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Friday’s Rugby News

Friday’s Rugby News

The final news day of the year sees drama in the Castle, Sevens speak, a boost in funding and dreams being chased.


“Contracted thru 2 the World Cup”

Credit - Pedro from disqus comments

Credit – Pedro from disqus comments

Contracted through to the world cup, she said. He’s got a plan, she said.

We’re going to get 3/3 on the European trip, she goddamn well said.

Well, now it looks like Raelene Castle has had enough. In an extraordinary media leak, it’s reveals that Castle cancelled a phone call with Jake White, after the detail of the call was leaked to the media.

Calls for Michael Cheika’s head have only been getting louder and louder, and with the leaking of this ‘secret call’, it’ll only add more fuel to the flames.

Cheik is currently still in Europe, and is expected to front the Rugby Australia board when they meet on December 10.

White has often talked about being interested in the Wallabies top job. He is also no stranger to international success, having coached the Boks to a World Cup in 2007 and coaching the Brumbies to a Super Rugby final in 2013.

What’s even more interesting about this though is the fact that Rugby Australia owned up to it when they spoke to rugby.com.au.

“Jake White approached Rugby Australia and asked to have a conversation,” a spokesperson confirmed.

“Rugby Australia did not approach him but agreed to speak with him but have decided not to proceed with the call.”

Looks like it will be interesting times over at Moore Park, come December 10.

The other rugby news is that we have one last game lined up before the season comes to a close for 2018.

Outside of the Sevens in Dubai, the only other match this weekend sees the Barbarians take on the Pumas over at Twickenham for the 2018 Killik Cup.

Coached by Springboks coach Rassie Erasmus, the BaaBaas will host players of a predominantly South African origin, with a couple of Pacific and Australian players thrown in for good measure.

Except to see a lot of NRC stalwarts in there, especially from the Drua. See the squad here.

All Roads lead to Dubai

Charlotte Caslick and Georgie Friedrichs

Charlotte Caslick and Georgie Friedrichs

Things are set to get into full swing this weekend, with the both the Mens and Womens World Series Sevens kicking off in Dubai.

Starting with the girls, (who are already in full swing) the Aussie Womens team come into the second of the competition in 5th place, having crashed out in round one behind France, Canada, the US and New Zealand.

However the team looks set to have some big names return to the squad, with veteran Alicia Quirk has overcome a long-term knee injury. It is set to be a tough road though in the desert, with England, newcomers China and the United States sharing their pool.

“The team has been working really hard since the USA Sevens and we are looking forward to getting back out playing again,” Australia coach John Manenti said to Fox Sports.

“Having Alicia back is a big boost for the squad, she’s a tireless worker on the field and will bring plenty of big tournament experience to our campaign.

“It’s great to be officially expanding our Aussie women’s sevens family with two new caps for Lily [Dick] and Sariah [Paki].

“Both players have done really well in the last few months with exceptional performances across the Aon University Sevens Series as well as for our development side that won the Oceania Sevens Championship earlier this month.

“They’ll bring new energy to the squad for Dubai and they’re looking forward to their World Series debut.”

Womens Squad: 1. Samantha Treherne, 2. Sharni Williams, 3. Sariah Paki*, 4. Dominique Du Toit, 5. Yasmin Meakes, 6. Evania Pelite, 7. Charlotte Caslick, 8. Lily Dick*, 9. Emma Sykes, 10. Alicia Quirk, 11. Page McGregor, 12. Ellia Green (* denotes uncapped).

On the mens front, Dubai marks the first round of the competition, so it’s a real case of anything goes for the boys.

While the squad is still to be locked down, it looks to be notably stronger this year, with experienced players lining up for selection, including Michael Wells, Henry Hutchinson and Maurice Longbottom (who is returning from injury).

The men will also have a similarly tough pool, taking on the likes of Japan, Canada and England.

“We have just been getting combinations down pat, really solid, understanding each other and understanding the way we want to play,” captain Lewis Holland said to rugby.com.au.

“Moz (Maurice) is always dangerous, he can kinda get a try from nothing so he’ll be a threat this weekend and he has trained really well over the preseason.

“With the likes of Wellsy (Wells) and Hutchy (Hutchinson) coming back, they bring a lot of experience through mental and physical (skill), so they will be a great addition as well.”

It’ll also be the first full season for coach Tim Walsh, who is expecting a big performance.

“It’s going to be a different year this year with the Olympic qualifiers, so I’m sure the level of all the teams are going to take it up a bit,” he said.

“The important thing for us is to prepare without regret so just making sure that we’ve done everything we can so we can walk off the field on Saturday afternoon knowing that we’ve done everything we can.”

Here’s to hoping the Sevens season can help many a disgruntled rugby fan restore their faith in rugby.

Gimme Da Money!

We've won the loose change, now to win those notes

Money, Money, Money!!!

The NSW Government has announced it pledge $20 million towards a new NSW Rugby centre excellence, located at the University of NSW’s campus at Daceyville.

Construction is set to start at the end of the year, with the facility set to “take the game into the modern era.”

Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, Andrew Hore said the facility would be a new home for the Waratahs, as well as charity, community and research partners.

“This is not just for one team and high performance,” Hore said.

“There’s a whole lot of elements to this building that we see as part of our way of taking the game into a modern era. The world is changing fast and we need to start reflecting a lot more what society in Australia looks like. We don’t right now.”

For the last twelve months, the Tahs have been working out of a set of demountables on the campus, following their decision to live Moore Park in 2016. In this time they also turned down an offer from Rugby Australia to bunker in at their UTS-funded headquarters.

This announcement comes after the government recently helped Cricket NSW move their headquarters from Moore Park to Olympic Park, a move that cost $30 million.

“We would be doing this regardless [of the Allianz Stadium redevelopment],” Ayres said of the funding announcement.

“[NSW Rugby] wanted to establish a home as part of their strategic plan and made a conscious decision – long before we announced the full impacts of the SFS redevelopment – to move down to Daceyville.”

Hore almost mentioned that the site will be also be primarily focused in tapping into talent within Sydney itself, specifically the Pacific Island communities.

“We need to run more competitive competitions and have better access for more people from rugby-first countries to have an opportunity to play,” he said.

“It’s a great way for people from these nations to become part of Australian societies and it will give us an advantage over other sports too because often for some of these communities, family, church and the rugby club go hand in hand. But first they need competitions to play in and we will deliver on that.”

Outside of other big news, the Tahs have also confirmed they’re close to signing a big boppa in lock Le Roux Roets, so expect a bit more of the Saffa around UNSW.

Time for Change

KMP-G&G-SR-Waratahs-Brumbies-3289

Will Toni Pulu pull on this jersey next year?

Throughout this year, we’ve been talking about how players have struggled in Australia, gone over to NZ and excelled. I could list a laundry of the players here.

However, to finish with our final story of the year, we’re going to talk about a bloke called a Toni Pulu, and how he left the Chiefs to take on a challenge of playing for the Brumbies next year.

Pulu admitted, after being at the Chiefs for four years, his first couple of weeks in Brumbies colours were a little unsettling.

“That’s the mentality I’ve got. I don’t want to do things without earning the right. I know I’ve got to do the hard yards before I get to wear the Brumbies jersey again,” Pulu said to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Pulu has been chasing a dream to play at the World Cup, and he’s hopeful of cracking the Wallabies side next year. He is leaving his run late, and he has had a career of plenty of injuries, having played just 31 games in four years.

“It was a hard decision to leave. The Chiefs are a great team to be a part of and I’ll never forget what they’ve done for me,” Pulu said.

“But at the age I’m at, I needed a change and I thought the Brumbies would be a good fit for me. The Brumbies have been playing well the last couple of years and if I get my chance to put the jersey on, I’ll make the most of my opportunity.

However, he’s already provided a solid impression in the nation’s capital, and looks set to push the likes of Henry Speight, Tom Banks, Andy Muirhead and Lausii Taliauli for squad selection. If he has a good season, he could be lined for World Cup selection.

“That’s the mentality I’ve got. I don’t want to do things without earning the right. I know I’ve got to do the hard yards before I get to wear the Brumbies jersey again,” Pulu said.

“The Wallabies are an aspiration. My main focus at a new franchise is to get fit, play as much footy as I can and if the Australian call up comes, I’ll be happy.

“I haven’t played any age-group [international rugby]. I was quite late in developing my rugby skills, so I’ve been fortunate enough to get another crack and be here at the Brumbies so I’m looking forward to it.”

Fingers crossed his decision to cross the ditch is the right one.


Hello fellow GAGRs. Rant incoming. With the season drawing to a close, today marks our final news day for the year. It’s been an absolute rollercoaster of a season, filled with several highs and lots of lows, and it feels like six years ago that I started covering the news back in February. However, as always, it’s been a huge amount of fun, and that’s due to all the awesome folks who take the time to read, comment, and support our site.

On behalf of everyone at GAGR, I want to wish a warm thank you for all your continued support throughout the year. We have a fantastic community here who is never afraid to talk and argue about the game. You guys are the reason we turn up week in, week out to do what we do, and your support through engagement and donations helps us to keep churning out content (on top of allowing us to maintain upkeep on our super expensive corporate yacht).

While the Wallabies have been in god-awful form, I’d like to especially acknowledge the outstanding form of our news team. Every one of these guys have gone above and beyond with presenting the news this year, turning up no matter how tough the daily rugby stories got. Watching these guys develop over the course of the year has been an absolute joy to watch and be a part of:

  • Our Master of Monday News, Ned Stevens, who on top of writing for us also was lucky enough to pick up an internship at the Reds.
  • Our Terrific Tuesday News Writer, Andy Handyside, who more than lived up to his name and went above and beyond with engagement and is always willing to put his hand up to support the team.
  • Our Wonderful Wednesday News Writer, Nathan Williamson, who on top of doing news also branched out to cover the NRC this year.
  • Our Thick-bearded Thursday News legend, Dylan Langes, who on top of covering NRC has also been covering the Wallabies all around Europe this past month, and still has finding time to deliver the Thursday news on time.

I’d also like to thank Nick Hartman for all his support throughout the year, and for his help in putting together our Dropped Kick-Off podcasts. Fingers crossed we’ll have a few more of them down the track.

Lastly, I’ve decided to take a step back from writing the news next year. While the last two years of writing news has been a huge amount of fun, now seems a good time to give another writer the chance to have a crack at doing it! Rest assured, I’ll still be around behind the scenes at GAGR helping out with podcasts, and you’ll never be able to get me away from covering the NRC!

On behalf of the news team, I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a healthy and Happy New Year. See you all in 2019!

I’m off to the pub.

  • Bernie Chan

    Hearty thanks to the gents who put the hard yards to keep us informed and entertained….despite the way our team(s) went in 2018. Frankly it’s been a forgettable year, but the banter and differing views has been informative. What chance do we have in the RWC…a little bit of sweet FA, but we always hope! Will certainly be closely watching our 7s teams go around, and the Baa baas v Pumas game is a nice way to end the International season. Kudos to all at GAGR…cheers!

    • Brisneyland Local

      Good on you Bernie!

  • Who?

    I’d like to join Bernie Chan (first poster tonight!) and thank all the contributors on here for their work in bringing us the news, then trolling us in the comments. It’s great to see personality in the news, it’s great to see cynicism when we’re all feeling a bit down, and great to see hearty congratulations for those who earn it. You’ve all brought your own style, and all made each day just a little brighter for literally thousands of people. Well done gents, enjoy your Christmas break. :-)

    • Brisneyland Local

      Have a great Chrissy Who!

      • Who?

        You too mate. :-)

      • Who?

        You too mate. :-)

      • Who?

        You too mate. :-)

      • Who?

        You too mate. :-)

    • Singapore Sling

      Here’s a little present.

      There once was a man named M Hooper
      In London he snitched on A Cooper
      His team mate K Beale
      Was shafted with zeal
      But now they’re best mates for the future

  • I’d like to join the chorus of thanks for your hard work. And for giving us a space to be irreverent, sometimes downright rude, opinionated and outspoken about all things G&G and occasionally other colours of rugby too.

    Have a good break, looking forward to seeing you all in 2019!

    • Brisneyland Local

      Thanks for your wonderful posts all year!

      • Bakkies

        Cheers Reg.

      • I’m blushing now. Thanks for your rants and comments too.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Thank you and the team for all your work and the passion that is demonstrated so well on this page and in the podcasts. I will miss you and all the contributors to this site, even the ones who don’t like me much, over the next few months.

    This site is always the first one I go to each day and I thoroughly enjoy the debate, banter and, sometimes, criticism of each other’s views.

    To everyone here, have a great Christmas and New Year and I hope to see you all again in 2019

    • Brisneyland Local

      You too MR KRL!

    • Andrew H

      Many thanks from me to you KRL. You often got the ball rolling on my write-ups and more often than not I found myself agreeing with you.
      Keep it up next and we just might forgive you for being a kiwi…..

      Merry boxing day test match to you.

    • Andrew H

      Many thanks from me to you KRL. You often got the ball rolling on my write-ups and more often than not I found myself agreeing with you.
      Keep it up next and we just might forgive you for being a kiwi…..

      Merry boxing day test match to you.

    • Andrew H

      Many thanks from me to you KRL. You often got the ball rolling on my write-ups and more often than not I found myself agreeing with you.
      Keep it up next and we just might forgive you for being a kiwi…..

      Merry boxing day test match to you.

    • Andrew H

      Many thanks from me to you KRL. You often got the ball rolling on my write-ups and more often than not I found myself agreeing with you.
      Keep it up next and we just might forgive you for being a kiwi…..

      Merry boxing day test match to you.

  • Hoss

    I am looking forward to an off-season to refresh and come back hard in 2019 and to be honest, I am out of material.

    As fans of Australian Rugby, maybe our gift to ourselves this Festive Season is to remember that above all else, we ARE fans of this great game despite the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune thrown at us.

    To the official GAGR journo’s – my sincere thanks. Your contributions and efforts for the love of the game are truly generous you have my sincere thanks

    To all on here, thank you for the banter, the insights and the laughter – it truly is a sight unlike any I have encountered and that’s down to the quality of the contributions from all here. I haven’t always agreed, but I have always enjoyed all views in this broad church.

    From my family to yours Happy Hanukkah, enjoy Festivus or a Merry Christmas and a Safe & Prosperous 2019.

    I sign off on a rancid 2018 with this – see you all next year and look forward to welcoming some of you to the Hunter for a game or two.

    Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house,
    not a creature was stirring as Cheik was aroused.
    The selections were wrung and looked on with care.
    In hopes the trophy cupboard would not remain bare.
    The players were happy as snug as could be.
    The coach had made the calls – all as it should be………

    A 7 to play 8,
    a 12 to 13
    A 6 with potential – surely supporters would see !

    A 10 who can’t pass, kick, tackle or run,
    an indifferent 9, what could possibly go wrong ?

    Unsettled at 2, our locks with no ‘bite.
    A 12 who runs sideways and entertains ladies at night.

    An 11 who plays 13 for his club and his state,
    Makeshift loosies all far too lightweight

    Piggies that are chopped and changed at a whim
    Is it just coincidence our scrum gets pushed around – hmmm.

    A bench with no impact that won’t win a game
    What’s the definition again of going insane?

    A Captain who leads this unlikely squad,
    More at home surfing, than leading this lot.

    Free thinking coaches, none very old.
    All to think new and do as their told.

    He stared at the sheet, this team he created.
    Whilst hatching a plan for world domination.

    The pixy dust was sprinkled, a Christmas wish made.
    Out went his troops and they played and they played.

    They ran and they ran and swapped and they swapped.
    But four from thirteen must be considered a flop.

    Wishes and wants don’t a winning season make,
    as cracks and gaps began to appear, for fuck sake.

    “the refs are against us and life’s just not fair,
    its the end of the year and the cupboards still bare !!’

    A year had rolled past and all through the house,
    not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

    Cheik was slung deep, collapsed in his chair,
    a bottle of whiskey, the scent of despair.

    Alone in the dark his mind then raced,
    ‘Surely they wouldn’t dare have me replaced ?’

    The dog lay quietly and knawed on a bone
    When a flashing light caught Cheika’s eyes – it was Raelene on the phone.

    There was an open revolt the sponsors aghast
    ‘Win in 2019 or it will be your last’
    ‘What’s with your selections and swapping, for fuck sake
    Start winning well or I will call Jake’

    The embers danced and crackled whilst his thoughts bounced around.
    But who are we kidding this all ends with a frown

    For the fans were lost and all at sea,
    ‘Oh well, they thought, there’s always twenty twenty-three’

    Four years of passion, investment and belief,
    thrown down the toilet by these current Wallabies.

    As I sit at the Ponderosa enjoying the sights
    Merry Christmas to all & to all, a good night.

    Bahh humbug.

    • Huw Tindall

      Final hat tip of the year sir

    • Keith Butler

      Couldn’t put it better myself. Doesn’t matter what country or team we support we are first and foremost fans of rugby. All the best to you and Mrs Hoss for Xmas and the New Year.

    • IIPA

      Fuck that’s good

    • Damo

      Happy Festivus Hoss. May December 10 truly bring in “The Airing of Grievances” followed by the “Feats of Strength” whereby the head of the family, Frank Cheika Costanza will be pinned to the mat!

    • Damo

      Happy Festivus Hoss. May December 10 truly bring in “The Airing of Grievances” followed by the “Feats of Strength” whereby the head of the family, Frank Cheika Costanza will be pinned to the mat!

    • Damo

      Happy Festivus Hoss. May December 10 truly bring in “The Airing of Grievances” followed by the “Feats of Strength” whereby the head of the family, Frank Cheika Costanza will be pinned to the mat!

    • Damo

      Happy Festivus Hoss. May December 10 truly bring in “The Airing of Grievances” followed by the “Feats of Strength” whereby the head of the family, Frank Cheika Costanza will be pinned to the mat!

    • Hitcho

      Just letting you know I have unashamedly stolen that, which I may or may not give you credit for.

      • Hoss

        Tis the season of giving.

        • From NooZealand

          Thank you sir; I’am doing the same as Hitcho ((:)). All the best.

      • From NooZealand

        Done the same. :), bit I am not telling Hoss. ((:))

    • Hitcho

      Just letting you know I have unashamedly stolen that, which I may or may not give you credit for.

    • Hitcho

      Just letting you know I have unashamedly stolen that, which I may or may not give you credit for.

    • Hitcho

      Just letting you know I have unashamedly stolen that, which I may or may not give you credit for.

    • Happyman

      Perfect I have also stolen it. Proper attribution will be made but no monetary compensation.

    • Brilliant. Thank you for your little pearls of joy over this year.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      You really are gold my friend. Love it.

    • Nutta

      You have too much free time on your hands for this time of year…

      • Hoss

        Shhhhh. Merry Christmas mate – look forward to more posts & a sherbert or two over a game and philosophical debate. Although me thinks your are Jeff Horne to my Mundine……

        See you in 19.

  • Huw Tindall

    Will be a long list of thank you posts today Nick et al and well deserved. I feel that GAGR should be on the RA payroll as you do as much or more to promote the game than the RA marketing department does! Well done again and I look forward to my Christmas GAGR donation. Incidentally the donation is something you should promote more. I didn’t even realise it was a thing until end of last year.

    Re the actual news – just shows the continuing shambles that is RA. My prediction is Chek remains, Grey is sacrificed, Scott Johnson is made director of rugby with team selection input, and another old hand like Laurie Fisher type comes in as a ‘consultant’.

    One final request – if there is big news on Chek on Dec 10 or later please put up a one of article so we can discuss in true GAGR spirit!!

    • Brisneyland Local

      Agree! we need to be able to vent. If I have no where to vent, Mrs BL will throw me out of the house!

      • Huw Tindall

        Exactly! I’ve broken enough TVs this year. Can’t afford to smash my laptop as well.

        • Brisneyland Local

          Mate I have the plasterer on speed dial!

    • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

      I think you’re right, but wouldn’t be surprised to see Larkham go too.

      To be honest, I think we definitely need a new forwards coach also.

      • Huw Tindall

        Yes could get on board with Laurie Fisher or some real experienced campaigner and technician in the forwards. This Raiwaluni bloke had an OK record being general manager of Racing Metro and Stade Francais but really hasn’t shown any improvement in the forwards. Really missing Ledesma IMO. Putting my pragmatist hat back on though I can’t see Chek putting up with a clean sweep of the assistants so would bet on Grey being the first to go.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          He’s worked with Grey a long time, and defence improved somewhat in the second half of the season, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Larkham go (or is he still more protected by the boys club due to his playing days?)

    • Adrian

      Good thoughts Huw

      My prediction is that it will be unpredictable on December 10.

      I believe in bookmakerb odds but I still can’t find any on Cheika. There is a site for the likelihood of English Soccer coaches being sacked, but nothing on Australian Rugby (or 10-pin bowling).

      My guess is Cheika 2:1 to go (ie probably stay)
      Grey 1:2 to go (ie probably go)
      Larkham 1:1 to go or stay (even money)
      Raiulini 1:2 to go (ie probably go)
      Byrne 1:1 to go or stay (even money)
      Someone to slightly supervise Cheika 1:3 ( very likely)
      Clean sweep of everyone 3:1 (ie unlikely but possible)
      The most protected positions apart from Cheika, are those with connections one way or another to the Foxtel chaps.

      The only area where I disagree with popular sentiment is about whether Larkham’s removal by RA would upset Cheika. I think he’d love it, irrespective of what he might say

      • idiot savant

        I agree with your last paragraph Adrian.

        My guess is:
        No one goes : even money
        One cosmetic addition : 2:1

      • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

        My only guess is that I don’t think Cheika will accept a supervisor, I think he’d rather have RA pay him out than admit he doesn’t know everything.

      • I’m not arguing with your numbers, I am left wondering about where the blame should go. We can wrangle about Grey and Larkham and their qualifications for the job. Personally I was underwhelmed by the Brumbies attack, so I wouldn’t cry if Larkham went, with or without Cheika going too. Grey used to be able to cut it, but maybe he’s now an “old voice” and perhaps he should go.

        However, Raiullni had a good record before this job, as did Byrne. They both appear not to be able to deliver what they could elsewhere. Is that down to the players or to Cheika or a toxic combination of the two? From outside it’s impossible to know really. But I’m thinking there’s something like that going on, which makes me circle back to give at least Grey some benefit of the doubt, and hell, while I’m at it even Larkham.

        Now, this is an outsider’s, and a “keyboard warrior” fan’s perspective. But if Mick the Kick can’t get the Wallaby players to improve their skills – and I defy any sane commentator to show me an improvement in their skills, regardless of the number of tests he may have under his belt – then you have to wonder exactly what is going on. We know that he performed for years in that role in another organisation with visible skills, we see it every time they take to the field. Why exactly can’t he perform that role in the Wallabies’ set up?

        I don’t expect RA to make a sane decision in 10 days time. But it would be nice.

        • Adrian

          Really good analysis of the complexity created by a fairly large caste of complex and diverse people Eloise.

          I think that the whole gang somehow didn’t gell and didn’t get any of their messages across to the players.

          I know only a couple of things for a fact. One is that Cheika barely knew Larkham, but invited him “aboard” before the WC as part of a “magnanimous” stunt to get all the SR coaches in the tent, so that it couldn’t be said that he (Cheika) was the only one sharing SR and National duties. I suspect the ARU liked this.

          The trouble is/was that they had completely different coaching philosophies. This was hidden initially because Pooper worked and the WC worked, aided and abetted by extremely experienced players and luck.
          I think it went to their heads!

          Larkham produced chess board type attacking structures that didn’t work with the Brumbies, and tried to get a Waratah type backline to play that way
          Grey introduced a super complex defensive system that hadn’t been used at the Tahs, and wasn’t used anywhere else.

          Cheika effectively gave up on the only coaching system he knew (,up the guts with flat backline) in favour of the “modern” ways of his assistants.

          The other fact I know is that Cheika is unbelievably loyal to those he has made a promise to. Loyalty stays until he is ”’crossed’. It is not about performance, it is about attitude and endeavour.

          He won’t sack them himself.

          It goes without saying that players get mixed messages, but try hard nonetheless. Look at Toomua, Foley, Beale. They try their guts out, but don’t seem to know what they are supposed to do. All 3 have got worse in the last 4 months.

          As things go from bad to worse, the players try harder, and the coaches try harder, but it gets worse still.

          They forget what worked (Bled 2, 2017 and Argentina 2nd half), and repeat over and over things that haven’t worked.

          I think massive confusion and delusion, but high morale so far.

          The high morale has kept everything from blowing up,…and the morale is a lot to do with Cheika and a pretty committed group of players.

          I blame Cheika for keeping his assistants, but most of all I blame Larkham, if we drill down

        • Who?

          I’m not a big Larkham fan, but… We scored tries last year. Not this year, but we did last year. However, our defence has been atrocious under Grey for three years. So I don’t think it’s fair to blame Larkham more than Grey.
          And, given these guys are supposed to be a working team, I don’t know how you can blame Larkham over Cheika when Cheika’s head coach. If Cheika doesn’t have the spine to tell Larkham he doesn’t like what he’s doing and to leave, then he needed to take one of two other options. Either tell Larkham to simplify his game plan to suit the players he’s picking, or let Larkham have a much stronger say in who gets selected. As in, match day 23, not just squad. Neither has happened, and the lack of confidence that comes from constantly conceding over 40 points every time you face the ABs has eventually resulted in the complete lack of confidence and cohesion shown in the team by the end of the year.

        • Huw Tindall

          Concur mate. Grey is most culpable on the available evidence.

        • Huw Tindall

          I’d be harsher on Grey. His system has been repeatedly shown to cause problems. So many analysis from Nick Bishop and other bring up the same thing. Confusion about positioning on the field. Gone for mine.

        • Adrian

          Yes, fair enough too Huw. I’d blame them both too on further analysis, with my opinion on who is worse fluctuating.

        • I was thinking about Adrian’s reply and Grey. I’m not really positioning myself to defend him but I’m looking at the pieces he’s given and what he’s trying to do.

          Around the world, 10 is often the weakest defender – you pick a playmaker, who kicks, passes, runs the offence and THEN tackles. In every other position except hooker (who scrums, throws in to the line out then tackles), tackling is at lowest the second thing on their list of priorities on their skill list (although you might not know that in Cheika’s team selection). But most 10’s, certainly playing at test level, are making well over 60% of their tackles, usually over 70%, sometimes over 80%. They’re probably not dominant tackles, and they often get help from someone – but they’re often getting a really big ball carrier charging through their channel too when they’re pretty small. So 12 stands a bit closer to 10 than 13 stands to 12, and someone (usually 7 or 8 off a scrum, someone else off a breakdown) is tasked to cover the inside shoulder of 10 and assist. That’s all perfectly normal.

          Foley tackles worse than that, so you want to make that 10 channel narrower (or pick a different 10, who can actually kick and tackle but that’s not Grey’s responsibly). But look, at 12 the boss is not picking a Crotty/SBW, a de Allende and Aki or a Parks. He’s picking someone built like Farrell but, shoulder hits aside, he doesn’t even tackle like him. So the 10-12 channel, that key target for a lot of attacks because it’s one pass to a charging forward, has two people who, at least when wearing G&G largely neglect to tackle. Or, when you’re playing SA and NZ twice a year, to stop Crotty/SBW and de Allende licking their lips and galloping through the channel unopposed every time and getting a line break from every phase.

          Grey still has to come up with a plan to try and defend. I don’t know that his plan is better than just leaving the players in their positions and saying “Just tackle mate” but if the glorious leader just won’t drop Beale and won’t drop Foley however badly they tackle “We need two playmakers, mate, you’ve got to make it work” then he needs a plan to try and keep most of the opposition in touch so the glorious attack plan can score enough points. So put the worse defenders out on the wings. Shuffle the wings. Up and in defence so the ball never gets to the wings. Abuse the face that Hooper can fun forever. If everyone else runs their defensive pattern properly it doesn’t sound too terrible. Of course, on counterattack your playmakers are miles away from the ball. When they counterattack, your crap defenders are still next to the ball and targeted. But that’s not Grey’s problem.

          However, good sides look for where the weakness is, and in this pattern the weakness is always on the outside, so they kick out for their winger, who is then tall and up against someone who can’t jump, can’t run and can’t tackle… they lick their lips and score tries for fun. So you tweak… and tweak and tweak because three times a year you play the All Blacks, and now the Bokke have Erasmus they’re doing smart things with their wingers too.

          Grey needs to go to Cheika and say “If you insist on picking these two guys, however great they are, who won’t tackle, I can’t make a sensible defensive pattern that won’t concede 35 points a match. The times it does, that’s not because the boys were good, it’s because the opposition were nervous or made too many mistakes to not exploit our frailties.” He may have done that, he may not feel he can.

          Like I said, I won’t shed a tear if Grey goes, but if Cheika continues to pick Foley and Beale at 10 and 12, even if his replacement puts in a far simpler defensive pattern that the players and the fans all understand, I’m not sure the defensive half of the game will improve.

        • Huw Tindall

          100% Eloise. Grey is somewhat of a victim of the players that are selected and with a weak 10/12 combo we try and hide them, creating the musical chairs. Still the plan isn’t working and he hasn’t changed it so that’s on him.

          You can hide one weak defender but not 2. At Super level you can get away with it a bit more with Foley/Beale but not in Tests. Even with Toomua at 10, who is a good defender, it was still weak against England. Listening to The Rugby Ruckus podcast this week though it seemed that a lot of the defensive issues were down to lack of combos from the constant selection changes as much the complex defensive pattern. Players defending individually rather than as a group. On top of this we don’t have a recognised organiser in the backline. Can’t wait for TK to get back and I’m still willing to take AAC on if he can prove he still has it in Super next year (looking likely he’ll sign with the Tahs).

        • Brumby Runner

          Methinks you are far too lenient on Grey Eloise. In the first place, if it isn’t obvious to Cheika that the defensive strategy isn’t working after three years of failure then he is a more diabolical head coach than even I think he is. But the true test of grey’s incompetence is that when cheika has given him a 10 who can and does defend in his 10 spot, Toomua, Grey still has both wingers defending on the opposite side of the ground to where they line up in attack, still has Folau and Foley (from 12) defending near the end of the line and Kerevi well out of sight standing next to the sideline. Apart from that he has Genia running the full width of the field behind the backline on every second defensive play as the opposition swing the ball from one side to the other.

          Toomua defends the No 10 channel, but otherwise there is little to no change in Grey’s defensive strategy, and as we all know and have been able to see for yonks, it just doesn’t work.

          Grey has always been the weakest link in the coaching team and needs to be first to go along with Cheika.

        • I did say I wasn’t here to defend him. The system they run doesn’t work, although he’s tinkered with it a bit over the years.

          I still think Cheika needs to take the fall, and the replacement in the top job will turf out the dead wood amongst the players and the coaches. Both Larkham and Grey will find the door not hitting them on the way out behind Cheika if there’s any justice.

          I do still think that Grey was given a pretty tough job. Hiding two or more incompetent or unwilling tacklers on a test pitch is tough. I do wonder with Toomua if he’d been told that this was temporary, don’t change the system – because you’re right, he can tackle, it’s a good chance to run a totally different defensive system and only hide Foley. That’s simpler. But if Cheika is saying “look mate, long term Foley, Beale, so don’t change it for these matches and confuse the boys” he might not tweak it. That’s casting Cheika back as the arch-villain of the piece of course.

          And I think perhaps Cheika is more out of touch with our version of reality than you give him credit for. He looks at crumbs of comfort – “hey, we beat the Irish once, better than the AB” or “We beat the Bokke” and “look at that turn around in Salta” and thinks he and his team have still got what it takes. We look at it and say “you beat an Irish side resting all its stars,” “The Bokke had one of their off days” and “You beat los Pumas after they stopped playing and the team forgot all your fancy attack and defence moves and ran simple rugby in straight lines.” He’s loyal to a fault and Grey hasn’t crossed him, so he won’t sack him, because somewhere in that twisted world view are the successes that the Wallabies have had. I don’t think that makes Cheika diabolical, just living in a bubble.

        • Gun

          Sweet analysis cobber.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          I blame Cheika, Larkham and Grey. All three of them need to go.

        • Adrian

          I have no problem with that KRL

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Good point on Mick. One thing that has bugged me for a long time is the lack of development with individual players who have the same deficiencies they have always had.
          Personally I put the blame squarely on the individual and it’s a big reason why I don’t rate so many of the “stars” of this team. In saying that I also blame the coaches for not demanding it and for not putting in place the environment for change.
          I think there’s a lot wrong in this setup

      • Huw Tindall

        I like those odds. We need change and not just token change so here’s hoping my follow optimist!

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Cheers Adrian, Have a good break mate.

        • Adrian

          Thanks KRL, and best wishes to you too. See you soon

      • Adrian

        Based on my own bookmakers odds, I seem to be saying:
        Cheika survives, Grey and Raiulini go, and one of Larkham and Byrne stays.
        I also seem to be saying that there will be a low level of supervision given to Cheika

        I think there is momentum there, which means that the odds are shortening, so it could easily mean more changes on the 10th (or soon after) than my odds indicate.

        Warning:
        Betting is dangerous, and the only people who win are bookmakers and professional gamblers with no emotional attachment to the result.

    • juswal

      CHEIKA AND THE CONSULTANT

      Consultant: Michael, it’s pretty clear that what was competitive in 2015 isn’t going to cut it in 2018.

      Cheika: Mate, I don’t necessarily agree with that. Passion, heart . . . that stuff never gets old. It’s always world-class.

      Consultant: It’s just that we’re not seeing those things in the stats . . .

      Cheika: Mate, I don’t put a lot of stock in that stuff. If you have a world-class standard, you want to back those values all the way.

      Consultant: Loyalty is a great quality, Michael, but sometimes it can keep you from seeing how things have changed.

      Cheika: Sure, change happens. Mate, we’re aware of that. It’s just a matter of owning those limitations and finding ways to balance them.

      Consultant: The harsh fact is that performance declines over time. And the competition gets better, and the operating environment gets more demanding.

      Cheika: Look, I know all that, mate. But we can’t be obsessed with the opposition.

      Analyst: Well, if I can’t convince you to upgrade, can we at least put a new battery in your iPhone 4?

      Cheika. All right. But I wanna keep the old one. I might put it back in later.

      ———

      Merry Christmas to all the daily news writers and commenters.

  • onlinesideline

    Happy Hanukkah from Budapest.
    May Australian rugby see the light in the coming year because its getting pretty dark in here. Thanks GGR. When a site has that daily must login hook, its only because it keeps on giving. and giving it does. The humour on here as well has really made me chuckle many a time and thats hard to find these days.

    Here is to 2019.
    Cheers from Hungary.

    • Brisneyland Local

      Cheers Old Boy!

      • onlinesideline

        You too mate

    • Hoss

      Enjoy a white Christmas mate and maybe a dusky haired beauty or two for those cold Hungarian nights.

      • onlinesideline

        Thanks, you too mate. Well, you know what I mean. The Hunter Valley version. And thanks for the laughs. At times I kid you not, you had me in hysterics. I still think your finest and gold medal winning comment for 2018 is by far:

        For all those constipated Shakespeareans, the question is “Tupou or not Tupou”

        You’re an absolute card.

        • Hoss

          Ahh yes, after The Abattoir destroyed the Irish scrum off the bench in the first test. Cheika will be like many a constipated Shakespeare fan – Toupou or not Tupou, that is the question.

        • idiot savant

          For me its Hoss’s description of the miracle of Salta: “The Father Ignatious of victories where we unexpectedly came from behind.”

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Cheers mate ha e a great break

      • onlinesideline

        you too mate

  • Brisneyland Local

    Well good morning GAGR’s! It is with a sad note that I write this post this morning. WHat the hell am I going to do every morning at work now and til the posts start appearing! Arghhhhhh
    My EA is going to make me work hard now. Damn it! Damnn it all to hell!
    To the writers, thank you for your contributions. They are the Alpha of my day.
    To the posters, all of you, you are the Omega of my day!

    Whilst we are on the Topic of posters, I want to hand out some nominal awards:

    1. Comedic Poster Of 2018. Whilst there are many deserving candidates for this award. It must go to our man of the Hunter.
    Mr Hoss! (AHhhhhhhhhh and the crowd goes wild).

    2. Most commonsense Poster 2018. Again many deserving candidates. BUt the chocolates go to Mr Nutta!

    3. Most Optimist Poster 2018. Well there is really only one candidate for this award. Mr Adrian!

    4. Best NRC Poster 2018. Wow the field was tight for this one. But after reviewing the form, one poster stands ahead of the field SUcker For Red.

    5. Brest Grammar Poster 2018. Again really only one candidate there. Congrats Eloise Pasteur.

    6. Most Endearing Kiwi 2018. Well A very tight field here. KRL lead the whole season, but towards the end Mr Richard Patterson gave him a hard run for his money. But the KRL hangs on to win it by a nose.

    To all the posters out there. Thanks for the banter and thanks for tolerating the ramblings of a truly insane man! The rugby at times this year has been appalling. But there have been a few highlights. Fiji Drua winning the NRC. Ireland showing us the impossible is possible.

    Lets hope over the next few weeks RA can show us they have a brain and a spine, and do the right thing.

    To all of you GAGR’s out there, have a great Chrissy! I hope you all eat too much, drink too much and have a great time with your respective clans! The BL’s will be on the beach in Coolum. So if you see a 6’8″ person lying on the beach that Green peace are keeping wet , and trying to roll back into the surf. that will be me, come and say gday!

    BL Signing off! Roger Out!

    • Keith Butler

      Looks like the knives are being sharpened. Xmas greetings to you and your tribe.

      • Brisneyland Local

        To carve the Christmas Cheika!

        • Keith Butler

          An image just popped into my head of Daniel Andrews turning lobsters with Matthew Guys face on the barbie, Bill Shorten turning a roasting spit with Scott Morrison with a apple stuck in his gob and Raelene Castle carving up the Cheika turkey with his face as the Parson’s nose. The perfect Aussie BBQ. Too much homemade Limoncello too soon methinks.

        • Brisneyland Local

          Know that feeling!

    • Hoss

      Oh shucks – cheers mate.

      Is there a plaque or an honorarium or such ?

      Love your passion and fire and brimstone.

      Enjoy your break with loved ones and see you in 19.

      • Brisneyland Local

        Cheers big fella!

    • Andrew H

      Thanks BL, always look forward to your 2 cents. Have a good break.

      • Brisneyland Local

        Cheers
        Mate

    • Andrew H

      Thanks BL, always look forward to your 2 cents. Have a good break.

    • Andrew H

      Thanks BL, always look forward to your 2 cents. Have a good break.

    • Andrew H

      Thanks BL, always look forward to your 2 cents. Have a good break.

    • Happyman

      Well said BL I would give you an award for the best contribution off the long run.
      Enjoy the break.

      • Brisneyland Local

        Thanks Happyman.
        One always does better off the long run up!

    • Hope the EA doesn’t make you work too hard.

      Best poster in list form… BL slipped off your list.

      • Brisneyland Local

        Couldnt nominate myself for an award.
        It would be like Cheika nominating himself for coach of the year

        • Who?

          Except it wouldn’t stop Cheik. :-P

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Cheers mate. I’ll try and catch up over the break

      • Brisneyland Local

        Mate am in Syd til the 21st of Dec, back on the 4 or 5th!

    • Ed

      Thanks for your daily thoughts during the season BL.

      There was a sign at L’Etape ride in Jindabyne on Saturday that you would have liked, “Men play rugby…..legends cycle!”

      • Brisneyland Local

        Pure gold! My cycling shirt is for our little group. We are called the FBCC (The Fat Bastards Cycling Club). It has that written on it plus “Shut up legs!” and “One more Flat white please!”

  • Keith Butler

    GAGR my first port of call in the mornings. Will miss the argument/discussion/banter and cannot wait until it returns in 2019 and we can get stuck into each other regarding the merits or not of our respective super rugby teams – go Rebels. Have a great Christmas and New Year everyone and keep safe.

    • Brisneyland Local

      Cheers KB

  • IIPA

    Cheers GAGR team. 2018 was forgettable but I feel it was the year this site became the premier Aus rugby site for news and interesting / entertaining chat.

    Be nice to see two proper footballers ( English and Jones ) for the Baabaas as opposed to the collection of athletes, good trainers, contracts-cost-too-much-to-leave-them-outers and yes men that Cheika picks.

    Going to be a tough year for the Pearls. Only 1 from 3 last night in Dubai. The comp is stepping up with USA, England, Ireland and France all much improved.

    • Huw Tindall

      They rallied well to win Bronze and just missed the Gold final. Legitimate competition there now with USA, Eng and Canada real threats.

  • Wallaby Legion

    Cheers to you and your team for all the hard work. This is a shining light in the dark tunnel that is supporting the Wallabies and Rugby in Australia. Keep shining brightly.

  • Dally M

    Big thanks for all your hard work this year, it’s my first port of call after logging on at work & will be sorely missed until next year!

  • Damo

    Rest well over the festive season GAGR’s. We have much to do at the barricades in 2019!!

  • Brumby Runner

    I have to take exception to the idea that 2018 has been forgettable. It is now a part of our rugby history; a very low part. And, as we all know, if we don’t learn from history, we are bound to repeat it.

    So, I say we have to commit every low point of the year to our collective memories, and somehow make sure that it never happens again.

    Thinking of Michael Cheika’s future as coach, I am coming to the belief that RA will have to replace him. Not only has he lost the vast majority of loyal rugby fans in the country, he is daily losing the sorts of people who would normally be a coach’s strongest supporters, ex-Wallabies, newspaper journalists etc. RA are the only ones left who have bought into the Cheika Plan for the RWC. If they continue with him after his dismal EOYT where RA themselves nominated 3 from 3 as being the pass mark, they (RA) will become a laughing stock and the butt of more derisive jokes. They have left themselves with no ‘way out’ from which they can cobble together any sort of justification for further supporting him. I think they simply cannot now afford to keep him on for the sake of their own reputations.

    Let the year end with a bang RA.

    Merry Christmas to all the contributors and posters on GAGR. As usual, it has been a pleasure and we hopefully can look forward to a more rewarding year for Aus rugby in 2019.

  • Brumby Runner

    I have to take exception to the idea that 2018 has been forgettable. It is now a part of our rugby history; a very low part. And, as we all know, if we don’t learn from history, we are bound to repeat it.

    So, I say we have to commit every low point of the year to our collective memories, and somehow make sure that it never happens again.

    Thinking of Michael Cheika’s future as coach, I am coming to the belief that RA will have to replace him. Not only has he lost the vast majority of loyal rugby fans in the country, he is daily losing the sorts of people who would normally be a coach’s strongest supporters, ex-Wallabies, newspaper journalists etc. RA are the only ones left who have bought into the Cheika Plan for the RWC. If they continue with him after his dismal EOYT where RA themselves nominated 3 from 3 as being the pass mark, they (RA) will become a laughing stock and the butt of more derisive jokes. They have left themselves with no ‘way out’ from which they can cobble together any sort of justification for further supporting him. I think they simply cannot now afford to keep him on for the sake of their own reputations.

    Let the year end with a bang RA.

    Merry Christmas to all the contributors and posters on GAGR. As usual, it has been a pleasure and we hopefully can look forward to a more rewarding year for Aus rugby in 2019.

  • sambo6

    Awwww…you guys..I’m getting emtoional…all these goodbyes, and thankyou’s…its like the final day of grade 12…….

    happy holidays all. And make sure you ask for Cheika’s Redundancy Cheque’ when you go sit on Santas knee this year…..

  • sambo6

    Awwww…you guys..I’m getting emtoional…all these goodbyes, and thankyou’s…its like the final day of grade 12…….

    happy holidays all. And make sure you ask for Cheika’s Redundancy Cheque’ when you go sit on Santas knee this year…..

  • sambo6

    Awwww…you guys..I’m getting emtoional…all these goodbyes, and thankyou’s…its like the final day of grade 12…….

    happy holidays all. And make sure you ask for Cheika’s Redundancy Cheque’ when you go sit on Santas knee this year…..

  • sambo6

    Awwww…you guys..I’m getting emtoional…all these goodbyes, and thankyou’s…its like the final day of grade 12…….

    happy holidays all. And make sure you ask for Cheika’s Redundancy Cheque’ when you go sit on Santas knee this year…..

  • Singapore Sling

    I’m a reasonably new poster here but have enjoyed the flow and content from the GAGR team and their loyal followers. Hopefully I’ll have more time to participate next year as I’ll be winding down my workload and spending more time in Bali surfing.

    Thanks and Seasons greetings to all.

  • Singapore Sling

    I’m a reasonably new poster here but have enjoyed the flow and content from the GAGR team and their loyal followers. Hopefully I’ll have more time to participate next year as I’ll be winding down my workload and spending more time in Bali surfing.

    Thanks and Seasons greetings to all.

  • Singapore Sling

    I’m a reasonably new poster here but have enjoyed the flow and content from the GAGR team and their loyal followers. Hopefully I’ll have more time to participate next year as I’ll be winding down my workload and spending more time in Bali surfing.

    Thanks and Seasons greetings to all.

  • Singapore Sling

    I’m a reasonably new poster here but have enjoyed the flow and content from the GAGR team and their loyal followers. Hopefully I’ll have more time to participate next year as I’ll be winding down my workload and spending more time in Bali surfing.

    Thanks and Seasons greetings to all.

  • RugbyReg

    Top work Nick and team. I love these daily articles and the stimulated discussion that comes from them.

    Enjoy the break everyone.

  • RugbyReg

    Top work Nick and team. I love these daily articles and the stimulated discussion that comes from them.

    Enjoy the break everyone.

  • RugbyReg

    Top work Nick and team. I love these daily articles and the stimulated discussion that comes from them.

    Enjoy the break everyone.

  • RugbyReg

    Top work Nick and team. I love these daily articles and the stimulated discussion that comes from them.

    Enjoy the break everyone.

  • Funk

    Thanks very much Nick and all the other contributors throughout the year, G&GR makes my day much easier to deal with, especially after the year the Wallabies and Reds have had!!!
    Also a big thanks to all of the people who comment every day, you all bring a smile to my face…which again is much needed after annus horribilis!
    On a glass half full note, I very much doubt we can do worse next year.

  • Adrian

    Thanks Nick, and thanks to all the writers and all of the participants at GAGR in 2018.

  • idiot savant

    Thanks GAGR writers and posters for another great year of engagement in all things rugby. This is the most fun rugby site in the universe! I hope you can all get near a climate changing air conditioner this summer. If it gets any hotter I’m moving to Tierra Del Fuego. Maybe the Ushuaia under 13s need a forwards coach.

    On this side of the pacific I think no amount of heat will bring changes until 2020. Cameron Clyne runs rugby in Australia and he is not a man to bend to pressure as Twiggy will attest. Raelene has no power to make change. I think its telling that White approached RA not the other way around. I doubt RA are putting feelers out to anyone. Lets hope Cheik manages to get a game against the US as it might be our only chance to get a win before the RWC. See you all next year!

  • Happyman

    Congrats on the year boys when are you back

    • Nicholas Wasiliev

      Probably when the season starts up again in February next year…

      • Happyman

        Thanks Nicholas and thanks for the year of enjoyable reading.

  • Brendan Wong

    So I was watching the Eng AU game again – some observations I noticed.

    1) Our defence is Up and In. Not Up and Out.
    Touch Football is a very different game to Rugby. But played well and played at the elite levels it teaches you how to manipulate defences. The Up and In can be beaten using
    a few strategies i) drive it straight up the guts and make the defence hesitant on coming up (many teams are picking and driving or chipping/grubbing over or under the wallabies) ii) Going wide around the ‘umbrella’ (the all blacks do this constantly with wide chip kicks or long balls to the wing – cos they have the skills to do it) iii) draw the defence up to expose the space wide and behind (again the ABs Eng and Ireland do this with a 2nd line of attack or a pass backwards followed but a cut pass).

    The Up and In defence is good if there is aggressive line speed and you have fast players who can cover the breaks. However, something I was always taught at Touch Football was don’t chase in – always chase out but starting from a tight position inside where the ball is – only chase out if you have to. It’s easier to change direction (if you need to) chasing in rather than out and you can cover the damage easier. What’s my point? There were any number of times where we were being caught out by the counter strategies of Eng – and beaten on the outside because our defence was chasing in. Eng (and the ABs) played smart by using 2nd line attacks (Scott Wisemantel did this in the teams he coached in AU also). What do we need to change (other than a new coach)? Introduce Plan B defensive strategies. Right now it seems we are only using one type of defence which is up and in. We should try to copy the NFL where they call audibles when the see certian things in the offensive setup.

    2) Our attack has no pick and drive.
    This has disappeared from the Aussie game for a long time. But if I recall correctly, the last time our wallaby forwards did any consistent pick and drive from rucks not near the goal line was in the Rod Macqueen era. There are many instances in our attack where there is a breakdown out wide or near isolation and the first player joins the ruck with little support. The best option would actually be to pick up the ball and drive forward. It would give support players time to arrive and take away the ruck contest where there is no support.

    3) Our fowards do backs work first and forwards work second.
    I have always felt the golden era of the brumbies (introducing set phased plays) was a long term poison to Australian Rugby. What it has done is leave players thinking about the next phase of play before finishing of the current phase of play. The evidence? Any number of times in the second half where the forwards fan out first in the attack for the next phase before focusing on securing the ball at the break down in the current phase.

    4) Our attack has no switches.
    There is this pre-occupation with Set Play rugby and going wide first. We are not predictable because we do the samething over and over again. We are predictable because we don’t make the opposition players make fast decisions under pressure, and you can’t do this when i) your first receiving player starts 5-10m back from the ruck giving the defence time to read the play, and ii) you run straight ALL the time.

    Two things always disrupted defence when I was playing, i) Switches (think David Campese 1991 WC, Brumbies during Finegan/Gregan/Roff era) ii) Angled running (again think David Campese).

    I can’t recall one time during many games in recent years (even before Chieka) where out teams do switch plays on top of the defence or angled runs across the defensive line to force the defence to make decisions. Something needs to change in the culture of attack.

    Anyway just my observations – but the conclusion?
    Need new thinking in offense and defense and therefore the O & D coaches definitely need to change.

  • donktec

    Thank you all GAGR writers and the Commentariat for contributions this year. Don’t remember how i stumbled across this site, but as a latecomer to this game, i reckon 95% of what i know about rugby has come from reading the comments :-)

  • Brendan Wong

    So I was watching the Eng AU game again – some observations I noticed.

    1) Our defence is Up and In. Not Up and Out.
    Touch Football is a very different game to Rugby. But played well and played at the elite levels it teaches you how to manipulate defences. The Up and In can be beaten using
    a few strategies i) drive it straight up the guts and make the defence hesitant on coming up (many teams are picking and driving or chipping/grubbing over or under the wallabies) ii) Going wide around the ‘umbrella’ (the all blacks do this constantly with wide chip kicks or long balls to the wing – cos they have the skills to do it) iii) draw the defence up to expose the space wide and behind (again the ABs Eng and Ireland do this with a 2nd line of attack or a pass backwards followed but a cut pass).

    The Up and In defence is good if there is aggressive line speed and you have fast players who can cover the breaks. However, something I was always taught at Touch Football was don’t chase in – always chase out but starting from a tight position inside where the ball is – only chase out if you have to. It’s easier to change direction (if you need to) chasing in rather than out and you can cover the damage easier. What’s my point? There were any number of times where we were being caught out by the counter strategies of Eng – and beaten on the outside because our defence was chasing in. Eng (and the ABs) played smart by using 2nd line attacks (Scott Wisemantel did this in the teams he coached in AU also). What do we need to change (other than a new coach)? Introduce Plan B defensive strategies. Right now it seems we are only using one type of defence which is up and in. We should try to copy the NFL where they call audibles when the see certian things in the offensive setup.

    2) Our attack has no pick and drive.
    This has disappeared from the Aussie game for a long time. But if I recall correctly, the last time our wallaby forwards did any consistent pick and drive from rucks not near the goal line was in the Rod Macqueen era. There are many instances in our attack where there is a breakdown out wide or near isolation and the first player joins the ruck with little support. The best option would actually be to pick up the ball and drive forward. It would give support players time to arrive and take away the ruck contest where there is no support.

    3) Our fowards do backs work first and forwards work second.
    I have always felt the golden era of the brumbies (introducing set phased plays) was a long term poison to Australian Rugby. What it has done is leave players thinking about the next phase of play before finishing of the current phase of play. The evidence? Any number of times in the second half where the forwards fan out first in the attack for the next phase before focusing on securing the ball at the break down in the current phase.

    4) Our attack has no switches.
    There is this pre-occupation with Set Play rugby and going wide first. We are not predictable because we do the samething over and over again. We are predictable because we don’t make the opposition players make fast decisions under pressure, and you can’t do this when i) your first receiving player starts 5-10m back from the ruck giving the defence time to read the play, and ii) you run straight ALL the time.

    Two things always disrupted defence when I was playing, i) Switches (think David Campese 1991 WC, Brumbies during Finegan/Gregan/Roff era) ii) Angled running (again think David Campese).

    I can’t recall one time during many games in recent years (even before Chieka) where out teams do switch plays on top of the defence or angled runs across the defensive line to force the defence to make decisions. Something needs to change in the culture of attack.

    Anyway just my observations…..

    Also, if I were to pick the team into the worldcup, I’d go with the below. No room for Foley, no Pooper, a good balance of mobility, size and height, safety under the high ball, solid goal kicking and defence with Toomua in midfield, Cooper & Genia with skills to throw long balls and be a bit more unpredictable. AND the best player in the team (David Pocock) would my Captain.

    1. Scott Sio
    2. Latu
    3. Tupou
    4. Coleman
    5. Rory Arnold
    6. Jack Dempsey
    7. Pocock (Captian)
    8. Isi Naisarani
    9. Genia
    10. Quade Cooper
    11. Koriabete
    12. Toomua (Kicker)
    13. Kerevi
    14. Hayllet Petty
    15. Falou

    Bench
    Polotanau, Kefu, Alaatoa, Rodda, Hooper, Phipps, Beale, Hodge

    • Singapore Sling

      Very good post. I’ll have to reread it to digest the message properly though. I like the look of your team, bench needs a polish but mustn’t quibble.

    • I might not make Pocock captain would be my first thought. I don’t know him, but I’m not sure he wants the job. Genia maybe? I prefer DHP and Izzy the other way round too. And I wouldn’t pick Phipps on the bench. Gordon I think. He’s not exciting but he passes straight.

      That said, every head coach or team selection is going to have the fans disagree on a few little bits, if you were head coach and put that team out, it would be a freaking relief after the hair-pulling of the last 2 years or so.

      Re the longer post, I partially agree. I think you’re right about not forcing decisions at or just before the point of impact too often, but I think too both offensively and defensively the structures and plays are predictable because they’re the same. I was going to write a long rant, but it boils down to this: the other top-flight countries play heads up rugby, most of the time. They all get tired and make mistakes of course, but they think. If you think of SA for example, you think of big guys smashing into contact until your defensive line folds in, then they release their fast wingers. While that’s generally true, if a gap opens up, even their props are smart enough and usually fast enough to gallop (or canter at least for the beast) through, or pass to a faster player to exploit it.

      I remember when the Wobs used to play like that all the time. And Izzy’s try against England shows they can in flashes. But generally they’re thinking “set up like this, do this, crash into the contact for the next phase” or that’s what it looks like. And that’s predictable for everyone.

    • idiot savant

      A Wong makes a right. Politically incorrect I know but theres so much common sense in this post.

    • idiot savant

      A Wong makes a right. Politically incorrect I know but theres so much common sense in this post.

    • Huw Tindall

      Nice post mate.The up and in you talk about is referred to as ‘closing’ in the lingo I believe. It’s a choice the player makes to consciously commit to tackling a bloke rather than draft. It’s more of a player choosing the right time and communicatimg with those around him than something we could lay at Grey’s feet. A lot of it is being familiar with your position though and with the constant changing selections and musical chairs defense what hope do these guys have? Lots of chat too about the Wallabies being a quiet team without organisers and you can see this. TK and AAC are both excellent at this and we’ve really missed it. Genia should be better at the close in ruck and directing his forwards to either side as well.

      Re your team I’d want Hodge run on for his boot. All thr leading teams have great kicking games. Foley is a good place kicker and restarts but as we know his tactical and touch finders suck. We need someone who can do they and Hodge is the only guy with a mess boot. Toomua and Quade are OK but not Farrell or Sexton standard.

      • HK Red

        You know who’s great at directing Genia to run the forwards? Cooper

    • Fatflanker

      Very insightful post Brendan and a great looking team too.

    • HK Red

      3 has been a major problem of ours for many years. Lost count of how many times we get turned over on easy counter-ruck. We have no desire for the ball. Watch Eng, NZ, Ire etc players treasure the pill, know where it is, fight and snarl to secure it first and then bitch to the ref second. We seem to think we’re running the game and as soon as we spot a potential infringement, stand back and say “awhhh come on ref”. Ref calls Play on, we’re turned over, end up chasing play 30 mtrs down field. Sick of it.

  • sambo6

    WILL CHEIKA BE SAVED BY THE BELL..?????

    It’s the end of the season. GAGR is winding down, rugby fans go into hibernation. The pressure and anger will ease.

    Just like last year when we got 50 point put on us by Scotland, it got forgotten about as it was the last game of the year…..

    I worry he might be saved by the spotlight moving on…….

  • Bakkies

    Australian Schoolboys beat Munster Under 19s 34-15.

  • adastra32

    It’s sign-off ‘down there’ but things are just getting into full swing ‘up here’. I know it’s not Oz teams, but there are going to be some cracking league and European games that will be worth watching, if only to tide you over till next season. Start with last night’s Harlequins v WB-filled Exeter in the Premiership. Brilliant clash of styles and a first defeat of the season for the league leaders.

  • Nutta

    Belated hello to all

    Thanks to the Gaggers for all the efforts. It was a year to test even the most devoted.

    I am reticent to end the year with a criticism, but I can’t help but note that Daceyville is further east than even Moore Park is…

Rugby
@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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