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Opinion

The Trans-Tasman showed a glaring weakness in Australian rugby

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Roar Pro
29th May, 2021
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Yes, the Reds beat the Chiefs – a win is a win – but it was won without the Chiefs’ star player, Damian McKenzie (red-carded in the first half) and with a 15 versus 14 advantage.

The first half scoreline of 33-3 dwindled to 40-34 in the second half after the Chief had the full 15 players but without McKenzie.

The 64 million-dollar question after the game was would the score have turned against the Reds if the Chiefs had a full team of 15 and with Damian McKenzie playing for the full 80 minutes? We will never know.

McKenzie’s absence actually gave a sour taste to the Reds’ win, but that is not to say they did not deserve it.

Despite that, unfortunately, my views on Australian rugby in general have not changed.

The fact remains that Australian rugby truly took a reality check in the last few weeks of the Trans-Tasman competition. The glory days of Australian rugby are now a very distant memory. Why is that?

Each week when I turn on the TV to watch a game, it’s like watching Aussies in rugby jerseys marching into the slaughterhouse. It was so painful to have to think the opening kick sets the stage for determining how many points the Kiwi teams would be planning to win by to embarrass the Aussies.

Nick McArdle and his panel of rugby experts on TV should just call a spade a spade. Just say out loud that we are simply not good enough. Not even close.

Harry Wilson of the Reds is tackled

(Photo by Jono Searle/Getty Images)

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All the provincial Kiwi teams are head and shoulders above the Aussie teams in almost every aspect of the game, especially the fact they can grind through for the full 80. Aussie teams are 40-minute teams and if they lasted the first 40, they will melt like butter towards the end of the second 40 minutes. It happened to the Reds against the Chiefs.

To be honest, there is nothing wrong with the quality of the Aussie players, they are as good, and many of them are even better than some of the Kiwi players with All Blacks experience. The fault lies with how they were coached and strategy and tactics to be used to confront each of these Kiwi teams.

As I said before, Australian rugby is one-dimensional, unimaginative and full of predictable tactics being used in every game when they have the ball in hand. Rarely will you see a sense of awareness for creativity and for individual brilliance.

Kiwi rugby is best exemplified by Damian McKenzie, Richie Mo’unga and Aaron Smith. They exhibit creativity and are always engaged in scenario-building with the ball in hand and are not hamstrung by having to play to script. They and other Kiwi players, especially the forwards, will force you to tackle them to the ground before they actually decide to fall with the ball. And you can see they would try to snake around and away from their opponents.

Whereas Aussie forwards, when they have the ball in hand, will invariably put their heads down and charge like a drunken bull into the opponent’s body. And our backs will purposefully run straight into the face of the opponent without making a real effort to find ways to avoid getting tackled.

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As they say, insanity is defined as doing the same thing every weekend and expecting a different result on the rugby field.

The Bledisloe Cup? At this rate, the opening bet will be guessing how many tries the All Blacks will pile up on the Wallabies unless coach Dave Rennie can make the Aussie players think outside the box for the full 80 minutes when they have the ball in hand.

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