The Roar
The Roar

Geoff Parkes


Joined October 2012







Geoff is a Melbourne based sports fanatic and writer, who started contributing to The Roar in 2012, originally under the pen name Allanthus. His first book, A World in Conflict; the Global Battle For Rugby Supremacy was released in Dec 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.



Yes, and many AFL people aren’t happy about it either. It’s a very similar situation isn’t it, except that rugby has league as a direct reference point.

As Nick suggests below, what a marketing focus group, talking to potential new fans of the sport, determines is a ‘spectacle’, is not necessarily the same as what educated followers of the same sport deem as a ‘spectacle.

It’s a complex problem, sports need new blood to flourish into the future, and stay relevant for the society of the day, but it is never a good thing to dislocate older, loyal participants, followers, volunteers etc.

Why rugby is moving towards league

A similar thing is happening in AFL too, Highlander, with a number of coaches moving away from the traditional tall-timber, lumbering ruckman, in favour of using standard sized players who offer more mobility and a bigger range of skills.

It’s borne out of a desire by administrators to speed the game up, believing that sport is an entertainment product, and this is what is required to attract and retain fans. Which sounds a lot like where rugby is evolving towards…

I think rugby is a bit like Test cricket, containing a range of possibilities, nuances, specialist skills etc. I appreciate (and enjoyed) Nick’s analysis on how players like Nowell, Hooper, SBW and others add value because of their ability to interchange and master a range of skills, but I do believe that rugby’s leading administrators should strive to retain rugby’s essence as a game for people of all shapes and sizes.

Why rugby is moving towards league

Some interesting comments in there gm…

– with rugby having turned professional, how is a player playing rugby for money, illustrative of a “sense of entitlement”?

– do Australian players really head overseas because they are “disaffected”? Maybe they go overseas because they are attracted by the money and/or the chance to experience a foreign lifestyle?

– care to offer any evidence on how the four Super Rugby coaches and Michael Cheika, base their selections on “origin” and “old tie”?

Why rugby is moving towards league

🙂 yes mate

Who will be the starting No.12s in the World Cup quarter-finals?

Nice reading Harry – although I reckon cousin Hadleigh can handle Laumape ok if it comes to that!

To clarify the lineage… was chatting with funny-man, James McOnie, of NZ’s ‘The Crowd Goes Wild’ last year, who actually is a cousin, and he asked, “That Hadleigh Parkes, he’s our cousin isn’t he?”

To which I replied, “No mate, no relation.”

To which James said, “Oh, that’s a shame, I may have already mentioned it a couple of times on TV…”

Who will be the starting No.12s in the World Cup quarter-finals?

Cheers David. Ryan’s in a pretty good place, having plenty of maturity about him, but still being relatively young in ‘tour years’ thus having a lot of scope for improvement.

I was lucky enough to see Bob Charles when I was a youngster, and then later, Cambo when he was playing well. Yes, it’s high time NZ had another men’s major winner!

Ryan Fox comes to grips with life as a touring professional

It’s a great shot, NV. Although if it was Barrett on Folau, I bet Kearnsie would be wetting himself as he screamed for a yellow card.

2019: The battle for the soul of Pasifika rugby

Agree. Nobody who saw those games involving Tonga could disagree that there wasn’t something special happening there, and that rugby couldn’t learn from it.

2019: The battle for the soul of Pasifika rugby

Re those guys, I guess the key thing Nick is how things are different under professionalism. Many players now make those kinds of major choices based on financial reasons.

Obviously, playing for France, NZ, Australia etc is more lucrative than playing for a PI nation. Or say in Piatau’s case, forgoing international rugby altogether was the best decision for him. It’s not just all about big rugby nations pillaging small ones either – that’s simple demographics and market size at work.

At the end of the day we can move players around like chess pieces and fantasize about where they should all play. But the clubs and national unions all operate out of self interest, players make personal decisions from the options they have in front of them, and we end up with these imbalances and generally unsatisfactory outcomes.

Really, for me, the biggest disappointment is World Rugby’s impotence and unwillingness /inability to act as ‘global policeman’ and run the game with a firmer hand.

2019: The battle for the soul of Pasifika rugby

Sport plays a big part in it Sheek, that’s true, but the primary driver of PI migration has been general economic opportunity, followed, once people became established, by reasons of family re-unification.

2019: The battle for the soul of Pasifika rugby


Yeah, next they’ll be telling us he had a shower afterwards…

Thanks Jack, interesting stuff!

The shocking origins of rugby

Good point about the state of mind. Of all of the failings across the India series, the way Kahwaja batted in Sydney was as concerning as any. Of all people, he should have been knuckling down to bat for a day and a half.

Australia v NZ Black Caps, Boxing Day Test: An early preview

Yes, strong point about the Shield scheduling Paul, one which Mike Atherton in particular, has been strong on. You can’t devalue a proven competition and pathway like what has occurred, without there being consequences down the track.

Australia v NZ Black Caps, Boxing Day Test: An early preview

It is indeed a complex problem Danny. For all that is wrong about French clubs, for example, setting up thinly disguised ‘academies’ in Fiji, to provide a feeder line for themselves, who is to deny any young Fijian the opportunity to earn what would seem like a fortune, to help their own family get ahead?

Certainly things could be improved by World Rugby showing more teeth with respect to the international eligibility period (Gus Pichot’s hobby horse), and enforcing international windows that realistically allow the PI nations (and the USA for that matter) to have their best players available, and to properly prepare.

As Nick outlines in the article, it’s amazing how much improvement is in these sides when they get the chance to prepare properly – and that surely is for the betterment of the game as a whole.

2019: The battle for the soul of Pasifika rugby

I thought I was being very kind to the Aussies, Jason 🙂
Certainly, everyone else isn’t holding back from giving them a kicking!

NZ are certainly more switched on with respect to their team game plan and the players individually understanding their roles. Whereas Australia at the moment looks more like a few individuals, some of them not really Test players, just going out to do their best. Which, as the article suggests, isn’t surprising, in the wake of last years’ events.

One illustration if I may. Remember how Peter Siddle came on to field in Melbourne, and within a few balls, dropped a dolly of a catch? In Christchurch, Matt Henry came on as sub fielder, he’s been riding the pine for ages, not getting much of an opportunity, yet straight after he came on, he pulled off a stunning catch at cover.

That was as good an example as any of the current difference between the two sides, however, I do expect things to change over time.

Yes mate… Dyer, Greg Chappell, Dick French and Nigel Llong last time… Kiwi cricketers have had a raw deal in Australia forever 🙂

Australia v NZ Black Caps, Boxing Day Test: An early preview

Let’s hope so Mark.

Australia v NZ Black Caps, Boxing Day Test: An early preview

Yes it almost feels a bit similar to 2015 Carlin. NZ was ready for Australia 6-9 months before it actually happened.

Australia v NZ Black Caps, Boxing Day Test: An early preview

There are parallels to Nick’s article today about PI rugby, Scottie. Professional sport provides us with many wonderful things, but it also brings out the worst in how humanity relates to money.
As far as India, Australia and England have been concerned, in cricket, it seems that too much money is never enough.

NZ not playing a Test in Melbourne for 32 years is a very sad indictment on the game.
Too big a topic to get started on here today, perhaps we should just be happy for small mercies and look forward to it!

Australia v NZ Black Caps, Boxing Day Test: An early preview

Agree Scottie, I don’t see any way that Boult and Southee will be broken up in the forseeable future, nor any reason to do so.

Australia v NZ Black Caps, Boxing Day Test: An early preview

That’s just it though Nick, increasingly we are talking about players of Pacific Island heritage, or players who migrated with their families as children, as opposed to Pacific Island birth then contracted elsewhere as adults.

It’s easy to identify the serious problem that is the the pillaging of PI talent for no recompense to those countries, but increasingly, the reason why we are seeing PI players in more international teams is because of family migration for non-rugby reasons, now entering a second and third generation.

So in that sense I see the problem about how to treat the PI rugby nations fairly, and the movement of PI players as two obviously related, but distinct matters.

What is really interesting is that in last year’s Rugby League World Cup, a number of high profile players turned their backs on Australia and New Zealand, to play for Tonga. They didn’t do this for money, and it could be said that giving up a Kiwis or Kangaroos jersey isn’t the same thing as giving up an All Blacks or Wallabies jersey, given the respective state of the the international games.

Nevertheless, the sentiment around that happening should hold some possibilities for rugby.

2019: The battle for the soul of Pasifika rugby

Hi Riccardo

Happy new year to you, mate!

Understandably, a lot of the discussion about Australia is about selection, and obviously NZ’s task will be made a lot easier if, by the end of this year, there are still players in the team who are not bowling well or not capable of making big Test hundreds.

But despite wider concerns over damaged/lost pathways from the Sheffield Shield, I’m certain that there are enough good players around that things will settle over time – particularly if Smith and Warner return, and we’re only talking about making up a couple of spots, instead of having to expose a whole batting order in one hit.

Let’s hope NZ doesn’t mess up the contest this time. In 2015 there was also high anticipation after a great series earlier in the year v England, but then the team dispersed and later arrived at Brisbane and went straight into the series with the bowlers having had no preparation.

Australia v NZ Black Caps, Boxing Day Test: An early preview

Hi Targa

Thx for that re Nicholls, I somehow opened an old stats page. Re your team, I think NZ fans have suffered from not having fast bowling strike power over the years, and so it is natural to want to return fire with fire, and promote players as soon as they clock high 140k’s.

On the other hand, NZ’s success has been built around consistency – of performance and selection – and players aren’t shunted in and out of the Test side just because a new player shows a bit of promise.

I’d love to see Ferguson in Test cricket too, but I’d say there is zero chance of Southee being dropped (making way for a spinner in the UAE was not the same thing). If anything, Southee is getting better as he matures, more control and subtle variations, and of course is a brilliant catcher.

Young is certainly not far off, but his inclusion at 6 depends on whether or not you can fit the extra bowler elsewhere (as you have done) and dispense with the all-rounder. No argument re Ravindra – again McMillan and Stead are saying all the right things about consistency and supporting their investment in Raval, but…

Australia v NZ Black Caps, Boxing Day Test: An early preview

Hi Andrew

Thanks for the article, although you’ve probably got two separate issues happening here – Australian coaching and international structure – and I agree with other posters that you won’t fix the first via the second.

There are other problems with what you propose. Depending on where they’re from, players are variously contracted to clubs or national unions. It is those bodies who determine where and when the players play. They would only agree to some kind of international club challenge competition if they deemed it was in their best interest. I don’t see any compelling case made here for that to happen – for example the national unions are flat out trying to ensue that Test rugby remains the pinnacle of the game, and the Premiership and Top 14 clubs understandably have zero interest in improving Australian rugby.

As for blocking the ‘poachers’ from Europe and Japan… mate, it’s a global marketplace and players are free to move to wherever they wish. Legalities around restraint of trade render your proposal unworkable.

Interestingly, the reasons why your proposals might feel good in theory, but aren’t practical, show just how difficult things are for administrators of the game. The global commercial and political factors are complex and have a direct impact on what happens in rugby in Australia, at all levels.

How Australia’s rugby coaching ranks were obliterated

Yes, good point re Exeter’s particular style of play. And about the coaches too – as we know, Graham Henry and Steve Hansen would both say that they and NZ rugby benefited from what they learned in the UK.

Although Michael Cheika would probably say that too – even if the evidence doesn’t support the thesis as strongly… 🙂

Why Bob Dwyer was right about Will Skelton too

Yes it’s becoming clear that there is increasing interest in exchange programs for coaches and players. Some of that interest has been based around the bigger strategy of having a foot in the NH and SH, but what we’re really talking about here is just pure development, and how to make players better, faster. So yes, I agree, why not put some type of formal structure around that?

None of which takes away from the question as to why Australia can’t provide the expertise and environment to do this on its own anyway, but often it takes a major upheaval for players to get away from their old peer group, family situation, and regular habits, to really mature and develop. For example, someone like Martin Johnson would have become a great player anyway, but was he better for going to NZ early on? You’d have to think so.

As an aside I watched a replay this morning of Exeter v Sarries, with both White and Skelton playing. I know White isn’t the only one who does it, but for some reason he seems worse than most and it’s a really off-putting aspect of the game for me… which is the way he rolls the ball back with his foot in the ruck, taps it around a wee bit more, then shifts it around with his hand so it’s at the right angle, checks out the backfield, takes a couple of deep breaths, then finally puts up a kick.

Rugby isn’t meant to be so static, with no competition allowed for the ball – is it?

Why Bob Dwyer was right about Will Skelton too