Michael Cheika taught Mario Ledesma far too well

David Lord Columnist

By David Lord, David Lord is a Roar Expert

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    There’s no secret Michael Cheika has myrtle green blood flowing through his veins.

    His years as Randwick captain and later coach brought the side to Shute Shield premierships. These years were spent with running rugby that rightfully earned the side the tag of the ‘Galloping Greens’.

    The other half of the story is Mario Ledesma, who earned 84 caps for the Pumas between 1996 and 2011, and in his heyday was rated one of the world’s best hookers.

    The Cheika-Ledesma coaching combination started at Stade Francais, continued with the Waratahs, and when Cheika took over as Wallaby coach, Ledesma became his forwards coach for the last three years.

    Recently from left field, Ledesma called halt when he was offered the Jaguares Super Rugby coaching job.

    “It was the hardest decision of my life, I’ve enjoyed my stint with the Wallabies, and I can’t thank Michael Cheika enough for his support, and for giving me the opportunity to develop as a coach,” were Ledesma’s parting words.

    “I wish him well, he’s a good man,” was Cheika’s reply.

    Obviously, Ledesma had been well and truly drilled about Randwick running rugby during his stay with Cheika.

    Yesterday morning, the Jaguares played Randwick rugby against the Waratahs in Buenos Aires, scoring from the Waratah kick-off in just 16 seconds, scoring again in the 11th, 16th, and the 19th minute to lead 26-0 over the shell-shocked Waratahs.

    It was virtually game, set, and match.

    Israel Folau Waratahs Super Rugby Union 2017

    (AAP Image/Paul Miller)

    The final score was 38-28, but only because the Waratahs scored two converted tries in the last 90 seconds to put some respectability into the scoreline.

    For those who can remember the Randwick backlines of the past, it was like watching Ken Catchpole, Phil Hawthorne, Michael Cleary, John Brass, Russell Fairfax, Ken Wright, the three Ellas, and David Campese in action, just to name a few.

    But the likes of winger Emiliano Boffelli, who scored the first two tries in 11 minutes, fullback Joaquin Tuculet, fly-half Nicolas Sanchez, centres Marias Orlando and Santiago Iglesias, and halfback Gonzalo Bertranou could well have been wearing myrtle green jerseys yesterday – they were electric.

    The Waratahs enjoyed 53 per cent possession and 54 per cent territory, yet seemed to be starved of the ball with the Jaguares defence right up in their face with constant devastating defence – and running rugby.

    It was the reason why the Waratahs managed 18 turnovers to 14, and missed 28 tackles to 23.

    But in all honesty, the Jaguares’ six tries to four flattered the Waratahs.

    Jaguares hooker Augustine Creevy wasn’t the side’s captain, but he was like watching former All Black hooker-captain Sean Fitzpatrick in action keeping full pressure on referee Mike Fraser by questioning just about every decision.

    Michael Hooper went missing in that department for most of the game.

    The Jaguares scrum was dominant, nothing new in that with the Waratahs losing three tight-heads, but hooker Damien Fitzpatrick held his own feeding the Waratah lineout.

    To give the Waratahs the credit they deserve, they fought hard for 80 minutes, but were simply out-gunned.

    The usual Waratah suspects stood out with Kurtley Beale and Israel Folau by far the most dangerous in attack, and safe in defence.

    Curtis Rona and halfback Jake Gordon were two constant goers, and with better ball from the forwards, all four will be even more dangerous.

    But yesterday the Waratahs were rolled by a runaway train.

    Which translates to Michael Cheika teaching Mario Ledesma far too well about Randwick rugby.

    David Lord
    David Lord

    David Lord was deeply involved in two of the biggest sporting stories - World Series Cricket in 1977 and professional rugby in 1983. After managing Jeff Thomson and Viv Richards during WSC, in 1983 David signed 208 of the best rugby players from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France to play an international pro circuit. The concept didn't get off the ground, but it did force the IRB to get cracking and bring in the World Rugby Cup, now one of the world's great sporting spectacles

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    The Crowd Says (43)

    • March 12th 2018 @ 8:38am
      Bushranger said | March 12th 2018 @ 8:38am | ! Report

      I think you are getting ahead of yourself a little. It’s the only game of four the Jaguares have won so far. Perhaps Galloping Greens rugby only works after a week at home against tired teams coming from South Africa.

      • Roar Guru

        March 12th 2018 @ 10:04am
        rebel said | March 12th 2018 @ 10:04am | ! Report

        It hasn’t helped the actual Galloping Greens for over a decade

        • March 12th 2018 @ 12:19pm
          Noodles said | March 12th 2018 @ 12:19pm | ! Report

          NSW suffers from politics and intense clubbishness. The tahs again have too little fire power where it counts and you’d have to assume that politics is again the key.
          The rebels barely survived the cull but have come out with freshness and power. Reds accidentally got a coach who refuses to play plitics and look at the result. (Yet the old guard still want Quade).
          Nsw will soon be the lead in Oz saddlebags

        • March 12th 2018 @ 11:39pm
          Bfc said | March 12th 2018 @ 11:39pm | ! Report

          Didn’t see any Mark Ella like flyhalf wrap-around nor the Cyril Towers flat line..
          Not sure Ledesma needed Cheika to teach him about scrummaging…like some noted…84 Test Caps vs none.
          Despite a loss by the TAHs…good to see the enthusiasm of the Jaguares.

    • Roar Rookie

      March 12th 2018 @ 8:49am
      Don said | March 12th 2018 @ 8:49am | ! Report

      When can we get over the almost monthly references to Randwick Rugby as the drivers of all attacking rugby?

      The Juaguarres play on Sunday morning could easily have been compared with the Hurricanes or Highlanders of recent years and that comparison would be closer than the 80s and 90s Randwick way.

      And if Cheika gets any credit for the way Ledesma coaches then he should equally get some blame for Gibson’s work…

      The Tahs were woeful.
      And now that the message has been sent to all sides to attack their set pieces we will likely see scrum yellow cards and the team operating a man down a lot. You don’t fix that scrum with it’s current personnel during the season.

    • March 12th 2018 @ 9:15am
      Malo said | March 12th 2018 @ 9:15am | ! Report

      It pays to play for Randwick, just look at Hanigan.

    • March 12th 2018 @ 9:43am
      Fionn said | March 12th 2018 @ 9:43am | ! Report

      Maybe Ledesma picked up a trick or two as an 84 cap international too.

      • Roar Rookie

        March 12th 2018 @ 11:05am
        Don said | March 12th 2018 @ 11:05am | ! Report

        Nah Fionn.
        Long term International playing experience against the best in the world (something Michael Cheika doesn’t have) could not shape the way you coach.

        Spending time with Michael Cheika and supposedly being schooled about how long retired players in the Shute Shield once played the game would have far more influence…

        What amazes me still about these constant references about Randwick Rugby driving the best days of the Wallabies is even simple scrutiny shows it to be hit and miss.
        Look at our RWC winners in 1999. Hardly a Randwick player in the starting side and Rod McQueen had no history with them either.

        There are as many dire Wallabies eras stacked with Randwick players and coaches as there are great eras.

        • March 12th 2018 @ 11:44am
          Internal Fixation said | March 12th 2018 @ 11:44am | ! Report

          Spot on.

          The myth that is constantly perpetuated on here by David and Spiro doesn’t stack up to the evidence!

      • March 13th 2018 @ 11:13pm
        In Brief said | March 13th 2018 @ 11:13pm | ! Report

        No offence but Argentina during Ledesma’s era played 10 man rugby, not running rugby.

    • Roar Guru

      March 12th 2018 @ 11:33am
      Hoy said | March 12th 2018 @ 11:33am | ! Report

      Well I wish he would teach the Wallabies a thing or two… if he can impart such wisdom on Mario, why can’t the Wallabies pick it up? I just don’t understand…….

    • March 12th 2018 @ 11:40am
      Bakkies said | March 12th 2018 @ 11:40am | ! Report

      Super Mario learnt a fair bit at Clermont Auvergne being coached by the likes of Vern Cotter and Joe Schmidt.