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Barney

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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

How about just aligning the 6N with the RC on an annual basis and give these matches some status or meaning?
This could mean ensuring annual matches happen between corresponding positions eg First versus first, seconds, thirds, fourths.
The top eight ranked countries are almost guaranteed to come from these two tournaments so this just requires tweaking of the current calendar.
Of course, two of the 6N misses out but there would still exist the rest of the calendar of friendlies.

World Rugby exploring brand new 'league of nations' tournament

Actually I don’t think it’s true that England (and the UK overall) has a higher proportion in private education.
In fact, my suspicion is that Australia might be one of highest in the world proportionately when it comes to kids educated in the private sector.
I don’t have the stats so it’s my opinion based on experience of both societies.

I do remember one year not too long ago when practically the entire starting England team was privately educated.

Why rugby won't survive

I just want to add a bit balance as there might be an assumption that other countries are tapping into a proportionately larger population base when it comes to juniors/ schools.

In the northern hemisphere, rugby is also strongly entrenched in the private school systems of several countries notably England, Scotland and Ireland. Wales is possibly the exception.

So at least when the Aussies go up against those countries, the participation numbers should be relatively similar.

Why rugby won't survive

Thanks for your reply.

But I think the only one I could be factually incorrect on was my slightly tongue in cheek comment about the players wanting the previous coach removed.

My other comments were based purely on observations as a casual but interested rugby spectator. While they are obviously opinions, I do not think any of them are so far away from accuracy to be incorrect as i based them on reality as presented.

If honest, I find the Pumas/ Jaguares an intriguing experiment as often in sport, people wonder if a elite club team could beat a top international team eg Real Madrid versus France in soccer.
We can actually see this in action with the Pumas despite all the unique complexities and they are definitely more interesting than the Wallabies.

I understand you are probably way more knowledgeable about the Pumas culture and specific environment so i also look forward to reading your insights!

Six talking points from Wallabies vs Argentina

Actually i don’t think the Pumas played that well at all.
They just now have some x factor players like the All Blacks.
There were a lot of aimless kicking and basic handling errors too.
However, the Pumas were coming from a pretty low base as their recent pre RC form was abysmal.
But which would the Wallabies feel better about – losing to a great Pumas performance or losing to a so so one…

Six talking points from Wallabies vs Argentina

Predictably, there is a lot of doom and gloom after that result and without getting into the specifics that plenty have more expertise of here, let’s get some perspective?

1) The Wallabies did not lose that match as there was probably just as much incompetent play from the Pumas. The Pumas left a lot of points on the field and made numerous basic errors. The truth is that even if both played to their best, there wouldn’t be much between them.

2) Apart from the All Blacks and possibly Ireland, there really isn’t much difference between teams 3-9? The odds are those teams should have generally tight contests with the spoils shared based on factors like conditions, injuries to key personnel, home ground etc

3) While the Pumas are still far from their potential, Ledesma seems to have sorted out some of the crucial basics eg lineout, discipline, organisation, fitness, morale.
In addition, they have some serious cutting edge and the result is that they are more than competitive with the Boks and the Wallabies.
If Sanchez did less aimless kicking, they should be a lot more threatening.

4) The Pumas have played together for a whole season of SR to prepare for the RC. Imagine if Cheika was coach of a team composed of these same Wallabies playing in the SR.
Granted it didn’t do much good for the Pumas in the winter internationals (how could they lose at home to second string Wales/ Scotland) but apparently, they wanted the coach fired.

Six talking points from Wallabies vs Argentina

My point was it’s a possibly massive advantage.
Apart from possibly the props, i wonder how talented the Europeans would need to be in order to displace someone who has had a whole season playing to Lesdesma’s script.
The ABs and Wallabies are in completely contrasting situations.
Downsides would obviously be physical exhaustion and depth.

Hooper out, Pocock to captain at No.7

Reading all the banter about the Wallabies chopping and changing, and the best positions etc, it makes you wonder whether the Pumas have an inherent and unfair advantage.

Ledesma has basically had a whole year to perfect and fine tune his team using SR as a test lab.
While there are similarities to previous years, this year the coach has come straight through from SR taking over after the winter internationals break.
And of course, the other obvious difference is Ledesma himself.

The first advantage could just be a one off as next year, there will be a different coach for the Jaguares so it will depend how joined up the two will be.

Has there ever been a case of an international team made up almost completely of the same ‘club’ team with the same coach?

Hooper out, Pocock to captain at No.7

League is a different universe.

I don’t think anyone wants to see Germany trotting out a NZ D team for the sake of being competitive in the WC.

Rugby World Cup set for big shake-up with expansion on the horizon

The problem is not so much the quality of the new teams even if obviously the odds of them winning against a Tier 1 nation is zero.

The problem could be the composition of the teams and the regulations around player qualification.
It cannot be a desired result when these new teams would probably actively recruit ‘naturalised’ exports from the southern hemisphere.
Of course, this is complex as otherwise Japan would not be competitive at all and the Pacific islands have an unequal relationship with NZ/ Aus.

Rugby World Cup set for big shake-up with expansion on the horizon

There are wins and then there are wins.
There are losses and then there are losses.

If you watched the Pumas against Wales/ Scotland in the winter and now in the TRC, they are almost two different teams.
There are many theories why things fell apart with Hourcade but i don’t think it was because of the cattle.
The same team that was all conquering in the SR then played in against Wales/ Scotland like they never met each other before.
With Ledesma now in charge since the Jaguares, it feels and looks so far like a lot of the repairing are proving effective.

The Wrap: Wallabies will need more than resilience to beat Argentina

Forget about other years, this team is unrecognisable from the one that lost to Wales C, Scotland B etc earlier this year.

Ledesma has basically had 6 months to train this international team (apart from Figallo). The danger was the players becoming exhausted but losing early in the SR knockout probably was a blessing.

Win or lose, it just looks like a properly coached rugby team at last.

The Wrap: Wallabies will need more than resilience to beat Argentina

By that logic, you could also use SA as a reference point since both Pumas and Wallabies have played them…

I think it’s really all about match ups and in the past, the Wallabies have always just had a bit more cutting edge and the accompanying confidence.

Not so sure about that any more with the Pumas back three on form possibly at least the equal of any of the other teams.
As for confidence, unlike other years, they are the same team that have just had the best ever SR season.

The Wrap: Wallabies will need more than resilience to beat Argentina

It’s easy to be up for the ABs but the Pumas in the three matches so far look a much better side with Ledesma at the helm.
They seem more organised, fluent and focused even in this loss.
Unless there is major regression in the upcoming matches, they could be building nicely for the World Cup.

Figallo was a big loss but at least Ledesma knows he might need to look to Europe again in that department.

Otherwise, the other worry is Sanchez in both a positive and negative sense.
He was a bit careless and aimless in his general kicking, usually punished by the ABs.
But he seems to be more of a running threat these days especially when paired with Bertranou.
The problem with the Pumas is if he got injured, is here a realistic back up?

Pumas good, All Blacks better

Actually it would be extremely difficult to see how any seemingly endless tiebreak scenarios could not involve two supreme servers.

If two primarily baseliners ever went to 30-28, they would actually have played 58 games and that is unlikely.

But these big servers typically put all their energy into holding serve then roll the dice on a couple of returns and tank the rest of the return game if they don’t work out. So a 30-28 for them would actually mean only 29 games were actually effectively played.

Also, the doubles examples in the article are irrelevant for obvious reasons.

Should tie breakers be introduced in the final set at Wimbledon?

But take Serena out and women’s tennis is actually just as fascinating because any of perhaps 30 players could reasonably expect to win a slam.

The men’s, when the three obvious legends are involved, usually means semis/ finals are competitive if they are up against each other. Throw Murray and Wawrinka into the mix and one cannot remember the last time someone else beat one of them to win a final.

These top players just produce on the big stages and when it counts because they are so used to it.
As Gulbis suggested, there really is not as great a gulf in tennis ability as rankings differences suggest but let’s see some of the top players produce their top tennis at the Challenger level in front of half a dozen people.

'The Djoker' pockets fourth Wimbledon, and 13th Slam