The problem with rugby isn’t RA or the NSWRU, it’s you

Michael H Roar Rookie

By Michael H, Michael H is a Roar Rookie New author!

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    My son plays rugby and has a superb athlete in his team. Seriously, the kid is a freak – represents schools, districts, regions and states at pretty much any sport he decides to have a go at.

    In rugby, he can catch, pass, kick, tackle, run faster than everyone, win turnovers and is almost always the best on ground.

    Trouble is, the rest of the team know this and are, on occasion, lackadaisical in their approach to their own skills and effort, knowing this kid will be there to clean up after them.

    We regularly lose games in the last quarter because he’s tired from doing everything all game, and they’re still dependent on him doing so.

    In a similar way, Israel Folau has some good skills in attack, but is placed on a pedestal and is expected to excel at everything. He doesn’t have the talent or all-round abilities of the boy in my son’s team, but his attacking prowess is expected to excuse all his faults and win matches for the Waratahs and Wallabies.

    Israel Folau Wallabies Australian Rugby Union 2017 tall

    AAP Image/Joe Castro

    One of the (many) issues for the Tahs and the Wallabies is their holding up of players as superstars and the belief or these superstars that they can do whatever they want and still be a superstar.

    Folau is a great attacking player and many in the world would fear having to jump against him or tackle him at pace, but they certainly wouldn’t worry about playing a field position game against him (despite the monster punt he unloaded on the weekend). It’s left to Bernard Foley and, to a lesser extent Kurtley Beale, to do all the clearing kicks, leading to fatigue, poor options and poor kicking (particularly if your kicking wasn’t that great to begin with).

    I posit this as a theory: media and social media is to blame. No longer is the grafter revered. No longer is the hard work valued over the dazzling moment. It’s all about the soundbyte, the social media hits, the highlight reel. Kids these days see that and want to mimic it. There’s no more just getting on with what needs to be done and doing it.

    The media is used by the opposition as a tool, listen to the All Blacks hold a mirror to our beliefs about Folau: “he’s such a dangerous player”, “he’s really hard to defend against” etc.

    Listen to what they’re not saying but are getting out on the field and exploiting.

    Look at what Jake White did with the Brumbies: purged the names, simplified the gameplan, focused on basic skills, and creating a team mentality and environment where blokes who put their heads in dark places were celebrated.

    How many times has Scott Fardy ever made the highlight reel? Keven Mealamu? Martin Johnson? Any Whitelock?

    These days we have celebrities who seem interested in promoting their brand (thank you, James O’Connor) and their profile, rather than taking a good hard look at themselves and improving their deficiencies.

    The All Blacks sweep the dressing rooms. Jake White’s Brumbies went back to local clubs and played with amateurs, who were out there for love of the game.

    Society, I blame you for the failure of our Australian rugby sides. You revere the moment of brilliance over 80 minutes of work, you value attack over defence.

    As a young man, I used to box and while chatting with one of the older boxers, he mentioned that he’d rather win a fight 1-0 than 25-24 (with old-school amateur scoring). Don’t get hit. Don’t leak the points.

    Look at the contrast with the Blues, who play all-out attack, against the Crusaders, who have a staunch defence but fewer attacking threats. Who’s winning more games?

    The Kiwis don’t have better athletes than us, just better team players. Eddie Jones is a two-year coach. So is Jake White. And Michael Cheika. I like Ned Hanigan and think he’s a good player (he was just promoted too high, too fast).

    Australia, this is all your fault.

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    The Crowd Says (90)

    • Roar Guru

      May 12th 2018 @ 3:12am
      Corne Van Vuuren said | May 12th 2018 @ 3:12am | ! Report

      I am not sure I completely agree with your theory, yes players are put on pedestals, but I disagree that is the reason for failure.

      The reason for failure is in my opinion , often the Walllabies and as shown the past few weekends Waratahs don’t value the work a pack of forwards have to do to influence the quality of possession necessary to attack, and the value of disrupting possession for the opposition.

      It boils down to eight forwards putting the enrgy and commitment in for 80 minutes.

      • May 12th 2018 @ 3:25am
        Peter Kelly said | May 12th 2018 @ 3:25am | ! Report

        A superstar team will beat a team of Superstars.

        • Roar Guru

          May 12th 2018 @ 3:38am
          Corne Van Vuuren said | May 12th 2018 @ 3:38am | ! Report


          • Roar Guru

            May 12th 2018 @ 10:04am
            PeterK said | May 12th 2018 @ 10:04am | ! Report

            IMO this truism is clearly not true.

            Crusaders would be the superstar team, everyone would agree.

            Boks, Wallabies, England, Ireland by definition would be a team of superstars. They don’t play anywhere as much
            together to have the understanding and combinations of the crusaders. They are a team of superstars put together from many other teams.

            I would back all 4 sides to comfortably beat the Crusaders.

            • Roar Guru

              May 12th 2018 @ 10:11am
              Corne Van Vuuren said | May 12th 2018 @ 10:11am | ! Report

              Come on Peter, even you shouldknow that is not what Peter Kelly means.

              • Roar Guru

                May 12th 2018 @ 10:26am
                PeterK said | May 12th 2018 @ 10:26am | ! Report

                I am clearly illustrating the illogical position of this truism.

                I put together a bunch of superstars i.e intl teams and pit them against the best superstar team the Crusaders. It clearly matches the truism and its’ definitions yet most would bet the team of superstars win.

                If you have enough superstars in your team of superstars guess what they will win.

              • Roar Guru

                May 12th 2018 @ 10:30am
                Corne Van Vuuren said | May 12th 2018 @ 10:30am | ! Report

                And yet to dismiss the truism is to dismiss the value of team work (which is the value we instill in our children) for the sake of the individual ego.

              • Roar Rookie

                May 12th 2018 @ 10:49am
                Paulo said | May 12th 2018 @ 10:49am | ! Report

                I think Peter is picking a fight for the sake of it. Even he should know his example is flawed. Peter you know you picked an example that fits your narrative. The truism isn’t meant to apply to all match ups at all times.
                The truism is a reflection on the need to play as a team and have synergy so the sum is greater than the constituent parts.
                It is about checking the egos’ at the door. No player or group of players is more important than the team (look at Links removal).
                This has been a mantra of the Crusaders for a long team, and has lead them to be the most successful Francises in rugby.

              • Roar Guru

                May 12th 2018 @ 10:44am
                PeterK said | May 12th 2018 @ 10:44am | ! Report

                Not at all.

                I just dislike truisms which aren’t actually true being paraded as the answer to issues.

                It is very lazy shorthand.

                Another is forwards win matches and backs decide by how much.

                It goes on and on.

                A superstar team of superstars should be what is aimed at.

                What is wrong with the truism though it belittles the development of the individual for the sake of teamwork, when in fact both should be developed.

                Great work on team work, combinations, putting the team first, playing for each other. But also emphasise each individual needs to be the best they can be. But working on your own weaknesses everyday, by improving your individual skills, adding new skills. No need to wait for the coach or the team to tell you to do it.

                Every truism has a hidden weakness behind it and so selling falsehoods it can bite you.

              • Roar Guru

                May 12th 2018 @ 11:13am
                PeterK said | May 12th 2018 @ 11:13am | ! Report

                then make the truism
                no player is greater than the team
                or even better
                no player can succeed on their own it takes a team to win.

                they are far more apt.

                It is very important for each player to retain their ego.

                Every player should strive to be the best in their position at the level they are playing. It takes ego to believe you can be the best.

                It takes that ego to push your self to be the best.

              • May 12th 2018 @ 3:43pm
                sheek said | May 12th 2018 @ 3:43pm | ! Report


                The flaw of your argument is you are comparing apples with oranges.

                International teams are apples, provincial/regional teams are oranges.

                You must compare like with like.

                An international superstar team will beat an international team of superstars.

                A provincial superstar team will beat a provincial team of superstars.

            • May 12th 2018 @ 10:44am
              timber said | May 12th 2018 @ 10:44am | ! Report

              I don’t see how any of those sides would comfortably beat the Crusaders, favourites yes, but i would expect a close competitive match.
              A very good BI Lions team (a next level superstar team) beat them by 12-3 (4 penalties to 1), hardly a comfortable victory.

            • May 12th 2018 @ 10:45am
              woodart said | May 12th 2018 @ 10:45am | ! Report

              fairly risky bet. top crusaders side with ten All Blacks would push all four teams.

              • May 12th 2018 @ 11:15am
                woodart said | May 12th 2018 @ 11:15am | ! Report

                and there is no way a superstar team would allow one superstar player to continually make the rest of the team and the game look stupid by continually pushing his lifestyle choices out in public…..he would get the zac guidford treatment………see ya

            • May 12th 2018 @ 12:13pm
              elvis said | May 12th 2018 @ 12:13pm | ! Report

              Would you put your house on it? I wouldn’t. And why have you only named the top 4 teams? Every national team is by definition a team of superstars, would you back Wales or Argentina against the Crusaders?

              • Roar Guru

                May 12th 2018 @ 12:28pm
                PeterK said | May 12th 2018 @ 12:28pm | ! Report

                the truism is a superstar team will beat of team of superstars not the other way.

                so the superstar team should beat all the teams of superstars.

        • May 12th 2018 @ 11:10pm
          KF said | May 12th 2018 @ 11:10pm | ! Report

          Butt team of superstars will have better marketing income and budget.

      • May 12th 2018 @ 3:43am
        Phil said | May 12th 2018 @ 3:43am | ! Report

        Professional sport is all about promoting products.that usually entails using star players not invisible grafters.
        Stop wringing your hands, things are not going to change while money is involved.
        If you really believe what you are saying then go and watch amateur club rugby you’ll probably enjoy it.

        • Roar Guru

          May 12th 2018 @ 6:21am
          Corne Van Vuuren said | May 12th 2018 @ 6:21am | ! Report

          You talking to me?

          • Roar Guru

            May 12th 2018 @ 9:20am
            Ralph said | May 12th 2018 @ 9:20am | ! Report

            Robert De Niro, is that you??

            • Roar Guru

              May 12th 2018 @ 10:09am
              Corne Van Vuuren said | May 12th 2018 @ 10:09am | ! Report

              Hehe Ralph

              • May 12th 2018 @ 11:09am
                Adsa said | May 12th 2018 @ 11:09am | ! Report

                Where did the Biltong go Bek?

              • Roar Guru

                May 12th 2018 @ 1:33pm
                Corne Van Vuuren said | May 12th 2018 @ 1:33pm | ! Report

                Been hinking to use my resl name for a whilr adsa, just didn’t know we could change our nicknames

    • Roar Rookie

      May 12th 2018 @ 4:05am
      GC Red said | May 12th 2018 @ 4:05am | ! Report

      And there it is…… a sign of our times. Not your fault players, coaches and administrators… it the fans fault. Here you go, have a participation award. What rubbish.

      • May 12th 2018 @ 7:40am
        Ralph said | May 12th 2018 @ 7:40am | ! Report

        Good post GC, and because it is so good I award you a trophy for outstanding achievement in the field of excellence.

    • May 12th 2018 @ 5:23am
      Ken Catchpole’s Other Leg said | May 12th 2018 @ 5:23am | ! Report

      Man, if I ever find this fella named ‘Society’ I’m gunna give it to him straight.

    • May 12th 2018 @ 5:35am
      MH01 said | May 12th 2018 @ 5:35am | ! Report

      RA have allowed Cheika to be coach and selector . And he is tribal in his loyalty .

      It’s not the fans fault – they are leaving droves .

      • Roar Guru

        May 12th 2018 @ 6:42am
        eagleJack said | May 12th 2018 @ 6:42am | ! Report

        They are leaving because of Cheika?

        The rot started years ago. We have been average for 15+ years. We now can’t even beat the NZ sides in Super Rugby. 38 consecutive losses and counting. Nobody who has followed the game closely is shocked by this development. It’s been brewing for a long time.

        In 10 years time we will remember these times fondly. Nothing is being done to arrest the drop in playing talent and the lack of coaching and talent identification at junior levels.

        You think this is bad? Things are going to get far worse. And it’s got nothing to do with who happens to be holding the clipboard for the Wallabies.

        • May 12th 2018 @ 7:20am
          MH01 said | May 12th 2018 @ 7:20am | ! Report

          Yes . A number of our players left OS when it became clear that Cheika was not interested. When we tell players like Fardy , no thanks ….. the rot is coming from selections.

          We pushed so many players away – let’s not complain about the talent pool. Every player should be given the chance to be in the running for a wallabies jersey . That is not the case, Cheika plays favourites . Some get unlimited chances , some get one – that is rot !

          • Roar Guru

            May 12th 2018 @ 8:07am
            eagleJack said | May 12th 2018 @ 8:07am | ! Report

            26 debutants since the World Cup would suggest that Cheika is willing to test new players, and give them exposure to international rugby.

            Some players have left. That is a problem for all nations as the riches of Europe, and a chance to experience a new culture whilst playing the game you love, is hard for many to turn down. It isn’t ideal and we have certainly lost players we would dearly love to have at our disposal.

            But as I said below, Cheika will be moved on and the blame for the Wallabies woes will shift to the next bloke who takes over. Ignoring the problem that has been simmering for nearly 2 decades and is only getting worse.

            Rinse and repeat. It’s the Australian rugby fans way!

            • May 12th 2018 @ 8:31am
              MH01 said | May 12th 2018 @ 8:31am | ! Report

              What is the problem that has been simmering for 20 years ? We have proved with the right coaches we can peak 2013-2015…. , I’m not a QLDer, but for me the rot started with the way Mckenzie was ousted , in my opinion that was the most decisive Moment that lead us to where we are. I think fardy was treated very badly , and others just told, sorry we are not interested.

              Yes europe is enticing, though I don’t believe for one sec, that those players choose between wallabies and Europe.

              Can I ask you on question, this is a leadership question, let’s forget state bias , do you think Hooper is captain material ? Cause you need to build a team around strong leadership. I love him as a great player , but is it his ego? Does he just want he kudos? I ask this, cause I watch all the RC matches and six nations, and by far he is the worst captain of the lot, poor decisions, and very poor ref management . Is he the best we have? If so… that is a problem in my opinion .

              Look – if someone like Jake white can come in – remove the deadwood , and build up a culture within a team with no names , and in 2 years be in a final – we can do it, we choose not to, rot is in the established culture and RA is the root.

              Rinse and repeat is RA way – cause they ain’t going anywhere unlike the fans

              • May 12th 2018 @ 8:53am
                adam smith said | May 12th 2018 @ 8:53am | ! Report

                Hi MH01, although I do agree with most of what EagleJack has to say in regards to the current malaise affecting Australian Rugby, I think it is folly to discount what you have said also. My thoughts are that you are both right, with the major tipping point the McKenzie debacle, followed closely by Cheika’s questionable selection policy, which in my opinion, has ostracised a fair number of quality Wallabies.

              • Roar Guru

                May 12th 2018 @ 9:23am
                eagleJack said | May 12th 2018 @ 9:23am | ! Report

                The problem simmering for 20 years is coaching, talent identification and development pathways for young Australian rugby players. It was clear in the late 90s that a Mickey mouse schoolboy rugby comp was not the best developmental program as we moved into the professional era. The coaching is poor, the standard average and in reality, it’s all just a bit of fun. So what has changed in that time? Nothing. The only differences is the comps are now weaker as some schools no longer participate as the blowouts and disparity in class was too significant.

                So what we are left with are players hitting Super rugby that lack the basic skills needed in high pressure environments. Sure, at training they can throw a beautiful cutout pass with precision. But what about a string of short balls, with the game on the line when the pressure is intense? Nope, and we are left for dead by our NZ counterparts and many others in this regard.

                It’s all well and good to blame the current Wallabies coach, but the rot starts much earlier. It’s just that Australian rugby has always focused on the Wallabies and the Wallabies only. The health of the game is a reflection of how they are going. With no real look to the future.

                I couldn’t careless who coaches. Bring back McKenzie I rated him highly. Loved what he did at the Tahs and Reds. But for all the talk he still only managed a 50% win rate, and never beat the ABs. If he’s Australia’s saviour then god help us.

                But in reality we should all be aware that our top players still don’t possess the core skills required. Some do. Most don’t. And that begins at a far younger age. We shouldn’t need a Mick Byrne trying to teach Wallabies how to catch and pass.

                I sat in awe watching the u16s State of Origin last year. I counted 5 x 15 year olds who could cut it at Super level right now. Their size and skills honed from a week to week grinding competition and professional development. What is rugby doing?

              • May 12th 2018 @ 9:55am
                MH01 said | May 12th 2018 @ 9:55am | ! Report

                Valid points .

                The missing skills , fix it ! The problem Australia has, we spend a fortune on players , while we our coaches are second rate . It’s for the coaches to identify players weaknesses and correct them .

                What is RA doing, spending a fortune on select players while the real problem ignored .

                Our saviour is not an Australian coach – yet again see what White accomplished in two years with players that you claim fail at much lower levers. We need to stop making excuses and take action, hire a true quality coach or three – a step to fixing Australia’s problem . 5 year contract got hooper while the Brumbies are playing like clueless rugby players cause the coach is out of his depth .

                Australia does not even have one average quality coach – and we blame 20 years ago as the start . I don’t agree. Yet again – white as a case study proves the myth Oz problems are 20 years in the making . Oz problems are that we reward individual players and ignore the real issue is that our coaches are not capable to keep up with thier international counterparts . Ireland – you can argue were in the same rot – how did they fix it – brought in a coach with the answers

              • May 12th 2018 @ 10:12am
                Ed said | May 12th 2018 @ 10:12am | ! Report


                The below is a recent article about the disparity between AUS and NZ schoolboy teams.


                How do we get all parties here in Australia to align themselves for the greater good of code, including at school age? It would cause cause some pain for parties or will self-interest continue to hamper stop us from even trying?

              • Roar Guru

                May 12th 2018 @ 11:30am
                eagleJack said | May 12th 2018 @ 11:30am | ! Report

                Cheers Ed for the link. It’s been an obvious problem for 20 years and yet nothing has been done. As the article suggests, it’s probably too late now. Meanwhile NZ identified the issue are are now reaping the rewards. High quality, professional junior pathways are a must. The NRL and AFL have them. Rugby does not. Too hard basket.

                MH01 is spot on that we don’t have top shelf coaches at our disposal. But appointing a Jake White is a band-aid solution. McKenzie and Cheika had exceptional Super rugby records. They couldn’t translate that into International success. We definitely need to look outside of Australia for our next Wallabies coach. But unless things change significantly at the junior level, our players will always be one step behind.

                I’m actually always astounded how well we still compete in Tests. We go from losing Super teams, head into Wallabies camp unfit, yet still do ok.

                The problems are far deeper than who is Wallabies coach. The longer we put off the obvious, the harder it will be to fix. The talent is there it just needs to be nurtured.

              • May 12th 2018 @ 5:24pm
                MH01 said | May 12th 2018 @ 5:24pm | ! Report

                EJ – you are correct , the problems do start right at junior levels – I’m just a frustrated rugby fan looking at how we can make a change that will improve things in the shorter term -quality coaches, though this needs to be corrected as you say from the roots .

              • May 13th 2018 @ 6:51am
                Bakkies said | May 13th 2018 @ 6:51am | ! Report

                Compete well in tests? The Wallabies got flogged by Scotland.

    • May 12th 2018 @ 5:45am
      Brisvegas said | May 12th 2018 @ 5:45am | ! Report

      Actually not too far off the mark the word star or super star seems to be synonymous with sports quite regularly and readily. Imagine an athlete being brought back to earth by being told they are a very good player without the word star being used. Imagine a politician being told they were doing the job they were voted in to do. Problem is we fans sometimes believe that the star athletes we google over are no more or less just human like we are. Everybodys looking for a Hero someone to look up to. Sing it Whitney.

      • May 12th 2018 @ 12:27pm
        Neil Back said | May 12th 2018 @ 12:27pm | ! Report

        Had my eyes squeezed shut for the last couple of hours and still can’t imagine a politician doing the job they were voted in to do.

    • May 12th 2018 @ 6:13am
      Redsfan1 said | May 12th 2018 @ 6:13am | ! Report

      A simplistic and cliche ridden article.

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