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When is an Aussie really an Aussie?

Ben Ryan, the English coach of the Fijian rugby sevens gold medal winning team at the Rio Olympics, caused quite a stir recently with his caustic observations of how the Pacific Islands were being effectively ‘stripped’ by the major rugby union powers.

Captain Pugwash,

You’re not bleating on again about Randwick, are you?

What changes are on the cards for Rennie's Wallabies in Bledisloe 3?

KCharleton,

It’s about giving the opposition something different to think about. Which the Wallas don’t seem to do enough of.

Defence & attack tend to move in sync, more or less. If one improves noticeably, the other very quickly follows.

Players are bigger, stronger, faster, more athletic. That obviously makes them good defenders. But the same principles apply for attackers.

The battle between attackers & defenders remains largely relative to the times, whether we’re talking 2020, 2000, 1980, 1960, or whenever.

What changes are on the cards for Rennie's Wallabies in Bledisloe 3?

Hoy,

You can’t be serious we (Australia) have the cattle?

In fact, I’ve been thinking about this. Only two countries can attract the best rugby talent – NZ & SA. And we don’t know how much better the Saffies might be if they could pull more blacks away from soccer.

Almost everyone else has to compete with at least one other major sport, namely soccer. Additionally, Australia, Ireland, USA & Canada each have an indigenous football code to compete with for talent.

Wales is generally a poor country, & the best talent goes to rugby league rather than rugby union, it would seem. Plus soccer. Not always, but in recent decades.

Indeed, the European ‘big 6′, who control World Rugby, are so terrified of being shown up by the small populations of Fiji, Samoa & Tonga, they will happily divide & conquer the Islanders’ rugby talent by keeping them poor (ie, rubbish international test roster).

Thus forcing these guys to emigrate to Australia, NZ, Japan, England, Wales & France, & soon onto other countries, in order to chase an international profile & pro contract.

International representation is being made a mockery because WR won’t do the right thing by the Islanders. And you can’t blame the Islanders for flying under other flags of convenience.

I mention all this, because the argument against me complaining about Wallaby talent, often was that Australia was ranked 2 or 3 or 4, or whatever, for the past decade.

But rugby rankings are ‘fools gold’ for the reasons I mention above. NZ is a genuine #1 & SA probably a genuine #2. But it’s a huge slide after that.

The #3 ranked rugby nation would probably be equivalent to the #13 ranked soccer nation. And so on. Internationally, rugby’s talent simply doesn’t compare to soccer. Or even a home grown product like NFL.

The Americans are such a large population, they are easily the equivalent of 6-10 European countries of choice.

For me, the litmus test of how good our rugby talent is, is that they would all, or most, claim 1st team positions in the NRL. Sadly, very few are capable of this.

Anyway, life would be boring if we all agreed.

What changes are on the cards for Rennie's Wallabies in Bledisloe 3?

Diamond Jackie,

Fair enough.

One step forward, two steps backwards, seems to be the traditional dance tune of the Wallabies…

What changes are on the cards for Rennie's Wallabies in Bledisloe 3?

Stillmissit,

It was a throwaway line. Basically, rugby is continually stuffed unless it can get better quality players.

What changes are on the cards for Rennie's Wallabies in Bledisloe 3?

Blerp,
Thanks for the rugby lesson. Rugby is about a lot of things, in addition to field position. There’s a time & place for everything. There’s no one single silver bullet.
Except perhaps attitude. Everything flows from attitude. Even mistakes can quickly be rectified/overcome/reversed by the right attitude.
And no, I’m not Cheika. And I can’t believe I’m responding to someone called Blerp. At least it’s an improvement on someone like R2D2. Maybe, maybe not…..

What changes are on the cards for Rennie's Wallabies in Bledisloe 3?

Freddie,

Plead with a couple of dozen NRL players to come across to rugby for less money. At least they’ll travel the world (post covid).

NRL has the tough, very tough, athletic, talented & skilful players rugby union does not. And dare I say it, smart too. As in, rugby league or game smart.

Most of them know their role instinctively, unlike their union brethren, who are still guessing what they should do.

What changes are on the cards for Rennie's Wallabies in Bledisloe 3?

Hoy,

Extremism is the bane of humanity. Whether it is rugby tactics, religion, politics, money, whatever.

Bob Dwyer was extremist when first-time Wallaby coach, but quickly learnt there was no currency there.

Alan Jones was a bit smarter first-up, allowing both Ella & Campese to blossom in their unique way in his otherwise conservative outlook.

Rod MacQueen understood both sides of the coin, but insisted you had to get the fundamentals right before you could expand.

Generally speaking, with reference to Cheika, the traditional Randwick running game cannot be replicated ‘in toto’ the higher up the rugby standard you climb.

The opposition is smarter & better equipped skill wise to combat the Randwick game. As you get to test level, the Randwick game must by necessity, be modified, or it will fail.

What changes are on the cards for Rennie's Wallabies in Bledisloe 3?

A mate watching the game with me, who played centre & wing at Randwick with the Ellas in the 1980s, wondered why the Wallas didn’t tap & run the ball more (a favourite Randwick tactic once) in the last 15-20 mins, when they needed points, instead of the usual kick for the line & line out.

His argument was the Wallas needed points, & to do that, they needed to be unpredictable, not do the samo samo over & over again.

Also, the ABs defence was often creeping up offside, as they do. So why not place chip & grubber kicks to put the defence in two minds. Simple things, just change it a bit, stop being so predictable.

What changes are on the cards for Rennie's Wallabies in Bledisloe 3?

Hoy,

Sometimes when you try to be conservative with words, you can lose the meaning of context.

Yes of course, kicking is fine, as long as it has purpose. Not the hail mary, hope for the best, aimless kicking that the Wallas seem to often specialise in.

What changes are on the cards for Rennie's Wallabies in Bledisloe 3?

PeterK,

Yes, & kicking with purpose, not a hail mary hope for the best.

What changes are on the cards for Rennie's Wallabies in Bledisloe 3?

I can see that Rennie is trying desperately to bring an All Blacks mentality to the Wallabies. But gee, he is really up against it.
The Wallabies compete well for 50-60 minutes, but a full 80 minutes appears beyond them. This is just not this year, but most of the past two decades. Even our entire history.
One problem is talent. The talented player can give 80 minutes concentrated effort. The less talented player loses concentration once fatigue sets in. It’s not even physical fatigue, but mental fatigue.
Less talented players also make the same mistakes over & over. The smarter players learn from their mistakes & minimise them.
So player talent is a massive problem. But then, apart from occasional golden periods here & there, it’s been Australian rugby’s story for 120 years.
Another thing is tactics. Kicking the ball away might be raison d’être in most rugby games, but should be avoided against the ABs. They do counter-attack better than anyone. In fact, they implore you to kick to them.
Personally, I’ve always preferred ball possession to field position. But I’m probably in the minority in my thinking.
But then to retain ball in hand requires extreme technical skills, which the average Wallaby lacks. So we’re stuffed no matter what we do.
It comes back to finding better talent, better athletes. That’s the only way to to escape this continuous hell of mediocrity.
I think Rennis is doing a massively good job. I can see what he’s trying to do, develop a sound structure. But gee, he’s really up against it.

What changes are on the cards for Rennie's Wallabies in Bledisloe 3?

Tia,
I first saw Fiji in 1969 at the South Pacific Games in Port Moresby, where my family was living at the time. I was back home on school hols from boarding school in Sydney.
I had just completed my first year of playing rugby, but I had never seen anything like these guys. Their wingers threw gridiron passes across the field from one wing to the other.
They beat PNG 88-3 in the final (3 pt tries), which I think may have been their closest game of the tournament!
Fiji, Samoa & Tonga have small populations. It would make more sense having players of Fiji, Samoa & Tonga heritage residing in NZ & Australia moving back to play for the islands, rather than having them move to NZ or Australia to seek their fame & fortune.
That’s how Samoa became a world power (briefly) in the 1990s, by calling on their NZ born & reared players of Samoan heritage. But sadly, the European ‘big 6’ are terrified of being shown up by the tiny Pacific islands. So they divide & conquer.
The world really is a*se about a lot of the time.

Filipo Daugunu: A journey to greatness

Sure James,

“We matched them for much of the game, but they took their chances better”.

We could insert that sentence into most BC tests in the past 20 years, or 40, or 50, or 70, or 90 years.

So what is your eternal hope? That the Wallas might compete for the full 80 minutes, just for a change?

What will facilitate the change? Only a very few coaches have been highly successful – MacQueen, A.Jones, Dwyer – & even then not continuously.

Why does each new coach need to reset the attitude? And we haven’t even touched on finding better cattle.

I actually like Rennie, I like the look of him & what he says. I can already see a decent structure there that was missing previously.

But I don’t envy his task. He has a mountain to climb. And he’s coaching the best from a country that fails to attract quality cattle.

Caleb Clarke's performance to the Wallabies' defensive wobbles: Four talking points from Bledisloe 2

Ozinsa,
With all the happy magic mushroom chomping garden fairies abounding around, someone has to provide the hard reality.

Caleb Clarke's performance to the Wallabies' defensive wobbles: Four talking points from Bledisloe 2

Seriously James,

The Wallas never dominated. Made parity maybe, but never dominated.

Gee, our guys keep missing the basics – attack the defensive line with intensity (with & without the ball), make your first tackle, catch before thinking to pass, kick only with purpose, use variety.

Caleb Clarke's performance to the Wallabies' defensive wobbles: Four talking points from Bledisloe 2

And if it wasn’t for the selfishness, greed, & short-sightedness of the International Rugby Board, that now erroneously calls itself World Rugby, most of these guys would still be playing for Fiji, if the international community could be bothered to give Fiji a decent test playing itinerary.

But they can’t, & won’t because, like I said, they’re selfish to protect their own interests, greedy to seek money for the ‘inside family’ & short-sighted about the bigger picture.

I don’t know that two wrongs can make a right that these guys can then go & throw on a black or gold or red & white hooped jersey, as a second best option, but that is what we now have in many cases.

The rugby world is a better place for the inclusion of Pacific Islander players. But it would be even better if they could like anyone else, choose their island nation as their first choice to represent, instead of someone else as their second choice.

But the old guard countries of Europe can’t cope with the idea of Fiji, Samoa & Tonga consistently making the final 8 of the world cup at their woeful expense. So they conquer & divide the talent.

Filipo Daugunu: A journey to greatness

Let’s be honest here. That was mostly rubbish from the Wallabies.
And Wallabies fans are delusional looking for little signs of improvement. Like the scene from Life of Brian, when a true believer picks up a discarded shoe: “A shoe, a shoe, the shoe is a sign”!
You don’t get star stamps on your wrist for competing for 50 minutes, or 60 minutes. It’s an 80 minutes game, & you compete for the full 80 minutes.
AS for ABs debutant Caleb Clarke, of course any guy can run 138 metres in 60 minutes when he isn’t tackled. You know the old joke of why wingers score so many tries. They’re marked by other wingers.
Well, maybe there were 23 wingers in the Wallaby team today…..
Thank God this is an ordinary ABs team.

Caleb Clarke's performance to the Wallabies' defensive wobbles: Four talking points from Bledisloe 2

Pinetree/Jacko,

That’s the difference. Best Wallabies win ratio is high 70s. Best ABs win ratio is early 90s.

All Blacks make raft of changes for Eden Park Bledisloe showdown

Jacko,

The history of the ABs is mostly an exalted one. It’s often a case of very good, better, best.

Unlike us Wallabies supporters who usually have to deal with ordinary, bad & worse.

The ABs of 2007-16 (& you can expand that timeframe to whenever you like) were truely awesome, the very best of so many very good ABs teams.

What I’m getting at here, is that everything that goes up must come down, eventually. When the ABs crash, it’s usually mild & for a short time, say, a couple of years at most.

But nevertheless, the ABs fans might have to expect less than the very best for a period of time. Usually short, but nevertheless, a period of time.

Malcolm Knox in the SMH has bagged the arrogant attitude of the ABs. Too many, he feels, are living off the deeds of the past.

What has usually made the ABs so consistently successful in their history, is the burden the players accept to emulate the high standard of their predecessors.

Knox believes the ABs failed to do this last week. Ioane is the standout failure. A lazy putdown over the line cost a sure try & probably the win. Ioane was thinking of skylarking before making sure of the try.

Heck, he’s not the first, from any country. And he won’t be the last, either.

All Blacks make raft of changes for Eden Park Bledisloe showdown

Geez, the guy’s been in charge for one game, & he’s already getting outcoached?!?!?!

I thought after the successive debacles (most of them only mini-debacles, like the opposition played better) of 1991, 1995, 1999, 2003 & 2007, the average ABs fan had developed some maturity in his outlook.

Obviously not…..

All Blacks make raft of changes for Eden Park Bledisloe showdown

Scott Barrett, a young bloke, had plantar fascia, eh?
I’m in my 60s, & I went to the doc several months ago on another matter. At the end, he asked if I had anything else to chat about.
Almost embarrassed, I told him I had this sore foot, like a constant bruise, that had been bothering me for about 6 weeks, like stepping on a stone bare footed. A few questions later & he announced I had plantar fasciitis.
I had never heard of it, but since getting it, everyone I have mentioned it to, has either had it themselves or known someone else who had it.
Barrett is a young man, but obviously it affects the young & fit just as readily as the old & fat.

All Blacks make raft of changes for Eden Park Bledisloe showdown

Crow,

Forget what I said. Rowles was still in rugby in 1974, but was out for the season with his leg in plaster from a nasty car accident. He defected in 1975, playing on the South Coast before moving to Wests in 1977.

NRL DNA: Famous father and son duos

Crow,

Perhaps Peter Rowles defected too soon to rugby league. He went at the end of 1973, along with Russell Fairfax, Geoff Richardson & Peter Sullivan (incumbent Wallaby captain).

With Richardson & Rowles gone, Paul McLean captured the flyhallf possie in 1974, before losing it briefly to teenager Ken Wright in 1975.

Richardson immediately became a dual international in 1974, playing the first two tests against the British Lions. Bobby Fulton was moved to centre, while Tim Pickup was ignored until the 3rd test.

Had Rowles remained another year in rugby, I’m pretty sure he would have been the starting flyhallf in 1974, making McLean wait another year. He may well have remained in the position in 1975 as well, if he had stayed that long.

A fine player indeed, he gave great service to Wests & Newtown.

NRL DNA: Famous father and son duos

While we’re punting Moses, we should get rid of Gutherson as well. What a pathetically lazy ball handle behind his goal line. Loses the ball & concedes a try.

Sack ’em both! Get some keyboard warriors to replace them…

Moses can't lead Parramatta to the promised land