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sheek

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Joined May 2007

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A former rugby lock, cricket no.11 bat and no.10 bowler, and surfboat rower. A fan of the major team sports in Australia.

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Roar Guru
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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.

Mungbean,

i support all Aussie states & territories. I just love to see a good contest.

I was educated & live in NSW, but my heart is in Qld. But like I said, I just want to see all the Aussie teams do well. I remain furious at the culling of WA.

Rugby Australia is turning into Fort Freefall

Gidday David,

Whether Cheika stays or goes is really largely irrelevant. The bigger problem I believe, is that we have a board & CEO out of their depth, incapable of any inspired, innovative thinking outside their conservative box.

The Australian game requires massive changes to the way it’s structured, & until that happens, we will continue to lurch from one bumbling mediocre outcome to another.

Rugby Australia is turning into Fort Freefall

Re QC.

When the relationship between Man Utd legends Roy Keane & Alex Ferguson soured, Keane told Ferguson he had changed, & it was not meant as a compliment.

Fergie turned the comment back around & replied, “I hope so, otherwise I wouldn’t have survived”.

Both men used different interpretations of “changed” to suit their own argument, & defend their respective positions.

Over time, people should & must change, & we fervently hope, for the better. Seven years ago I couldn’t stand QC, who I thought was a loose cannon. I wasn’t alone in thinking that.

But I also like to think, like all of us, QC has changed, in that he’s matured & become a better person, making wiser decisions.

He deserves to be re-embraced in the Wallabies setup. He could be the “rough stone turned polished diamond” that Australia is looking for at #10.

Rugby Australia is turning into Fort Freefall

I’m just answering James’ statement that the board need to consider all aspects.

The board already know everything they need to know.

I personally don’t think they will sack Cheika, or should, because firstly, they can’t afford to, & secondly, it would only be a short-term sugar fix.

Anyway, I’ve added more further on. Perhaps the board will try to make Cheika’s position untenable, thus coaxing him to resign.

That’s would be a very management thing to do.

Cheika survives Rugby Australia review - for now

One of my walking mates, & ex-school mates at that, who is a retired high level manager, gave me the management view spin on what might happen to Cheika.

He reckons Cheika will have imposed upon him assistants from outside, like Scott Johnson, & much of the day-to-day running of the team will be removed from his control.

I responded that there is no way Cheika would accept this. He replied that this was precisely the aim of the board (possibly).

The board can’t afford to sack Cheika, so the alternative is to make the head coach position so unattractive to him, that he will resign.

I was stunned by this, as my mate is one of the truest people you could wish to meet. For example, in his retirement (sort of) he is trying to develop an internet charity pay platform to make it easier for corporations to give donations to charity.

But clearly, he understands the Machiavellian way in which boards, GMs & CEOs, etc, can operate.

Another of my mate’s favourite sayings, in an endeavour for me to weigh myself & have weight reducing goals is, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t control it”.

That’s true management-speak, if I’ve ever heard it!

So maybe this could be RA’s modus operandi. Since they can’t afford to sack Chaieka, they’ll try to make his position as uncomfortable as possible in order to coax him to resign.

Whoever said there’s honour among thieves, or management-types!

Cheika survives Rugby Australia review - for now

James,

RA board didn’t become aware of Cheika’s situation on 10 December. They’ve known for weeks, months, years.

This board is just incompetent & incapable of making any worthwhile decisions.

Cheika survives Rugby Australia review - for now

See response to James above. If RA board had a year to deliberate, they would still be clueless.

Cheika survives Rugby Australia review - for now

James,

What you are missing here is that the situation with Cheika wasn’t created in a day, but has existed for weeks, months, years. It’s not as if all this is new to the board only on 10 December.

Cheika survives Rugby Australia review - for now

Anyway RobC,

Geoff doesn’t need you to make a cheap shot on his behalf. I’m sure he’s quite capable of his own riposte.

Although my comment wasn’t wasn’t meant as an insult, although you have interpreted it as such.

I was inferring that reading the banner headline told me all I needed to know about the gist of the article.

Poke your nose where you don’t need to put it & it will be smacked…..

The Wrap: Is this D-day for Michael Cheika or same old, same old?

Thanks RobC – ditto…..

The Wrap: Is this D-day for Michael Cheika or same old, same old?

Middie,

I’m kinda reaching the point where I really don’t care anymore. I mean, really don’t care.

If rugby isn’t going to satisfy the way I would like it to be, I can always take my patronage elsewhere. Like everyone else, I can exercise my freedom of choice.

I am excited by the Matildas & their prospects at the 2019 Women’s world cup. Maybe not good enough to win, or make the final, but 3rd or 4th is within their reach if they play to their absolute best.

Of course, they have to get past both Brazil & Italy first!

I am deeply disappointed in my first-love sports of rugby, cricket & horse racing (which is abandoning the staying races in favour of more & more sprints).

That’s okay, if these sports are no longer as I remember them, I just change my focus. If I’m no longer part of the demographic these sports are chasing, there’s always other sports to follow.

Is Australian rugby following in the footsteps of West Indian cricket?

Geoff,

Samo-samo. I didn’t read the text, I’m sure it was amusing.

I’m amazed people still think this RA board will somehow react differently to type.

These people are career administrators. They have no idea how to think outside the square. It’s all about bottom line profit & loss statements & keeping their jobs (& excellent remuneration packages).

Peter V’Landys, the ATC chief executive who came up with The Everest concept at Royal Randwick, is one of the very few administrators today capable of thinking outside the square, not that I entirely agree with what all he’s doing.

But he’s shaken up the thoroughbred racing industry here in Australia like no-one else. It’s possible some unintended good might come from his crashing into the Melbourne spring carnival.

The Vics might actually decide to do something something positive about the declining interest in breeding stayers. Or perhaps not. They might decide to do likewise & cut the Melbourne Cup back to 2400m, or 2000m, or even 1600m.

Who knows & who cares anymore.

Anyway, back to the rugby, there’s no-one who thinks like V’Landys in Australian rugby administration. They’re all conservative, unimaginative, keep within the known boundaries, types.

Andrew Forrest is shaking the tree a bit, but not enough. At least, not enough yet. The RA board needs a bomb under them, or something!

In this day & age of political correctness, editors please note, the use of the word ‘bomb’ is a turn of phrase, not to be taken literally. Just in case you missed the ‘context’!

The Wrap: Is this D-day for Michael Cheika or same old, same old?

Middie,

Wonderful for you to wade into the rugby debate. Firstly, some support for Brian Lara’s (almost) one man Windies team.

It certainly seemed like it back in 1999 when the Windies, in their last great charge, split the series with Australia 2-2, under new captain Steve Waugh.

Lara had no peer on either side, especially his own. He averaged 91 with 3 centuries. The next best for the Windies was Campbell averaging 28.

The bowling was a bit more democratic, the spoils shared largely by Walsh, 26 wickets & Ambrose, 19 wickets. Next best was Perry with 10 wickets. But in batting, the Windies were certainly a one man show.

You have highlighted their demise accurately. They just thought the future batsmen & fast bowlers would fall out of trees like coconuts. But it didn’t happen.

However, a minor linguistic correction here. European Football & American basketball weren’t “new” sports. But the Caribbean was now able in the 1980s, to view these games en masse via satellite TV.

All of a sudden, Caribbean youth were dramatically exposed to other major sports besides cricket & athletics. Or, more precisely, the alternate opportunities available to them became apparent.

Certainly, the same thing is happening with Australian rugby. French & English domestic comps are so wealthy, they are taking the cream of players from everywhere else.

As per usual with most of their ilk, the governing body, World Rugby, appears unable or unwilling, or both, to do anything about this growing imbalance.

What Rugby Australia must do, the very thing they are terrified to do, is bring down the whole edifice & start again from ground zero.

Paul Cully made a telling point in a SMH article some months ago, & you can confirm this with your own soccer knowledge, that German players remain in the Bundesliga even for less money.

Cully’s point is, if you have a domestic comp that players can be emotionally attached to, they won’t be tempted, in the majority of cases, to go elsewhere for money. Not every player is purely money driven. I do acknowledge that the Bundesliga is not poor in any case.

Therefore, if in the short-term, the best players desert Australian rugby for richer fields far away, so be it. In the meantime, Rugby Australia can rebuild the domestic structures from the ground up, including a viable national comp to put up against AFL, NRL & A-League.

Correction, not so much “put up against”, but provide rugby fans with their own home grown comp that they can involve themselves with. And players have a clear pathway from juniors through to the Wallabies, via the national domestic comp.

Besides, it should be pointed out, the professional arm of rugby is very small. Getting all the structures below the professional level is critical to sustained success.

It’s the amateur systems that will always feed the professional system, & if they’re not structured correctly, we will end up with what we have now.

Sadly, the people running the game can’t or won’t see this. They’re only interested in holding onto their job, & finding a short-term quick fix to their many problems.

Consequently, there is no hope for Australian rugby to rebuild & regrow until the whole top-heavy machinery topples over & comes crashing down.

Which might happen soon enough anyway.

Is Australian rugby following in the footsteps of West Indian cricket?

Cliff,

“The parrot’s not dead, it’s pining…..”

Only optimism for Wallabies fans lies with December decisions

Hi Will,

Your banner headline: “Only optimism for Wallabies fans lies with December decisions”, almost sounds like an oxymoron.

Expecting joy & enlightenment from the current RA board is a bit like expecting army intelligence to be intelligent, which often it isn’t.

I have no faith & no confidence that this current RA board will find a path through the knotted jungle they have partly contributed to with some recent decisions of their own.

Frankly, I don’t think they have any idea how to move forward. Consequently, they will remain comatose & inert.

Only optimism for Wallabies fans lies with December decisions

Hi Jeznez,

I was confining my comments to Nick’s query about how a foreign coach might be perceived. The treatment towards Deans was a response to that query.

I agree that Cheika is entirely in control of his destiny, with personnel selections & tactics making little or no sense even to perceptive rugby follows.

But I also believe the head coach is merely part of deeper systemic issues. But I’ve been there a lot lately, so I won’t say much this time…..!

All is not lost: Four quick fixes for the Wallabies forwards

About a foreign coach coaching the Wallabies, I mean…..

All is not lost: Four quick fixes for the Wallabies forwards

Nick,

The way Robbie Deans was treated by the fans, when he was Wallabies coach 2008-13, even here on The Roar, & in the media at large, was quite disgraceful.

We don’t live in an introspective society at present, so whether Aussie rugby fans have developed any maturity from the Deans days, remains to be seen.

All is not lost: Four quick fixes for the Wallabies forwards

Hi Nick,

I don’t have a problem with a foreign coach, if he’s the best available.

Today, just about everyone in Australian rugby is against each other.

The Queensland “they (NSW) done us wrong” mantra that originated in the 60s after NSW refused to play Qld in 1962, & has resonated for the remaining six decades, is child’s play compared to now.

So why would anyone want this job? It’s a poisoned chalice. Someone like Jake White might have an ego big enough to think he can make a successful difference, as opposed to merely a positive difference.

Good luck to him if he got the gig. His legacy would be crushed by the Australian ‘system’.

Right now, if you’re a coach & you want your career burned, apply for Wallabies head coach. It’s a guaranteed coach killer.

Ask John Connolly, Robbie Deans & Ewen McKenzie how they feel? Eddie Jones needed a decade to shake off his Wallaby coaching disaster.

Why? Because in my humble opinion the problems go beyond the national squad. You can’t discuss changes in Wallaby personnel & tactics without looking at the bigger picture.

Of course, fans hate being told this. They want quick fixes. They want to believe changing the coach &/or swapping some players will solve the problems.

Of course, things will turn around eventually, they usually do. But look at the history of Australian rugby. The Wallabies will a have couple of good years surrounded by many lean years. That’s their history. Is this really what we want?

We’ve seen this current demise for about 15 years. Any improvement is both incremental & temporary. I refuse to get involved in Wallaby “wish list” XVs. They’re a pointless waste of exercise.

I’m quite sure Roarers are sick of me playing the devil’s advocate, the contrarian.

But sometimes you have to hear the bad news whether you like it or not. The reality of life is that every day is not a diamond day. We all experience plenty of stone days.

What we strive for is to have more diamond days than stone days. But as a friend of mine who studies philosophy tells me, seeking happiness for its own sake, or the quick-fix, is only temporary.

For a fulfilling life, you require a purpose, of which happiness is a by-product of doing something useful for others.

Australian rugby must change, change quite dramatically, if we’re to move forward. It has to change its systems, its structures, its philosophy.

Sadly, the current board, again in my humble opinion, aren’t equipped with the necessary mindset to carry Australian rugby out of its stupor.

Whilst ever Australian rugby adopts a ‘profits before people’ mindset, the game will continue to suffer. Sorry, this is what I believe.

But look after the people first, & generally the profits will follow from sound & inclusive management.

I’m done!

All is not lost: Four quick fixes for the Wallabies forwards

Hi Nick,

Among all the fog, angst & recriminations, a light of clarity. Well done!

But I’m inclined to agree with Fionn & others. The Wallabies are like both my father & father-in-law in their final years.

While their bodies could deal with one, maybe two serious problems at a time, once the problems began to multiply, their bodies broke down quickly. This is true of many elderly folk.

That’s the best analogy I can find about the current situation with the Wallabies. What you describe above are indeed positives pearls of hope.

But the problems of the Wallabies extend into deeper problems of Australian rugby. I have no confidence whatsoever in the current board & executive to find a way out of the morass.

They have the wrong mindset, the wrong philosophy, the wrong outlook, to make the winning moves to arrest Australian rugby from its inexorable decline.

All is not lost: Four quick fixes for the Wallabies forwards

This is gobble-dock.

You are just playing around with words & phrases, something you do well.

Australian rugby can turn this corner, but only if it wants to

Gobble-dock. Just playing around with words & phrases.

The AFL was controlled by the VFL until 1990, when the AFL was formed to control the burgeoning national comp.

By 1989, there were already 3 non-Melbourne clubs participating – Sydney Swans, Brisbane Bears & West Coast Eagles.

It was obvious to everyone, the game had outgrown the VFL.

Following the formation of the AFL in 1990, more teams from outside of Melbourne joined through the 90s – Adelaide Crows, Port Adelaide Power, Fremantle Dockers while Brisbane Bears & Fitzroy Lions meted to form the Brisbane Lions.

Until the super league war of 1995, the ARL controlled the national comp, their power base coming from the NSWRL.

In the early 80s, Canberra Raiders & Illawarra Steelers joined the Sydney-centric comp while Newtown Jets left.

In the late 80s, Brisbane Broncos, Newcastle Giants & Gold Coast Seagulls joined an expanded 16 team comp under the direction of ARL.

In 1994, the ARL made a massive mistake, unable to decide which two teams of four to promote, so they promoted all 4 for 1995 – Auckland Warriors (NZ), NQ Cowboys, SQ Crushers & Western (Perth) Reds.

The proposed 20 team comp attracted the interest of Murdoch’s News Ltd, who were keen to wrest viewing control away from Packer’s Channel 9. A bitter two year ‘war’ ensured.

When peace was declared in 1997, a new governing body, the NRL, was created to take the heat away from ARL, which still controlled the Kangaroos national team.

So we can dance around the sinkhole, wasting our lives as to the exact meaning of “created”, “evolved”, “suburban” & “governing body”.

If this is an example of how they argue back & forth at the RA board meetings, no wonder Australian rugby is going nowhere!

Australian rugby can turn this corner, but only if it wants to

Pearcy,

You’re positively right, of course.

Although I could also argue I was right as I was thinking of the “collective” record.

Against both the ABs & Lions, we have only a 26% win ratio, with just 49 combined wins from 187 tests, with 7 draws.

The Wallabies are slightly less successful against the Lions than ABs, 26.09 to 26.22, although we have played the ABs seven times more, 164 to 23.

Our win ratio against the Boks is better (42.53), but against these three nations we have only managed a win ratio of 33.21.

Although the Wallabies have a positive record against England (just), France, Ireland, Scotland & Wales, collectively we’re still behind.

The Wallabies record therefore, against the ‘big 8’, is 480 tests played, 211 won, 15 drawn & 254 lost.

The Wallabies overall win ratio of 45.52 is below the bar. If you arrive at a slightly different win ratio, it’s because I refer to a draw as half a win).

Of course, the Wallabies have played the ABs 164 times out of 480, or almost once in every three tests.

If Australia has any aspirations to be a major rugby nation we have to do better against New Zealand.

Australian rugby can turn this corner, but only if it wants to

Brett,

My comments, if interpreted as somewhat self-indulgent by you, aren’t any different to many other folk around here.

You know, like, “as I’ve been saying”, or, “as I said yesterday, or last week”, etc…..

Australian rugby can turn this corner, but only if it wants to

Geoff,

I just came across two articles I had kept. The first was written by Paul Cully back on 22/09/16 in the SMH, titled “SANZAAR’s obsession with turning super rugby into the EPL of rugby is infuriating”.

I’m not always a fan of Cully’s thoughts, but I liked this particular article, enough to keep it. He gives a serve to SANZAAR which is probably why I liked this article so much.

He begins with this, “Chief executive Andy Marinos’ insistence that super rugby maintains a conference system to build in future expansion is almost Trumpian in its absurdity. Now we are to believe that Europe, North America and potentially Mars are the salvation for the competition”.

Remember, this was all before the axing of the Force, Cheetahs & Kings.

Later, he adds this observation,”The best response to the challenge posed by French (and English) money is the quiet one. By building competitions with such an emphasis on player development and welfare that no one wants to leave”.

He used the German Bundesliga as his primary example. Despite the greater financial lure of the EPL and Italian Serie A, the majority of leading German players remained in the Bundesliga, & at the time were reigning world cup champions.

I believe he also wrote this piece before your book ‘A World In Conflict’ came out early the next year (2017).

I’m gratified to say I’m not the only one who thinks this: Not everything has to be about money.

Then there was this other wonderful article by Ted Dwyer in The Roar on 30/08/16, “Every Marine is a rifleman: Lessons for Australian rugby”.

The saying is attributed to US Lt. Gen. Alfred M. Gray back in 1987 when charged with reforming the Marine Corps. I kept the article because I loved the saying & its attributed insights:

1. Every Marine is first & foremost a rifleman. If you can’t get the basics right, you will fail on the battlefield.

2. If you don’t know what your purpose is, you will lose to adversaries who do (know their purpose).

3. Everyone is a rifleman. No-one is more important than anyone else. Humility matters. Ultimately, we are servants of something larger than ourselves.

Despite presenting an article as good as anything I’ve ever read on The Roar, Dwyer has disappeared as quickly as he arrived. It remains his only primary contribution. Who knows? Perhaps he felt The Roar didn’t sufficiently appreciate his talents.

I can understand that. Nevertheless, more than two years after these two articles were written, the truths contained within their writing resonate equally today as when they did then.

The Wrap: What can Australian rugby learn from Grant Fox?