Dwyer's View: Tri Nations Done and Dusted! - Green and Gold Rugby
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Dwyer’s View: Tri Nations Done and Dusted!

Dwyer’s View: Tri Nations Done and Dusted!

Well, that’s the Tri Nations done and dusted for this year. Now for the big stage — RWC2011!

The Wallabies inflicted a morale-busting defeat on New Zealand’s All Blacks on Saturday night at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane. Take no notice of the ‘this defeat can only help us’ comments coming from the All Blacks’ camp. After a decisive loss, albeit with a B-team, to the Springboks one week ago in Port Elizabeth, they were determined to get their campaign back on the road and, despite an inspired second-half fight back, they were beaten by a better team. Shen was the last time an All Blacks team lost successive test matches?

Since being were overwhelmed by the All Blacks at Eden Park a few weeks back, this Wallaby team has continued to grow. Numbers, body position, urgency and leg-drive at the tackle contest have all improved out of sight. As is absolutely necessary, this is now happening from minute one – not in the desperate last-ten-minutes, chasing-a-deficit urgency that we’ve seen so often in the past. As a result, they have secured some quality recycled ball and inflicted considerable pain on their opponents — literally and figuratively.

I have been critical — especially in recent times — of the lack of accuracy in our support play. In rugby, ‘support’ means support of the ball and the ball-carrier, giving him the opportunity to do his own thing, secure in the knowledge that his teammates will be on-hand when, and if, the occasion demands it. Such accuracy in support also provides numbers at the tackle contest, with urgency. We’ve come a fair way in a few weeks and we can be better still. Then just watch our attack go! Not just the backs, either; with such opportunities, Samo (obviously), Elsom, Kepu, Moore and Alexander are no slouches either. With TPN and, we hope, Palu coming off the bench, we can add still more. A healthy prospect, indeed!

Some will complain that I have not included Higginbotham in this group, given his size and outstanding pace. I must say that I have been singularly unimpressed with him in this season’s internationals to date. Simply put, he is way too loose. A forward who runs looking for space and expecting ‘someone else’ to get the ball to him in that space, will have no place in my team. If he rarely comes into contact with the opposition, he might as well be a little bloke.

His role, and that of all of the forwards, is to play in the middle and make space for others. Then, frequently, he will arrive into those close spaces and his size and pace will be put to excellent effect. As an example, just consider the difference that Daniel Vickerman has made to the team. He’s a big bloke who is always in contact with the opposition. He’s smart, too — smart enough to understand the role that he’s playing and the benefits he’s creating.

While on that subject, our forwards are starting to look like a real pack. There’s still some work to be done in the set pieces, but we’re getting there in the tight-loose play. I’ve always thought that good big blokes are better that good little blokes and our selectors are now able to follow in that direction. The return of Samo and Vickerman has been manna from Heaven and the prospect of adding TPN and Palu to the squad gives further cause for optimism. An old coach mate of mine and I used always agree (only half jokingly) that the game is about ‘when they have the ball, bash ‘em and, when we have the ball, bash ‘em!’

While I’m reminiscing and on the subject of forward play, there was an old adage that said that ‘if you can throw a blanket over your eight forwards at any time, they’re going OK’. There’s not too much wrong with that logic, either.

For the Wallabies, Genia was a deserved man-of-the-match but he must thank his forwards. They were all great. Horwill was in the thick of it, but gave away far too many penalties and I formed the impression that he was not too much bothered with the Laws of the Game. Vickerman, Samo, Elsom and Moore were juggernauts — just fantastic! Pocock is looking much more like his old self; Alexander was tighter and subsequently better and Kepu is getting to understand the pace of the game. He is a superb athlete and 120 kilograms — keep your eye on him!

While I’m mentioning the good performers, referee Wayne Barnes was very good at the tackle contest. No one was allowed to go off their feet and slow their ball down. This is refreshing, particularly if you’re playing New Zealand.

After the match, I was thinking that with a little more game time we can add Slipper, TPN, Sharpe and Palu to the match-day forward squad and Barnes, Mitchell and O’Connor to the backs. Maybe we can’t fit them all in but it’s quite a prospect. Now, if we can only use our bench wisely, we will be a handful for any opponent. (I can’t offer any advice there. I come mainly from the pre-substitutes era and have no track record in such matters.)

We can still improve quite a bit, and we will need to if we are to get somewhere near our potential in the coming weeks. There are a number of teams of real quality in this year’s championship. The quality across the top ten or so teams looks to me to be higher than ever and no team at all is sure of their path through the stages.

Our restarts — on our kick — need to improve. Cooper’s kicks lack height and too much easy ball results for our opponents. Often New Zealand were able to immediately send us back into our own half with return kicks. Compare this with South Africa and New Zealand’s efforts, which frequently put us under considerable pressure just to claim and consolidate possession. Incidentally, AAC, who played superbly, is a better chaser than both Ioane and O’Connor — and I’m pretty sure he’s not as quick?

Our lineout was shaky — we lost our first two throws and never challenged the New Zealand throw at all. This will be fixed, I’m sure. Our scrum wobbled once or twice — although the ref allowed Mealamu to come up under pressure and bring Alexander with him. Dare I say it: our support play must improve still further. This will give our quality attack some space — and they don’t need much.

We are a show for the Webb Ellis Cup! We need to be at our best in the vital matches and turn up early in every game, but we have some real quality, and we are definitely a show!


  • Rocket

    Nice review Mr Dwyer, I myself liked how Rocky Elsom played the game, it seems that the loss of the captaincy has spurred him to kick it up a gear!

    • mark conley

      He did play well, but I thought it was part of a progression from his long lay-off, ie. I thought he played well last match also, he’s improving every match. I agree the captaincy is better elsewhere though. lets him concentrate on his ‘job’ in the team.

      • Deez

        I have liked Elsom’s improved workrate, but I still see him falling off tackles. Admittedly, when you make a lot of tackles, you are also increasing your chances of falling off a few, but it means that each time he does it, for the rest of that play, we are essentially playing with 14 men.

  • madflyhalf

    Love to see Wallabies winning 3N, finally!

    IMO Oz should improve in the midfield.

    Ant Fainga’a was bring there also because of his partnership with Cooper, but he and McCabe too have been too far from QC when he was creating gaps and half-gaps, the only time this happened was in the first half, when Smith tackled early McCabe, and ref spotted him, giving the WBs the 13-3 penalty!

    That’s probably part of that improvement needed in the support area.

    McCabe seems don’t know he can pass the ball, last year with a playmaker in 12 jersey, we’ve seen a more involved backline (with outside centres, and blindside winger too!).

    Against NZ I rate 9 the defensive performance of the pairing centres, but only a 5 in attack: they’ve never been a threat to the ABs line.

    Hopefully, AAC should find back his form, he would be better in 13 jersey if so.

    And as Italian, now I’m really scared by Wallabies forward too: in the past years they where accused of being soft, shy and hesitant, but now they found a great aggression and sharpness… if the Wallabies were challengeable also for us there, it seems they’re no more.

    Let’s just hope you won’t bash us too much, but now I have brand now hopes for pool showdown against Ireland! :D

  • The Rant

    This 15 may have been close to our best but the bench is definately waiting for the return of a few stars. I got pretty worried at the end there with mccalman/mafu/Saia/Simmons running on when we were trying to close out a gripper – that said- they did the job and I think the did it well. I dísagree with your comment about higgers as in the 10mins he was on he played right in the thick of the forwards with a few hitups and plenty of ruckwork.

    AAC was immense yesterday – He was the right man for the right day – he is made world cup intensity.
    JOC would be a great bench player to cover a plethora of positions and could make a big impact in the later stages.
    If Mitchell can get matchfit/strong and confident enough I want him in the team – his efforts on friday showed what an amazingly insightful rugby player he is – hunrgy for work, knows where to run, turns up at the right time. Digby is going great guns and deserves his spot without a doubt.

    If all injuries sorted themselves out then this is the 22 I would want to see named for a WC Final:
    1: Kepu
    2: Moore
    3: Slipper
    4: Horwill
    5: Vickerman
    6: Rocky
    7: Pocock
    8: Samo
    9: Genia
    10: QC
    11: Mitchell
    12: Faainga
    13: AAC
    14: Diggers
    15: Beale

    16: Alexander
    18: Sharpe
    19: Higgers
    20: Palu (love the ídea of a 50min/30min split Samo/Palu)
    21: Burgess
    22: JOC

    • andrew

      team looks good rant

      deans likes mcabe and barnes so I can see one of them getting 12

      and for some reason he is loves horne – A good player but not enough time to be mucking around with him

      it worries me that our centres are not settled yet and probably still wont be until the finals

      i would love to have room for mitchell, ionne, beale, Joc in the team but if all are fit and in form I would rather have brand occonnor on the bench

      too late now but ionne at o/c would have been cool …

      9: Genia
      10: QC
      11: Mitchell
      12: Faainga
      13: Ionne
      14: JOC
      15: Beale

      • GeeHeigh

        Wallabies were given the win. We saw this as an opportunity to shed the “favourite” image doing into RWC. We want you blokes arrogant and confidant when you get the big hit.

        • drop kick

          I’m sure you are right, brilliant piece of coaching by Henry to engineer the loss. Especially liked the second half fightback to 20-20, then deliberatly letting Genia have a run to set up the try for Aus. Is there anything the ABs can’t do?

        • KangaDingo

          U just got smashed cause ur a bunch of sheilas
          Get a real pack of forwards and learn to play rugby.

    • Kunte

      why the hell did u drop McCabe? That bloke has done nothing but improve since day one. Drop Slipper and have TPN play both cover for prop and hooker!

      • The Rant

        mate, totally agree, mccabes done well and been solid…i just think at 12 faainga is just as solid but for me his understanding of QCs game gives him the edge in attack. I’d be happy enough with either.
        Your slipper comment is a joke right?

        • Nutta

          Leaving aside the fast fairies, unless I missed some major mail, TPN cannot play tight-head. He never has other then that one demo game at Gosford where he FUBAR’d a knee or ankle or something.

          And in terms of Slipper for BennyA it’s too much of a risk. The young fella has had somewhere btw zero and SFA game time in how long? And we want him to run-on as anchor in a RWC? I’ve banged on about BennyA as a tighthead before so no going back over flogged horses, but what’s done is done and stays done. So it’s Keps/Squeak/BA with TPN and Slipps pining on the pine for now…

          For what it’s worth re the fast fairies, Ant Fingers keeps his job with Two-Dads outside him. Macca will go. The choice is either The Brand to wing in which case everyone takes a jump to the left or Barnes to 12 (Robbie likes him as a calming influence next to QC maddness, plus he’s a handy boot) and everyone else stays where they are

      • Wallaby Fan 2011

        Kunte…firstly gold name. BUT improve every game. C’mon mate, Unless our wingers are coming off their wing they will never see the ball with him inside. If Deans loves him so much put him on the bench. Rob Horne was to me very very disappointing on Friday night and I was blown away he got a call up. He is someone for the future sure but to put a bloke in a team off the back of what 6 games this year and only a handfull of test matches to his name( which really he wasn’t a star) is very very baffling.

        11. Ioane
        12. Barnes- His defence is fantastic and ball skills are so much better than McCabe’s.
        13. A. Faingaa
        14. Mitchell
        15. Beale – if he keeps dropping pill and chip kicking then O’ Connor.

        21. O’Connor/Beale
        22. Burgess.

    • Guy

      I like the team…

      while i can see 5 forwards might be needed to sustain the beligerence we seem to have found, is a specialist half and small utility enough back-up?

      just considering current selections (ie, nothing too left field), i think you could leave off higgers and maybe add in mccabe? horne and barnes could be a good left field, but neither of them deserve the shot at this point.

      • BDA

        One utility back is all we need. In fact given the versatile of our current backs, our bench back doesn’t even have to be versatile. For instance it could be faingaa or Mitchell and we simply move other players around…..but I do like the idea of having JOC on the bench.

        If we have to we can play Higgers in the backline. He’s already hangin out there anyway >D

    • Ooaahh

      Great team. I would only switch Alexander for slipper. At the start of the season I would not have said this but benny a’s work is getting better every match.

    • Mart

      Now THAT! is a team.

      And a cracking bench. Please Robbie, you picked a good number 8 finally. And the right pack. Just get the backline straightened out and we’re are a shoe in.

      The backs on the weekend we’re good defensively but not in attack.

      Great call re Samo/ Palu. That would be a mouth watering prospect. The opposition would breath a sigh of relief when Samo goes off after tearing around the park and then shit themselves when they see who the fresh legs are replacing him.

      Rob Kearney wouldn’t be running it from the back any time soon in the Ireland match.

    • John A

      Rant – your team looks about right. I do think we will see more of Barnes and Faingaa at 12 with Deans having given McCabe enough time there for him to be a viable option if needed.

  • Gax

    @Rant, I really like that 22. However, i might be wrong but i think you will find that Robbie will play Barnes at 12. JOC might need to be in the team because of his kicking (if he can it right). Otherwise completely agree with you.

    • The Rant

      Gax you’re probably right but I hope not. Deans seems pretty happy with Mcabe to be honest so I stuggle to see him moving unless for faiinga who plays the same way. JOC’s goalkicking is admittedly better than quades – but only by a shade and he’s been off the last few games.

      I wouldn’t mind having a 4/3 bench either which for me would include barnes.

      I only hope the injured players are back asap cos i dont want to put them in untested at the expense of the guys who’ve been doing the hard yards on the track.

      • Patrick

        Well he would, Barnes hasn’t been available so he’s been pretty happy with the next best thing to him!

        Barnes’ tactical kicking will get him the spot.

    • GLRooster

      I don’t think that Deans’ first choice would be to play Barnes with Cooper – I reckon Barnes is there for cover for 10 only – he would be down the list as far as 12 goes.

      Cooper does well with a “non-creative” hard and straight running 12 who hits the holes that Cooper creates. I reckon that Ant F is the backup 12 for McCabe, as he is very similar to McCabe in the way that he runs straight and hard.

      I believe this is one of the big reasons (apart from a breakup between Deans and Gits) that Gits isn’t in the team either, he can’t play well with Cooper, and Deans must rate Barnes as a better back up 10.

      • Fatso

        You are probably right but it is crazy not to have Gits on the bench. He has RWC experience can play anywhere in back-line and has a complete game.
        Beale seems to be out of form and appears to avoid physical contact whenever he can. AAC at 15 and Mitchell on wing?

        • GLRooster

          Oh I agree – I think Gits should definitely be in the game day 22, and I find it astonishing that he’s not even in the 30.

          They can’t really use the excuse of picking guys on form for dropping him, seeing as they selected a number of guys that had no game time of any real note behind them (e.g Palu, Horne).

          If they then want to say its because of previous performance or potential, then surely Gits meets those criteria as much as a guy like Barnes or Horne does?

          Suffice to say, I’m convinced the reason Gits isn’t in the squad is because of personality issues, and unfortunately his standard of play isn’t quite good enough (in Deans view) for that to be overlooked.

    • mark conley

      Can the WB ‘afford’ to have two like players @ 12, 13, ie. McCabe and AFaingaa?

    • Dally M

      Is his kicking any better than Quade’s or Barnes if he is in there, then you have Kurtley who can kick as well.

    • Zeus

      Did you see barnes kick against Canada? You only need one of Barnes or JOC.

  • Bones

    I think that AAC looks so much better at 14 than 13. Some credit for yesterday’s win must go to Ant Faingaa – very solid in defense at 13.

    I not sure that Mitchell can regain a starting place in such a short time, with so little game time.

    JOC may have lost his starting spot.

    Biggest negative from a fantastic weekend, was probably a hammering in the scrums and abysmal lineouts. Can only assume that Vickerman was rusty, and will improve. Also can’t ever understand why we often don’t compete on an opponents throw.

    • KangaDingo

      Yes, unbelievable but true, but we got the depth.
      The abs would kill to have players of joc caliber in thier backline
      We can afford to do these changes, but no one else could.

  • Alan

    ”Incidentally, AAC – who played superbly – is a better chaser than both Ioane and O’Connor – and I’m pretty sure he’s not as quick?”

    very, very good point Bob! I just rewatched the game and cant recall a single kick from us where AAC went chasing. He hammered Guildford and one or two others on a number of occasions – brilliantly he either committed to the jump or was patient and timed his hit to perfection.

    and on the subject of kick chases – samo’s brilliant try came from pocock challenging and beating McCaw to a kick!
    Would be great to see others follow his their lead

    and on the subject of kick chases – samo’s brilliant try came from pocock challenging and beating McCaw to kick. If we compete

    • RedMan

      Is there a glitch in the matrix?

      • Alan

        6am postings will do that to ya

  • madfifteen

    Considering Wallabies’ most-likely opponents for QF and SF will be Wales and England, the game against ABs left me a slight doubt about Wallabies’ preparedness against European teams. We saw how North Hem teams focus on set pieces, Vicky was calling the line outs and looked a little shaky, the scrum was ripped (though, I’m nowhere close to be qualified to talk about what’s going on inside the scrum). Despite Vicky’s fine outing vs all blacks, I prefer Sharpy at #4 (at least for for Qf and SF).

    Will JOC come back as #14? He has to, especially for the knock-out round. A kicker’s role will be more important in RWC games. 3NS-G6, in the second half, out of their playbook, ABs deployed a series of short distance ground campaigns and waited for Wallabies to make a mistake. A mistake anywhere inside Wallabies’ territory will be an automatic 3 point for Carter, and both teams knew it. Fortunately Wallabies were as patient as ABs and didn’t make any mistakes, but eventually got tired and made a hole in the defense line and ABs capitalized on it. Wallabies couldn’t charge forward like they did in the first half, they couldn’t keep the structured defense because they weren’t able to keep their feet forward.

    How to play European teams and how to play knock out games will be important factors for selecting 22 players for QF and SF. Solidifying set pieces, securing a reliable kicker are obviously a must.

    If Wallabies reach the final, I wouldn’t worry about anything, Wallabies will play with their heart and enjoy the greatest sports event in the world. Can they get through two European teams safely? Are they prepared enough to face against European teams?

    • Pedro

      It was probably the worst lineout performance from the wallabies this year, with our first throw ending up not being contested due to a mix up. The scrum penalty that we got against us was caused in part by mealamu popping his head out early, otherwise it wasn’t a great night of scrummaging, but not terrible either.

      I’m not worried about about either though, certainly not against Wales and England because SA And NZ aren’t exacly slouches in either area. Over the trinations our scrum has been solid and actually better than the Saffas and ABs at times. It’s always going to be an area people try to pressure us on but it seemed more of a glitch than a sign of weakness. Having such a glitch will be good for the boys to keep perfecting their set piece as we get to those pressure games.

    • Wallaby Fan 2011

      You blokes are very hard on young Simmons I reckon, If you have a look at the Wallabies when he was calling Line outs I don’t think we lost one. Also our scrum was solid. When it comes to set piece he I think is a lot better than Sharpe and Vicks but Vicks and Sharpe have got it over him around the park. I reckon he is the sort of bloke who doesn’t know how big he really is.

  • Goldie

    Forwards competed the whole game & outplayed the AB’s is general play, I didn’t expect them to be as dominant as that. Well done. Genia was brilliant, he’s got to be the best 9 in the world at the moment. Scary thing for me was the despite the Wallabies being clearly the better team, NZ still managed to get close enough to win and if a couple of options were taken differently, probably would have won. (I think it was Brad thron took on the line when he was seagulling with a great overlap outside him, althoug didn’t see who they were, could have been all forwards?) Just shows how close teams are at the moment and as stated, any one of 4 or 5 could win the cup if things go their way on the day. Missed the QC incident with McCaw, what was that all about, but he was right in front of me when Nonu scored and for all money it looked like he was telling him where to dot down rather than try to stop him. He probably would have scored anyway, but he could have tried, you never know, he could have dislodged the ball.

    • Jay

      I don’t think there’s any question Genia’s the best around. The only competition is FDP who’s not really in his best form.

    • wilful

      Missed the QC incident with McCaw, what was that all about, but he was right in front of me when Nonu scored and for all money it looked like he was telling him where to dot down rather than try to stop him. He probably would have scored anyway, but he could have tried, you never know, he could have dislodged the ball.

      From the one angle that the TV showed, it looked to me like QC was just standing there watching Nonu run past. What happened?

      • Patrick

        Same as in the S15 final when he waved McCaw through…his one weakness but a bloody glaring one!

      • scott

        yeah, he stood there. he watched. he let it happen. then he went off at his team mates for it. might as well have had giteau there…then again he was out of position, he’s supposed to be defending behind 14 competent players not in the trenches with the rest of them

  • Goldie

    Sorry, Brad Thorn

  • Robson

    It seems negative, but I’m coming around to the view that passionate defense (such as we saw on Saturday at Suncorp by the Wallabies) will win World Cup finals. For that reason I think I want Fainga and McCabe to stay in the centres.

    And now a word for that self proclaimed NZ Herald journalistic soothesayer Chris Rat Toes, who wrote this morning that the Wallaby forwards are soft. Man for man the Wallaby forwards have at least as much – but probably more – fire in their bellies than the All Blacks.

    Rattue should think these pairings through before he makes such stupid judgements.

    Samo v Reid
    Elsom v Thompson
    Kepu v Woodcock
    Alexander v Franks
    Moore v Mealamu
    Vickerman v Thorn (or Whitelock)
    Horwill v Whitelock (or Thorn)
    Pocock v McCaw

    Which of these Wallaby forwards is Rattue accusing of being soft?? The only slight question mark I have is – maybe – over Alexander, but it is only a very slight one. Rattue often has to eat his own words and he is in serious danger of having to eat these ones too.

    I think this young pack of Wallaby forwards came of age on Saturday night and I see a very bright future for Australian rugby over the next four years; irrespective of the outcome of the RWC 2011.

    • Jay

      Rattue is a troll – he’s the Stephen Jones of NZ rugby journalism.

      And he’s not even much of a rugby fan, he’s actually more of a league writer. Not particularly knowledgable on union beyond the superficial.

      • Mica

        A league writer you say – he must be very confused by the concept of pushing in a scrum then.

      • Gumby

        What have you got against Trolls? Not everyone’s favourite life-form but there’s no need to insult them like that!

        Comparing them to Rattue and Stephen Jones is a bit over the top; nasty in fact.

      • Wallaby Fan 2011

        Jay, i think this is the first time I have ever agreed with you! ;)

    • Pedro

      Well our forwards certainly softened theirs, maybe that’s what he meant.

    • KangaDingo

      If the wallaby forwards r soft then what does that make the kiwis?….liquid!
      They all reminded me of Olive Oil the other night and the Aussies were like Popeye after he downs a can of spinach.

  • chief

    After having put up with endless drivel from Reds supporters and others that Higgers should play 6 in place of Rocky all one can say is thank you Bob for telling it like it is.
    The bloke don’t like it tight.

  • Louis

    Agree with most of your comments, don’t agree with your view on Higganbotham, he’s a hard runner, and very quick. I’d have him as a Number 8 replacement for Samo (who just played himself into the starting XV)
    Genia deserved MOTM, easily the best half-back in the world right now
    I wasn’t impressed with Coopers performance, too much tricky stuff for my liking. I also am not confident on him being reliable under pressure. Two vital missed kicks at the end of the match, not good
    Really liked AAC at 14, but sorry to say, we need O’Connor back. He is an x-factor that we need without being too flashy, as well as being a kicker I would rely on. This is something we desperately need to bring back Bill
    I really like McCabe at 12, the way he is playing I would leave him there. With him, you know what your getting when you pick him, unrelenting defence, and straight hard running. We need him outside Cooper
    IF everything works out for all the players, this would be my Match day 22 for the final
    5.Horwill (c)
    6. Elsom
    7. Pocock
    11. Mitchell
    12. McCabe
    13. Faingaa
    14. O’Connor
    15. Beale
    16. Alexander
    17. Moore
    18. Sharpe
    19. Higginbotham
    21. Barnes
    22. Ashley-Cooper

    • Mica

      No Digby…………..Really??????

    • Gumby

      AAC has to be in the starting team at 13 and Slipper isn’t better than Alexander. Also a fit and fired up Palu would be better back up for Samo than Higgers. If I had the choice of being run over by Higgers or Palu I’d take Higgers. At least that way there would be a chance I’d end up in Intensive Care rather than the Morgue.

      There is plenty of X-Factor in this team and O’Connor may just have to prove himself all over again if Mitchell is fit. If he is the best kicker we have we may be in trouble in the tight matches.

      Whatever! It is great for the Wallabies to have so many options to consider. Take a bow Robbie.

    • Fatso

      Why would you make 4 changes to a winning team ? Brand Jimmi is best in the stand.

    • Wallaby Fan 2011

      This stuff about O’Connor being a great kicker has zero factss behind it in test matches. Lets not forget his past 2 tests in SA and Eden Park he was terrible. The best option here by a country mile is to put Barnes at 12 and he can kick. I agree Cooper can’t close out a game(3N Final and Super Rugby Final- both should have been 8 point wins) and you need that in World Cup Finals matches. Barnes is the man as long as he tows the line and promises not to kick everything away.

  • Raugee

    Just on Bob’s comment re Wayne Barnes, I too feel he had a good game and seems to understand the rules. I also reckon he fell asleep in the first 20mins of the 2nd half and the ABs got away with everything at ruck time.

    Can Scarfman do an analysis of that third 20? A la the seminal piece of the ABs v Boks that he did last year?
    There was one point where Ali Williams was standing about a metre in front of where the last ruck had formed and was guarding a passage for Whitelock to run through.Ffortunately Sam ran into Ali and a scrum was called.
    Shouldn’t that rubbish be stamped out of the game?
    When Barnes finally woke up and penalised Mealamu, quite correctly, for coming in on the side and killing the ruck, poor Keven looked completely non-plussed. You could see him thinking ” Why is he penalising us for that now? He hasn’t been all half.”

    • Dally M

      Never mind the AB’s encroaching on the offside line pretty much the whole second half.

      It prompts me to again ask the question – What the f*ck are the assistant ref’s watching at ruck time?

    • Nabley

      I thought that penalty of Mealamu was a bit tough given that we had a log of wood lying on the ground at the rear of the AB side of the breakdown. He had to get round it to get to the breakdown. Barnes is a pretty ordinary ref and misses a lot and while the ABs were off side, so were the Wallabies. It was just that our comentary team pointed out the AB indiscretion and ignored the WBs.

  • Uncle Percy

    Louis you’re not seriously suggesting Ioane should be out of the 22?! He is one of the best supporting players the Wallabies have got. Not his best game on Sat night (although the step of his right foot just before setting up Kurtley was brilliant). I would prefer Diggers over O’Connor any day of the week – he gives tremedous go forward by breaking tackles more regularly than most. Plus wouldn’t you just love to see him dance after scoring the winning try!! I know having O’Connor on the bench would put more pressure on Quade to kick but I haven’t been reassured by O’Connor’s kicking in NZ. Plus you have AAC on the bench – a bit harsh given his (finally) brilliant display on Sat night. TPN is likely to come off the bench as well as is Slipper

    • Louis

      No I’m not suggesting that. I actually forgot about him.
      So shut your mouth

      • Louis

        Sorry. I just get worked up sometimes
        So shut your mouth

        • Uncle Percy

          You still want me to shut my mouth even though you just admitted you get worked up soemtimes. Gees, take a pill mate I was just saying that Diggers is all class and has to be in the team. No need to froth at the mouth – it’s good to have some selection dilemmas for the right reason. We’re all friends here

    • chasmac

      Cooper and Digby are a job lot these days. Coopers defense is still the most glaring weakness in the entire teams skill set. It used to be the scrum.

      • RedMan

        What are you talking about? Didn’t you see Cooper’s effort on tackling Nonu when he scored?

        I actually paused the replay to see what Cooper was doing. Rather than attempt to tackle Nonu (and get eaten in the process), I think he was trying to find his mates in the stands.

    • Garry

      ” lthough the step of his right foot just before setting up Kurtley was brilliant.”

      It’s a pity that KB didn’t step off his other foot and put Diggers away for a meat pie (in the first half?), then we would be singing the praise of Digbe’s game.

      • Uncle Percy

        Regardless of who scored that try I reckon both Beale and Diggers were below their/our usual high standards. Maybe that was because of ACC shifting to wing and no O’Connor. Who knows. There’s no question though that both are a shoe in in any first XIV

  • Damo

    Best thing about the comments today is that we are starting to get consensus on who should be picked. There is no doubt for me that AAC is a lethal weapon in the outside channels- and seems to be much more comfortable there. Complementing this Diggers spends most of his time in mid field anyway creating havoc from broken play- and puts him closer to Quade. Defensively he is as good as anyone. My ideal backline would be
    9. Genia
    10. QC
    11. Mitchell- best finisher we have had since Tune. And he’ll be ready.
    12. Ant F or McCabe – toss a coin
    13. Diggers
    14. AOC
    15. Kurtley
    There is a lot of “good big men…” about this backline as well.

    • Lindommer

      14: AAC or JOC? I presume you mean AAC, in that case any sane selector would put AAC at 13 and Ioane on the wing. Many armchair selectors have called for Digby to wear the 13 jumper but he’s not entirely comfortable there as well as lacking the ability to put his wingers into space.

      • Zeus

        Agree that, but have you ever seen AAC pass?

    • Gumby

      AAC (presume AOC is a typo) outside Diggers??? Nah. Wrong way round. Leave Diggers on the wing where he is happy and most effective and AAC at 13 for the same reason. That way Diggers can also roam a bit.

  • Rhino

    Louis – Digby is one of the first players picked. Period. Maybe not his flashiest game on Sat night (still good though) but think of the previous 4 matches and he’s been among the best Wallaby performers every single time. Yes, if Mitchell is fit and firing I would have him as one of the wingers as he is a class finisher. JOC looks destined for the bench and his utility value will come in handy.

    Nice to have these selection dilemnas.

    Can’t agree with Bob about Higgers. The ways he plays creates opportunities and gives us another dimension so who cares if he doesn’t play like pumped-up tight forward as Bob suggests. If Saturday night proves anything, getting some X-factor onto the field is imperative. Thanks for a great memory Radike!

    • Louis

      I totally agree! I forgot about Digby haha thats all there is too it.
      Revised team

      Digby in at 13

      • KangaDingo

        WTF is wrong with u?

  • Nabley

    There is one thing for sure in this decider of the Tri-Nations, the Wallabies did not underestimate their opponents this time like they did in Auckland. In Auckland they disrespected their opposition by believing their own propaganda. They forgot that they had to play a Test and deservedly got well beaten. This time they had the game to play and they did.

    I do not think I have seen such ferocity in a Test from any team as what the Wallaby forwards turned on for the first half. Right from the first cleanout, I knew this game was going to be different. In that first half, the Wallabies had the ABs totally off balance and rattled, made worse for them by two serious injuries to key AB players in the first 8 minutes. The ABs were lucky that the score line at halftime was not worse.

    I had made comment about the last Wallaby game against the Boks, that the cleanout and counter rucking had improved markedly. In this Test we saw growth upon that again with some unexpected benefits. Barnes constantly penalised the ABs for being over the top at breakdowns, but did not penalise the Wallabies for the same thing. I wondered why this might be, and having looked back at it, decided that the Wallaby counter rucking was so strong that they actually went through the ruck and often tripped to ground on the far side. This in turn interfered with AB forwards joining the ruck. The choice was come over the top of the body(s) prostrate on the ground and be done for dangerous play (as anyone on the ground now days is protected) or come from the side and be done for that. It is a good trick, but it can sometimes go wrong as it did for Simmons, shortly after coming on when he got a strange call “beaten by a ruck”.

    Also in that last game against the Boks, at halftime the teams swapped jerseys, meaning that their performances on the field reversed. In this Test we saw the same thing, but fortunately for the Wallabies, as in the Republic, the damage had mostly been done.

    I thought Ashley-Cooper was most unlucky to miss getting a try. What the TMO called was different to what I saw, which was two sets of hands grounding the ball, which under the current laws is a try. This was compounded by a wrong decision about the restart for a 5m scrum. But as it turned out, Genia’s brilliant try that came a couple of phases later, corrected the initial mistake.

    While Genia was the official man of the match, Samo to me outplayed them all. Not only did he score a great try and almost got a break for another, but he created mayhem amongst the AB forwards at the breakdown. That was the part of the game that won it for the Wallabies. Genia did have a great game, but it was behind a forward pack going forward, which makes most halfbacks look great. There was one thing however that he did get away with and for AB supporters it is notable that Barnes was the ref. Genia’s pass off to Ioane which resulted in Beale’s second half winning try, was forward. Not a lot but a forward pass is like a girl being pregnant, either is or isn’t.

    While the Wallabies were dominant in broken play, the set play clearly went to the ABs, with both lineout and scrum resulting in a number of turnovers. I was surprised how often Carter got charged down or placed under so much pressure that his clearing kick went wrong.

    The second half saw the ABs take the game squarely to the Wallaby forwards with a surprising reversal of fortunes. Both AB tries came from hard pick and drive that left the Wallabies exhausted. Having tired them, quick ball out and the lack of cover defence opened up for tries. I wondered why with such success, the ABs did not reinforce it, rather they reverted to their more conventional game, which the Wallaby defence was prepared and able to counter. It will be one of the mysteries of this game. The only explanation I can think of was that Beale’s try immediately after Nonu’s showed that both forward packs had run out of puff, and right at the time they needed new blood from the bench, there was none having used it up earlier.

    I see this morning that Cooper got away with his cited offence of kneeing McCaw in the head while McCaw was on the ground. I dear say it was an Australian Judiciary that let him off. I suppose he had to be let off or get 5 weeks which probably would have put him out of the RWC and if that had happened you can imagine how the ARU judiciary appointments would have gone next year.

    The bad thing for the Wallabies is Cooper he is now on notice and I doubt he will get away with it again. This game both for its class and import for the RWC will have been watched the world over. Cooper is now red meat to citing officials and independent judiciaries. Strangely, Cooper has not produced the goods at Test level compared with the way his playing partner Genia has developed. When you look back on Cooper’s history, he really is a brainless galloot, but perhaps a potentially dangerous one to both his own as well as the opposition.

    What does all this mean for the RWC. Well the Wallabies are riding high and have youth on their side. I wonder if there is much more in the Wallabies than the top game that we just saw. I am sure Robbie has something up his sleeve. The ABs have had a nice reminder that they need to be on top of their game which maybe what they needed.

    I thought it was significant how rattled the ABs were in the first half, but in contrast how easily they came back in the second. The injuries are a concern to them, especially Read, perhaps Thomson not so much. Also Cowan and others were being “rested”. It might be premature to get too excited and as Bob suggested, the Wallabies at least now have a show. This time the ABs are taking not only injuries, but old men as well into the tournament. Whereas the Wallabies only have Samo and Vickerman who fit that description. I wonder if it will be significant?

    • Hawko

      The judiciary was South African ie. neutral. So it was not a home town decision. For several years now the SA judicial officers have been extrordinarily lenient to all, especially when ruling on SA offenders in Super rugby. SA generally has a more laissez-faire attitude to illegal play than most other constituencies. It actually would have worked better I think if he had got 2-3 weeks. The heat would have been taken out of the McCaw-Cooper feud, particularly for the Kiwis, Cooper would have learnt a lesson and Barnes would have been fine at 10 till the knockout stages.

      Two other things: I think your expectations on Cooper are way too high. He doesn’t have to be player of the century in every game he plays in order to be an integral member of the team. And Genia played well but his box kicking was attrocious. Several times he totally put us on the back foot by being too slow and/or inaccurate.

      • Nabley

        Hawko, I am pleased to hear that.

    • Jay

      “I thought Ashley-Cooper was most unlucky to miss getting a try. What the TMO called was different to what I saw, which was two sets of hands grounding the ball, which under the current laws is a try. This was compounded by a wrong decision about the restart for a 5m scrum. But as it turned out, Genia’s brilliant try that came a couple of phases later, corrected the initial mistake.”

      That’s not the laws at all.

      A try is scored if the attacking players is the first to ground the ball. Law 22.3 (a).

      If there is doubt about who has grounded the ball (eg, two pairs of hands) Law 22.15 applies and an attacking 5m scrum is called.

      Personally, I think Muliaina pretty clearly had possession of the ball and it should have been a 22 restart, but I can see how the TMO made the call he did, which was obviously to apply law 22.15. There’s no justification for a try being awarded – even the most charitable view couldn’t say with certainty that AAC was first to ground the ball.

      • Nabley

        Jay, an interesting point of view. Law 22.15 does not say anything about two pairs of hands. What it does say is doubt about grounding. I do not see Muliana as having the ball on his own. To me AAC never lost possession and that is the key to my point of view. Anyway, it has not been refereed that way since about the time they stopped policing the ball being thrown along the centreline into scrums in one motion. In fact TMOs are the major source of what they do now days as it is most likely to be more than two pairs of hands present in breakdown pushovers. From what I have seen, they seem to discount the second pair of hands whenever an attacking player has taken the ball over the line and retained possession until it is grounded.

        • Jay

          In this case, at best AAC had one hand on the ball whereas Mils had two arms fully wrapped around the ball. Even if AAC still had a hand on the ball, I think saying he retained possession is a bit generous, and at the very least there is doubt about the grounding.

          Put it this way – why would a 5m scrum be called? Either he ruled 22.15 applied or he simply said it was held up. And I doubt it was the latter as it seemed to be pretty clearly forced to me.

        • Richard Lowe

          Stop talking sense, jay

        • bill

          4 more years boys.

  • shauny

    isn’t barnes considered a great defensive player? why not have him at 12 for defense as he certainly will have better attack than mccabe

  • Garry

    The highlights of the Oz Baa Baa v Canada are up on the web:


    Have a quick look at our centre pairings of Rob Horne and Ben Tapuai, and see who has the better outing.

    How does Horne keep getting selected? Damn Love Bubbles.

    • bill

      Thought horne had a good game, taps should be in for mccabe though. Tough on pat as he’s done everything asked of him. Very much doubt robbie et al will see it that way, they’ll stick with mccabe.

      Completely disagree re Bob’s assessment of higgers. If someone has pace you get them in position to use it, whatever the number on their back. Can’t see anyone ever saying higgers doesn’t like to mix it with the big boys.

  • Skip

    Can we please, please, please get a highlight video of the boys smashing the “/&%ing kiwis in the tackle & at the breakdown? Just for posterity as it was gorgeous to watch, along with the looks of concern on the “/&%ing kiwis (some of whom are good mates) in the bar with me.

    • Dally M


      To the tune of flight of the valkyries!

      • Skip

        Forgot to mention can we get the “days of dominance over the kiwis” clock back. Keep working on that doubt and that white collar they wear will seem tighter and tighter!!

        • scott

          ‘days of dominanance over kiwis’ clock…? hahaha…it’s obviously one of those australian things that’s great and everyone talks about it when it is in australia’s favour, but gets discarded like a wallaby jersey after every world cup knock out (and the ref didn’t penalise the other team out of the game and send off half of their team) and they start wearing their kangaroo’s jerseys again…

  • robbo999

    Just a few of comments

    1. Moore must be on for the first 60, then TPN can come on and make a big impact against tiring opposition. Start him and he will just break himself again

    2. The third man picked in my squad is AAC (after Genia & Horwell) – worry about his position once you’ve picked the rest

    3. Fourth picked would be Rocky

    4. Last men picked from the WX squad would be Horne (who has no known form now or ever) or Palu – whose form is highly sporadic and whose capacity to give away mindless penalties is a liability

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  • Better Red Than Ted

    Nice to have the dominance clock back, as requested – but it needs to be up in the masthead, not buried on the bootom of the page!

  • Alex

    Hate to tell you Aussies but running rugby and inexperienced players do win World Cups. Deans is making the same mistakes he made with John Mitchell in 2003. Sack the experienced players do not help either. Cooper is not a good player, can’t defend at all and only looks good because he has the Worlds best half back Genia in front of him. Ugly rugby by South Africa, England and the All Blacks like they did in the 2nd half will win the World Cup. Don’t forget there is a French bogey man lurking who always manages to cause at least one upset. On top of that the tri-nations winner has never won the World Cup either. Sorry aussie but i would be putting 4 teams a head of you in winning the Cup. Too inconsistent and too likely to lose to teams like Samoa.

    • Alex


      Hate to tell you Aussies but running rugby and inexperienced players do NOT win World Cups.

      • Dally M

        Not under the old interpretations of the laws sure, but as you saw in South Africa this year & last year, running rugby can defeat the old game plan that South Africa & most of the Northern Hemisphere teams will dish up.

        Samoa was against a B team with a fly half that isn’t even in the World Cup squad. They will be likely finish 3rd in their pool behind South Africa & Wales.

        Happy for you to count us out, but just like an All Black choking episode, you can count on an Aussie team going to the finals.

        • Alex

          And not picking that flyhalf for the World Cup is a huge mistake for the Wallabies. An extremely good and experienced player who has played World Cups before. Cooper isn’t half the player he is. Berrick Barnes should be your first choice now that Giteau is gone. Giteau was actually a player we respected and feared in NZ but no one respects or fears Cooper because he chokes and just throws the ball away under pressure or just stands there instead of tackling. He is lucky to have Genia in front of him who is a class player. A Genia and Giteau combination could have been really something. Deans just destroys good players (Christan Cullen, Andrew Merthans, Matt Giteau, whos next maybe Genia in a couple of years before he gets to his prime). Do yourselfs a favour and sack Deans after the Cup.

        • Dally M

          You must not have seen Giteau play since 2006.

        • KangaDingo

          Samoa will smash wales big time.

      • Pedro

        We should listen to this guy, kiwis are experts when it comes to not winning world cups.

        • Alex

          As much as I hate to admit that it’s true since at least 91. All I see Deans and the Wallabies doing is making the same mistakes as the ABs have made at every World Cup since 91 and thats why I do not rate the Wallabies very highly and have a bit of a laugh when some Aussies are talking like us Kiwis did before the 2007 Cup. At least Henry appears to have learned from past mistakes and looked at the reasons why we don’t win ie. running rugby. This is the ABs best shot since 2011 now that we finally have experience and are playing ugly rugby which did score 17 points in 20 minutes and that last AB vs Wallabies match. Imagine that been poured on for 80 minutes against them by NZ, SA or England. The Wallabies didn’t really look to have any answers to it.

        • Pedro

          I respect the tone of your responses, obviously trying not to incite vitriol on an Australian blog, which must be tempting for a kiwi. However, although NZ are right to consider how they lost previous world cups, boiling that down to an over emphasis on running rugby seems rash. Last wc they were beaten by France a running rugby team, before that Australia, then France (again), then food poisoning.

          Furthermore to say that the wallabies couldn’t handle the way the ABs played for the first 20mins of the 2nd half is accurate, but discounts that the wallaby forwards dominated the first half. Sure if some team play like that for 80min then they will win but NZ hasn’t done that, neither has SA.

        • Mad Dog

          The AB’s couldn’t keep it up. No team could. They had 95% possession for 18 minutes. They scored 17 points. Then they lost possession, and within 3 minutes the Wallabies scored. By then the AB’s were stuffed, out on their feet. 27 phases is mighty, terrific, almost unstoppable. But also unrepeatable. As they proved to us, and to themselves. The thing is, our old guys are better than their old guys, for the most part. Woodcock, Williams and Thorne are just plain slow. Our slowest forward is about as quick as their fastest. And our young guys shit on theirs. Beale against Muliaina, one on one, is embarrassing.

        • Robson

          I think that is where the All Blacks made a mistake. They tried to play the entire 40 the same way. As Mad Dog says it’s pretty near impossible to keep that up for the duration.

          However, immediately on resumption of play following Smith’s try the All Blacks took up where they left off before the try was scored and then it was Nonu crossing for one. I’ve only watched the match once (haven’t seen a replay), but it occurs to me that there might have been a bit of a failure among the Wallabies too in allowing the All Blacks to repeat the same tactics which led to their first try. In the end it didn’t mater because they inevitably regained possession themselves and scored from that.

          But if one of their own tries or a penalty hadn’t been converted they might have been whistling Dixie at the fulltime whistle. So hopefully there has been a full examination of this by the right people and some counter measures planned because someone is going to try to do it again.

        • Jay

          Good thing your coach isn’t a Kiwi….

        • KangaDingo

          The kiwis have already blown it with the pack that they’ve picked.
          This yr it really will be the coaches fault for blowing it.
          Their pack r a bunch of pussies except for Brad Thorne
          Now that our pack is meaner than theirs they get all beat up n flustered.
          They’re pathetic!

      • ozabroad

        nor do kiwis, winng wc’s that is

    • Gumby

      Unfortunately Alex in previous World Cups the only Tri Nations Winner has been New Zealand going into the tournament. Neither the Wallabies or Boks have gone into a RWC holding the Tri Nations.

      That makes this largely irrelevant in my view and hopefully the Wallabies will prove such. That would be sweet revenge for “the ones that got away” during our 10 match losing streak to the AB’s.

    • Mica

      I don’t remember the Wallabies having trouble with the French at the World Cup (at least with my professional era blinkers on).
      Isn’t it another Southern Hemisphere team that struggles with them?? ;)

  • craig

    so if the all blacks are going to choke, why do people keep trying to tag them as favourites? if i were betting, and they were favourites but were never going to win, then by definition, they shouldn’t be favourites. they might as well not be in the running. therefore, the number 2 side defaults to favourite status…that being AUSTRALIA!
    no wonder the wallaby fans are making a heap of noise, they don’t want anyone to notice that they’re really the favourites. being favourites comes with expectations.
    check this out: 1.media says the wallaby side has come of age and is better than the nz team
    2. the form is there for all the world to see (nz has lost 2 games, wallabies on the rise)
    3. nz more than likely won’t win the championship (history says…)
    so are wallaby fans prepared to wear ‘favourites’ for the tournament? i doubt it…

    i’m more than likely going to get pages of excuses (more than likely regurgitated fox sports commentary team scripted responses)

  • Robson

    If a creature from Mars was reading these comments it could be excused for thinking that the Rugby World Cup was a competition solely between the Wallabies and All Blacks. The two lumbering teams from South Africa and England have the mental attitude to force any other team into playing desperate rugby and making silly mistakes. I think that both these teams have the capacity to rise to the occasion and force their own game plan on other sides. And then there is the French who can wreck havoc simply by deciding that “today we will play rugby.”

    I have a deep and lingering feeling that there will be a surprise early exit from this tournament. Wonder who it will be?

    And talking about mental attitude, there was a guy on NZ television last night who is the “mental toughness” coach for the All Blacks. He must have endeared a lot of kiwis to him when he responded to a question from the interviewer that Aussies are mentally tougher than kiwis!!

  • KangaDingo

    It’s funny to read how the people at allblacsdotcom r callin us cheats!
    After puttin up with mcaw all these yrs I find it quite disgusting for them to try it on with us.
    They just get rattled when we fight fire with fire.
    They started it, so now it’s our turn to ‘push the envelope’

  • Roo

    Even the poms are getting onboard!

    Subject: A word on the All Blacks’ play: Cheats Mark Reason August 31, 2011

    If New Zealand go out of a consecutive World Cup because of another dodgy refereeing decision, they will have no one to blame but themselves. The All Blacks no longer even bother to bend the laws. They set out to deliberately cheat.

    For only one piffling syllable, CHEAT is an awfully big word. “Who are you calling a cheat?” demands the card-playing gunslinger, just before the mandatory murder and the five aces sliding from the sleeve.

    The All Blacks cheat in spades. Half of their tries in the Tri Nations have been set up by blatant cheating.

    Go back to the first South Africa game just before Wyatt Crockett scored in the corner. It is hard to believe that Richie McCaw could be four yards offside and get away with it, but there he is holding back the South African lock.

    In the first game against Australia they are at it again. Piri Weepu set up the first try by going through a hole created by Ali Williams holding Quade Cooper to the ground.

    In the buildup to the second try Ma’a Nonu sets a screen (much as they might do in basketball) for Kieran Read.

    Every week Paddy O’Brien, the International Rugby Board head of referees, sends out a directive to the coaches about issues that have arisen from the weekend games. At this point O’Brien warned coaches about all the holding back and obstruction that was going on. He might as well have told the All Blacks to stop doing the haka for all the notice they took.

    New Zealand were at it again on Saturday. There were just three incidents in the leadup to their first try, but the second try was exceptional. As Nonu was running through another black hole, a prone David Pocock was waving his arms in frustration. McCaw and Keven Mealamu had held him pinned to the ground for 14 seconds.

    Even by the very high standards of the All Blacks, 14 seconds must have constituted a personal best. Does McCaw have an invisibility cloak that only television cameras can penetrate? Even Robbie Deans called him “a bloody menace” and that’s when he was coach of the Crusaders.

    Perhaps the funniest moment in Saturday’s game was when the commentator opined that Brad Thorn had been “unfortunate” to bump into Williams. The ref was gullible enough to award an accidental offside.

    Accidental? Don’t make me laugh. The next time the All Blacks play a big game, watch what they do around the breakdown. They deliberately splinter off into offside positions to block the defence. It’s about as accidental as the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior.

    O’Brien told me while he was in Italy for the Junior World Cup that no World Cup has yet been decided by a bad refereeing decision.

    A couple of weeks later, Paddy was overtaken by events. The refereeing of the final of that Junior World Cup was one of the most unfortunate performances I have ever seen and certainly determined the outcome. I suspect this coming World Cup is an injustice waiting to happen, but don’t blame the refs, blame the players and coaches.

    One of the joys of that Junior World Cup, as O’Brien observed, was that the players haven’t learned (fully) yet to cheat. O’Brien also knows that one of the biggest challenges senior rugby faces going forwards is to stop the culture of cheating.

    Is the batsman who knows he nicked the ball and refuses to walk a cheat? Is the footballer who dives in the penalty area a cheat? Is the rugby player who holds back an opponent a cheat? You bet they are. People call it “the professional foul”.

    No, it’s just cheating.

    Yes, I know other teams cheat, although none of them are as accomplished at it as New Zealand.

    On Saturday Will Genia was the first to take up a blocking position on the All Blacks side of a ruck and was called back by the ref. Genia threw up his arms in apology – as if.

    The former Australian coach Bob Dwyer, like most of the planet, believes that New Zealand lead the world cheating averages. He said: “Richie would be guilty six times of obstruction in every game. I think we have to keep criticising the New Zealanders and making people aware of what are illegal tactics.”

    In that context, I don’t want to hear a single New Zealander whinge about a bad decision during the World Cup. The moment you set out to deceive refs is the moment you lose your right of appeal.

    If you live by the sword, be prepared to die by the sword, and the cheating All Blacks wield the biggest claymore of the lot.

    * Mark Reason is one of England’s most experienced sports columnists. A long-time senior writer for The Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph in Britain, he migrated to New Zealand and now calls the country home.

    • Dally M

      It’s hard to believe the assistant referee’s missed all of those, as they should have been best placed to pick them up.

    • Nabley

      Reason like his father is a professional hater of all things rugby south of the equator. From memory he has a particular hatred for the ABs, which makes it strange that he has settled in NZ.

      Having said that, I went and had a relook with his words in mind. Most of what he described is simply gamesmanship allowed by current interpretations of general play where an off side line has not been established. I call it loitering with intent and all teams do it. I remember Alexander got a try in the Test in Auckland from doing it. In fact, I think the Wallabies (coming initially from the Brumbies in the late 90s early 2000s) when they were doing so well, made it into an art form which most others picked up. Some of you may remeber when they had to introduce the obstruction law, but limited it to where contact occurs. Well you can still lioter with intent when there is no offside line and so long as you do not get contacted by a defending player….but that leaves a lot of scope. I think the game is the worse for it, but most of what he describes is not cheating.

      I was particularly interested in the 14 secs that he said Pocock was pinned, as 14 secs is a long long time and you would think someone would notice. When I saw it I could not believe the guy had the gall to write what he did.

      What really happened was a breakdown with about 5 (?) bodies off their feet, about 3 ABs and 2 WB. Pocock extracts himself and just as the ball comes out on the ABs side, he throws himself back on top. Yes on top. Franks (or it might have been Thorn) still on his feet, tries to wrestle him off. Meanwhile the ball goes to another breakdown, from which the ball goes out and Nonu and Smith start to do their thing. Meanwhile McCaw who was on the bottom of the first breakdown, lays there pinned, with his upper body and arms free. He is holding no one and is waiting for the bodies to get off him. Meanwhile Pocock fights Franks to hold the pile in place. As the second breakdown occurs, Franks leaves the first to get on with his job. Meanwhile Pocock remains in place holding the remaining 3 ABs down. An AB that looked like Mealamu, extracts himself from under Pocock and literally throws Pocock off the top so his team mates can getup and on with the game. Pocock lands on the ground on his back and waves his arms in that innocent soccer player Hollywood style. Meanwhile the try was being scored.

      It is hard to admit to but on the basis of this, Reason is a dud. I will not bother reading him again.

All Blacks

If you don't know Bob Dwyer is the world cup winning coach of the 1991 Wallabies, then give yourself an uppercut. He did a load in between, but he now runs Bob Dwyer's Rugby Workshops, which you can read more about on his site.

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