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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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Tony D’Arcy was the only other test prop (that I can think of) who went to RL. Unfortunately for D’Arcy, who was an excellent scrummager, his skills were of no use and he languished in the lower grades of the Penrith NRL team before being delisted…..

The ten best union to league converts

Hey MZ Chris Daly and Paddy Reid who played in the Ireland Grand Slam team in 1948 both moved to play RL with Huddersfield in 1949. Ken Goodall was Ireland’s greatest amateur No8, if you can find footage of Ireland v South Africa at Lansdowne Rd in 1970, Goodall scored a brilliant long range try. I think the way players were treated for going to RL was a tragedy. I think Australia may have been better at this later on – certainly the great Trevor Allan was rightly welcome back, as were others.

The ten best union to league converts

Thanks Jez, good point about Rogers. Though it’s interesting, more recently, as to how many rugby players have been the sons/nephews of RL/NRL stars. Matt Giteau, Matt Henjak, Tyrell Lomax, Ben Daley, Owen Farrell, to name a few.

The ten best league-to-union converts

Hi Nerval. Walker’s Wikipedia page does say he played for Randwick in the early 90’s prior to playing NRL https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Walker_(rugby)?wprov=sfti1

The ten best union to league converts

Lewis was in the great Australian schools team of 1978 along with the Ella brothers. Probably the best junior side in rugby history!

The ten best union to league converts

Thanks Mark. If you watched and played rugby before the 1990’s – players going to NRL was a real sore spot. Back then it was open season with the NRL aggressively poaching any new rugby talent that came along with impunity. Wallaby teams from the 1950’s to the 1980’s suffered because they were haemorrhaging talent to NRL. The late Stan Pilecki summed it up best: “Queensland players are my mates and you don’t leave your mates to play league”

The ten best union to league converts

Hey Jez. I would count Rogers as a rugby player who went to NRL. As you would know he played for Australian Schools XV in 1993 alongside Joe Roff and Ben Tune.

The ten best league-to-union converts

Thanks MZ. Robinson had an excellent work ethic too.

The ten best league-to-union converts

Thank KCOL. It should be pointed out that for the few great code hopping NRL players, there have been 100’s of average players, lacking the more subtle skills rugby requires. NRL players tend to be poor passers and that issue is now commonplace in the Tahs & Rebels SR teams

The ten best league-to-union converts

I think back in the 60’s and 70’s NZ rugby treated 12 & 10 as a unit distinct from the outside backs. So an NZ backline was picked as full back, threequarters, five eighths & scrum half. I’m sure the august Mr Zavos can confirm the accuracy of this…! That said, I think they had 2 man front rows at one time, but I wasn’t keen on reviving that practice!
I watched the 2004 final a few weeks ago – great fun, Giteau really was kid dynamite. Thanks Brett!

The Australian Super Rugby Championship XV challenge

Clarke was excellent – Connacht were gutted when he had to retire…

The Australian Super Rugby Championship XV challenge

Agree about the centres, but “Rocket Rod” was excellent. Bombed at test level but a dependable SR player. It was Jono Lance rather than Davies which steered me away from the Reds back three in 2011. Were Peter Hynes and Luke Morahan ahead of Lance in the pecking order and injured come the final?

The Australian Super Rugby Championship XV challenge

Hi Brett this is an awesome challenge, just the thing to excite and intrigue my inner rugby stats nerd! So my challenge was that I really wanted to have Larkham, Gregan, Joe Roff and George Smith in my team. If Stirling Mortlock had played in the 2004 final, I would have picked the entire Brumbies backline from that year. From the more recent teams, players like Beau Robinson, Radike Samo (mk2) and James Potgeiter stood out. Looking through the teams, I didn’t want to pick the Reds centres or front row from 2011. So I flexed a little on the backline and treated Giteau as a Kiwi style 2nd five-eighth and came up with this:
15 Walker (01), 14 Bond (01), 13 Holbeck (01), 12 Giteau (04) 11 Roff (01) 10 Larkham (04), 9 Gregan (04), 1 Robinson (14), 2 Polota Nau (14), 3 Kepu (14), 4 Potgeiter (14), 5 Douglas (14), 6 Higginbotham (11), 7 Robinson (11), 8 Samo (11)

The Australian Super Rugby Championship XV challenge

Good on you pm. The Roar is a great place to wrestle respectfully about rugby ideas. People like TWAS, PeterK and other gurus have some great insights as fans, plus experts like Brett McKay & Nick Bishop readily engage with readers – a great way to continue sharpening your rugby knowledge and thinking!

Rethinking Super Rugby in Australia

Thanks Nick, excellent as always. A former prop was greatly impressed by how seamlessly you manage to weave “Graham Price once told me…” into discussion!

Is the Bell ringing for change in the Wallabies front row?

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)