Five Fearless 2019 New Year Predictions - Only Up From Here? - Green and Gold Rugby
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Five Fearless 2019 New Year Predictions – Only Up From Here?

Five Fearless 2019 New Year Predictions – Only Up From Here?

Well, ladies and gentleman, first things first: Happy New Year! 

The shambles that was 2018 is history, and a new year is upon us. 2019 brings us the long awaited World Cup in Japan, and a new competition in Global Rapid Rugby set to launch in Asia.

Since 2016, we’ve been having a shocker when it comes to rugby, not just on the field, but as a brand. Whenever anyone thinks of rugby now, they talk about how much of a mess it is in. The Wallabies are losing match after match and Rugby Australia seemed to lack the balls to take any action, and at lower levels it is becoming increasingly clear that game is struggling.

If anything, the game has transformed into a quarrel of competing egos arguing that their way to fix the game is best, with no consensus on a solution. Most of all, there seems to be a clear lack of understanding between those who run the game and the folks who play it all around the country.

The only folks who seem to care anymore are the hardcore fans: the families and people that have either played the game their whole lives, or know someone who has played the game their whole lives. And even some of them are beginning to lose hope. It seems now more than ever that the game no longer appeals to the casual viewer, something that AFL, Rugby League and Soccer have been excelling at in the past few years.

However, I think that 2019 will be a better year for our game (touch wood). I mean, how much worse could it get?

So, here are five fearless predictions: some of these are positive, some of these are negative, but all are my own opinion. If you agree, disagree, or have predictions of your own, let me know your thoughts down below:

Mixed results ahead for the Sevens teams

Ellia Green beats the tackle of Michaela Blyde

Ellia Green beats the tackle of Michaela Blyde

We start off with the first rugby that will arrive on our shores in 2019. For the last few years, Sevens seems to have been one of the few things that has improved. Our Womens Sevens team were, (until last year’s Commonwealth Games when we went down to New Zealand), the best team in the world, and our Mens Sevens team has been consistently finishing in the top five for the last few years. And both won in Sydney last year.

However, this year both teams are going through a lot of change, especially the Womens team. The squad had a slow start to the 2018-19 season, after crashing out in round one in the US to finish in 5th place, before recovering to take Bronze in Dubai. Emilee Cherry, Emma Tonegato and Shannon Parry were all out from injury during that round, and new coach John Manenti added a injection of young talent from the AON Uni Sevens competition, including the likes of Sariah Paki and Lily Dick.

The Girls currently sit in fourth place, and will have to produce a back-against-the-wall performance if they are to retain their Series crown. Those first two rounds were won by New Zealand, who currently have a 12 point lead over us. If the Kiwis win again, unless they struggle to place in the remaining three rounds the title is as good as theirs for the year.

I’d argue that while it sucks we’ve fallen back so far, it’s short term pain for long term gain. It’s great to see that we have been consistently good for the last few years, and we need younger players getting that exposure and learning from veterans who won two Sevens Series and a Olympic Gold medal. Right now, consistency is something Australian rugby desperately needs.

The Men are also in the midst of transition period, with Tim Walsh coming in to coach the side. Currently, the side are sitting just outside the top five, having finished in fourth in the first round in Dubai before crashing out early in the second round in Cape Town. The side should produce a better performance in Sydney, but with Fiji, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States in flying form, I don’t see our lads finishing anything higher than fifth.

We will have two Super Rugby Teams in the quarter finals

Plenty of feeling was on display

Will Super Rugby misfire again in 2019?

Ahhh, Super Rugby.

Since 2015, this competition has been one disaster after another in Australia. 2016 came with a god-awful restructure that saw us struggle to keep pace with the Kiwis. 2017 saw us at our lowest, with us not beating a Kiwi side the whole goddamn year. Despite improving last year, many of us are still left with this feeling that we are just a cut below compared to everyone else right now.

There have been so many reasons for our failings in those years. The schedule was a nightmare, the lack of coordination between our Super Rugby sides reared it’s head in all the wrong ways, and above all, our coaches in all of those teams were simply out of their depth.

The Reds went through three coaches in those years, with Richard Graham, Matt O’Connor and Nick Stiles. The Waratahs by comparison stuck with Daryl Gibson, who similarly struggled until he was given the right support staff around him last year. The Brumbies were the best performers (all things considered) in part due to them having Stephen Larkham, until he moved to the national side and Dan McKellar took the reins. And the Rebels had Tony McGahan (who ended struggling much the same as the Reds coaches), before handing it off to Dave Wessels last year.

Brad Thorn and Darryl Gibson share a laugh after the game

Brad Thorn and Darryl Gibson share a laugh after the game

2018 was a better year all up though, statistically at least. In that, we actually started to win more matches against international opposition. Statistically, we won 18 and drew 1 out of 40 international games in the regular season. Yes, it’s just under 50%, but I’d take that over 2017, where we only managed 5 wins and 1 draw out of 46 games.

Despite this improvement, the big problem for many of us as fans is that there is still a feeling that we are not on the same level as the Kiwis, or the best Saffa teams, or the Jaguares. And yes, we aren’t winning as much as we are losing. We shouldn’t have to accept mediocrity.

But that’s where this year comes in. For the all crap we give Michael Cheika, his decision to have his coaches going around to all the Super Rugby clubs last year to make sure there is an aligned game plan is something that needs to happen. There is more alignment with Super Rugby franchises, and that needs to continue to happen. And while last year was very inconsistent, there was more than enough there to suggest that when everyone is on the same page, Australian rugby can succeed. At least on paper, there are two squads here that could make the finals.

Firstly, the Rebels. My god, their squad! When you’ve got Luke Jones, Hugh Roach, Isi Naisarani, Campbell Magnay, Matt Toomua and Quade Cooper coming into a squad that already has the likes of Reece Hodge, Marika Koroibete, Dayne Haylett-Petty, Will Genia, Richard Hardwick, Adam Coleman, Jordon Uelese, Sam Talakai and Jermaine Ainsley, you’ve got a good squad. Really, it comes down to how they gel as a unit, and that falls on the coach, Dave Wessels. He may be a young head, but Wessels, having come up through the Force system, has shown a lot of potential as a coach. He’s someone Australian rugby must keep around.

For our second side, my pick would have to be the Tahs. They showed a lot of potential last year, and Gibson, supported by his coaching staff in Chris Malone and Simon Cron have shown that when they are consistent, they can challenge the best teams in the competition.

But really, for ALL sides, it again comes down to consistency. If they don’t have consistency, you win many games. And I predict that this year, we might finally get that. Unless that doesn’t happen, and it all goes to shit once again.

Global Rapid Rugby – The Rebel Competition we had to have

Force v Wild Knights (Credit: Delphy)

This year will see the emergence of Global Rapid Rugby, with eight teams from Australia, Fiji, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Samoa, Singapore and United States competing for a $1 million purse. It will see the Western Force finally return to a competition format, and as of January we know of two more teams, being the South China Tigers and the Asia-Pacific Dragons.

Let’s pause for a moment: the fact this competition has made it this far is unbelievable, in all honesty. It’s a testament to the fans out in the West who would not let their team fade into memory. It’s also a testament to Twiggy for putting his energy into keeping the competition going. But it is also a statement. It is a statement of how insane the game has got in this country: that Rugby Australia, as a governing body, does not control every part of the game in the land. It is honestly unbelievable, even more so considering the Force attracted more fans to their games than any of the Super Rugby clubs last year.

However, once the Force stepped out onto the field to play Fiji for the first of seven exhibition matches, something happened. There was a sense, at least to me, of rugby finally being a product that casual viewers would want to watch. There was pre-match entertainment, crowd engagement, and it was easily accessible. It was on free-to-air television! What is this?! Twiggy is a man on a mission, and it says a lot to me that Raelene Castle is keen to engage with that.

Let’s go down a rabbit hole for a moment: could it be that Twiggy might become what Kerry Packer was for cricket back in the 1970s? I have no idea, and there are plenty of mixed feelings in the rugby realms around that. But considering the comp has made it this far, we could be in for a massive opportunity. Asia is part of the world that is still to experience the game, but if it was to expand there, how good would it be for our game if we led that?

It’s clear that RA, the NZRU, the Pacific nations and World Rugby itself see value in this competition. And I think it is something we should champion. As a code, having this competition finds us in uncharted waters. But could it be a watershed moment.

Frankly, I’m tired of the way things are going. If we want the game to appeal to the Australian general public, it’s going to have to do something different to what it is doing now. So, why the hell not? What do we have to lose? If this crazy comp is a success, that can only be good right? If the Force prosper, how good would it be for the game nationally? Hell, it could even lead to reunification with the other states in the long term? From what I saw last year, I’m willing to give this competition a shot.

Super W will head to QLD, Toast Rack will head West

Captains Kirby Sefo and Emily Robinson post match photo

Captains Kirby Sefo and Emily Robinson post match photo

2018 was a mixed bag on the purely domestic front. On the one hand, the premier club competitions continued to enjoy popularity, but on the other, there were a lot of decisions made that turned even more fans away from the game, (such as the removal of Penrith from the Shute Shield and the Greater Sydney Rams from the NRC). There were a lot of highlights though:  the Womens Game saw a much needed injection with the Super W competition and more Wallaroos games, and the NRC saw record crowds and a victory for the Drua, despite the poor performance of the NSW sides.

This year we will get to enjoy those competitions again. Predictions wise, it is very early to make any call, but then again, that’s the whole point of this article:

For the Super W, NSW will be favourites to go back-to-back, after going through last season undefeated. This year however, I have got an itching feeling that Queensland might spring a surprise and take the chocolates. The squad last year went from being held scoreless by NSW in round one to nearly knocking them off in the grand final. My thoughts are they have it in them to go one better this year, and may spring a surprise on their southern counterparts.

Looking even further down the line, this years NRC should be interesting one, given the World Cup will take place during September to November, the NRC’s traditional slot. All things considered, Fiji will be focused on having as strong a team as possible for the World Cup, which means the Drua will either have a squad of younger, less experienced players, or will be filled with players fighting to get into the World Cup squad. Either way, I predict the Drua will be less-likely to go back to back. However, the team that I think will be likely to win is the team that has been playing the most together, so I predict the Western Force will take the Toast Rack west in 2019, after defeating QLD Country in the final… unless NSW get their shit together.

Wallabies will bow out in the semis (if we’re lucky)

Michael Cheika and David Pocock post match press conference

Regardless of what happens this year, 2019 will be Michael Cheika’s last year

And finally, we have the elephant in the room.

Regardless of what happens this year, at least we can say unequivocally that Michael Cheika won’t be the Wallabies coach at the end of the year, as he has made it no secret that he has no plans to coach past this year’s World Cup.

However, the big problem facing him is that between now and then, there will be a shortened Rugby Championship and a World Cup, and he has a big statement to make. Many are still calling for his head after three under performing years, especially after 2018 where the Wallabies only won four matches. Alas, I don’t think this year is going to provide much in the way of respite.

This years Rugby Championship has a draw that will see the Wallabies play a maximum of two tests at home, with the only match confirmed being the Bledisloe match in Perth. The Argentineans are still to confirm their fixtures, however if it is the case our match against them is a home game, it is likely to be played at Suncorp Stadium. They will also have to travel to South Africa to play the Springboks, as well as Eden Park for the second Bledisloe match with the All Blacks. The Rugby Championship is likely to go to either South Africa (due to having a favourable draw with two home games) or New Zealand (because they keep bloody winning).

Based on 2018, I don’t see us winning the Bledisloe this year, not by a long shot. However, the addition of Scott Johnson as Michael Cheika’s boss could be an interesting one come the World Cup. Johnson has done wonders for Scotland ever since he became involved with their rugby program. His focus on improving strategic alignments with their domestic teams in Edinburgh and Glasgow has seen Scotland improve dramatically on the World Stage. Whether he can do it here, only time will tell.

Regardless, the World Cup comes down to one thing: how we go in the group stages. The Wallabies will face Wales, Georgia, Fiji and Uruguay in our pool. Wales and Fiji are likely to provide the most resistance, and if we lose one of those matches it could prove to be own downfall.

If we were to lose to Wales but beat the rest, we finish as runner up of Pool D, and we would head into the quarter finals where we would face the champion of Pool C, which is likely to be England. However, if we go undefeated in the pool stages and top Pool D, we’re likely to face either France or Argentina in the quarter finals, and against both those two sides we’ve had more successful recent results.

Regardless, if we make it to the semi-finals we’ll be likely to come up against either Ireland or South Africa if we top Pool D, and if we managed to somehow beat England as Pool D runner up we’d face New Zealand or Scotland in the semi-final. Either way, I feel that if we are lucky to make it to the semis, it’ll be the end of the road for us there.


Let us know your five predictions for 2019. It’s going to be a big year!

  • Kevino

    1) Ireland v New Zealand RWC final.
    2) Rebels to top the Aus conference
    3) Cheika to be sacked after the RWC
    4) Ireland to win 6 nations, but no grand slam.
    5) Saracens to win the Heineken Cup

    And going to put France to fail to make it out of the group in for good measure.

    • 3 won’t come true, however much we’d like it – his contract is up and they’ll just not renew it.

      I hope 1 is true, they seem like the best two teams in the world at the moment. England, Wales and South Africa if they’re a bit lucky might have something to say about it though. Ireland lack strength in depth, which Wales now have. England may have genuinely turned a corner in November, we’ll see and SA are improving and stand a decent chance to get it together over the RWC run. I think, for the first time in a while, there are five teams with a genuine shout of getting to the RWC final. I’m less sure that the Wobs will reach the semis – it takes quite a bit of luck for mine, and a big improvement.

      2 and 4 maybe. 4 Depends on some luck and avoiding injuries for the Irish. The Rebels certainly look like the team to beat on paper.

      5. They seem to be the class outfit but it’s a tough old contest. They have the experience and they have to be the favourites right now.

      • Kevino

        You have not been watching the Irish closely enough, after the last World cup when we lost 4 starters that cost us the quarter finals,and alleland has done is build depth. Ireland has 45-50 players that could make the world cup squad

        Look at the win over NZ in Dublin, 2nd string 9, Murray who is arguably the best 9 in the world was out.

        3rd string 7, although I think our number 3 should be our number 1 and O’Brien needs to call it a day.

        • While I agree the Irish certainly have strength in depth in some positions, I think they lack it in others. You can never be sure where injuries will strike during a RWC campaign but I think your tight five and your inside backs are thin of genuine quality cover.

          The Irish are definitely better placed than 2015 I think. However, it depends on where their injuries come. Although it was crazy, how would the Irish do if they had to do the equivalent of calling Stephen Donald up from fishing like the Kiwis did in 2011? I think, despite moving Carbery away from Leinster to start more games, they’d struggle more this year than they used to for example. Carbery flourished in Leinster more than he seems to at Munster to my eye.

          If two of Aki, Henshaw and Ringrose go down (Wales effectively lost all three starting centres in 2015) how confident do you feel about their replacements, with 8 caps between them? Add Kearney to the mix (Wales lost Halfpenny too).. there are some real issues still.

          I’m certainly not wishing ill on the Irish, I just think that there are weak spots in the “we’ve built our depth” argument. If they win the 6N, and I don’t think that’s a certainty but they’re the favourites in my head, then I think they should be the favourites for one of the final berths, but injuries in the wrong place could easily do for them still.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Happy New Year Eloise, welcome back. I’m not so sure that Ireland will break their bogey of failing at the Qtrs and then also get through the semi’s but they are playing well so who knows. I guess it all depends on who they meet at those games and how much they put into the Qrts.

        • Happy New Year to you too. I’ve not really been away, there’s just been nothing to post on… plenty of thoughts to post about but nowhere to post them!

          If they stay fit, I think the Irish go a long way in Japan, they are playing that well at the moment. It’s where the inevitable injuries fall and how well they manage then. Losing in the 1/4s would be a bit of a disaster, losing in the semis I think they’d regard as a failure but would be ok on reflection, but they stand a decent chance of making the final if they don’t lose to many key players.

    • Twoilms

      Ireland are one injury to Sexton away from a quarter final exit again. If you can hold it all together for 7 games in a row you have every chance of winning it. Big if though.

  • ForceFan

    When GRR has been officially sanctioned by World Rugby and ALL of the Rugby Unions involved how can it still be referred to as a “Rebel” competition???

    • Mica

      Don’t sweat it too much – lot’s of good has come from things labelled as rebel in the past. WSC, Eureka Stockade, Indian independence and of course those plucky heroes from a long time ago in a galaxy far far away…… ;)

    • AllyOz

      Because its not part of the Evil Empire

  • paul

    Great article to start the year.

    The whole twiggy saga laid bare the ridiculousness of Rugby
    Unions set up in this country. Here was someone willing to throw in what some $50 million to the game yet the RA looked like headless chooks running round a courtyard, but worse it highlighted how utterly those in the so called RA tent are so compromised beyond any ability to act.

    The question is regardless of where the money came from, why
    does rugby look like a deer stuck in the headlights when faced with this
    dilemma.

    What can GRR do that Super rugby has not, I mean why are we
    not rolling in Japanese Yen yet, when is the North American conference starting, did I miss something, what happened to expand or die.

    You can’t just take $50 million from someone and then give
    them a list of terms & conditions that make the Kokoda Trail look like a
    Sunday walking track.

    That watershed moment is only going to happen if a few
    realities are faced, the RA may have to even lift the flap of the tent.

    • southern macro

      sack Clyne and Castle – theres no nice way to say it – they aren’t any good at their job.

      • disqus_NMX

        How do you sack them? There is no accountability and no democracy, and WR give them legitimacy. The only way is via some sort of coup.

        • Brisneyland Local

          Lead on McDuff!

        • disqus_NMX

          You still got access to some military weapons?

        • Brisneyland Local

          Nah. But Dont always need weapons!

        • disqus_NMX

          Someone pay my salary, and I’ll happily research and draft up a structure and constitution for a new governing body, and then organise momentum for a coup!

        • Brisneyland Local

          If it is a bloodless coup I am in!
          I hate the cleaning up!

        • disqus_NMX

          I figure that a LOT of people are pissed off with the bullshit that is RA. So all you have to do is come up with a structure that is fair and makes sense, and is well designed to make it hard to corrupt, and then get people on board with it. If all the rugby clubs and other interests get on board and abandon RA and join the new structure, then the coup is done.

        • Brisneyland Local

          Yeah it is always that interim stage when the groups are fifty fifty and you don’t know which way it is going to swing. That is always the part I hate in running a coup!

        • disqus_NMX

          Yeah would be tricky. It would need to be very well designed so that people really want it. And you’d have to get a few of the key power brokers on board first to gain some momentum.

        • Brisneyland Local

          Ran a few coups. they are always fun! Except when they get messy!
          But that is when you call in Mr Wolf!

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          happy to take the Mr Wolf role

        • Brisneyland Local

          I think you would be very good at it! Hope you have access to lots of bleach! And sheets of plastic! ;-)

        • Nutta

          And good coffee.

        • Brisneyland Local

          Nothing happens with out good coffee!

          Welcome back Nutta. Happy New year!

        • Nutta

          And to you Good Sir.

        • Brisneyland Local

          Hope you had a good break!

        • Nutta

          A sharp edge 5mm long and 7lbs of pressure is all it takes…

        • Brisneyland Local

          Two fingers mate, deftly applied.

  • Brumby Runner

    Thanks Nick. A suitable article to get the ball rolling for 2019.

    1. NZ will win the RWC and the Wallabies will depart at the Quarter Finals stage.

    2. Brumbies to win the Aussie conference with the Rebels next. Waratahs to slip down the ladder due to continued weaknesses in the forwards and ageing backs having trouble with injuries and form.

    3. Cheika to rescind his intention to retire after a failed RWC and to be appointed to lead the Wallabies for another two years due to “no other suitable candidates being available”. I will lead the mass exodus away from the corpse of rugby in Australia.

    No other predictions spring to mind.

    • Ed Logue

      Agree on #2 BR. I think the Brums have gone under the radar compared to the other three Oz sides. I chatted with one of the Brums coaches last weekend and he was feeling quietly confident about the side for the AUS conference.
      I also asked him about what the Wallabies defence system was for, and he could not explain it without asking more questions on it.

    • Mica

      3 will definitely be after a world wide search………

  • Simon

    I agree with the two Super finalists claim, although IIRC wasn’t the key reason for our much better 2018 over 2017 for wins vs overseas teams the change to the conference system so that we played more Sunwolves and Saffas and fewer Kiwis?

    Regardless we have the same system this year and the Rebels were a chance of making the finals til the last round so I think we will get two teams in.

    My predictions:

    1. Rebels to win a tight Aussie conference with Tahs and Ponies in a photo finish for second.

    2. Reds for the spoon. Not just conference but the entire comp as I think the Sunwolves will surprise a few teams. Bulls are the only other contender. Note there is some self-interest in this call as any result better than this I will be happy with!

    3. Two Aussie teams in the finals. Reds weakness and subsidising of Cooper and Hunt (and possibly Slipper, not sure how that contract turned out?) to play at other teams will ensure the others score good comp points in games vs the Reds

    4. Wallabies to exit in Quarters. ABs to choke against a NH team prior to the final. NH to win it.

    And finally,

    5. ASIO to decrypt intercepted high level communications (hacked from Raelene’s laptop) that show Cheika is a Kiwi double agent installed to cripple Australian rugby by elements of the NZ government still sore about Gregan’s “four more years” taunt in 2003.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Damn! You’ve seen through the plan. Ah well it’s working so it doesn’t matter that it’s out there now

  • Brisneyland Local

    welcome back!

    • Hoss

      Well slap my thighs and call me Betsy – Gaggers are back !!

      Just in the knick of time too, saved me from the dribble that is the Australian Cricket team in our loss to a Nation of Uber Drivers, i actually looked it up, ‘India’ is Hindu for ‘Uber’, how the mighty have fallen – serves them right and i wonder how Sandy Smith & John Wayne will be on their return to the fold, too be honest i dont really care – fell out of love with this lot 10 years ago.

      Welcome to 2019 riff-raff – Chinese year of the dog, tastes great with a sweet and sour dipping sauce too.

      I overindulged over the holidays and noted in the shower this morning my girth had expanded – to the point i can only see the last inch, inch and a half of ‘Little Joe’ – what condition the other 8.5′ is in is anybodies guess, back to the gym again so i can lose then binge – but i digress.

      Its 2019 and a whiff of Tiger balm already in the air – what to expect……

      1. Mutiny. I am pushing for Cheika Exit or Chexit from the EU (Employed by Union) and with a hard landing for sure. I don’t see how you can change the peripheries and expect the major things to change.I dont know much about Scoot Johnson – but from here on him his nickname is Mandrake – cause sure as shit he will need to be a magician to have any impact.
      2. Reds & Rebs to fight out Oz conference victory – yes i am a Tahs man, but i dont see the depth in the squad to win again with the resting of Methuselah, Gilbert, Dusty & co. Rebs / Reds less impacted by ‘resting’ and will top the table.
      3. i am excited by young Reds squad, but particularly the coaching team assembled – its a cracker.
      4. Wallabies out in the quarters at Kill Bill. Will finish second in pool, play soap dodgers and Dr Evil and that shit eating grin to win, again – that’s like 36 in a row or something.
      5 No SH Side in Final – Emerald Isle V Soap Dodgers. AB’s just a year to far for these ageing greats
      6. Schmidt to be next AB’s coach. Gatland to be Oz.

      Its great to be back !

      • Brisneyland Local

        Welcome back big fella. Know the feeling. I have been back at work for a week already and racked up 6 flights. I am over the travel and it is only week one. But at least I am back in the gym. Dropped 5kgs already, 20 more to go.
        In my house Christmas means gluttony. Food, amber nectar, vino, and bubbles. I love it, but the aftermath is always horrible.
        Re 6. my Kiwi mates are all saying that Schmidt is out of favour with NZRU. Which could be great news for us Aussies. I would love Joe schmidt to be the next Wallas coach.
        I agree re the Reds coaching group. Thorn despite his happy clappy nature has now got some really good assistants. Lets see how they mould the young squad.
        Let me and KRL know when you are next down in Sydnos, and we will do a catch up.
        Happy New year Big fella.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Not so sure on our of favour as stated he wants a rest and has got family issues to back that up.

        • Brisneyland Local

          Ack. Let me know if you hear otherwise.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Welcome back mate and Happy New Year to you and yours. Christmas is about over indulgence so well done on maintaining the tradition.
        Agree with it all except the RWC final. I struggle to see Ireland going from failing at the Qrts every year to going 2 big steps further. Semi’s yep but not so sure on the next step. ABs vs SA for me.

        • Hoss

          Welcome to 2019 KRL. Its certainly a year to look forward to , well for all but Wallaby fans.

          I hear what you say re Ireland, but if you applied same logic then the AB’s wouldn’t be 3-fa, aiming at 4-fa. The green boys are a different beast under Schmidt. The Soap Dodgers, well love him or loathe him, bur Dr Evil is possibly best tournament coach in the world – they will be a big show come Kill Bill and they have uncovered a ripper in Underhill, not to mention Itoje – cant stand the turd, but he can go toe-to-toe with Retallick and co – as to the Irish Lock James Ryan – they are young talented bucks who can turn a game and don’t care much for reputations and i just reckon the RWC is one too far for the Nearlie’s – famous last words – i just think that the NH sides are on the rise and this RWC is theirs to lose.

          Looking forward to a great year as a Rugby fan. Gold aspirations well and truly tempered. Me thinks Mandrake, Segall and TBA will be an interesting dynamic – who knows what will happen.

          However, being a new year and new opportunities, old slates wiped clean maybe Segall, freed of non-coaching responsibilities (national structures, alignments, selections etc) might stand tall – yesterdays ink is dry, tomorrows history is his to write……..

        • Keith Butler

          Underhill out of the 6Ns following surgery on ankle so should be good to go come RWC.Juries still out for me re Itoje as he’s starting to come across as a bit of a tosser.

      • Keith Butler

        Welcome back Hoss and a happy new year to you and Mrs H. Just got back from the land of the Soap Dodgers and picked up a nice dose of bronchitis due to the recycled air. Optimistic for the Rebs this season. A great squad sure and should be good enough to make the play offs. Still a bit of concern for me that the front row will hold up for a whole season. One more season to gel the whole squad together imo. No way my SDs will make the final. The way the Premiership is structured means that the top players will be flogged week in week out unlike the Irish RU who have direct control over player management. Could easily see the Mick’s nicking Bill. The SDs may well struggle to get out of their group. You could be right about the G&G though. My wife’s present to me this year a 55” OLED tv to watch Super Rugby and the RWC. But will have to work my nuts of renovating before she hands over the controller.

        • Hoss

          A hearty welcome to 2019 to you and Mrs Butler KB.

          Before we discuss all things relating to Gods Games, i am very keen to hear how you found the trip back to Das Mudderland in these heady Brexit times ? I used to go to London every year for a few weeks (i love the place) BC (before children) with Mrs Hoss but haven’t been since 2013 – since a couple of snotty private school boys threw the UK into the shitter over what was essentially ambition to be PM (David & Boris). How did you find it – whats the prevailing mood of the masses – as best you can tell ? Surely they now have to stay in the EU or have Referendum Mach II ????

          A lot to like about the Rebs this year and a real chance of at least Semis – if not the final, especially as all focus will be on the RWC and players will be rested from OZ, NZ & The DDD teams – I also like the Reds – not to win it, but i reckon they are a smokie to be there-about’s at season end. I REALLY like the coaching team, i like the work ethic Reverend Thorne has evoked, i like that there is zero noise coming from them in pre-season i like the young roster and of all the Oz sides they will probably be less interrupted with rotation / resting – sure The Abattoir will be rested but you have the Smith Brothers as fair cover. As for my Tah’s and their up-tempo game with a light pack, i reckon they must evolve that with some grunt. I know there’s a huge DDD added and he is 3 metres tall and 200 kilos, but that’s only one guy we need a few of those – think Tah’s 2014 and the frames we had then. Two-Dads & Genitals will add some starch and composure (are they confirmed yet ?) and i also like the Coaching squad – Gibson & Cronn are very shrewd, as too the addition of one of your lot – some Welsh guy – Jones, Davies or Williams or such, Maybe his full name is Jones Davies-Williams ?? Brumbies will be there usual selves, don’t have a 10 to win it though for mine.

          All in all should be a good Aussie Conference this year – fingers crossed for something to cheer.

        • Keith Butler

          Looking forward to this years super rugby. Could be a toss up on who takes the Aussie conference. Win some away games against your home teams and maybe knock over a few NZ and SA teams on the way and you’re In with a Chance. Your favourite Aussie coach has also named his Soap Dodgers squad for the the 6Ns and for once only a few top players are missing through injury. Don’t think it will be good enough to beat the Men in Green in Dublin though. I reckon they have a good chance of taking Bill given a fair wind and bit of luck. Needless to say Hoss my answer to your question about Brexit has been moderated off which I find slightly odd given the fellow GAGRs were able to comment adnauseum on Izzy’s views of homosexuality with impunity and had fuck all to do with rugby – such is life. Just a couple of sentences Brexit though. It’s what happens when you don’t have compulsory voting and the ‘young’ are too busy sipping their deconstructed lattes, munching their smashed avocados and playing with their latest IPhones to get off their lard arses and vote. The country has gone to the dogs.

  • Brisneyland Local

    Well GAGR’s isn’t it great to be back.
    I am so glad something has been posted. I have been checking everyday with baited breath (well coffee breath actually).
    BL’s predictions:

    1. NZ to will World Cup after defeating Ireland in extra time.
    2. Wallabies will not make the Finals and will be pumped by Fiji!
    3. Rebels to slam dunk the Aus conference.
    4, Cheika and the new coaching director to end up in open warfare. With Cheika blaming the new guy for the “new” poor results!
    5. Clyne to step down and have the whole mess ceremoniously wrapped up in a little turd necklace around his neck!
    Fuck it is great to be back on GAGR!
    Over to you GAGR’s!

    • Ed Logue

      #4 will occur with support from the SMH propRAganda unit.
      I reckon the Fijians will definitely believe they have a chance against us in September.
      Hope you had some good time on the bicycle during your hiatus from GAGR.

      • Brisneyland Local

        Ed, Happy new year to you!
        Interesting isn’t it. SMH are the biggest pro-Cheika group out there. If it does turn to open warfare. Cheika wont be backed by RA or the fans. And he will destroy what little of a ‘legacy’ that he has left.
        Fijians are definitely confidant. I met with a few of the Fijian lads over the break. They are quietly confidant, and I agree with them.
        Got more time on the new motorbike than the pushbike.

        • Ed Logue

          Happy new year BL.
          Disappointing about the pushy BL. You have two of the best days of the year – Dec 25 and Jan 1 – to be on the road as there are far fewer motorists about.

        • Brisneyland Local

          Must admit I didnt have a lot of time off at home over the break. But am back to riding this sunday. First Ride of the new year!

    • Huw Tindall

      Jeez mate what haven’t you heard if ‘new year, new me’? ;)

      • Brisneyland Local

        This dog is too old to change! ;-)

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Maaate, welcome back. Hope you had a good one. If Ireland don’t do their usual choke at the Qtrs they could get through. I think that SA is going to be dangerous this year as they seem to be going well under their new system.

      Agree with #4 100%. I can see this being a real distraction for the team.

      • Brisneyland Local

        Yep forgot about the Saffa’s. I think they will improve more and more as 19 progresses. Yes they will be a threat.
        Yep 4 is going to happen, as sure as God made little green apples.

      • Mica

        Is it just me KRL or is there a level of irony talking about another side choking at the RWC.
        Admittedly it hasn’t happened to your blokes for a while, but jeez my memory aint that short…… :)

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Absolutely there is a level of irony. It always cracked me up when the Abs were called chokers as in reality there actually isn’t that much between the top 3 or 4 sides and bounce of the ball, referee call, poor decision making and luck were always going to make a big difference. I do, however think that the Irish getting knocked out of the Quarter finals at every tournament is more of a choke than the Abs making the finals and missing out.

    • Mica

      You forgot to mention that number 1 will happen in controversial circumstances with multiple offsides in kicking range that are ignored. :)
      The NH will go mental and the Kiwis will say nothing to see here bro definitely onside all the time

      • Brisneyland Local

        Well that was kind of a given. But I dont blame the Kiwi’s for being offside. To be honest I think most teams are to varying degrees, lesser or greater. It is the Referumps job to call it, and they dont. Or they wont.
        Either way it just annoys most of us because they seem to get away with it more than most other teams. But that is always the way when you are winning. The breaks go your way!

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        it’s more likely that the ABs will ignore the kicks for goal than any NH team and seeing as the NH teams are more off side than anyone else then I agree

  • Huw Tindall

    I’m currently on the Botswanna border living out my inner Poey so I’ll predict that the Adani coal mine gets punted, we will have our first openly gay Wallaby (a back for sure), and neck roles will be overlooked again.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Welcome back mate. Hope the SA experience is going well. was there a couple of years ago and absolutely loved it. Love the predictions

    • Parker

      Two good predictions, but frankly your second one bewilders me when you consider that outside of a pub on Oxford Street, one of the few places where there’s a public display by a group of people of the same sex holding each other intimately is in a scrum. Just ask a second rower’s inner arm.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Happy New Year Nick, and to all of the GAGR fans out there, hope you all had a great break with family and friends and are ready for 2019. Here’s hoping that what can’t get worse doesn’t. TBH with RA’s ability to completely fuck everything it gets its hands on I won’t be surprised either way.

    The 7’s have been a bit disappointing but as you say they do actually seem to be looking to the future so here’s hoping it pans out. I think both of them have been a bit unlucky with the draws and have had some tough games early. Both teams look good when they get a run on so I think they will improve. Hopefully not more than 2nd lol

    I think the Super rugby will be a lot closer this year with countries resting some of their players as they plan for the RWC. I’m not so sure with the Tahs as I don’t think they have recruited that well – especially if both Hunt and AAC are brought in. While I think the Rebels absolutely have the team to beat on paper, I think they’ll take a bit to click and that could hurt them. I’m surprised so many people are writing off the Reds and they may prove to be a bit of a dark horse this year. I’m not so sure having the wallaby plan that appears to be so wrong go out to the franchises will be a good thing, if they play like the wallabies have over the last couple of years you could see the Sunwolves top the conference.

    While I agree that GRR is an interesting concept, I’m finding it hard to get excited by it. The rule changes don’t make sense to me and TBH I can’t see myself getting excited with the teams that are in the competition. I think if it gets televised across the FTA network then it will gather some support, but if the games aren’t televised then I think it’ll die.

    Mate I’m not so sure the wallabies will make the Qtrs let alone get kicked out at the Semi finals. I don’t think the Cheika/Johnson relationship will work and I think the tension from this will flow down to the players. My predictions are:

    1. Brumbies to take the conference with Reds 2nd but missing out on the playoffs due to lack of points

    2. 7’s teams to start winning and come in 2nd or 3rd with improvements paying off more next season

    3. RA implode and a restructure that kicks the crap out of the NSW/Qld control.

    4. NZ to win a threepeat over SA with Ireland choking at the Qtrs as they have forever.

  • Huw Tindall

    There were numerous Tahs doubters last year and we probably ran out of eggs to put on their faces. The doubt could be more accurate this year though as Naiyaravoro is literally irreplaceable. Of his 14 regular season tries probably 7 were ones only he could score with his size. He was vital to the Tahs game plan with the go to play spread the ball to left wing pronto via Foley and Beale then a big run by Naiyaravoro with support on the inside. Worked nearly every time. Won’t see that this year. John Folau is big but he is no Naiyaravoro. On top of that there is lack depth in the front row and second row is a bit suspect unless that big Saffa import proves a talent.

    Given all this and the extra time and stability of playing groups at the Reds and Rebels this should be the most even Aus conference ever. Bring it on.

    • Adrian

      Naiyaravoro will be hugely missed I think Huw.
      I’m trusting Gibson to find an alternative strategy, as I doubt there is anyone who could replicate Naiyaravoro

  • skip

    In retrospect it seems obvious that the conference format was doomed to fail. All US major sports have a conference system with a wild card play off format that almost always keeps teams with superior records out of the finals while letting others with worse season results in. This was mentioned by the powers when super rugby shifted to this format but they failed to understand that these leagues are made up of teams with far narrower ability gaps than we’ve seen in super rugby because they have a rigidly enforced draft system that spreads talented players around. In the US certain geographic areas have a density of college teams that produce proportionally higher numbers of players (michigan has at least 2 elite level university teams) who enter the NFL but they are prevented from concentrating in professional sides from that area but are forced to play across the league.

    By failing to do this we ensured already weaker teams were not often exposed to our own geographical area that contained a disproportionately high proportion of talented players (SA and Australia results against NZ were really one sided) and so lagged and also were not being infused with same level as talent as NZ teams were and so fell back for this reason too.

    A draft like this was unlikely to happen due to cultural differences in rugby and would never have survived NZ vetoing it due to their desire that test players stay in NZ and I am not arguing for one. But it’s in my view why the conference system was seriously flawed and has failed.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Happy New Year Adrian, hope you had a good break. I’m holding off until there is confirmation or not on AAC and Hunt as I think both of them a complete waste of time and money. Not sure that the “classy” players in the Tahs are such a discriminator as they’ll need resting before the RWC and TBH most of them didn’t make that big an impact on the EOYT

    • Adrian

      Happy New Year to you too KRL.

      Agree, no big Tah impacts at end of 18 tour.

      But then, no impact at end of 17 either.

      They’ll actually have coaching for the next few months and be less confused. Except for no Nayairivo, much the same as the team that put 30 on the Crusaders in a half.

      Hopefully AAC won’t be hanging around. I think though, Gibson can handle Hunt.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Mate it’s not about who can handle Hunt it’s about what he brings to the table. He’s not a bad attacking player but his defence is very suspect and he gets out of position a lot. I also don’t see him as a good distributor and depending on where he plays this could be important.

        • Adrian

          I suspect full back if he indeed comes at all. He could possibly swap with Beale at times.

          From memory, his defence was ok in 3 tests early in 2017 when playing at 12 wasn’t it?

          I also remember he was keen but ineffective on EOT at end of 2017. I think he was distracted by something.

          I think Gibson is a good coach who will get the best from Hunt. I don’t think Hunt can set people up like Hegarty though.

          AAC as a super sub if he turns up, but I’d prefer he didn’t. Again, I think Gibson could handle him better than most coaches. He’d recognise the cynical side of Adam

    • Ed

      Hello KRL and Adrian.

      The Tahs would have six players you would think to be on the rested list: Hooper, Foley, Beale, Folau, Simmons and Kepu. Which matches will they sit out? Of these, Kepu could be the most important one for the Tahs. No Tom Robertson this season so the matches without Sekope would mean inexperienced props for the Tahs. I have included Simmons as Rory Arnold is said to be on the list, so would Rob then.

      • Brumby Runner

        And, potentially, AAC (must be on a promise to sign), Hanigan (the new Dean Mumm – essential despite form or ability), Dempsey (The new saviour), Phipps (alleged speed of light around the park), or Gordon. But, apart from Dempsey, I don’t think any of the rest would be sorely missed from the Tahs by being rested.

        • Ed

          I did not mention Ned as I did not want to fire up the GAGR server this early in the year. ;)
          Toomua would have to be considered as one of the rested players, particularly as he has continued to play during our summer. So depending on how the Tigers go, the Rebels may not see Matt until mid-late June.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Maaate, firing up the server is what this site is all about.

          I think the management of the players is going to be crucial and I don’t see this new harmony between the Super Coaches and Cheika surviving the critical times when the Super Coaches have themselves on the firing line. TBH, I think the real interesting thing will be how Johnson fits into the scene. I’m with BLL and I can’t see Cheika seeing this as anything except a threat to his authority that he will fight.

        • Old_Laurentian

          I agree Johnson is the interesting wild card. He could make a big difference, or it could be a sh*t fight with Cheika But he is not free from his Scotland duties until March? Re the RWC, I’m feeling every day counts at the moment.

      • Adrian

        Probably pretty right Ed.

        Possibly Dempsey on list and Simmons not, but who knows.

        They’ll certainly miss Kepu when he is rested. I think he’ll play some loose head, with Vui playing tight head. I think a few months before Robertson will be back.

  • Brumby Runner

    Adrian, sorry to have to steal your thunder but I also picked the Tahs to win the conference last year, and coming from a Brumbies fan that is a much braver selection than one coming from a Tahs fan imo.

    However, we differ this year. Tahs to contest the last spot for the Aussie teams with the Reds. My reasons are in my first post.

    • Adrian

      I do seem to recall you picking Tahs too, so I stand corrected re 18.

      Yes, it is hard to tell at this stage of the season, and I read your post Brumby,… which makes sense too.

  • John Tynan

    YYEESSSS!!! We’re back.

  • Adrian

    Lots of quotes about lots of bullshit happened in December, but for me, #1 is Castle saying :

    “….allow Michael Cheika to focus on what he does best, which is coaching the team”….

    This is easily the most significant quote from the sillysseason!

    It says a lot, irrespective of whether people think he can coach or not

    • Brisneyland Local

      Happy new year Adrian!
      But the problem is he doesnt!

      • Adrian

        Yes BL, seemingly he doesn’t….and Happy New Year to you.

        I think Castle’s comment is along the lines of “… well it’s about time he got back to doing it…”

        Getting us ready for a yet to be announced removal of some or all of the assistants….and maybe finding new ones.

        My understanding of how Cheika works is that once he gives his word, he won’t back down, … someone else will have to over-ride him.

        To cement his job in the first place, the political thinking Cheika appointed another SR coach in Larkham as his main assistant, as he himself was an SR coach,…and that would keep the provinces quiet. They barely knew each other, and have completely different Rugby philosophies then and now.

        Cheika also wanted to be “modern”, so delegated everything to his assistants. This wasn’t how Cheika had previously coached.

        It seemed to work in the WC, because highly experienced players effectively coached themselves.

        Since then it hasn’t worked, except on days when Cheika got really angry (as distinct from coaching box pretend angry).

        He got angry at half time in Bled 1 in 2017, and at half time in Argentina this year.

        He must also have been a bit angry in Bled 2,3 in 2017, and a couple of Wales matches which were in (from memory) in 2016 and 2017.

        Effectively he only coached himself in about 4 or 5 games out of 50 odd games.

        Is he responsible for this? ABSOLUTELY he is.

        I think Castle is effectively going to force him to coach if he wants to get paid

        • Brisneyland Local

          Couldn’t agree more. But I think he will fight the Pirate the whole way. As he will fight Johnson the whole way. He does things his way, not anyone else’s. I dont picture 2019 being pretty. Infact I think it will be worse than 2018.

        • Adrian

          Yes, it easily could be BL, but I also think it couldn’t really get worse….unless there are mass resignations late in the piece.

          I think Johnson is a very unusual guy, and may well control Cheika. I think that there would be few people who could, apart from Dwyer and maybe Graham Henry.

          I think the 3rd selector role will be interesting. Again, there would be few who could do this effectively, but I suspect Eales fits. Cheika would feel cultural cringe, adoration and even respect when sitting around the table with him and Johnson.

          I think it is quite possible that Larkham et al will stay, only because RA have a nack of leading us up garden paths.

          If they go, I think we need short term backline and forwards coaches as distinct from attack and defence.

          There are a few guys that will be free following SR. I’d wait that long. Too much coaching before then could do damage. I’d retrench the incumbents asap

        • Brisneyland Local

          Agree on the assistant coaches. get rid of the incumbents and get the best from SR towards the end of the season.
          I don’t know much about johnson, but I am convinced Cheika will not be lead anywhere. If he disagrees, he will disagree and maintain his own mindset and path.
          Lets say hypothetically Johnson and the other selector picks Pocock for 7. There is no way Cheika will go for that. I gather the other two selectors will have a vote for Captain and Vice Captain too. I dont think Cheika will be happy for that either.

          I see there being plenty of potential for this to be worse than last year. If Cheika and Johnson end up in open warfare (highly likely), then this will be worse. Because not only are we going to keep losing and playing bad. We will be in public and open warfare. The players may or may not buy into this. But we will know it is bad when we see an exodous for overseas clubs.

        • Brumby Runner

          BLL I agree wholeheartedly with you, but disagree entirely with Adrian’s take on the matter.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Concur. It’s got more potential to get worse than it has to get better

        • Brisneyland Local

          That’s the bit that worries me. As you and I well know, this is what happens when you attempt to window dress. If the C2 is not clear, then you know things are going to end up all hosed up!

        • Brumby Runner

          That looks to me to be a completely bizarre take on things Adrian. In what universe would Cheika delegate all of his responsibilities to his assistants when as head coach he should be the first one held accountable for results. I am more inclined to the direct opposite view that the assistants have had minimal input into the team makeup and tactics under Cheika who seems to be oblivious to any possible alternative viewpoints other than his own.

          If Cheika himself is spinning such a yarn, it smacks of buck passing in the extreme.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          mate,

          I really can’t get my head around the idea that he only coached about 4 or 5 games out of 50. As the head coach he may not have got into the nitty gritty of everything but surely he set the game plan and tactics of the team as well as picking the players and then running the joint sessions for those plans. Yeah the other coaches would have had their turn with specialist plays (I was going to say skills but there is such a lack of skills in the Wallabies that this can’t have occurred).

          I also struggle with this concept that the assistant coaches were just little nancy boys sitting back and waiting for the selections to be named and then trying to fit a game plan around it all. If this was the case then my already low opinion of them will just dive deeper as for them to be that pathetic they should have resigned years ago.

          I actually think that the issue is that Cheika, as a control freak from forever, has led the whole group, including some senior players who have given him the loyalty he deserves for keeping them on when they are so shit, willingly down a path and that they are all so incredibly up themselves that they have manufactured excuses for their poor performance on and off the field. I think the whole lot of them are a bunch of misfit, poor coaches who are way out of their depth but have worked out that they can survive and continue to get paid by uniting together and supporting each other. Johnson is not going to make one iota of difference as he will be marginalised by the senior players and coaching group who only survive by showing loyalty to Cheika.

          My real fear is that everything will remain hidden until the entire house of cards comes crumbling down in the pool play of the RWC where the Wallabies will not make it into the semi finals. Once this happens the coaching team, senior players and the boot licking supporters from NSW will blame RA and get them sacked so more of the “old boy” club can take their place and continue the fall of rugby in Australia

        • Adrian

          You could be right, and it is bizarre whichever way you look at it.

          Irrespective of who is doing the hands on coaching, 2 thing are weird:

          1.Why pick teams that don’t match the tactics used?…
          2. When a tactic does work, why not do it again?

          I still think there is more to Castle’s comment about coaching being what he does best than has been reported

        • Ads

          and 2b. When a tactic doesn’t work, why keep doing the same thing?

    • joy

      Spot on

  • Brisneyland Local

    Good Morning One and All.
    Just thought I would start a bit of a discussion to see how your learned ladies and gents (I exclude Hoss, KRL and Nutta from that Learned bit) think about how we will see the Johnson / Cheika thing working. Or not working.
    Over to you GAGR’s!

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Despite my hurt feelings :-) I suggest it will be best described as “A shit fight”

      • Brisneyland Local

        Hurt feelings! I thought you would be in violent agreement! ;-)

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Well yeah I am but…….

        • Brisneyland Local

          Pure gold KRL. Pure Gold!

        • joy

          Iron pyrites.

    • Ads

      hey mate. Comes down to the 3rd selector for me. Someone Cheika picks and he can ignore Johnson. Someone Johnson picks, and Cheika is less able to ignore.

      • Brisneyland Local

        Does RA get to choose them? Does Cheika have input?

    • joy

      No comment.

  • A Dingo Stole My Rugby

    My preference for the third selector, if he wants the gig, would be Andrew Slack. A true rugby statesman who is pretty much universally admired and respected across Australian rugby – such a rare beast these days.

    Slacky is someone with a measured, thoughtful approach, who understands the game and its nuances, who knows what it’s like to maximise your talents, to counter-balance the mad rantings and agendas of the coach.

    But I’m fully expecting (dreading) that Cheika will make sure that selector number 3 is just a yes-man so that he can present a veneer of democracy.

    • Adrian

      Slack would be good, I agree Dingo, but would find it tough

  • Hoss

    Well slap my thighs and call me Betsy – Gaggers are back !!

    Just in the knick of time too, saved me from the dribble that is the Australian Cricket team in our loss to a Nation of Uber Drivers, i actually looked it up, ‘India’ is Hindu for ‘Uber’, how the mighty have fallen – serves them right and i wonder how Sandy Smith & John Wayne will be on their return to the fold, too be honest i dont really care – fell out of love with this lot 10 years ago.

    Welcome to 2019 riff-raff – Chinese year of the dog, tastes great with a sweet and sour dipping sauce too.

    I overindulged over the holidays and noted in the shower this morning my girt had expanded – to the point i can only see the last inch, inch and a half of ‘Little Joe’ – what condition the other 8.5′ is in is anybodies guess, back to the gym again so i can lose then binge – but i digress.

    Its 2019 and a whiff of Tiger balm already in the air – what to expect……

    1. Mutiny. I am pushing for Cheika Exit or Chexit from the EU (Employed by Union) and with a hard landing for sure. I don’t see how you can change the peripheries and expect the major things to change.I dont know much about Scoot Johnson – but from here on him his nickname is Mandrake – cause sure as shit he will need to be a magician to have any impact.
    2. Reds & Rebs to fight out Oz conference victory – yes i am a Tahs man, but i dont see the depth in the squad to win again with the resting of Methuselah, Gilbert, Dusty & co. Rebs / Reds less impacted by ‘resting’ and will top the table.
    3. i am excited by young Reds squad, but particularlr the coaching team assembled – its a cracker.
    4. Wallabies out in the quarters at Kill Bill. Will finish second in pool, play soap dodgers and Dr Evil and that shit eating grin to win, again – that’s like 36 in a row or something.
    5 No SH Side in Final – Emerald Isle V Soap Dodgers. AB’s just a year to far for these ageing greats
    6. Schmidt to be next AB’s coach. Gatland to be Oz.

    Its great to be back !

  • A Dingo Stole My Rugby

    In an ideal world, I’d like to see a selection panel comprising the national coach plus the four provincial coaches. The Director of Rugby can be there too, to give him something to do. And here’s the rub – no provincial coach can propose or vote for one of his own players. Yes, it’s a pipe-dream. It will never happen. But it just might work.

    • Ads

      HNY Dingo. A good idea in concept, but I’ve similar proposals descend into EuroVision voting block farces. You vote for mine and I’ll vote for yours malarkey. Couldn’t be worse than what we have now though!

    • joy

      I say if you engage an expert, ie Cheika, and don’t take his advice you are obliged to sack the expert and seek another. Why the need for a panel that may over rule the expert but probably wont

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    I still believe there’s not that much between the top 3 or 4 teams mate. Any of them can win on the day if things go their way. The ABs real skill is making things go their way

  • andrewM

    1. Rebels will top Australian SR conference, but as no one actually watched them play the conspiracy theories will abound
    2. GRR will start late and with less teams than initially stated.
    3. RA will drop further into the Financial Abyss, with only the World Rugby top up payment saving them.
    4. Wallabies will make it to the Semi’s but the highlights will barely make the 6 o’clock news.
    5. The massive spreadsheet will be released, but upon analysis, found to only contain the costs for de Clyne’s last expenses claim.

    • joy

      6 news. Who cares.

  • Brisneyland Local

    Adrian, All very good points. I would be worried about how recent an ex-player they are. If any of the have been part of the player power era in either Wallabies, Waratahs or Brumbies then I wouldn’t want them.
    I would really love to See a completely independant like Sir Graham Henry.

    • Adrian

      Henry would be excellent IMO, BL

      • Brisneyland Local

        Personally I would have sacked Chaika and replaced him with Henry. And I personally woud have contributed to the bill if RA didnt have the money!

        • Adrian

          I’d contribute if you passed the hat.
          Henry would be ideal for this group and their personality or personalities

        • Brisneyland Local

          I think the ones that wanted to would learn, and learn lots. A wise calm older type to show them the path to ‘game’ wisdom, technique, and patience.

        • Adrian

          Agree wholeheartedly.

          I don’t think any of the guys are beyond redemption re attitude, but some are close.

          Very few though have good ‘game” knowledge.

          Pocock seems to, as does (IMO) Kepu.

          If Henry were the 3rd selector, I think a little bit of his style would run off.

          He wouldn’t accept job to be a puppet.

          I actually think Wallabies will improve, even if there is a blow up.

          The scenario I think would be the least helpful would be any of those player power-foxtel-legend in their own mind guys. Not only wouldn’t they get on with Cheika, but they know SFA (in my opinion of course)

        • Brisneyland Local

          I agree on 90%. The blow uo will depend on the factionalisation of the players. If there is a split in the players group we are even more screwed then we are now.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          I think too many are self indulgent sooks who Henry would want to move on. RA wouldn’t let him do that and he’d get pissed and leave

        • Brisneyland Local

          I would hope if we are bringing in GH, he gets a mandate. It is those self indulgent sooks we want to get rid of. But alas I think some of them are a protected species.

  • AllyOz

    My bold predictions are:
    1. At least two of the current coaching group to lose their spots (Larkham & Raiwalui)
    2. Tahs & Reds as best performing Aussie sides as I anticipate Rebels will have some problems meshing early and will just miss out after staging a late recovering (pretty much as last year – i also don’t think they’ve quite addressed all their tight forward issues) but TBH it could just as easily be the Brumbies and the Rebels as the top two Aussie sides. I only think one will make it through to the finals again – I will say the Tahs.
    3. The Wallabies will improve overall but will lose in the Quarters – I just think that is where we are as a team at the moment – but i have some confidence that a better structure is being developed – whether or not the right people are in the right places might be debatable
    4. Bob Dwyer will be the initial third member of the selection panel.
    5. I have no idea who the next Wallabies coach will be but I don’t think it will be either Warren Gatland or Joe Schmidt – I think if it is a Kiwi it is more likely to be Vern Cotter who will, similar to the situation in Scotland, will be the foreign coach while an Australian equivalent to Gregor Townsend (and Australian includes in this case Thorn, Gibson and Wessels) is identified and developed.
    6. RA will make coaching and grassroots player development their key focus (sorry that’s ridiculous but I had to throw it in there).

    • joy

      The coach will be Wessels

      • AllyOz

        Out of those three yes I would agree. There are perhaps some other options coaching overseas but I agree they will be longer shots. David Nucifora and Michael Foley are potential options – Foley perhaps as a Forwards Coach rather than a head coach.

        Much will depend on the Rebels performance this season given the squad they have assembled. Bringing it all together won’t be easy. We saw that last year and it took to the later rounds before the team found their rhythm.

  • joy

    Wow, record contribution Nick.

National Rugby Championship
@Nick_Wasiliev

Die-hard Brumbies/Country Eagles fan now based in Sydney. Author, anthropologist, musician and second-rower trying to kick start a writing career in an increasingly bonkers world...

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