I was taken aback by the comments earlier this week from World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper, in which he inadvertently or otherwise suggested that internationals are not necessarily as equal as we thought.
I must admit I have tuned out from the rugby the last couple of months.
I was so confused and lost on the timing, mid-season break and finals structure for Super Rugby that by the time the Brumbies were on again, it was middle of July and minus five on the old weather vane.
I’m not fickle or afraid of a bit of frostbite, I just couldn’t understand why a team who had won six games and lost nine had the right to host a final against a team who had won 12 and only lost three.
Switch to the mid-season internationals, and I saw the Scotland team record an inspirational victory (minus their Lions’ players), and Italy doing enough to sniff a boilover in Brisbane before falling short.
Then we have just had a wonderful month to watch the Wallabies train.
Follow the Wallabies on Facebook and it looked tough – sand dunes, hills, and lots of hard work and talk. But oh how they trained so hard against each other.
Just like they have done so since those school boy academies they have been nurtured into from a young age and told how great they are.
But we really want to beat New Zealand don’t we?
To further the cause, the team brings in a specialist defensive coach from Fortress NSW to toughen up the resolve.
We were also in our second year of having the best ‘skills’ coach in the world who we poached back from New Zealand. Tick – looking forward to catching and passing again.
And, even better, one of the Brumbies’ favourite sons goes full-time into the Assistant Coach role, having not changed the Brumbies at all from the Jake White rolling maul days of a few years back. At least the set piece will rock and roll.
We pick the key elements of the Waratahs and Reds teams that have bought so much success recently.
Then the same old and tired hookers – Stephen Moore and Tatafu Poluta-Nau. One seems to have not been able to play 80 minutes for a decade, the other couldn’t throw a line out to save himself. These guys have been associated with long-term abject Bledisloe failure and at their ages will not achieve anything.
Rob Simmons was selected to add some impact off the bench, even though the might of the Queensland Reds axed him earlier this year – despite the Wallabies re-signing him until 2019 on a top-up contract.
So you have nice month off on retreat, and you mix all of the above ingredients together – and here we are ready to storm the beaches and reclaim the Bledisloe right?
Overcoached, robotic heartless and clueless drones is what I saw on television. I feel sorry for the dwindling number of people who paid money to go see it. At least you could say every missed tackle only cost a couple of bucks in an abstract value for money ideal.
New Zealand declared and enforced the follow on after 45 minutes. Forget any reference to a comeback as a positive.
In Sydney in 2017 we have seen an enormous rise in the Shute Shield profile under the banner of ‘make club rugby great again’.
It was fantastic yesterday afternoon watching Norths take on Eastwood in one of the semi-finals.
The players actually played what was in front of them, and the clear majority could draw and pass at speed. In addition, they not only relied on coached structures, yet also instinct, and a clear understanding of the basics of support in broken play.
It also showcased what is right about rugby in Australia – the uncomplicated running game we all love and know played by teams that clearly have a soul, and the passion to play.
Maybe the Wallabies squad members should have been playing club rugby before coming together a week before the game – to reinforce some basic elements of skill, pride and desire that were completely missing from the drivel presented on Saturday.
I’ve never seen such a worrying disconnect between a fan-base and a beloved national institution.