Brian Smith's Analysis - Plays of the Day - Green and Gold Rugby
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Brian Smith’s Analysis – Plays of the Day

Brian Smith’s Analysis – Plays of the Day

In this part of the world all eyes were on the Wallabies v Ireland series decider but before that game kicked off the All Blacks v France match was played in Dunedin and it was a terrific spectacle. In this analysis were going to have a look at some of the plays of the day from both tests played in Australasia on Saturday night. We’re also going to offer up a couple of suggestions for World Rugby’s Laws Committee because our game probably needs to tighten up a few issues.

Plays of the Day

Starting with the good stuff first, the “Plays of the Day”. This first clip is from the France v New Zealand match and it’s an appetiser for what’s to come. This first clip shows some very good French attack as they look to keep the ball alive and play at high tempo attacking New Zealand’s try line. It’s a good lesson for young scrum halves…tempo in the Red Zone is very difficult to defend.

The next clip is from the Wallabies v Ireland match and shows the vision of Bernard Foley who sees the space behind the Irish defence and puts in a beautiful kick to score for Marika Koroibete. The kick was made after the Wallabies had maintained the ball for 12 phases and Ireland was defending without a sweeper at this point. It was an excellent “heads up” play from Foley and it paid off.

However, for mine the best “Play of the Day” was this beauty from the All Blacks. New Zealand had set up a drive and their backs run a beautiful block play with an inside ball off Sonny Bill Williams. It’s the soft hands of Damian McKenzie that creates the channel for Reiko Ioane to slice through the French midfield and it raw speed that turns a linebreak into a starter play try.

Laws Committee Suggestions

There has been plenty of refereeing controversy in New Zealand and Australia over these past 3 weeks and it might be time for World Rugby Laws Committee to meet and discuss a couple of key areas of our game. The first is the aerial contest and yellow cards. It might be time for rugby union to look at putting incidents on report rather then wave yellow or red cards about. The report system means the game can keep flowing and we’re not wasting time reviewing clips on the big screen. Surely we want the game to flow to keep supporters engaged.


And finally, the issue of the referee and obstruction. New Zealand knew exactly what they were doing when Damian McKenzie attacked the line behind the referee on Saturday and I don’t have an issue with that. It’s gamesmanship and they are a street smart team that understands the laws of the game. Under the current laws they’re entitled to do this. However, it might be time to review the law. Surely in the spirit of the game we want the defender to have an opportunity to tackle runners. The obstruction law should be reviewed.


We have seen some terrific rugby bot across the ditch and in Australia over the past 3 weeks. The Wallabies will feel they have let a terrific opportunity slip through their fingers. That’s just how it is when you win the first game of a series then get rolled in the next two games. In New Zealand, the All Blacks have confirmed their superiority even though the French were competitive for large parts of the series. Australia will need to be better when they meet the Kiwis but there are some good signs with some new blood stepping up.

For mine, Taniela Toupo has announced himself on the world stage as being an almost complete international tight head. Not bad for a 22 year old, if he can stay fit he looks every bit a 100 cap international. Sekope Kepu has been a gem for the Wallabies for a long time. We’re very lucky to have back to back champions in this position. It might nearly be time for Taniela to start the tests and Sekope to finish them off.

  • Timbo

    Law change:
    If you can’t do this
    Then you can’t lift anyone to contest a high ball. The onus should be on the lifter much like a line out.

    • RugbyM

      the interesting one is (and perhaps its the camera angle), but the Argies all stopped and went “oh shit, bloke upside-down in the air, we’ll let him land first, then attack”, whilst the Stormers clearly had hands on the lifted bloke before he landed

    • Jason

      Yeah, I think one man lifts in open play really should be a thing of the past, it’s so dangerous — too dangerous, but I think the real problem is the players in the air aren’t responsible for their own safety, look at AFL where the game is built around the aerial contest and we seldom see players falling like this, and while their game isn’t built around players coming from opposite directions it does happen, particularly in ball up situations, yet players aren’t landing like our players are… I wonder why.

      • Timbo

        replaying the Folau incident, Stunder actually lets go of O’Mahony at the top of his lift. Then protests when his captain spuds into the turf.

  • Archie

    I’m sure even though what the ABs did in that move was completely 100% legal… you’ll still get the old catch cry of ‘cheats’

    • Chinese Dave

      Thanks for confirming once again that the only thing worse than a gloating kiwi is a kiwi with a victim complex.

      • Archie

        Thanks for the chuckle. BTW If you’re not a fan of victim mentality, I recommend you stay away from the forum on the thread following the Ireland Aus game

        • Chinese Dave

          I’d have thought there were many places where like-minded kiwis can gather around to circle jerk to how awesome the abs are or alternatively, how badly done they are by all and sundry. And yet here you are,on an Australian Rugby website, talking about NZ all the time.

          As glorious leader would say, Sad!

        • Archie

          Sure. It’s just that on other sites we don’t get to e-meet lovely, salt-of-the-earth, upstanding, eloquent folk like yourself Chinese Dave.

        • Chinese Dave

          Sorry, I’m afraid I’m rather immune to flattery.

  • Fatflanker

    More great insights, thanks Brian.
    Just noticed the Irish 6 abandoned his lift and pulled away to get out of Folau’s way – that was the primary reason for the bad landing, IMO. Never leave your wingman!

  • EX GPS Student

    Some issues I think need clarifying or laws changed ….. if you lift a player than its the lifters responsibility to ensure the lifted player gets back to earth safely not that gives the right to attach the player in the air, not at all …. if Ireland had not lifted the player to defend against Folau then he would not have been injured

    Finally Im sorry to say but Foley’s time is up and I like him …. he looked like becoming a world class 5/8 in 2015 but unfortunately he never kept pushing him self or doesnt have the capacity to become better as he had no competition and also was treated as a protected species. We will not make it out of the Quarters in 2019 with him at the helm. We need to go to the tree pluck one and start building a world class 5/8 immediately. The same for a half back replacement

    • Jason

      The problem is who is able to take that step, maybe if Mack Mason or Hamish Stewart were getting game time at the Reds/Tahs, but instead we’ve got the only two up and coming fly halves in Australian Rugby playing behind Foley and Lance in Super.
      Stewart is probably actually quite close to being ‘in the squad’ and maybe Beale could play fly half if we needed him to, but the biggest problem is we have no second option, since Quade’s been banished.

  • Brumby Runner

    It is close to time for Tupou to start, but I’d have Allan Alaalatoa as the other THP in the side. Kepu is starting to show the effects of time, noticeably slowing down and more and more becoming a penalty magnet for not rolling away in the rucks. AAT on the other hand has terrific energy, is strong in the scrum and both runs the ball and tackles with aggression. He is the future along with Tupou. Time to put them together.

    • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

      Tupou is a beast and I think will be competing with Furlong as the world’s best tight head prop in a couple of years. But I would not promote him to starting against the All Blacks in the Rugby Championship. We saw what that did to Alaalatoa last year when he was prematurely promoted.

      Give Thor a start against Argentina (I don’t want him starting against Beast, Marx and du Toit either). I think that by the Spring Tour and by 2019 he will be the starting prop… Just don’t want to do it prematurely.

      Honestly, could this be the era of front rowers? The boys on the Rugby Report Card often joke that the front rowers don’t get the attention from the ladies, but with Furlong, Thor and above all Malcolm Marx coming up this could change.

    • Jason

      Nah, the time to start Tupou was last week. You can’t expose him to a 3 game series against the Kiwi’s less he be found out in the scrum or something, also the SA scrum looks monstrous (relative to the English anyway), so I think the only game(s) you can start him is against Argentina, maybe 1 each against the Boks and Blacks but you can’t have him ‘found out’ before the World Cup.
      It’s pretty obvious the question is ‘when is Tupou going to be the best prop in World Rugby’ because it’s absolutely ridiculous how many physical tools he’s got and it’s now showing that he’s well and truely got the work ethic to be.

    • Happyman

      No mate let him mature like a fine wine Kepu is a 90 test wallaby tighthead and is still performing at the highest level. for mine part of Australian rugby’s problem is we always want the new bright shiny toy. Let him get to twenty tests before giving him a start. The Reds have done really well with him as a project player over the last 3 or four years. If we don’t burn him out we will still be watching him play on 2027.

  • markjohnconley

    Thanks Brian, always look forward to your contributions, as, obviously, many do

  • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

    Was the grubber from Foley ‘beautiful’?

    On the one hand it was good vision to try it (finally! After we couldn’t breach the rush defence the entire match) and successfully led to a try.

    On the other hand, it looked to me like it was a bit short, and forced Koroibete to have to stop, pick it up, and then beat two defenders (luckily he was good enough 10).

    Idea was perfect but execution was not.

  • Parker

    Is it just me or is McKenzie’s pass to Ioane forward? I have seen so many short forward passes this June that I’m starting to wonder whether they are legal now.

  • I’d add to your list of changes required the dopey law that says the tryline is in front of the post pads. If the attacking team is close enough then a certain try is scored by putting the ball down at the intersection of the grass and the cushion. The defending team can’t defend because the post is in the way and if they reach out then they are offside deliberately and the correct decision is a penalty try and a yellow card.

    Simple change: the tryline goes behind the post pads and everyone goes back to attempting to score tries within the spirit of the game.

All Blacks

Brian Smith is a rare breed who has both played and coached international rugby and doesn't mind telling it as he sees it. He's currently putting his Oxford degree to good use teaching Commerce and coaching rugby at the Scots College, Sydney.

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