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Armchair Halfback

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Joined December 2019

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Armchair Halfback is the musings of a long time rugby tragic Brian Judge, a devotee and thinker about all things pertaining to the running game.

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Amazing work Sheek. If there’s a prize for best use of self-isolation it must surely be yours! It was a remarkable era, particularly considering the collapse of rugby in Qld after WW1, the inexorable rise of League and the Depression of the 1930’s, to produce so many great Wallabies during a time of limited resources. Before my time, but was Cyril Towers the ABC commentator till the arrival of Gordon Bray? He’s Pat Howard’s grandfather too I think.

The Wallabies' Revivalists first XV (1920-1939)

Enjoy!!

How to watch a game of rugby: Part 2

Thanks Dilkington. Yes it was a special match! I think rugby shifted around the 2007 RWC, which was a dour affair and we had the experimental law variations which skewed the game in unexpected ways. I think that 1996-2006 period was a golden era for rugby, fitness improved with professionalism as did the talent, plus some of adventure and instinctive skill was still present. Rugby now is pre-eminently a power game. You can watch that final again at: https://www.rugby.com.au/videos/2020/03/27/super-rugby-classics-brumbies-crusaders-final-2004

How to watch a game of rugby: Part 2

Thanks Brett – thought provoking as always!

Everything will be on the table when rugby eventually returns

Thanks James, yes it feels like the No9 jersey is definitely up for grabs. Though ironically both Gregan and Genia were reasonably unheralded before playing test rugby. Gregan came for the pre-Brumbies ACT setup after Farr-Jones retired and Peter Slattery had a dip in form and Genia was understudy to Valentine and others in his first couple of seasons at the Reds.

Aussie abroad: Josh Valentine

Sounds goof HL! It’s a pity that so much content is simply locked up with the key thrown away..

SANZAAR, copyright and myopia

Thanks Nic. Agreed, the whole attacking style of the game has changed. I watched the 2004 SR final a few days ago and most tries originated from outside the 22, multiple phases were shorter and less frequent and there was more scoring off 1st phase. The practice of camping on the 5 metre line and grafting away at the try line for 5 minutes wasn’t a thing.

How to watch a game of rugby: Part 2

Thanks James! Valentine had big wraps on him at underage levels, Luke Burgess was around too, so both he and Gregan, then of course Genia dominated at scrum half. His durability is remarkable, to still be playing professionally into his late 30’s.
I did some sums, 5 players – Catchpole, Hipwell, Farr Jones, Gregan & Genia – have started for the Wallabies in 70% of tests between 1960 & 2019 – over 500 tests, – so it’s been a tough gig to crack.

Aussie abroad: Josh Valentine

Sorry Sheek, I read another comment and realise you have referred to Pollard. On another topic, I have a story outline about Australian Scrum halves. I’ll send it to you to see if you want to shape it into an article or articles as you appear to have the time, research skills and the writing flair I lack!

The Wallabies’ pioneers first XV (1899-1919)

Thanks Sheek. You’re dedication is to be applauded! I would imagine that a guru like you would have a copy of Jack Pollard’s fabulous “Australia: The Game & the Players”? It may be 25+ years old, but it’s far and away the best chronicle of the sport in Australia

The Wallabies’ pioneers first XV (1899-1919)

Thanks Nick. Do you have any stats on dominant tackles for Hooper v Wright? If Wright’s tackle % its slightly lower, but he’s dominant tackle efficiency is greater, then that might support his cause. He’s bigger than Hooper and might offer more in the line out and the tackle.

The great Australian openside debate: Round 2

Looks good Dilkington. Any room for boy wonder Harry Wilson, or Valetini? I agree that Samu needs to start, he’s got speed and strength and a good attitude… Also is it worth giving a rookie out half a go b/w the old heads of O’Connor/Toomua and Nic White?

Pick your Wallabies team for... whenever they play next

Thanks Jeznez. Simone has done really well a the Brumbies, his skills have blossomed so he’s able to bring some variety to his play and his confidence has grown, plus he benefits from playing inside Kuridrani. I like your out there combo of Walton/Lisala. 13 needs to be the defensive organiser and someone who can turn a game, in the mould of a Dan Herbert or Stirling Mortlock or even Kuridrani when in form.

Super Rugby on hold: Early-season report card

Thanks Brett. I’m not suggesting he’s under pressure atm, though a year or two of poor performances and bad press could see a knee jerk reaction from the powers that be. Many a Tahs coach has been despatch in an unseemly manner!

Super Rugby on hold: Early-season report card

That’s the challenge, what happens if Moeroa fits neither the mould of a 12 playmaker or a 12 bulldozer?

Super Rugby on hold: Early-season report card

Thanks Jeznez. Sounds good, though personally I’m not big fan of Foketi. Did the Rebels release him when he left? He went to NZ for a bit but never got a contract with an NZ SR franchise.

Super Rugby on hold: Early-season report card

Agreed RJ, it’s instructive watching Tahs A games as an insight into emerging players. Walton at 13 is the way to go, perhaps worth luring Billy Meakes north as an experienced old head who can help run the backline and offer some go forward.

Super Rugby on hold: Early-season report card

Thanks Paul. I think you’re largely right. Penny’s next off season should include culling the under-performers and some creative recruiting.

Super Rugby on hold: Early-season report card

Thanks Brett. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with the Tahs. They appear to be clueless and bereft of talent in too many positions, forced to play Newsome and HJH out of position, for starters. I hope the Tahs board stays with Penny as he needs a couple of years to reshape the playing group. There may be some light at the end of the tunnel as Bell, Tafa and Harris continue to blossom.

Super Rugby on hold: Early-season report card

Thanks Matt. Some of the roar contributor articles are excellent, as good as the experts is some cases. I think it’s a great way for amateur writers to express themselves eloquently and accurately, but it must be fair and accurate, otherwise readers will simply poke holes in the argument rather than appreciate good amateur journalism. If you want to write for any audience, you need to know what you’re talking about – not be simply spouting crap…!

Which sports are dying in Australia?

Thanks Carlos. It’s clear that the increase in rugby body size since the mid 1990’s has been a deliberate attempt to bulk up as a way of gaining an advantage as the game becomes less instinctive and more structured in defence and attack. If you remember Wallaby prop Tony Daly – Tony played prop because Tony was a tubby lad, not because he had been in an intense muscle building/bulking up program from the age of 16! Tubby Tony was all of 105kgs whereas now 130kg props aren’t unusual.

Weight-restricted rugby, concussions and ways to move the game forward

Thanks Will. This is the first SR season where I’ve pondering if NZ rugby has talent shortages in some positions (including second row) – a scenario which would have been unthinkable 10 years ago, so what you’re implying about the rise of Basketball seems to being played out at SR level. The u85kg comp sounds like a good idea, though it’s a thing of beauty that Cheslin Kolbe – all 75kgs of him – was one of the best at RWC 2019.

Weight-restricted rugby, concussions and ways to move the game forward

Well done Stirling, great debut article!

Hunter Paisami: The Reds' new weapon punishing opposition backlines

The Ulster schools is a bit of a mystery to me! Still on Ulster, they beat the Cheetahs the other week in the Pro14 – knowing your liking for prospects, James Hume played well at inside centre.

The Australian surprise packets after the first month

Harris and Tafa looked good in the Tahs A team!

How the Waratahs' youngsters are making a difference