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Monday’s Rugby News

Monday’s Rugby News

MONDAY’S RUGBY NEWS

Monday’s rugby news rounds up the results from the weekend’s Super rugby matches, Six Nations, drops in on the Sevens and the SCG responds to criticisms of the turf.


SUPER RUGBY ROUND FOUR

Old Enemies (Keith McInnes)

Old Enemies
(Keith McInnes)

Wellington were at home to the Highlanders in the first match and it was home team leaving everything until the last minute (if not later) to walk away with the four competition points.  A try in the last minute of the first half gave them the lead at oranges and then Bueaden Barrett made up for his 72nd minute missed conversion with a penalty goal after the full-time hooter to the home side a 25-22 win.

The two teams yet to register a win in SuperW faced off on Friday nigh and it was the Westies getting the nod over the Rebels keeping the team from the left coast in the hunt for finals.  It was an improved showing from the Rebs but they still face a tough time as they have the bye next week before they face the rampaging Tahs.

In their second match up within four weeks, the Brumbies came out of the blocks a lot stronger than the Rebels and looked to be in a commanding position at the half, leading 19-3.  Whatever transpired at half-time will no doubt go down in Rebel folklore as they came out anew and piled on 26 points in the second stanza to maintain their undefeated 2019.  Final score, 29-26.

The yet-to-win Chiefs travelled to Christchurch to take on the yet-to-be-defeated Crusaders and it never looked in doubt.  The reigning premiers scored five tries in the first half and another four in the second to run out 57-28 winners with two converted tries in the last 10 minutes serving to flatter the Chiefs.

Following a fitting tribute to their fallen team-mate, the Blues finally got a win over the gallant but ultimately outclassed Sunwolves.  Rieko Ioane by scored a brace in each half and it was only the accurate kicking of Matsuda that kept the visitors in touch.  The Reds would be wise to be wary of the ‘Wolves after they again showed what they are capable of.

Speaking of the Reds, they travelled to Sydney where they proved even more disappointing than the SCG turf.  They slumped to their 10th-straight defeat at the hands of their oldest and most hated rival, 28-17.  Nathan has a more comprehensive look at the match for you here.

In the SuperW is was a similar story.  Simple mistakes cruelled the Reds’ chances toward the end of the game and the ‘Tahs hung tough 15-12.

Two SA conference hit outs finished the round.

The Lions beat the Jaguares in a high-scoring ‘battle of the big cats’, 47-39.

And the Bulls beat the Sharks in the ‘battle of two team mascots least likely to meet in the real world’, 37-14.

After four rounds two teams remain undefeated, the Crusaders and the Rebels and two teams are yet to register a win, the Chiefs and the Reds.

TURF WARS

scrum-Reds-v-Waratahs-160327_Sully383

The ground fell apart under the strain of scrummaging

Anyone who watched Saturday night’s clash betwixt the Waratahs and the Reds was in for a real trip down memory lane.

Like the days of yore, the match was held at the SCG, the teams turned out in their traditional kit with the ‘Tahs even going as far as adding a proper collar to their jersey.

The real heroes however, were the ground staff who seemed to forget all the lessons in ground preparation learned over the previous years as the teams went head to head on what appeared to be a very nicely-dressed sandpit.

Reds’ coach Brad Thorn was less than impressed with the surface citing it at as (just) one of the reasons his team failed to make any real impact with their heavier forward pack saying, “It’s professional sport. Rugby grounds, there is a lot of running around but with the mauling and the scrummaging, the ground is pretty important. That was disappointing.

“It just didn’t have any strength to it.”

(note-yes this is old news now, but I’m hoping to present a balanced article, this is Thorn’s take on the issue)

Come Sunday and the SCG Trust announced they will replace 3,000 square metres of turf before Friday’s NRL match at the venue.

The forces on the ground will be vastly different in the league match but it’s another 80 minutes of footy on the surface that needs to hold up to the rampaging Crusaders a week later.

Interesting, the NRL match will be played on the traditional north-south orientation for footy at the ground.  The rye grass that fell apart during the rugby should mostly fall outside the playing area but at this stage (according to Ticketek’s website) the ‘Tahs-‘Saders clash will be on the east-west playing area again.

Andrew Hoare (‘Tah CEO) was hesitant to rouse on the ground staff, even going as far as describing the surface as ‘fine’.

“In general play it was fine, it was those high impact collisions and just pressure effectively where it came up,

“It’s not the only surface in Australia I’ve ever seen do that and they can turn it around pretty quickly.”

“It is what it is, so we’ve just got to fix it up and move on. And work with the trust.

“Tomorrow will be a good day to get down there and see the new turf being rolled out and see what we can try to help them anyway we can to make sure we get a good surface for the Crusaders game.”  (except no-one has yet mentioned the obvious, which is shifting the pitch orientation to north-south again)

VANCOUVER SEVENS

The Aussies are stumbling in their quest for Olympic qualification

The Aussies are stumbling in their quest for Olympic qualification

The second leg of the Sevens’ north American tour is in full swing and as the season moves into its second half, the cream is rising to top.  Now, this is great news if you support Fiji, USA but for our boys, the news is not so good.  If the Aussie men want to make it to Tokyo, they are going to have to do it the hard way.

Only the top four teams at the end of this season and the host nation, Japan, book an automatic ticket to the big show.

After a narrow win over the giant-slaying Spaniards, the Aussies then fell to France and were thumped by the Kiwis.

Tomorrow morning (like, stupid o’clock early) our lads face Kenya.  Kenya are currently 13th in the standings but if the Spain-NZ match has taught us anything, it’s that Sevens games are anyone’s for the taking.

If the results go as expected and Australia win their playoff they can still only finish as high as 9th place, worth 8 points.

They are (at the time of writing) in 6th place for the series and all five teams ranked ahead have progressed to the Cup playoffs and will pull further ahead at the conclusion of the weekend.

While mathematically they have a chance, there would have to be a big upheaval amongst the heavyweights for it to occur.  Realistically, if they don’t pick up their game soon, the Aussies will be facing an Oceania playoff with last-start runners-up, Samoa, or failing qualification through that pathway there will be one last chance afforded at a repechage.

SIX NATIONS

Can Wales repeat their 2012 campaign?

Can Wales repeat their 2012 campaign?

There’s one round to go in the Six Nations and Welsh fans should (if they aren’t already) be getting nervous.

They teeter on the edge of both their first Six Nations title since 2013 and first Grand Slam since 2012.

Their ability to take out the Grand Slam rests in their own hands, however, should they fail to beat Ireland next week they’ll need to wait until England and Scotland finish up to find out where they finish.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here, let’s first look at how the fixtures played out over the weekend.

Wales conceded an early penalty goal to Scotland but quickly hit back with a converted try before the sides traded penalties and then Wales again got for a meaty before the break.  From 15-6 at the half the scorers were hardly troubled as Scotland could only add five points in the second term and Wales kicked a late penalty to seal an 18-11 victory.

England kept their titles hopes alive with an eight try display of dominance against the last placed Azzuri, thumping them 57-14.  The resounding victory earned them yet another bonus point and sees them only sit one point behind Wales on the overall standings, despite having won one fewer games.

In the wee hours of this morning, Ireland maintained their chance of the title with a bonus-point victory over the French in Dublin.  Completely controlling territory (90% in the first half!) it was 19-0 at drinks, a lead Ireland extended before France scored two late tries to add some respectability to the scoreboard.  Final score, 26-14.

 

  • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

    How can you only be up 19-0 with 90% territory against a team with defence as average as the French?

    Seriously, Ireland play the most boring brand of rugby.

    • Andrew H

      They were their own worst enemy, get so close and then butcher it. Plus FCTTB (well, to France) they busted themselves in defence.

  • Andrew H

    Morning gang.
    My views from the weekend-
    SCG awful, Reds worse.

    Oz Sevens team looked very ordinary against NZ. No word as yet on Rocket Rod’s injury concerns.

    The NH is looking good in a RWC year, time to get worried.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      While I think England is definitely stronger than they were at the last world cup I’m not sure overall the NH are any more or less of a threat they have always been. The real difference to me is that at this world cup Australia will be at the lowest ranking they ever have been and that’s a worry.
      At the end of the day I think one of NZ, SA, Ireland or England will win this cup and the saddest part for me is how Australia is unlikely to be there

      • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

        I actually don’t think England were that good. Neither Ireland nor France played with any proper fullbacks in the back three, and England kicked them into oblivion. I think Wales and Ireland are the two northern hemisphere sides likely to win.

        • Keith Butler

          No England weren’t that good. Mind you a lot of the rugby played in this 6Ns had been a bit ordinary from all teams including the Welsh.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          True. But the Welsh keep winning – what is their win streak now?

        • Keith Butler

          About 12 I think. But the SDs was 17 or 18 before they lost to the Irish in 2017. Gone a bit downhill since then but on the way up with a decent squad relatively injury free.

      • Andrew H

        I’ve been really impressed with the (controlled) aggression of play and ability to recycle from the 6N.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Thanks Andrew, I have to admit I missed the most important game this weekend and won’t get to watch it until later in the week. From what I’ve heard and read the Tahs deserved the win so well done. I must admit it’s going to take a lot to beat the Crusaders, they just seem to be getting better and better and I really don’t see anyone taking them this year. My Canes had a get out of jail card but I’ll take it as a win is a win and even winning ugly is better than losing well.

    The 7’s were disappointing. watching Spain beat NZ was just sad. I agree your boys need something special to advance. I do like that some of the lower billed nations are stepping up and I think it’s great to see USA up there I just wished we were as well.

    • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

      It was literally the Tahs vs Kerevi and Lucas. The Reds were woeful.

      Lucas looks like he could be 10 times the flyahlf Stewart is. I don’t think it will be long before he is the Reds’ starting 10, and if he can build on that performance he may well be Australia’s starting flyhalf sooner rather than later.

      • AllyOz

        I don’t think the decision on Hunt reflects badly on Thorn. It is different to the decision on QC. Hunt entered the Reds and was convicted soon after for offences committed while playing for GC AFL. Unlucky for the Reds as they had no influence over him at the time the offences were committed but were the ones who had to where the penalty. Then he committed a second offence (and yes the cocaine possession part of the charge was dropped but the other drug possession charge wasn’t). Slipper is a similar case. I believe they left the Reds organisation with little choice other than to let them go.

        I am sure Thorn would have been happy to keep both on their playing ability. Hunt appears to do everything right in terms of his training and preparation as had Slipper up until the issue with drugs at the beginning of the year. However, once the coach and the organisation has taken a position on drug use, whether you agree with it or not, they have to stick by it. They can’t say to a young kid, sorry you are out because you were caught in possession of cocaine and say to an experienced player, well you’ve f@$#ed up twice but you are just to good for us to drop you.

        In terms of QC, it’s a different story. He made a decision based on something (QC’s approach, his judgement of his character or influence, his playing style…whatever) but if QC can prove that he can still play good rugby (which he seems to be doing) then Thorn’s judgement can rightfully be questioned. With the other two though the decision was never around their footballing ability or fitness etc but around their illicit drug use so, regardless of how well they play, the coach and the organisation still had to make the call. I am glad that both got an opportunity to play again but I don’t think the Reds got it wrong. And I will put it this way. If Hunt gets busted in the carpark of the Sheath (not sure it has a carpark) in possession of cocaine or Slipper returns another positive test for the Brumbies do you think it will matter how well either of them is playing as to whether they play again for either team?

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Yeah, to be fair I didn’t say that it reflects badly on Thorn, only that it isn’t a good looking to be paying the salary of a guy playing for the other team that is cutting you to pieces.

        • AllyOz

          Fair point, I think he would be most frustrated by Hunt’s loss more than any of the others. Clearly he didn’t want QC there regardless of what he brought as a player and he had some good young front rowers coming through but what he really lacked was an attacking back with experience and leadership. Hunt is impressive in the way he plays and he is reportedly a great trainer (and always has been). But, as I said above, once the position on drugs had been adopted future decisions are made.

        • Greg

          “Clearly he didn’t want QC there regardless of what he brought as a player”

          Are Mr Cheika and Mr Thorn mates?

        • Adrian

          Na

        • GO THE Q REDS

          Yep.. Shows his extreme inept value as a coach recognizing talent and a clubs depth or in the Reds case a severe lack of! The while Hamish Stewart is the Messiah and then never using him drama has been a tragedy. Not to mention his actual lack of meaningful impact anyway! Took another coach to come along before Hamish was benched!

        • Who?

          It’s interesting to note Quade’s latest Insta… I’d link it, but it won’t paste in here.
          https://www.instagram.com/p/Buv7IoGAdAL/?utm_source=ig_twitter_share&igshid=130wabjbi0rgx
          Maybe it did..?

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          The Slipper situation is different again. In a situation that required empathy, compassion and kindness Thorn took, in my opinion, a ruthless my way or the highway route.

        • Hoss

          I understand the emotion, but its just little glimpses like this that just fracture the ‘mature Quade’ image he would like out there. They are 3 from 3, he is playing good consistent rugby, people are talking him up. Just let the results and his performance do the talking and leave the snide digs to, well, us on here. Rise above it

          Oscar Wilde once proffered – ‘We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.’

          He should be the star we gaze at.

        • Who?

          I only found that because it was mentioned on ABC Offsiders, who pointed out that, whilst the Rebels are 3-3, the Reds are 0-3.
          At the same time, I get it… He’s clearly still hurt. The Reds were his home, and he was kicked out by a bloke who never played for the Reds, who was a direct on field adversary (given he and Thorn were involved in a few altercations), who’s done nothing yet was hailed as the Messiah. It would’ve been hard enough to have copped being released at the end of your contract like Simmons faced, but to be sacked without being sacked, by a bloke who is your complete opposite… It’s gotta hurt.
          Similarly, every headline we’ve seen the first few weeks on mainstream media is about the Reds bad boys. Especially bad boy Cooper. When he didn’t actually do anything wrong. I get Hunt and Slipper being labelled that, though we’ve got to be realistic and note that Hunt’s infractions resulted in a $600 fine, and Slipper’s indiscretions were RA sanctions, not WADA or criminal issues. Even the reporting for Slipper’s infractions was generally about mental health, not about bad behaviour. So we’ve got three former Reds, two of whom left because they’d brought the game into disrepute, and the third is tarred with the same ‘bad boy’ brush – or worse, given he’s the one always given the most attention.
          I’m not saying he’s doing the right thing, but he’s certainly doing a very human. thing.

        • Hoss

          His best revenge is living (playing) well and he’s certainly doing that.

          Mr Wilde again – Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much

        • Singapore Sling

          Yeah could come back to haunt him but so far so good. I think Coopers biggest battle this year is avoiding injury. He’s been taking the ball to the line with purpose so there is risk given his history.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          My Wilde is a wise person.

        • Singapore Sling

          Very good comment. I have no issue with his quip on social media. It’s not my thing but I get it. I’m sure he’d like a free swing a Thorns head but gen y have got Mark Zuckerberg to give them a leg up. I also read if you reach a certain number of followers or likes there is money in it. I’m not sure rugby players get those numbers but the girls that shake their tails sure do. There’s a tidy living in it…..go figure!

        • Who?

          If there’s anyone in Australian Rugby who’d have the followers to make a small side income from Twitter, it’d be Cooper. RA doesn’t even have 1400 followers (Rugby Reg comfortably has thrice as many followers!). The Wallabies have 220k. Cooper has 441k – literally twice the following of the Wallabies. For comparison, Genia and Hooper don’t have Twitter, Giteau’s at 199k, JOC’s at 163k, Pocock’s at 136k, Folau’s at 120k (down from 340k), Beale’s at 78k, the Badger’s at 66k…

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          I’m with you mate. While I can understand he’s a bit bitter and twisted, get the fuck over it and demonstrate that you’re better than than that. This bullshit just makes me wonder if he’s as mentally strong as he needs to be to guide the Wallabies around

        • Kiwi rugby lover
        • Who?

          I fundamentally disagree with one of his claims. I don’t consider Deans to have been a good coach. I could see serious flaws in his coaching by 2009. That was when he had Giteau and Barnes at 10 and 12, before Cooper forced himself into the team. Our backline never really functioned as an adaptable, multi-skilled unit under him. We had the odd time where we showed great attack (many will point to Paris, 2010), but overall, he just burned players. He played 5 different 10’s over 5 years, and none came away unscathed.
          I get the point of the article – that he should have more to show for his talent. But that’s like saying that Archie Manning was a terrible quarterback, when everyone knows that he’s the best in his family. Even though he never won anything, and his kids have a pair of SuperBowls each. You need the full team, and the off field team (i.e. the coaching staff). The Wallabies have had one period where we looked to be building in the last decade. That was the 2013 EOYT. I don’t think we’ve had a strong EOYT since. We’ve not had a strong 3N’s or TRC other than RWC years. And even then, you could see the cracks. I was at the 2011 Brisbane Bledisloe. Our backline, even in that game (which we won), offered almost nothing. Genia won that game. Deans had already taken confidence out of Cooper, and by the RWC, both were struggling. Until the Wales Bronze Medal game, when Quade decided he’d play how he wanted, and was on fire (until he did his knee).
          See, the problem with saying Cooper should have more to show is like saying Pocock should have more to show, or Genia, or George Smith should have more to show (given he’s coming up on 400 professional games), or Shane Williams should have more to show than just a few 6N’s titles. It forgets that Rugby’s a team game. And no matter how central you are to the play, your results are dependent on the overall team.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          The thing people forget – and the thing I still sort of struggle to wrap my head around, even though I know it logically makes sense – is that there were only two brief spells in which Quade was the starting Wallaby 10.

          2010-11 and 2013 from the last match of the rugby championship until the end of the year.

          Every other cap has been at 12, coming off the bench or the odd game or games here or there.

          He’s not had that many opportunities to assert himself. And 2010-11 and 2013 were our two best periods since Larkham retired.

          However, I think you underestimate how well the backline was working in 2010.

        • Who?

          Great point about the brevity of Quade’s tenure as the starting 10.
          And much of the time he’s been away has been due to clashes with coaches who were too busy leading completely ineffective teams to be bothered valuing what he could provide, as well as injury.

          In terms of that backline in 2010, though…
          June, we split a series with England at home.
          NZ, we scored some points in Melbourne in the second half after they switched off. That was the game where Mitchell copped a RC for throwing the ball away over the sideline. In Christchurch, our only try was a long range effort from Beale.
          Both teams scored plenty of points in SA, the 3rd and 4th Bledisloe Tests were both in the 20’s each team, we lost again to England in November.
          For the full season, we averaged 29.3 points per test. But if you take out the first and last tests – Fiji and France – we get a truer indication of the season. 25.5 points per game.

          By contrast, the 2017 Wallabies – hardly the paragon of success, given we lost to New Zealand twice, Scotland twice, England once, and were run far too close by Italy at home (as well as drawing both games against a team touted as the worst ever Bokke team), a team that won 50% of all games, scored an average of 31 points per game across 14 Tests.

          Even if we look at the entire Cheika tenure, we’re looking at an average of……… 25.5 points per game.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          But you have to compare who we were playing against.

          Also saying ‘both teams scored plenty of tries in South Africa’ doesn’t change the fact that we secored almost 40 points two weeks in a row against the Boks altitude.

          I thought think it was 4 tries in the HK Bledisloe.

          From our South African tour, we scored plenty of points and our backline looked good.

        • Who?

          Against the Bokke, we scored 72-83 across the two weeks. 31 the first week, 41 the next (Bloemfontein, the ‘Gilbert’ test). 4 tries the first week, 5 the second. We scored 30 against the Bokke in Brissie, too. 2 tries, lots of penalties.
          The HK Bled, we scored 26, yes, four tries. 22 in the previous Bledisloe, only two tries.
          We actually kicked a lot of penalties in 2010. A surprising number. It’s weird, looking at how we’ve played the last few years, to look back and find it not uncommon to have mid 20 points or more and have only two tries, with between 4 and 7 penalties kicked in a game.
          We were definitely a better team in 2010 than 2009, but I don’t credit the coach with that as much as the players. We’re talking about backlines that were built around JOC in his pomp, Beale at his best (Deans got him fit, moved him to 15, and Beale played a cracker against Wales, butchered arguably the best individual try of all time by dropping the ball over the line, and was nominated for IRB PotY), Giteau still in good form, Cooper building, and Barnes at his peak (before the head knocks had too great an affect), steadying the ship with AAC, Mitchell and Horne. With Genia consistently at 9.
          You’ve specifically mentioned the High Veldt Saffa games, the backline was:
          Genia – Cooper – Mitchell – Giteau – AAC – JOC – Beale.
          Clearly one of the smartest backlines we’ve played since 2007. Everyone (somehow!) basically in position (apart, I’d argue, from JOC, but he wasn’t out of position, he just wasn’t in his final position of 12). Even Giteau at 12. So I don’t know that I’d credit Deans’ coaching for those performances, especially since those players didn’t consistently stay in those positions through the RWC, and given he’d arrived at that after having admitting he regularly just picked his best six backs, and then tried to figure out which jerseys best fitted.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Nah, I don’t think that’s fair. We can’t condemn coaches when the team plays poorly and fail to give credit when the team does well.

          The fact is that Deans picked backline that were cohesive, fast, skilful and scored a lot of points. He found the best way use all of our best backs, and played them all in their best positions.

          And this was without Ioane.

          We could just as easily say ‘the wallaby backline only looked good on 2013 as Link picked players in their right positions’. But that wouldn’t be fair to say.

        • Who?

          If it was consistent, I’d give him more credit. But out of 55 or so Tests in charge, he picked a great backline (i.e. best players available in their best positions) for less than 20% of them (being generous). When you’re talking about him finding a magical combination with the players he had available to him in less than 20% of Tests coached, you’re talking about odds that monkeys or random team generators could pick.
          Deans took two full seasons to realize that Giteau wasn’t best used at 10. And even then, he continued to play him there on occasion (against NZ in 2010, against Samoa in 2011). He burned Gits, he burned Berrick, he burned Quade, he burned Beale at 10, he burned JOC at 10… Mostly after 2010 (though he’d already started burning off Gits and Berrick by 2010). If you have the ‘magic formula’ and don’t recognize it, completely changing your game play (as he did in 2011), then it’s very questionable whether or not you’re a good coach. Fair enough to move ahead of the curve the way the ABs do, but they don’t do that by picking players who aren’t ready in positions they don’t know. They also don’t do it in RWC years. They do it behind the scenes, adding skills, changing emphasis in drills, to be ready to pull something out in game situations.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          I think you’re talking about something different though.

          I don’t deny he didn’t coach 10s well and burned many, and that his game style was too defensive. But in both 2008 and 2010 our backline looked good. I also think you exaggerate How poorly it looked during the 2011 tri nations.

          We actually forget that Gits was fantastic at 10 in 2008. Afterwards, he was very poor. But he didn’t really improve when shifted back to 12. Didn’t really play any very good tests after 2008.

          I don’t remember Gits ever having a good test in any position when Mortlock wasn’t playing outside him.

        • Who?

          Gits didn’t have Snorky outside him in 2010, and his game at 12 against SA in 2011 was exceptional.
          2008, we looked ok for a bit, until Barnes was injured. Then he went to a game plan that placed Tahu or Mortlock at 12, and Gits was completely burned by that. We had no secondary playmaker, Gits couldn’t run the ball (because there was no one he trusted to run the next phase), we lost all edge to our attack.
          But I credit the hangover of the Connolly era for that attack in the early days. It takes time to dismantle and rebuild systems, and that was clear by the fact we could defend the ABs early in 2008, then we let in 53 points in SA. Because we still had Muggles’ defensive style dominating thinking in the early games, and by SA, we were transitioning to the Deans style, and were stuck in two minds as to how to operate. That’s ok, Deans’ style eventually clicked, and was pretty well as good as Muggles’ style (which had clearly been the best in the world for a decade).
          You could see the same when Link took control, and when Cheika took control. Link used lots of new players, which helped quicken the transition, and by the EOYT, we were looking pretty good. Next TRC (2014), we couldn’t quite get it done, but Heyneke had the Boks going well, and the ABs, well, they’re the ABs. Cheika took control, simplified everything immediately (which left the team short of implementing his style, but also not having the specific focus required for each game to play Link’s style), had a terrible EOYT (with the team in total disarray), and in 2015, having installed more of his own players, his style took hold.
          The 2011 3N’s? I’m focusing on the win over the ABs. Everyone talked us up after that. But our backline barely fired a shot – the majority of that win came from the efforts of our pack, guided in attack by Genia, but particularly Pocock and Vickerman. Vickerman clearly hadn’t played under Deans before – Deans had instilled a mentality of avoiding entering rucks if there wasn’t a clear chance of turning over the ball. Fair enough! Vickerman didn’t have that mentality. He just wanted to go in there and cause trouble. He was incredibly physical. I’d been sceptical of playing him, given his history of injury and his lack of match fitness. Ultimately, I was right, given he was injured. But what he delivered… Wow.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          If you go back and watch the 2010 games, or read reviews, you’ll notice that he didn’t really do anything. He was just sort of there. I think you’re definitely looking back at him with rose tinted glasses.

          I last watched that 2011 match vs South Africa a few years ago, but I think you’re remembering things with rose tinted glasses there too. Even most Brumbies supporters thought he deserved to be dropped from the World Cup squad – because he hadn’t played a good match in gold for a long, long time. Perhaps he had that single good one, but no others I’m sure.

          Plenty of coaches can ruin things almost immediately, and with the exception of that drubbing at altitude, we played well in 08. We beat SA in SA the week before – you’re not seriously suggesting that Deans implemented his changes – and the defence collapsed in terms of quality – in one week, while on tour, towards the end of the tri nations?

          The backline worked fine with Mortlock at 12. Aside from a loss to Wales, we beat England and generally played well. And Wales were good that year.

          The lack of a second playmaker wasn’t a huge issue at that point I don’t think. We had a second one in 2009, and the team was rubbish.

        • Who?

          I don’t have the 2010 games anymore… Seem to have deleted them. I’m confident he did more in those games than he did in the 2015 RWC!
          I actually think it takes time to change things. I don’t think many coaches can immediately ruin things – it takes time. Especially when you’ve got players in key positions who were under the old regime. Because combinations remain, and it takes time to change those patterns.
          I’m not saying that Deans implemented his defensive structure changes that week, far from it. But he’d have been working on it each week, and that week, whilst parts were working fine, the Bokke found the chinks they’d missed the week before, areas of the defence that hadn’t yet been tested and bedded down. I don’t believe we had another score like that against us again, except against the ABs, who could do that to anyone. Deans didn’t concede over 50 again, only conceded 40+ again 3 times (Bokke and ABs 2010, Lions), rarely conceded above 30 (England, France, SA, NZ… Samoa!!!).
          I completely disagree about Giteau without a second playmaker in 2008, though. He looked scared to take on the line. He knew that if he didn’t cut out Mortlock at 12, that’s where the ball would stay. Mitchell or AAC wasn’t going to inject himself and distribute from 15. The other guys who started in that EOYT squad were all runners, all ball hogs (Tahu, Mortlock, Cross, AAC, Ioane, Turner, Mitchell, Peter Hynes). The only ball players on that tour were on the bench (JOC, Cooper – though he replaced Snorky very early against Wales).
          Without a playmaking lieutenant, Giteau was scared to take on the line, and his best play was always when he was using his feet (like Beale).
          Quade was said to have ‘saved’ Australia by scoring against Italy, Burgess played the 80 and JOC stayed on the bench. None of the backs replacements were used in London (Cordingley, Cooper, Ioane). The best balanced backlines that tour were arguably the ones against Wales (after Mortlock went off in the second minute) and the Barbarians (Cooper at 10, JOC at 15), in that they had a secondary playmaker (not a second playmaker, a secondary playmaker). They were just very, very green.
          And when I say second playmaker, I don’t mean co-chiefs, I mean general and lieutenant, as Giteau was to Larkham. Someone who can step in when required, but will mostly just be a loyal soldier for the playmaker.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          I agree he didn’t do a whole lot in 2015! He actually threw a fantastic pass for Quade for us to score the second try (I think) in the second test. The two tests against South Africa from 2010 are on youtube. They’re great watches. The backline plays beautifully, in a way they haven’t really before or since, aside from the 2013 spring tour.

          Well, we can agree to disagree on whether the backline worked well on the spring tour. But overall I think 08 was a fairly successful year, and the team looked good. 2009 was dire, but I think that was more due to the fact that Giteau’s powers declined so much after 08, and then we didn’t have a 10 until 2010, when the team played well (and they did well in the tri nations in 2011, with the possible exception of that All Blacks test).

          Overall, Deans’ defence was pretty good almost every year that he was in charge, with the exception of 2010. Even in 09 it was decent, the rest of the team was just rubbish that year, which Deans has to own.

        • Singapore Sling

          Quade was also out for the the majority of 2014 after his shoulder reconstruction in May of that year.

        • Hoss

          Great read – very balanced.

        • Singapore Sling

          I tend to agree but I’m curious as to the general template of their playing contracts. If super clubs and RA want to run a tight ship you would think all that’s required to terminate a contract is one failed drug test.

          Is the current terminology vague enough to provide wiggle room for players that “may” fail a test and RA are afraid to lose?

          Slipper’s an interesting case. He failed his first drug test which was held in confidence at RA until a second test confirmed his transgression. He then reportedly came forward with his mental health issues and was using cocaine to self medicate. Is it fair to take a hard line with a situation like this…..I’m not sure?

        • AllyOz

          I am not sure either but once you have dismissed one person for it then can you not dismiss another? They are all good points you raise.

          I am trying to work out what happened between Wendell Sailor testing positive 10 years ago and getting a 2 year ban and Hunt and Slipper have significantly less. I am not expressing a view on the use of drugs necessarily (though I don’t support it) but more on the consistency of the rules.

          I think Hunt has also had treatment or counselling for mental health issues since the second conviction.

          However, in my workplace there is random testing and a positive test is instant dismissal as per the site arrangements – but most of our blokes can’t play rugby very well :)

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          I think there’s a fundamental difference between the evidence of longterm behaviour issues of Hunt (especially after he was given a second chance) and someone going through acute and severe depression.

        • Singapore Sling

          We must be in similar industries. To be fair the consequences of operating technical equipment in the middle of the ocean while under the influence of illegal substances is a bit different to playing rugby.

          Either way if the contracts were clear and punitive then there’s no way out, you enter the contract informed with your eyes open.

          I suspect RUPA have become involved in players rights. I’m not even sure if players are subjected to regular or random drug testing. I suppose the policy might be on the RA web site.

        • Dally M

          Wendell tested positive on game day which fell into the performance enhancing category.

        • Who?

          Exactly. Dell’s penalty was a WADA penalty for performance enhancing drugs, on an in-competition test. Slipper’s tests were out of competition (whilst rehabbing) by RA. So Slipper was subject to RA’s drug policies, whilst Sailor was in WADA’s regime.
          And, of course, Hunt’s issues were criminal. His second conviction wasn’t major, it was ‘only’ possession of Xanax. The cocaine charges were dropped. He didn’t test positive to any form of drugs. His employment issues were more about bringing the game into disrepute.
          I don’t disagree that it’s inconsistent, but it’s clearly something created by the multiple jurisdictions professional Rugby players fall under. It’s similar to the NRL’s current debacle (current, because, beyond the game, there’s always some form of problem with the NRL), where players are charged with offences and are being banned from the game during the period between being charged and being tried. They are out on bail in the criminal system, but they have been legal to continue in their employed profession, just like anyone else. However, that hurts the game, as you’ve got accused criminals on the field. The better solution is to have them away from the game, being paid, as per the described NRL solution. The problem is they’ve tried to overcomplicate things, saying they’re on a ‘no fault’ stand down. The smarter thing would be to charge said players with bringing the game into disrepute, and have them effectively ‘on remand’ until such time as that NRL judicial case can be processed, which is after the criminal case is finalized (proceeding before that point can be seen as prejudicing the criminal case). Innocent people accused of crimes can be retained on remand until the completion of cases that have lower sentences than their final sentences might’ve been. And if they’re found guilty, the remand period can count towards their sentence. The same could be applied to the NRL.
          All I can say is that I hope we never have need for the same system in Rugby…

        • disqus_NMX

          If the Reds had “little choice other than to let them go”, then how come it was ok for the Tahs and Brumbies to sign them??? They had plenty of choice, Thorn chose no.

        • AllyOz

          They didn’t take cocaine while at NSW or the Brumbies. Do you think if Hunt tests positive at the Waratahs he will still be playing a week later? They would have probably written something into his contract at the Reds about a second offence and its certainly in his Waratahs contract as Gibson mentioned it. In any case, I agree with what Thorn has done. It sends a strong message to younger players, sponsors, parents and the rest of the team.

        • Hoss

          Baton down the hatches….

        • Who?

          With regards to Hunt and Slipper, I absolutely get where you’re coming from, and I see Thorn’s logic. However, I can also see a negative to it. Because it encourages a culture of silence, of supressing emotion, failing to discuss issues, for fear of judgment. I’d be amazed if that’s what Thorn’s after, but it’s quite possible that will be the outcome.
          Last week, we discussed on here how some kids won’t advise when they’ve had a head knock, because they don’t want to miss 3 weeks of Rugby. Even though they’re risking their own future.
          Ultimately, I think the choice to remove the players was correct, and the choice to retain them – with strict monitoring and mentoring – would’ve been equally correct. The real question is about balance of the confidence of the staff to help the players, the value those players bring on the field, and team culture. That’s what Thorn weighed up. Did he make the right call? Well, on field results don’t give those answers. There’s no guarantee the players could have been rehabilitated and mentored at the Reds to the required level. We’ll never know.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          And now let’s apply personal judgement on Thorn (as in Hunts drugs). Remember his disgusting treatment of Quade, a fellow Qld great?…..Its certainly a different thing but still shows insight into a person’s mental persona. Also not many others would Choose to stick their foot out and Trip Quade Cooper in a grand final game either like Thorn did either!
          And to sum it up Thorns actions with Quade can never be explained away to simply a coaches discussion. If anyone is doing that you are ignoring the details to the timing and way the situation was handled. The worst treatment of an Australian player in history! BRad Thorn!

        • Adrian

          Hear hear Reds

        • Adrian

          My totally unsubstantiated view it that BT hates people who are like the smaller kids at school who used to tease him.

          Apart from QC, it extends to Genia, who I think wasn’t picked up by Qld when he came home, because BT persuaded them not to. This was 6 months before BT got the coaching gig, but he was already on a wink and a nod

        • AllyOz

          SARCASM ON: That’s a unique perspective…I have never heard you or any others here express it like that before. You have convinced me. SARCASM OFF

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          I actually can see BT doing it to try and improve the culture. I’m not saying that he’s done things right or that I agree with everything he does but in both the ABs and Crusaders he was inculcated into an environment where culture overoad ability and where working for the team was more important than working for oneself. While I think QC is a good player and a really good guy, he hasn’t ever demonstrated that the team is bigger than him. I’m not sure his latest twitter helps his case either

        • Andrew H

          Has your view changed after seeing QC pour himself into club rugby last year?

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          It actually changed earlier than that. O e of my mates met him at an airport with her kids and apparently he was awesome with them, I then started watching him a bit more off the ball and saw how he lifted the others around him. I guess I stopped focusing on the bad and looked for the good and found it

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Personally, I think Quade’s barbs at Thorn have been fairly low key.

          Most of his teammates at the Rebels and guys Ike Pocock who know him from the Wallabies have been out praising him. I see little evidence to suggest he isn’t a team player. And his play for South last year backs this up.

    • Andrew H

      Did the Tahs deserve the win or did the Reds deserve the loss?
      Crusaders were scary good, they look like they are just doing it easy and it makes you wonder, who’s gonna stop them?
      Agree on the sevens, I wonder if and when we’ll see a flow-on effect to 15s at all?

  • Keith Butler

    Last time I looked NRL don’t have proper scrums, rucks, mauls or lineouts so the impact on the turf will not be as great. Not a groundskeeper but how you can you relay turf and expect it to bind to subsoil in less than a week is beyond me. Same problem at AAMI stadium a few seasons ago and they had to dig the whole lot up and start again.

    • Hoss

      KB,KB,KB, oh the humanity

      If your going to perform a sexual assault, spousal abuse or group ‘love in’ you’d want secure footing as a vey minimum.

      Come on, give the poor guys a break.

    • Andrew H

      No, it won’t have the same impact, but it’s another week of use and all the associated traffic across it. With the different alignment I wonder where the benches will be set up and what impact that may have on the 22 area for the rugby?

  • Mart

    Just quietly good to see Ned Hannigan have a dominant game

  • AllyOz

    I make this comment without the benefit of having seen the game (only listened on radio), but does it count for something that the Reds and the Tahs both scored the same number of tries. Obviously, the Reds had 70% of possession overall and should have converted more of that possession into points but, despite being very limited in attack they still managed three tries. The difference in the end came down to the accuracy of the kicking both in play and for goal (and that was also a big difference the week before) .

    • disqus_NMX

      If a team wins by scoring more penalty goals, but not more tries, is it because they aren’t good enough to score more tries, or because when they get close to scoring a try, the other team breaks the rules preventing a try?

      • AllyOz

        a good question. I tried to find the number of penalty shots that Hegarty missed, I know it was at least one but I thought it was 2/3. The difference though was not how many were conceded but how many were kicked. Hegarty had one successful attempt against 6 from Foley.

  • Will

    Was at the game with my Tahs jersey on sat getting behind the boys. I found it hard to see most of the time with the game being played so far from the stands (rugby being played on a cricket oval) I think that also affected the crowds ability to get into the game as well from an atmosphere point of view.

    I know Allianz is being redeveloped but some of the smaller ovals around Sydney would be better to host the Tahs from a spectator point of view.

    • Who?

      Crowd figures for Brooky compared to the SCG indicate that, too. Brooky had 2k more attendees!

      • Singapore Sling

        It’d be hard for Moore park to fill the mungo coffers twice in one year. When’s Parramatta stadium ready? I hope Its allocated a few good rugby matches.

    • disqus_NMX

      Yeah that’s shit. I saw the Wallabies at Subiaco oval back in the day… it’s hopeless. I spent most of the game watching it on the big screen. Never again will I go to a game on an oval ground.

    • AllyOz

      I think they have a couple at the new Parramatta stadium. That should be good capacity wise and the correct shape.

  • AllyOz

    some of his spelling makes for interesting reading:
    “auction speaks louder than words” or is he trying to be cryptic?

    • Greg

      I think it is just a kiwi iccunt (that’s accent before anyone gets clever)

      • Who?

        Or the quality of education you get from a Qld GPS affiliate. :-P

      • Hoss

        is that 8th word latin ? Ive been called it a few times, but the perpetrators have obviously pronounced it wrong.

        Note – letter to grandparents – check your pronunciation when yelling at me.

        I mean i have heard of ‘I Caesar’ before, but ‘I Karmichael’ – doesn’t resonate.

  • A Dingo Stole My Rugby

    I watched three games in a row on Saturday, and I want my time refunded.

    The Crusaders were just stunning – playing a mixture of structured and ad-lib rugby at fearsome pace, with outstanding skill, and really, really good decision-making by forwards and backs.

    The other five teams I saw were just pathetic. Error upon error upon error, upon dumb rugby and rubbish defence, both in technique and attitude.

    I thought the Sunwolves, crap as they were,. could feel a bit unfortunate, thanks in no small part to Mike “I can find a penalty” Fraser. One of the most inconsistent refereeing performances I’ve seen in a long time.

    And just a final, general thought – could someone in authority tell me exactly why there is seemingly zero enforcement of players failing to retain their feet when entering breakdowns, and clearing out players well past the ruck?

    • Singapore Sling

      Diving over the ruck is a blight on the game. Very frustrating.

    • Who?

      “could someone in authority tell me exactly why there is seemingly zero enforcement of players failing to retain their feet when entering breakdowns, and clearing out players well past the ruck?”
      I had a long discussion about this with Nick Bishop last week. He says that players are being coached to enter the breakdown with their shoulders barely above the ground, and then regain their feet. I said this is illegal, he said refs have enough to worry about. I disagree… We’ve seen penalties in the past for sealing off, there’s no reason why it couldn’t be a focus for WR.
      It’s a farce. It’s also less safe – we should be looking to give a more upright ruck contest. If we have such a low ruck contest (or, more accurately, regularly non-contest), then we have a smaller target zone. And if the target zone is smaller, and the head and shoulders are ever lower, then there’s no other possible outcome other than the head and shoulders being more likely to take that contact.

      • Singapore Sling

        The attacking side is given a license to dive from some refs. I have visions of black lemmings diving one after another.

        • A Dingo Stole My Rugby

          Oh, don’t let me start banging on about the “spear tackle” clean-outs that have become rampant. If you can’t lift a bloke past the 180 when you tackle him, why is this highly-dangerous thing being largely ignored at ruck time? Jeez, I need some happy pills.

        • Keith Butler

          You’re on a roll a Dingo and dead right.

    • Keith Butler

      I have been banging on about about the refereeing of the ruck for ages – you can add side entry and not supporting body weight to the list of misdemeanours. Refs should start showing some balls and hand out penalties and yellow cards but they won’t because they’ll get a reputation for being too pedantic and not letting the game flow.

      • Who?

        And that’s why it needs to be a WR directive. Which is why I’ve looked at the issues around low cleanouts and the danger to the head. It gives license to WR to do something, given the concern about concussion in sport.
        But I don’t have a means of raising this concern, so it just means we’ll continue to see dangerous play that kills our game.

        • Keith Butler

          Too true.

    • Andrew H

      I did see a penalty for clearing out beyond the ruck, I can’t recall who committed the offence but Foley was the victim.

      • Who?

        I also saw a few examples where way worse was allowed. The ruck before Beale dropped the ball over the line, take a look at how well Simmons gets away with blocking 3 Reds beyond the ruck. That’s in the first five minutes – way worse than what cost the Reds a try last week.
        If it were consistently policed, no one would complain…

        • Andrew H

          Hear hear! Consistency is all we ask.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    I think you’re right mate. I think at times there has been a completion to see who can make the most mistakes more than who can win and we’ll see how that pans out once they all play against some of the more fancied opposition. TBF I do see a lot of improvements in each team and I hope it continues.

  • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

    Personally, if Pocock and Ala’alatoa are playing I don’t think the Tahs will be favourites in Canberra. In Sydney, yep.

    • Adrian

      I was just talking about favouritism with Bookmakers DBTB. You could be right.

  • Who?

    Looking for his response, so many other players onboard… Perese, JJ Tuilagi, Karmichael Hunt, Chris Walker (former Leaguie, now coach), Sam Greene (former Qld Country NRC 10), Freddie Michalak (French 10), Heath Tessman, Courtnall Skosan… It’s wide ranging.
    Agree that it might not have been a smart move for Duncan, though! He might be leaving at the end of the year, and Petaia’s out for the duration of the Super season, but Brad could always slot Kerevi in at 12 and CFS in at 13, with Daugunu coming onto the wing!

Rugby

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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