The Tuesday Top 5 - Green and Gold Rugby
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The Tuesday Top 5

The Tuesday Top 5

Hello again. Well what a gut wrenching weekend that was. Here’s our take on some of the events of the past few days.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Good – The Boks beating the All Blacks was the highlight of the weekend. Not just because the All Blacks lost, but because it was a great game to watch. Real edge of the seat stuff. There was some really good rugby from both teams, the South Africans turned it up about a dozen notches from their game against the Wallabies.

Bad – I am so sick of reading (insert name of team here) just “wanted the win more”. That is rubbish, a complete cop out and if that’s the case then the team that apparently wanted the win less shouldn’t bother being on the field. In any sport, especially international level sport, should there be one team that wants to win more than the other? Both teams should be giving their everything, laying it all on the line for the win.

Ugly – There are a lot of things I could put here, most of which have been done to death in the media. So I’ll just leave this picture here. They say a picture paints a thousand words, well this one paints a thousand empty seats.

Embed from Getty Images

But you’ve never played test rugby!

Us fans are frustrated. Many are throwing in the towel, as evidenced by the small crowds at Wallabies game. Poor coaching, poor execution, the other team always seeming to “want” the win more – how much more can we take?

During the game I was checking Twitter to see what other people thought about what was going on. Pretty similar opinions across the board – bewilderment at the Toomua substitution, frustration and anger at Folau not passing and dissatisfaction at the poor level of tackling that was going on. There were some pretty poor missed tackles. A tackle rate of 73% is far from acceptable.

But apparently unless you have played test rugby you should not be so critical. That’s according to Steven Hoiles anyway. When someone dared to tweet that the tackling was poor and they should “man the f**k up” Hoiles took exception to the comment.

Hoiles tweet

I don’t know if it was the use of the f bomb that offended him so much, or someone publicly questioning the team’s ability to tackle. Maybe it was the phrase “man up”, which I know can offend some people (if they choose to believe that he was insinuating they are playing like girls and need to be manlier). I’ve heard the phrase used in other sports to mean stick to your man, especially when you’re defending – AFL and soccer use it a lot.

Others jumped in and asked if he thought the performance was acceptable and he seemed to change his tune to it not so much being what was said, but how it was said. He believed showed a “lack of respect”.

I’ve never made a single tackle at test level (or any level for that matter, when I was young and injury free enough to play rugby it really wasn’t offered for girls), but have no problem saying that the Wallabies tackling on Saturday night was rubbish. 73%. That, to me, counts as rubbish. But like I said, I’ve never made a tackle at test level so my opinion probably doesn’t matter.

The value of the jersey

$159.99 retail for anyone still interested in buying one.

But not exactly what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about how much value this jersey holds to the players. Not the current Wallabies so much as future potential Wallabies. Past Wallabies. Rugby players in general.

This was brought on by a tweet from James Horwill. The clever man has finished a ridiculously long research paper that I think would be a fascinating read. And judging by the replies to the tweet I’m not alone.

This reply in particular has me very curious. I think we all assume the main reason players head OS to play is money.

But I wonder how many are leaving because of lack of opportunity to play for their country. Whether you agree Joe Powell should be in the team or not, he sat on the bench for the whole game against South Africa, completely unused. He will only ever make the 23 if Genia or Phipps are injured, unless it is against a very lowly ranked team with nothing at stake. How long till he starts looking to go OS? Jake Gordon is in the same position. I whole heartedly agree that the best players in their positions should be selected. If Powell isn’t good enough then so be it, but don’t select him and leave him on the bench for 80 minutes. What about all the young number 7’s out there who saw their dream of playing for the Wallabies in the next five years go up in smoke in recent months? Do they stick around and fight it out or go get the playing experience overseas?

I have to ask, has the Wallabies jersey been de-valued by the way things have been done under this management. How many plyers have played just one or two tests and aren’t seen again? Leroy Housten was brought back from OS, signed for the Reds and brought quickly into the Wallabies squad. He has 1 cap. Taqele Naiyaravoro was selected for the team amidst speculation that he could become eligible for Scotland. He has 2 caps. Rugby League players have been signed up for Super teams and played for the Wallabies before they have even played a game of rugby in Australia. Not to mention the consistent selection of out of form players over recent years. Poor performances from certain players have no bearing on selections by the look of it, while some players have a poor debut match and aren’t seen again.

Genia (who has been successful since his return and pushed Phipps to the bench – all around win), TPN, Matt Toomua have all come back from OS to play for the Wallabies. TPN looks off the pace, and while Toomua looked good, we all saw this on the weekend, and I wonder if I’m alone in thinking he might be regretting his decision.

Is the draw of the Wallabies jersey enough to keep players from heading overseas? To be honest, judging by the number of class players we have lost in the past few years (Tomane, Fardy, Gill just to name a very few) I’d say not.

NRC – What is going on this year?

With the disappointment of International Rugby at the moment, I’m seeing more people talking about the NRC and how they are glad it’s around to satisfy the rugby urges we are getting. And I’ll agree – to some extent. To be completely honest though, this year I’m not going back and catching up on games I didn’t get the chance to see. I’m happy to look at the result and go “nah, I won’t bother watching that one.”  Last year I made sure I watched nearly every game and was loving the quality of the rugby that was on show. But not this year.

Why is that, when everyone loves it?

I think one of the reasons becomes more apparent when we look at these numbers. These are the winning margins of the first 11 games of the season.

23 10 18 61 37 26 1 55 30 21 10

 

The average winning margin so far this year is 25.5, which is fairly large.

Out of the 11 games played, there was only one game where the winning margin was less than 10. Only 4 where it was less than 20. That means that 7 out of 11 matches had a points difference of 20 or more. 3 converted tries.

Also check out the points +/-  on the ladder as it stands. 41, 54, 37, 34, 31, -58, -58, -81. Bear in mind, that is after just 3 games (or 2 in the case of the NSW teams).

Now let’s compare those numbers with the first 12 games of last year’s season (there was no silly split first round where the round 1 clash for the 2 NSW teams is actually played on the Wednesday between rounds 3 and 4, even though it is counted as a round 1 clash on Rugby.com.au)

2018 23 10 18 61 37 26 1 55 30 21 10
2019 8 9 21 12 19 21 7 15 17 20 2 44

 

So last year the average was 16.25 points difference per game, which is still a decent margin. Just looking at the scores, it was clearly a closer competition last year. One third of the games decided by less than 10. Only 4 with a margin 20 points or more. The games were closer, and to me that makes them more exciting.

We all love to see our team win and win big, but as a neutral do we really like seeing such one-sided games? I watch to see the competition, not something that (like some of these matches this year) looks more like a weakly opposed training session. So I check the results and don’t bother watching the games where it looks like only one team showed up. I catch up on the highlights and move on. It will be interesting to see if the teams even out as the comp goes on, though after this coming weekend we are past half way point, and if the games do get closer. I really hope so, the last thing rugby needs is more fans turning away because their team is getting flogged week in week out. Who wants to see that?

Oh, and one good thing about this round one match being played this week? At least one of the NSW teams will get some points on the board, with both yet to secure a win.

Connor Vest carries Sorovi to the line.

Connor Vest carries Sorovi to the line.


Mitre 10 Cup highlights

Just for those who want to see some fast, tough, skilful rugby.

  • Adrian

    Good summary MST

    Re the defence, and especially in the first half, a lot of guys had the tackle half done, then dropped off.

    A lack of intensity I say.

    A coach I had once used to say, “fingernails boys, fingernails”, meaning “hang on for grim death”

  • Who?

    I’m glad to see that the arrogance of the Matt Burke line has spread to the next generation of commentators…

    It’s also fascinating to see that, once again, in an ocean of misery and bile, it’s Jack Quigley’s social media that gets a response. He’s the bloke who whinged last year on Facebook, got 40k likes, and a phone call from Cheika. And Cheika’s number. I wonder if he’s used it lately……

    Kevvie’s assignment would be a FASCINATING read… Betcha no one at RA takes any of the lessons from it!

    NRC… After all the talk about how shrinking the number of NSW teams would improve their competitiveness, it’s fascinating to see they’re yet to register a win. Just shows it’s not about player numbers, it’s about preparation time and off field support. And as long as clubs – and not the NSWRU – are running those franchises, they’re just not going to integrate enough to the professional infrastructure available through/from the Tahs.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Mate if you read the link from Huw above you’ll find that the issue is the NSWRFU sticking in and not actually using the clubs. If that article is even half true then the NSW teams have been royally screwed by the NSWRFU.

      Mind you if the Tahs people making those shit d3cisions aren’t the NSWRFU then I apologise

      • Who?

        The NRC in NSW was always a farce. It was an ARU thought bubble that the NSWRU didn’t take seriously. The QRU took it seriously – with grave concern. They didn’t trust it, they treated it as though it was Nitroglycerin – highly volatile, likely to explode any moment, but, if developed safely (perhaps at arms’ length), potentially very useful. They didn’t want anyone else taking on the risks, and they saw the possible rewards. Hence they’ve come away with 3 of 4 titles so far, and have the sole remaining undefeated team.
        But I didn’t realize that, even with the ‘shrinking to greatness’ pathway fully implemented, the NSWRU was still treating the NRC as a mickey mouse competition. There’s no reason whatsoever why the Rays and Eagles shouldn’t be filled with the very best talent from Shute Shield. Signing a contract to play NRC should be a reward for a great SS season. As being selected in Country or Sydney was back in the day. And it should pay better than is reported on that article – I’d expect the Qld teams are paying better than that. The low pay will, undoubtedly, be significantly caused by the fact that the NRC Franchises are privately owned (i.e. clubs, etc), and therefore have no NSWRU/RA backing, financially (a key part of the low cost strategy the ARU took when they designed the competition).
        Setting up your NRC franchise as a true rep team doesn’t mean you can’t develop players – there’s a few lads from my region as ‘development players’ with Qld Country. They’re not playing. They’ve got dreams of ‘graduating’ from the Qld Country Heelers (amateur rep team) to Qld Country (NRC), which I can’t imagine are likely to be successful, but their presence with the team still exposes them to a new level, and hopefully that trickles down to their local clubs.

  • Steve Holies is entitled to feel offended. I don’t like phrases directed at me that include “fuck off” or “…fuck up” so he can feel he should protect the feelings of the delicate wallflowers playing test rugby who are completely unused to social media and how to handle it when fans use offensive language.

    On the other hand, as fans, whether or not we’ve ever played a game of rugby (I played as a schoolgirl but never much beyond that, the chances weren’t there 40 years ago) in any competitive game at any level we can say at a 73% tackle completion rate is simply not good enough. If you’d played in a complete mud-bath (remember that picture of Fran Cotton face covered in mud, looking up?) there might be an excuse for a team tackle rate that low. If you’re the poor sod trying to mark the next Jonah Lomu, there might be an excuse for an individual rate that low – I remember him in the semi-finals against England just breaking tackles for fun. But modern defences are used to wingers like Lomu, so fewer excuses.

    Politely, or angrily, expressing their anger at their team’s performance is not unreasonable. I would veer to the polite, in public, even in Twitter. But you bet some of the things I’ve said (or screamed) at the TV are not fit to be heard in public. As fans we support the team – we buy the jerseys, we turn up to the matches and pay for the privilege, we buy the subscriptions to watch on not-free-to-air channels. Keep failing to provide content we want to watch and unless we all become masochists, we’ll stop showing up, we’ll stop buying the merch, we’ll stop buying the TV subscriptions. RA will really have a financial black hole, will anyone bother to rescue them?

    PS, if you want to read the thesis, after he’s actually finished (hopefully got his PhD) you should be able to get a copy through your library. You might have to pay, depending on exactly how they do it – they might physically ship the university library’s copy to you, which you’ll pay for, for example – but a lot of universities take a digital copy too, and will email it to you, which is usually a small admin fee to cover the costs of someone finding the right thing in their archive and emailing it to you. Depending on how his viva and everything go, that might not be for a few months yet, but it will be available, hopefully before Christmas, almost certainly before this time next year.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      As well written and as articulate as ever mate.

    • Brisneyland Local

      Eloise, you are on the money yet again!

    • HK Red

      Eloise, for me the Hoiles hoo-has is very simple. Hoiles (when he was a player) and the current crop of wallabies get paid very handsomely to do a job. There are some in the team that consistently display an inability to do that job.
      If I consistently display an inability to effectively carry out one of the very core aspects of my job, I’d be sacked.

      • I am really not defending them at all. You might need to check your sarcasm meter is working from about “delicate” onwards in the first paragraph I think?

        I’m a regular critic of Cheika, and his selection policy. I have my blindspots – I supported Hanigan’s inclusion for too long, I thought he had the making of a test 6 and he just needed a chance to find his feet. He still might but he either needs to get away from Australia and learn the position, or do something else because he’s not improving at the right rate. That’s not necessarily entirely fair, he was better on Saturday in a woefully unbalanced backline. Him, Timu and Pocock might be good but I’m in a position of once bitten, twice shy and I wouldn’t start him. So maybe he was just picked a year or two early.

        I do single out players for criticism as well, although I’m not entirely sure how fair some of that is right now. If you watch Ireland say, or Scotland, two teams that it’s painful to watch I know given recent history, or Wales, a team where it’s easier to watch them as a Wallabies fan, you don’t have to be a rugby aficionado to believe those sides have a plan (or two or three) in attack and a plan in defence. Every player understands the plan(s). Crucially, they understand the whole plan though. The plan doesn’t go 12 does this, 14 does this, breakdown, 6 does this, 2 does this, 9 does this, 8 does this, 11 does this. It’s more general, first receiver, “a winger”, designated ball-carrying forward, etc. That way, if 8 is tied up in a ruck, or 11 has pulled up with a hammy earlier in the move, then someone else smoothly steps in. You see the same in defence, at least until you get into high numbers of phases and they start to run out of defenders. Mostly they seem, in defence to adjust to what they see in front of them – if you get these weird attacking formations behind a scrum say, with the fullback or blindside wing behind the 8 or 10, then the defensive line adapts and so on. It’s harder to spot in offence because that’s usually so fluid, but you can see it in plays from set piece sometimes.

        For the Wallabies, that doesn’t seem to be there. Jokes about stupid forwards aside (fingers crossed for Dr. Horwill to help disprove that), I’m pretty sure they’re not stupider than the rest of the rugby playing world. Unless Cheika deliberately selects players who are too stupid to argue with him? (No, that’s not a serious suggestion for his more bizarre selections, it’s a joke in bad taste, or a cri de coeur, can’t quite decide before my first coffee.) But what I think it is, in all seriousness, is bad coaching.

        Offensively, I think, players learn a play exactly the same way, the same players every time in Wallabies camp, but not in other camps. When it goes wrong and it will go wrong – test teams have high quality defenders who make lots of tackles (despite the “porous” defences and the number of tries scored in Wellington, both sides completed about 85% of their tackles), you can’t rely on a player slipping free or making an offload, and you can’t rely on quick recycling of the ball either – the other sides seem to more adaptable, the Wallabies have a fraction of a second of, hopefully only metaphorically, flapping their hands and wondering what to do. But against a quality side, well, Beauden Barrett is 2 metres behind the defensive line already…

        In defence, don’t even start me. Hiding players makes it slow to set up. Makes the loosies run further. Makes the poor defenders have to tackle more rarely perhaps, but have to tackle people like the opposition wingers, who are essentially employed to run real fast and outfox opposition tacklers. I know he’s a lock, but remember that Retallick dummy and sidestep? If you saw a wing doing that, you wouldn’t think anything of it, it’s their bread and butter. Izzy’s try on Saturday wasn’t exceptional for any one sidestep, it was exceptional because there were about 10, and he beat what, 7 defenders or something crazy.

        Sorry, that got long, even for me. The point is, I agree the players aren’t performing on the field as we expect. However, I’m not sure it’s down to the individual players. Not entirely. I think the coaching has a lot to do with it. I know the coaching manual more or less says tackling is down to your individual desire, and that certainly plays a part. But if you’ve been coached to stand a metre out of position, a test level attack will exploit that. Instead of a good hit with the shoulder, you make an arm tackle, and players will burst through. In attack, you’ll get lined up or you’ll get hit hard and the too structured attack that takes no account of the opposition will fall apart. (I think the same is true of the Brumbies by the way, there’s a reason they score a lot of their tries from driving mauls… they are kind of predictable, you select your jumper, you choose how you set up your maul, you control your processes almost completely and their legal responses are limited.)

        I don’t know what you do, but if you worked in a factory on a production line and the whole line failed to meet the production targets… do you sack the whole line, or fire the overseer and line manager? The Wallabies do have bad tacklers amongst them, and they probably need to be dropped too. But they have system errors resulting from bad coaching that are making it worse IMO.

        I’ve been here before. I don’t know if anyone would bite, I have a horrible feeling that coaching Australia might be seen as a rather poisoned chalice. But if I was Castle, I’d be on the phone to Vern Cotter. He worked miracles in Scotland with worse resources and he’s not head coach of a national side right now. He might not want it, but he might come in for a year and do the job.

        • HK Red

          Eloise, you might need to check when I proposed that you were defending them. Let me know when you find it.
          I agree with what you said and offered my very simple take on it which is, they get paid well to do a job (play test footy and tackle) and they are clearly not doing it. Also, Stephen Hoiles can shut up.

        • I read between the lines… and misread, sorry.

          I didn’t know my long rant was in there but the tl;dr version of I’m not entirely sure (to stretch your analogy) that the bad tackling stats is a worker failing to do their job so much as a manager failing to provide the necessary training and direction still stands IMO.

          The poor tackling is so widespread and so bad, it seems like a systems failure more than an individual failure. There are probably some individuals adding to that (I don’t want to dump on Beale again, but he would be one that springs to mind) but almost everyone is bad – I think they’re too tightly coached and they’re too often slightly out of position so they can’t make good tackles. The players with good tackle stats either have a more roving brief (Pocock) or are fast enough to adjust (Pocock again) or are making tackles in the tight areas around the breakdown. (There should be some props here, but I can’t find their stats.)

          To back up my comment about the coaching… if you look at the individual stats on the SANZAAR website, they list a top 10 for all kinds of things. 4 teams in the contest, so you’d expect 2 or 3 from each side. Nine categories, so you’d kind of hope 2 categories where each time leads – although that’s not necessarily fair, NZ are in the lead in the tournament, so they’d probably have more people there. Australia has no one leading in any of the categories. In three of the categories it only has 1 person. In those three categories obviously they fail to reach the total of the best individual. In four other categories the total output from the best 2 Wobs is basically only as good as the best individual in the competition (the highest is 118% of the total, for metres gained). Even more damning… if you assume a three team contest and 9 categories of stats, you’d guess at 3 categories each where they lead. It’s actually 4 for NZ, 3 for Los Pumas and 2 for SA – but you’d say that’s not a big departure from what you’d expect.

          Perhaps the current players are a bunch of donkeys playing against horses. More likely, they’re mostly horses, playing in blinkers.

    • HK Red

      Also, I’d be very bloody interested in reading Horwill’s thesis. Will have to set a reminder to search for it later in the year.

      • Greg

        Many theses are available as open access documents. Quite a few require you to have an academic affiliation.

        Good luck to him for the examination.

        • A public library can still get you an open access document, you might have to pay a small admin fee for the service. If the thesis really is open access, you can usually find it online without paying, although there are often some loopholes to jump through.

      • I’m pretty sure social media will let us know when he’s Dr. Horwill, so you can start trying to find it.

        • Patrick

          At 36000 words it is surely just a masters thesis no?

        • There’s an infamous PhD (admittedly it’s a maths equation) that’s one page.

          My other half has just finished her Masters degree and it was only 12,000 words, plus references and supplementary data. So could go either way. I don’t have a word count for my PhD, but although it’s quite thick, it’s not that wordy, double line-spacing, all figures on their own pages, extra wide margins, single face printing (so the back of every page is blank). Very different subject, but probably only about 40k words from a rough count of a full page and the number of pages.

        • Greg

          My uni says “not more than 100k words”

          Whether MPhil, DPhil, PhD…. it is still a mighty effort.

        • It varies a lot with discipline and, I suspect, to a lesser extent with university. I did a microbiology and immunology cross-over DPhil, vaccinology if you want to be pedantic. Not so many words, lots of graphs and tables. I have a friend who did a women’s studies/ethnography DPhil that I proofread for her. No figures, but about 75k words. In terms of pages, mine was actually slightly longer – all those graphs take up space but don’t really add to the word count a lot! My old university actually has no set word limit university wide, each board of study (that’s at the departmental level) can set its own. Where my partner is going, for science and engineering PhD’s the indicative word count is 35k-45k, but in the humanities its 75-85k.

        • Greg

          Mine is Biomedical Engineering and they want close to 100k. Then there is the discussion on thesis by publication and whether that is good or bad and and and…

          This is why we are lucky to have rugby to take our minds off that stuff! :-)

          You have a pretty good GAGR name considering your area of specialization!!

      • NickAJW

        With academics I have known, they are normally more than happy to share their papers with you via email (knowing that they are usually paywalled).

        Not sure if this would count for someone who is ‘famous’ but you might be able to find his uni address and just ask for a copy.

    • Hugh Cavill

      It’s worth pointing out that Hoiles has since deleted the tweet. I think he recognised it wasn’t the most constructive way to make his point.

      • There are lots of reasons I’m not on Twitter, or not any more. One is that there are few concepts you can express in 140 characters (250 now) that aren’t better expressed in 250 words or more. The next is that the few where 250 characters will do that spring to mind are best said in private! Whether that’s sweet nothings; what I’ve just had for breakfast; or angry, sweaty, short rants. Both those involved could have gained from not saying what they did, as they said it, in public then we wouldn’t have the unedifying tweet from Hoiles, nor would he have repented at leisure and deleted it.

    • BigNickHartman

      It would have been SO easy to point out Cheika never played test footy either!

      • True, but nor did a string of people I’d suggest are better coaches than Cheika: Hansen, Gatland, Schmidt, Cotter (I could keep going). You can argue Hansen has a far easier job so he might not be a better coach, he might not have the best position players for every position, but he has by far the strongest squad and picking between excellence in depth… my heart bleeds for him. But Gatland, Schmidt and Cotter have all done more with less than Cheika you’d think.

        • BigNickHartman

          Exactly, I think you often find the best coaches are the ones who never were the best players. Instead of raw talent they had determination or smarts to get as far as the top as they did during their playing career

  • Steve

    Who exactly does Hoiles think is keeping the players in a job?

    Way to show the fans that you’re not a bunch of overentitled morons who can’t learn from experience ”champ’.

    Hoiles is a relic from a particularly bad era in Australian rugby (which is arguably still ongoing). As a Brumbies fan I’ll never forget watching him laughing with his mates on the bench as the team for towelled up week after week.

    • BigNickHartman

      I hear this line a bit, so forgive me if I’m a bit sensitive – but don’t you sometimes laugh when shit’s going pearshaped? Not every reacts the same.

      Otherwise totally agree. He played footy, now gets to work with his mates flying around the world talking about footy, he should learn some self awareness

  • Huw Tindall

    Re the NSW teams struggling in the NRC everyone should read the below article from a NSW rugby player. Pretty damning on NSW rugby bodies and how they approached the NRC. Waratahs maybe trying to help this year but it’s a long road back.

    https://www.theroar.com.au/2018/09/16/the-decline-of-the-nsw-nrc-and-the-death-of-the-second-tier-player/

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      That is really damning. I will say not totally surprised as it reflects the general mismanagement of rugby in Australia. The only way the NRC will work is if the best players from the next level down make the team. If that doesn’t happen it will be doomed

      • Huw Tindall

        Depressing too coming from a player too. Would be interesting to see how Sydney Uni would go against an NRC time though. See how the club veterans go against a mix Super players and young up and coming players.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Yeah I think they’d smash them

        • Brumby Runner

          Didn’t we see just that when the Sydney Stars were part of the comp? Mostly, almost all, from Sydney Uni. Don’t remember too many smashings handed out by the Stars. Get real.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          I think this year almost anyone would smash the 2 NSW teams. They seem so disorganized and broken I’m not sure the k ow how to win

      • Brumby Runner

        True, KRL. It will be doomed because it won’t be fulfilling the purpose of the NRC competition.

    • disqus_NMX

      I hope the non-NSW NRC teams have taken note of this, and are scouring the SS teams for good players to sign up that would/should be playing for the Rays or Eagles.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Well written MST, the only thing I’d say is you probably would have tackled better on Saturday regardless of not having it offered as a young girl. Let’s face it, could you really have done worse?
    Hoiles is just typical of the current generation of Wallabies – I say current because he’s so close to the team – over pampered cry babies who don’t perform, blame everyone else for the results and cry when the pressure is on. Reminds me of the coach actually.

    I agree with you on Toomua. Wouldn’t be surprised if an injury keeps him out of the Wallabies until Cheika, Larkham and Grey are gone. Clearly frustrated and too smart to put up with such dribble.

    NRC is frustrating and unless it changes I think doomed to fail. Needs to be a competition where places are based on performance at the next level down rather than being used by Franchises like the Tahs to blood newbies.

    • Brumby Runner

      Really? Is that what the Tahs are doing? I thought the two Sydney sides were the cream of the Shute Shield, you know, the toughest and best club rugby competition in the world? And isn’t this the first year the Tahs have actually been involved? What was the excuse again when the Sydney based teams failed in earlier iterations? Arr, yeah, something like too many teams and no involvement from the Tahs.

      I think the problem is simply the Shute Shield teams. They apparently don’t want the NRC and it seems there is no heart in the sides they put together.

      It is no good blaming the teams who have access to Super players and use them. Without them, the NRC would simply become a club championship, and that is not its purpose. NSW needs to “man the fuck up”.

    • Richard Patterson

      One attribute saving Steven Hoiles is he’ll always be a better listen than Phil Kearns.

  • Greg

    36000 words sounds like a Master’s Thesis. What ever it is… congrats to Mr Horwill.

  • Greg

    I think I have figured out the substitution snafu….. they were trying to hook Taf but put an extra “1” on the sheet. Must be it! Maybe….

  • Hugh Cavill

    Good article as always MST.

    My only issue is your comment around ‘devaluing the jersey’. I don’t think there have been any egregious selections made in the last few years that would suggest it’s taking place. There will always be one-test wonders, and actually the one I question the most is Eto Nabuli. But that’s besides the point.

    You talk about Jake Gordon and Joe Powell not getting minutes off the bench, but to me that would be ‘devaluing the jersey’ as well. This isn’t a charity, and if these blokes aren’t better than Genia then they shouldn’t get on the ground just for the sake of it.

    In all cases, the jersey should be earned, not given.

    • Brumby Runner

      Apply that reasoning to the ABs, and we’d not have seen the likes of Goodhue, Frizell, the No 9 with the alphabet in his name, Mounga and many others. I don’t think that is devaluing the jersey. It is investing in the future so that the jersey will always be able to be worn with pride.

      • It’s not only the ABs that do it. Gatland has done it in Wales. OK, he’s been there for 11 years and he’s had to do that, he’s basically had the job for the life-cycle of an test player, so the team today has almost no players in it that he started with (I think Alun Wyn Jones is the only one). But even Eddie Jones, who has been in post for less time than Cheika, has done it. Perhaps not as much as he needs to in order to win a RWC (a typical squad you might expect 3 hookers, 3 scrum halves, Jones hasn’t really got a third hooker and it’s not clear Hartley will be fit to play in 12 months, but he’s brought Wrigglesworth in, so there’s a third number 9 with test experience).

        The Wobs have, I think, 13 tests before the RWC starts. I might have missed one or two, I can’t find a fixtures list for next year. I think they’re probably good for props. They’re probably ok for locks. They have too many quality 7’s. I think you’d probably pick 4 or 5 players for the tournament squad to cover the back 3, I think that’s ok. That leaves 6, 8, 2, 9, 10, 12 and 13. Some of those I’m sure Cheika has a first choice but I’m not sure it’s a good one (Foley, I mean you). I’m really not sure he has a good second choice (Phipps, I’m looking at you and your regular pass to touch in every game – you’re only on for about 10-15 minutes and you still manage to pass to touch in every game!) For 9 you really need a third choice too. Is there anyone with any test experience at all?

        • Ed

          EP, I think there are fewer tests before the RWC.
          We have six left this year, three in the shortened RC and a second Bledisloe. So if there is a warm-up, that will make 11 tests. Which of those tests will Cheika pick his first XV and how many will he tinker with the backup spots?

        • Ah, yes, I thought there was still a June test window, I forgot that got squeezed in a RWC year.

          If I was Cheika I wouldn’t be starting from here. Look at Hansen, Jones and Gatland – they’ve been mixing in new players for the last 3 years so they’ve got blooded players, albeit some with only a few caps, all over. At the last RWC Gatland basically had to cope with a third choice set of backs thanks to injuries. Hansen has worked in some new faces this year (Goodhue for example) and some he’s developed over the last three years. Cheika really hasn’t done that well.

          However, in the spirit of what you’ve asked. I would start my best XV for the next two RC matches, but blood new players off the bench to get them some experience. I’d be really tempted to write the RC off but really can’t afford to. Bledisloe III – tell everyone it’s a match to develop talent for Japan and pick a squad to match. Particularly in those critical positions. I’d go for a stronger squad against Wales and England, a squad more like Bled III against Italy. It’s not ideal, but you could get one or two hookers and scrum halves a decent chunk of play. I’m currently thinking Toomua is the best bet for 10, he starts all of those tests. I don’t really have clear ideas around the rest of the players right now (I’m bunking off from work on my tea break) but that’s HOW I’d do it.

  • Bixbyvegas

    Jack Quigley…writer of that Facebook rant after the Scotland loss at home last year. Didn’t realize he was a roar contributor. I’d like Jack to do an update of that rant…I read it again the other day….just find and replace Scotland with Argentina.

    • GeorgiaSatellite

      My problem with that rant was that it was all about ‘passion’. And I agreed with it initially, but not I feel that it allowed Cheika to hijack the narrative and continue banging on about how “no one is more passionate than me.” I’m now far less concerned about their passion than their skills, decision-making ability, general rugby nous, selections in the right positions, substitutions of the right players…

  • Patrick

    I never played test rugby and never even played first division and I wasn’t even a great tackler and I know bugger-all about rugby really, but I’m still dead certain that the Wallabies’ tackling on Saturday wasn’t good enough.

    • Human

      Don’t throw your boots away Patrick. If you live in NSW; can’t tackle; can’t pass; can’t catch; couldn’t run out of sight on a dark night; and can run into your team mates several times per game then you are sure to be on Chek’s ‘Possibles’ list. I have all those skills but don’t live in NSW – Chek rang last week to tell me that I was off the list.

      • Patrick

        Do you think he knows that I hate NSW? In a friendly way of course!

        • Human

          He does now. That’d be why he has not rung you.

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Brumbies first, then for the love of the game. "It infuriates me to be wrong when I know I'm right." —Moliere

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