Are the Rebels good or bad? We’re genuinely not sure

Jack Quigley Columnist

By Jack Quigley, Jack Quigley is a Roar Expert

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    The Rebels take on the Bulls. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

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    A few columns back I wrote about how the Melbourne Rebels’ promising start to the season should be approached with cautious optimism. While they were winning, they needed to be.

    Most of their early season fixtures were either at home or against some pretty ordinary opposition or, in several cases, both.

    But while the old cliche of ‘you can only beat who’s in front of you’ was thrown around plenty, their first real test was always going to be their Round 7 clash with the Hurricanes – a test they flunked pretty spectacularly, giving up 50 points to a ‘Canes team that really appeared to punch-out with 20 minutes still on the clock.

    The frustrating thing about that Rebels performance – and the bizarre loss to the Waratahs in Round 5 – is that we are now in Round 8 of Super Rugby and still nobody really knows if the Rebels are good, poor or anywhere in between.

    For all the star-power in the Rebels’ roster and the backline, in particular, it’s difficult to see them ever catching fire while Jack Debreczini is the chief playmaker. In addition to being at fault for a couple of critical errors which lead to floodgate-opening Hurricanes tries last weekend, Debreczini was completely unable to bring the Rebels’ attacking weapons into the game.

    Star winger Marika Koroibete racked up the grand total of zero run metres from zero carries.

    But hey, playmakers are few and far between, it’s not like there are any 70 Test-capped veteran No. 10’s just running around in Brisbane club rugby.

    Unlike the Rebels, the Waratahs appear to be at least trending in the right direction. They still sit behind the Rebels in the Australian Conference standings, but have just the one loss to their name – albeit a horribly insipid one in Buenos Aires.


    (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

    The ‘Tahs accounted for the perpetually-stuck-in-second-gear Brumbies last weekend in Canberra and can now look forward to a for-and-against-boosting trip to Japan to face the Sunwolves.

    Kurtley Beale has been cleared to start for the Waratahs after shaking off a niggling rib injury and, while Beale is still yet to really light it up this season, perhaps Saturday is the day, especially if the Sunwolves are as put off by the prospect of facing an in-form Israel Folau as Izzy is about the thought of gay people being happy.

    The Brumbies don’t get much airtime in this column and that won’t change this week. The men from Canberra are about as exciting to watch as a Dean Elgar half-century. Their only wins to date have come at home to a Sharks team that doesn’t travel well and away to the win-less Sunwolves.

    Instead, we’ll focus on Brad Thorn’s resurgent Reds side who come to town on a high despite a loss at their last start. They’ve also received a boost with Taniela Tupou escaping suspension for his late shot on Stormers’ winger Craig Barry.

    There appears to be a newfound willingness to grind within this Queensland side. It’s hard to picture any Reds side from the past half-decade fighting back – away in South Africa – to secure a bonus point with the game already beyond them result-wise.

    Much like the Brumbies, the Reds are not exactly a pretty watch just yet – they may never be under Thorn. But for now, they’re winning more than they’re losing so that much should be celebrated.

    Jack Quigley
    Jack Quigley

    A long time sports writer and podcaster, Jack has spent the majority of his media career covering football and rugby. He recently joined The Roar on the back of penning a viral Facebook rant aimed at the Wallabies which attracted 60,000 likes and more than 6,000 shares. You can follow him on Twitter @Jack_Quigley.

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    The Crowd Says (80)

    • April 6th 2018 @ 7:09am
      TK said | April 6th 2018 @ 7:09am | ! Report

      Well if a lower-grades referee with no qualifications to justify his expert status isn’t sure, what hope do the rest of us have?

      • April 6th 2018 @ 7:23am
        Canetragic said | April 6th 2018 @ 7:23am | ! Report

        Que? What are you referring to?

        • April 6th 2018 @ 7:26am
          TK said | April 6th 2018 @ 7:26am | ! Report

          The bloke who’s bio says ‘joined The Roar on the back of penning a viral Facebook rant’.

          • Columnist

            April 6th 2018 @ 7:28am
            Jack Quigley said | April 6th 2018 @ 7:28am | ! Report

            Don’t be jealous, TK. Nobody’s forcing you to read these articles if you don’t like them.

            • April 6th 2018 @ 8:00am
              TK said | April 6th 2018 @ 8:00am | ! Report

              I’m not jealous at all, I don’t like attention and I’m not interested in being a journalist.

              I object to the dumbing-down of Australian sports journalism, and I think the response to the rant was a low point in our sporting culture. I want my kids to watch the teams they support and be in awe of the players who are essentially their heroes. I don’t want them having the attitude that the Wallabies, or whoever it is, owes them a win or level of performance.

              Nobody who gets to that level does it easily. Someone like Tatafu Polota Nau, who I think was one of the players you singled out, must be a physical wreck for it. Having watched him play injured and be concussed countless times leaves me in no doubt about how much he cares and how hard he tries. I hear he’s always been heavily involved with his club too, a guy like that isn’t in it for the money or admiration.

              • April 6th 2018 @ 8:12am
                Jimmyc said | April 6th 2018 @ 8:12am | ! Report

                I’m am all for playing the ball and not the man. But I can’t help but agreeing with TK’s statement. We can only hope Jack uses his new found fame to deliver some insightful analysis in future.

              • Columnist

                April 6th 2018 @ 8:26am
                Jack Quigley said | April 6th 2018 @ 8:26am | ! Report

                It seems like your issue is with the public, then. I may have written the words for the Facebook post but they’re the ones who engaged with it and made it what it was as a story.

                The ‘no qualifications’ jab is slightly harsh, too. I’m a journo grad who’s freelanced covering rugby, soccer, cricket and golf for almost a decade. It’s just that nobody recognised my name until the Cheika thing blew up.

                I’m not saying that makes my pieces any better or adds any credibility to them, but whilst the Roar are happy to have me file articles and I’m enjoying writing them, I’ll continue to do so. Again, nobody is forcing you to read them.

                If you’re some sort of pro-journalism crusader intent of protecting the sanctity of the industry, I gotta say it seems masochistic to be trawling the web reading freelanced opinion pieces.

              • Columnist

                April 6th 2018 @ 8:34am
                Jack Quigley said | April 6th 2018 @ 8:34am | ! Report

                Also, for what it’s worth, I stand by my insistence that a hooker at international level should probably be able to throw the ball into a lineout straight.

              • April 7th 2018 @ 10:05am
                Noodles said | April 7th 2018 @ 10:05am | ! Report

                Wrong answer. Own your words when you put them in public. Like TK I have no doubt players are flat out. I also think our coaches are working hard on a rebuild that is long overdue. When we have depth we will have strength and taking cheap shots at teams or players is both pointless and puerile.

              • April 7th 2018 @ 10:18am
                Noodles said | April 7th 2018 @ 10:18am | ! Report

                Wrong answer JQ. You own what you write. Like TK I’m sympathetic to the players’efforts. I believe Australia needed a big rebuild and that is under way. When we have depth we have strength – you only need look to NZ to see that. Meantime the shouting from the cheap seats is pointless and puerile. If you want a target have a go at the lazy political carryon that is typical culture of our major unions.

              • April 6th 2018 @ 8:27am
                Daveski said | April 6th 2018 @ 8:27am | ! Report

                TK I reckon yours is pretty snobby attitude. So only someone like Evan Whitton or a 50 test ex player can write on rugby?

                You aren’t forced to read Jack’s opinion nor are you forced to agree with it.

                You say it was a low point, but many will say it was an all time top 10 facebook rant.

                Anyway agree about all your points on TPN, an absolute warrior, and someone totally generous with his time at grass roots level. Doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be immune from criticism when he can’t complete a core task of his role ( accurate line out throwing ).

              • April 6th 2018 @ 8:44am
                Bamboo said | April 6th 2018 @ 8:44am | ! Report

                Jack I think you’re a bit confused as to whether you’re a fan or a journo.

                If you want us to take your articles seriously you are a journo, but your emotional outburst on Facebook isn’t what anyone would expect (nor want) from a journo.

                Tell me, when you were speaking with Cheika were you a journo or a fan? One would of led to a frank discussion, the other would be resulted in Cheika telling you to get lost.

                On a side note, whats there to be jealous about?

              • April 6th 2018 @ 9:10am
                jameswm said | April 6th 2018 @ 9:10am | ! Report

                TK I think we should be careful about deifying sporting heroes.

                I missed that Jack’s FB rant included TPN. A guy who is as gutsy as anything, tough, gives his all every game, about the top scrummaging hooker in the world and as others said is extremely generous at grass roots level (I’ve witnessed it at junior days).

                So his llineout throwing is below others, It’s not like he misses every throw. Moore’s was never great either. Funnily enough Taf’s throwing gets a lot better when he has targets like SImmons or Coleman to aim at.

              • April 6th 2018 @ 9:58am
                nutter said | April 6th 2018 @ 9:58am | ! Report

                I think it’s also worth pointing out (as a long time Brumbies fan and Tahs hater) that TPN’s lineout throwing has been better over the last couple of years than Moore’s. He was, admittedly, absolutely rubbish a few years back but clearly identified it as a weakness and worked on it. His scrummaging is strong as is his work rate and effort. My only concern with him continues to be his reckless tackling style and the resulting high level of injury and concussion.

              • April 7th 2018 @ 8:24am
                soapit said | April 7th 2018 @ 8:24am | ! Report

                whatever his background jack’s got more insight than several of the old school journos on here. is there seriously a question of whether his actual knowledge matches what gets offered up here by several other supposedly more qualified experts? id be betting he’s watched at least as much rugby as they have n the last 5 years.

                im sure jack would be happy to admit he got a good break after the fb thing we all have good and bad breaks in our lives so i dont see any reason to begrudge him that and we should just judge solely his actual writing/analysis or jog on.

                pull your head in tk

    • April 6th 2018 @ 7:11am
      Jameswm said | April 6th 2018 @ 7:11am | ! Report

      Yep, I’m enjoying watching the gutsy Reds too. Clearly good spirit in the side.

      How the Brumbies and Rebels could use Quade.

      • April 6th 2018 @ 8:49am
        Bill said | April 6th 2018 @ 8:49am | ! Report

        I would throw the Tahs name in there as well.Quade would be a great back up for Foley and certainly ease his workload.At the moment if Foley goes down the Tahs are stuffed

        • April 6th 2018 @ 9:07am
          jameswm said | April 6th 2018 @ 9:07am | ! Report

          Maybe Hegarty would play 10. He could do it with Beale next to him. We might not lose a lot there. Izzy back to FB, TN and Rona on the wings, Foketi back to 13.

          Someone would have to goal kick, and Foley is excellent on his on days.

        • April 6th 2018 @ 9:12am
          Jacko said | April 6th 2018 @ 9:12am | ! Report

          Nah Quade’s useless

      • Columnist

        April 6th 2018 @ 4:31pm
        Nicholas Bishop said | April 6th 2018 @ 4:31pm | ! Report

        How the Brumbies and Rebels could use Quade.

        I think this is a great idea James, and an excellent way to make use of QC’s contract. Also a good test for the organization in Australian rugby, no doubt it would happen on the other side of the Tasman!

        • April 7th 2018 @ 8:12am
          Peter Kelly said | April 7th 2018 @ 8:12am | ! Report

          We don’t really like Quade on the other side of the tasman, he would need to learn to tackle and keep his toxic comments to himself – arrogance of which he seemed to have plenty of a few years ago will not win you friends in NZ.
          Quade to me is a Carlos Spencer great at times but not structured or consistent enough to build a young team around, I sometimes wonder who he plays the game for, Quade or team – maybe a reason Brad wont use him

          • April 7th 2018 @ 2:13pm
            Campbell Watts said | April 7th 2018 @ 2:13pm | ! Report

            Quade is a very poor-mans Carlos Spencer thank you very much! 😉

            Not a patch on King Carlos! I still love watching replays of that classic try he scored against the Crusaders – where he deliberately ran out to the sideline to score, then casually slotted the conversion to deny them a bonus point! Carlos at his best!

            • April 8th 2018 @ 8:21am
              Peter Kelly said | April 8th 2018 @ 8:21am | ! Report

              Always loved watching Carlos, and agree Quade not in his league.
              Was more an example of the unstructured type of player, difficult for coaches and there teams in knowing what they were going to do next or even was today going to be the day it all worked or not.
              Remember the Carlos knee kick such brilliance, I not sure if the ref has worked yet if that was legal or not.

    • Roar Guru

      April 6th 2018 @ 9:04am
      Diggercane said | April 6th 2018 @ 9:04am | ! Report

      ‘The frustrating thing about that Rebels performance – and the bizarre loss to the Waratahs in Round 5 – is that we are now in Round 8 of Super Rugby and still nobody really knows if the Rebels are good, poor or anywhere in between.’

      Seems a harsh statement to make Jack, obviously improved from last season and based on one outing against the Canes also, suppose it depends on what your expectations are for the side in the end, but a few more games should give a fairer barometer when comparing to the NZ sides.

      Really enjoying the Reds output at present, hope they continue trending up.

      • April 6th 2018 @ 9:12am
        jameswm said | April 6th 2018 @ 9:12am | ! Report

        I’d like to see one or two Aussie teams winning home games against Kiwi sides.

        Who gets to pay the Blues at home? Seems our only hope at present. Can’t see the Tahs lightweight and relatively soft pack being able to slug it out with the Kiwi packs.

        • Roar Guru

          April 6th 2018 @ 9:27am
          Diggercane said | April 6th 2018 @ 9:27am | ! Report

          Would be surprised if they don’t James, obviously the Blues would be a target but none of the others are infallible. Tahs are an interesting one, think they might surprise you.

          • April 6th 2018 @ 10:49am
            jameswm said | April 6th 2018 @ 10:49am | ! Report

            They have already once this season. Twice I guess if you include the 2nd half against the Rebels.

            In our conference, only the Tahs and Moondogs play a home gaime against the Blues. So we might win one game against a NZ side, better than none! Tahs play the Blues at home in round 12, after a bye the week before.

            The Tahs also play the Highlanders at home, in round 14. An away game against the Crusaders is sandwiched in between – ouch.

            • Columnist

              April 6th 2018 @ 10:52am
              Jack Quigley said | April 6th 2018 @ 10:52am | ! Report

              Whisper it quietly – very quietly – but next weekend the Reds host the Chiefs in Brisbane.

              Could they scrap their way to a win there? They beat the Bulls at home who then really should have beaten the Chiefs the following week but blew a big lead.

              • Roar Guru

                April 6th 2018 @ 11:38am
                Diggercane said | April 6th 2018 @ 11:38am | ! Report

                Whisper that very quietly as the Chiefs are in Wellington next weekend!

                Week after I believe, Tahs heading to Brisbane next week, that is one to look forward to as well.

              • Roar Guru

                April 6th 2018 @ 11:42am
                Diggercane said | April 6th 2018 @ 11:42am | ! Report

                Whoops, other way round, Tahs hosting Reds.

              • April 6th 2018 @ 12:00pm
                Celtic334 said | April 6th 2018 @ 12:00pm | ! Report

                “Could they scrap their way to a win there? They beat the Bulls at home who then really should have beaten the Chiefs the following week but blew a big lead.”

                I’ll believe it when i see it, using that logic the Rebels should beat the Blues by 100+ after they smashed the Sharks the week before the Sharks did a number on the Blues.

            • Roar Guru

              April 6th 2018 @ 11:39am
              Diggercane said | April 6th 2018 @ 11:39am | ! Report

              Great chance to set up the season though James, don’t think that is insurmountable to get 2/3 in there and you never know your luck with injuries and AB stand downs also.

      • Roar Guru

        April 6th 2018 @ 10:14am
        RobC said | April 6th 2018 @ 10:14am | ! Report

        Reds by a million, Digs

        • Roar Guru

          April 6th 2018 @ 11:39am
          Diggercane said | April 6th 2018 @ 11:39am | ! Report

          Yes mate, and why not? Its a good looking side.

          • Roar Guru

            April 6th 2018 @ 1:13pm
            RobC said | April 6th 2018 @ 1:13pm | ! Report

            could also be negative 1 million!:
            – tbh I have no idea.
            – But I can guarantee sore ribs over the weekend
            – Also some sauce. But Izzy mightnt approve

            • Roar Guru

              April 6th 2018 @ 1:15pm
              Diggercane said | April 6th 2018 @ 1:15pm | ! Report

              Dunno, pretty sure sauce use doesn’t lead to damnation.

              • Roar Guru

                April 6th 2018 @ 1:32pm
                RobC said | April 6th 2018 @ 1:32pm | ! Report

                It has to be kosher or Halal or whatever equivalent no? Gotta be careful otherwise we will condemn 46 players to hellfire

              • April 6th 2018 @ 3:37pm
                Jacko said | April 6th 2018 @ 3:37pm | ! Report

                Rugby players are exempt coz its the game they play in Heaven

              • April 7th 2018 @ 2:17pm
                Campbell Watts said | April 7th 2018 @ 2:17pm | ! Report

                Yeah but I bet that doesn’t mean a free pass for Quade does it Jacko! 😉

      • April 7th 2018 @ 8:19am
        Peter Kelly said | April 7th 2018 @ 8:19am | ! Report

        What I found disappointing about both losses was that when the game turned on the Rebels they then completely fell apart and didn’t seem to have any idea of how to work themselves back into the game – games ebb and flow it’s not going to go your way for the whole 80, the Rebels need to learn to rely on there structures to get back in the game not start chasing the game – I had hoped they had learned from Warratahs but maybe not yet.

    • April 6th 2018 @ 9:04am
      cinque said | April 6th 2018 @ 9:04am | ! Report

      “if the Sunwolves are as put off by the prospect of facing an in-form Israel Folau as Izzy is about the thought of gay people being happy.” Better to proof read and clear the mind before hitting Send.

    • Columnist

      April 6th 2018 @ 9:17am
      Jack Quigley said | April 6th 2018 @ 9:17am | ! Report

      Hey Bamboo, you’ve got a few points in that comment so I’ll try address each of them.

      Firstly, aren’t all journo’s fans deep down? Why else would you commit so much time and effort to a cause if you weren’t a fan? I get what you’re saying – I can’t stand the way the Ch. 9 cricket commentators have just become cheerleaders for the home team – but I’m not a complete separation from fandom to journalism is required to create content worthy of discussion – and after all that’s what sites like this are about.
      I’m never going to be published in Time Magazine, but does that mean I and everyone else out there who also aren’t up to that standard should just quit having an opinion altogether? Or is there perhaps a community out there for people who like slightly less formal levels of discussion.

      Secondly re: the Cheika discussion, it was probably a bit of both. With a ‘journo’ hat on, I pushed him about some of the issues I raised in the Facebook post but at the same time we also shared a nice chat about the state of the game as fans – both of us (and still do from time to time, to his credit – he doesn’t owe me that).

      Lastly re. the jealous line – I’m very fortunate to have a platform like The Roar to air my opinions. In the past I – like many others – have blogged to the ears of nobody but the crickets, and I tweet to the few who choose to follow me and engage in discussion. I’m in a privileged position here where these guys invite me to share my onions with their audience. For some reason that really irks some people to the point that they feel the need to read and comment on articles purely to say that they don’t like me. So be it. Comes with the territory, I suppose. Like the Wallabies, I just have to suck it up and try to do better next time.

      • April 6th 2018 @ 12:44pm
        Bamboo said | April 6th 2018 @ 12:44pm | ! Report

        Perhaps what irks people is you yourself think you’re in a position where people should be jealous of you, to the point where you accuse people of jealousy as a natural defence mechanism?

        Not trying to cut you down, but perhaps keep your feet on the ground. Just a thought.

    • Roar Pro

      April 6th 2018 @ 9:33am
      GusTee said | April 6th 2018 @ 9:33am | ! Report

      The Rebels have a young coach who has great potential. They enjoy an excellent player list drawn from the best of their 2017 squad and bolstered by the cream of the Western Force.

      However, the Rebel’s history and how they as a club got to where they are today will ultimately be their nemesis.

      The reality is that in 2017 their unscrupulous rugby oligarchy connived with the ARU’s inner circle to secure Victoria’s professional rugby future.

      Whatever the Rebels results in 2018 and following years may turn out to be, the reality is that their position is contrived and their credibility compromised.

      • April 7th 2018 @ 5:59am
        jack said | April 7th 2018 @ 5:59am | ! Report

        well said

      • April 7th 2018 @ 10:21am
        peter kelly said | April 7th 2018 @ 10:21am | ! Report

        And so they said of the Storm – may the Rebels be a repeat.
        For those who dont live in Melbourne
        – we are apparently the capital city of sport in this country.
        – Population 4+ million and climbing.
        – Going to be bigger than Sydney by 2030 or 50 could not be bothered fact checking.
        – Has a good thriving grass roots club scene and culture.
        – No 1 most liveable city in the world.
        – There is some money in this town if RA could get its s–t together.
        – Not everybody is an AFL diehard fan.

        And you would want RA to miss out on this potential – the issues for Aus rugby is in poor administration since going professional – too many factions with local bias – possibly this fan included.
        Im a kiwi who is happy to keep the Bledisloe forever – keep trying Australia – just try to make a competition of it occasionally.

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