The Roar
The Roar

Harry Jones

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Joined August 2013

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"Never confuse motion with action."

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South Africa (2021) need to copy South Africa (2019). I was just looking at points conceded by the Boks for 2018, 2019, and 2021. If you take out any match versus non-Tier 1, you can see this trend: 23.57 points conceded per match in 2018, 12.8 in 2019, and then 19.5 in 2021. Australia (29 ppg), England (27 ppg) and New Zealand (24 ppg) found it too easy to score. One excuse could be missing personnel, because Faf and PSDT are quite disruptive to opponents’ attack, but a more plausible reason is the a few of the best attacking teams are finding ways to puncture the Bok umbrella. The good news is the non-banned Bok coach is a bit of a defensive boffin!

How Argentina can learn from South Africa

He’s viewed as a selfish player in SA. Dunno. He’s definitely a scorer!

'Still at All Blacks level': Israel Folau grabbed the headlines but 'lethal' teammate has Tonga dreaming

It would be very interesting if 35 big ex-Boks decided to play for the Netherlands in a repechage match, snuck into the RWC 2027, and beat Italy, Scotland, and Argentina, and scared somebody in the QFs.

'Still at All Blacks level': Israel Folau grabbed the headlines but 'lethal' teammate has Tonga dreaming

The Druids

'Still at All Blacks level': Israel Folau grabbed the headlines but 'lethal' teammate has Tonga dreaming

And … PI teams may find themselves full of really old players. Meanwhile, Wales could snap up two Vunipolas.

'Still at All Blacks level': Israel Folau grabbed the headlines but 'lethal' teammate has Tonga dreaming

Yes, even out-of-form Pollard offered £1M to play in Japan. He’s taking £600K from Leicester instead. That’s serious coin. All young SA fly halves will notice that! “Agent! Get me Tokyo!”

'Still at All Blacks level': Israel Folau grabbed the headlines but 'lethal' teammate has Tonga dreaming

Very true. Coaching in SA tends to be abysmal, except for hardening and ferocity. I’m always amazed at how players like Stephan Lewies, Jono Ross, Ruan Pienaar, Tyrone Green, Juano Augustus, Nizaam Carr, Juan de Jongh, Frankie Hougaard, Courtnall Skosan are deemed “done” by SA public, and then they become stars and skippers in the UK.

'Still at All Blacks level': Israel Folau grabbed the headlines but 'lethal' teammate has Tonga dreaming

Sorry; had bad info. Are you counting the little Kiwi 10 Joey Carbery?

'Still at All Blacks level': Israel Folau grabbed the headlines but 'lethal' teammate has Tonga dreaming

Duhan!

'Still at All Blacks level': Israel Folau grabbed the headlines but 'lethal' teammate has Tonga dreaming

Point is … this new development could end up helping NZ and SA more than PI.

'Still at All Blacks level': Israel Folau grabbed the headlines but 'lethal' teammate has Tonga dreaming

South Africa and Argentina are the only Test sides in the top 10 of the World Rugby rankings that exclusively select homegrown players. Based on the squads used for the November Test series, Japan had 17 foreign-born players, Scotland had 10, Ireland featured 9, New Zealand and Australia had 8 each, Wales called up 5 foreigners, England 4 and France 3. Of the countries with the most players playing for other nations, New Zealand lead the way with 16, followed by South Africa with 12 playing for foreign countries, Australia with 11, Tonga 10, Samoa four, Fiji three and Canada, USA, Scotland, France and Italy all had one.

'Still at All Blacks level': Israel Folau grabbed the headlines but 'lethal' teammate has Tonga dreaming

On the test level: England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, France, South Africa, New Zealand, Argentina, Australia, and Italy. Several others almost fully pro.

Is it too late to reverse rugby's long decline?

Cheers, Craig. Your memory is your memory. It is possible, however, that you (and we) are remembering the best moments, reinforced by grainy highlights on YouTube, and retold by us old timers at the paddock or pub. Because when we actually watch a rare full match from the 70s-90s, we are made painfully aware of the ubiquitous dropped balls (the slimy ball and pitch didn’t help!), the sloppy line outs, fragmented scrums, very low scores, scant tries, terrible tactics, laughable defense, and abysmal passing. In general, it looks amateur. Because it was amateur. Union hasn’t become fully professional, even now. Only ten teams are truly pro. We will get a lot better, and the fact that so many more countries play Union to a high standard than League — which has been pro for a longer time — will only make it keep getting better, faster, skillful, and more interesting.

Is it too late to reverse rugby's long decline?

Spot on, Laidlaw. Rennie is finding his best (when available) 23 and that means he first had to find his best XV. I think he has it, and that means 2022 is a proper theory-test. Up till now, it was Petri dish time. For me, hooker, blindside, and the correct back three mix is all that remained as a question, after this season. Good coach. I think he knows who’s who, now. From now to the RWC, just cement in a XV and use the 8 reserve spots to figure out the 35 who’ll fly to France.

Numbers speak to just how hard Rennie is working to find Wallabies' way forward

Well done Aussies and Blitzboks.

How the Aussies fared in the first Dubai World Rugby Sevens Series

This is exactly right. 100 “good” tackles worse for your head than one “non-lethal” punch to the face. Accumulation of jolts.

Why World Rugby’s Brain Health Initiative is making my head hurt

Information is mitigation, if true. The law allows all manner of head-knocking stuff without penalty if people are warned. WR should be accurate and publish about the risks of (even legal) rugby. Let the warnings be as clear as possible. Feed no false hope (that aerial contests or only high tackles are the main cause of longterm damage). It’s the accumulation of the 1-2 out of 10 tackle attempts we make every match that go a bit wrong. Low, high, medium, inside, outside. Knees and heads are not made to mix. And never do helmets. It causes even more reckless behavior. Tackling and being tackled is inherently dangerous. My two serious concussions in the 80s are always reminding me that our protocols were non-existent. I slept 30 hours, didn’t remember the two tries I scored, and yet I played the next weekend. The warnings are the liability mitigation. Describe the risk. Take the decision out of coaches’ and players’ hands. And don’t set ourselves up to fail. Concussion-free rugby is impossible.

Why World Rugby’s Brain Health Initiative is making my head hurt

That’s precisely right. They are also rendering themselves —and us, by extension—a laughingstock with these latest advices (not to drink too much etc). They have the data. Use it. Be adults.

Why World Rugby’s Brain Health Initiative is making my head hurt

Sounds like Schalk Burger.

Why World Rugby’s Brain Health Initiative is making my head hurt

It’s a much brighter picture than faced Wallaby fans right after the World Cup. Dave Rennie has done well to build towards 2023 despite not having the massive player depth Nienaber has.

Glimpses of greatness and lamentable let-downs: Wallabies 2021 player ratings

That’s right. So, rugby has two main paths to travel. One is to accept we are more like MMA: preserving the rugged character of the sport, but to max out medical clearance, forbid more players from playing until they are 100%, increase the standard of preparation, have more doctors involved, never let someone play on with a head knock, and show in court a massive amount of care and non-neglect, but inside a combat sport. The other is to reform the sport itself. That will involve serious tweaks to the rules. WR has not shown itself good at self-reform. Whether we are talking about ref quality, global calendar, rule streamlining, and so on, they just try to run out the clock and make a few people happy. I think rugby should take the former approach: emphasise how dangerous the sport is, super-size the warnings, market to that sort of fan and player, and take training and tackle safety to a whole next level of science and techne. UFC grew like crazy and so can rugby, but the training must be much more sophisticated. Not a sport for unfit people or bad tacklers/tackle-ees.

Why World Rugby’s Brain Health Initiative is making my head hurt

Eddie is a fascinating bloke. He is actually quite honest about the 2019 final. He writes he tried to warn his players the Bok forward pack in a final would be unlike anything they had ever faced. He then admits his players were not prepared for the animosity and hardness the Bok pack brought. He takes that on himself, like a good coach. The subtext is he won’t have to warn them again. Smart.

'Sh-t, this guy is nuts': Eddie Jones has a book out and of course it contains some absolute gold

Always enjoy your articles.

Joe Morgan: My favourite second five

World Rugby — a strange, vainglorious name for a governing body of a sporting code — isn’t on track on this issue. Head injuries happen from legal and illegal contact, high and low and just right collisions, and accumulate over years. Just like in MMA. Mitigation is the strategy. Clarity around what the mitigation strategy is would help. Good article, G! You are helping.

Why World Rugby’s Brain Health Initiative is making my head hurt

Unconverted

How the battles, and the beasts, have changed since Australia first played Scotland

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