The Roar
The Roar

Simon Levingston

Roar Guru

Joined March 2013







Hugo Porter



Thank you for the heads up and reminding us rugby in Australia is in an absolute shambles.
One has to think of new ways forward to disrupt the current system to turn it into ones own advantage.
I wrote an article late last year on the Roar where I suggested, as a concept, signing up to one thousand 17 to 20 year old talented players on 10 year contracts to underpin the talent pool to fill the ranks of club, state and super rugby with a goal to train and coach this pool into Wallabies. RA currently spends over $50 million a year on player payments. In my opinion RA is getting a very very poor return on its investment. We know this because the Wallabies are sliding further down the world rankings, Super Rugby is not working and the grass roots rugby is being hollowed out. One could hardly say this was bang for one’s buck.
As I wrote Australia has to expand its pool of professional players and needs to have some form of claw back on its investment in players to lock the players into Australian rugby. With a pool of say 1,000 rugby players under contract to RA participating throughout all levels of rugby in Australia, Australia would see the standards rise and RA’s finances would substantially improve.
One has to change the paradigm to disrupt the current status quo.

The Wrap: Lazy thinking reinforces rugby’s negative narrative

As I have said on many occasions Australian rugby’s future is in Asia. Australia should have a foot in both camps Asia and Super Rugby, as Super Rugby slowly disenfranchises and marginalises Australian rugby. While this is happening Australia’s foothold in Asia will strengthen. The transition to Asia will take time and eventually replace Super Rugby in terms of cash flow to RA.

Australian rugby on its current path is in my opinion doomed to be marginalised by the stronger Super Rugby partners South Africa and NZ.

The population and rugby audiences and inevitably the money is in Asia.

RA must act now and on its own I.e without NZ.

The Wrap: The Sunwolves and Super Rugby’s shame file

Hi Will get rid of the Giteau Law and have no rules. Select the best eligible player from anywhere. No more multi million dollars contracts to individual players. Use the $60 million RA it spends on the Wallabies on Super Rugby to sign up all the young guys on stepped up long contracts and professionalise U18, U20 and Club rugby in Australia. There needs to growth from the grass roots if Australia is to stay in touch with the Tier One nations. See my recent article on the Roar.

Don’t give Giteau’s Law the boot

Hi Evanfinity, this proposed structure is not for everyone.

A model for stronger and more sustainable rugby

Hi TWAS, I agree this is purely a numbers play, but with hopefully an educated guess before signing up an individual. Some players just stand out from the crowd, they would the target. With enough of the talented young guys locked in then this will be come the new base.

A model for stronger and more sustainable rugby

Hi Finance Commando, I agree, but yes these proposed contracts do have a tail and players will look elsewhere, but rugby is full of kids of all shapes and sizes and aren’t necessarily built or good at other sports.

A model for stronger and more sustainable rugby

The contracts start at $40,000 to $50,000 a year and step up to $150,000 per year towards the end of the contract.

A model for stronger and more sustainable rugby

Ediie Jones tactic was simple and we had seen it before “rope a dope” rugby. Kick it to Australia and they will try and run it back at you. Cheika only ever had one game plan and he even admitted in never studying the opposing team. He continually said he was only ever interested in what his team was doing and not the opposition. This coaching focus may be suitable at club or provincial level, but not at an elite level of international test rugby. Even provisional (e.g Super Rugby) level rugby now requires are more intellectual approach as it becomes more competitive. Michael Cheika if he continues this blinkered approach will most likely find himself being out coached when he heads off on his new coached future.

Australia now that is free of Michael Cheika and his limited coaching style can now make new plans and create an fresh professional rugby environment. There are some very clever coaches available around the world, with most of them originating from NZ. Australia will have to get over the idea that Australia can only be coached by an Australian. This is an idea that in my opinion is very narrow and is one of the main reasons why the Wallabies are sliding down the world ranking at an alarming rate. It would be great if there were suitable Australian coaches to take charge of the Wallabies, but I don’t think we are going to find one in this next 4 year cycle, unless Eddie Jones wants to return.

Australia has a lot of work to do in building up its rugby talent and that includes players, coaches, referees and rugby sport administrators.

Australia should undertake an independent impartial review of rugby which should replacing SANSAAR, eliminating the million dollare rugby contracts to individual players, directing large sums into young player contracts, club and school rugby and bringing back the Force into an Asian and Pacific centric competition to be funded by Japanese and Asian TV networks.

Michael Cheika's failure at the World Cup is Rugby Australia's, too

The selection of Petaia by the selectors, and I’m sure / guessing this is not Chieka’s choice, as it is a real gamble. This could be the last game for Chieka as the coach of the Wallabies if the Wallabies don’t beat England. I wonder what he is thinking about the selection panel who look like they overrule him on certain selections, which I’m guessing the selection of Petaia is an example. Chieka may not look and the replays of the next team he is playing, an astonishing admission. Now we can get a feel why the Wallabies only have a plan A and no other plans as Chieka doesn’t have a clue what the other team is going to do. This is a dangerous strategic mistake especially playing a team coached by Eddie Jones who analysis every frame in absolute detail. Chieka’s “don’t spare the torpedoes” Plan A is dry weather rugby – unfortunately it is going to be rainy in Hiroshima (near Oita) on Saturday! Uh oh!

Reports: Petaia set for stunning quarter-final start

The case is getting stronger that Australian rugby’s future is in Asia including the neglected Pacific nations. If Australian rugby could earn a paltry USD 70 million per annum from TV / Digital rights then it would no longer be tied to SANSAAR with its ridiculous travel requirements to Africa and South America, let alone the poor time zones that kill audience ratings.

The audience for rugby is clearly growing in Asia. The decision by SANSAAR to cut Japan (and the Force in Western Australia) from Super Rugby has been driven by South Africa who found Japan as being geographically inconvenient and SANSAAR who decided Australia should no longer have a fifth team as Australian rugby needed to be more competitive. With regard to the reduction to 4 Australian Super Rugby teams it is hurting Australian rugby as it reduces the opportunity for young players to play professionally in Australia. I don’t believe SANSAAR is real friend to the long term goals and interests of Australian Rugby. In my opinion I would be showing SANSAAR the door at the first opportunity. It is South Africa makes the current Super Rugby competition unworkable and the money they offer is not looking like good value.

Rugby Australia needs to explore if Asian TV networks will come up with the necessary funds to underwrite a rugby competition in Asia and the Pacific, to create a new Asian Rugby Championship, that will include the overlooked nations of Fiji, Tonga and Samoa.

We have all heard the argument that SANSAAR needs South Africa due to its cash contribution to Super Rugby. Australia does not need SANSAAR if it can be replaced by an Asian based TV / Digital free to air underwriting agreement. Australia’s rugby future is in Asia which has the world’s largest population and currently the 2nd, 3rd and 6th largest economies by GDP. If one was to include the USA and Canada in the long term calculations the pursuit of an Asia Pacific conference makes the case even stronger.

Australia used to be a forward thinker when it came up with the ideas like the Rugby World Cup and expansion of the game. I think it is time to create a new paradigm for the new future. The time is has arrived for Australia to take back control of its own rugby future, to look to move where the long term potential is clearly obvious based on the raw numbers, geographical convenience and where there is the most upside.

Australia’s future is in Asia – try reading “The Future is in Asian” – Global Order in the Twenty First Century by Parag Khanna

The Wrap: Japan’s Blossoms do rugby and their people proud

I like your 5 points, I would like to add no.6 Michael Cheika has no idea how to coach wet weather rugby. For example the Wallabies were world beaters in Perth this year in against 14 All Blacks. Within 7 days in a wet Auckland they continued to play dry weather footy and got flogged. Cheika has only ever coached Plan A rugby – dry weather keep the balk in hand no kicking. The Wallabies have no Plan B wet weather rugby. Let’s hope the weather in Japan is dry and sunny from now on to have any chance of besting England. With regard to beating the All Blacks the next weekend is a huge ask verging on a fantasy. Then to front up for a final the next week, the guys will bruised and battered and lucky if there are 15 players fit enough to take the field.

Five things we learned from the Wallabies' win over Georgia

Folau in my opinion was always playing out of position. I thought he would have been better at 13 as his ability to break the tackle and cause havoc was first class, but his off load in the tackle was as good as Kerevi’s ….. not very good to rubbish! Don’t these professional highly paid rugby players with nothing else to think about apart from rugby practise these skills every day? One would have thought after all this time the influence of Aussie Rules Star- ex All Black skills coach Mick Byrne would be having some influence by now. What’s going on? Why aren’t the Wallabies the leaders in world rugby by bringing all the Aussie Rules skills of being imperious in the air and having a massive devastating kicking game? The Wallaby big men should be plucking the ball from the air and be able to boot the ball over 70 metres. These are skills John Eales had but they seem to have been lost to rugby. Folau could catch the ball in the air, but for an ex AFL player his kicking game was as bad as Kerevi’s off load.

How the loss of Israel Folau has improved the Wallabies backfield

I wonder how much Rugby Australia are draining their bank accounts to have White play in Australia?

White to return to Brumbies in 2021

Rugby is hindered by being a simple game lumbered with an extensive and complicated rule book with inconsistent refereeing. Every World Cup it is a repeat of the previous World Cup, the referees capture as much if not more news attention as all the teams participating.

The rules are over complicated and they are not policed consistently, for example, the most obvious is the inaccurate feeding by the half backs to the scrum. Then on the other hand we have the game being stopped by pedantic TMO’s interferring with the flow of the game (Ben Skeen comes to mind) to stop with a frame by frame analysis of a particular tackle of clean out. In the meatime players are entering the rucks from all angles or standing in front of the catcher of the ball to hinder the opposition from tackling the catcher.

On another note, if I see another box kick I think I will just have to change the channel. Has rugby become so boring that the main form of attack is to kick the ball in the air and to prey on the opposition for a 50/50 outcome. This is great wet weather rugby, but it seems the rest of the world are copying the Europeans (who are mainly kiwi coached) as the best way to win test rugby. It is a shame when we see the Pacific Island teams kick away possesion, making them prone to being pinged for high tackles shoulder charges. This in my opinion is dumb rugby and not playing to their strengths.

The Wrap: Red, yellow, green - rugby’s ‘traffic light’ World Cup

I like the indigenous playing strip. I would prefer to see it more regularly. I think it makes the Wallabies look classy, and this squad needs all the help it can get.

Five talking points from Wallabies vs Uruguay

In my opinion Romain Poite did a pretty good job at refereeing a close game against two good teams. The Wallabies were lucky not to have Hooper sent off for the shoulder charge tackle late in the game. What I can’t watch is Cheika throwing a tantrum when everything doesn’t go his. Cheika strikes me as having a particularly thin skin, nothing new, and definitely not statesman like.

Ben Skeen the TMO from NZ is in my opinion is the blight on this game. The strongest memory I have about Ben Skeen as a TMO was the match between the Crusaders and the Waratahs in Christchurch and how he completely failed in picking up the throat shot and taking out of Kurtley Beale by Owen Franks, which resulted in a try, changing the momentum of the match. A game where the Waratahs seemed to have the Crusaders on the ropes until they had help from the TMO.

Ben Skeen is super pedantic at certain times, but goes missing at others. He is in my opinion a very inconsistent adjudicator and not good enough for international matches and probably Super Rugby matches as well, at least not one involving an Australian team. In the match against Wales , it was the Kerevi dominant attack analysed frame by frame by Skeen who interupted play, then when it came to the try by Wales No.9 who looked offside, where was Ben Skeen? Missing! This is typical Ben Skeen. If I was advising Cheika I would be directing his concerns to World Rugby, when everything has cooled off, that he never wants Ben Skeen to be ever the TMO for a Wallabies match again. This is a much better way, in my opinion, to get some control back on how his team is referreed and giving Skeen a kick up the backside. When Cheika throws a tantrum he achieves nothing to his benefit, and it probably works against him and us the supporters.

Why selection cost the Wallabies their Rugby World Cup game against Wales

An excellent point, of course Japan should be bought into the rugby championship. On the basis and reasoning Argentina was bought into the Rugby Championship, then if one was to apply the same rules then in my opinion Japan easily qualifies. Asia and the Pacific is where Australian rugby should be leaning into, even if Australia has to turn its back on New Zealand, who continue to burden our current competition with the geographically inconvenient South Africa.

The Wrap: World Cup thrown into beautiful, glorious confusion

Wales taught Australia a lesson last night – drop goals matter in World Cups like they have evey other previous World Cups. Jonny Wilkinson, Stephen Larkham, and that guy from South Africa in 1995.

In my opinion the Wallabies are not going to win the World Cup. They have a record of being consistently inconsistent. One never knows which side is going to turn up. I put this down to the lack of consistency and in my opinion poor and confusing selections. Inconsistent sides do not win tournaments like the World Cup. The Wallabies could go deep by pulling a rabbit out of the hat like beating a team like the All Blacks, but the next week the team will be asleep at the wheel again, just like they have been over the last 4 years.

Where was the Wallaby attack in the first half against Wales and Fiji? It went missing again. It took a whole first half of the game to get their game together – I don’t think this is good enough and thank goodness it wasn’t raining as the Wallabies under Cheika don’t have a plan “B” wet weather game e.g. Wallabies Vs All Blacks 2019.

Another bone of contention – why would Cheika ever select inconsistent Foley at 10, the guy has lost form and is one of the main reasons the Wallabies have been so inconsistent over the last two years. CLL is a better player but he too is inconsistent. This feature in both these players was more than evident during the Super Rugby season, kicking out on the full on penalties and at kick off, missing tackles, passing into thin air, missing easy shots at goal – the list goes on, Australia doesn’t have a world class 10 – that’s the problem! Matt Toomua will have to do – he’s not flashy but at least he can tackle and take the ball to the line. CLL will be good for one game, then don’t rely on him to back it up the next week with another good performance, it doesn’t work that way.

I personally have had enough of this Pooper – Hocock combination. When was the last time David Pocock last won a turnover? What impact is he having on the game? He should at least be put on the bench. The Wallabies need a balanced back row with a big humans at 6 and 8 to soften up the opposition – especially if the Wallabies are going to keep the ball in hand – well that the idea one would assume even though it takes then half a game and 15 to 20 points behind to work it out.

The rolling maul 5 metres from the Welsh Line – where were the backs? Why didn’t they pile in to protect the ball? Why did Hooper go for goal to take the score to 25 to their 26. Why didn’t he go for the line and then bring on a rolling maul? Isn’t this one of the Wallaby strenghts. Where is Taniela Tupou?

No I don’t think this Wallaby side is going to make the finals. Too many questions, too much uncertainty, too inconsistent and too many better coached sides.

Wallabies down but not out after Wales loss

I think it is a big positive that there is no real home town advantage to the potential winners of this Rugby World Cup. It is a more level playing field, excusing the pun. By having the Rugby World Cup in a country like Japan with some great stadiums was a terrific decision by World Rugby. Whoever made the decision should, in my opinion, give themselves a pat on the back.

I also think that World Rugby should continue the policy of hosting the Rugby World Cup (as long as they are willing to stump up the hosting fee) in countries who are lower ranked in world rugby standing, but the potential to have a positive effect in the growth of the game of rugby. The North American market i.e. Canada and the USA spring to mind and would fit perfectly into this framework, lots of great stadiums. With regard to ticket sales who would have guessed the stadiums in Japan would be in many cases sold out from local support. Compare this to the World Cup in Australia in 2003 when many of the games and venues looked poorly attended in much smaller crowd capacities. How the rugby world is changing, I think for the better!

Wallabies win well despite Cheika's dumb game plan

Rugby is the game of inches, those between the ears. What has been missing in the Wallabies for a number of years is the inches between the ears. Many of the players look great on paper, but when the pressure is on they make dumb decisions, fail to execute accurately or worse are inconsistent. The failure of the Wallabies in recent times has coincided with the dumbing down of the team. The team has been cursed with being consistently inconsistent. One can never tell which team is coming out of the sheds to play. One week they are world beaters i.e. Perth, the next week they are chumps i.e. Auckland, all within 7 days.

The team is almost exactly the same, except there is a change, the stuff that is going on between the ears. They weren’t up to the task and got bullied at the breakdown because it was wet and cold, and the All Blacks just wanted in more. There was a real opportunity to make a statement by the Wallabies, but they just didn’t have the mental capacity to take the opportunity. Was it poor leadership, poor coaching, inconsistency, a lack of rugby smarts, or all of this combination. Whatever it was it was a complete capitulation.

So why did they select Adam Ashley Cooper? He is older and getting slower but he is in my opinion still a smart rugby player. He is rarely caught out of position and he usually makes the correct decision. In my opinion he adds a lot of gravitas to the team and I can see why the selection panel have picked him.

Let’s see if Australia can get past Wales, Fiji and out of the pool to the quarter finals.

England are looking red hot and are enjoying playing in the dry warm weather, just the same conditions Australia like to play.

Can Cheika's Wallabies beat the curse of the beaten RWC finalist?

Suck it up!!

This game was always going to be a huge test for this team. This is test rugby and the Wallabies got an “F” and the All Blacks got an “A+” in that examination.

The Wallabies, and this includes the coaching team, clearly have no idea how to play rugby in the wet and it was on full display. Absolutely useless, but as we have been told by Cheika “SUCK IT UP” in an arrogant tone. Who does this guy think he is? More importantly who does he think we are? This guy is the most useless coach with the worst record, and the facts speak the truth.

Let’s hope that was the last game they have to play in the rain this year. Luckily Japan in the Autumn is generally dry and cool and the typhoon season hopefully will be over – even with global warming.
The Wallabies one week look like world beaters and within 7 days the 8 man scrum gets pushed off the ball by 7 All Blacks …twice. That about sums it up. This is tough to suck up!
The Wallaby tight 5 were bullied by the All Blacks, and the rest of the team suffered. Suck it up! Kurtley Beale played like a chicken with its head cut off…suck that up too!

What was Cheika and the coaching staff telling the team before they ran onto the field? Suck it up as you’re going to hang onto the ball and play dry weather footy? Suck it up as I don’t have any idea how to coach wet weather footy. Let’s not use the blind side, or the touch line, or use the line out, let’s just play dumb rugby and kick the ball to their back 3. Just suck it up! All those supporters in Australia can suck it up too!

The final question I have to ask of this team, including Cheika, is – why do think you deserve our support? We are sick and tired of sucking it up! I think we deserve an apology from Cheika, and a lot less lip.

Cheika's Wallabies need a revised Plan A for RWC glory


The All Blacks really missed Brodie Retallick, he is a great loss to the team and in my opinion one of the reasons why NZ tight 5 is so dominant.

The Wallaby selection panel is working. By removing Cheika as the sole selector is proving a smart move. Isn’t this copying the All Black model of team selections? The panel selection of James O’Connor at 13 was a revelation. The Wallabies are also now finally using another All Black model, a big ball carrier at 12 and a play maker at 13. Australian selections under Cheika was two playmakers at 10 and 12, but the Wallaby panel now has finally done the switch.

I wonder how the Wallaby panel is going to use a fit David Pocock? I like a balanced forward pack with a big body at 6 and 8 and Hooper at 7. Using Pocock and Hooper in my opinion upsets the balance and a similar two fetcher combination for the All Blacks on Saturday was exposed as the bigger Wallaby forwards dominated them off the ball.

Finally I have to also admit that the passive line zone defence is working, at least in this match. I thought the All Blacks were going to cut the defence of the Wallabies to pieces if they used the same defensive patterns as they did against the Pumas. It didn’t happen. The Wallaby defense was, in my opinion pretty good, although it does give more time and space for the attack to chip kick through or come up with some other plan.

I guess we will know soon and all will be revealed in fortress Eden Park, the 33 year old graveyard of Australian rugby. The All Blacks will be filthy and the partisan home crowd will be chanting for revenge. I have checked the weather forcast and it is likely it will be raining or have rained, so it will be slippery and cold. If the Wallabies can pull off an unlikely victory then the Wallabies can consider themselves a contender for winning the World Cup.

The Wrap: Resurgent Wallabies place one hand on the Bledisloe Cup

Thanks Nic, yet another intuitive and instructive article. I have a bone to pick about the Haka since the Wallabies are playing the All Blacks this weekend. We have been told on countless occasions that it is an insult to not take the challenge when the Haka is being performed. I like watching the Haka as it is great theatre and it must be practised by the All Blacks for many hours to make sure the choreography is perfect and all the participants are in sync to get the arrowhead shape correct. Having said that, it is ridiculous for any team to have to stand there facing the All Blacks while they carry on with their histrionics. There is no obligation anymore to take the challenge. The reason why I say this is that when I watched the match in Rotorua where the Maori All Blacks the cultural leaders of the Haka, laid down the challenge to the Fijians. What they did beforehand was quite shocking, they turned their backs on the Fijians when they were laying down their challenge. Joining the dots, if its good enough for the NZ Moari to turn their backs when an opposition team lays down their challenge, then the Wallabies and any other team now have the perfect excuse to ignore the Haka. All they have to do is point to this example of disrespect by the NZ Maori to the Fijians. I remember when David Campese used to practise his kicking when the Haka was being performed. I expect to see the Wallabies on Saturday just get on with their warm up and turn their backs, just like the Maori All Blacks.

How the Wallabies are cleaning house under Shaun Berne

They’re all raving how good the Wallaby defence was on Saturday. In my opinion if they use the same defensive structures against the All Blacks, the Wallabies will be cut to pieces. If one needs a lesson on how to defend against the All Blacks then watch the South Africans on Saturday. They choked the All Blacks leaving them no room when the Boks raced up marking the player, a bit like man on man defence in basketball. In contrast the Wallabies played a more zone defence sitting back on their heals. The All Blacks are way to good and will run through zone defences as it gives them time to arrange their attack. I’m not sure Nathan Grey is up to the job and has the flexibility in his coaching tool box to have alternate styles of defence patterns.

Seven talking points from Wallabies vs Argentina

Nick, yet another expert summary.

Question: Can the Cheika coach squad defeat who are effectively the Jaguares a super rugby finalist who were dusted off by the Crusaders …and at home in Brisbane? A loss for the Wallabies will create, in my opinion, aloud ringing of the alarm bells, so loud that Cheika should advise that he will most definitely not be extending his contract beyond the World Cup.
Thinking outside the box if it was up to me I would give Taniela Tupou a stint on the side of the scrum. I reckon he would be a revelation a real handful.

Why the Wallabies were caught short in Johannesburg