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The Roar

Sinclair Whitbourne

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Joined May 2017

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Whoever the new coach is, wherever they are from, they have a big job ahead of them – none of the first 3 choice 10’s and no obvious up and comers to replace them, loss of two of the better locks, loss of the most destructive backline attacker etc. Some of these losses might offer potential opportunity, as many of these players also came with significant holes in their game, but I think the odds are on a rebuild phase of at least two seasons. Not an easy time for a new coach.

I think there is an “Oz; style but it is pretty loose – at the general level Oz spectators like to see tries and they don’t really care much about, or understand set piece. I suspect the dominance of League plays a part.

The Dave Rennie casebook: Can a Kiwi coach the Wallabies again?

Enjoyed the detail here, whatever I might think about the judgement of Itoje. If I want to express a different view I need to check the evidence and come up with something different. How it should be.
Boks and England deserved finalists – both sides could play the game in every facet – kicking, ball in hand, set piece, ruck and maul. NZ nearly managed to hide their deficit in the forwards but I think #3 is about right.
Loved the comment on the inner Ardie. That guy can really play and he has hunger to burn.

Three minutes when Maro Itoje failed to win the medal he wanted

Corne, I am with you completely re this article. I came to rugby via soccer, AFL, League. I got bored and irritated by each of these games after a few years. I have no objection to other people enjoying them, any more than I do to people who have different musical interests. Rugby is simply a game of endless permutations and the constant battle for possession and the various forms of this are exactly what I love about it. I also love the multiple ways of scoring.
I also love the way rugby is now and think it is damned near perfect. I would also be very cautious about any law changes because of the unintended consequences that tend to flow.
Thanks for the article.

Don't go changing rugby union's laws

The Saracens’ salary cap issue exemplifies an issue you have previously raised about the fragile financial structure of the UK club system, as well. It will be interesting to see if/when the music stops on that.

Glad to see you mention Lawes contribution. Itoje deserves the plaudits but I thought Lawes made a huge contribution and was a bit overlooked.

England’s lineout effort was outstanding, with Borthwick (I think) deserving a lot of coaching cred but the players’ execution was nothing short of extraordinary.

I thought NZ made a reasonable call to start Beefy Barrett but the English lineout effort negated their intent. Sometimes a decision that doesn’t work out doesn’t mean it was always a bad decision.

Fireworks on the fifth: What the Saracens crisis means for the global game

There are some fine candidates out there and the point of 2 Eyes is well made about going early – not because it’s necessarily the ideal way to go but because Oz have limited buying power and a recent history with coaches that may not tempt replacements. It does seem that RA may have been pro-active here, although how far their approaches to Rennie have actually gone, no-one but the parties seems to know.

The really worrying fly half situation and the losses at lock aside, there is good player material to work with but it tends to need a lot of finishing work. Most players are still lacking some pretty fundamental skills (or are under developed in some key areas).

A coach with skills rebuilding sides seems essential. I note that Rennie did good work at Waikato and Jake the Snake did same at Brumbies. Like Rennie he also focussed on getting players back into the community. Cotter is an interesting prospect.

The new coach needs to have as part of his programme (pity we can’t really say he, or she) lifting the stocks of Oz coaching and that should mean including a few Oz guys as assistants. This gets back to players coming through to the highest levels with too many rough edges. I don’t get the impression that Joseph (and especially Brown) is at all interested in Oz and some coaches, like Joseph, appear to be keen to bring their own team of assistants as well, which is problematic for developing Oz coaches.

The new coach will need to be able to fit, culturally, which includes the venomous politics here. This really means getting the support of Qld and NSW, because lose one of them and you are in a world of trouble (Dwyer in 1982, McKenzie in 2014, Connolly being overlooked 1996-2001). This is a huge issue I think for any New Zealander because it seems that there will always be a significant body of haters for them. In cricket, it was an issue also for a well credentialed SA coach. I think it is stupid but it is reality. In this regard, there is a risk that one of these states may enjoy success and try to push their own coach up, especially if the national side wobbles a bit. Thorn, if he does well, might be a candidate, as Cheika was, for what appeared to be a state driven insurgency.

The coach will also need to be given support without being given dictatorial powers – a recent issue but always a difficult balance. In addition a clearly defined role is essential – I gather there were issues in this regard for McKenzie.

Personally, if I was a well credentialed foreign coach I would be inclined to stay away because the issues here are deep and there are a lot of non-playing issues that are largely beyond their control that could see their time here end with a real black mark against their name.

Rennie a good man as Wallabies coaching job becomes a seller’s market

South Africa seem to have muddled through allowing overseas selections?

Not ideal and presents problems but also potential advantages. I think the flow of players is likely to increase and I’d rather we had them benefitting from it and have them going to clubs/provinces that are as compatible as possible with what is happening here, or what we want to happen here.

I also think that players, as workers, have the right to the same opportunities as coaches and administrators. It’s a global employment market. I want Oz to have access to the best, regardless of where they come from, provided they will be a good ‘fit’.

The Wrap: Five lessons Australia must learn from the World Cup

As always, thanks for the great read to help kick off my day and two excellent posts from Carlos and Fionn for dessert.

I hope a real focus in the next coaching cycle is ensuring that there is a big push to develop coaches from the roots of the game up. At the moment, I don’t see a local who is ready for the national gig. There are some promising people but they’d represent a big bet on development under the blowtorch. That is a tremendous weakness. I read Gus T (any NZ side who’d have him and NSW) comment that his experience was that in terms of basic material there wasn’t much difference but the NZ guys have higher levels of basic skills. Gus is a good example of the coaching issue – he went from a pretty marginal provincial prop to being a deserved All Black after being fired by NSW, which speaks a lot for the coaching over there and over here and his personal qualities.

I also think we need to embrace the global employment market this coaching cycle. We need to establish connections to clubs/provinces that we think can add to our players and we need to seek expertise that can teach ‘our people’ things, whether they be players/coaches/admins etc. We can’t keep the NZ spies and wreckers out (they are just too damned devious), so we need to turn them to our advantage, in the manner of an earlier Cheka (long ago and far away). I think there are very useful players around to build on.

The Wrap: Five lessons Australia must learn from the World Cup

Yes, it is a kind of middle way between 9 man rugby and 7’s style. I found many parallels between the 1999 and 2019 finals in terms of performance of both sides, style of the winners, coaches only a short time in role who applied a fix to teams in disarray but with a good spine and plenty of talent.
I have to go back and really study the scrums, because I need to work out exactly what produced such dominance over a pretty strong scrummaging unit, noting that Coles is arguably more of a scrummaging player than Sinkler but got dusted big time. Any thoughts?

Rassie’s Boks rise to the occasion

There has, rightly, been a lot of Eddie mania in recent weeks (although I don’t know that he is the messiah to save Australian rugby) but Rassie’s performance in lifting a pretty confused looking Boks from 2018 to now really deserves a lot of attention. It is an extraordinary performance. SA rugby has a lot of problems of its own to deal with (worth remembering when Australians despair of things here), although it does have a large player base and Rassie has managed to bring a squad together that overcame all of this – regional rivalries, a bit of past difficulty between Anglo/Boer/Zulu/Xhosa, being torn between Europe and Pacific, domestic economic and political issues, a high rate of player drain to Europe etc.
The rugby SA played in the final was good to watch. Maybe not a lot of razzle dazzle but intelligent use of ball, ball in hand when it made sense and based off what wins games – forward power. Australians who watch the 1991 and 1999 champions might see something similar, although the scrum was never as powerful. The 1999 side, in particular, did not play especially extravagant rugby but it was no-nonsense, based off strong forwards and when the backs hit, they hit hard and with accuracy – and they kicked, plenty and with some smarts. NB- They even got to the final via a drop goal. One good thing from the Chieka era (and there might be a finite list here) was that the scrum got much of the attention it had needed for about 15 years. Australia, watch and learn.

Rassie’s Boks rise to the occasion

Thanks for the article and I appreciate people putting time towards looking at what can make the game stronger here. There are lots of problems and the answers are often choices between hard options.

One thing I think is inevitable in a capitalist system is that money talks and players should be entitled to pursue the best dollar they can find, especially when careers are so uncertain and likely to be only 10-15 years long (at best).

I think we should be looking to establish pathways to particular clubs and competitions where we think Oz players, coaches etc. may be more likely to genuinely improve their games. An element in this should be the culture at the place. This would recognise that players going O/S is nearly inevitable and may actually be a good thing. Would young props and locks not benefit from time in SA, or England (for example) in terms of scrummaging, especially if they also went to a club with a culture that brings out the best in a player’s character as well as skills? I think there may already be some tentative moves in this direction.

Why should administrators and coaches be able to rove at will to chase lifestyle, dollars, opportunity but not the players who actually do the grunt work that gives them opportunities?

A model for stronger and more sustainable rugby

Laurie Mains has written that he feels the new AB coach needs to be someone who has experienced defeat and also had experience rebuilding a side. He was clear that this was not a shot at Razor, as such, but it was probably something of a nod to Joseph and/or Rennie.
Personally, I like the idea of having a pathway. That doesn’t necessarily mean Fozz gets the gig but it might mean that Razor would either need the right team of people with experience in rebuilds, or to serve some time at national level as an assistant. I am attracted by the sense that he manages players well and gets the best out of them.
Rennie should avoid Oz. I can’t see him working, culturally. I see most Australian provinces as having quite defective cultures and my reading of McIlraith’s book on Deans was that he found the culture here quite an adjustment, including player behaviour and the reluctance of the authorities to support him in that regard. An abrasive bastard like Jake White might work but he’ll encounter the same problems of internecine warfare, unprofessional attitudes, a degree of suspicion of his foreign origin and the relatively low skills and nouse of top players, in part because of attitude and partly because grass roots and age level coaching are of a very uneven standard.

Wallabies face All Black competition for Dave Rennie's services

Ah, Paul Honiss, a ref once described as ‘having no feel for the game’, which did seem about right. Oh those memories. Clive Norling, of honoured memory and let’s not forget Australia’s very own ‘Hubcap’.

Jerome Garces to referee Rugby World Cup final

and I will see your Poite and raise you one Skeen (with that amazing, droning voice) ‘Errrrrr… Jair-ome, I have some vision I’d like to show you of a player who may possibly have considered, in fourth grade, behaving with malice a forethought towards the head of the opposition player … (inconclusive footage shown after a suitable delay)… “

Jerome Garces to referee Rugby World Cup final

Good point re the play-off and Nige’s availability. I think the best refs should be selected regardless of nationality, noting that the blokes who choose the refs don’t recuse themselves based on their nationality ( see below from Rugby Pass – may the Flying Spaghetti Monster forgive me for mentioning a rival) :
“The appointments were made after a comprehensive review of the weekend’s semi-finals by the World Rugby Match Officials Selection Committee comprising Chairman Anthony Buchanan (council member), Joel Jutge (EPCR), Lyndon Bray (SANZAAR), Nick Mallett (former international coach) and Alain Rolland (World Rugby).”

Anthony B is a former Welsh rugby international (a prop, so a at least a true philosopher), Joel Jutge is a Frenchman ( a scrumhalf, so almost a forward and almost a real human) and the last three are well enough known for their nationality to speak for itself.

Jerome Garces to referee Rugby World Cup final

I will say this about Garces – he is consistent (and this is a genuine virtue because you can plan to him) but I just don’t see him as the best in the world, or even in the top 3-4.

Jerome Garces to referee Rugby World Cup final

Mz (does your name suggest you are a Scrabble fan? It is an excuse I use for my ridiculously long name, which lacks the musicality of yours), I was uncomfortable with it too but on the NZH website there’s an article from a Maori saying it was fine. I recall Oz treating the Haka nonchalantly in 1996 at Athletic Park and copping the wrath as a result, so maybe teams just decide where the percentages are in responding to the challenge?

The Wrap: Do the World Cup semis tell the truth about the final?

With you on this. I also have an objection that coaches and administrators can waltz around the globe but players can’t. I don’t see the fairness in that. The players do the grunt work that makes the money but they cop the restrictions.
I also think it is inaccurate to argue that having to give up eligibility is just a ‘choice’. A number of Polynesian players have made the point that they are expected, because of cultural reasons, to provide for not just themselves, or even their nuclear family but for extended family. Being an international adds to your salary potential.
I actually think that there should not be any restrictions on eligibility. We live in a time that fetishizes the free market, so let the free market reign! We might not want to select people who don’t show much loyalty to the group but that is a matter of choice.

The Wrap: Do the World Cup semis tell the truth about the final?

He’s an outstanding player but weren’t the issues for NZ more about forwards and defensive systems, along with some tactics that didn’t come off? I am not sure the backs were that relevant to the result.

The Wrap: Do the World Cup semis tell the truth about the final?

But is anyone really surprised, as opposed to thinking it is wrong? Strange that the ref (Nigel the Welshman) most widely considered to be the best isn’t worth a gig, even as an assistant ref in either 3rd place play off, or final.
This will not encourage adventurous play. Advantage SA? I think they have the stronger set-piece. Kicking may be slightly in favour of England – you’d have to think the Bok 15 will be targeted because he has been in poor form under the high ball.
The RWC is often great despite the best efforts of those who run the game.

Jerome Garces to referee Rugby World Cup final

With you in spades on the last line!

It's time for a rule change

On the selection of OS players, I agree that they should be available for selection. There may be significant issues around workload and how they will fit, given they may be playing a very different style, have little opportunity to form combination with provincial teammates. They may also not be released, or put under pressure not to be available. However, there may well be players that would still be worth picking and to some degree the above factors are also present in domestic based selections.
For NZ, I feel they have struggled to replace Kaino (who may be a once in a generation) and only Latua might have replicated this against England, although we only saw glimpses of consistency in his last matches before leaving. I do think the inability to find/create replacements for Kaino and Read has weighed on NZ. I had high hopes for the Feral Mullet but he really runs lines more like an 8 and I thought he often played 6 like an 8 making a good fist of being out of position. I also thought Hemopo and Fifita showed promise but neither really came through, or was developed?
England appeared to very surgically target some fairly longstanding defensive system issues (easier said than done) and also some particular areas like the tap back off the short kick off. I am not sure any individual NZ player was ultimately the issue, as a consequence. Which takes us to your first point and I agree that Hansen’s legacy may be complicated. On the other hand, as others have said, a success rate around 90% isn’t bad.

The Wrap: Do the World Cup semis tell the truth about the final?

Thanks for taking the time to write this. Offside is a perennial issue, in part because this is a very dynamic game to referee (even when it is played like it was on Sunday), so a lot of moving parts to watch and timing is often fine. Also, there are an enormous number of potential offside ‘moments’ to adjudicate- ruck, maul, scrum, lineout, kick and chase. Agree more could be done but also remember the law of unintended consequences – there would be a lot more penalties, a lot more yellow cards for repeat infringements, a lot more interventions by the assistant refs. I actually think you would need to consider a dedicated off-field ref to police this effectively. Perhaps best to focus on one particular offside issue (i.e. at ruck, or ahead of kicker etc.) and hammer it hard?

It's time for a rule change

Probably more life in him than some…

Eddie Jones has performed a coaching master class for the ages

What has become of Hottie, I often wonder? What part of SA are you from? As a kid I had a short stint in Cape Town but it was a tricky period to be an outsider in SA. My parents had very fond memories of SA expats and of our short time there, but the situation just was not good. Then we came here and Western Oz was not that different… but no rugby back then, just Lillee, Marsh, Inverarity, Yardley and bloody Australian Rules atrocity.

The tantalising RWC final that few saw coming awaits

That would be Zama. Quite interesting variation on tactics and structure used by Scipio in that battle. Those were the days!

Eddie Jones has performed a coaching master class for the ages