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Mongrel – what is it? who has it? is it warranted?

Discussion in 'Rugby Discussion' started by Jethro Tah, Dec 6, 2010.

  1. Jethro Tah Bob Loudon (25)

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    A few postings on the EOYT thread about Cliffy Palu got me thinking about the concept of ‘mongrel’.

    Players are often said to have or to lack mongrel. So what exactly is mongrel? The ole dick n’ arry (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/mongrel) refers to mongrel as “toughness and physical aggression” in an aussie or enzed sporting context. Many would suggest that having a bit of mongrel should be a player prerequisite in the rugby sphere, especially in the forwards. However, I would prefer to see more toughness and less aggression.

    From the dictionary again, aggression refers to a hostile suppression or an offensive action. To me, that suggests flouting the laws of the game and just gives away penalties. Toughness is a better way to describe what is necessary to compete at the highest level. A player can dominate his opposite number through being tough without being aggressive. In my opinion, prime examples in the current Wallabies who can do so include Pocock, TPN and Genia but I don’t recall it being said that these guys have mongrel.

    Aggression will always be a part of a physical game like rugby. It can be used early in a game via a dominating tackle that borders on illegal to put the opposition off their game. If a young up and coming player shows a degree of mongrel then I am not saying it should be quashed as long as another player with greater toughness is there for guidance.

    On a slight digression, many a thread has been filled with discussions of McGaw pushing the boundaries of the law but this is not necessarily in a physically aggressive manner. He is the undisputed master of this and full credit to him but I wonder is it because he senses that he is losing a bit of physical toughness at the breakdown versus a younger player like Pocock, Brussouw or Croft and he seeks to gain advantage in another manner. I am not meaning to fish for an argument on this so don’t bother, I am just putting my idea into context.

    A player that resorts to aggression will only do so in frustration when his skill and toughness fail, and often when his team is down on the scoreboard. Some players and fans love a bit of biff but I applaud a player that fronts up to a cheeky hit but then goes no further. To me this represents mental toughness. A player with the ability to redirect his aggression towards executing the game plan and mastering his skills is better than one with pure mongrel.

  2. JJJ Vay Wilson (31)

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    I've heard it said in other contexts that you get better results taming a bronco than you do attempting to gee up a mule. I think that's what's behind the obsession with 'mongrel'. Trite, I know.
  3. cyclopath Phil Waugh (73)

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    Interesting you mention McCaw - I think he is the perfect example of real mongrel. Very tough, not intimidated, but doesn't start silly shit. Hardly gets broken too. Pocock also. Players like Bakkies and Schalk Burger previously have erred too much on the "trying to be a hard man" side where it is counter-productive , as you say. Someone like Tom Carter, for example is aggressive, tackles hard, but overly too much of the silly shoving and shirt-fronting he sometimes resorts to.
    slasher likes this.
  4. Ham Sydney Middleton (9)

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    I think 'mongrel' is the ability to lead by example and put everything of yourself into making big hits or getting to every ruck to inspire the team. Mongrels don't put their head down when they are losing, they get angry.

    Who has it? Phil Waugh and David Pocock.
  5. dobduff11 Trevor Allan (34)

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    I tend to associate the word mongrel with facial hair. More facial hair = more mongrel haha

    Alot of the french, Georgian and Romanian forwards have it in abundance. The ability to carry strongly, be physically imposing, tackle like a beast and be the first one to a scrap.

    They tend to get angry if things aren't going well.

    Another attribute is whilst carrying they manage to slip out of tackle, lose a bit of footing but still power on and gain yards.

    Examples: Nallet, Chabal, Easter, Shaw, Hendre Fourie, Andrew Hore, Brad Thorn, Whitelock, Read, Richie is getting there, Rocky elsom, Ben McCalman, Danie Rossouw


    My Unofficial Definition for MONGREL
  6. Groucho Greg Davis (50)

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    I think we're in danger of redefining mongrel out of existence here, and using it the same as toughness, which it is not.

    A player with mongrel plays on the edge of dirtiness, issues niggle, and is always up for a fight, especially in back play, out of sight of the ref. He is not necessarily a dirty player, but he gives the impression he could be, which is the crucial thing. A player with mongrel is hard, and acts like a ****, but may not necessarily be one.

    I know some thinkers of the game who agree with you, Paris Tah, that this has no place in the game.

    But it certainly exists: many Wallabies of the past had it, and many Saffas now. But no Wallabies now. Some of our players are hard, but none have true mongrel. Cliffy comes the closest, but nah. TPN no way.

    I think it's a worthwhile quality. It puts opposing players on edge. Also, they know that if they do anything dirty themselves then they will be craftily hit.
    Bullrush likes this.
  7. Thomond78 Colin Windon (37)

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    Chabal? A show-pony. Well known for it. Great for going on a run from miles out, but gets beasted, over and over, and goes into his shell.

    As for Easter, don't make me laugh.
  8. Groucho Greg Davis (50)

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    A good example of a player exhibiting mongrel was Stirling Mortlock in the RWC QF against Wales in 2007. A Welsh back almost took Berrick Barnes out of the game with a deliberate head-high tackle. A few minutes later, Mortlock did take the same Welsh player out of the game with a deliberate high speed charge to the ribs, breaking one or two.

    Morty is not dirty, but that was mongrel.
    I like to watch likes this.
  9. The_Brown_Hornet Michael Lynagh (62)

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    Mongrel to me is genuine hardness and an ability to stand up to the physical intimidation of the opposition and not take a backward step. In some cases, it will mean clouting a bloke who deserves it. It can sometimes mean sailing right up to the limit of the law, but not over it. Some guys take mongrel to mean niggle and cheap shots as well. I don't buy that, as to me that's thuggery.

    Guys like Jerry Collins and Rocky Elsom have/had mongrel. Horwill's got it too.
    Epi likes this.
  10. OLDDOG

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    BRAD THORN is my definition of mongrel - ie street fighter on the pitch + well 'ard :)
    Langthorne and Epi like this.
  11. The_Brown_Hornet Michael Lynagh (62)

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  12. TheTruth

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    agree that mongrel is hard to define but Webke did not have it - Andrew Gee (if you remember him) did.

    Brad Thorn definitely, Crofty certainly
  13. Ruggo Mark Ella (57)

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    Keith Wood was the complete example of mongrel.
  14. fatprop David Wilson (68)

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    To me it players who play above their weight/talent by sheer will power. Ray Price & Buck Shelford would be prime examples to me. None of the current players show much to me
  15. DPK Peter Sullivan (51)

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    Barnes does in defence for mine.
  16. Blue Andrew Slack (58)

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    Quade Cooper. Mongrel.
  17. TOCC Guest

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    i wouldnt discredit 'agression' to much Paris Tah.. the australian army has for many years been harnessing the concept of 'controlled agression' in there training, it is possible to harness that 'agression' gene and utilise it in more effective ways. Rather the getting into niggle on the side, you use the agression to put on a bigger hit or attack a ruck with more ferocity.
  18. The_Brown_Hornet Michael Lynagh (62)

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    Yep, that's what it's about: channelling the aggression into legal physical force against your opponent. Or put more simply: hit 'em hard but not with a cheap shot.
  19. Jnor Peter Fenwicke (45)

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    Never seen so much mongrel in one man.

  20. Train Without a Station Steve Williams (59)

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    I agree with the comments on playing above ones weight. Hence why I was possibly a little bit harsh on Cliffy in the Finds of the EOYT thread.

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