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Monday’s Rugby News

Monday’s Rugby News

Monday’s rugby news sinks its teeth into Seven’s results, trial results, 6 Nations results and a bit of promotion-relegation action in the capital.


SYDNEY SEVENS

Really, the consistent performers have been the USA

Really, the consistent performers have been the USA

For the fourth time in as many rounds, the USA have secured second spot in the HSBC 7’s.

The perennial Garfunkel/Oates/Messina/Lisa of the Olympic version of our sport have done it again, this time coming up against a red-hot Kiwi outfit in the final, going down 21-5 at Spotless Stadium.

The win for our neighbours and the silver for our, err, allies? Leaves them tied on 76 points with Fiji slipping to third on 72 points.  Australia slipped farther adrift from the coveted top 4.

Across the other matches, England took bronze ahead of Fiji, Zoot Africa blitzed Australia for 5th, while Argentina “won” 9th place in the challenge final.

While not quite as impressive as four out of four, the Black Ferns are approaching the standard set by the USA by replicating their result in all three rounds of the women’s sevens so far.

(Mind, you could argue that by virtue of last week’s Fast Four result is sort of is four out of four)

(Mind again, you could argue that by virtue of WINNING all these tournaments that the Black Ferns are absolutely on fire at the moment)

With a 34-10 victory at the expense of the hosts, the Ferns’ unbeaten run now stretches to 48 matches.

USA held out Ireland for 3rd place, Canada just edged France for 5th and Russia got the nod over Spain for 7th.

The Aussies remain in the hunt for direct Olympic qualification, they sit inside the top 4 at the half-way point of the season.

Speaking of Sevens, this instalment marked the last round in Sydney under the current agreement.

While an official announcement is still some time away, (read: months) the good word is that Sydney will continue to welcome the show to town for the next four years.

Raelene Castle is quoted as saying, “World Rugby will make that announcement over the next couple of weeks. I can’t give away too much but we are having good discussions.”

To go with not giving away too much on the future of the fixture, the location was similarly hinted at without being outright confirmed, the keen mind may just figure out that the sevens are heading west while Allianz is a construction site.

Castle again-

“But obviously the new western Sydney stadium is exciting because it will be bright and shiny and new and it’s a rectangle and all those things.”

I’m not sure what the criteria is but it sounds promising.

SUPER TRIALS

the Reds vs Rebs in the 'Rat

The Reds vs Rebs in the ‘Rat

Brad Thorn has left an indelible mark on things at Ballymore already.

Unless the team starts to turn heads this year with their tough, no-nonsense approach and some long-awaited WINS, the thing he’ll be remembered most for will probably be his recruitment/retention policies.

Former Wallabies James Slipper, Karmichael Hunt and Quade Cooper are some of the biggest names to have been shown the door and none of them played any Super Rugby last year.  Over the summer break, all three penned deals with new clubs and with the second “round” of trials done and dusted they’ve each had game time with their 2019 family.

Hunt, already on the outer with Queensland for his defection from league (and subsequently, the Maroons) to AFL, added further to the misery by not only being booted from the Reds’ but then signing with much-maligned Waratahs.  The boys in blue travelled to Alexandra to take on Otago’s Highlanders and had a strong lead in the second chukka* before falling away 59-38.

While not the result he was after, Hunt’s new coach Daryl Gibson did praise his new recruit.

“Karmichael was excellent.  He carried the ball strongly, was very strong on defence.  It was his first game for a while so it was good for him to get those minutes and rugby into his legs.”

Where Hunt will slot into the Waratah’s Wallaby-rich backline wasn’t clear though, Gibson again- “We were looking for our combinations, particularly in the backline, to try to work those out.”

Meanwhile, in country Victoria, The Rebels, replete with former Red Quade Cooper, welcomed the men from XXXXLand for a friendly hit-out.

After a season of premier rugby and NRC, Cooper looks like he’ll finally get back to top-flight games this year with the southerners.

He spoke to rugby.com.au after the match,

“It felt great, it was a great opportunity to put the jumper on and play some football,

“For me it was just about getting out there and getting to know my teammates and trying to put some of the things we’ve been working on in training into practice.”

The fine print: The Rebels won the match 29-26, sorry Reds fans.

 

SIX NATIONS

England flexed their muscle against the Irish.

England flexed their muscle against the Irish.

Coming into the most important year of international rugby since ’15 and off the back of Ireland’s recent run of form the Six Nations is drawing even closer attention.

It kicked off intelligently with round 1 this weekend and the results didn’t quite go to plan.

Friday night saw France lay out the welcome mat for the Welsh and things were looking peachy for the home side as they got away to a 16-point lead when the teams headed for oranges.

Up 16-0, but having sprayed their kicks at goal almost everywhere but through the posts, Les Bleus would live to rue their missed chances as Wales, led by 2 tries to George North, came storming home to win 24-19.

The first of Saturday’s matches had Italy travelling to Murrayfield.  The locals lived up to the pre-match odds, dispatching the visitors 33-20, snagging a bonus point in the process.

Our resident Italian sprinkled some parmesan on the match and cooked up this report for you.

Over to Aviva stadium, the All Black-conquering Irish met the “almost-All Black-conquering” English.  Taking less than 90 seconds to score, the Poms took the early advantage into the half, with a 17 point to 10 advantage.

Things got even better for the all whites in the second half.  They piled both on the points leading 32-13 with minutes to go before a late try to the Irish closed the gap to 32-20 but it was too little, too late.

Round 2 sees Scotland host Ireland, Italy welcome Wales, and England are at home to France.

Brumbies Captain Announced

 

Christian Lealiifano will captain the Brumbies this year.

Christian Lealiifano will captain the Brumbies this year.

The Brumbies have announced Christian Lealiifano (or Leali’ifano, if you will) as their sole captain for the 2019 season.

After a tumultuous few years for Lealiifano his presence around the club didn’t go unnoticed by coach Dan McKeller,

“Christian is our natural leader and has been for a number of years now,” he said.

“He has been a part of this club for a long time and leads through his actions … it was an easy choice for me for 2019″.

The newly-appointed skipper shared his thoughts on the year ahead saying, “This season promises to be an entertaining one with the side committed to playing a fast, attacking brand of rugby.

“We have an excellent squad with some exciting youngsters ready to shine alongside the more experienced players.”

The announcement is tempered somewhat by the news former international Sam Carter is leaving the ACT to join Ulster come the end of the year.

Carter joins an ever-growing list of fringe international players who are packing up and shipping out with Nick Phipps and Curtis Rona the latest to confirm their departures.

 

  • John Tynan

    First spot!

    Does anyone think “Australian Rugby” would be better doing a deal that sees events like the 7’s etc move around the country, instead of being in one place for 8 years? I think there is a bit of event fatigue sets in, and as much as I love my rugby, the 7s is not an iconic event like Australian Open Tennis. Think of golf at different courses.

    I saw most of the Irish-English 6N match, good, fast, hard rugby, and the Dodgers looked most likely from the get go. Interesting to see if they can keep that tempo up – Eddie of course says they can only get better.

    Insert reference to Ben’s Reds pre-season article here, and hold the faith!!

    Brumbies bucking trends – as if it can work without a “leadership group” HA!!!. That’s why we were so shit before professionalism, don’t you know. But seriously, whether or not CL is the right bloke, I am showing my vintage by saying “TOO BLOODY RIGHT” there should be one captain, not co-captains, not a leadership group, not decision making by committee. The leaders wil still be there, and if they are the right people, they won’t are about external acknowledgement through a title.

    • Nutta

      Some good comments in there JT.

      Yes the 7’s should move about to whoever has the facilities and the energy/will to make it an event. I thought it was a great weekend of rugby but it did feel a bit flat.

      Yes there can be a little too much new-age wankerdom around leadership groups and green tea in many environments – not just rugby. Appoint a Capt and a VC. Good leaders will take note of their most experienced colleagues anyway.

    • John_R

      I reckon it definitely would. Sevens tournaments normally seem to lose interest after a few years in the same spot.

      I know that RA wanted to host this years tournament in Newcastle, but World Rugby wouldn’t allow it.

      • John Tynan

        Hadn’t heard that, I wonder what World Rugby has got against Newy? They missed out on the Women’s world cup as well. I would have thought there would be abundant high quality red wine coming out of the Hunter, enough for even World Rugby gravy trainers…maybe it’s only that there’s one 4 star hotel.

        • John_R

          I believe their reasoning was that they were very happy with the success and momentum of Sydney hosting, and didn’t want to change that. Which I guess is fair enough, but seems a missed opportunity too.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Morning John, I think moving the 7’s around is a great idea and it can only increase support for the game and rugby in general. It’s always such a great tournament maybe 2 years in a row at each venue then move to allow some real planning.

      Too many aimless kicks for me in the 6N and both sides seemed to take forever to get the ball out of rucks. A good win for England though and this will give them confidence going forward.

      With you on the Captain. FFS make 1 person Capt, 1 person Deputy and if the senior p[layers aren’t supporting them as some sort of “leadership group” then sack them and move on.

      • John Tynan

        I know there’s “corporate realities” like stadium deals, blah blah, blah, but I reckon there’s benefits.

        • Happyman

          Agree

    • Andrew H

      Hiya JT, yes-share the 7s around, as if there wasn’t already too strong an undercurrent of “RA only cares about Sydney”. Although, it’s at least going to the western suburbs who have had their run ins with the big wigs of late, maybe it could spark a resurgence in the west?
      Of course Eddie says that….he’s a wily bugger in the media. Scary if true though.
      hahaha, How much faith can one show in the Reds? It’s been a long haul since that magical night back in ’11.
      The comments from the coach on choosing CL are exactly what you’d want your coach to say about your captain, “been here for a bit”, “natural leader”. Can’t speak for the club and CL but it sounds like he’s a good fit.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Thanks Andrew.

    A bit disappointing this weekend. The boys blew it in the first match but had a really good game against Tonga and then went on to beat South Africa in what was their best match of the tournament. Unfortunately they couldn’t replicate the feat against Fiji and whilst losing to them held their own for a fair bit of the match losing by just one try. They had a good win against France but in the next match they’d already given their all and just couldn’t keep it going for one more game. To be fair SA were in a bit of a redemption match after losing to them in pool play and then to England. Overall I thought they’d improved from last week and I think they’re showing some heart that bears well for the future.

    So the “Great Green Hope” failed miserably when it counted. I’m not that surprised though as while they’ve had two good games against the ABs and played well in last years 6 nations the Irish are known for falling over in important games, it’s why they’ve never made it past the Qtr finals in the RWC yet. The game was pretty intense but a lot of aimless kicks from both sides. Conor Murray had a pretty crap match with some aimless passes and taking forever to get the ball out of the rucks which just allowed the English to get settled in defence. I thought the English 7, Tim Curry had a great game and was instrumental in disrupting the Ireland attack and nullifying Sexton. This will be a real wake up call for Ireland and perhaps now they can put aside some of the crap being written after beating the ABs and get back to basics.

    Not too much to read in the weekend trials, more a good chance for some contact work and getting people back into playing mode. Rock on 15 Feb when it all counts.

    • John Tynan

      Do you reckon Murray was just out of touch – he’s had a long lay off I think?

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Yeah maybe. He certainl;y had a bit of a crap game. Maybe he needs more time to settle

      • Keith Butler

        Totally agree. I find it hard to understand why coaches drop players who have been on long layoffs straight into the starting side and expect them to perform to their high standards. This happens not just at international level but at club level as well. I feel for the likes of Murray (even as an England supporter) because he’s a great player. At least Tuilagi played a couple of games for the Tigers before the call up to replace T’eo – he would have been on the bench though.

        • RF

          Murray has been available and playing in the Pro 14 and Heineken Cup since early December.

        • Keith Butler

          My mistake. His comeback was off the bench against Zebre.

        • John Tynan

          Should be long enough.

    • Andrew H

      Hi there KRL, I trust you’ve been well.
      An excellent series of points from you as always.
      Yes, disappointing the Irish didn’t live up to the hype but maybe it’s just the thing they need to not get ahead of themselves? Even the AB’s drop the odd match but rarely multiple games in one calendar year and maybe we’ll see the same from Ireland.
      Or, since England beat Ireland who in turn have beaten NZ does that mean England should be favourites next time the play the CuzEs?
      The thing that stood out for me from the trials was the Rebels turning over a late scrum 5m out from the Reds’ line, ultimately leading to the winning try. Is there trouble afoot in the Reds’ engine room?

      • Nutta

        If we follow the ‘You beat so&so so they should beat them’ logic then I’ve tackled Campo at least 50 times…

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          not a hard task

        • Nutta
        • Kiwi rugby lover

          He got tackled though – just after the try was scored :-)

        • Andrew H

          We need a tongue in cheek font for comments.

    • RF

      Disagree.

      How many important games have Ireland lost in the last 3 games?

      Ireland played poorly, England put in their best display in a few years. No team can win every single game, even NZ.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        All the last Qtr finals game they played at RWC for a start mate

        • RF

          That defeat was without half of their first choice team though, it was a freak series of injuries which no side could have coped with and it’s fair to say they have developed depth since then.

          This Ireland team has been remarkably consistent in the last 3 years and rarely slipped up and have won most of their big games. No team wins every game, the characterisation of the Ireland team that you attribute is, in my opinion, out-dated.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          I guess we’ll find out in Japan. Don’t get me wrong I do think they’re a great side and deserving of their No 2 ranking, I also think they can still win 6N – just need a few things to go their way. But its still their bogey and they need to get into the semi’s this timr

        • RF

          Ireland will face NZ or SA in the QF. It’s a tough ask for Ireland to get to the semi final. If they fail I don’t think it will be a case of bottling it.

          England got a winning bonus point and Ireland failed to get a losing bonus point, I can’t see them clawing back the 6N now.

    • Simon

      My thoughts watching the 7s were that we are really missing Stannard. He didn’t bring speed or step but he was really good at controlling the side and finding gaps and then making them look wide enough to land an airliner in. On top of that he was a truly excellent conversion kicker, one of the few who could regularly nail them from the sideline. Now are missing far too many kicks and going on to the lose games by a handful of points where conversions would have made the difference – that last game against SA is a good example. For all Longbottom’s fancy footwork he’s got no idea about game management just yet. Hopefully it’ll come in time.

      But you have to play to your strengths and our strengths now are our forwards. They have a lot of potential and when they fire we are excellent. Guys like Wells and Skelton are a good size even by Super Rugby backrower standards, in Sevens they are tanks and when they run hard and direct they are often able to break through or at least get an offload away. Unfortunately we still don’t often have the presence to have someone in the right spot to maximise the offload.

      They are also very good at the breakdown and winning a lot of turnovers. We can’t counter the flashy, speedy backs of the other top sides, and if we give up too much possession they find a way through. But if we hang onto possession, truck it up with the forwards and force turnovers when we don’t have the ball, we should be able to beat anybody in the competition. Particularly the smaller, faster sides like SA and Argentina – Fiji and NZ have bigger bodies so the mismatch in the forwards isn’t as great.

    • GeorgiaSatellite

      Geez KRL, I think you’re a bit harsh on Ireland re QFs. In 2015 they were absolutely decimated by the Frogs in the last pool game. O’Connor and others got smashed. Sure, they lacked the depth that they now have, but that match was downright dirty. And let’s not forget how Noddy and Campo gave me my greatest-ever turnaround in rugby emotion in 1991 :-)

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Yeah I am a bit I guess. But it still remains their bogey. All the over the top – best in the world – talk won’t change that.

  • Greg

    Good morning and happy new year to all.

    What an exciting time to be an Australian rugby fan. I look forward to this year being everything that last year was not. A 7 at 7, an 8 at 8, maybe even a 6 at 6, a form 10 at 10, a 15 that can kick, a 13 running straight…. let’s see.

    I had to chuckle reading the review of the Italy/Scotland game….

    “Italy’s forwards defended fiercely, but they were let down by the backs.”

    This has been true of almost all rugby teams since time immemorial! If only the pretty boys could do their bit….

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Ba-boom! Ouch!

    • John Tynan

      Gold! I missed that most quotable of quotes!

    • Andrew H

      Morning Greg. Happy new year to you too.

    • Keith Butler

      Going back a good few decades, I can remember coming off the field covered in mud, typical English winter, and the wings were spotless and still had creases in their shorts (slight exaggeration). As my old teammate Mickey Skinner observed “ give it to the girls”.

  • Keith Butler

    Just read an article in the Guardian re the England training week before the Ireland game. The hookers practiced their line out by covering the ball in soap and throwing to Steve Borthwick on a step ladder – very novel. Proves once and for all Hoss’s assertion that we are a nation of Soap Dodgers.

    • Nutta

      It also proves that if you do something often enough then it’s simply another learned skill – not some sort of mystical artform. All Hookers take note that anyone can throw a lineout just like anyone can catch a lineout. It comes down to technique and reps.

      • Brisneyland Local

        Be brilliant at the basics!

      • Happyman

        Well put Nutta My son played the position had him hitting a netball and basketball hoop from 15 metres consistently. As a result he does about one not straight per year.

        On Super Bowl day it is easy to think of rugby in those terms.
        Ball win hand offence
        Opposition ball Defence
        Special Teams Scrums, Linouts, Kick Off and Kick Off reception.
        Special teams are repetitive and you will get better if you practise.

        • Brisneyland Local

          grid Iron is just a game of approx 100 set piece plays.

        • Nutta

          It has been a good game today though

        • Brisneyland Local

          Yeah it was close. And interesting. Not a classical game though in my view.

        • Nutta

          Agree. I think the pre-game hype about how attacking it would be talked each into thinking the other would all-out attack so both prepared too much on scoring max points and not enough on holding defences. So the defences of each then ran wild…

          ‘Too much weights. Not enough speed work.’

        • Brisneyland Local

          Great summation Nutta.

      • Keith Butler

        Very true. Back in my day the hookers used to practice by trying to hit the goalposts. As they say practice makes perfect.

        • Nutta

          I still do it now and i make sure I alternate between sharp and flat and lobbies. And the younger guys still scoff at why I’m out there 10-15min early at training throwing ball after ball and not friggin’ about with touch footy. But when the throw has to be made…

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Absolutely

      • Huw Tindall

        Truth! It’s why i’m a world class w@nker mate!

        • Nutta

          I did 6yrs in a Christian Bros boarding school – I will take that bet.

        • Huw Tindall

          Jesus that’s going to be hard to ‘beat’

        • Nutta

          Wow. I’m going to stop now or this will be one very long night.

    • Brisneyland Local

      Pure Gold KB

  • Ed

    In other news, Spanners wants clarification on the resting policy for Wallabies in SR this year.
    Allegedly, RA have begun talking with the SR coaches about it. Would not you think these discussions would have started after the policy was announced.

    “Hopefully, there is a plan and we’re not just playing it by ear,” Foley said.

    It was reported last year four Brums – Pocock, 7 A’s, Sio and Rory – would be the Brums to have rests during the SR season.

    • Brisneyland Local

      Hopefully the plan is for spanners to actually improve as a player. Learn to tackle. Learnt to kick in general play. Learnt o distribute better. So he is wondering whether being rested will interfere with his playing, because we know he isnt learning.

      • Fatflanker

        Resting him from touch-finder duties would certainly help.

        • Brisneyland Local

          That would be my first point. Gee even Karmichael Hunt has a much better touch finder than Foley.

      • Ed

        I haven’t watched the IRE-ENG match but it sounds like Eddie had a great kicking plan that exposed Henshaw at fullback and kept Ireland pinned in their half. Could we do that, nope as we don’t have the players nor the coach is interested in that as “I like to play footy”.

        I want the sycophants on FUX to question Cheika on his defensive system the next time he is on Kick N Chase (oh the irony of that title), and not let Michael to obfuscate and deflect from the questions. Brad Thorn is more likely to have a beer than such questioning.

        Chances Scott Johnstone becomes attack coach for the World Cup???

        • Huw Tindall

          Absolutely it was the only same game plan England always play – built off territory and defensive pressure. Exactly the game the Wallabies can’t counter.

        • Brumby Runner

          Johnson with some sort of oversighting role over Cheika on the team selections, but answerable to him as Assistant Coach attack? Sounds just like a theme from a Charlie Chapman/Keystone Cops movie. But then, it just might happen knowing the ineptitude of Rugby Australia.

        • Brisneyland Local

          Brad Thorn doesnt drink. He only prays!

    • Brumby Runner

      I am disappointed that Bernie has taken the fall. There is no doubt in my mind that he and Cheika had significant differences about the selections and the attack plan for the Wallabies, and I think the apparent omission of Kuridrani, Banks and Powell from the Wallabies camp last month shouts to the extent of those differences.

      I strongly suspect there are similar differences between Cheika and Grey in relation to the defense plan used by the Wallabies. Who, in their right mind, would be a willing partner in selecting and designing a defensive structure around Cheika’s favourites?

      I would be surprised if both Larkham and Grey have not been over-ruled and put in their places by Cheika during his reign of mediocrity. I just hope that both get another and better chance to show their wares sometime in the future when Cheika is no more than a bad smell around the camp.

      The question I have, is just what role and impact will whoever replaces Larkham be expected to have when there are no test matches before the shortened Rugby Championships/Bledisloe, and then straight into the RWC. Cheika might just as well take on all roles for all the good it will do replacing any of them at this stage. This sort of decision at this time is the sort of thing that severely challenges my interest in and support of the Wallabies.

      Brumbies and Rebels to shit on the Tahs in SR.

    • Hoss

      I’ve got a rest plan for Spanners. Fuck off and play the rest of his career elsewhere. There, clear, concise – easy to understand.

      • Brumby Runner

        Hoss, I agree but lament there is bugger all chance of that happening.

        • Ed

          Agree with Hoss and BR, but maaate, Nard won me the SR title so I can’t keep him on the bench. Just wait maaate as Nard and Kurtley turn good in Japan.

        • Huw Tindall

          Despite the ill feelings towards Foley was there honestly any better candidates last year?
          – Stewart at the Reds can tackle but that’s about it
          – Rebels and Brumbies had Kiwis running around at 10
          – Deegan at the Force looked good but played like 8 exhibition matches the whole season
          – Toomua signed late in the season and has played most of his rugby at 12
          – Kurtley should be nowhere near a 10 jersey
          – Couldn’t experiment with Hodge as he was injured
          – QC played club rugby all season and I’m sorry but that is no substitute for Super Rugby. We’ve seen how big a step down NRC is let alone club.

          An absolute dearth of available talent at 10.

          Among these QC is the most likely option to be a realistic candidate to take Foley’s spot this year. Toomua I’m ruling out as he is turning up late in season (May) having played all season at 12 for Leicester. At least Foley has some competition from QC this year!

        • Nutta

          I cannot agree more and if we want facta non verba proof of the complete farce that RA has been of late at managing our game, then besides:

          > the complete ignoring of western Sydney,
          > the breaching of fiduciary duties and malpractice that was the Force axing,
          > the cluster-fking of Twiggy’s desire & cash to be involved,
          > the continued baffling bullshit of appointments and retention among RA untouchables

          then the national dearth of options at 10 must surely be proof that fkn no-one is holding the helm.

          Christ on a stick we have even managed to develop a veritable bevvy of props over the last few years (something we traditionally sux at) but even with the history of Ella’s, Lloyd Walker, Lynagh, Bernie, Barnes, Knox, Flatly et al we still can’t get a semi-decent 10 coming through when we so clearly need another one?

  • Hoss

    Good afternoon and a big G’Day to our oversees viewers

    Been snowed under at work of late, catching a read here or there, but doing what i am paid to do for a change – bugger that. Briz – you hiring – need to sort this out quick smart. The temerity of them all. I agree with the move away from leadership groups (also invented ‘work titles’ – notice how no-one is a worker anymore they are all fancy HR weasel words) I just met with the leader of the non-leadership group to discuss, well nothing actually as they are outside the central or ‘core’ leadership group but as they are in a leadership role i did consult them whilst providing mentoring, guidance and engagement for their career trajectory and their professional aspiration curve – what was i saying again ???

    Although my Linkedin profile does read like a HR Brochure – i am not a hypocrite, i just apply different rules to myself.

    Didn’t catch much game time over weekend.I was out trooping the colours. Newcastle is ready for the SR round in March. The place is glistening, light rail about to commence, new cafes and bars everywhere. Bout time the stale ol bottle of piss had the cork removed – the place is really invigorating and exciting – more please.

    I saw a bit of the Frogs v The Northern Kiwi’s – what odds the french lying down and let a foreign force walk over them – go figure.

    Blighty v The Limerick Lovers – i reckon they will both be at pointy end of Kill Bill in 19. I reckon the North are looking very likely this time round.

    Trial games – nahh, its like your nan slipping the tongue in during a farewell kiss, feels ok, but doesnt (often) lead anywhere – well shouldn’t anyhow, but Cessnock does get cold at night.

    Back to work – Briz, call me……..oh the humanity

    • Brisneyland Local

      How do I get in touch!

      • SuckerForRed

        Shit Briz, if you are hiring!

        • Brisneyland Local

          Always looking for good people.

        • Hoss

          You and your impossible standards – Iam out.

        • Brisneyland Local

          Ha ha. get in touch with KRL and will hook u up!

        • Hoss

          Saw that from KRl above – on it.

        • Hoss

          There’s a line here SFR, single file, no pushing at the back please.

        • SuckerForRed

          If you are in front you just have to watch out for the knives…… :-D

  • Dud Roodt

    News just in – Steve Larkham has been sacked

    • Ed

      “We have differences in attacking strategy and overall game philosophy,” Cheika said.
      Larkham will now “transition” to a new role as national high performace coach advisor in 2019.
      Above is from Foxsports’ Christy Doran on twitter.

      • Ed

        Does this mean Cheika and Grey have the same crap defence philosophy?

        • Dud Roodt

          Leak tries. Lull opposition into false sense of dominance for 3.9 years, then POUNCE! in September every 4 years

        • Fatflanker

          Hey, it worked last time!!

    • Hoss

      Who could teach that team to attack with the selections and defensive shuffling.

      they are either picked out of possie or gassed from the defensive structure that remains a complete mystery to us all.

      • RF

        The fundamentals weren’t there, the organisation was inept. Should have been coherent in the squad irrespective of who took the field.

        • SuckerForRed

          I get the feeling the skill of the key selections might be a issue……….

        • Brisneyland Local

          SFR, absaloodle!

      • Dud Roodt

        Yeah I think Larkham is hard done by. The attack fucking sucked, but so did the defense, and so did the set piece, and so did every other aspect of our play. Why pick him?

        • Brisneyland Local

          Because he stood up to cheika!

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Do you know that or surmising it

        • Brisneyland Local

          That is what I am hearing via back channels!

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          I think if he was dumb enough to stay as part of such a shit fight he deserves what he gets

      • Andy

        True. But his record at the brumbies was pretty shit as well. They were a shocking attacking team when he was running the show.

        Ironically Greys defensive record at the tahs was appalling as was his record at the rebels if I am not mistaken. Do no surprise our attack and defence is utter aids

  • Gallagher

    The Reds looked no different from last year, offering no change in a lackluster attack pattern, and with easily the worst roster of the four teams, will flounder at the bottom of the table again this year. Quades half hour showed plenty of defensive grit, and some excellent cross kicks and passes, Rebels will definitely step up to the finals this year if Quade stays fit at leasy until Toomua arrives, Im predicting they will land just behind the Brumbies!

  • SuckerForRed

    I know it will turn up in tomorrow’s news but…..

    Media release has just hit that Bernie has been moved from Assistant Wallaby Coach to National High Performance Coach Advisor. (Q1 – wasn’t that the role that Kaf was filling? If so, where is he off to or are we just getting a even heavy top end?)

    Cut & paste from the release:

    Under a revitalised Rugby Australia High Performance structure, Larkham’s new position will focus on coach mentoring, coaching and skills development across the Qantas Australian Sevens program, Junior Wallabies, State U20s Academies, and Buildcorp Wallaroos.

    Stephen Larkham said: “Ultimately Michael is responsible for the performance of the team. We have differences in attacking strategy and overall game philosophy. We couldn’t agree on these key points and it is in the best interest of the team that they receive clear and consistent messages from their coaches.

    “I am obviously disappointed with this outcome as I had chosen to pursue the experience of taking the Wallabies through to the World Cup, however I am pleased to be able to continue coaching and contributing to Australian Rugby in this new role,” said Larkham.

    So obviously not all is rosy in the Wallaby camp perhaps. Haydn Masters, Wallabies of Athletic Performance has also resigned. If what I am hearing out of the Reds set up is also correct, the power plays are still present in Australian Rugby as a whole, and are not assisting the coding to recovery. Q2 – How long is this going to continue or are the changes that have happened righting the ship?

    • Nutta

      Bernie sacked – not surprising given his lack of actual coaching experience plus results as a Wobbly Ass-coach.
      Chek sacking someone before Jono arrives – not surprising as everyone needs to show their new Boss they did something.
      Where’s Kaf – Idontfknknow.
      Bernie’s new made-up role – if that isn’t jobsfortheboys then i don’t know what is.
      Manager of Athletic Performance – I want to laugh, but I’m too close to crying.
      Power-Plays in Rugby – Well fk me I’m surprised.

      Hands up anyone who is surprised by any of that..?

      • Brisneyland Local

        Surprised and not surprised! Surprised that they actually sacked someone, surprised that it wasnt Grey first.
        Not surprised there was a soft landing!

        • Greg

          But here is the problem… if you selected players that can’t actually tackle…. what exactly should the defense coach do?

          Either arrange for a selection panel or fall on your sword

        • Brisneyland Local

          Make them pricks stand there ground and clearly be exposed for the frauds that they are would be my plan. But hey I am not a defence coach!

      • John Tynan

        I’d reckon can’t afford a pay out vs jobs for the boys.

        • SuckerForRed

          You are probably right JT. However, if you sideways shift someone you can’t afford to pay-out, into a job that didn’t exist before, then hire someone to replace them in their previous job……….. makes even less sense.

        • Brisneyland Local

          Well depends who they hire and for how much.

        • SuckerForRed

          A good coach for nothing would work. But not sure there are many of them around.

        • Brisneyland Local

          True. to behonest I think there is a defence coach from the Wagga Wagga Under 15’s D side that is available.
          I reckon he would do a better job than Grey!

        • John Tynan

          Zero sum game – the motto of the RA.

        • Nutta

          You may have a point there.

        • Huw Tindall

          Payouts for the boys essentially then

    • Nutta

      Good intel you subversive bastard! Well done (no sarcasm in that).

      • SuckerForRed

        Who? Me? :-D

    • Brisneyland Local

      Excellent. At least one of them is gone. Grey should be going next as our defence was worse than our attack!
      At least publicly we are hearing that there is a differing view within in the set up.
      Hopefully Bernie was saying that Spanners was shit, and Beale should be gone.
      Maybe that was the differing of opinion!

      • Fatflanker

        It is a good thing but a parachute straight into high performance manager reeks of jobs for the boys and reinforces my belief Larkham has already been ordained at Cheika’s replacement.

        • Brisneyland Local

          Either that or is staves off a legal challenge for sacking him from his contract. I.e. zero sum gain.

      • Huw Tindall

        Johnson and the third selector can take care of Spanners and KB if they are playing poorly and there is a clearly better candidate. It could be all coming together.

        • Brisneyland Local

          Yes but if Bernie didnt agree with the game plan and is gone, it means that Cheika will likely persist with the same shit game plan. As one of the voices of (potential) reason is now gone.

        • Huw Tindall

          By the sounds of it Chek left a lot up to the assistants in terms of detailed planning so who actually takes primary blame for the crap attack in 2018? Ultimately both Chek and Bernie are responsible for this but was it the case of Chek saying – this is how I want to play, make it happen Bernie – then Bernie not delivering on the ask.

        • Brisneyland Local

          I would say your last sentence gels with what I am hearing. The problem I have with that is many and varied:
          1. Our basic skills are shit, so an attack plan that is anywhere near complicated is going to fail when we drop or turnover the ball.
          2. Our transition from D to A was hard, because our D plan was so complicated to shelter players that couldn’t tackle. SO our players were having to shuffle heaps. That always instilled a delay in the attack, hence when a player made a break there was little support and hence they were isolated and turned over.
          3. Cheika had an over optimistic view of where the Wallabies were at. Committing them to complicated plans that were difficult to execute.

        • Huw Tindall

          Excellent summary. We definitely can’t execute whatever plans we seem to have. So, assuming we can’t transform our skills in 9 months nor get infinitely fitter (I think we are as fit as any team incidentally) it seems like the most realistic plan is to simplify everything and pick a team who can deliver the basics with maybe 1-2 ‘x-factor’ players.

        • Brisneyland Local

          I vote Huw for coach! Absolutely. Be brilliant at the basics. Slow is smooth, smooth is fast was our mantra when executing live combat drills. With practice and precision speed comes, but you just make sure you are good at the basics. Because a slip up is not a dropped ball it is a bullet in the head!
          Fully support a drive for skills increase in the time we have. But then pick the best in each position and build the teams around that. The plan needs to be basic, adaptable, and easily digested and executed by the players.

        • Ed

          Spot on BL and Huw.
          Cheika showed which basics are most important at the January camp that Larkham didn’t attend – fitness. Allegedly they did not touch a ball. Could you see the ABs having a week camp with no skills training? Don’t think so.
          I hope Cheika has a yes man as attack coach so when it goes all shit in Japan, the blame is on him. Let Cheika have his “way” to play with his favourites come September and watch RadRadra and co show us how to run with a football.

        • Brisneyland Local

          Ed, just finished my Christmas reading (courtesy as a lend from KRL)
          https://www.panmacmillan.com/authors/peter-bills/the-jersey/9781509856688

          A great read and it, I must admit, highlights a total difference in philosophies. Despite the systemic differences, the views on basic skillsets are amazing. Even half of the AB’s fitness program is tailored around skills drills. Passing and catching, passing and catching.
          BE BRILLIANT AT THE BASICS

        • Ed

          Thanks for the tip on the book. I have just ordered it. If you have not read The Legacy by James Kerr, it is another one to spend time with.

          I have been reading a bit about Tom Brady recently, ahead of the Superbowl. Here was a fella who did not have the athletic talents of many of his peers yet he is know considered the GOAT in NFL. He is a true professional in how he prepares his body, his mind, tactics, opposition etc. The man goes to bed at 2030 so he has the appropriate amount of sleep and that he begins to train early in the morning.
          Below is a link to a 2014 Sports Illustrated article on him, which would still apply today.
          https://www.si.com/nfl/2014/12/10/tom-brady-new-england-patriots-age-fitness

        • Brisneyland Local

          Ed thanks for that. Have started reading it. Looks good so far.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          it’ll never happen. They’ll bring out the pics of Cheika and the goats and go straight into the team

      • Who?

        Can you imagine the kerfuffle round here if the Harbourside white lines video with the Bachelorette bloke, the Leaguie and Beale had come out whilst G&GR was doing daily news reports..?

        • Brisneyland Local

          Would have have been fantastic.

    • Brumby Runner

      I just love Larkham’s statement (I suspect dripping with sarcasm), that ultimately Cheika is responsible for the team’s performance, which I might remind all and sundry, has been shithouse for three years. Pity is that there has been no accountability to go along with the responsibility. My interpretation is that we shouldn’t be holding any of the Assistants responsible.

      • SuckerForRed

        Yeah. I read that as “Don’t you bloody well blame me.”

        • Brisneyland Local

          Concur.

      • Adrian

        I don’t think he does sarcasm.
        He has a media person

    • Hoss

      ‘Overall game philosophy’ – explained for dummies.

      Segall ‘look Bernie, I want to pick our best 7 at 8, a benchy at 7 and captain, our best THP at LHP, a 10 who can’t pass, kick, tackle or run, a 12 who loves the east-west root, a15 who can’t kick, an 11 who doesn’t speak English let alone know the rules, locks who are afraid of contact, a 45 yo 2 with backups who are no chop. Once they hit the paddock I insist they interchange hundreds of metres whilst in D and I expect you to have the BEST attackning game in the world from this lot, never mind we won’t secure enough pill, have decent field position or rugby smarts – ok’

      Bernie – ‘your a complete fucking idiot, I am outta here’.-

      There different philosophy – explained.

      • Adrian

        Except Hoss,…that Bernie didn’t say or do anything, because he’s not called Bernie for nothing:l

        • Hoss

          Bernie is laughing all the way to the gig. He is employing the ‘Bradbury Manouvre’. Pretty soon he will be last man standing. We crash out early and he is the saviour. By some miracle we win and he takes over the world champions (it’s my party I will lie if I want to, lie if I want to). Win-win.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Gold mate.

        P.s. did you get my note about contacting me with your private contact details. email me at jcmasher@me.com

        • Hoss

          Sorry mate – must have missed will do tomorrow. Hoss.

      • Brisneyland Local

        Hoss, do you have the full transcript. that is pretty accurate.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Mate it’ll never change until there is a generation of officials who put Australian rugby ahead of themselves.
      So create a new position to keep a failure employed, just unbelievable.

    • I am wondering whether his demise is because he didn’t agree with Chieka’s failing plan or he was sacked by the master coach because his plan was dodgy. I would like to hear what Bernie was wanting and how that differed from MCs opinion. They won’t sack him because hes on a motza. Larkham sounded pretty defiant. I am really confused about how Grey has not been the first coach (other than MC who should have gone already) to be shown the door. At the end of last year, RA stated there would be a review. Many were hoping for action as soon as possible so as to prepare for the RWC. Obviously, this has not been done and again, RA is pacing further undue pressure on the preparation. Unfortunately, not surprising.

  • Adrian

    Larkham:

    Something new to talk about.

    Given what has already happened and will stay in place until WC, I reckon this is a good decision. ie a good decision under the circumstances.

    My tip a few months ago was that Cheika would be relieved if RA forced Larkham out, and I think that’s what happened.

    I’d like the other assistant coaches to go to, but there aren’t enough phoney/fake jobs to create for them, and not enough cash to pay them out.

    • Huw Tindall

      Not enough fake jobs!? This is RA we are talking about Adrian! Just insert the words High Performance into a more normal job title and bob’s your uncle.

      I agree though. Probably for the best but would like Grey to go too and a Less Kiss style hard man take the role.

      • Adrian

        Quite honestly I can see improvement around the corner.

        8 months is a long time in Rugby!

        SR gives everyone a chance to forget about first half Salta and most other games, and remember second half Salta.

        I expect changes in defensive strategy even with Grey.

        I don’t care if attack assistant coach arrives before RC or not. I guess Johnson will influence that and 3rd selector.

        It’s kinda shaping as interesting IMO

        • Huw Tindall

          Yeah it is a long time. Saffas showed that last year after coming off a disastrous season where they even got beaten by Italy during the Autumn internationals. Still had some teething problems and inconsistency but they were genuinely threatening and could have beaten the ABs twice.

          What make’s you think defensive strategy will change this year Adrian? If past history is anything to go by it’s a big fat no.

          Third selector is going to be one of the most fascinating things this year and to see how it develops. I commented elsewhere that the new 3 person panel is going to live on after Chek leaves post RWC so will be interesting to see how it works for the new man in the hot seat as well.

        • Adrian

          I think defensive strategy will change a bit because:
          1. Players at Tahs drove it to change a bit, before they suggested to Gibson that Grey had to go. Current Tah defence is a very simplified Grey
          2. Cheika threw out Grey defence at half time in Bled 1 in 2017, and it remained out for Bled 2 and partly in Bled 3 before slowly sneaking back in late 2017 and 2018. This proves that Cheika can implement alternative D, even with Grey around, even though he didn’t maintain it.
          3. Johnson won’t let Cheika get conned on stuff like this. Johnson is no push-over.

        • Huw Tindall

          As always, I admire your optimism and hope it plays out that way!

          It’s hard to know what goes on the change room though so can we be sure it was Chek taking control in those handful of games, just like in Salta? If he is as smart as people say he is surely he’d put two and two together and demand change in the Defense. We know he places trust and loyalty in people but it this blind trust?

        • Adrian

          I hope so too.
          I think Johnson will talk him out of blind loyalty.
          BTW, I think it was Cheika doing what Castle says he does best in Salta, and 1/2 time Bled 1 in 2017. That’s not much coaching, and she expects more.
          IMO Kepu implemented Salta strategy, not captain

        • Brumby Runner

          Adrian, you seem to be putting a lot of faith in Scott Johnson and the new selection panel, even though you are really never critical of Cheika at all. Do you think Johnson will arrive here with preconceived ideas of the weaknesses in the Wallabies squad (and there are plenty) and with the knowledge of the alternatives and their current form? How will he otherwise have a real influence over Cheika when the next test squad to be assembled will be for the Rugby Championships with the RWC following almost immediately thereafter. Similarly, how will the selection panel impact on the team when they will be in the same boat. There is just no opportunity anymore for either Johnson or the panel to be very influential.

          It will be interesting to see just who is rested from the Aus SR teams during the year and who is invited along to any training squads along the way. I don’t anticipate there will be many, if any, changes to the favourites already in Cheika’s squad.

        • Adrian

          Thanks Brumby.
          I’ve been critical of Cheika from time to time for being unbelievably stubborn re support of assistant coaches, and selecting teams that didn’t match the tactics, or more to the point using tactics that didn’t match the players. I’ve been calling for “Cheika to be Cheika” for a couple of years.
          Castle has called for Cheika to do what he does best, which is coach.

          Having said all of that, I don’t believe for a minute that a normal, reasonable person would be conned by Cheika stubbornness. This includes Johnson.

          I’m sure Johnson has followed Australian Rugby all along, as he is a renowned “Rugby nerd”. He might deny this of course.

          From what I’ve heard Johnson is no push-over, but of course I could be wrong.

          3rd selector will certainly be an interesting choice.

      • Andy

        Old Less is a good call. Alan Gaffney as well.

        • Huw Tindall

          Anyone like that.

          I don’t know if Grey is trying to make up for the weak defensive selections and trying to hide too many blokes or if he is over complicating the system regardless of who Chek wants to pick. Either way he should chuck the towel in for sticking with a disasterous system.

  • Nutta

    If Scotland beat England I’ll be the No1 drunk.

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Turned to writing for GAGR before my over the top rants about rugby landed me in hot water. Hoping this will keep me a little more measured.

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