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The Roar

Who Needs Melon

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Joined February 2009

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G’day Brett and fellow Roarers.

Nobody is beyond reproach. And I do think the players and coaches are doing some crazy things sometimes. But I really do think that simply calling for a player or coach to be dumped is knee-jerk. So we get rid of Cheika and instead install… who?

The fact is, as I and others have mentioned: We don’t have pathways that are creating good players and coaches. We can shake our fists at the guys who’ve followed the pathways to their conclusion all we like. There’s not a bunch of people standing behind them that are head-and-shoulders above them in terms of quality.

I like the new page format by the way.

Cheers, WNM

Will Cheika be sacked before the World Cup?

sheek,

Yes, I’m with you. But for an article that started with “Don’t shoot the piano player, he is doing his best”, this article still spent a fair bit of time shooting at the piano players.

Sticking with this Wild West saloon analogy, if we can’t blame the piano player, who do we blame? In this analogy the piano teachers are the coaches. But surely they are doing their best too.

The fundamental question is: Is this town any sort of place where you’d want to be playing or teaching the piano? Everyone in this town has now grown up watching piano players and teachers get shot at. Even when they’re the best in the town.

I’m conscious there’s another town just down the road that might pay piano players more and maybe we can’t compete with that but there must be other things we can offer that make this town attractive.

Imagine you’re Michael Hooper’s Dad right now. You’ve watched your son from the time he was a boy give his heart and soul, be battered and bruised every week and keep on coming. Although he lacks a little in stature and perhaps in skills, he’s risen through sheer guts to be captain of the Wallabies. And every week after he goes out, he’s torn to shreds in the media. Nobody in the team or the coaching staff is immune.

I’m not a Hooper supporter or a detractor but our attacks on our very best players and coaches is just going to further embed that this is not an attractive environment for them. So we’ve ended up in a situation where the only way we can now get them to stay is to pay them a truckload of money. And the release of this pay information to the public just further exacerbates this toxic environment.

I’d like to hear Rugby Australia come up and 100% own this situation. To admit that they are in charge of creating the right environment – the right structure for rugby in this country to succeed. To defend the players and coaches. And to tell us what they are doing to turn things around. To give us all a realistic timeframe (10 years?), show how we’re going to measure progress over this period… and quit if they can’t achieve the progress they’ve promised.

The Australian rugby system is the problem, not just Michael Cheika

Not everyone is surprised.

We know rugby is a funny game and I think the teams are close enough in talent that the Wallabies might beat the All Blacks maybe one in ten times – when the All Blacks are having a particularly off night and the Wallabies get the bounce of the ball, rub of the green and everything else. A bit like the French.

But many of us have been saying for years that the way to fix things isn’t:
– working on aspect X during the next week or month
– swapping out one player for another of similar quality
– swapping out the coach for one of similar quality

The structure of rugby in Australia just isn’t producing players and coaches of the kind of quality they have on the other side of the ditch. We continue to invest WAY too much money on the top 10 or so players hoping that will mean they stay, we get good results, that attracts fans and we therefore earn more money. And that the money at the top is a carrot for those lower down to chase. That sounds like a positive reinforcement cycle but it isn’t – it’s the opposite.

We shouldn’t be investing in the players that are already at the top – we should be investing in the players who MIGHT be at the top in another 5-10 years. Ditto for coaches.

Foley and Genia – these are guys who are almost the embodiment of the Rugby Australia structure at the moment. We’re not bothering to invest in the guys underneath them – we’re putting all our eggs in a very small, fragile basket.

Every now and then good young players like Tupou, Banks and Maddocks will appear via the current structure… but a lot more would appear in a lot more positions and they’d be even better players if we’d only invest more in them – time, coaching and money – than in the elite dozen or so.

The quick fix: What the Wallabies can change in a week

Must be Tuesday.

We’ve got some serious Statler and Waldorf going on here sometimes.
(The old men from the Muppets)

Bledisloe déjà vu, but were the Wallabies really that bad?

Good call. In Genia and Cooper there was a great partnership with the POTENTIAL to be one of the best ever. Unfortunately for various reasons it never panned out the way most of us would have liked.

The three greatest partnerships in Australian rugby history

I endorse the Crowd this week in thanking you guys for your thoughtful writing each week. I often don’t get time to comment these days but I usually read and all of you are voices of reason in what can be a sea of crazy out there at times.

Super Rugby 2018: The panel concludes the ninth Crusade

Hard to argue with any of this.

Having a quick review of this page on wikipedia tells me the Crusaders have been in the grand final twice as often as any other team – 12 times since 1996 and they’ve won 8 of them for a 67% grand-final winning %.

As an old Brumbies fan I remember many a clash with them as our nemesis early this century. Brumbies have the next most appearances in the grand final with 6 but only won 33% of them.

There are other teams with a better grand-final-win% such as the Bulls and (surprisingly) the Blues and Reds. But they were all real flash-in-the-pans – hadn’t appeared in many grand finals before or since.

New Zealand are the clearly the preeminent rugby nation on Earth, have been for decades and the Crusaders are surely a good feeder into this national level success.

The Crusaders’ relentlessness will see them home

You had me at Larry Bird.

Another cracker of an article.

Momentum changer: How the Waratahs turned yellow into playoff gold

That’s rubbish.

Two players jump for the ball, both have their “feet off the ground”, they bump into each other. They’re BOTH broken that law! Or do we look at who left the ground first and that’s the player that should be protected by that law?

Folau ban farce: It’s World Rugby that need to lift

I think I’m not a person who fires up easily and is a one-eyed parochial supporter. But I’ll agree that people who are one-eyed probably say this as well. But I will weigh in on this…

For the decades that I’ve been watching rugby, in the lead up to incidents where two players are competing for a high ball, I’ve both cringed and crept forward in my seat. You’ll hear “that was a courageous take” because there is courage involved – it’s dangerous to leave you feet jumping for the ball. And it’s dangerous to hold your ground and keep your eyes on the ball feeling the rumble of the feet of rampaging lumps of meat charging at you while you do.

To slow these incidents down and analyse which part of which players body contacted which parts of other players and what such contact may have caused seems a bit senseless to me. Watched in real time, two players went courageously for the ball with everything they’ve got and one of them was injured. I don’t think Folau had the time to think “I’ve not caught this, I’m going to pull this other guy over”. And I don’t think he went in premeditated to pull him over. If it happened again and an Irish shoulder caught Folau’s hip and Folau went head-over, I’d be saying the same thing. You take risks, something could go wrong.

Folau ban farce: It’s World Rugby that need to lift

For years a lot of the conversations after any article on rugby in Australia has devolved into a debate about who should be playing at 10. It’s fair enough because it’s been a trouble spot for Australia for the past few years (at least). What’s truly bizarre is that most of the suggestions for who should be playing 10 are guys who AREN’T playing 10 for their Super Rugby side!

Why isn’t the most obvious next best candidate for 10 a guy who grew up playing 10, learned the skills and nous/experience of a 10 over a period of many years playing in that position and is used to playing in that position at the highest levels of the game?

Why is it that those coming up through what you’d think would be normal development pathways for a 10 don’t seem to develop enough to make it as a 10 in professional rugby? Why doesn’t the guy who played 10 really well for Joeys (or wherever) then go on to get further experience and skills development all the way up to and including super rugby until he ‘makes it’?

I’ve said before (decades ago) that Larkham was a bit of a curse in Australia. It seemed to instil in us the belief that anyone could be converted into a 10. This isn’t a crack at Maddocks or Hodge or anyone else that COULD be turned into a good 10. They DO seem our best options at the moment. My question is WHY?

A rugby riddle for today: What has a backbone but no spine?

“the dunny will get flushed on this match”

Mate, on this side of the Tasman we’ve been flushing for years but it won’t go!

The panel: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of the June Tests

Agreed. I think they must have said to themselves “No – that’s just what they’ll be expecting us to do. Let’s kick it straight to Folau every time!”

Sexton not the biggest worry for Wallabies

And interesting little exchange and I think Sam may have given away a little hint at the difference in the NZ ethos towards what makes a good rugby side. The number 10 is more noticeable – at least for most people – but the forwards more important.

I reckon it’s going to be a bit of a one-two punch thing on the weekend. I think the Irish should have worked out Wallabies are pretty good in the air, pretty good at running it back but aren’t kicking long and have a weak lineout. Ergo people like Sexton will kick long and out – preferably into the stands. And people like Dev Toner will put even more pressure on the Wallabies lineout. Wallabies have to be ready for this.

Sexton not the biggest worry for Wallabies

Scrum in general one of many things to be proud of from the weekend. Wonder how close Tongan Thor is to getting a starting spot.

How good?! Wallabies extend the Australian form line with superb win

Alright, I’ll reply!

Yes, I was surprised. Most people were saying before the game that Foley, Beale and Kerevi were going to be good in attack but a relative weakness in defense – even though (or maybe partly because!) they are all shuffled around so much. Maybe I wasn’t watching close enough but I didn’t notice them being attacked too often… except perhaps when Sexton came on.

I was also expecting more of a traditional forcings-back approach from the Irish – for them to have better/smarter kickers than the Wallabies. But that didn’t really seem too evident either. Maybe I just need to watch the game again. For the first time in a long while, that’s a really re-watchable game for me.

Come to think of it, if I had to describe the Irish gameplan in attack, I’m not sure I could. I think perhaps they wanted to go wide but the Wallabies seemed to stifle that and they didn’t really seem to have a good Plan B. Now why does that sound so familiar…?

How good?! Wallabies extend the Australian form line with superb win

We got what we wished for – that really was a performance we could all be proud of. I’ll eat humble pie since I certainly didn’t expect it. Irish coach was full of praise for the Wallabies in the post-match presser.

Someone wrote that the Irish were missing an x-factor to unlock the Wallaby defence and I think that’s a good point but Sexton looked to be that missing ingredient. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Irish bounce back setting up an intriguing game 3.

Well done Wallabies!

How good?! Wallabies extend the Australian form line with superb win

Haven’t seen Toomua play recently or heard much about his performances but if he is anything like he was, I’d have no qualms with Toomua back in the Wallaby squad. I suspect he’s probably got better than we last saw but always hard to tell.

If he has been playing 12, I’d have him in the starting side at 12 too. A really solid defender so you don’t have to do so much silly shuffling around and, while not as electric as Beale on attack, he’s no slouch there either.

I think Toomua is also a better backup 10 option than Beale. Or anyone else in the Wallaby squad.

All a bit of a moot point though since I think it’s unlikely he will come back to Super Rugby in the near future. No guarantee he’d make the Wallaby starting side. Not ahead of favourites like Foley and Beale.

Bernard Foley, Jonathan Sexton, and Marius van der Westhuizen hold the key to rugby Test

Great article Harry.

I’m one of many too grind the teeth and pull the hair out at some of the box-kicking from many of the Australian halves in recent years. A lot of us have been saying just not to do it any more. But it’s more that, if you’re not able to do it well, don’t do it at all.

Your article defines precisely what good box-kicking entails.

Matchup: Box kick king Conor Murray versus Speedy Sanchez

Digger is channelling Conan here.

“Conan, what is best in life?”
Conan: “To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women!”

I 100% agree with Brett. Wallabies need to show us something we can be proud of. Doesn’t necessarily mean a win but some gutsy play, no one-dimensional rubbish – some smart and skillful play combined with common sense.

The June Tests panel: What are we hoping to see from our national sides?

I’ve been very negative about Australian Rugby lately. While the recent wins against NZ sides are great, I’m yet to proclaim (as Brett [I think] jokingly did on the weekend) that we have “one hand on the Bledisloe” just yet.

Indeed one of the most frustrating things watching Australian rugby recently has been the fact that we ARE capable of some dazzling rugby from time to time.

The Wrap: Was this Australian rugby’s watershed weekend?

Goes straight through you.

The Wrap: Was this Australian rugby’s watershed weekend?

Australia’s problems with the Super Rugby concept are related to poor results by the four franchises, not the tournament itself.

Well, yes, in a way that’s true. But I honestly don’t think I’d mind the results so much if Australia were playing smart rugby. I think quality of rugby is the real issue… which of course leads to poor results. I’m sure the players now are more athletic and fitter and faster than they were 20 years ago but I’m positive that they are also far below the previous generation in terms of rugby nous and smarts. Forget the result – nothing turns a fan off more than finding themselves saying “what they hell did he do that for?” dozens of times per match.

Since 1996, the drift of rugby players to rugby league has been stopped and there has been a steady and important flow of talented players from rugby league to rugby as a consequence of the money and lifestyle that the Super Rugby tournament offers.

For the first 5-10 years after this 1996 date you set, Australian rugby was riding high. Who wouldn’t have wanted to be part of that. Plus we were flush with cash and willing to spend it on NRL players. Another way to look at this change in the direction of flow is to wonder if rugby union is producing the calibre of player that the NRL would be interested in any more!

If we gave RA a theoretical $100 at the moment there’s all sorts of ways they could spend it. They could give find 10 up-and-coming players and give them $10 each. They could spend it on improving the quality and consistency of coaches at lower levels. Or they could blow 90-100% of it on an NRL player. Honestly, which do you think they’d do? Yes, the ex NRL player might improve results but it’s the typical type of short-term thinking that seems to plague these times.

Spiro, you complain that if we adopted some of the things Cully is suggesting then rugby in Australia will end up like hockey. Surely you can see that’s the direction we’re heading right now anyway. If nothing else Cully’s article is a call to take action. Watching our boat slowly sink and taking no action is just madness. Again it’s the madness of our times though – we see the same thing happening in the disastrous falling of the USA, degradation our environment, etc.

Like sheek, I’ve kinda given up at this stage. I’ll just watch and see where those in charge take us. Of course if you have suggestions on how we can improve our results, happy to hear them.

Has the Waratahs' win lifted Australia's Super Rugby blues?

This was a bit unnecessary: “the Tahs are faced with already fickle fans becoming more disengaged”

Makes it seem the fans are at fault. It’s not just Johnny-Come-Lately, part-time fans that are staying away. And not just Waratah fans. It’s taken some long-term, consistent, systemic and monumental mismanagement over the past few years to strip away the hardened, rusted-on fans from every Australian Super rugby team.

It’s very easy to imagine someone at the NRL headquarters swivelling around on his chair, stroking his Persian cat and announcing “Excellent gentlemen! The moles we planted over many years in rugby have done a fine job and our plan is now almost complete. Woo ha ha ha haaa…”.

Wobbly Waratahs must deliver as Aussie crowds crumble

Agreed. The comments in articles that have nothing (or very little) to do with these guys usually end up being debates around these guys too.

Wobbly Waratahs must deliver as Aussie crowds crumble