    But these glory days are long gone. The Brumbies are now importing their ball players from leftover scraps from New Zealand and the occasional Argentinian.

    Moreover, the tactical brilliance of Brumbies teams, playing as an ensemble with cunning plays and state-of-the-art attacking and defensive systems, are gone.

    No coaches from around the world are making the trek to Canberra, as they did in the days of Rod Macqueen, to pick up what the new wave of new rugby tactics are going to be.

    Where it used to be a pleasure to watch the Brumbies play, it is now something of a painful experience. There is a restrictive aspect about their play that is hard to watch. The best you say, for example, about their performances so far in 2017 is that they have been resilient.

    As a spectator, though, it is hard to be enthused about resilience when brilliant, enthralling play was what the franchise use to deliver.

    The Brumbies give away, as well, far too many penalties with their dour play. The five penalties kicked by Pat Lambie for the Sharks were as instrumental as the last-second try in their victory over the Brumbies who kicked only one penalty but scored three tries to the two by the Sharks.

    Getting back to where the Brumbies should play in the new Super Rugby format, I would argue that the Melbourne Rebels (who are privately owned) and the Reds are based in large cities that have the population base to support a Super Rugby team.

    So they should stay where they are.

    Canberra has a small population, in comparison with Melbourne and Brisbane. It is struggling to maintain its league franchise with the Raiders. The AFL will only play the occasional match in the town.

    Bruce Stadium is hard to get to and has all the charm of an ancient urinal. It is hardly spectator friendly.

    Moreover, the Brumbies franchise is being plagued by mismanagement that surpasses that of the Waratahs and the Reds in their worst days.

    The model for the Brumbies in Sydney should be the way the Swans transferred from Melbourne to Sydney and created an identity that reflected the history of the franchise in the two cities.

    Getting back to Round 2, one of the attractive aspects of the Force’s victory over the Reds was the smart preparation of the side by the team’s coaching staff of head coach Dave Wessels, the highly-regarded forwards coach Joe Barakat and attack coach Shaun Berne created the unexpected.

    michael-ruru-western-force-super-rugby-union-2017

    Remember, the victory was the first time the Force has ever won its opening home match of the season.

    And remember, too, the Reds were stacked with Wallabies and former Wallabies.

    Coach Wessels made the decision to beef up his pack from the side that played the Waratahs. The reason for this, according to Wessels?

    “The dominant personality at the Reds is Nick Stiles, who is a formidable coach, so – we had to pick a pack that would be really competitive at set piece time. So we had a plan for some time to move Ross Haylett-Petty to six which would give us an extra jumper in our backrow and it obviously helps at scrum time.”

    I like this sort of thinking. It shrewdly acknowledged that coaches get their teams to play to their own area of expertise. Being a former prop, Stiles likes to build his team play around the pack. So Wessels beefed up his pack to counter the emphasis on forward play that Stiles was likely to inculcate into his Reds.

    The Wessels’ thinking paid off with Force dominance in the lineout and, crucially, when the Force put on a monster shove in a scrum towards the end of the match that turned over possession to it.

    Throughout the match, too, the Force played plenty of ball-in-hand rugby and ran the Reds old-timers off their feet.

    Again Berne gave a clue to the (advanced) thinking of the coaching group when he explained to commentators that the Force spent a lot of time at practice developing their passing skills. It told, too, as the Force used their passing game to out-flank and out-run the old legs of the veteran players turning out for the Reds.

    Passing is the most basic skills of all in the modern rugby game. On attack, especially, as all the New Zealand teams are demonstrating rugby is more like basketball than, say, league with the way the ball is shifted so cleverly from player to player.

    When you watch a team like the Hurricanes is like one of those pro basketball sides making a seemingly endless sequence of fast full court break-outs.

    Watching the other Australian sides, on the other hand, I was struck by their lack of skills, their inadequate game management understandings (too many aimless kicks, for instance) and their general lack of a fitness.

    The Waratahs, particularly, ran out of energy early on in their match at Johannesburg (admittedly at altitude) against a rampant, high-energy Lions’ side.

    waratahs-super-rugby

    It was particularly noticeable, too, that Israel Folau played virtually no part in the match, making about five touches and minimal yardage, until he raced away on a 30m run to score a try on time. The match was well over by then.

    This lack of participation by Folau in much of the play raises these two questions.

    1. When is the experiment of playing Folau at fullback or centre going to be abandoned and he is put on the wing where he can roam and run without having to worry too much about his positional play?

    2. Who in the ARU is going to give him rocket and tell him that he is playing like a 10c player rather than the million-dollar man he is purported to be?

    And returning to the fitness matter for a moment, the Rebels actually took a six-point lead against the Hurricanes before conceding the next 71 points.

    Mind you, once they got their play flowing the Hurricanes played some of the best ensemble rugby one could ever hope to see.

    The Force play the Brumbies in Canberra on Friday night, the Reds play the Crusaders at Suncorp Stadium Brisbane on Saturday night and the Waratahs are at Kings Park, Durban, against the Sharks.

    Am I being too facetious in seeing only one win by an Australian side from these three matches?

    And what are the odds on the Force being that Australian side?

    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 (183)

    • Roar Guru

      March 6th 2017 @ 7:57am
      Fionn said | March 6th 2017 @ 7:57am | ! Report

      I normally don’t mind your tangents, Spiro, but this was pathetic. So the Force win one home game in two years and suddenly they’re safe?

      Clearly you’ve never been to Canberra, as Bruce stadium is incredibly easy to get to—there is free parking and only required a 5min walk down a bush track.

      Look at the numbers of people who turn up to Force and Rebels game, it’s paltry, and comparable to the Brumbies in cities about 8 and 15 times the size.

      More to the point, the Brumbies have still basically been Australia’s most successful team since 2013 (in terms of consistently making the finals). The Force have never made the finals once in ten years and the Rebels have been average since 2011—their two rounds this year have been absolutely pathetic.

      For all of this talk about “growing the game”, how many top players have Perth and Melbourne actually produced? Admittedly, a couple like DHP and Hodge, but goodness me they’ve been a resource drain for little-to-no reward.

      • March 6th 2017 @ 8:26am
        concerned supporter said | March 6th 2017 @ 8:26am | ! Report

        Fionn,
        Reece Hodge played colts and grade for Manly before Melbourne Rebels.

      • March 6th 2017 @ 8:54am
        Republican said | March 6th 2017 @ 8:54am | ! Report

        …..mmm 8K on Saturday for the Brums is ordinary to say the least Fionn.
        I believe gates are down across the whole of the Super comp and falling & have been for some years, including in NZ.
        The Brumbies remain the weak link in the eyes of the Sanzar Damocles unfortunately.
        The Force should be able to get another win under their belt in Canberra this Friday I reckon going on form.
        They, the Force, must have a lot of ex pat Kiwis in their line up?

      • March 6th 2017 @ 10:18am
        Tahman said | March 6th 2017 @ 10:18am | ! Report

        Fionn there was nobody at the Brumbies game. I mean seriously what else is there to do in Canberra on a Saturday night

        Brumbies crowds have been woeful for about 3 -4 years now. They couldn’t even get a full house to the semi final last year

        • Roar Guru

          March 6th 2017 @ 10:27am
          Fionn said | March 6th 2017 @ 10:27am | ! Report

          Tahman, there was 7,000-8,000. Not defending it at all (as you say, woeful), but how many did the Rebels and the Force get their games? In markets that are exponentially larger than Canberra.

          Nobody wants to see the Brumbies lose playing the boring rugby that Larkham has got them playing.

          • March 6th 2017 @ 1:16pm
            Mr Tommo said | March 6th 2017 @ 1:16pm | ! Report

            7000 at the force game on a thursday night, however, if they beat the brumbies and at least hold the kiwis over the next 3 games I guarantee you at least twice as many will be at the next game.

            • March 6th 2017 @ 9:49pm
              Chris said | March 6th 2017 @ 9:49pm | ! Report

              Both SANZAR and the other code NRL are killing there once proud games.

        • March 6th 2017 @ 10:49am
          Akari said | March 6th 2017 @ 10:49am | ! Report

          I take the Tahs had a full house against the Force a week ago, Tahman. Might be better to attend to your before talking about the Brumbies. I agree however that the attendance on Saturday night was woeful.

          • March 7th 2017 @ 8:50am
            Tahman said | March 7th 2017 @ 8:50am | ! Report

            Difference is Akari, there are a lot of things to do in Sydney on a Saturday night, whereas Canberra….???
            How many times can you go to the Museum.

            • March 7th 2017 @ 10:11am
              Akari said | March 7th 2017 @ 10:11am | ! Report

              Other than the Star casino, where in Sydinee could one go for an ale or two after 1.30am, Tahman? And then you have your no booze law at 3am. Why were these restrictions imposed in the 1st place?

              After your miserable day in Joburg, the Museum might not be a bad place to go while you are in Durban, Tahman.

      • March 6th 2017 @ 5:12pm
        Rebellion said | March 6th 2017 @ 5:12pm | ! Report

        For the good of Australian rugby the ARU needs to eliminate the Force and perhaps one other side in the old Super 12/13 format.
        I like Spiro’s conviction and citing Wayne Smith as an expert opinion however the game is too badly damaged to be focusing on long term growth when what the ARU needs to address is short term survival.
        Grass Roots support in the traditional base of QLD & NSW is vital to keeping union alive and this base needs to identify with an authentic product and credible rep side.
        AFL is already making inroads into private schools in NSW. If this continues and spreads through QLD you can kiss the code goodbye within 10 years

        • March 6th 2017 @ 6:05pm
          Bakkies said | March 6th 2017 @ 6:05pm | ! Report

          ‘For the good of Australian rugby the ARU needs to eliminate the Force and perhaps one other side in the old Super 12/13 format.’

          For the good of Australian Rugby this clap trap about culling teams needs to stop now. A lot of this nonsense is coming from journalists and people are believing. They have doing it for a long long time now not just recently.

          • March 6th 2017 @ 7:24pm
            AndyS said | March 6th 2017 @ 7:24pm | ! Report

            Maybe they should cut the Waratahs and then everyone in NSW can focus on the Shute Shield…’Tahs players can all head back and play for their clubs while waiting for a SR spot to open up; happiness all around!

          • March 6th 2017 @ 9:22pm
            Boomeranga said | March 6th 2017 @ 9:22pm | ! Report

            I agree. Keep all five. I don’t see why we should be the ones to give up teams.

    • March 6th 2017 @ 7:58am
      Jigbon said | March 6th 2017 @ 7:58am | ! Report

      All in all a pretty tragic start to the season ….again spiro. ! Your comments about the force getting the basics right …concentrating on passing fir example , in the off season , raise a point I have talked about for years on this site. The poor technique Australians now use for passing cruel us continually. Not to mention other poor techniques. One winders what the coaches train with our guts in the off season. Structurally and technique wise we are playing an outdated game of rugby. One played ten plus years ago by the kiwis. We have been left well and truly behind and I fear for our fate this year as well. I had hoped the kiwi coach for the tahs may have engendered some I’d the kiwi rugby smarts into that team but so far it’s same garbage different year. Oh dear. Another sad rugby year awaits us.

    • March 6th 2017 @ 8:25am
      Agent11 said | March 6th 2017 @ 8:25am | ! Report

      The Raiders are hardly struggling in canberra. Some have tipped them to win the NRL premiership this season. They are financially backed by 5 very profitable leagues clubs down there. Yes the crowds are not great (neither are the brumbies) but their should be an increase this season.

      • March 6th 2017 @ 8:55am
        Republican said | March 6th 2017 @ 8:55am | ! Report

        ……the Giants attract a better gate and they are not even a Canberra entity……

        • March 6th 2017 @ 9:02am
          Agent11 said | March 6th 2017 @ 9:02am | ! Report

          And how many of them are from canberra? Maybe they should move there full time then since their semi final in western sydney had more footscray fans show up.

          • March 6th 2017 @ 9:47am
            Republican said | March 6th 2017 @ 9:47am | ! Report

            ……..many of the punters who bulk out any Raiders and Brumbies fixtures come from the region and travel significant distances, so their gates are not exclusive to Canberra either.

          • March 6th 2017 @ 9:54am
            Republican said | March 6th 2017 @ 9:54am | ! Report

            ……..they should be based here, if meritocracy was a criteria, no doubt about that but the AFL are only interested in commercial television type growth as with Sanzar and all codes at this tier.
            GWS has diddly Australian Footy cred or pedigree unlike this city who are half the GWS membership and provide grassroots content which is something WS are unable to, at this point anyway.
            Thats why the AFL have again been expedient of Canberra, realising us as a short term safety net while GWS become established over the ensuing years……decades…..?

        • March 6th 2017 @ 10:49am
          concerned supporter said | March 6th 2017 @ 10:49am | ! Report

          Hey Republican,
          Did you watch the local AFL Derby at Blacktown the other night? Sydney Swans v Giants. I flicked over Foxtel a few times between NRL & cricket. and was amused by the complete lack of people in attendance.
          It was a trial game, it was raining, but the crowd could be measured in hundreds, not even thousands.
          People on the hill under umbrellas. Not a good look for your AFL.

      • March 6th 2017 @ 10:04am
        simmo said | March 6th 2017 @ 10:04am | ! Report

        The Raiders/Brumbies tend to change as the team of the day based on on field success. It seems the Raiders have sort of taken the mantle last season after the Brumbies owning it for a while. I’m sure the debacle that is the Brumbies administration as helped to reduce crowds, Canberra fans of their teams don’t like being treated as idiots.
        The fans would also see and hear the negativity like Spiro has raised about doing away with them all together and this doesn’t help the general vibe, the Raiders arnt going anywhere and backed up by a true and tested competition structure where as rugby has SANZAAR……they don’t have Canberra fans’ welfare in mind.
        Sad to see the season has just picked up from last years’ miserable results.

      • March 6th 2017 @ 10:06am
        James said | March 6th 2017 @ 10:06am | ! Report

        Raiders havd over 15k members this year. Already doubled end of last seasons last. Clearly struggling

      • March 7th 2017 @ 1:48am
        Bakkies said | March 7th 2017 @ 1:48am | ! Report

        The Raiders have struggled in recent years to attract players. Some have walked out of deals. The Brumbies haven’t had that issue. High profile players like Pocock, Moore, Elsom for example moved to Canberra. The team has also had a stable squad with players renewing contracts despite offers elsewhere.

    • March 6th 2017 @ 8:27am
      MH01 said | March 6th 2017 @ 8:27am | ! Report

      What rubbish. Let’s can the Brumbies cause the Force win a game and the rebels are an utter embarrassment . Did you bother to watch the games spiro ? Based on the first 3 Rounds the Brumbies and reds stay.

      This is such a poor article ….you have just turned into a click bait editor .

      • March 6th 2017 @ 12:08pm
        Jacko said | March 6th 2017 @ 12:08pm | ! Report

        Based on the first 3 rounds????? and thats after round 2?????? Perhaps you should watch the games. The Force are the only current Aus super rugby team on the up. From the 2 rounds we have had this season it is all bad news for the Brumbies and Rebels, with Qld looking a major dissapointment from what was expected and the Tahs being 2 steps behind their opponents this weekend. The Perth area is a haven for Xpat SA and NZ citizens and this is driving the increase in rugby players and fans. To get rid of the ONLY growing rugby area in Aus would be a massive mistake. For mine if 1 team has to go its either the Rebels, who are privately backed and financially solid or the Brumbies who are currently a basketcase at board level and coaching level. Brumbies to go

        • Roar Guru

          March 6th 2017 @ 2:50pm
          Fionn said | March 6th 2017 @ 2:50pm | ! Report

          Get rid of a team that produces high quality players and consistently makes the finals as opposed to a team in a city that does not and will never give a damn about rugby, who have never made the finals have lost by 50 and 70 points in the first two weeks? Yeah mate, Brumbies to go!

          • March 6th 2017 @ 4:23pm
            Jacko said | March 6th 2017 @ 4:23pm | ! Report

            Fionn I understand your annoyance at this suggestion but the Force are a side on the up and the brumbies are losing the plot. History can be difficult to asses when looking to the future, but The city of Perth has to be supported as it is ACTUALLY growing and developing new players. The Brumbies may well have run their course as a franchise with Melbourne SURELY being a better longterm option. I do understand that this would upset a lot of the traditionalists but what would they prefer? Rugby to die or rugby to thrive without the Brumbies
            My personal preference would be to maintain all 5 teams but will that happen? Its not sounding like it.

            • March 6th 2017 @ 6:23pm
              Bakkies said | March 6th 2017 @ 6:23pm | ! Report

              ‘The Brumbies may well have run their course as a franchise with Melbourne SURELY being a better longterm option.’

              Nonsense. Drivellers like Growfat and Spiro were stating that in the 90s and were proven wrong. Since Melbourne have got their own team that has been further backed up as being wrong.

              Outsiders have never understood the Brumbies and the culture there. You can’t transplant that to another city. Especially a bigger city where the players are spread all over the place. The Brumbies players that haven’t sourced their own accommodation (usually the players without kids) live in apartments close to each other and not that far from where the team used to train.

              For all this clap trap about being in a smaller market the Brumbies have yet again got a major sponsor and filled up the team’s sponsor portfolio. Big names like DHL, Computer Associates, Landrover, RBS, Macquarie Bank have sponsored the team throughout the years.

              The Force have just signed a road traffic accident authority to front their jersey, that doesn’t appear to be a long term thing as Sinderberry and co have been looking at other ways to bring in the money. I give him credit for that and he was the man who was the Brumbies first CEO and gave Macqueen freedom to implement his own stamp on the side. Macqueen also designed the logo.

              The Rebels haven’t had a major sponsor since Rabo Direct pulled out of Rugby (they sponsored the Pro 12 in that period). They have shown exactly why they didn’t win the bid for the fourth side which they comprehensively beaten in the ARU boardroom by WA. They just think in a bigger market they will be successful. Doesn’t work like that in Rugby and the Sydney drivellers still don’t get that. Three of the most successful teams in Super Rugby have come from smaller cities the Bulls, Brumbies and Crusaders and built their own unique culture. Spiro and Lord’s pet love for western Sydney had a bid at the time and they were written off early in the piece.

              The Brumbies have had a few poor seasons in their history but certain other Australian teams have never ever come last. This fails to get mentioned.

        • March 6th 2017 @ 5:57pm
          Bakkies said | March 6th 2017 @ 5:57pm | ! Report

          Brumbies have got a tough draw. Compared to recent years results against the Crusaders including games at home have been and they did very well in ChCh with an inexperienced side. Jake White got the Brumbies playing in the Canberra comp and put a local emphasis on putting local players in the second XV. With no interference and bs from Sydney clubs it will be a betterment to the Brumbies player development.

          The ACT have never had strong under age rep teams particularly in the national schoolboys championships even in the Macqueen and Jones era. Results and player representation in national squads isn’t the main focus.

    • March 6th 2017 @ 8:29am
      Steve said | March 6th 2017 @ 8:29am | ! Report

      Rugby has a problem, there’s too many tries and it enough kicking. Watched a couple of games this round and it’s like watching basketball.

      Comment from The Roar’s iPhone app.

    • March 6th 2017 @ 8:37am
      John said | March 6th 2017 @ 8:37am | ! Report

      You are on the wrong track here Spiro. The performance by the Australian Super Rugby franchises against the South African and NZ franchises were poor last year and are poor so far this year.
      It is obvious to all that nothing has been learnt from last year and mediocrity is the norm.
      Poor performances on the paddock by the Super Rugby franchises translate into poor performances by the Wallabies against the Springboks and All Blacks. Time for sitting and hoping for improvement has passed and now the ARU needs to make changes by cutting the number of Super Rugby franchises, concentrating the pool of player and coaching talent and start getting wins on the board against all comers.

      • March 6th 2017 @ 9:15am
        Danger said | March 6th 2017 @ 9:15am | ! Report

        Does any one honestly think cutting the Australian teams to 3 or 4 is going to fix everything and suddenly make the remaining teams more dominant in super rugby? You honestly think that the 2 or 3 players from the force or rebels that would be picked up, would’ve caused the waratahs to win?

        As if the cream from the expansion teams would even get a game, they’d sit on the bench for 2 seasons at the tahs/reds and then leave for Europe or Japan for an opportunity to play. Even then, the salary cap would prevent most of the expansion teams players that have been developed, from joining the “heartland” teams.

        How can you say there’s not enough players when there’s average/journeyman players leaving for Europe to make more money and get more game time than they would in Australia.

        This is a coaching and skills problem we have in Australia right now, which when addressed correctly will fix the mess we are in. Foxtel is also to blame for the outreach to the population we don’t have. The skills issue is going to take years to solve, starting at clubs and eventually working through to the wallabies.

        The ARU needs to get a grip of rugby in Australia. Well done on creating the pathways with the Nrc. Now we need to make sure the kids coming through posses the skills, not just raw talent, to be potential all black beaters.

        • March 6th 2017 @ 10:03am
          Jock Cornet said | March 6th 2017 @ 10:03am | ! Report

          How on earth is the NRC a pathway. Wake up , when you leave school you don’t just walk into the NRC. Rugby is dead in Oz whilst flourishing overseas because our club system has died due to the ARU

          • March 6th 2017 @ 10:59am
            Akari said | March 6th 2017 @ 10:59am | ! Report

            “club system has died due to the ARU”

            And nothing absolutely to do with poor club leadership and maladministration?

            • March 6th 2017 @ 11:23am
              concerned supporter said | March 6th 2017 @ 11:23am | ! Report

              Arkari, you say
              “And nothing absolutely to do with poor club leadership and maladministration?”
              Can you be specific?All clubs in Sydney at least (don’t know about the other states) are one step from being insolvent and having to liquidate.They are being kept alive mainly by Sponsorship Income and Players Subscriptions.Yes, club players including senior lower grades and colts pay a lot per season to play Rugby.Their expenses are mainly Ground Hire to Councils, Professional Coaching Staff & Uniforms.
              People here have said that if the Shute Shield Clubs went bankrupt tomorrow, their players, staff & supporters would immediately gravitate to Subbies.Ever heard such rubbish?
              These clubs (and those in other states & country areas) are in desperate need of assistance.

              • March 6th 2017 @ 11:58am
                Maroon Kev said | March 6th 2017 @ 11:58am | ! Report

                Come on buddy!!!

                You don’t reckon being one step from insolvent is poor leadership and maladministration!!!!

                We’ve got local AFL clubs in QLD that make a motza!!!

              • March 6th 2017 @ 12:12pm
                concerned supporter said | March 6th 2017 @ 12:12pm | ! Report

                Maroon (Red) Kev,
                Maybe these AFL clubs in Queensland receive a motza from the AFL.My Melbourne expat mates say that the AFL would have funded GWS Giants well over $100 M since their inception probably close to $200M. They had minimal income, they had to pay their Coaches & staff, but more importantly they had to pay their players.Where does this money come from buddy?

              • March 6th 2017 @ 12:23pm
                Jock Cornet said | March 6th 2017 @ 12:23pm | ! Report

                Qld rugby is in a worse state producing not many players. The reds are a basket case

              • March 6th 2017 @ 12:38pm
                Maroon Kev said | March 6th 2017 @ 12:38pm | ! Report

                The local clubs don’t get funded you buffoon!!!

                Palmy Lions aren’t getting $$$ from Big Gill down in Melbourne. They’re just better run than all your mates going broke in Sydney!

              • March 6th 2017 @ 12:52pm
                concerned supporter said | March 6th 2017 @ 12:52pm | ! Report

                Hey Maroon Kev,
                This is what you said “We’ve got local AFL clubs in QLD that make a motza!!!”
                Now you say’The local clubs don’t get funded you buffoon!!!
                Stop drinking at lunch time.

              • March 6th 2017 @ 12:55pm
                Maroon Kev said | March 6th 2017 @ 12:55pm | ! Report

                Yes. Palmy Lions are a local club buddy!!!

                GWS and the Suns aren’t local clubs buddy!! They’re national clubs!!! Why would I be comparing them to your broke Sydney Rugby clubs?

              • March 6th 2017 @ 1:17pm
                concerned supporter said | March 6th 2017 @ 1:17pm | ! Report

                Maroon Kev,
                Palmy Lions??? Brisbane Lions ???

              • March 6th 2017 @ 1:26pm
                Maroon Kev said | March 6th 2017 @ 1:26pm | ! Report

                No. Nothing to do with the Brisbane Lions!!!

                They are a local club as I keep saying!!

                Try reading not deciding what you want me to say!!

              • March 6th 2017 @ 1:28pm
                Jock Cornet said | March 6th 2017 @ 1:28pm | ! Report

                The reds will lose there next 3 games by. 30 plus

              • March 6th 2017 @ 5:57pm
                Akari said | March 6th 2017 @ 5:57pm | ! Report

                I certainly wouldn’t want the clubs to fail as this would be bad for rugby in Oz. generally. If they “are in desperate need of assistance”, I guess some ARU intervention might need to be looked at, eg, funding, etc, and pretty soon then. If this happens, I’d hate to see the bulk of the funds being used to buy players that they could ill-afford in the 1st place.

        • March 6th 2017 @ 2:53pm
          markie362 said | March 6th 2017 @ 2:53pm | ! Report

          Well said mate and im a kiwi.aus just has to suk it up for a while.cutting teams is stupid.u cant trust the aru to do the right thing (support grass roots rugby)with any money thy saved by cutting teams anyway

      • March 6th 2017 @ 6:28pm
        Bakkies said | March 6th 2017 @ 6:28pm | ! Report

        ‘Poor performances on the paddock by the Super Rugby franchises translate into poor performances by the Wallabies against the Springboks and All Blacks. ‘

        You are forgetting the Boks and the SA teams bar the Lions were very poor last year.

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