The Wrap: It’s ‘four on the floor’ for out of tune Australian teams

Geoff Parkes Columnist

By Geoff Parkes, Geoff Parkes is a Roar Expert

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    New Zealand rugby fans who have been agitating for over 30 years for the return of former All Blacks captain Buck Shelford finally had their wish granted when a fit looking Shelford delivered an Anzac Day remembrance ode to kick off week ten Super Rugby action.

    The quality of the match didn’t do Shelford or the Anzac diggers justice however, the Highlanders always in control over a depleted Blues, closing out a 34-16 win that keeps them in touch with the three other heavyweight contenders in the New Zealand conference.

    Notably, the result marked the Blues’ 15th straight loss against a New Zealand franchise which, if applied equally across all four Australian franchises, would equate to an astonishing 60 defeats, not the mere 35-deep trans-Tasman abyss the Australian teams now wallow in.

    Friday night instead belonged to Ash Hewson, whose covering tackle on Queensland’s Samantha Treherne sent Australia’s Super W final into extra time, and penalty goal after the extra-time siren ensured an historic victory for New South Wales, 16-13.

    If Queensland were unlucky – the final penalty was for diving through the ruck to tackle the halfback, who appeared to have picked the ball up – the result was fitting for Hewson, who has been a great servant of the fledgling sport and who must, with better reason than most, wish she was ten years younger, to allow her to enjoy the growth in women’s rugby that will surely accrue in coming years.

    In the late fixture, both the Waratahs and Lions left points on the field in the first half, a number of inexplicable handling errors studding the match, not all of which could be put down to a dewy ball. Those errors always felt like they would come back to bite the Waratahs more, and so it proved, the home side failing for the first time ever in Super Rugby to trouble the scoreboard attendant.

    Unsurprisingly, Lions hooker Malcolm Marx reigned supreme, typified by one turnover where a Michael Hooper cleanout tipped him over and onto his head, but still didn’t prevent him from snaffling the ball back onto his side of the ruck.

    Season standout Taqele Naiyarovoro had a dreadful night, and Kurtley Beale paid the price for getting ahead of the ball on two defensive reads, clutching at air while the Lions scored behind him. The real difference between the sides however was the grunt the Lions forwards imposed on the Waratahs pack, complemented by some clever lineout variations in the second half.

    Waratahs Super Rugby Union 2017

    (AAP Image/Craig Golding)

    On Saturday, the Crusaders were no more than workmanlike against the Sunwolves, the 33-11 winning margin reflective of an improved effort by the visitors as much as the damp conditions.

    In Brisbane, the Chiefs killed the contest early, their speed of ball movement too much for the Reds who, despite trying manfully in the second half, and an impressively cool one-handed scrum feed by replacement halfback Moses Sorovi, were outclassed. Kudos to referee Jaco Peyper who must have suspected big trouble when Jonny Faauli flattened Caleb Timu in the middle of the park, but upon further inspection, didn’t panic and ruled the hit fair.

    Little solace for Timu whose bones must still be rattling now!

    It was a similar story for the Rebels in Pretoria – competing bravely in the second half but always looking a class below the Bulls, a side continuing to make progress under John Mitchell. After a good early run with injuries, the Rebels, already without Will Genia, finished the match without a hooker, and fresh concerns over Dane Haylett-Petty and Adam Coleman.

    In Durban, the South African conference tightened even further, with the Sharks seeing off the Stormers 24-17. Damien Willemse was again impressive for the losers, but the higher work-rate of the Sharks pack and some nice touches by centre Lukhanyo Am told the difference.

    It was thus left to the Brumbies to salvage Australian pride at home against the Jaguares, but some inexplicable tactics while a man up, too much focus on referee Angus Gardiner, and Henry Speight channelling Beale on defence meant that the best they could do was a late penalty to meekly claim a bonus point.

    The Jaguares continue to impress as a far more professional, rounded and disciplined unit than in previous years. Their final try, to winger Emiliano Boffelli, was a beauty – never mind that Speight made a poor decision at the end, this was a wonderful example of players working into space, avoiding the contact that too many Australian players take by default, and letting the ball do the work.

    This weekend illustrates how difficult it is for coaches to effect change and have this translated into immediate tangible success. There is an argument that by a number of measures, the Blues, Sunwolves, Rebels and Reds are all better this year compared to last, but they are all teams who remain some distance from competing for the title.

    Unfortunately for them, internal measurements alone count for little because the better sides are not standing still. For example, players like Marx, Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith and Pablo Matera have not clocked off, just as Scott Robertson has not lost his enthusiasm for coaching – he’s only just getting started. These are people in the ascendancy.

    Beauden Barrett

    (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

    Another factor is that for sides expected to lose, it used to be possible in rugby for a coach to fully commit to a defensive game plan, motivate his players to the point where they all believed they were supermen and, with some luck and a good goal-kicker, eke out a 9-6 win.

    However, today’s laws and evolution in the game have resulted in the ball being in play for significantly longer periods, and interpretations overwhelmingly favour the side in possession. Charlie Ngatai’s try for the Chiefs and Adriaan Strauss’ try for the Bulls against the Rebels were not the result of missed tackles or incompetent coaching, but simply the reward rugby now provides good attacking sides who build pressure and stick their passes.

    In that sense, winning rugby is multi-dimensional. The challenge is to not only limit New Zealand sides and the Lions to under 30 points, (not six or nine), but also to conjure a way to score more than that many points themselves.

    That’s a massive task for any coach, one that no matter the eagerness of Australian fans for their sides to start winning regularly, cannot reasonably be hoped to be turned around in the middle of a season, where injuries, match recovery, travel and managing tight schedules – rather than much-needed skills development – become the primary focus.

    If that sounds like it’s making excuses for Brad Thorn, Dave Wessels, Dan McKellar, Tana Umaga, Jamie Joseph and others, it isn’t. Consider it instead recognition of the deeper factors at play, and the reality that significant and lasting change in an elite sporting competition can only be effected if all aspects – cultural, organisational, financial, environmental, personnel – are sufficiently resourced and are in harmony with each other.

    To single the Reds out as an example, their back office has been dysfunctional for some time. Their governing body, Rugby Australia, is financially strained and heavily criticized on a daily basis. Their natural on-field talisman Will Genia has somehow ended up at another franchise.

    In that context, is it realistic to expect that Brad Thorn, eight matches into his Super Rugby coaching career, should already have moulded a team of journeymen and youngsters to beat the Chiefs? With or without Quade Cooper? I’d suggest not.

    Brad Thorn

    (Photo by Jono Searle/Getty Images)

    Is it realistic to expect that win to come when the Chiefs return to Suncorp in two years’ time? Surely that is possible, but even so, is two years enough time to sufficiently improve the skills and the athleticism of the players at Thorn’s disposal, to strengthen his squad in the off-seasons, and to establish the consistency and winning habits that consistently successful franchises have? While Thorn is learning on the job himself?

    Johan Ackermann achieved this at the Lions, partly because he chose to adopt a style of play that was easily defined – it was something that all his players could see and understand, even if it proved difficult initially for them to adopt. Thus Ackermann explained the process where he was forced to ride out the tough times in transition, and to keep adding and trimming players here and there in his search to find the personnel with the temperament and skill set to deliver his vision.

    Despite his undoubted success, and the continuation this year under Swys de Bruin, note that the Lions too, are yet to win Super Rugby.

    Irish rugby – at international level and this season with Leinster charging to what appears to be inevitable European Championship glory – has similarly managed to define what it wants to be, and has gone about patiently building towards that, piece by piece. The rewards for both planning and execution are now flowing, but it has been a long journey.

    Change is indeed possible, but at this level where the quality of the opposition is high and the margins between winning and losing sides are magnified in an instant, any such change is almost certainly going to be very hard-earned and slow to achieve. Accordingly, expectations should be re-aligned to accept that improvement will be incremental and non-linear, and cannot be sensibly measured on a week-by-week basis.

    None of which stops fans demanding their pound of flesh and wanting their side to be better, and that is fair enough. Australian (and Blues) fans are heartily sick of losing, they are frustrated by basic deficiencies in skills and set-piece execution, and it is understandably affecting the state of the game in those regions.

    On the bright side, there is at least a contest looming that might just provide a first step on the pathway to redemption for Australian rugby.

    The Brumbies get a crack at home next week against the Crusaders, but mark down Saturday fifth May, at the unusual venue of Brookvale Oval on Sydney’s northern beaches, as a more likely milestone in trans-Tasman terms.

    The New Zealand franchises are all desperate not to become the first to fold and break the sequence, but there is a sense that Umaga has little control over what happens once his Blues side takes the field.

    The Waratahs might have been well beaten by the Lions on Friday night, but this is a couple of divisions lighter, and they must surely fancy their chances here. Don’t break out the champagne just yet, that would be foolish, but right now, Australian rugby needs any win it can get.

    Geoff Parkes
    Geoff Parkes

    Geoff is a Melbourne-based sports fanatic and writer who started contributing to The Roar in 2012 under the pen name Allanthus. His first book, A World in Union Conflict; The Global Battle For Rugby Supremacy, was released in December 2017 to critical acclaim. For details on the book visit Meanwhile, his twin goals of achieving a single figure golf handicap and owning a fast racehorse remain tantalisingly out of reach.

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    The Crowd Says (521)

    • April 23rd 2018 @ 7:22am
      Brisvegas said | April 23rd 2018 @ 7:22am | ! Report

      Thanks Geoff in watching the unfolding of this year’s competition it is easy to say that the same old suspects are all in the running to take out the title. N Z have 4 contenders SA have most likely 2 and AUS have (fill in the blank)?
      IfvAus teams are relying solely on beating the current lowly Blues as being a bit of a given then I reckon they are in for a shock. Also if you tally up the points accumulated in each conference then AUS are way behind the other 2.
      Dare I say it 3 AUS SR TEAMS is not a bad scenario for producing more competitive and depth for teams. Growing the game at grassroots will need to be a focus as usual. You have 4 shaky pillars holding up the building where 3 strong pillars will do it more easily.

      • April 23rd 2018 @ 7:43am
        Ex force fan said | April 23rd 2018 @ 7:43am | ! Report

        If the ARU is consistent they will have to go to 3 teams, then 2, then 1 and then none…..Clyne logic, just think about the savings…….haha. Teams that has been successful stayed together for years and was not build on the back of superstars. Chiefs, Highlanders, Lions etc was not made up of internationals when they started to become serious title contenders. There is no quick fix!

      • Columnist

        April 23rd 2018 @ 8:11am
        Geoff Parkes said | April 23rd 2018 @ 8:11am | ! Report

        Hi BV

        In my book, discussing the exclusion of the Force from SR, I actually ask something like… what if the reversion to 4 teams makes no immediate difference to results? What happens then? Three teams? two teams?’

        This prompts a few points,

        – the issue becomes more one of what type of competition is optimal, eg potentially fewer number of teams from all nations, more of a European Championship type scenario – and all that that entails, and

        – are people prepared to ride this out? It’s a competition, there will always be a top and a bottom, with only one winner. As low as it seems, everything is cyclical and it is only recently that the Reds and Tahs won. Is it right to be jumping at shadows? (even if they are large ones)

        – as long as players like Fardy continue to go overseas and do the business for Leinster instead of stiffening up the Brumbies, performance at SR level will be impacted. Is it the right reaction to keep shrinking teams in line with players going overseas, or to attack the problem in another way?

        • April 23rd 2018 @ 10:14am
          nickbrisbane said | April 23rd 2018 @ 10:14am | ! Report

          Did Fardy not go overseas because Cheika had discarded him? If so, it sounds like he has mismanaged yet another player.

          • Roar Guru

            April 23rd 2018 @ 10:23am
            The Neutral View From Sweden said | April 23rd 2018 @ 10:23am | ! Report

            Do not watch Leinster-Scarlets if you are a fan of the idea that Fardy should play for the Wallabies because it will do your head in.

            • April 23rd 2018 @ 10:52am
              Jacko said | April 23rd 2018 @ 10:52am | ! Report

              The problem is not about 1 or 2 players tho is it. NZ and SA also have some of their talent going overseas for their rugby and it needs to be looked at as to wht does the SH get from these playes going OS. Time to get transfer payments etc into place and at least get something from the moves. The NZRU being asked for a release by Sheilds is a good point to start….NZ should say YES no probs Shields can play for England before his SR contract is done but the ERU should be made to buy his contract out

              • Roar Guru

                April 23rd 2018 @ 11:36am
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | April 23rd 2018 @ 11:36am | ! Report

                How many times are you gonna bring up transfer fees Jacko? You clearly have no idea how it works, yet here you are again banging that void argument.

                World Rugby’s regulation for releasing players during international Test windows trumps any clauses that NZR has in their contracts with their players. And that is why NZR is doing a 180 turn from their statements that they might stop Shields from playing for England in June.

              • April 23rd 2018 @ 3:34pm
                Taylorman said | April 23rd 2018 @ 3:34pm | ! Report

                Pretty sure jacko is saying its time they should be paying them, so at this point nobody knows how that would work, not even you.😀

              • April 23rd 2018 @ 3:00pm
                cuw said | April 23rd 2018 @ 3:00pm | ! Report

                Ackermann has implored Edie Jones to select Jason Woodward for the saffa tour.

              • April 23rd 2018 @ 6:04pm
                cuw said | April 23rd 2018 @ 6:04pm | ! Report

                @ Taylorman said

                ” Pretty sure jacko is saying its time they should be paying them, so at this point nobody knows how that would work, not even you.😀 ”

                actually IMO – the how is already established in footy , and to a lesser extent in cricket.

                [ for example – the heads of English cricket counties have been meeting and thrashing out issues.

                one big issue this year seems to be that IPL is buying players as and when they like.

                so the heads have called for a cut off month.

                they have also asked for the money IPL pay to English cricket – on the principle that it is the county that nurtures and trains the player. ]

                the problem for rugger is – they dont have a very comprehensive system in place for player transfers and compensation. => as compared to footy.

                for eg. it is very rare for players to leave mid contract in rugger , whereas it is a norm in footy. ( the simple reason is , once the player becomes a free agent in footy , he can leave for free and the club gets nothing ).

                also when Johnny may left his club – the suits found that the contract has a clause which they never paid attention to . just goes to show that they pay less attention to details in rugger than in footy ( tho the clause was closed by Aviva clubs immediately after the event)

                i just find it crazy that rugger is not working on such things – rather than trying to tweak the LAWS every six months and making it difficult for many to understand a game.

              • April 23rd 2018 @ 6:46pm
                Taylorman said | April 23rd 2018 @ 6:46pm | ! Report

                Yes Cuw there are variations in place which is why I said no one knows how it would look in rugby. Theres no exact template for rugby on the matter yet.

              • April 23rd 2018 @ 10:46pm
                Bakkies said | April 23rd 2018 @ 10:46pm | ! Report

                ‘the problem for rugger is – they dont have a very comprehensive system in place for player transfers and compensation. => as compared to footy.’

                Rugby clubs have no interest in sending another club broke as has happened in Italian and Scottish Football where teams haven’t been able to pay transfer fees than get slap with a transfer market ban which can cripple their squad management. The debt in Football mainly due to salaries and transfer fees makes Saracens hefty deficit look like monopoly money.

                Players have been released while on contract and no fee has been requested. Sekope Kepu leaving Bordeaux with no transfer fee despite having two seasons left on his deal is a good example.

            • April 24th 2018 @ 12:32am
              Pavid Docock said | April 24th 2018 @ 12:32am | ! Report

        • Roar Guru

          April 23rd 2018 @ 10:53am
          PeterK said | April 23rd 2018 @ 10:53am | ! Report

          NZ and SA will force Aust to drop another team next broadcast deal.

          Brumbies will be dropped / merged with rebels.

          • Roar Guru

            April 23rd 2018 @ 11:04am
            Kane said | April 23rd 2018 @ 11:04am | ! Report

            That should have happened last year instead of dropping the Force.

            • Roar Guru

              April 23rd 2018 @ 11:24am
              PeterK said | April 23rd 2018 @ 11:24am | ! Report

              wouldn’t change anything since force would be dropped next time anyway

              • April 23rd 2018 @ 12:19pm
                Dubaikiwi said | April 23rd 2018 @ 12:19pm | ! Report

                So after that the next stage is to do as Argentina, one team. Then we have two conferences, 5 from nz, plus 1 from Australia and one from Japan, thats one conference, the SA and Argentina. But what heppens if AU is still not competitive!

              • Roar Guru

                April 23rd 2018 @ 12:24pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | April 23rd 2018 @ 12:24pm | ! Report

                Sorry for banging out an old argument, but the Force backed by Twiggy would have a serious chance to recruit top-level players (both Aussies and foreigners) that would possibly make them very competitive. Unlike any other Aussie team they could actually buy their way to success.

              • Roar Rookie

                April 23rd 2018 @ 12:35pm
                piru said | April 23rd 2018 @ 12:35pm | ! Report

                Neutral a no doubt unintended side effect of the horrendous way the Force’s exit was handled has been a renewed interest from non rugby fans in The Force in WA. Basically any time “the East” shafts us, Sandgropers tend to band together.

                The World Series Rugby comp kicking off on May 4th is being billed as “WA vs the World” and has support from people like John Worsfold (Eagles), Matthew Pavlich (Dockers), Justin Langer (WA Cricket – and now Aussie coach), Wildcats, Heat and Glory players, all manner of individual WA athletes and I’m expecting to see Daniel Riccardo’s mug on a TV ad any day now.

                I wouldn’t go so far as to say they’ve wakened a sleeping giant, but they have p1ssed a lot of WA folk off – I predict the TV coverage and the cheap tickets will see a lot of non rugby folk turning up

              • Roar Guru

                April 23rd 2018 @ 1:36pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | April 23rd 2018 @ 1:36pm | ! Report

                Thanks piru.

                I can see a very strong argument that the Force – in a way – is closer to the heart of many people now in WA now than ever before.

                If (WHEN) they come back and if they are still backed by Twiggy (who might be even more determined to prove a point), I can see them come back with a real bang.

                What has happened is in many inexcusable, but if the Force came back, cruised the OZ conference, picking some Kiwi scalps and are involved deep into the business end, that would be a pretty fine band-aid to put on your wound.

            • Roar Rookie

              April 23rd 2018 @ 3:06pm
              Kirky said | April 23rd 2018 @ 3:06pm | ! Report

              Kane! Exactly mate, and to think the Force was dudded through no fault of their own and the Sunwolves kept in as one of the major Franchises, is nothing but an absolute joke!

              The Sunwolves are an absolutely non event Super rugby side who very likely won’t win a game all season and the very fact that the run on side has about eleven imports, call them what you will, just makes their inclusion and the Force exclusion an absolute joke!

              The Brumbies possibly should’ve gone, and merged with some other Franchise not necessarily the Force, as they were able enough to run their own ship!

              Why is this so?

              • April 23rd 2018 @ 3:34pm
                Akari said | April 23rd 2018 @ 3:34pm | ! Report

                No way, Kirky. They should have closed the Rebels franchise and merged it with the Brumbies instead. We have a strong rugby heritage whereas the other mob from Melbourne prefer to play aerial ping pong. This might mean that Peter Kelly will have to move his grand kids to Canberra so they could play decent rugby for a change.

                We of course would be happy to share with the VRU so a fair share of super rugby games are played at AAMI Stadium.

              • April 23rd 2018 @ 7:01pm
                Peter Kelly said | April 23rd 2018 @ 7:01pm | ! Report

                Go to Canberra for work not living there, if the grandkids turn out good at rugby it might be time to go home

              • April 23rd 2018 @ 6:08pm
                cuw said | April 23rd 2018 @ 6:08pm | ! Report

                something that will never happen – Aussy shud close their 4 franchises and relaunch again , paying attention to where rugger is the in thing.

          • Roar Guru

            April 23rd 2018 @ 12:21pm
            Fox said | April 23rd 2018 @ 12:21pm | ! Report

            Interesting prospect peterk

          • April 23rd 2018 @ 11:09pm
            Bakkies said | April 23rd 2018 @ 11:09pm | ! Report

            The RA can’t legally drop the Brumbies or merge them with the Rabble. The RA don’t own the IP and licence along with the ACT clubs who will never vote to kill themselves through a merger. Particularly with a debt riddled side like the Rebels.

            Don’t know how many times this has to be pointed out to people.

            The Force will show that teams are better off without Super Rugby. Proper self control of marketing, the players are around to get involved with the community (none of this nonsense of going without a home match for six weeks), games on at a reasonable hour and better control over kick off times. Overheads will also greatly reduce as you are cutting out a lot of the travel costs.

            • Roar Guru

              April 24th 2018 @ 11:34am
              PeterK said | April 24th 2018 @ 11:34am | ! Report

              actually they can drop a team but can’t force a merge.

              If SANZAAR decide that aust can only have 3 teams in super rugby then 1 team doesn’t get invited on the next renewal in 2020.

              Brumbies or rebels can continue to exist they just won’t get to play super rugby nor get any money from it.

              The issue with force was it was during a current broadcast deal.

        • April 23rd 2018 @ 12:29pm
          sheek said | April 23rd 2018 @ 12:29pm | ! Report


          In previous exchanges I’ve said that WR needs to do something to protect international rugby & southern hemisphere comps.

          Your basic reply is they can’t because that would be restraint of trade.

          Maybe I’m asking the wrong questions?

          Does WR care if there’s no international rugby in the future? Or that the only domestic comps available for players are basically in England & France? Or at worst, in Europe?

          England & France are the only two countries with the requisite combination of financial clout & sufficient quality players.

          USA & Japan have the financial clout, China even, but they don’t have the players. New Zealand, South Africa & Australia have the players(well, maybe not Australia) but not the financial clout.

          By comparison, football has many more financial options, even if most of them are still in Europe – England, France, Germany, Italy & Spain all have major domestic comps, while the likes of Netherlands & Portugal aren’t too far behind.

          While the various Continental Cups allow players to get back & play for their countries in regional comps.

          There is a clear imbalance here that won’t be solved by free trade or free movement of players. Protectionism is required to save rugby from itself.

          As unpalatable a word as protectionism might be to WR & the general fans, rugby playing countries & especially the players themselves, the alternative is potentially much worse, & that will impact on the players much worse that living under protectionism.

          Australian voters are being increasingly pressured to pick the lesser of two evils at each federal election. Quality in candidates has disappeared. Or should I say quality in serving the public, & not themselves.

          Maybe it’s time for WR to do the same & pick the lesser of two evils – protectionism in order for the game to thrive everywhere, or free trade, whereby all the quality players will be funnelled into Europe, in particular England & France.

          It will be a pyrrhic victory if players are allowed to retain their right to find the best deal for themselves, but find there’s only one corner of the earth to play rugby, & only club rugby at that.

          If that’s the rugby future we want, then we’re well & truly on our way….

          • Columnist

            April 23rd 2018 @ 1:57pm
            Geoff Parkes said | April 23rd 2018 @ 1:57pm | ! Report

            Sheek, I’m a supporter of free trade in business but a supporter of central control in sports.

            The NFL and AFL, are two compelling examples of the benefits of equalization and central control over sports competitions.

            But I also understand that the time for this in rugby was in 1995. I don’t see how the cat can be put back in the bag.

            • April 23rd 2018 @ 3:41pm
              sheek said | April 23rd 2018 @ 3:41pm | ! Report


              I think it was Teddy Roosevelt who said something along the following lines.

              The best decision you make is the right decision.

              The next best decision you make is acknowledge a wrong decision & make it a right decision.

              The worst thing you can do is make no decision.

              • April 23rd 2018 @ 3:49pm
                sheek said | April 23rd 2018 @ 3:49pm | ! Report

                The exact quote from Teddy Roosevelt is as follows:

                “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing at all”.

                Although he doesn’t clarify his statement, I’m sure Roosevelt meant as soon as you know you’ve made a wrong decision, you should correct it.

                Whatever should have happened back in 1995, better to be late than never…..

              • Roar Guru

                April 23rd 2018 @ 4:01pm
                Ralph said | April 23rd 2018 @ 4:01pm | ! Report

                Practical management as I was taught (a very long time ago) was similar:

                1. Some decision is better than no decision, because no decision creates paralysis.

                2. Even the best managers only get 50% of decisions right so don’t sweat it.

                3. Sometimes pragmatic execution trumps perfect theory.

              • Columnist

                April 23rd 2018 @ 4:56pm
                Geoff Parkes said | April 23rd 2018 @ 4:56pm | ! Report

                Don’t disagree.

                There’s the minor inconvenience however that World Rugby and a number of national unions don’t own the players, the clubs own many of them.

                In fact it’s a major inconvenience. It’s like me determining what you have for dinner tonight. I can’t do it, i have no jurisdtiction.

              • April 23rd 2018 @ 7:37pm
                sheek said | April 23rd 2018 @ 7:37pm | ! Report


                We will have to disagree on the reasons of the inaction from WR, although I do understand their dilemma.

                Anyway, that’s why WR is the governing body. To govern.

                In war, the great generals, or leaders (they don’t have to be generals) don’t sit at their map desk muttering, “oh me, oh my, things aren’t working out for me”.

                They lead, they delegate, they cajole, they inspire, they brain-storm, they find a way through, around, over, under, whatever.

                They find a way to get the job done.

              • Columnist

                April 23rd 2018 @ 9:55pm
                Geoff Parkes said | April 23rd 2018 @ 9:55pm | ! Report

                Not while they don’t own the players, they don’t.

                This was actually one of the motivations for writing my book Sheek. To try to determine why World Rugby wasn’t doing more on a few of the key issues in the game.

                As you know there’s a whole chapter devoted to it, and the sad realisation was that they are not the ‘global policeman’ that their name implies.

                Steve Tew is quoted later in the book saying something like… “are we (World Rugby) fit for purpose to deal with some of those key issues? Probably not.”

                It’s not for a lack of understanding or desire. It’s the reality that the commercial and political power in global rugby, now sits with the LNR and Premiership Rugby.

                It’s sad and imo bad for the game overall, but all the glorious leadership examples and metaphors you can muster aren’t going to change that reality.

              • April 23rd 2018 @ 10:13pm
                elvis said | April 23rd 2018 @ 10:13pm | ! Report

                Actually, you can clarify that to “managers look managerial making decisions” and managerial managers get promoted. Especially since lots of decisions can’t be quantified for success or failure in a reasonable time frame or at all.
                Sometimes the best decision is to do nothing, or even not make a decision and let things ride.
                I’d love to say this is my own thoughts, but I am paraphrasing “managers and magic”, a look at management from a successful management consultant.

              • April 24th 2018 @ 11:32am
                sheek said | April 24th 2018 @ 11:32am | ! Report


                I’m sometimes surprised we focus on different things.

                I can come up with all the metaphors I want. But it is still incumbent on RW as the governing body to find the solutions.

                That doesn’t change. If they can’t do their job, let someone else have a go.

      • April 23rd 2018 @ 12:48pm
        Mr Tommo said | April 23rd 2018 @ 12:48pm | ! Report

        No business became successful by closing shops.

        • April 23rd 2018 @ 3:03pm
          cuw said | April 23rd 2018 @ 3:03pm | ! Report

          LOL – ur joking right??

          • April 23rd 2018 @ 4:27pm
            Mr Tommo said | April 23rd 2018 @ 4:27pm | ! Report

            Absolutely not, as the old adage goes,you gotta spend money to make money; every company i’ve worked for: the ones that sold assets during the hard times without re-investing that money eventually went belly up or lost a heap of business and became less competitive in the market; the ones that persisted and re-invested managed to come out alright or better their competitors in the long run. Same principle during economic down turns; when times are rough, spending needs to increase to keep the economy afloat. Cut spending to save money and you get the great depression. This also applies to RA; cutting a team will always save money in the short run, but the long term damage will be great unless that money has been re-invested wisely; from which all accounts indicate it has not.

    • April 23rd 2018 @ 7:26am
      John said | April 23rd 2018 @ 7:26am | ! Report

      Very good summary and excellent observations but there is still the lingering problem of addressing and fixing the player skillsets from school boy level through to senior club level.
      The Blues will probably pull a win out of the bag and beat the Waratahs. Tana Umaga might start to smile again.

      • April 23rd 2018 @ 7:31am
        Rugby Tragic said | April 23rd 2018 @ 7:31am | ! Report

        … “The Blues will probably pull a win out of the bag and beat the Waratahs) … I wish *S*

        • Roar Guru

          April 23rd 2018 @ 9:51am
          Machooka said | April 23rd 2018 @ 9:51am | ! Report

          It’s on Tragic!

          May the 5th!

          Will they or won’t they? 🙂

          • April 23rd 2018 @ 3:04pm
            cuw said | April 23rd 2018 @ 3:04pm | ! Report

            5% probability.

            they have lost too many starters to put out a good game for 80 minutes.

      • Columnist

        April 23rd 2018 @ 7:37am
        Geoff Parkes said | April 23rd 2018 @ 7:37am | ! Report

        That’s the big concern John. How much can you improve a 24-25 year old, no matter what effort is put into coaching and by the player?

        The appointment of Mick Byrne is a real positive, but it’s possible that we’re looking at a generational issue – as you suggest, to effect lasting change from school boy through to senior level.

      • Roar Rookie

        April 23rd 2018 @ 6:23pm
        Kirky said | April 23rd 2018 @ 6:23pm | ! Report

        John: The Blues are playing rubbish and we all could wonder why as there’s players in that team that other Franchisees would bend over backwards to have! ~ Bet anything you like, the Blues like every other Franchise in New Zealand won’t want to be the team to be knocked over first by an Aussie’ Franchise, so I wouldn’t bet on the Tahs’ beating the Aucklanders when they meet.

        The Blues if they get their act together are as good or better than a few of the other Franchises, they’re just not doing the bizzo’ that they are capable of at the moment!

    • April 23rd 2018 @ 7:29am
      Rugby Tragic said | April 23rd 2018 @ 7:29am | ! Report

      At last rugby… uncontaminated by events and distractions of the pass…. thank you Geoff,

      For all that the performances were imo not up to the standards of earlier weeks, in particular the NZ derby.. The best performance though from one sides performance was the Lions. They say that Elton Jantjies is a ‘confidence player’, we he played that game against the scoreless Waratahs ‘full of confidence’ … and Marx, Malcom Marx should have his body registered as a dangerous weapon.. what an immense player, dunno who won MOTM, but surely it was him.

      A words about the Blues … well they were really out of the competition play-offs before this weekend but I retain empathy with them with so many injuries .. 18 in all. Once a few of their key players are, they will become spoilers but they cannot afford to drop their heads.

      The Kiwi girls won the 7’s tournament in Japan defeating the skillful Aussie side in the semis afer training 12-5, eventually getting ip 17-12, then overpowering the French women in the final, Congratulations to them

      • Columnist

        April 23rd 2018 @ 7:39am
        Geoff Parkes said | April 23rd 2018 @ 7:39am | ! Report

        Hi RT

        A bit of a ‘changing of the guard’ with the Aus womens 7’s. New coach, some new young players tried out.
        This has been a great couple of weeks for the NZ girls but the Australian system is so professional I expect they’ll be back bigger and stronger.

        • April 23rd 2018 @ 11:07am
          Canetragic said | April 23rd 2018 @ 11:07am | ! Report

          Interesting point that perhaps backs up your cyclical comment earlier. Aus rugby 7s, both men’s and women’s, are really strong now. Clearly something being done right there. So why not the 15 asidegame as well? What’s getting in the way? Is it that for so long (in men’s at least) they were seen in Aus as an interesting novelty so avoided whatever systemic malaise afflicted “mainstream” rugby? This might have allowed them to set up administrative, coaching and player development processes that are more effective? Thoughts?

          • Columnist

            April 23rd 2018 @ 12:27pm
            Geoff Parkes said | April 23rd 2018 @ 12:27pm | ! Report

            I’m not sure how strong the Australian men’s 7 have been Canetragic – certainly consistently below a number of other sides.

            The program implemented in the years leading up to the Rio Olympics was very focused and professional, with money and resources put into it, and perhaps the Aus girls also benefitted from this being ahead of the curve compared to other countries. Smart recruitment also played a factor, and Tim Walsh is a very committed and astute coach.

            Andy Friend didn’t have the same luxury with regard to playing talent – Aus is similar to NZ in terms of priority for players v the 15 man game, which isn’t such an issue for the women.

            I guess the women’s success proved how Australian rugby can get things right, but the rider is that this is a very different proposition to competing week in/week out at SR and Test level.

            • April 23rd 2018 @ 1:53pm
              Muzzo said | April 23rd 2018 @ 1:53pm | ! Report

              Well Geof, at the moment, in the World Series, the NZ men are lying third, with the Australian team lying about fifth, from memory. The women, it’s the Australian womens team leading the Kiwi’s by six points. What has been impressive with the Kiwi men, is some of the young talent, they are exposing this season. They are rebuilding well, but IMO, Roger Randle should be coaching them, & not Laidlaw, who seems to have constant trouble, as to when he should be replacing players. Just my opinion though.

            • April 23rd 2018 @ 1:53pm
              Muzzo said | April 23rd 2018 @ 1:53pm | ! Report

              Well Geoff, at the moment, in the World Series, the NZ men are lying third, with the Australian team lying about fifth, from memory. The women, it’s the Australian womens team leading the Kiwi’s by six points. What has been impressive with the Kiwi men, is some of the young talent, they are exposing this season. They are rebuilding well, but IMO, Roger Randle should be coaching them, & not Laidlaw, who seems to have constant trouble, as to when he should be replacing players. Just my opinion though.

              • April 23rd 2018 @ 1:54pm
                Muzzo said | April 23rd 2018 @ 1:54pm | ! Report


              • April 23rd 2018 @ 6:10pm
                cuw said | April 23rd 2018 @ 6:10pm | ! Report

                2 horse race – unless the NZ team or someone can upset the Bokke and Fiji ending up among the top 5 in the remaining 3 legs.

                NZ in particular has been chalk n cheese this season.

              • April 24th 2018 @ 10:40am
                Muzzo said | April 24th 2018 @ 10:40am | ! Report

                Would you believe that NZ is in a rebuilding stage cuw? As it is they have at least won a tournament this tear, whilst rebuilding. Then again, NZ has won the World Series, more than any other country competing, as with the Seven’s World Cup.
                Then again, I still reckon that that the Blitzbokke,this season, will still be the one’s to beat in taking out the title once again.

        • April 23rd 2018 @ 11:46am
          P2R2 said | April 23rd 2018 @ 11:46am | ! Report

          what….NZ system is not professional and/or skilfull?”…come on…that’s why they beat the Aus girls twice…jeez give due credit …

          • Columnist

            April 23rd 2018 @ 12:19pm
            Geoff Parkes said | April 23rd 2018 @ 12:19pm | ! Report

            What are you talking about P2R2? It is not possible to make a comment about the Australian system without having to bow and scrape to the NZ girls at the same time?

            • April 23rd 2018 @ 3:39pm
              Reverse Wheel said | April 23rd 2018 @ 3:39pm | ! Report

              Are you new hear Geoff? No one does anything without first genuflecting to their masters in the south.

        • April 23rd 2018 @ 1:45pm
          Muzzo said | April 23rd 2018 @ 1:45pm | ! Report

          Mind you Geoff, last weekends tournament, both teams, had injured players out, but the new girls in the NZ team, did perform very well. One of them, does play in the 15 aside, NZ woman’s team.

          • Columnist

            April 23rd 2018 @ 2:35pm
            Geoff Parkes said | April 23rd 2018 @ 2:35pm | ! Report

            Yes Muzzo, the ‘big cheese’ this time around was the Comm Games.

            This tournament was seen by both NZ and Australia as the next step on a new phase.

            • April 24th 2018 @ 10:42am
              Muzzo said | April 24th 2018 @ 10:42am | ! Report

              One more thing Geoff, the NZ mens team, have only ever missed out on Commonwealth gold once. The time they missed out was when they ended up with the silver.

        • Roar Rookie

          April 23rd 2018 @ 6:36pm
          Kirky said | April 23rd 2018 @ 6:36pm | ! Report

          Great to see the girls playing the game at all, I love it and for sure they are in most cases a helluva’ easier on the eye than the Bruthas’!

          You go Ladies!!

      • Roar Guru

        April 23rd 2018 @ 7:45am
        Corne Van Vuuren said | April 23rd 2018 @ 7:45am | ! Report

        Hi RT, not sure whether Jantjies started the match vs the Tahs with much confidence, he was woeful in the first half.

        • April 23rd 2018 @ 8:22am
          Rugby Tragic said | April 23rd 2018 @ 8:22am | ! Report

          Biltongbek, yes he was average for first 25.30 mins but overall he was pretty effective I thought.

          • April 23rd 2018 @ 10:56am
            Jacko said | April 23rd 2018 @ 10:56am | ! Report

            Yes he did some good stuff but fading in and out of games is a trait of his.His second half was very good tho

            • April 23rd 2018 @ 12:18pm
              shooshiner said | April 23rd 2018 @ 12:18pm | ! Report

              Give me a fading in and out flyhalf over Bernard ” The Melted ” Iceman anyday. If you`ve forgotten the scoreline already Jacko Goldfish, it was 29 BLOT.

              • Roar Guru

                April 23rd 2018 @ 12:26pm
                Ralph said | April 23rd 2018 @ 12:26pm | ! Report

                shooshiner, that’s the ten you are taking to the RWC you are talking about.

              • April 23rd 2018 @ 1:28pm
                shooshiner said | April 23rd 2018 @ 1:28pm | ! Report

                Ralph , we don’t want to take him to Rugby World Cup 2019. Cheika does.


              • April 23rd 2018 @ 3:34pm
                Jacko said | April 23rd 2018 @ 3:34pm | ! Report

                Shooshine what has my comment got to do with Foley? I was talking about Jantjiies and if you believe Aus are taking Jantijies to the WC next year then you are confused. It would appear goldfish have more intelect than Shooshiners

        • Roar Guru

          April 23rd 2018 @ 8:28am
          Ralph said | April 23rd 2018 @ 8:28am | ! Report

          Surely Pollard will be the selection for the Springboks.

          • April 23rd 2018 @ 8:41am
            Fionn said | April 23rd 2018 @ 8:41am | ! Report

            I would have thought that Pollard and Willemse are both in better form than Jantjies. Pollard can play 12 too though. Esterhuizen is a quality inside centre too though.

          • Roar Guru

            April 23rd 2018 @ 8:42am
            Corne Van Vuuren said | April 23rd 2018 @ 8:42am | ! Report

            Rassie has given no indication yet of his preferred selections, I’d say its 50/50 at this stage

            • Roar Guru

              April 23rd 2018 @ 9:04am
              Ralph said | April 23rd 2018 @ 9:04am | ! Report

              Who would *you* pick for your spine today (2, 9, 8, 10, 15)?

              • April 23rd 2018 @ 9:06am
                Fionn said | April 23rd 2018 @ 9:06am | ! Report

                Apparently Faf de Klerk has been playing wonderfully over in the UK.

                I think there’s an extremely good Springboks team being assembled by Rassie, and I really hope to se the Boks back as one of the top 2-3 teams by the end of the year.

              • Roar Guru

                April 23rd 2018 @ 9:23am
                Ralph said | April 23rd 2018 @ 9:23am | ! Report

                I suspect the following might be locked in for the RWC:

                2 – Marx
                8 – Whitely
                9 – Cronje
                10 – Pollard
                15 – Coetzee

                Not that they won’t play anyone else in the coming RC, because they need to be building depth right now. And, of course, who knows what effect the politics and rules will have.

                Their goal this RC campaign has to be to win something away.

              • April 23rd 2018 @ 9:29am
                Fionn said | April 23rd 2018 @ 9:29am | ! Report

                Yeah, I am 100% with you on Marx and Whiteley (if uninjured he will surely be captain).

                I wouldn’t be surprised to see something like this:

                2. Marx
                8. Whiteley
                9. de Klerk
                10. Pollard/Jantjies
                15. Gelant

                But I can’t be sure on 9, 10 and 15 as the Boks have a fair few good options.

              • Roar Guru

                April 23rd 2018 @ 9:50am
                Ralph said | April 23rd 2018 @ 9:50am | ! Report

                Good players Fionn, I can see them getting played to build depth.

              • April 23rd 2018 @ 10:15am
                Fionn said | April 23rd 2018 @ 10:15am | ! Report

                Depth at lock and back-row is ridiculous.

                – Etzebeth, de Jager, Mostert, du Toit
                – du Preez, Vermuelen, Whiteley, Mostert, Kolisi, Kwagga Smith, Louw, Kriel

              • Roar Guru

                April 23rd 2018 @ 10:27am
                Ralph said | April 23rd 2018 @ 10:27am | ! Report

                Absolutely. I think SA are building really nicely to RWC and are a good chance to win it.

              • Roar Guru

                April 23rd 2018 @ 10:30am
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | April 23rd 2018 @ 10:30am | ! Report

                And Lubaschagne! He is probably the best performing Saffa back rower in SR at the moment.

                Quotas still hurt the Springboks, but things do look a bit better with so many black players actually raising their hand to be selected on merit.

                Did anyone else read Jake White’s idea to send an all black Springbok team to the USA in June when they face the Welsh?

              • April 23rd 2018 @ 3:12pm
                cuw said | April 23rd 2018 @ 3:12pm | ! Report

                irrespective of performance the buzz world is color.

                i will watch to see if the coach is willing to take a chance like the cricket coach did and not meet the quota on a match-day selection.

                the + point is there are some good backs of color – like Gelant and Am for eg.

              • April 23rd 2018 @ 4:05pm
                Baylion said | April 23rd 2018 @ 4:05pm | ! Report

                Cronje wasn’t invited to the Bok camps. Looks like 9 will be between de Klerk, Louis Schreuder and Embrose Papier/Ivan van Zyl

              • Columnist

                April 23rd 2018 @ 5:01pm
                Geoff Parkes said | April 23rd 2018 @ 5:01pm | ! Report

                Schroeder played well when he came on Baylion, and had a good tour.
                Well ahead of ‘the crab’ Cronje imo.

              • Roar Guru

                April 23rd 2018 @ 5:21pm
                Ralph said | April 23rd 2018 @ 5:21pm | ! Report

                Interesting then. Leaving it very late to settle on their starting 9.

            • April 23rd 2018 @ 9:05am
              Two Cents said | April 23rd 2018 @ 9:05am | ! Report

              Would the Boks entertain the thought of having Janties at 1st five and Pollard at 2nd five?

              • Roar Guru

                April 23rd 2018 @ 9:51am
                Ralph said | April 23rd 2018 @ 9:51am | ! Report

                I think they have tried it. But they need to settle and build depth now rather than experiment.

              • Roar Guru

                April 23rd 2018 @ 10:32am
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | April 23rd 2018 @ 10:32am | ! Report

                When Ralph?
                Pollard has been out injured a long time. Did they try it before that?

              • Roar Guru

                April 23rd 2018 @ 11:27am
                Ralph said | April 23rd 2018 @ 11:27am | ! Report

                At bit of google suggests you are right NVFS. I must have been recalling the debate rather than the actual.

                Not sure it’s a good idea for the Springboks though. With the way they traditionally play it’s more important for them to have a settled 9 to play off than try and rejig around a two play maker attack at 10/12.

                If Pollard hadn’t had such a bad run with injuries they could have tried it 2017 if they had any plans in that area.

              • Roar Guru

                April 23rd 2018 @ 2:37pm
                Corne Van Vuuren said | April 23rd 2018 @ 2:37pm | ! Report

                I like Pollard at 12, it is a possibility, I would like to see Willemse at 10 though, even thugh he is very young.

              • April 23rd 2018 @ 2:48pm
                Fionn said | April 23rd 2018 @ 2:48pm | ! Report

                Biltong, does Pollard have the running and defensive game to play 12 as well as Esterhuizen?

                If so, 10. Willemse/Jantjies, 11. Dyantyi, 12. Pollard, 13. Am, 14. Combrinck, 15. Gelant looks like a pretty potent backline to me.

                I fear for the Wallabies when South Africa puts out a backline as good or better than ours given how we have fared against Coetzee’s Boks who had a far inferior backline to us.

              • Roar Guru

                April 23rd 2018 @ 2:56pm
                Corne Van Vuuren said | April 23rd 2018 @ 2:56pm | ! Report

                Fion, I don’t like Esterhuizen, he reminds me of the old school midfielder in SA, big strong and a devastating runner, but very poor hands. He showed this past weekend again how bad his handling can be at times.

                Yes that backlne seems very possible

              • April 23rd 2018 @ 3:14pm
                cuw said | April 23rd 2018 @ 3:14pm | ! Report

                12 = Rohan 🙂

                DDA has lost form and looks like Kuridrani

                but then color is the thing …..

              • Roar Guru

                April 23rd 2018 @ 5:30pm
                Ralph said | April 23rd 2018 @ 5:30pm | ! Report

                Mr BB, it will be interesting to see what they do for the RC.

                If they run a lot of play off 9, as is the tradition, then the 9 / 10 is the play making axis and you need some balance with a strong 12 ball runner. Does not preclude good hands of course, good hands are obviously a benefit no matter what.

                Or if they decide to support a 10 / 12 play maker axis what does that mean for their selection at 9 – the speed of an Aaron Smith becomes a real plus.

                My own thought is that with the Springbok pack building so nicely it would be better to stick with a 9 / 10 axis and settle that sooner than later so they can build depth and caps in those positions.

              • Roar Guru

                April 23rd 2018 @ 5:40pm
                Corne Van Vuuren said | April 23rd 2018 @ 5:40pm | ! Report

                Ralph, I think Rassie would try to play more off 10, we currently don’t have a 9 that comes close to managing the decision making on attack.

                Fourie du Preez at his best was brilliant with game management, the current crop not.

                I also believe the new style of play demands to play off 10, I believe Willemse is the best potential long term 10, Pollard has improved his game management, but I like the idea of him outside someone like Willemse.

                The other issue is out of the potential nines, it should be a case who who provides the fastest and cleanest service from behind the ruck.

          • April 23rd 2018 @ 10:18am
            Rugby Tragic said | April 23rd 2018 @ 10:18am | ! Report

            Ralph, the point about Jantjies is that he cops a lot from a circle of friends and tbh I am also no fan. He stumbles a couple times over the weekend but I didn’t think he was that bad, particularly in the 2nd spell.

            For the Boks, my number 10 would be Handre Pollard (biltongbek is well aware of that – love the guy) who came to prominence in 2014 in the Bok U20s in NZ. He had a few injuries which slowed his progress. His back up for me would be Darmien Willemse with a Jantjies struggle to hold 3rd pick

            • Roar Guru

              April 23rd 2018 @ 10:30am
              Ralph said | April 23rd 2018 @ 10:30am | ! Report

              It is an interesting one. They say Jantjies is a confidence player, but that is not a great fit to be going to a RWC as backup and probably not getting much game time at all in the run up as they settle.

              Of course, injury could change all that at any time.

            • Roar Guru

              April 23rd 2018 @ 10:35am
              The Neutral View From Sweden said | April 23rd 2018 @ 10:35am | ! Report

              Still, a pretty nice position to be in for the Boks having three flyhalves in contention, plus some solid pro’s in Europe and Curwin Bosch as a long-term prospect also.

            • Roar Rookie

              April 23rd 2018 @ 6:24pm
              Blessing said | April 23rd 2018 @ 6:24pm | ! Report

              Ah Pollard! He was brilliant at 1st five against the ABs in that test in 2014 at Ellis Park. He was special that day. Injuries have hampered his progress and I highly doubt that he will ever be the same. One can only hope. My most recent memory of him was watching ALB trampling all over him on the way to the try line for the ABs. It was kind of sad.

          • April 23rd 2018 @ 4:11pm
            Baylion said | April 23rd 2018 @ 4:11pm | ! Report

            Pollard isn’t doing himself any favours. While his general play is good enough his kicking has been woeful. If he gets his line kicks out, from penalties or out of hand, they go about 20-30 meters.

            Seems Lambie will be back in the mix so it will be between Lambie, Pollard and Jantjies and probably in that order.

            Willemse still has a lot to learn about playing senior rugby. He tries to do too much on his own and doesn’t use his backline effectively. This isn’t schoolboy rugby where the “star” can win the game single handedly

            • Roar Guru

              April 23rd 2018 @ 5:33pm
              Ralph said | April 23rd 2018 @ 5:33pm | ! Report

              Thanks Baylion, that’s really good.

              This looming RC is going to be very interesting, watching how Rassie goes about it. I am a big Rassie fan, very classy guy, ever since his playing days. I remember his post match speeches as very straight up and pragmatic, even then saw things pretty clearly.

              All will be revealed soon!

            • Roar Guru

              April 23rd 2018 @ 5:44pm
              Corne Van Vuuren said | April 23rd 2018 @ 5:44pm | ! Report

              Yes Pollard’s tactical kicking lacks consistency and his accuracy suffers. As much as I like Lambie, he has flown the coup and should not be selected.

              It will be interesting to see whether Erasmus can motivate Jantjies similar to how Ackermann got more out of Jantjies than Coetzee could.

              Willemse is the future, I think he should be introduced as soon as possible. His individual antics will continue if the doesn’t get the right coach.

            • April 23rd 2018 @ 7:44pm
              Rugby Tragic said | April 23rd 2018 @ 7:44pm | ! Report

              Baylion, I’ll stick my neck out on this one and suggest that both Willemse and Pollard will be going to RWC 2019. Now probably Jantjies or Lambie will make up 3 (assuming they take 3 flyhalves)… we are still about a year and a half away from that event so Willemse will have that much more experience behind him. Pollard is he stay injury free will be their

    • April 23rd 2018 @ 7:32am
      Internal Fixation said | April 23rd 2018 @ 7:32am | ! Report

      Hi Geoff.

      I only caught highlights and the last 30 of the Brumbies match.

      Chiefs, Lions, Jaguares all looked good. Didn’t think I’d be saying that about the Jaguares after the loss to the reds but it shows how attitude can turn a talented team around.

      Something is very wrong in brumby land.

      The tight defensive patterns that kept the less talented Brumbies in many a contest have disappeared. This has been critical to the teams success in the past. A lot of good players have gone to Europe and the replacements just are not smart enough defensively. The Brumbies have been covering for Speight’s defensive inadequacies for years but can’t anymore.

      I have a mountain of respect for Pocock. But when he looks like the most enterprising attacking player out there that is a massive issue!

      The kiwi fly half is just not good enough to justify playing him over a young Aussie – can’t see any improvement over the last 18 months.

      • April 23rd 2018 @ 7:44am
        Daveski said | April 23rd 2018 @ 7:44am | ! Report

        True this ! The Brumbies only looked remotely dynamic in attack when Jackson Hope came on and started playing at first receiver.

        • Roar Guru

          April 23rd 2018 @ 5:33pm
          Ralph said | April 23rd 2018 @ 5:33pm | ! Report

          With the pack the brumbies have I suspect they should run more play from 9.

          • April 23rd 2018 @ 7:49pm
            Rugby Tragic said | April 23rd 2018 @ 7:49pm | ! Report

            They do Ralph, but to be fair could you see Wharenui Hawera making the grade in any S15 side in NZ? Obviously not otherwise he would have been snapped up.

      • April 23rd 2018 @ 7:53am
        concerned supporter said | April 23rd 2018 @ 7:53am | ! Report

        Debit Henry Speight with 12 points, defensive shocker,2 tries gifted.
        Hawera played well in patches, yet made his usual passing mistakes.He needs to slow down, take the line on more and make sure his passes are accurate.Similar to J. Thurston & J. Maloney, they seem to have plenty of time.I know it’s easier said than done, but someone should take him aside, he has potential but is mostly rushing his game at the moment.

        • Columnist

          April 23rd 2018 @ 8:14am
          Geoff Parkes said | April 23rd 2018 @ 8:14am | ! Report

          I agree cs, he’s not a bad player, he can be creative, but he does rush things at times and lacks composure.

        • Roar Guru

          April 24th 2018 @ 8:41am
          Fox said | April 24th 2018 @ 8:41am | ! Report

          I think Speight is a liability at test level Geoff and that has been his issue – terrible defensive reads too often and at bad times and he is not the best under the high ball either out wide

          • Columnist

            April 25th 2018 @ 8:58am
            Geoff Parkes said | April 25th 2018 @ 8:58am | ! Report

            Just to be clear mate, I was talking about Hawera, not Speight.

      • April 23rd 2018 @ 9:24am
        Markus said | April 23rd 2018 @ 9:24am | ! Report

        It isn’t just the Brumbies defence either. The lineout is now a weakness in spite of their ongoing dependence on it for rolling mauls, and their scrum has been a liability. I thought they were extremely fortunate with some of the penalty calls last night on scrum collapses.

        All their strengths from last season have gone downhill, and no area has improved. It is a concerning space to be in.

        • Roar Guru

          April 23rd 2018 @ 9:52am
          Ralph said | April 23rd 2018 @ 9:52am | ! Report

          Good point. You don’t need increased passing skills to push as a unit in a scrum do you!

    • April 23rd 2018 @ 7:33am
      Ken Catchpole’s Other Leg said | April 23rd 2018 @ 7:33am | ! Report

      “3 AUS SR TEAMS is not a bad scenario”
      If 3 teams is the answer we are asking the wrong question.
      We need depth, skills devpt , market competition with afl and nrl and soccer, money, crowds, grasssroots, and on and on and on.
      Oh, and a National comp.
      We may be out of Super altogether before any of that happens.
      Talk of 3 teams is predicated too heavily off the idea of salvaging this sinking status quo ship.
      We need to build a new boat, or a canoe, or something that floats.

      • Columnist

        April 23rd 2018 @ 8:31am
        Geoff Parkes said | April 23rd 2018 @ 8:31am | ! Report

        Well said Ken. It is no solution just to keep shrinking in embarrassment.

      • April 23rd 2018 @ 11:02am
        Jacko said | April 23rd 2018 @ 11:02am | ! Report

        • April 23rd 2018 @ 12:18pm
          shooshiner said | April 23rd 2018 @ 12:18pm | ! Report

          Best comment everrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

      • Roar Rookie

        April 23rd 2018 @ 11:03am
        piru said | April 23rd 2018 @ 11:03am | ! Report

        Talk of 3 teams is predicated too heavily off the idea of salvaging this sinking status quo ship.
        We need to build a new boat, or a canoe, or something that floats.

        Twiggy has put a life raft together – perhaps the teams drowning in SR could put together some kind of presentation to try and convince him to let them on?

        • Columnist

          April 23rd 2018 @ 12:33pm
          Geoff Parkes said | April 23rd 2018 @ 12:33pm | ! Report

          Nice idea Piru if the franchises were looking for an easier comp to play in, and of course were allowed to choose where they play – which we all know isn’t the case.

          I suspect that there will be an evolution at some point which will involve Twiggy, RA, NZ Rugby, Asia and potentially Nth America, and then later on, the current Pro 14 comp. But it’s too soon and too messy for anyone to get their head around all of this right now.

          • Roar Guru

            April 23rd 2018 @ 6:17pm
            jeznez said | April 23rd 2018 @ 6:17pm | ! Report

            Don’t the AFL, NRL, BBL and A-League provide the template for succesful Aussie sporting comps? Predominantly domestic, national competition?

            Origin provides the example for rep footy (below international level) to operate succesfully around a strong domestic competition. It works as the icing on the cake not as the cake itself.

            • Columnist

              April 23rd 2018 @ 10:02pm
              Geoff Parkes said | April 23rd 2018 @ 10:02pm | ! Report

              Yes they do Jez, but the context is different internationally.

              AFL isn’t international and the NRL doesn’t want rugby league to be international. These are effectively fully domestic sports.

              Rugby aligns more closely with Basketball and Football, but both of those domestic competitions do not contain Australia’s best players.

              That’s the price that must be paid if Australia chooses a domestic path for rugby and exits SANZAAR.

              Is that what people really want? Perhaps when they’re feeling grumpy, but once they understand how that impacts on the Wallabies, I don’t think so.

              • Roar Guru

                April 23rd 2018 @ 10:40pm
                jeznez said | April 23rd 2018 @ 10:40pm | ! Report

                I would hope that exiting Super Rugby wouldn’t mean exiting SANZAAR – if the broadcast deal keeps getting smaller and the Aussie participation is shrunk. Then the Wallabies are on a path to playing a lot more games against Fiji, Samoa and Tonga and getting the occasional match against the big boys.

                I wrote an article previously that Oz operating in a manner that gets a successful local comp up and going can then have limited rep footy based on a state basis. Ideally with the opportunity to face some international competition but wouldn’t be the end of the world if it wasn’t there.

              • April 23rd 2018 @ 11:16pm
                Bakkies said | April 23rd 2018 @ 11:16pm | ! Report

                ‘Is that what people really want? Perhaps when they’re feeling grumpy, but once they understand how that impacts on the Wallabies, I don’t think so.’

                It is irrelevant now Geoff. The Wallabies are already declining with the status quo and the governing body is heading towards a de Clyne led insolvency with two more seasons left on the money losing tv rights deal.

              • Roar Rookie

                April 24th 2018 @ 10:40am
                piru said | April 24th 2018 @ 10:40am | ! Report

                You could argue that many of the best Australia players are already playing overseas

                Matt Toomua and Scott Fardy leap immediately to mind

        • April 23rd 2018 @ 11:12pm
          Bakkies said | April 23rd 2018 @ 11:12pm | ! Report

          ‘Twiggy has put a life raft together – perhaps the teams drowning in SR could put together some kind of presentation to try and convince him to let them on?’

          Brumbies are open to the idea whereas NSW and Queensland have dismissed it.

          • Roar Rookie

            April 24th 2018 @ 11:22am
            piru said | April 24th 2018 @ 11:22am | ! Report

            Fine, let them continue to play in their own backyards, craniums comfortably lodged in rectums

      • April 23rd 2018 @ 11:03am
        Jacko said | April 23rd 2018 @ 11:03am | ! Report

        Oh, and a National comp

        So what is the NRC then?

        • April 23rd 2018 @ 11:41am
          AndyS said | April 23rd 2018 @ 11:41am | ! Report

          A series of selection trials masquerading as a national comp, doing none of the player development that sees the corresponding competitions underpin SR in NZ and SA. And neither the players or RA seem interested in changing that, just shuffling deck chairs instead.

          • April 23rd 2018 @ 6:00pm
            Malo said | April 23rd 2018 @ 6:00pm | ! Report

            The nrc is a complete joke

            • Roar Guru

              April 23rd 2018 @ 6:51pm
              jeznez said | April 23rd 2018 @ 6:51pm | ! Report

              I agree it’s current format, and particularly the implementation in NSW, is wrong.

              That said the NRC is the best chance of rugby turning itself around in Oz.

              It just needs to be properly implemented – remove Super Rugby so that NRC is the main domestic competition. Have a proper home and away season so there are enough matches to make it truly meaningful.

              Allocate the teams correctly so that a heartland area like the east of Sydney has a local team to support rather than telling them to support NSW Country.

              • April 23rd 2018 @ 8:00pm
                sheek said | April 23rd 2018 @ 8:00pm | ! Report

                Sorry Jeznez,

                I can’t agree with all of this.

                I certainly agree we don’t need BOTH SR & NRC.

                But if we have a national comp, then Sydney Waratahs, Brisbane Reds, Canberra Brumbies, Melbourne Rebels & Perth Force or Spirit, would have to be your first five teams.

              • April 23rd 2018 @ 8:30pm
                AndyS said | April 23rd 2018 @ 8:30pm | ! Report

                The NRC may be neutered as it stands, but I disagree with that. If the NRC replaces SR, it will simply end up with at least as many issues as SR and most of the same. The historic issue with Australian rugby is that there is no development step between club and SR and that remains the case. The NRC now nominally helps identify which players might make that leap best, but is limited to that.

                What the NRC should be doing is assuming from SR all of the development of club players into professionals and widening the net around the country. But neither body that can make that happen seems interested. Until they are, we are stuck with the same development structure that we’ve had for the last 20 years and that has reduced Australian rugby to its current straits. It is just the illusion of change, but it is actually just the status quo with the same outcomes.

              • Roar Guru

                April 23rd 2018 @ 10:43pm
                jeznez said | April 23rd 2018 @ 10:43pm | ! Report

                Sheek – I think we need more than five teams in a national comp. Absolutely re-draw the lines within the NRC but I’m against using the traditional state names down at that level.

                I think even if the NRC becomes our main game – being fed from the best of the local city comps. Then there is still an opportunity for rep teams to play based on their state of origin and using the traditional state names – NSW Waratahs etc.

                Those rep games just need to be a highlight to the season not the main game which should be national and club based.

              • Roar Guru

                April 23rd 2018 @ 11:00pm
                Corne Van Vuuren said | April 23rd 2018 @ 11:00pm | ! Report

                Jeznez, the Currie Cup Premier division runs on 6 teams most of the time, so you would only need one more team to make it feasable for a start

              • April 24th 2018 @ 11:39am
                sheek said | April 24th 2018 @ 11:39am | ! Report


                I did say the SR teams “should be the first five teams”.

                I agree an 8 team national comp is ideal as a starting point. I doubt the all-powerful TV broadcasters would accept anything less.

                And if you don’t preserve the history & tradition of the Waratahs, Reds, Brumbies, Rebels & Force/Spirirt in any national comp, then you lose them altogether.

                Anyway, Australian rugby is stuffed whichever way you look at it. While we probably have enough quality players for 6-8 teams, too many of them are fleeing Australia for richer pastures overseas.

                And apparently, World Rugby, the governing body, have no teeth & no stomach to preserve the game outside of England & France.

                Which probably suits it just fine, with their HQ located in Dublin.

              • April 24th 2018 @ 11:45am
                sheek said | April 24th 2018 @ 11:45am | ! Report


                I’m using provinces under the old regime here, but the following would be a decent 8 team premier division Currie Cup.

                Western Province, Eastern Province, Natal, Free State, Transvaal, Northern Transvaal, Grigualand West & Border.

                Perhaps both Western Transvaal & Eastern Transvaal could replace GW & Border.

                What would be NZ’s top 8 provinces?

                I would suggest Auckland, Waikato, Hawke’s Bay, Wellington, Tasman, Canterbury, Otago & Bay Of Plenty.

                They tend to be the most populous regions anyway. North Harbour, which is in Auckland’s orbit & might take spillover players, is another contender.

              • Roar Guru

                April 24th 2018 @ 12:15pm
                jeznez said | April 24th 2018 @ 12:15pm | ! Report

                Hi Sheek – my thought is slightly different.

                I’d preserve the old State team names for a limited set of rep matches.

                Such that XV’s rugby in Oz would be:

                1. Junior clubs and schools
                2. Subbies/Country – games for all
                3. Shute Shield, Hospitals, Dewar, Pindan etc – premier city based rugby
                4. NRC – national pro comp and the main game – 7 teams home and away to have the final before the June internationals
                5. Rep matches – initially NSW Waratahs, Qld Reds and Rest of Oz origin. Players represent their home state in a 6 match home and away round robin in the 7 week window between the June Internationals and the RC
                6. Wallabies

              • April 24th 2018 @ 8:52pm
                sheek said | April 24th 2018 @ 8:52pm | ! Report


                I agree with the progression, except you don’t need both 4 & 5. It’s one or the other.

                Also, to clarify, up to point 3, yes, premier rugby, must be amateur.

                You only make money when you make a national comp team & the Wallabies.

                The game can’t afford paying premier rugby players & coaches.

              • Roar Guru

                April 24th 2018 @ 10:42pm
                jeznez said | April 24th 2018 @ 10:42pm | ! Report

                Our thoughts are similar without being identical. We are definitely aligned that premier rugby needs to be amateur.

                I like the idea of having NRC plus a limited provincial level set of games so that we have the ideal number of teams for a national comp, that can play in a clear block from February until the June internationals.

                I hate having Super Rugby break for a set of games.

                By then playing a smaller set of provincial games between June and the RC the cream of the NRC can compete at a higher standard before being considered for selection for the main internationals of the year.

                I get why simpler would be viewed as better by some – for me, continually concentrating the talent doesn’t take away from the NRC as long as it is a short sharp set of matches.

    • April 23rd 2018 @ 7:34am
      bigbaz said | April 23rd 2018 @ 7:34am | ! Report

      The reds seemed surprised that the chiefs came out and played football from the getgo. They wanted the chiefs to work their way into the game as they did. Chiefs obviously didn’t get the message.

      • Columnist

        April 23rd 2018 @ 7:42am
        Geoff Parkes said | April 23rd 2018 @ 7:42am | ! Report

        Yes bigbaz, same thing applied to the Brumbies yesterday, it took them nearly half an hour to realise that they were in a game.

        The Rebels have had a few poor starts as well, as have the Tahs. So at least there’s some consistency there 🙂

        • Roar Guru

          April 23rd 2018 @ 10:40am
          The Neutral View From Sweden said | April 23rd 2018 @ 10:40am | ! Report

          Maybe not the kind of consistency Australian rugby really needs right now?

          • Columnist

            April 23rd 2018 @ 12:33pm
            Geoff Parkes said | April 23rd 2018 @ 12:33pm | ! Report


            • April 23rd 2018 @ 3:18pm
              cuw said | April 23rd 2018 @ 3:18pm | ! Report

              this is not also not the kind of thing aussy teams need.


              John Mitchell criticises Rebels’ ‘negative’ tactics

              [Bulls director of rugby John Mitchell has criticised the Rebels for the tactics they employed in Saturday’s clash between the sides in Pretoria.

              The home side secured a 28-10 bonus-point victory over Melbourne-based outfit but Mitchell was unhappy with his opponents’ decision to slow the game down and described their tactics as “totally negative”.

              “You have to win ugly in this competition as well,” he told Supersport.

              “But performance wasn’t superb on attack. We presented ourselves enough opportunities especially in the first half. But the guys need to be commended with their composure and clearly a strategic move by the opposition to slow the game down,” Mitchell added.

              “I’m not sure Sanzaar needs a product like that. It certainly wasn’t our doing and it is amazing, it might have suited a Bulls team of old, but 48 minutes running time first half, and 52 minutes second half. If the game is going to head in that direction, then it’s totally negative.”

              Mitchell refused to blame referee Ben O’Keefe but praised his players for not falling into the Rebels’ trap which was often off the ball and prevented the Bulls from employing their fast-paced style of play.

              “I’m actually not sure whether to judge Ben at all because I’m not sure what the game constitutes or the protocols that exist,” he added.

              “Is that law? It is certainly not a presentable fabric of this awesome game in a way that it can be played.

              “Yeah I think the whole panel will take a good look at it. Like with us, there is a lot of emotion after a performance. But we will take the five points. We got there in a difficult way, in a very challenging way and like I said, I commend the guys for the way they didn’t let their frustration get to them. And we kept them to 10, which is awesome.

              “We put some very good line speed on them. I don’t think we were terrific in the tackle, but some weeks you don’t get it right and you’ve just got to hang in there right to the end and that is where the guys need to be given credit.”

              Rebels coach Dave Wessels revealed that it was part of his team’s strategy to slow the game down in a bid to keep the Bulls at bay.

              “Yeah, we purposely slowed down the first part of the game to, I guess, take away some of the energy from the early part of the contest and try and finish on top of the game strong,” he said.

              “I thought we finished the game, I was really proud of the guys the way they came out after half time, and upped the tempo and started to really play well.

              “At one point it was 21-10 and we hustled them in their 22 and if we scored there it would be 21-17. It would have been a tight game. But it is a real credit to the Bulls.

              “I think they are an excellent side, they are well coached and they deserved the win.”]

              • April 23rd 2018 @ 3:43pm
                Reverse Wheel said | April 23rd 2018 @ 3:43pm | ! Report

                The irony of a voice from South Africa complaining about somebody else slowing the game down.

              • Roar Rookie

                April 23rd 2018 @ 4:09pm
                piru said | April 23rd 2018 @ 4:09pm | ! Report

                Even when it’s an ex All Black coach?

              • April 23rd 2018 @ 4:12pm
                Old Bugger said | April 23rd 2018 @ 4:12pm | ! Report


                Not when the voice is an ex-AB coach who was involved with introducing a fast-paced game plan for the Lions and is now, endeavouring to introduce the same plan, to the Bulls.

                The irony that you’re missing is who is the Rebs coach and where, was he originally from….??

              • Columnist

                April 23rd 2018 @ 5:03pm
                Geoff Parkes said | April 23rd 2018 @ 5:03pm | ! Report

                No dramas in any of that cuw. Both coaches are entitled to play in the manner that best suits them.

              • April 23rd 2018 @ 6:17pm
                cuw said | April 23rd 2018 @ 6:17pm | ! Report

                yes – but the point being 100 minutes for 2 halves, simply coz the Rebels could not hang onto the pace of the game.

                and for the 2nd week running Ben had to get clarification about the HIA substitution protocols from 4th ref.

                what i dont understand is – why shud the ref be concerned with the substitutions? IMO it is upto the 4th ref to ensure all protocols are followed when subs are sent on.

                i mean that is why he has touchies and TMO and 4th ref – to take some of the burden off and let someone else also take responsibility.

                for eg. when a touchie says 3 is offside – he does not stop the game and have a chat about the veracity of it !!!

              • April 23rd 2018 @ 11:21pm
                Bakkies said | April 23rd 2018 @ 11:21pm | ! Report

                Prolonging halves at altitude when you aren’t the home team and have injury concerns is pretty naive in the extreme.

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