The Roar
The Roar

Francis Foo

Roar Pro

Joined August 2014

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PLayed rugby union for university in mid 1960s to mid 70s.

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Yes… lets hope the ref does not stuff up the 2nd game like what happened in the first game.

Bledisloe 2: Oz fans, watch the All Blacks more closely

Double Agent.
That is true as you said.
The AllBlacks have shown they have this in-built ability and the knack for self-correction after a defeat or after a poor game. A mark of a TRUE champion.
It would be great if we can be a “fly on the wall” during their post game analysis to hear what they ate discussing. A retired AB who wants to make an extra buck should write a book just solely on this topic.
Having said that, somehow the way this team played against the AB on Sunday, I sense in my bones there is something different about this Wallabies team compared to the earlier Wallabies coached by Robbie Dean and Cheika.
I had commented in desperation in Roar many times that Cheika’s game strategy for the Wallabies as being too predictable and one-dimensional at every game (including the frequent infamous tantrums in the Coach box) . And that after 20 minutes of game time, you somehow knew what the AllBlacks needed to do to shut out the Wallabies in the remaining 70 minutes.
For 2020, Rennie brings to the Wallabies a wealth of experience on post game analysis of the Allblack’s game and a track record of his unique instinct of understanding the strength and weaknesses of each of his Wallabies player. We saw that with the team mix he put out on Sunday…
If not for the Ref’s poor handling of the game, the win was in the grasp of the Wallabies before the 80 minutes.
Looking forward: Rennie has 4 chances to tweak the Wallabies against the AB. Three to go as of today.
The thing I look forward in the next game is not whether Wallabies will win or lose,but how the boys will executive Rennie’s game plan. This will give us an insight into how Rennie will go about to build this team for the 2023 World Cup.
The Bledisloe Cup -1 had the weather especially the wind as a factor which might have askewed our proper analysis of the Wallabies’ capabilities and potential to be a team to beat in any tournament.
I really hope the weather next week is perfect so we can make a sober analysis of this Wallabies’ footy potential and Rennie’s war games strategy to tame the deeply talented All Blacks.
If Wallabies had to lose in the next fixture in Eden’s Park ( previously known as the Wallabies, Burial Ground) and able to limit the loss to within 10 points, I say the game is on for 2021 . and by then we should see the first sign of the flowering of this new Wallabies team as the team to beat instead of a team readymade for the slaughterhouse.
Lets WAS ( wait and see)

Dave Rennie’s influence already showing on improving Wallabies

SW, I agree.
I too had doubts about JOC starting at 10. Including Nic White at 9 after his lacklustre performance in the Super Rugby final for the Brumbies against the Queensland Reds. But I am happy both of them proved me wrong. And that means its good for the Wallabies.
My guess is Coach Rennie had them as part of the jigsaw puzzle pieces in his overall strategy to take on the AllBlacks, after all he coached Aaron Smith at 9 for the Chiefs. And it worked.

Dave Rennie’s influence already showing on improving Wallabies

Not only that!!! When Aaron Smith delayed putting in the ball when the scrum was ready and it collapsed, the ref called a reset and then told Aaron “ they were waiting for you” !!!
What the….. ???
It should have been a free kick for the Wallabies.
Is the ref thinking this is a practice game for the AllBlacks!
Despite the players on both sides put up a credible performance, the once too often questionable refereeing leaves behind a bad taste in the mouth especially when the referee is from one of the team’s domicile.
The Bledisloe Cup should have a world class NEUTRAL referee as it was for Super Rugby.

Did a missed penalty at the death cost Australia Bledisloe 1 victory?

It was a good game. For the first time in so many years to see two Aussie teams actually desperate to hit the touch line whereas in the past, they only try to score.
I am impressed by Brumbies’ Powell at the base of the scrum. He put a lot of work during the game.He gave quick and fast ball at breakdown and scrummage and allowed Noah and the backline to get over the advantage line quickly and also allowed Noah plenty of options to play with. The first half score line for the Brumbies came from Powell’s quick ball. And I am impressed he is quick to arrive at the back of each breakdown.
On the other hand, Nic White is too slow at ball delivery from the base of the scrum… it will be fatal against the fast attacking All Blacks backline. He would use his leg to take the ball out and then try to look around who he wanted to get the ball. Too slow. Against All Blacks Aaron Smith, Nic White will look like a slow train on a fast track. His slow ball delivery gives too much time to the opponents.
I see a lasting combination between Powell and Noah in the Wallabies jersey
Red’s Tate McDermott had a good game at the base of the scrum.He should be in the bench to take over from Powell in the last 20 minutes for added punch.
Jordan Petaia is better used at 12… he needs space for his intrusive devastating run … and he would be a great support play maker to Noah. He needs to get more balls in his hands and space to run.
Let’s see how Dave Rennie will mold these new exciting talents into a genuine
challenge to the Kiwi stranglehold of southern hemisphere rugby.

Brumbies halt the Red tide to win thrilling Super Rugby AU final

I have been saying for the last 3 years, Wallabies under Cheika played one dimensional rugby.. like robots unable to adjust to opposition tactics and strategy, too concerned on own game plan when the opposition is making a run-around with Wallabies in the 80 minutes.
England won because Eddie Jones got inside Cheika’s head and played little games inside Cheika’s head.
Cheika’s failure as a coach is a failure of the men in suits in ARU. They have to get off the scene for the sake of Australian rugby.

Rugby Australia urged to reunite Eddie Jones with Wallabies

Israel Folau broke a fundamental rule called the Sportsperson’ Golden Rule: ” Always keep your opinion to yourself”.

Under that rule, ” If you have nothing nice to say, zip your lips” .

This has nothing to a person’s right of speech. It has all to do with advertisers’ rights.

Folau has broken the 12th commandment

The secret was, as I said many times in the past, in playing Off-load rugby.

In Dunedin, it was the first time we saw Wallabies putting pressure on the ABs by denying their offloads and forcing handling errors and the first time we saw this team of Wallabies playing good off-load rugby.

As the images showed, SBW was correctly neutralised by not allowing him to offload when tackled, and the same strategy made against the AB backline… this broke their open break play which in the past had allowed the AB backline to make deadly breaks and runs in counter attacks and scored.

However Wallabies players still need to be trained to ANITICIPATE offloads from their own players and to learn to position themselves strategically to receive the offloads.

At Dunedin we did NOT see the Wallabies playing their predictable one dimensional rugby game of simply falling to the ground when tackled and recycling the ball for yet another passing game with players next tonthe loose scrum waiting to receive the ball while stsnding still.

Lets see whether the Wallabies are able to repeat the same kind of off-load rugby they played in Dunedin, against the Springboks in the coming week, or we see they would resort to their old predictable habits… and lose.

A midfield war under a glass ceiling: Sonny Bill Williams versus Kurtley Beale in Dunedin

It's official: Western Force cut by ARU, Bill Pulver steps down

Tough decision. But unavoidable.

2018 will see whether it is a right decision.

It's official: Western Force cut by ARU, Bill Pulver steps down

Lions by 10.

Home ground advantage
Crusaders had to travel long distance
Lions have the best attacking game
The performance by Lions against the Hurricanes despite down 22-3 in the first half, was spectacular in the second half, noting that Hurricanes is not a pushover rugby team by any score.

South African rugby players feed off from its crowd… and they seem to play like their lives depend on the rugby ball in front of their supporters.

It will be a very entertaining game to watch.

Super Rugby Final: Lions vs Crusaders preview and prediction

I want to highlight one significant point hidden in Spiro Zavos’s article, and which he did not elaborate much further in later part of his article. I had hoped he would expand on it and provide more examples on why the Kiwis Super Rugby teams gave a severe spanking to all the Australian Super Rugby teams in 2017. Read 26:0 Total score line wins.

Spiro wrote:

” There is one rugby nation in particular that in the last decade has refined and developed the BASKETBALL MODEL OF PLAYING RUGBY ( sic. my emphasis) , New Zealand. And which rugby nation has had unparalleled success in that period, with two successive Rugby World Cup triumphs in 2011 and 2015? New Zealand, obviously.

During the Brumbies vs Hurricanes Super Rugby quarter-final on Saturday night, the Brumbies made 106 passes to the Hurricanes’ 155. When they did keep the ball in hand early on, with some SLICK PASSING (sic. my emphasis) , they scored their first try with some ease.” – Spiro Zavos

The operative words: “Basketball Model of Rugby … Slick passing” . Truth be told, Spiros has just uncovered the worst held secret of why Kiwi Rugby had been, and is, successful in recent years, for the All Blacks and their provinvcial teams in Super Rugby.

What do WE call that in the world of modern rugby ? Spiros didn’t say it. But its called ” OFF-LOAD RUGBY”.

Spiros could have listed how, in almost 80 % of the times when a try was made in a game, especially in games played by Kiwi teams, it came from an off load or offloads along the sequence of the ball moving from one hand to the other in a run of play.

I have written on so many occassions till my fingers ran numb on the keyboard on this forum that our Australian rugby players, as a team and as individually, were not trained or skilled in “off-load rugby” or to quote Spiro, ” Basketball model of rugby”.

I had said the Wallabies, as we witnessed in the recent and previous Tests when we were humiliated by the English and Scottish team , and also the Australian Super Rugby teams, were playing PREDICTABLE ONE DIMENSIONAL RUGBY, with little demonstration by the players to show they actually knew how to play “off load rugby”. Perhaps that fault lies with the Australian coaches who are still stuck with outdated rugby tactics. Players were seen on the paddock falling to the ground as soon as they were tackled instead of trying to position themselves to off load, and with automatic support from players close-by to take the offload.

Having said that, the one person who is actually skilled in off-load and he had shown tgat in every game he played, is Quade Cooper, the other is Israel Folau. Their problem is they always find themselves with no support players close by to take the off-load.

“Off load rugby” has an element of surprise which, even how prepared the opposing team is, catches them flatfooted, especially in unstructured play, in loose scrums, and in the course of the conventional passing of the ball by the backs.

So, Rod Kafer can tinkle around in other aspects of Australian rugby, such as resetting the organisational structure of coaching, conceptualise attacking and defence strategies, etc, but if he cannot get thevcosches to build modern-era Off-Load Rugby style of play ( “slick-passing”, as Spiro would say) into Australian rugby, don’t expect much in 2018 for Australian teams to beat the Kiwis, or the Springboks for that matter.

Will Rod Kafer be the catalyst to make Australian rugby great again?

That’s all it takes to win a game in the union cide , a 55 metre penalty goal kick for a first time infringement, not even for a foul play infringement, where the rules do not insist teams to attempt to win by getting tries or at least for teams to get into the 22 m line to score..

Not much different from soccer/ football… Teams need to only learn the dark arts of forcing penalties from anywhere in the field and have someone with big boots and “steroid-filled” legs to complete it.

Lions survive Sharks scare at Ellis Park

That puts an end to the misery of Australian Super Rugby for 2017.

Scoreline: Kiwi= 26 Aussie= 0. A very humbling experience.

I dread to think of what is going to happen on the paddock in the coming Bledisloe Cup matches. Perhaps Cheika can come up with something before the first Bledisloe Cup game begins to cheer up the Wallabies supporters.

For 2018, ARU should pay heed to what Albert Einstein had said,

” INSANITY: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”
– Albert Einstein

Brumbies knocked out, Australia's disastrous Super Rugby season over

As sports people, we try to give the underdogs a bigger cheer and hopefully they can upstage the expected winner.

Although the Brumbies have home ground advantage, but its record over the Super Rugby season against teams across the Tasman can only be described as ” Poor to Very Poor.”

Yes I would want Brumbies to win for a variety of reasons, one of which is, at least there is a little light shining through the current darkness in Australian rugby , but I will be hard pressed to expect a Brumbies’s win… “to hope”, yes.

RIght now, we may need some small miracle from the sky or some voodoo intervention to get the Brumbies to cross the line.

The Hurricanes on paper look strong… but then, anything can happen on the day. So, say a little prayer for the Brumbies.

Brumbies vs Hurricanes: Super Rugby quarter-final preview and prediction

I agree. SANZAAR should do some serious rethinking on where Super Rugby is heading. The current trajectory does not look good for the franchises. Strategic thinking in the boardroom seems to be lacking in far sightedness with the tinkling around aimed more at resolving short term issues while creating more problems in the longer term for the code in the Southern Hemisphere.

Definitely cannot be business as usual.

Super Rugby crossroads: Can’t see the trees for the Forrest

Brett, to be honest, I will be the first in the front line of any cheering team to proclaim rugby players in our union code are all free from drugs and steroid use.

But can I honestly tell my self that I have 100 % confidence that is true? No I can’t.

Enough years wrapped and wrinkled in my old bones of knowing what was ( and, is ) going on in the sporting world, and also as a sports person myself in my younger days, not only playing rugby but other sports, to tell me that view is most improbable.

And make it worse, it is not helped by reading news artcle such as this (see below) from the rugby world ( well you may say that was in Nov 2015… to me that is still within the time frame of “recent”):

FROM GUARDIAN UK , Nov. 2015

Full article: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/nov/26/rugby-steroids-olympic-games-rio

” … Doctors told me they had seen former players struggling with heart conditions after years of steroid abuse. People in rugby spoke privately about coaches telling young wannabes to “bulk up” and even sometimes handing out the tablets.

If cheating were the only concern, you could argue that there is a level playing field in rugby because so many players are using or have used steroids.

If admitting a problem is the first step towards solving it, I don’t yet feel overwhelmed with optimism about rugby. Leading voices tend to shrug and say “all sports have their problems”.

– Steve Howell, THE GUARDIAN UK (15 December 2015)
( Steve Howell is a former UK sports journalist whose novel, Over The Line, tells the story of an athlete whose Olympic ambitions are threatened by an affair with a banned rugby player)

Rethinking the game's penalty rules

Yep, MitchO, worst case scenario…. have a game plan where 10 play like second half back.

But seriously, we need to dig deep to find among our schoolboys rugby, clones the like of the Ella brothers, Michael Lynagh, or Steve Larkham who are fast thinkers and effective decision makers and good ball handlers who can dictate play and read opposition weaknesses very well as the match proceeds. Steve Larkham’s unexpected decision to drop goal from almost middle of the field,and execute it perfectly and win the match is legendary.

Or perhaps, ARU should take another look at our coaching methods or look directly at our coaching staff. Need to ask why Oz rugby is stagnating or in stalled-mode while the chaps across the ditch are moving so far ahead in all aspects of the game.

I have no silver bullet for Australuan rugby. More soul-searching and less hubris by the guarduans of Oz rugby perhaps. Just a thought.

The Super XV: Australian team of the week, Round 16

“Can I take it to mean that you’re standing by this frankly incredible accusation that goal-kickers all steroid users.”

No, Brett. But it would be interesting if drug tests are compulsory for rugby.

“… big rugby boots and steroid-filled legs.” .
Used as figure of speech. Surely you would not ask me whether these kickers really wear BIG boots.

Rethinking the game's penalty rules

Can’t disagree with you. But who else have we got? Christian Lealifano was the next nearest for 10. But he is still ” Under Repair”.

Cooper at 10 creates too much unpredicability and the Wallaby coaching staff hasn’t got round for the rest of the team to learn to anticipate Cooper’s style of play ( which is good) to back him up. Every time Cooper is in the paddock, the opposing team will try to rattle him, and Cooper’s boxing instinct might get in the way, and next we know we may end up with 14 players for 10 minutes without a designated 10.

The other issue is Chejka or Larkham seem to hesitate to put new ones at 10 ( ie sending them straigtht into the deep end of the pool, or early baptism in fire, so to speak) and the coaches keep on relying on old players. Truth be told, under the present state of affairs in the Wallabies, what is there more to lose, unless we sharpen and roughen up the younger players for the real big time.

Perhaps our approach to using the Super Rugby matches to launch new talents is not working. Why don’t we adopt the Kiwi’s approach? . They seem to be able find new gold nuggets from their Super Rugby teams to fill the All Blacks basket of players each year.

The way things are going for the Wallabies, I don’t know how much heart Oz supporters will put in to watch the coming Bledisloe Cup without the feeling that the Wallabies are being sent to the slaughterhouse.

The Super XV: Australian team of the week, Round 16

Brett, so just to be clear on my part, can I take to mean you are pretty happy with the status quo in the code, in particular with regard to the current rules on infringements which allow teams to take a penaty shots at goals anywhere in the park, including the quantum score for a successful penalty goal, which Peter FitzSimons questionied in his write-up in SMH?

Rethinking the game's penalty rules

Brett, so just to be clear on my part, can I take to mean you are pretty happy with the status quo in the code, in particular with regard to the curent rules on infringements which allow teams to take a penaty shots at goals anywhere innthe park, including the quantum score for a successful penalty goal, which Peter FitxSimons questionied in his write-up in SMH?

Rethinking the game's penalty rules

About Cooper and Foley in the Wallaby squad and their brand of rugby.

As we all know Cooper and Foley play contrasting rugby style at 10.

Foley is a no frill no flash flyhalf, appears boring on the field, not much of an opportunistic attacker, except on the rare occasions that he makes a break. He is a cool cat, and someone who can steady the ship in the backline early in the game allowing some predictability for his team mates. Not much of an off-loader, more of a ball-passing backliner. His kicking more reliable than Cooper. There is room of course improvement in his defence of his line.

Cooper, on the other hand, his style of play is flashy with sparks of unexpected brilliance, shock and awe ( to borrow the phrase) in attack, makes himself unpredictable to the opponents which also at most times also catches his team mates flat footed with his breaking moves. Pretty adept at getting out of tight situations and always need support players left, right and behind him because somehow with his quirky body movements in a crowded situation, he is always ready to offload. Has great imagination and can be dangerous in open field on attack. He is damn good in unstructured play. Some say he is a temperamental player which affects his consistency. And he is a more likely candidate for a Yellow card than Foley. Cooper’s kicking for goal is unreliable at best.

I would say that when the team is on the roll from the first whistle, when tactical play goes well with the game plan, and when there is need to steady the backline in the early part of the game, then Foley is a better choice at 10 for the most part of game time.

When nothing seems to go right, better to put Cooper at 10 in the first half. Cooper is a good impact player when an attacking game is sorely needed.

That said, Foley to start at number 10 to steady the ship and see whether the backline game plan can be executed . And if a more aggressive attack game is needed, bring Cooper in the middle second half at 10, Foley can go to 12, for tge goal kicking or benched.

Of course the above is a moot point if we have new talents coming up into the squad to replace these two.

The Super XV: Australian team of the week, Round 16

Brett, what about Peter Fitzsimon’s take on the “endless damn penalty goals” (his quote) to minimise the impact of penalty goals on the game’s outcome, if the other suggestions proposed appear “ridiculous and convoluted”.

Peter wrote in SMH in April 2017 ( not too ancient in time to be still relevant, I hope)

“And while they are changing rules, the other key thing is to get rid of the endless damn penalty goals, by taking the reward for such solo ventures from three points to two points, or even just a point. As I have long said the idea that one bloke kicking from 50 metres out from straight in front – just to punish one lousy hand in the ruck – should weigh in at three-fifths the value the whole team combining to send the winger over in the corner, is ludicrous!”
– PETER FITZSIMONS, 2017

I added the following comment to the above in another thread ..

“Here’s the thing: Haven’t we witness so often when stadium spectators clapped and cheered after the attacking team opted for a kick to touch and throw-in even close to the opposing team’s goal line instead of taking a clear penalty shot at goal. That in itself reflects aspirations and expectations of the code’s fan base. To be entertained with anticipated drama when teams opt for tries instead of kicking for penalty goals from all over the park.”

The rugby fans in the stadium cannot be out of their minds when they cheered and clapped right after the attacking team opted for kick to touch with a throw-in, instead of taking an easy shot at goal for infringement.

The way I see it, they had paid to be entertained with moving rugby and high drama, not watching kickers with steroid-filled legs trying to boot away the ball towards the middle of the goalposts most of the time. No?

Rugby is no more just a sport, it is now an entertainment sport, for television and gate attendance, and the guardians of the code are, if they are not, should be mindful of that, if they want to keep the kitty full after each rugby season.

Rethinking the game's penalty rules

Rethinking the game's penalty rules