Why David Pocock is the real role model in Australian rugby

Nicholas Bishop Columnist

By Nicholas Bishop, Nicholas Bishop is a Roar Expert

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    David Pocock: one of Australian rugby's true role models. (AAP Image/Rohan Thomson)

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    “Better people make better All Blacks”. That was the mantra adopted by Graham Henry and his coaching group when he realized something was wrong with the All Blacks’ culture back in 2004.

    It had got so bad that discipline was breaking down, drinking was rife and senior players were threatening to leave. We all know now what impact the change of outlook and a renewed sense of connection with life and responsibility in the outside world has had on the New Zealand team. Since then, the All Blacks have been winning 85 per cent plus of their matches.

    Some of the cardinal points in Henry’s new policy were humility – a willingness to ‘sweep the sheds’ after training – a stronger sense of extended family (whanau) which often meant selection based on character more than talent, and the constant drive for self-improvement and small, incremental gains on a personal level.

    No-one epitomised Henry’s philosophy better than hooker Keven Mealamu, a player he had known from his days as coach of the Blues. Mealamu was a talented artist at the same time as he fulfilled his higher-profile role as one of toughest number twos in world rugby. He has illustrated seven books to raise money for Auckland’s Starship Children’s Hospital.

    When he ran out for his record-breaking 163rd Super Rugby cap for the Blues, he was surrounded by Samoan family members, friends and some those players (like Andrew Blowers) who had accompanied him on his 17-year rugby journey, his extended family.

    “Keven’s a very humble person and he never gets ahead of himself, he always thinks he can self-improve,” Henry said back in 2015.

    “He’s got a marvellous relationship with his wife and kids and the extended family and people in general, because he’s got an incredible amount of respect. Because he spends the time with people, spends the time with young rugby players that are coming through the Blues and the All Blacks… He’s a marvellous example-setter, not only in the way he plays the game but in his character. He’s a special man.”

    All Blacks who broke faith with the new code of behaviour were sent to Keven Mealamu to make their confessions of guilt. But they did not go to be judged, only to be in the presence of a person who knew intimately what ‘the law’ really meant.

    By that token, it must be doubted whether Israel Folau’s harsh judgement of gay people on Instagram has any weight.

    Israel Folau Australia Rugby Union Wallabies 2017

    (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

    If we want a perspective from an Australian source who truly obeys the ‘rules’ of humility, extended family and self-improvement, we would turn away from Folau and towards David Pocock.

    David Pocock is used to adversity – he was forced to flee his homeland Zimbabwe back in 2002 to avoid likely extermination during the violent government-sponsored ‘land reforms’ of the era – and he has used his profile in the game subsequently to help the lot of others.

    His ‘extended family’ of interests has ranged from work to protect the white rhino and the health of the food and water chain in Zimbabwe, to participation in campaigns for action on climate change, to a very public support for gay rights and the legalizing of gay marriage. Pocock and his partner Emma Palandri steadfastly refused to sign documents legalizing their own marriage until their gay acquaintances were able to do the same.

    There is very little judgement left in David Pocock because of his history. He still has fond memories of Zimbabwe and visits his homeland every year, even though a close family friend was killed in the process of ‘land redistribution’ only ten kilometres away from the Pocock farm, and his son was shot nine times by ‘war veterans’ but still survived.

    Pocock’s solution, instead of judging, was to go back to Zimbabwe and set up a charity, Eighty Twenty Vision, in conjunction with the WHO. It now helps people with issues as diverse as cholera, maternal health and the security of the water supply:

    “I think it’s crucial to have something outside of rugby. By nature, sportsmen can be pretty selfish, and to a large extent you have to be,” Pocock told the Canberra Times in 2015.

    “You have to be focused on what you’re doing to get results, but it gives you some perspective to have something that you’re passionate about outside sport.”

    David Pocock

    (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

    David Pocock is a step up from Israel Folau as a role model for Australian youngsters. He is also probably further advanced in terms of his drive towards self-improvement as a rugby player, the other category stressed by Graham Henry and exemplified by Keven Mealamu.

    The weekend game between the Brumbies and Brad Thorn’s resurgent Reds illustrated how quickly Pocock is coming to terms with the new laws at the breakdown, which stood to neutralize his outstanding point of strength, the ability to steal ball on the floor at the tackle.

    Pocock had no pilfers in the game, but that didn’t prevent him from the being the single most important player on the pitch. On attack, he showed some neat touches through the hands, carried well close to the goal-line, and added significant power to the Brumbies driving lineout. Defensively, he made a game-leading 18 tackles with no misses, closed all the transition zones recovered a forced fumble and saved two tries near the Brumbies’ goal-line.

    The match provided more evidence that those number sevens who rely exclusively on their pilfering ability on the deck may soon find themselves out of work. David Pocock had only six on-ball attempts during the 80 minutes. He attracted one penalty when he was cleaned out illegally from the side:

    However, he was also a part of two jackaling attempts where the penalty went the other way:

    In the first example, Sam Carter is pinged for not rolling away from the ball, in the second it is Pocock himself who is sanctioned for the same offence. Judging when to have a dip at the ball on the ground is no easy matter under the new laws! The window of opportunity has narrowed considerably.

    David Pocock’s ability to defend next to the first back in the line is, in my experience, out of the top drawer. Quite simply, there is nobody better at protecting that sensitive space from the last forward (typically) to the number ten. Often the opponent will try to introduce his strongest ball-carriers there, and this is what the Reds did with first Samu Kerevi (in the example above), then Jono Lance:

    …and finally Aidan Toua:

    The tackle on Toua is a try-saver, with Pocock not only closing a large gap between himself and Christian Lealiifano but also managing to slap the ball loose in contact. Fortunately, the referee did not see that it was the “hand of God” which knocked the ball backwards into Kerevi’s hands!

    Pocock also showed that he is thinking his way around the new breakdown laws by using more hold-up tackles – in this example turning over Caleb Timu close the Brumbies’ goal-line:

    …and dropping out of the contest at a time when I’m sure he would have persisted under the old laws:

    Once that first support player is standing above the ball-carrier, there is far less incentive for the defender to continue to compete for the ball on the floor than there was previously.

    On the offensive side of the ball, Pocock remains the most devastating first-man ‘cleaner’ in the game:

    Here he hits Samu Kerevi hard under the plane of the shoulders on the first phase before ‘scissoring’ the arms to prevent the Reds’ centre getting a grip on the ball. Kerevi is very firmly deposited on the GIO Stadium turf – the fate of most defenders after a Pocock cleanout.

    The impact of David Pocock’s other contributions on attack can be illustrated with reference to the highlight reel from the game:

    It was probably no accident that the Brumbies’ driving lineout suddenly developed some momentum with David Pocock standing in the ‘+1’ spot at halfback, after stuttering badly for the first part of the season (0:50 and 3:00 on the reel).

    Even if his contribution is blindside of the camera in the first instance, in the second there is little doubt about his ability to bully a much bigger man (number five Kane Douglas) away from the ball on the drive.

    He was also effective in close-range situations, twice carrying Izack Rodda backwards to set up one try and score the second himself (1:38 and 3:40). There was also evidence of more accuracy and refinement than previously in his link play on the pass, particularly in the build-up to the try at 2:20.

    Summary
    In the Gospel of John, when the Pharisees set a trap for Jesus by presenting an adulteress and asking Jesus to condemn her to death by stoning, according to Mosaic law, he replied, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” They slunk away “being convicted by their own conscience,” until not one accuser was left.

    When the story was repeated in a peculiarly modern version on Instagram, Israel Folau fell headlong into it and condemned gay people to the prospect of Hell.

    Perhaps Folau’s tremendous God-given athletic talents, which have allowed him to succeed at three different contact sports, have ultimately held back his development as just a rugby player. The complete rugby players, and the better role models, are the ones who are a success both on and off the field; the Keven Mealamus and the David Pococks.

    They are characterized by a certain humility of outlook – a desire to ‘sweep the sheds’, if you like – a wish to embrace their ‘extended families’ beyond the game, and that unquenchable thirst for self-improvement in the small details on the field.

    We still do not know whether Israel Folau has all of those attributes, and therefore we cannot say whether he will satisfy that other great All Black demand – that he “leave the jersey in a better place” at the end of his career.

    Keven Mealamu achieved that feat, and so will David Pocock when retires. But Israel Folau? Right now, the mystique of that number 15 jersey still belongs to Doctor Alec Ross, Roger Gould and, in more recent times, Matt Burke and Chris Latham.

    Nicholas Bishop
    Nicholas Bishop

    Nick Bishop has worked as a rugby analyst and advisor to Graham Henry (1999-2003), Mike Ruddock (2004-2005) and most recently Stuart Lancaster (2011-2015). He also worked on the 2001 British & Irish Lions tour to Australia and produced his first rugby book with Graham Henry at the end of the tour. Three more rugby books have followed, all of which of have either been nominated for or won national sports book awards. Nick's latest is a biography of Phil Larder, the first top Rugby League coach to successfully transfer over to Union, entitled The Iron Curtain. He is currently writing articles for The Roar and The Rugby Site, and working as a strategy consultant to Stuart Lancaster and the Leinster coaching staff for their European matches.

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    The Crowd Says (530)

    • Roar Guru

      April 11th 2018 @ 4:18am
      Corne Van Vuuren said | April 11th 2018 @ 4:18am | ! Report

      Thanks Nicholas, Good to hear about Keven, always respected him as player, the personal stuff is great to hear.

      Never liked Pocock, yet it seems he is a genuinely good bloke

      • Columnist

        April 11th 2018 @ 4:34am
        Nicholas Bishop said | April 11th 2018 @ 4:34am | ! Report

        BB, you often hear – in the measure of great teams – of how the connections have remained for many years afterwards… between players and players, players and coaches, it’s as if a blood transfusion takes place – and the sense of kinship always stays fresh for all.

        • Roar Guru

          April 11th 2018 @ 5:22am
          Corne Van Vuuren said | April 11th 2018 @ 5:22am | ! Report

          Yeah agree with that, similar to men that has gone to war, that brotherhood often stans the test of time.

        • April 11th 2018 @ 1:08pm
          WobbleOn said | April 11th 2018 @ 1:08pm | ! Report

          name 5 players that were of greater talent but never selected by Henry – just want to see if you can back up this Fuzzy BS

      • April 11th 2018 @ 7:46am
        BennO said | April 11th 2018 @ 7:46am | ! Report

        Why did you never like him, biltongbek? He seems a good bloke and a great player? Or is it parochial, the same way I didn’t like Mealamu for what he did to our scrums and breakdowns?

        • Roar Guru

          April 11th 2018 @ 8:26am
          Corne Van Vuuren said | April 11th 2018 @ 8:26am | ! Report

          Mostly because of the RWC 2011 benno, between him and Referee Lawrence it cost us the WC semi final.

          • April 11th 2018 @ 9:31am
            Fionn said | April 11th 2018 @ 9:31am | ! Report

            Pocock was the prime guy on our side getting away with it, but we had a far more potent backline (despite Deans that tournament) and I thoroughly believe that if he hadn’t let both teams get away with whatever they wanted at the breakdown that the Wallabies would have won by a greater margin.

            Over 2010-11 the Wallabies were dominant over the Boks.

            • April 11th 2018 @ 2:55pm
              JP said | April 11th 2018 @ 2:55pm | ! Report

              Have to agree that Pocock’s value is immeasurable, i do hope that Michael Chieka finally selects Pocock at 7 and Hooper at 20, if we don’t get that scenario we are going to be absolutely demolished by the Irish at the breakdown.

            • April 11th 2018 @ 3:59pm
              Mapu said | April 11th 2018 @ 3:59pm | ! Report

              BS.Pocock was given a green light to get away with what ever he could.Can not believe that you believe any other situation.

            • April 11th 2018 @ 7:07pm
              Mzilikazi said | April 11th 2018 @ 7:07pm | ! Report

              “Pocock was the prime guy on our side getting away with it ” Fionn, I would see it rather that Pocock was not “getting away with it, but rather was legally into a strong position over the ball, and either ripped out or drew the penalty.

              He and Richie McCaw are superb exponents of this “art”, and were often criticised and penalised unfairly under the then existing laws.

              • April 11th 2018 @ 7:24pm
                cuw said | April 11th 2018 @ 7:24pm | ! Report

                i think MCCAW got penalized a lot more in later years – whether right or wrong is another question.

          • April 11th 2018 @ 9:44am
            BennO said | April 11th 2018 @ 9:44am | ! Report

            Gotcha!

            I was watching that game in a pub in America at 2am so I have only hazy memories of it. I was a bit late in and the first thing I saw as I turned towards the screen having picked up a beer at the bar, was Pocock getting up off the bottom of a ruck with the refs arm in the air pointing towards Australia. I fell in love with them both in my beery state!!

          • April 11th 2018 @ 6:45pm
            sheek said | April 11th 2018 @ 6:45pm | ! Report

            BB,

            Never blame the ref. He might be responsible for one or two howlers a match, but the game runs for 80 minutes.

            if I recall that 2011 QF, the Boys had enough ball to win six matches. They just stuffed up themselves, big time. It was the players who stuffed up, not the ref.

            BTW, I have great admiration for Pocock. I didn’t particularly appreciate him voicing his opinion on same-sex marriage, just as I don’t appreciate Folau voicing his his opposition to homosexuality.

            There’s plenty of time when they’re both retired to preach to their heart’s content. But not while they’re playing. That’s my view on the matter.

            • Roar Guru

              April 11th 2018 @ 8:32pm
              Corne Van Vuuren said | April 11th 2018 @ 8:32pm | ! Report

              Sheek, you know me, I very rarely blame a referee, however that match was an anomoly.

              World rugby admitted it, Bryce Lawrence admitted it. He admitted the pressure of the Ireland vs Australia match and the subsequent fallout altered his decision making in that match.

              Sadly it is not a point of view I will change.

              As for players discussing prominent issues, I agree with you wholeheartedly, the world has enough politicians to “shoot the breeze” leave it to them to be controversial.

              The fact of the matter is when you are a public person, you need to take responsibility for your actions, and also the ramification of retort from governing bodies, employers and the public in general.

              • April 11th 2018 @ 8:43pm
                sheek said | April 11th 2018 @ 8:43pm | ! Report

                BB,

                In the past 20 years the two most brain-dead, dumbest performances by a team is a tie – the Brumbies against Crusaders in the 2000 super rugby final & Boks against Wallas in the 2007 RWC quarter-final.

                Neither team varied their play one iota when plan A, plan B & plan C weren’t working. Actually I mention plans A, B, C only for effect. In reality, neither team bothered past plan A.

                It is the most stupidest rugby I’ve ever seen.

              • Roar Guru

                April 11th 2018 @ 8:53pm
                Corne Van Vuuren said | April 11th 2018 @ 8:53pm | ! Report

                Sheek, I am not saying South Africa had a part in their failing to win that match. And yes I have been preaching to the choir since 2009 Lions tour that South Africa need to learn to play smart rugby.

                Having said all of that, the part Bryce Lawrence played in that match put odds against SA to come out on top in that match.

                Both John Smit and Victor Matfield on numerous times tried to talk to Bryce Lawrence, he literally dismissed them with a mere wave.

                It is what it is. We agree on many issues, this one we will have to agree to disagree.

                At last I can use a cliche in one of our conversations 😁

      • Roar Guru

        April 11th 2018 @ 12:45pm
        Ralph said | April 11th 2018 @ 12:45pm | ! Report

        I am also a huge Mealamu fan, but here’s a question for anyone who valued all that behind the scenes work he did for the AB’s – who is the new Keven?

        • April 11th 2018 @ 3:08pm
          cuw said | April 11th 2018 @ 3:08pm | ! Report

          i think Sam Cane

          at least with Chiefs – did u see how all the players came to hug him when chiefs won his 100th game?

        • Columnist

          April 11th 2018 @ 3:39pm
          Nicholas Bishop said | April 11th 2018 @ 3:39pm | ! Report

          I don’t see one tbh Ralph. Mealamu was a guy who played well above his weight, and he was pretty small by ths standards of a modern hooker. But he was probably the best scrumming hooker (better than Hore and Oliver) and also the best ball-carrier. I recall some of the Welsh boys saying that it was like being hit by tank in low gear when he took the ball up…

          • Roar Rookie

            April 11th 2018 @ 4:22pm
            Shane D said | April 11th 2018 @ 4:22pm | ! Report

            My understanding is that Sam Whitelock is the guy who has stepped into Kevens role as the guy to talk to players stepping out of line & to educate new players on the team rules Nic.

    • Roar Guru

      April 11th 2018 @ 4:47am
      Derm McCrum said | April 11th 2018 @ 4:47am | ! Report

      Lovely piece of writing, Nic. I envy your mastery with the pen, never mind your insights to the Pocockian playbook. He really has adapted himself superbly,

      • Columnist

        April 11th 2018 @ 5:00am
        Nicholas Bishop said | April 11th 2018 @ 5:00am | ! Report

        Yes I was waiting to see how he would adjust PA – and the signs are that he has found a way. You have to admire a player like that.

        • Roar Guru

          April 11th 2018 @ 8:21am
          PeterK said | April 11th 2018 @ 8:21am | ! Report

          very good article NB.

          I wish you would have also noted Pocock’s game against the Tahs.

          There he controlled the ruck and made 3 pilfers and his link work between forwards and backs was excellent.

          • Columnist

            April 11th 2018 @ 8:34am
            Nicholas Bishop said | April 11th 2018 @ 8:34am | ! Report

            Thanks Peter – I counted two for DP that day, but it appears that he is working on different ways of ‘controlling the ruck’ other than simply getting hands on the ball until death do them part!

            • Roar Guru

              April 11th 2018 @ 10:19am
              Ralph said | April 11th 2018 @ 10:19am | ! Report

              Adapting shows there is some good thinking going on. It is so easy to fall back into old habits, especially as the body gets tired.

              • Columnist

                April 11th 2018 @ 3:40pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | April 11th 2018 @ 3:40pm | ! Report

                Exactly – esp when you’ve reached such a high level in your career, very difficult to change old habits which got you there 🙂

              • April 11th 2018 @ 6:16pm
                Ruckin Oaf said | April 11th 2018 @ 6:16pm | ! Report

                If the law of rugby were changed so that you had to do a handstand at the ruck and pilfer with your feet Pocock would be the first to find the way.

        • Roar Guru

          April 11th 2018 @ 10:40am
          Derm McCrum said | April 11th 2018 @ 10:40am | ! Report

          I do. And he is the difference that makes Australia more assured of a test series win in June, in my view. If combining Hooper with him in the backrow in any way compromises how Pocock plays now, I’d drop Hooper.

          As for the skipper’s armband? Just do it, Cheiks. Don’t waste another minute thinking about it.

          • Columnist

            April 11th 2018 @ 3:41pm
            Nicholas Bishop said | April 11th 2018 @ 3:41pm | ! Report

            The problem does not seem to be with either Hooper or Pocock PA, it’s in finding other guys who can play with them and show the same quality and output.

      • April 11th 2018 @ 5:45am
        Mzilikazi said | April 11th 2018 @ 5:45am | ! Report

        ” I envy your mastery with the pen ” Well said, PA. This man from Wales is, like David Pocock, a real Cullinan diamond.

      • April 11th 2018 @ 9:10am
        woodart said | April 11th 2018 @ 9:10am | ! Report

        pocock reminds me alot of richie mccaw, very humble intelligent man who has many things going on apart from rugby. on the feild is able to reinvent his game.

        • April 11th 2018 @ 11:54am
          MARTO said | April 11th 2018 @ 11:54am | ! Report

          We all know David Pocock is the best number 7 in Oz. It`s Checka that doesn`t know…

          • Roar Guru

            April 11th 2018 @ 7:54pm
            Cadfael said | April 11th 2018 @ 7:54pm | ! Report

            Hooper for me. He has done the job while Pocock had a break. Is the Wallaby captain so Pocock comes in at 8 or 20.

            • April 12th 2018 @ 10:12am
              MARTO said | April 12th 2018 @ 10:12am | ! Report

              ^ Thus is why the Wallabies have been horrendous for 4 years.No silverware and regularly losing to Scotland Ireland England Abs South Africa, just about everyone.Even Italy nearly beat them at Suncorp last year. Hooper must go now.

        • Columnist

          April 11th 2018 @ 3:43pm
          Nicholas Bishop said | April 11th 2018 @ 3:43pm | ! Report

          That’s something I’ve noticed too, and there always appeared to be a lot of respect between the two after games had finished…

      • April 11th 2018 @ 9:36am
        Sgt Pepperoni said | April 11th 2018 @ 9:36am | ! Report

        This article is a great blend of the spiritual with the tactical. Thanks NB

        • Columnist

          April 11th 2018 @ 3:43pm
          Nicholas Bishop said | April 11th 2018 @ 3:43pm | ! Report

          Cheers Sergeant, I’ll make sure you top one of my pizzas!

      • April 11th 2018 @ 2:35pm
        Crash Ball2 said | April 11th 2018 @ 2:35pm | ! Report

        Nick, great read as always. I concur wholeheartedly regarding Pocock’s continued evolution (as opposed to adaptation) as a rugby player. I always enjoyed watching Mealamu play but confess, was unaware of his greater All Blacks team influence or creative / charitable endeavours. Nice story. Very well told.

        Without wishing to be contrarian, I don’t subscribe to the pervasive view of the – supposed – seismic change in referees’ approach to the breakdown in 2018. Beyond the obvious modification for the tackler having to enter through the gate, there is little evidence – beyond the anecdotal – that supports the narrative. The recent Reds / Brumbies match involving David Pocock is a great example. The infringements you have highlighted are a continuity of the incumbent breakdown laws, not a reflection of the new ones, and would have been the very same calls made in 2017 and prior. Indeed, if the new laws were as ubiquitous as suggested, logically there should be a raft of breakdown penalties for infringements that were not occurring in previous seasons. There simply isn’t.

        Peripherally, I’d also submit that there are no world-class number sevens “who rely exclusively on their pilfering ability on the deck”. Top level openside flankers would simply be non-viable without possessing a broad portfolio of skills and, whilst jackaling may be the most well-known, highlight reel making and appreciated of David Pocock’s skillset, it is really only the pointy end of his rich tapestry of tackling / collision, ruck, maul, set piece, backline linking and tight running skills; and far from the most important one. That said, Fox Sports has Pocock’s two games in 2018 already eliciting 2 pilfers, 1 forced penalty and 1 forced ruck & maul penalty (4 x forced turnovers in only 2 games). Pocock’s strength in the set piece and maul has always been a feature (little recognised but always apparent). His cleanout work is second only to George Smith’s in the Australian conference. But his tight running and backline linking / passing / opportunity awareness has taken another step up this year, I agree.

        Bringing the conversation back to the specific law: “A ruck commences when at least one player is on their feet and over the ball which is on the ground (tackled player, tackler). At this point the offside lines are created. Players on their feet may use their hands to pick up the ball as long as this is immediate. As soon as an opposition player arrives, no hands can be used.”

        The above law amendment was the one that was to have been the breakdown game changer from 2018 onwards. The first two sentences are an obvious allusion to the England/Italy “creation of the offside line” debacle last season. An initial read of the last sentence within this new law might easily lead one to believe that the wording provided for any defender who has first hands on the ball to have to release said pill the moment any attacking ruck cleaner arrived. And if this scenario had played out over the course of the 2018 season, I would agree that the new laws would have changed the landscape of the contest for possession at the breakdown in a fundamental way. But there are no examples across either the recent 6 Nations or current Super Rugby competition to suggest that players have to cease the contest for the pill when the first attacking ruck cleaner arrives. If jackals have shown fresh air, if they survive the cleanout and remain on their feet, they can still contest. Same as always. This being the case, logically, there is no less time and no less opportunity to challenge for possession at the breakdown in this scenario than occurred in previous seasons. The framework for this contest remains exactly the same.

        The accompanying law about the single tackler regaining his feet and entering through “the gate” before contesting for possession is a material difference from the 2017 version but, even this, has not killed the jackal/tackle – as Augustin Creevy expertly showed in the 30th minute of the Tahs / Jaguares match with a beautiful tackle – to feet – pilfer movement (one of four breakdown possession contests he successfully won individually) or Peter O’Mahoney’s fine jackal/tackle effort in the recent Ireland England match. That said, this is by far the poor cousin to the second man in pilfer technique and rarely raises its head in most matches anyway.

        Specific to the Brumbies / Reds game offered today:

        18th minute (your first live play example): Pocock latches on to a ball when Lance takes on the line. Douglas sees Pocock’s looming pilfer and illegally cleans out from the side. Statistically, this will be noted as a “forced ruck and maul infringement”, regardless, it is Pocock’s forced turnover.

        58th minute (your second live play example): Carter makes a tackle on Kerevi, falls on the wrong side of the ruck and is trapped. Pocock is latterly in attendance but the penalty is rightfully awarded for Carter’s infringement.

        13th minute (your third live play example): Pocock tackles Kerevi but, in doing so, is caught on the wrong side of the ruck and unable to roll away. Sio then steals the ball over the top but has been aided by Pocock’s infringement and the “not rolling away” penalty is correctly awarded.

        None of the above ruck infringements are resultant of the new breakdown laws. All are the same penalties that would have been adjudicated in 2017 and under the incumbent laws and have zero to do with the new laws. By comparison:

        79th minute: Naisarani is tackled after a break out run. Jono Lance latches onto the ball, attacking cleaners arrive but Lance manages to maintain his grip momentarily before being brushed off and the ref calls “not releasing” on Naisarani. However, the penalty isn’t blown as the Brumbies have subsequently lost possession (knocking the ball forward in the exchange), the ref playing advantage to the Reds until that advantage has been realised. An in-game forced turnover that won’t appear anywhere in the stats.

        The argument that the new breakdown laws have significantly changed the referee’s interpretation of the ruck contest lacks a “smoking gun”. Evidence proffered is holistic or anecdotal and a forensic investigation of specific breakdown exchanges and the interpretation of the adjudicating referee (such as in the recent Brumbies / Reds match) does not support the hypothesis that new infringements are being awarded based on the new laws (the tackle/jackal/gate rule aside). Teams stylistic approach to Defence and Attack are always in a state of flux, change seasonally and even game-by-game (depending on opposition, opportunity and personnel) and whilst (correct) statistics are objective, the analysis and interpretation of those statistics is not.

        Separately, I was lucky enough to be invited to tour the new Rugby Australia headquarters at Moore Park a couple of weeks ago (my group was shown around by the very impressive Ed Jenkins and Moz Longbottom). Raelene Castle addressed the audience and mingled with attendees afterwards but Michael Cheika (touted to be in attendance) was in Europe at a World Rugby meeting with referees and test coaches. Amongst an outstanding group of players, former players and coaches (including Stephen Larkham, Adam Frier and Ned Hanigan), was the Australian captain and openside flanker, Michael Hooper. A more affable, engaging and passionate rugby man you will not find. Having spoken about the issue before the event, one of the guys in my group asked Hooper about the practical effect of the application of the new breakdown rules on the ruck contest this year. Hooper explaining the amendment of the tackler entering through the gate; and when further asked if there were any tangible changes to the referee’s interpretation of the ruck contest beyond this, his response: “none”.

        • Columnist

          April 11th 2018 @ 3:58pm
          Nicholas Bishop said | April 11th 2018 @ 3:58pm | ! Report

          Thanks for the essay CB!

          I don’t think it’s right to call my evidence anecdotal – after all it’s based on the research I do professionally (which would not make a very interesting article and which I would not wish to unwrap in that form anyway). I gave you a hint of that in my reply on a previous forum. Ball retention is up significantly in both European comps and SR, ball steals on the floor with the hands are down by anywhere between one third and one half.

          Having discussed the changes in the law with a number of coaches and players, there is not one who does not believe that this aspect of the breakdown has not changed radically.

          But overall, I think the burden of proof is on you now. I’ve made the case for change over (too) many articles! The facts that Pocock won no turnover ball last weekend, and only contested six rucks in total (coming out in ‘negative equity’ are not incidental, they are reflective of a pattern I can see across the board.

          So Ill hand the baton over to you – let’s see your hard evidence CB 🙂

          • April 11th 2018 @ 4:47pm
            Crash Ball2 said | April 11th 2018 @ 4:47pm | ! Report

            Thanks Nick.

            Though, as you know, it isn’t possible to prove a negative.

            What I have done is illustrate that the specific, proffered penalty examples in the article are in not resultant of the “new laws”, only a continuation of the incumbent. I assume you don’t disagree with that stance? If you do, can you tell us how?

            Indeed, I haven’t been able to find any specific examples of refereeing infringements across 6 Nations or Super Rugby that do illustrate any previously unprecedented penalty related to the new laws.

            I don’t doubt your research. I don’t question the integrity of your intention or necessarily that of your statistics either. Neither do I deny the eloquence of the argument that you’ve built – like everything you write, it is compelling. I simply haven’t seen in any match, across either hemisphere a single, specific game day example of a breakdown infringement relating to the purported new laws. That is because, the breakdown contest (outside of the tackler through the gate) remains unchanged.

            If defenders with first hands on the ball are allowed to contest for possession after successfully surviving the cleanout (as is now unarguably the case), logically, how can it be said that the opportunity or time for defenders to contest for possession is lessened in any way?

            Rugby patterns and stylistic approaches vacillate constantly. No disagreement there. But the sole attribution of those changes to the refereeing interpretation of the new breakdown laws is incorrect. It is even possible – no doubt probable – that the potential threat of the negative interpretation of the new breakdown laws pre-season led coaches to architect defensive game plans aimed at avoiding the ruck contest (e.g. more employment of the prop and spread or hold-up collision contest). However, as both the 6 Nations and Super Rugby contests have panned out, there is no singular example of new infringements awarded above and beyond an employment of the incumbent laws. And if the change in metric is as sizeable and obvious as one third to a half and apparently solely attributable to the new breakdown laws, there should be numerous penalty examples to offer, every game. There isn’t.

            • Columnist

              April 11th 2018 @ 5:38pm
              Nicholas Bishop said | April 11th 2018 @ 5:38pm | ! Report

              If defenders with first hands on the ball are allowed to contest for possession after successfully surviving the cleanout (as is now unarguably the case), logically, how can it be said that the opportunity or time for defenders to contest for possession is lessened in any way?

              Because they are connected to everyone else involved in that tackle area CB. The fact that the tackler can no longer get up on the ‘wrong side’ and either contest the ball directly, or get in the way of the cleanout makes a huge difference in the shielding of the jackal.

              He is largely unprotected now, which means the cleanout can get a good shot on him. The ‘one man above the tackle creates a ruck’ law gives the ref a get-out clause if he’s in doubt about whether a ruck’s been formed, and more penalties tend to go against the defence than the attack as a result (as in the game). The examples of penalties in the article are related to this.

              This is what is happening in the game in practice, but I’d be happy to hear your alternative explanations why ball retention rates are rising and pilfer attempts (successful and unsuccessful) are falling! As I say, the burden of evidence is now with you 🙂

            • Roar Guru

              April 11th 2018 @ 6:51pm
              Corne Van Vuuren said | April 11th 2018 @ 6:51pm | ! Report

              If defenders with first hands on the ball are allowed to contest for possession after successfully surviving the cleanout (as is now unarguably the case), logically, how can it be said that the opportunity or time for defenders to contest for possession is lessened in any way?

              I am with Nick on this issue.

              I have been observing the ruck with quite some interest over the last month and have seen significant impact on the law change.

              The tackler or first arrival’s time to get hands on ball has been mostly negated due to

              1: referees react immediately when the attacking team support players or cleaners hit the ruck. There is an immediate “hands off” approach.

              2: referees rarely if ever focus on how the attacking teams clean out the ruck. I would hazard a guess 50% of rucks are cleaned by going to ground.

              3: The referees with so much focus by World Rugby on continuous play mostly ignore/miss to ensure the cleaners or hammers “reload” to ensure contest for posession.

              4: I have seen numerous instances where the cleaners come in from the side, not only ignoring the gate ( referee is mostly to blame) but also milking penalties by pulling defending players around the ruck to an offside position.

              The contest for posession is being removed from the game, it seems World Rugby’s approach to ensure fast and continuous play is robbing Rugby Union of its primary standout characteristic, competition for posession.

              • Columnist

                April 11th 2018 @ 7:16pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | April 11th 2018 @ 7:16pm | ! Report

                You’re right BB – all of the changes introduced over the years have tended to helping the attacking side. Figures of 90% return from scrum and lineout, and 97%+ from breakdown are now the rule rather than the exception.

                Up here, players are allowed to leave their feet at the breakdown to clean out so long as they ‘reload’ immediately to their feet. ‘Launching’ – diving over the top of the tackle to clean a defender out now tends to attract a pen.

              • Roar Guru

                April 11th 2018 @ 8:09pm
                Corne Van Vuuren said | April 11th 2018 @ 8:09pm | ! Report

                diving over the top of the tackle to clean a defender out now tends to attract a pen.

                Sorry Nicholas, either I am misunderstanding you, if not please clarify.

                You are suggesting the attacking team’s cleaners diving off their feet over the ruck tend to attrack penalties?

                If so, I disagree strongly as in my view the referees are more concentrated on the defending teams actions at the breakdown than the attacking team

                It rarely gets a request of “reload” from the referee or a penalty.

              • Columnist

                April 11th 2018 @ 8:21pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | April 11th 2018 @ 8:21pm | ! Report

                ‘Launching’ is more specific BB – it means the cleaner leaves his feet completely and launches himself right over the top of the tackle area – it’s not the same as ‘punching’ the opponents off the ball and regaining your feet, the usual method.

              • April 11th 2018 @ 9:35pm
                Crash Ball2 said | April 11th 2018 @ 9:35pm | ! Report

                Thanks Nick,

                I take your point about the inability of the tackler to get to feet to hinder the clean out – that has validity. Though, whether that is in the order of magnitude of 33-50%, I’m less certain. And neither of the examples of penalties in the article evidence this: in each, the tackler falls on the wrong side of the ruck and is sealed in. It is exactly the same “not rolling away” penalty this year, as it was last year. Zero change.

                As for ball retention and pilfer rates – I’m unaware of where your statistics are gleaned or the qualitative overlay. Regardless, I’ve no reason to doubt their validity. Though as anecdotal evidence on a macro level goes, this is a good example. What I can say is that in both of the games on which you have based articles referencing the tangible effects of the new breakdown laws this year, none of the specific examples proffered have stood up to scrutiny. I’d invite anyone who cares to simply watch and make up their own minds. They are time referenced.

                As for the burden of evidence, in related events, I am also unable to prove that yeti’s are not real. Much like the seismic, “traditional” openside-killing effects of the new rugby breakdown laws, I haven’t seen any yeti’s either.

                Thanks also BB,

                “Referees react immediately when attacking support players hit the ruck. There is an immediate “hands off” approach” – If attacking cleaners arrive before defenders hands are on the pill, it has always been a “hands off” scenario. The mooted big difference that was purported was supposedly to be that a defender, with first hands on the pill, was thought to be required to release as soon as the cleaners arrived. This is simply not the case. The vast majority of forced turnovers awarded in both the six nations and super Rugby this year have been opposed turnovers – including the Naisarani/Lance example I gave for this match. Indeed, in the Ireland Scotland game this year, when awarding a “holding on” penalty, Wayne Barnes actually spoke the words “he survived the cleanout”, when explaining the infringement to the attacking team.

                Your subsequent examples are about allowances for cleanout technique and those laws are incumbent. You could potentially argue that refs are trending more or less leniently in his facit of rugby play – as happens most years. You just can’t affirm a link to the new laws.

                As for launching, the Brumbies blindside flanker Lachie McCaffery was penalised this very game for doing just that. Penalty to the defending Reds team.

                I’m mindful this view is against popoular trend on The Roar. But I’m completely comfortable being in an exclusive group of conscientious objectors (current membership consists of myself and the Australian Wallabies captain). We’re accepting memberships.

              • April 11th 2018 @ 8:09pm
                cuw said | April 11th 2018 @ 8:09pm | ! Report

                im interested to know how the Law considers two guys running in tandem – one having the ball and the other holding onto the ball carrier – in a tackle / ruck situation?

                when the ball carrier is tackled , is the guy who is holding onto him the first on the scene and thus a ruck is created?

                or what if both go to ground and the support guy is sealing off the ball?

                what about the need for arriving players at the ruck to stay on their feet?

                what about the need for tackler to release the tacklee?

                and when is the tackle complete – meaning held or not held – and tackler can let go of the tacklee ?

                there was a try in the Wasps match ( i think ) where there was a lot of debate among commentary ( and protests in the playground also ) that the ref considered not held , but seemed a tackle completed.

              • Roar Guru

                April 11th 2018 @ 8:29pm
                Corne Van Vuuren said | April 11th 2018 @ 8:29pm | ! Report

                Understood, I think there is a bit of a grey area of interpretation from referees though.

                The hammers behind the ball carrier very rarely is asked to reload once they lie prone on the ball carrier, that is a big killer of competing for the ball, often they will fall in front of the ball carrier which kills the contest for ball immediately.

                The “punch or drive” from the attacking team’s first or second arrivals to clean out is also not penalised often.

                I think the launch from an inidividual arriving player is more obvious, but is perhaps only a case in a smaller percentage of the rucks.

              • Columnist

                April 11th 2018 @ 9:49pm
                Nicholas Bishop said | April 11th 2018 @ 9:49pm | ! Report

                The vast majority of refs in the NH require the reload after the cleanout is delivered – but I think you are right that the interpretation is looser in SR…

              • Roar Guru

                April 11th 2018 @ 8:38pm
                Corne Van Vuuren said | April 11th 2018 @ 8:38pm | ! Report

                Cuw, that supporting running is most often there to create momentum for the ball carrier in contact and is therefor most often referred to as the hammer.

                Due to the momentum generated in contact he will most likely go to ground with the ball carrier, which means he has to “clear” the ball by either rolling away or getting to his feet in order to allow competition for the ball.

                That is however not enforced.

              • April 11th 2018 @ 8:54pm
                cuw said | April 11th 2018 @ 8:54pm | ! Report

                @ biltongbek

                true and i get ur point 100%.

                but my question is , when he stay on his feet – is he the first arriving attacker , thus creating a ruck?

                coz he is already bound to the ball runner – does it mean an automatic ruck?

                lot of Aviva teams are using it – some times the sidekick manages to stay on his feet.

                there was some atrocios decisions in one match La Rochelle played , where some of the attacking players just dived over and tackled someone 2 m behind the tackle area.

                to complicate matters the ref gave a penalty to attacking side ….

              • Roar Guru

                April 11th 2018 @ 10:32pm
                Corne Van Vuuren said | April 11th 2018 @ 10:32pm | ! Report

                Nicholas do you by any chance have access to how many pilfers there were in the 2017 super rugby season?

                Would love to compare number oof pilfers per match last season to this season

              • Roar Guru

                April 12th 2018 @ 1:58am
                Corne Van Vuuren said | April 12th 2018 @ 1:58am | ! Report

                Cuw, looking at current interpretations I would think if he stays on his feet it would be deemed a ruck, although I would suggest he should have to release the tackled player and rejoin

              • Roar Rookie

                April 12th 2018 @ 2:36am
                Huw Tindall said | April 12th 2018 @ 2:36am | ! Report

                Regardless of whether a clean out comes ‘through the gate’ or not I’ve been screaming at the TV for ‘players off their feet at the ruck’ for weeks now. It seems you can dive all over the place at the ruck now and it’s OK cleaning out.

              • Roar Guru

                April 12th 2018 @ 4:51am
                Corne Van Vuuren said | April 12th 2018 @ 4:51am | ! Report

                Agree huw, it drives me insane

        • April 11th 2018 @ 4:00pm
          Mapu said | April 11th 2018 @ 4:00pm | ! Report

    • April 11th 2018 @ 5:21am
      John said | April 11th 2018 @ 5:21am | ! Report

      Another great article; thank you.

      I wrote this on another thread in a different space, but if I were to die today I’d rather end up where the Mark Binghams are playing than the Israel Folaus. Someone replied “be careful what you wish for” but I stand by that view.

      Any time I think of Keven Mealamu I cannot go past Brian O’Driscoll and the tip tackle in 2005. Is it just me?

      • Columnist

        April 11th 2018 @ 5:36am
        Nicholas Bishop said | April 11th 2018 @ 5:36am | ! Report

        Yes I too admire the players with a more modest talent base but who manage to get the absolute most out of themselves. Sometimes with outrageously talented ones you never quite know how hard they work at it. Guys like Larry Bird and Michael Jordan weer hugely talented but still based their success on work ethic – being the last to leave at training….

        • April 11th 2018 @ 5:49am
          John said | April 11th 2018 @ 5:49am | ! Report

          Have you seen the Nike ad where Jordan talks about all the shots he’s missed and the games he’s lost being the reason he succeeded? As the father of 4 its just gold

          • Columnist

            April 11th 2018 @ 5:50am
            Nicholas Bishop said | April 11th 2018 @ 5:50am | ! Report

            Yes indeed I have John – very grounded!

          • April 11th 2018 @ 7:12am
            Kane said | April 11th 2018 @ 7:12am | ! Report

            John is that the reason you keep pumping out the kids? 😉

            • April 11th 2018 @ 8:44am
              John said | April 11th 2018 @ 8:44am | ! Report

              Nope – I blame bourbon

      • April 11th 2018 @ 5:48am
        Mzilikazi said | April 11th 2018 @ 5:48am | ! Report

        No John, not just you. But that is now in the past. But it must surely trouble a man who is basically a fine human being, and gives so much to all around him.

      • April 11th 2018 @ 4:58pm
        Akari said | April 11th 2018 @ 4:58pm | ! Report

        Interesting, John. I certainly can appreciate BOD maintaining the rage 13 years down the track even if he has moved on. BOD looked in great shape when shown on TV at the Hong Kong 7s last week, which was good to see.

        In your case, are you displeased with the tackle itself? I ask as I’ve seen some really bad ones since and are mainly forgotten.

        Or is it more to do with the fact that you feel a wrong was done and yet no disciplinary action was taken against Mealamu (and partner in ‘crime’, Tana Umaga) during or after that test?

        As to the tackle, we know that the ref, Joel Jutge, made the call of no illegality against the two involved. If I recall correctly, he made this call after consulting his officials, including the TMO. To his credit, Jutge has apologised to BOD and did say some years later that he and the officials could have done a better job on the tackle or words to that effect.

        Despite Clive Woodward’s attempt with the aid of the Lions spin doctor, Alistair Campbell, to have both Mealamu and Umaga charged and disciplined post game, both were cleared.

        In hindsight, Jutge have said that he should have given at least one RC but he was still not too sure whether M or U should have copped it. That might have helped although I suspect Clive and Alistair might still have pushed for the guillotine as the ultimate punishment for M and U.

        One thing is clear from all this. Mealamu is not responsible for the ref’s on-field decision and the subsequent review outcome. From what I am told ie by people who know him well, Mealamu is a top bloke and one of the nicest around.

      • April 11th 2018 @ 10:54pm
        Gepetto said | April 11th 2018 @ 10:54pm | ! Report

        yes, Keven is still not getting Christmas cards from O’Driscoll after that appalling bit of thuggery.

    • April 11th 2018 @ 5:25am
      Taylorman said | April 11th 2018 @ 5:25am | ! Report

      Pococks a class act and stands out a mile from the rest of the Wallaby side bar as you mention Folau who is a big moments player.

      The consistency ( in terms of Folau ball in hand, knack for scoring tries and ariel ability) of both makes them both standouts in oz rugby over the last few years.

      Which makes that a shame because two over that period is not nearly enough. They deserve the praise they get, they just need a few more players to share it with. Both have carried the team for far too long.

      • Columnist

        April 11th 2018 @ 5:39am
        Nicholas Bishop said | April 11th 2018 @ 5:39am | ! Report

        Yes it’s hard to argue with that given the consistency and depth of previous generations of Australian rugby players Tman. You don’t have to look too far behind to a long queue there… Will Genia probably deserves to join that group, and Steven Moore up until 2016 too. Now there appear to be many more unproven quantities – which is not surprising as they have not enjoyed a background of success at SR level!

    • April 11th 2018 @ 5:40am
      Mzilikazi said | April 11th 2018 @ 5:40am | ! Report

      Good evening Nic. I always find it hard to say that any one of your articles is the best ever. They are all of such a high quality in different ways.

      But this one has for me so many elements that touch me deeply. My wife was born in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, and lived on a beautiful farm in Manicaland, from which on a clear day one could just see the Indian Ocean across Mozambique. They produced fruit, timber, and raised cattle. A wonderful life in a wonderful country.

      Then came the first signs of change, eventually leading to a relatively short but vicious war. Their farm was remote, and vulnerable, but they were lucky. All survived. Many were not so fortunate. They lost one set of neighbours, murdered on the farm one night.

      After 1980, with majority rule, the decision was taken to sell the farm to the government. The price paid was a fraction of the true value of the property. Again they were lucky, or perhaps one should say very wise, considering what was to happen after the referendum of 2000. With the following invasion of farms, which saw tragic loss of life again, the food producing base of the nation was in fell swoop destroyed.

      We lived in Zimbabwe up to 1988, and when we left, the country held the strategic food reserves for the SADCC group of nations in Southern Africa. That is not the case any longer.

      We had lunch with friends last Sunday with friends, one of whom was also born and raised in Rhodesia. They invited some other friends, also Rhodesian born, and for the first time I met people who were directly affected by the post 2000 chaos. I will not go into any details of what happened to them, or to their farm labour force, to farm labour forces across the nation.

      How does what I say above tie in to your article, Nic ? Your comment “Pocock’s solution, instead of judging, was to go back to Zimbabwe and set up a charity, Eighty Twenty Vision, in conjunction with the WHO. It now helps people with issues as diverse as cholera, maternal health and the security of the water supply: ” relates in a way to the group of people we had lunch with on Sunday had a similar mindset. They are not judgemental or bitter. They are all elderly now, and have not done what David has in returning to Zimbabwe to set up a charity.

      But like him, they have risen above adversity suffered. None are well off, all have to work hard in their older years, when most here in Australia are enjoying a relaxed retirement.

      David Pocock is a born leader, a fine human being. He has God given gifts, and one can only hope Michael Chieka realises this, sees the “diamond” he has in his hands, and takes full advantage. I do think many have forgotten that David Pocock was developing as a fine Wallaby captain before he was cut down by injuries. So let him take up the reins again.

      It is from this stock that David Pocock comes.

      • Columnist

        April 11th 2018 @ 5:45am
        Nicholas Bishop said | April 11th 2018 @ 5:45am | ! Report

        Many thanks for your story MZ, it is touching…

        But like him, they have risen above adversity suffered. None are well off, all have to work hard in their older years, when most here in Australia are enjoying a relaxed retirement.

        David Pocock is a born leader, a fine human being. He has God given gifts, and one can only hope Michael Chieka realises this, sees the “diamond” he has in his hands, and takes full advantage. I do think many have forgotten that David Pocock was developing as a fine Wallaby captain before he was cut down by injuries. So let him take up the reins again.

        It is from this stock that David Pocock comes.

        Yes this is all right on the money. David Pocock’s continued commitment to his homeland is deeply impressive, and in a way reinforces rather than contradicts his loyalty to Australia. His ability to embrace causes well outside a rugby player’s normal range is somehow deeply Australian in its independence of thought. And yes, he would make a fine WB captain once more 🙂

      • Roar Guru

        April 11th 2018 @ 10:22am
        Mark Richmond said | April 11th 2018 @ 10:22am | ! Report

        Great comments Mzilikazi. I went to school in Manicaland, in fact played soccer at U13 level for the province. You are so right about the views over Mozambique……wonderful country at a wonderful time for me, it’s a pity what happened after we left.

        • April 11th 2018 @ 9:04pm
          Mzilikazi said | April 11th 2018 @ 9:04pm | ! Report

          Yes, Mark, those of us who saw the country in earlier times were indeed fortunate. Often think the post WW2 period through to the late 50’s was perhaps the best of all. I would love to have lived there then.

    • April 11th 2018 @ 5:41am
      Galatzo said | April 11th 2018 @ 5:41am | ! Report

      Excellent, Nicholas. DP will be embarrassed by the apotheosis but it’s his fault for being such a good person. Sports often throw up more people of questionable attitudes than admirable ones which is where the nice guys finish last trope came from. Ex Yankee pitcher Whitey Ford would now and then aim at his own players during batting practise because he hated hitters whatever uniform they wore. Jim Taylor, the great Green Bay fullback, would go out of his way to belt would-be tacklers because he liked to sting people. And there have been quite a few guys in rugby who were mean hard cases, a few of which wore a red jersey. As for Folau, he’s a belated victim of the 19th century missionaries who arrived in the Pacific islands and screwed up everybody’s lives.

      • Columnist

        April 11th 2018 @ 5:48am
        Nicholas Bishop said | April 11th 2018 @ 5:48am | ! Report

        Yes G, and it’s not just Folau’s original comment which was regrettable… the one following (hinting at some kind of religious persecution complex) suggests an image of himself removed from the reality of someone who is simply a top sportsman.

        • April 11th 2018 @ 7:15am
          Cynical Play said | April 11th 2018 @ 7:15am | ! Report

          Pure indoctrination. He is surrounded by evangelicals and has been brain washed. Religious extremism is everywhere. Even in our own parliament. It’s certainly gripped some of the islander communities. Call it out. Challenge the bigotry and hope for change.

          I do wonder what Poey and Izzy will talk about now on the bus.

          • Columnist

            April 11th 2018 @ 7:31am
            Nicholas Bishop said | April 11th 2018 @ 7:31am | ! Report

            I do wonder what Poey and Izzy will talk about now on the bus.

            Yes that is indeed an interesting poser CP – and what if Nigel Owens is reffing Folau too?? 😀

            • April 11th 2018 @ 3:20pm
              cuw said | April 11th 2018 @ 3:20pm | ! Report

              @ Nicholas Bishop

              what about the interesting case of Denny Solomona ?

              banned for 4 weeks based on a single accusation and no witnesses.

              BUT am curios about this statement from his club :

              ” “The RFU disciplinary panel decided, on the balance of probability but with absolutely no other evidence, that Denny had said those words based on Jamie Shillcock’s reaction only. They also did not believe that Mr Shillcock had sought out Denny after the game and apologised to him.”

              “After serious consideration, Sale Sharks have come to the conclusion that there are significant risks as well as legal and financial hurdles in pursuing an appeal. As a consequence, Sale Sharks do not believe that it is in the interests of either Denny, the club or the game of rugby union to prolong this sad affair.”

              WTF ??? so they think its better for him to live with that guilty judgement ?

              if it was me – i will hire my own lawyers to challenge the decision.

        • April 11th 2018 @ 7:20pm
          Reverse Wheel said | April 11th 2018 @ 7:20pm | ! Report

          You could perhaps understand why someone who feels misunderstood and is dumped on by huge numbers of people who have made literally zero attempt to understand where you’re coming from may feel a mite picked on? Whatever the rights and wrongs of the situation, the Australian media and public disagreed themselves in the ball tampering affair and it’s apparent that they’re not about to slow down and try to understand this time.

          • April 11th 2018 @ 7:42pm
            RobN said | April 11th 2018 @ 7:42pm | ! Report

            Could you please clarify for me, are the “misunderstood and dumped on” that you are referring to, the gay community?

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