While you begin the week still pissed off about the “free flowing” Reds getting clinically turned over by the almost “pommy-like” Tahs on Friday night, I wanted to give you a thought that’ll turn those frowns upside down, and actually help you rejoice in the fact that the cockroaches turned you over yet again.
It’s this – the future of Australian rugby depends on the Tahs playing and winning through “boring” and “ugly” rugby.
First – the most fundamental law in rugby that we Australians are the worst at remembering: forwards win a game, backs decide by how much. Sure, we’ve done pretty well at papering over the cracks and doing all sorts to make up for deficiencies, but you always get found out in the end.
Our world cup performances say it all. Top pack we win, poor pack we don’t. And it’s all facets of forward play that you need to measure up on; scrum, line-out, breakdown.
Say what you want to about the Tahs this season, but they’ve had these bases well and truly covered. In a game that’s increasingly about position and not possession, if, like the Reds on Friday you can’t at least rely on your own set piece when the pressure is on, you are fucked.
A great attacking forward skill that the Tahs have mastered is the pick and drive. Before you rubbish it as “boring one out shit”, cast your mind back over the last 5 years or so of the Crusaders’ game. When it’s not working out back, what did they do? That’s right, make yards the hard way. Whether it was Brad Thorn thumping over or Carter scything through, they didn’t care.
For this reason alone I’d bet Robbie is loving the Tahs right now. Sure, the backs are an attacking mess, but forget them. He’ll be very happy that the core of the pack – Robinson, Baxter, Mumm, Palu and Waugh are easily dealing with all comers, if not smashing them. Take them outta blue shirts and put them in gold ones, add in Smith, Elsom, Moore and big Kev. Lovely.
Second reason why you should love the Tahs playing like this – they’re winning.
OK, you think you’d be happier if they’d dropped one on Friday night, but it’s no accident that Australia was winning World Cups and Tri-Nations when the Brumbies were winning Super rugby titles. The mental battle in the international sphere begins on the Super 14 pitch. It’s the same blokes playing against each other, and they know who’s beat who.
I’d love it if all our super 14 teams could make the play-offs….maybe one day. But in the meantime the likelihood is that just one, or maybe two, have a shot. The Brumbies will be the goods with Gits next year, and still have a chance this year. Otherwise, it’s the Tahs. A fantastic start, and core skills in areas that win tough games.
The Force can’t win at home, and as for the Reds – it’ll continue to look great, but even the return of Big Kev won’t solve the problems or turn back the clock. Even if you had won on Friday, it’s hard to see the finals as a realistic possibility.
So take a deep breath, crack a XXXX and raise it to the Tahs – the ugly ducklings that Australia needs.
PS – It didn’t look that ugly to me on Friday night!