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Barney

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It’s very simple what’s happened with the Australian teams.
While their performances clearly do not justify the playing staff, in any sport there is no substitute for competition and pressure.
There were no easy games in the SA conference and they have all had to play at finals intensity for weeks now.
In the NZ conference, the worst team, the Blues were probably still in finals contention until a week ago.
Both those conferences were genuine 5 team competitions while the Australian one was possibly just a relatively relaxing 2 team one.
The Sunwolves, if they were staying in, was just the wrong team for the conference.
The Hurricanes and the Brumbies should be very wary, the SA teams are battle hardened.
Next year will be worse as cannot see the trend reversing.

Seven talking points from Super Rugby Round 18

Except there is nothing wrong with the bottom with the SA and NZ conferences.
It’s only the Aus conference that is about half the strength of the aforementioned two.
Is there a similarly structured conference system for any other sport in the world?

Hurricanes, rest and members do not mix

It’s the conference system.
Concentrating all the weakest teams including the permanent irrelevance Sunwolves in one conference was just the most stupid idea.
It doesn’t matter what happened years ago or how much real talent there is as logically over the years, the downward trend was always very likely.
Next year it will be another write off until whatever the new format is in 2021.

Better with 3? Former Wallaby thinks Australia has too many rugby teams

What’s happened to Bertranou?
Wasn’t he one of the finds of last season and although Cubelli has been solid, he would have developed even more this season?
Is he injured for the year so out of the World Cup too?

Super Rugby Round 18: For the clubhouse lead

That’s interesting and wins by the Waratahs and the Chiefs would not exactly be that unlikely?
If it then came down to the calculator on Saturday, there could be some surprising late scoring between the SA teams?

Top four sorted, next four might not change either

Is there a scenario where all 5 SA conference teams make the finals?
The Jaguares are obviously already there.
How likely would it be that teams finish equal on points but one missing out?
Given that the SA teams play last therefore will know the final arithmetic beforehand, could we see some strategic results?
In a way, the 4 SA teams almost all equally deserve a finals spot given there’s hardly anything between them.

Top four sorted, next four might not change either

That final would feature a lot of intrigue and contrasts.
Best attack versus best defence, at least from the second half of the season.
Best teams from the two best conferences.
Probably the two deepest squads.
Two teams who shall be certain finals favourites again in upcoming years.
Lastly, the strange situation that it would be their first meeting this season.

Actually, how often has it happen that teams meet for the first time in the finals, let alone the final?

The Wrap: The Super Rugby cream rises to the top

I don’t think there is anything inherently difficult about clay unless you mean purely from a familiarity perspective for Americans.
For example, relatively European clay specialists such as Thiem probably find fast hard courts difficult adjustments too.
However, the evidence is that there has been greater harmonisation of the court surfaces towards the slower end during the last two decades.
This means tennis is now more rewarding for physically stronger athletes and ones with greater point constructing abilities.
These two qualities tend to be more associated with clay counters although as Federer proves by still dominating at a geriatric age, aggression, initiative and variety are still very useful.
What does this mean for Americans?
They need to be a lot stronger physically for starters.
Long gone are the days when gifted audacious skinny 20 year olds can bluff their way to a slam victory.
By the way the above only applies to men’s tennis as women’s can be considered almost a different sport due to many unique aspects.

R.I.P. American tennis

Soccer’s global dominance is really based on two reasons.

Firstly, it is a simple game. Simple in rules and easily accessible to virtually all. This makes it easy to sell to the masses but less interesting to the middle classes.

Secondly, due to the more mainstream take up of soccer, it often becomes an extension of political or nationalistic rivalries therefore further cementing it in the national consciousness.

Of course there are cultural and climatic factors.
These might explain why cricket, although a relatively complex sport, is a sport for the masses in some countries.

Remembering 1999, Australia's golden sporting year

It is somewhat interesting, bemusing and even amusing seeing the contrast between the Jaguares and the Sunwolves.

The Jaguares are effectively the national team model while the Sunwolves the extreme franchise model with just two Japanese in the starting team this week?

It’s almost the equivalent of a battle between two polar opposite political systems 🙂

What 'provincial' actually means

Coin tossing again:

Bulls, Waratahs, Sunwolves, Crusaders, Reds, Hurricanes, Stormers

As an aside, I just noticed the Sunwolves are down to just two starting players who are indigenous Japanese…is this the lowest yet?
Could they soon have a full starting team made up of expats?

Super Rugby Round 16: We’re catching Nobes!

What about a short term solution to allow a limited number of Argentineans to play for Australian teams?
This maintains the global development and also the competitiveness of SR as conceivably, the immediate future, if not starting next year, could just be a two horse race between Crusaders and Jaguares…

The Wrap: It’s all about the rugby FFS

Those facts definitely put the debate into perspective and while it seems many here think Kearns is a little alarmist, I think there are nevertheless numerous interesting points that this topic raises.
Firstly if the number of SR teams roughly reflects the relative strengths of the RC countries, are we to conclude that Australia are four times better than Argentina?
As stated above, Argentina could easily be 2-0 from last year.
So either 4 Australian teams are too many or 1 Argentinian is not few.
Of course, many have stated this has only become topical due to the success of Jaguares but looking at the trend above, surely this was not a surprise?
And if the trend continued (especially with Quesada at the helm), they could be near unbeatable next year?
The question was never if the Jaguares could become a success but how quickly so this question was always bound to come up.
As for short term fixes since a second team could be a bit premature, how about redistributing some of the Argentinean talent to Australian teams? After all, Cubelli spent a season or 2 at the Brumbies? This solves two birds?
Probably every Jaguares squad player are talented enough to get into of the 4 Australian ones.
Or even though it’s too late now, they could have been used to revitalise the fifth team and the Force would never have been cut.
Of course, this is temporary until a second team comes to fruition and as long there is some quota, the Australian teams must reap some short term benefits too.
Lastly and most interestingly, it would be curious to see how this translates to success for the Pumas at the RC and subsquently the WC?
Although this happened to a lesser extent last year, if the bulk of the team were again to be composed of the Jaguares, could they have advantages over full strength international teams?
So could a champion team battle hardened, full of cohesion and understanding honed from a full season together defeat international teams full of champions?

Phil Kearns reckons the Jaguares should not be in Super Rugby

This really comes down to a typical standoff between people who prefer society to be organised on simplicity against people who are comfortable with complexity?
Meanwhile a minority (small?) will always suffer while the pendulum swings one way or the other?
It is not even about liberalism versus conservatism as they exist at both ends of the spectrum above.
Rugby like almost any human activity is really just an extension and reflection of society.
But that is stating the obvious?

A letter to Alan Jones on the matter of Israel Folau

If indeed this season is more unpredictable than ever, there seems to be two consistent themes that factor into predicting each week’s outcomes.
1) With continuous, substantial or key team rotations, true form is almost impossible to assess.
2) Because of at least the above, ignore current form, especially the previous week’s.
How would flipping a coin compare (perhaps this has already been covered in the past?)…
So heads home team/ tails away:
Chiefs
Bulls
Rebels
Blues
Waratahs
Stormers
Lions

Super Rugby Round 15: Time for some cream

That is a very European-centric view though?
For many cultures, it seems there is no clear boundary between religion and everyday life.
They seem very much interlinked so there is probably no such thing as religion being a private activity.
Furthermore, some cultures (particularly East Asian) have never had religions in the sense of the god centred Judeo varieties. Although theirs could be considered as more philosophical systems like Confucianism, they were very weaved into and likely fundamental to the longevity and relatively continuing success of their societies.
I am not arguing for or against.
I have no idea how Pacific Islander societies embrace and live their particular strand of Christianity.
Except that this is complex.

Israel Folau has been unfairly hounded out of Australian rugby

What if the Sunwolves were successful either this year or next?
Success defined as finals and beyond?
This will look even more farcical.
Of course both these possibilities would be considered nothing short of miraculous…

BREAKING: Sunwolves forced to play one more year of Super Rugby before being axed

Trying to look on YouTube for the 80s test in England with the iconic image of virtually all 9 WI fielders around the batsman (in addition to the wicketkeeper and the paceman of course) but no luck.

Anyone remember this test?
Unless it happened on numerous occasions 🙂

The unsung heroes of the great 1980s West Indies team

Sorry I don’t agree.
2019 is totally different circumstances to previous Djokovic peak years.
Nadal is the obvious favourite for the French unless he is against Djokovic.
Djokovic has never found Nadal unbeatable on clay even in Nadal’s best years.
However, there are far more players capable of taking out Djokovic than Nadal on clay.
Players such as Thiem, Wawrinka and any number of the top youngsters such as Zverev, Khachanov, Medvedev etc
They may not quite be slam winners yet but more importantly, Djokovic has found them far from pushovers.
Back to Djokovic, I would be very surprised if he had another spell of invincibility let alone a calendar slam.
His game is tactically not very mysterious even if he is the best ever at it.
So it’s realistic that the new young generation could be training single mindedly to go toe to toe with Djokovic for 10 hours.
They are mentally unscarred, talented, fit and hungrily lining up.
Unlike previous generations, the landscape is a lot simpler as they won’t need to bother with too old Federer (just outlast him), half season Nadal (just avoid him) or even effectively retired Murray.
Can Djokovic evolve and how long can he hold them back?

The Djokovic Slam and why he can go all the way

To find out how Djokovic could be beaten, you first need to find the style of player who would trouble him.
Then they need to have the mental strength to execute.
Yes, these players are rare.
Nadal may have the mental strength but tactically, he is cannon fodder.
To beat Djokovic, you either need variety at speed or consistent all round power.
You cannot give Djokovic time.
For the first, apart from peak Federer, sadly there’s not much out there.
For the second. it is Wawrinka. Maybe Thiem and one or two of the new youngsters although they need to show the mental strength.

The day that Rafael Nadal looked slow and old

The head to head between Nadal and Djokovic is very misleading.
Djokovic is at least 80% dominant outside clay.
Yes Nadal has occasionally won (including two in the slams) but they are outliers and more a reflection of Djokovic’s mental frailties.
On clay, Nadal has been dominant even though Djokovic is far more competitive on clay than Nadal is on hard court.
Djokovic has beaten Nadal in every one of the lead up clay tournaments to the French.
Even in Nadal’s peak years on clay, there were always dogfights with Djokovic.
The last three meetings at Roland Garos, Nadal leads 2-1 and that includes a titanic 5 setter that Djokovic could easily have won.
To be honest, it is amazing that Nadal has kept the head to head so close!
As for Federer, I also disagree.
It’s only since 2015 that I think you could say Djokovic finally subjugated him.
Probably the 2015 Wimbledon was the snapping point and also around then, he started losing that extra step.
Before that, Federer and Djokovic has always been the truest rivalry as tactically they were almost neck and neck on every surface.
The biggest factor in Federer’s decline against Djokovic is he is no longer fast enough to play that follow up aggressive shot after his first serve.
He could compensate for this against everyone else but not Djokovic.

The day that Rafael Nadal looked slow and old

Nadal is the favorite to win the French.
Djokovic is the favorite against Nadal at the French.

Make sense?
If yes, you understand tennis.

Final thoughts on the 2019 Australian Open

I have seen many of their past encounters and numerous hard court matches away from the slams have been far from competitive.
I have seen Djokovic take Nadal apart at will in a similar way but never vice versa.
The patterns they played do not really change much as ultimately they can only redeploy their technical skillset so far.
It’s not just the final scoreboard but the one sided natureness.
The only saviour for Nadal in the distant past was his inhuman ability in the slams to maintain his incredible intensity and focus in combination with Djokovic wavering at critical moments.
Djokovic reads Nadal like a book but in the past he just kept taking his eyes off some pages.
Obviously even the supremacy in that mental battle changed hands.
I think Nadal would be mightily relieved if a Thiem or Wawrinka took out Djokovic before the French Open final.
Also, I don’t agree Djokovic is unstoppable.
It’s all about matchups.
Nadal is just too comfortable for Djokovic.
Wawrinka, get healthy and step forward.

The day that Rafael Nadal looked slow and old

There is too much overreading in much of the casual general analysis of this result.
Djokovic thrashing Nadal does not mean Djokovic is about to go on another world domination run.
It does not also mean Nadal is in his final days.
After all, he had earlier easily dispatched one young pretender after another.
It just simply means Djokovic is a far superior tennis player than Nadal on hard courts.
Period.
Nothing more. Nothing less.
Nadal dismantled Tsitsipas.
Yet Tsitsipas probably had a greater chance of beating Djokovic.
If that makes sense then you understand tennis.
Furthermore, if one has been watching the historic trends of their hardcourt encounters then one would have seen Djokovic do this to Nadal countless times albeit never in a slam.
The point is Djokovic has always had the perfect anti Nadal game and it’s more or less always come down to his execution.
This time he definitely executed Nadal.

The day that Rafael Nadal looked slow and old

Interesting points.

It would seem that the kind of fan being written about is someone a little more than the casually disinterested type who while enjoying the highs are probably not that affected by the lows.
So the fan discussed is the more educated passionate follower type?

With this type, as someone above mentioned, it really is all to do with expectations (like anything in life).
Granted there are some who have completely unrealistic ones – a Georgian fan who thinks they could win the WC – one could presume the other 90?% are relatively rational.

So where does this expectation come from?
And is this fan’s reaction really based on result or performance?

The first question is probably very complex.
One answer could be that the fan perceives the team as having a certain peak (potential) based on personnel.
Another fan could demand that the sum be greater than the parts because of the history and other intangibles.
Another could be that the team needs to play to a certain style that aligns with the cultural values of the club/ country etc
This means this fan could never be satisfied because of the general strategic approach even if there were winning results.
And without doubt there are many other reasons that means ultimately, results are never an open and shut case for fan satisfaction.

Therefore the second question is really the relevant one.
I think fans are really interested in performance and all the variables that lead up to the performance.
If these are perceived to be satisfactory, they can be relied on for solid support.
If they are not then winning results can at most paper over the cracks.
Of course how to deliver a performance that satisfies as much of the fan base as possible is also, it seems, not so easy due to the diverse nature of their expectations.
So in short and in agreement with others here, fans ultimately don’t based their support on results but really around the performance, win or lose,
It shouldn’t be any other way.

Support shouldn’t rely on the result