The Roar
The Roar

Ben Pobjie

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Joined August 2011

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Ben Pobjie is a writer and comedian whose promising rugby career was tragically cut short the day he stopped playing rugby and had a pizza instead. The most he has ever cried was the day Balmain lost the 1989 grand final. Today he enjoys the frolics of Wallabies, Swans, baggy greens, and Storm.

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A second cousin. We’re as proud of his refereeing disputes as we are of his post-footy career as a dodgy builder.

Big Sam should be applauded for standing his ground with the NRL

Stand up, brave hair-puller! Your struggle truly is our struggle.

Big Sam should be applauded for standing his ground with the NRL

The funny thing, Brett, is that like a lot of people here I looked at the side and thought, “Hastings? Really?” Yet when I actually thought about I couldn’t think of a fullback who’d stood out *more* in World Cups, and the fact is that despite Scotland’s lack of ultimate success, Hastings really was one of the long-time institutions when the Cup rolled around back in the day. And just as a player pure and simple he was marvellous.

The Roar’s 50 greatest players in Rugby World Cup history: 10-6

I demand a royal commission!

The Roar's 50 greatest players in Rugby World Cup history: 15-11

Because Chief Wiggum said nuns. It’s a quote.

Why are we allowing the NRL's thugs to play the victim?

“Unless it’s foul play”. Yes. Tripping is foul play. Well spotted.

Why are we allowing the NRL's thugs to play the victim?

I think, to understand a lot of the issues that are being complained about in this list, it might be helpful to think more in terms of vibes. The 50 Top RWC Legends maybe, or The Greatest 50 Players Who Made The World Cup Great. Icons matter, and moments matter. More so, in this context, than which player was better than another on a deep analysis of on-field performance.

This won’t settle everything – maybe Brian O’Driscoll did get in more from a feeling of “he was so good, he MUST have been great in RWCs, right?” But I feel it’s more satisfying an exercise – and I feel more in line with what the judges went for – if thought of in terms of “which players have made this tournament the most memorable?” Rather than “which players were technically the best?”

The Roar’s 50 greatest players in Rugby World Cup history: 10-6

Assuming the top five are who we think they’ll be, the Roar’s all time RWC XV is:
Hastings
Lomu
Nonu
Horan
Campese
Wilkinson
Van der Westhuizen
Dallaglio
McCaw
Pienaar
Eales
Johnson
Leonard
Smit
Du Randt
.
I’m sure everyone will be entirely comfortable with this.

The Roar’s 50 greatest players in Rugby World Cup history: 10-6

If you’re interested, the Independent is doing their own list of top 100 RWC players. Relevant to some of the debate here: Gavin Hastings comes in at 83 https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/rugby/rugby-union/international/rugby-world-cup-100-greatest-players-all-time-countdown-dominguez-hastings-greenwood-a9106631.html

The Roar’s 50 greatest players in Rugby World Cup history: 10-6

Did the Storm ever HAVE premiership favouritism? The Roosters have looked unstoppable for two months in my view.

Have the Raiders stolen premiership favouritism off the Storm?

Funny to think that Phil Kearns was plucked from Randwick reserves to play for the Wallabies. If Bob Dwyer hadn’t been so quirky in his selections, Eddie Jones might’ve played in two World Cup victories.

The Roar's 50 greatest players in Rugby World Cup history: 15-11

Didn’t mention captaincy.

The Roar's 50 greatest players in Rugby World Cup history: 15-11

I love seeing Michael Lynagh get his due. At times underrated, coming between two greatly beloved flyhalves in Mark Ella and Stephen Larkham. Yet Bob Dwyer used to say that Lynagh had most of Ella’s skills and a greater kicking game to boot. He was incredibly skilful and possessed an astonishingly level head – in that 1991 QF he summed the situation up so coolly. Kick long because a short kick and a clean catch could result in the ball being punted back deep into Wallaby territory. And when the ball was won, to insist the Wallabies not divert from their path, but do exactly what had succeeded for them up till then, and trust that it would work again. Such confidence and intelligence – same as he displayed throughout his career.

The Roar's 50 greatest players in Rugby World Cup history: 15-11

Farr-Jones much better player: Gregan greater impact in World Cups.

The Roar's 50 greatest players in Rugby World Cup history: 15-11

“I state, categorically, that this list is biased by the choice of members who elected players. ”

Yes…obviously. I mean…that is the whole point.

The Roar's 50 greatest players in Rugby World Cup history: 15-11

The way the comments on these pieces are going, I expect to see someone complain that Colin Meads didn’t make it any moment now.

The Roar’s 50 greatest players in Rugby World Cup history: 20-16

Hard to argue with any of these. Though I’d like to echo the person who mentioned Du Plessis’s match-saving marathon in Adelaide. Astounding defensive batting, incredible skill and concentration shown.

Laxman and Dravid could almost both be included for Kolkata 2001. Dravid played quite a number of brilliant knocks vs Australia in his time – he was more of a thorn in our side than Tendulkar. You could say the same of Lara of course – the double hundred he hit in the second test in 1999 was amazing too.

The five best Test innings versus Australia

Why would we need a gavel, when Lillee can simply call for order by kicking a batsman in the shins.

Ten indisputably true things about the ball-tampering scandal

Point taken, but to me they are nowhere near each other at all. Cheating to gain an advantage is an inevitable consequence of competitive games existing. We expect sportspeople to strive as hard as they can to win, and though it’s unacceptable for them to break the rules to do so, it’s also understandable and something that speaks of trying too hard: it’s very relatable.

Match-fixing is not an inevitable consequence of competitive games, except inasmuch it is an inevitable consequence of gambling, which one might say was an inevitable consequence of competitive games. It is taking money to handicap your own chances of winning: the exact opposite of trying too hard to win. It does not simply betray our trust in sportspeople to follow the rules: it betrays our trust in sportspeople to even be trying to succeed.

Also it’s illegal, so there’s that.

Ten indisputably true things about the ball-tampering scandal

Afridi, I am guessing, didn’t conspire the way Smith and co did. Wouldn’t be surprised if there was some forethought in it though, give it was Afridi and he was no rookie to the ball tampering game.

Ten indisputably true things about the ball-tampering scandal

It’s not always trying to lose, but it’s never trying to win. Nobody bribes players to try their hardest and make decisions in the best interests of the team. Nobody ever pays $10,000 to a bowler with the words, “So on the 3rd ball of the eighth over, try to take a wicket”.

Ten indisputably true things about the ball-tampering scandal

Gavaskar wasn’t a habitual tortoise though, he had plenty of shots. I think in 75 he was just deeply offended by the idea of having to score such a ludicrous rate as 5 and a half an over, so he blocked it out as protest!

The out of time XI: History's greats taking on T20

I came VERY close to including O’Reilly. His wrong ‘un would’ve been devastating.

The out of time XI: History's greats taking on T20

Giffen would’ve been a good T20 bowler, but I believe his batting was more of the attritional kind.

The out of time XI: History's greats taking on T20

Sportacus!

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