Monday's Rugby News - Green and Gold Rugby
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Monday’s Rugby News

Monday’s Rugby News

Monday’s Rugby News recaps the Super Rugby final along with club rugby across the country, outlines the plans for an injured Wallabies return and an interesting job advertisement has been posted over the weekend.


Three-peat

Crusaders captain Sam Whitelock can afford a smile after achieving a three-peat

Crusaders captain Sam Whitelock can afford a smile after achieving a three-peat

The Crusaders have added to their claim of being one of the greatest professional clubs in 21st-century sport, securing their 10th Super Rugby title with a 19-3 win over the Jaguares.

Cold and slippery conditions in Christchurch ensured a low-scoring contest (lowest in competition’s history), with just one try scored during the 80-minute slugfest.

Initally, the Jaguares did not appear to be fazed by the pressure of being in their first final with Joaquin Diaz Bonilla opening the scoring through a penalty, which reflected their dominance over the defending champions in the opening twenty minutes.

However, their lack of execution came back to haunt them when Crusaders hooker Codie Taylor crashed over after brilliant work from Matt Todd to win a turnover, which opened the Jaguares up for Sam Whitelock to burst threw to find Taylor for the opening try.

Richie Mo’unga would convert the try, along with adding a penalty right on half-time to give the Crusaders a 10-3 half time lead.

The Jaguares would have ample opportunities to hit back in the minutes before and after the break, with Matias Moroni twice finding space down the sideline.

However, the Crusaders cover defence would hold strong with David Havili and Jack Goodhue shutting down any hopes of an equalising try in two separate occassions.

This would sum up the second half as the Jaguares would continue to pepper the Crusaders goal-line only to be stopped like a teenager trying to get into a Sydney club after 12 am.

The Crusaders would cruise home in the end, with Mo’unga kicking three extra penalty goals to secure their third title in as many years and their 10th in the competition.

“I get a little bit emotional talking about it. Look, I’ve got a championship-winning team here, I’m not going to say I haven’t,” coach Scott Robertson said when reflecting on what the team had just achieved.

“I’ve got a great group, I’ve got a lot of All Blacks, I’ve got a lot of guys that are world-class and my role is to get the best out of them and carry this on for as long as we can.”

Match Result

Crusaders 19
Tries: Taylor
Cons: Mo’unga (1/1)
Pens: Mo’unga (4/4)

Jaguares 3
Pens: Diaz Bonilla (1/1)

Rugby Wrap Up

Andrew Boyce scores a try vs Parramatta (Image Credit - Gordon Highlanders Rugby Club)

Andrew Boyce scores a try vs Parramatta (Image Credit – Gordon Highlanders Rugby Club)

We start in Queensland for round 15 of the Hospital Challenge Cup where Bond Uni dented the finals hopes of Souths, securing a 48-31 win. Other results from the round saw Easts hold off Wests 24-22, Queensland Uni has survived a scare against Sunnybank, scraping together a 22-19 win and finally, GPS has defeated a valiant Norths 21-16.

Moving down the eastern seaboard for the Shute Shield, Gordon have secured their position in the top 6, crushing West Harbour 46-12, Eastwood halted Manly’s momentum with a 40-26 win, Sydney Uni have cruised to a 38-7 victory over Western Sydney, Southern Districts outgunned Randwick 34-19 and in the upset of the round, Norths have downed ladder leaders Warringah 25-10 to end their 10 games winning streak.

In the nation’s capital’s John I Dent Cup, Royals outclassed Queanbeyan 23-14, Vikings destroyed Easts spirit 66-5 and Gungahlin held off Uni Norths 26-21 in a sloper-knocker of a contest.

In the Dewar Shield, round 10 saw Melbourne continue their dominance over Melbourne Uni with a 38-12 win, Powerhouse held off a spirited Endeavour Hills 31-21, Box Hill dominated Foorscary 67-17 and finally, Moorabbin knocked off third place Harlequins 5-0 in a scrappy performance.

Round 10 of the Coopers Premier had Burnside pull off a statement performance with a 71-5 win over Southern Suburbs, Woodville defeat Adelaide Uni 36-24, Barossa held off Elizabeth in the battle of the cellar-dwellers, Onkaparinga outgunned Port Adelaide 76-35 and Brighton maintained top spot, defeating Old Collegians 33-19.

Finally, the Fortescue Premier has begun its first week of their five-round finals split into the Premiership (top 6) and Championship (bottom 8).

In the Premiership division, Wests dominated Wanneroo 55-15, Nedlands held off UWA 28-10 and Cottesloe outclassed Associates 31-21. The Championship division saw Coastal dictate play against Curtin Uni with a 59-3 win, Joondalup was too strong for Bayswater 38-17, Palmyra outgunned Kalamunda 62-24 and finally ARKS cruise to a 52-38 victory over Southern Lions.

Jumping Jordan raring to return

Jordan Petaia QLD Country v Melbourne Rising (Photo courtesy Rugby Australia)

Reds young gun Jordan Petaia is set to press his claims for the World Cup with plans for his comeback via club rugby in the next two weeks set in stone.

Petaia has been involved with the Wallabies in their past two training camps, indicating that his recovery from a ruptured lisfranc’s ligament in his foot was nearly complete.

This has been confirmed by Wallabies coach Michael Cheika, who revealed that Petaia was ahead of schedule and was pressing for him to get back his match fitness through club rugby for Wests (Queensland).

His return to full training was confirmed on Thursday, where he took part in the Wallabies four-on-four attacking drills in Brisbane, with the 19-year-old upbeat about his return to rugby.

“The docs will let me know that but it feels good to be training again and not have any issues when I finish a session,” said Petaia, with an ice pack on his left foot.

At this stage, the plan for Petaia is to return via his club side Wests against Souths on July 20, the same day that the Wallabies will face South Africa in Johannesburg.

If all goes to plan, he would then be rushed into the wider squad when the Wallabies fly back to Brisbane for the test against Argentina on July 27.

This squad is also expected to include James O’Connor, who impressed selectors with a “super-sharp” audition as an invitee for two days of the Wallabies camp.

O’Connor is expected to formally announce his signing with the Reds over the next week, with the controversy-ridden back expected to agree to special behavioural clauses in his contract.

He expressed his gratitude for his return through social media stating “Honoured to have been part of the Wallabies camp this week. Cannot express how grateful I was to put the training shirt back on. To everyone who has supported my journey, thank you.”

Position Vacant

Curtis Rona

Curtis Rona

Have you ever sat and watched Super Rugby and thought “What are they doing, even I could coach these guys to the finals?”

Do you want the chance to coach with the full knowledge that pretty much everyone in your squad will eventually play for the Wallabies in the next 2-4 years?

Well, the Waratahs are looking for YOU.

In their quest to find their next Super Rugby head coach, the Waratahs have opened up the position to the general public, advertising the vacant job via the Sportspeople website.

“The Waratahs are looking for a Head Coach, who will report to the General Manager, Professional Rugby,” the advertisement states.

“The Head Coach will be responsible for the recruitment, selection and coaching of a team to a standard of excellence, achieving the vision of the organisation having sustainable success on the field, enhancing the reputation of NSW Waratahs Rugby.”

The position has become available after the sudden departure of Daryl Gibson, who resigned from the position last month after failing to lead the Waratahs to the finals for the third time since taking over from current Wallabies coach Michael Cheika.

It has left the club in the awkward position of having to openly advertise the spot, with their expected heir Simon Cron already committed to the head coaching role at Japanese Top League club Toyota Verblitz.

Whilst many have speculated that England’s Australian-born attack coach Scott Wisemantel was the front runner for the position, the sudden advertisement of the role appears to have muddied any plans of his return to Australian rugby.

The advertisement for the position closes on July 24th with the club stating that they are looking for individuals with 3+ years of Super Rugby/equivalent competitions experience as a head coach with a proven record of performance in the position.

This may bring to end my time here as when they get a look at my resume and see the transformation that I made coaching the Waratahs on Rugby 08, the position won’t be available for much longer.

  • From NooZealand

    Just to say: Good morning all and looking forward to the Pumas-AB’s tango and the Wallabies test in South Africa. In case you wonder, I am still smiling. Saludos.

  • Max Graham

    So, by midway through the RC we might have Petaia and JOC on the wings? Although some here will be crying out for Hodge or another of their favourite journeymen, in my opinion, these two would be the best pair for the wing since…… whenever Tune/Roff last played. Outside of Kerevi and TK too! That is a ridiculously talented, smart, hardworking backline. Foley just needs to stay straight and pass it – he can do that I reckon. In fact, it suits him to the ground. Beale or hopefully Banks should just follow up the big units and feed off their offloads. We’ve got the cattle to do well with a very simple game plan.
    And while I’m at it, the pack looks great! If Pocock and Samu get the legs right we are swimming in it. All of the props and locks selected are in form – those bagging Robbo and Simmons are just clueless and should be ignored or punched in the kidneys.
    This could be the best squad that we’ve had since Eddie started blowing the bank on league stars. Not a Hanigan or Phipps in sight. No Pek Cowans or Julian Huxleys. I am bloody excited. You kill joys can play my skin flute. 17-1?? That’s my ticket!!

    • Geoffro

      Agree Hodge and happy for Simmons to warm the bench but dont see Robbo in the gameday 23.Even though I’m a big Mungo Jerry fan I’ll decline the flute offer.

      • Max Graham

        Agree about Robbo, but there is likely an injury or two and he’ll do well if he gets called up.

        • Geoffro

          Fair enough.We’re pretty farked if we lose a lock or two to injury though

        • Max Graham

          Aren’t most teams? If we lose two locks we will still be able to start with a pair as good or better than any we’ve taken to a RWC since 1999.

        • Geoffro

          Vickerman,Sharpe,Harrison,Horwill even Mumm were all pretty handy post 1999 and up there with the current crop.Where we’re more blessed than the years since 99 is with our prop stocks I reckon

        • Who?

          Yeah, 2011 was a pretty decent year for locking stocks (Kev, Vicks, Sharpie, think Simmo was the 4th). 2015 we might’ve been thinner – we called back an unproven lock from Ireland who only played 2 games in Gold worthy of the acclaim he was given (both after being called back, one of them the final, until he did his knee). 07 might’ve been thin (we used Chisholm), 03 would’ve been ok……

        • Max Graham

          Sharpe couldn’t make this squad. No chance he’s better than Arnold, Simmons, Rodda or LSL. He’d be battling with Coleman, who’s out form. Vickerman fit certainly would. Dean Mumm? GTFO! He wouldn’t make soup teams let alone this squad. Horwill pre injury certainly would, but that guy only went to one RWC and was paired with Sharpe (Vickerman had quit to hit the books).

        • Geoffro

          well over a hundred tests , a few Eales medals and three world cups including a final and you reckon Sharpie wouldnt have made Cheikas all conquering squad ??

        • Max Graham

          Nope. I don’t think he would.

        • Max Graham

          I guess I shouldn’t suggest Al Baxter wouldn’t make the squad either, eh?
          Sharpe was a fine player, but on his best day I don’t think he’s better than 2019 Rodda or Simmons. I didn’t say anything about Coleman – he won’t make the squad either.

        • Geoffro

          Al Baxter ??? geez , we’re truly lucky we have to have some decent props these days.No,he would be nowhere near these guys.

        • Max Graham

          Of course he wouldn’t. As you say, we have good props these days. We’ve got good locks too

    • Custard Taht

      Good news for you, I am really handy with tweezers and a magnifying glass. I can find ticks in my dogs hair, so finding a nub in your bush shouldn’t be a problem.

    • Missing Link

      You’re saying that you want JOC on the wing and then proceed to call Hodge a “journeyman”. Hodge might not be the best winger in test Rugby but he’s certainly not a journeyman. despite not being from Melbourne, he has stuck by the Rebels and Aussie Rugby, whereas O’Connor hasn’t. Agree that JOC needs to be seriously looked at again and with the rest of your post though.

      • Max Graham

        You’re right. Hodge isn’t a journeyman. He’s just not very good and resembles someone that would bumble around looking for a club.

    • Greg

      “Foley just needs to stay straight and pass it – he can do that I reckon.”

      He crabs and takes space. I wish him all the best but track record says we are more likely to disappointed rather than less.

      I would like to see Cooper behind a solid pack with flat passing and that backline…. just give him a go. What is there to lose. We know what we have with Foley.

      That said…. it’s not going to happen.

      • Max Graham

        I’m not in any way a fan of Foley, but if you honestly think he crabs across field, we are watching a different game.

    • idiot savant

      Shame about the coaches…

  • Geoffro

    Candidates with 3+ years of Super rugby level (or equivalent) experience that are available is not exactly the general public and leaves a fairly narrow field especially if you’re talking head coaches

    • Max Graham

      They want Rennie and this is just Plan B. Wouldn’t be surprised if they’ve been approached by agents representing 10+ ‘qualified’ coaches already. Phil Mooney and Ewen McKenzie are two outstanding coaches and they don’t have a club for next year.

      • From NooZealand

        Would like to see Ewen McK again.

        • Yowie

          Same here, but not coaching NSW.

          I respect Link a lot, so that would take me back to having mixed feelings about the Waratahs. That’s too confusing for me.

        • Geoffro

          McKenzie wouldn’t coach any side with Beale in it I reckon

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Thanks Nathan,
    Well the final was about as well as expected. Jags came out pumping, Crusaders absorbed the heat and then applied their own. Both teams defence was outstanding. A great game all round and a deserved final.

    Be good to see if Petaia is able to retain his form and it’d be good to see him back. I hope he doesn’t do a SBW and try too hard and re-injur himself. Be interesting to see how him and JOC fit in. Personally I see them as 12 and 13 for the Reds next year and I hope they aren’t thrown in out of position just to fit them in.

    So advertising for the Waratahs job WTF? I mean it’s not like anyone with the necessary skills and qualifications doesn’t know the job isn’t up for grabs. If they didn’t then you’d really have to question their awareness and whether they should be considered for the job.

    • Geoffro

      A bridge (and a Havili , Mounga and Todd etc) too far for the Jaguares but kudos to them.Pretty tidy backline shaping up for the Reds next year eh.Tahs advertising seems to be just them trying to demonstrate correct business practice

      • Brisneyland Local

        I wonder if the Tah’s advertising is like the Qld Rugby international search. Which only ever seems to go as far as the Reds carpark!

        • Yowie

          Perhaps a sleepy prop will be the next Waratahs coach?

        • Who?

          Prop or hooker? ;-)

        • Yowie
        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Hahahaha love that show

        • Brisneyland Local

          What one that fell asleep at the wheel of his car in the carpark?
          Opppsss! Too soon?

        • Brumby Runner

          Since when, BL, is Anzac Parade in the car park?

        • Brisneyland Local

          I was trying to fit it in with the above theme or Qld only looking as far as their carpark!

    • Got to say, although it was a low scoring final I couldn’t look away for a minute. Until about 10 to go, the result was really up in the air, and if the Saders had buckled under the pressure, the Jags would have been right back in it.

      Kudos, also, to the Jags defence that had the Saders kicking all those penalties and kept them from scoring tries. They didn’t look fazed by the big occasion, they came up unlucky and, oddly, against a side that seemed to want it a bit more. Some of the breaks the Jags made were great, but the last second effort to prevent them being converted into tries was top-notch. If that Jags squad is really going to be strengthened by a few overseas players, I wouldn’t want to be in Pool C and whether they’re the winner or runner up, I wouldn’t want to be the side that from Pool D that plays them in the QF – there are several ways that could be Australia.

      Should we put together a GAGR jobshare application for the Tah’s position?

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Hahaha I’d like to see Hoss, Nutta and a few others contribute to that

  • Patrick

    Surely the ad is a hint that it’ll be a good ol’ boy but they don’t want to look too incestuous…

    • Who?

      They’re the standards they’ve always used for selecting coaches, aren’t they? Because Gibson had three years coaching a Super team, as did Hickey, and Foley……

      • Patrick

        :)

  • I really enjoyed the Super final even though there were no Aussies there this time around. Yes, our Super teams have improved since the rock bottom of last season, but none (IMHO) could have done much with the level of skill shown by the Crusaders or Pumas in that game. Still, there is hope for further improvement next season and I can see my Brumbies bing real contenders for next year and I also see some good decisions being made in the squad announcement for the next lot of Wallabies. Hopefully this marks a return to a competitive side and a good showing at the World Cup.. Happy (to a point) days!

    • Dud Roodt

      Pumas

      Kearnsy, is that you?!

  • Missing Link

    I think I’m a certainty to coach the Waratahs. I’ve experience on multiple platforms, PS1 and PC and have been steering the ship since Jonah Lomu Rugby in 1995. I’m also a certified scrum master, making me an ideal forwards coach.

    Actually jokes aside, I wonder if the Wallabies use/could benefit from using the Agile framework?

    The Super Rugby finals was a fizzer. Well done to the Crusaders, I mean I’d really like to know what’s in the water down there in Canterbury, they got the job done in the final but they weren’t their usual self, I guess they played to the conditions and the opposition, something which a lot of teams simply cannot do. I’d just love to see the Wallabies sign Robinson as their coach before the darkness do… but I can’t see that happening.

    • I think, as you said, they played to the conditions in particular, and they knew they had to knock the stuffing out the Jags desire to run from everywhere so they looked to pile the pressure on which they did.

      But I think too, credit to the Jags. Their defence throughout was strong. They basically lost to a few touches of brilliance strung together for that try, and a huge amount of pressure that meant whenever they did make a mistake, Mo’unga was in a position to kick 3 points. They didn’t give away many penalties, but they were basically all in kickable positions.

      For me, it was really won in the first 20, when the Saders went out and not only absorbed the pressure but applied some of their own. Nothing really came of it, but that steam-roller that the Jags had the week before never got going. After that, dogged determination was there from both sides, but the pressure from the Saders kept the Jags pressed back and desperation defence kept them out at a few critical moments. Job done. It wasn’t certain until the last 10 or so, but those first 20 laid the foundations.

  • Timbo

    Is it just me that thinks the win by the Crusaders, while impressive and not undeserved, is a progressive nail in the coffin of rugby in the Southern Hemisphere? By far the best team in the comp by their work ethic and pushing the boundaries of the laws of the game, but it shows that the competition are in another lower league. If the saders did that to the Pumas, what would they have done to the brumbies? Or the Sharks?
    After the bell on Saturday I turned off with dismay at the game I love in the competition that I watch above any other code. It was a foregone conclusion that the Crusaders would win. I don’t think that’s good for the game especially here in Australia where Rugby is that other game that no media outlet covers.
    It could just be me tho.

    • Missing Link

      I was left underwhelmed. It goes back to any one team dominating a sport takes the shine off.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Only for those whose teams can’t or don’t learn from this and improve

        • Missing Link

          Can’t disagree KRL,burying your head in the sand wont win a title. I think part of the underwhelming feeling came from knowing the Crusaders would win and the other part was the actual game itself. I wanted them to play their normal risk v. reward style, but they ground out a win which only a northern hemisphere rugby fan could be proud of

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Fair enough mate. The game for me was a typical final with teams playing more not to lose than to win. I agree I’d rather have a team play all out to win but as with the Brumbies; winning ugly beats losing any day of the week

        • adastra32

          Given the choice between “chuck it around to lose heroically” and “grind out a win”, I choose the latter. However, that does not mean preference: IME, most fans anywhere want to see tries, all-round commitment, and close matches. This year the English Premiership featured 10 tries and the rest of this wish list…..

      • Max Graham

        I happen to think one team dominating adds aura and interest to a comp. The Crusaders’ dominance isn’t close to what we’ve seen in other, more followed leagues. Dragons won 11 premierships in a row and people didn’t drift off. Similarly look at Man U or Celtic in U.K. football. I personally find the format underwhelming – teams from 4 continents across 70 time zones. Can’t we just have a normal footy comp?

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Maybe the real issue is that the other teams should use the Crusaders as a goal for them to approach and instead of all the self centred approach that goes on they should change and try and be as good

      • Timbo

        Even you can see that the Crusaders are a cut above. No idea why or how and I honestly believe that they just control the ref a thousand times better than any other team and are then able to push the laws of the game. Their ‘flat’ passes from the ruck are untouched by how quick they happen. That, plus the way they turn a tackle into a pilfer without releasing is masterful. No one is going to want to watch soon. especially with the crowing after. Australians can be really sore losers, but the only thing worse than a sore loser, is a sore winner.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          So for me it’s about what systems have they put in that makes them so much better. I agree their recruitment, retention, teamwork, desire and everything else seems so much better but surely it’s more about why and how they got there than “we’ll we can’t do that so we may as well not play”

          I think there’s things to learn rather than things to dismiss and that’s what we should be doing.

        • Timbo

          Whats this we business? You’re not an Aussie yet ;)

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Hahahahaha mate the Wallabies are my No 2 team so I like to think of them as “we” and “us”

        • idiot savant

          The ‘why and how they got there’ is a good point. If you compare the 2 countries, union in Australia is played mostly by children of the wealthy for fun while in NZ its played by all classes to win and in may cases escape poverty. That filters through at every level as players grow up through school and onto post school rugby. We have rarely been able to match kiwis for desperation and intensity. When we do we often win. Look at the way every kiwi treats every tackle as a contest for possession. Thats the mindset we need to change to be more competitive. I think Thorn is trying to work on this at the Reds.

        • AllyOz

          The Hurricanes were literally a TMO missed knock down behind the Crusaders in the semi so I don’t think they are daylight ahead of all the teams. They are exceptional but they could easily could have been beaten and not made the final. That would have seen the ‘canes travel to Argentina and that would have given a big advantage to the Jaguares. Travel must be at least some benefit and home ground advantage as well.

          I can’t put it down to control of refs – the speed and power of that semi-final in NZ was awesome – I had watched the last few games of the Brumbies and thought they were perhaps up to it but after I watched the Canes v Crusaders I thought we were no chance even if we had have made it.

          The best teams have always played to the edge of the laws in any sport (but largely without going over the edge). I personally don’t see the Crusaders and see a team of cheats, I just see an excellent sports team.

        • Yowie

          To that end, as a general rule I think it helps (eg the Wallabies) to have a respected diplomat* as a team captain (rather than a whinger, a mad dog or a cheeky child).

          *Eg a John Eales or David Pocock type whom the referees call “Sir”

        • AllyOz

          Yes I certainly agree with that. I don’t know which one of the three our current captain is. Are you suggesting he fits in all three categories? :)

        • Yowie

          Sh!t-stirring aside, I had Rocky Elsom in mind for “mad dog” and Michael Hooper (along with others) in mind for “whinger / cheeky child”.

          Diplomats arguably include James Slipper, Stephen Moore (with a bit more of the other qualities), James Horwill, Stirling Mortlock & Nathan Sharpe.

          I’m sure plenty of holes can be shot in my seat-of-pants examples above.

        • AllyOz

          I agree that Hooper doesn’t present as well as the others. We have had some good ones in your list. LLF, if he had the 10 spot, might be good too. Pocock would be fine if they are going to used him for most of the game – hookers and props seem to only play 50 minutes max these days so that might be hard.

          Genia might fall into the whinger category?

        • Who?

          Mostly agree on Genia, though it’s not straight whinging. It’s more stroppy/bossy. But TJ’s the same, but worse – he’s gotta take the cake. And he seems to do ok with his interactions with refs these days. It’s an odd one – sometimes the nagging whingers find that line and work it well.

        • AllyOz

          Yes that’s a better description of Genia but if it’s going to be “stroppy/bossy” then you may as well just say he’s a halfback.

      • From NooZealand

        Though a Crusader guy, I think that the Canes and Chiefs (and Highlanders to a point) have have also shown the qualities of the players and the structure(s) in place. I think Timbo clearly shows the Ozzie mentality and I am sorry for that (“I don’t want Kiwi coaches. I don’t want to play like the Crusaders or the ABs“). I would love to see very competitive Australian and Wallabies teams.

        • Timbo

          If I may rephrase. I don’t want Kiwi coaches who make us play a style of rugby that takes us away from our historical style that we know to work especially against the All Blacks

    • Gun

      I pretty much tune out once our teams are gone.

      • Hoss

        What game ?

        • Gun

          I think young Ash won.

    • Brisneyland Local

      Timbo, I share that sentiment to a degree. Have been chatting with a few Kiwi mates. And whilst they are happy that the Saders won. They are also worried about the dominance. But also they are concerned that the Aussie teams just suck. They think that NZ rugby is at its best when they are being pushed hard by the Aussies. And we have been unable to do that for years.
      BL’s solution, transfer a few of their coaches to us at Wallabies and SR rugby level and let them lift us. Have the young aussie coaches be their deputies and learn. Let the players absorb, and learn, then may in two to three years we may be competitive again.
      Do get me started on systems etc etc.

      • Timbo

        I don’t want Kiwi coaches. I don’t want to play like the Crusaders or the ABs. We have a style and it was good enough to get us a few WCs. We’ve fallen away from that style and I think that’s where we need to get back to. Yes the game has moved but there is more than one ways to skin a cat. If there isn’t we may as well pack it all in and let the Mitre Cup be the Super Rugby series.

        • Brisneyland Local

          I think the style has fallen away because we dont have the coaches to coach it. I dont think having a Kiwi coach will make us play like them. I think they will bring structure back to our organisations, From Wallabies through SR, to NRC and club.
          we dont have it and it doesnt work.
          There is not a coach in the SR level that is ready to be Wallabies coach.
          Infact most of the Aus SR coaches are struggling their asses off at SR level.
          We need help so lets get it. continuing to rely on internally sourced shit coaches to coach average players, in a bad structure will only produce more of the same.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          mate the issue isn’t the good or bad level of coaches the issue, as you say is the structure. Until there is a national framework, without QLD and NSW interference, for caches, administrators, players and referees this will always be an issue. Australia have been incredibly lucky for years with some outstanding people who have come in to coach and mentor the wallabies in the amateur era, however I don’t feel the professional era has been accepted by anyone here yet. I’d argue the Players union may have in getting some completely over the top and unjustified salaries but good on them that’s their job. But as far as administration and management of the game here in Australia I see it very much as an amateur organisation that is yet to grasp the professional changes needed to keep and grow the sport.

        • Yowie

          Plus, the types of people who get involved in Rugby admin can trend towards “legends in their own lunch box” in the sense of being higher net worth individuals (eg private school parents, business-owners, etc.) with the personality and ego to match.

          This would be counter-productive to (among other things) the organisation-wide acceptance of the idea that “we haven’t been doing things as well as we could, so we’ll accept these [changes /new people] to make it better”.

        • Brisneyland Local

          100% agree. systems and process and codification of learning are the primacy of a high performing organisation.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Not worried about the dominance at all. As far as I’m concerned it’s up to other teams to try and improve to be better not the Crusaders to be worse so others get a chance. That too me Is just wrong. I mean this isn’t a socialist society

        • Brisneyland Local

          Was talking to another Kiwi mate, and he was worried that dominance would eventually equal complacency.

        • I’m not a Kiwi but I know a few. In other fields, I can see it. In rugby… not so much. It’s like they strive, all of them, for perfection in every game.

          Yes, the ones I know would like the other countries to be stronger but while there are four strong franchises in NZ – and the Jags are actually a good challenge and won in NZ too don’t forget, just not in the final – there is stuff for them to work on.

          When they’ll really worry is when the top five QF spots on the log should all got to NZ sides based on the points. Going back to a round-robin we could just see that actually happening if the Blues get their act together.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Yeah and that’s a worry. I’m pretty sure the processes will mitigate against that. If it does it just means they’ll lose and someone else will be better so they will have to work hard again

    • Huw Tindall

      Yeah my Kiwi mates (none of who are Crusaders fans mind you) were rooting for the Jags and it’s just a bit yawn on Super Rugby despite the quality of the football. People want a competitive competition – not one dominated by 1 or 2 teams no matter how great those teams are.

      • AllyOz

        Hard to see how you even it up though. You can’t have a salary cap or a draft across the competition like they do in NRL or AFL because that doesn’t work over international boundaries or where national teams have restrictions selecting players who don’t play for domestic franchises.

        If some SANZAAR members have access to greater playing numbers, or have better coaches or team structures etc then they will have better performing teams. The only thing we can control in each country is the number of teams. There should be a stage where Argentina need to commit to a second team in the same way as we were required to reduce our team numbers to concentrate out player depth (not that I agreed with it). SA only sort of did it because they found a place for their extra teams somewhere else and I guess you can say the same for the Force (but much of their depth came to the Rebels so not really). There is also an argument that we need 1-2 more NZ teams to spread their talent across more teams and bring them closer to the field. This is not an ideal way to even out a competition but where you have a competition that is set up both the enhance national team performance as well as providing a product for TV etc then you will have these competing aims.

        I think the strength of NZ also provides a barrier to new entrants (not a bad thing necessarily but worth considering) that prevents expansion. For new teams from areas outside the big three or four nations to meet the standard of the existing teams they must almost be national sides or in some cases national sides plus experienced professionals from the top tier. Argentina have managed to become competitive by playing their national side week in week out but Japan, US, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, US (from Hawaii) etc would be hard pressed to get their sides up to the level of the top NZ clubs/franchises.

        If we had NZ with 7-8 teams, 4-5 from Australia and another 6 from APAC then it might be a more even comp. though admittedly it probably lacks the revenue to encourage enough of the Polynesian players back home from Europe to play for their own base countries.

        • Huw Tindall

          No easy answers is there Ally! All I know is some of the most successful competitions in the world have mechanisms in place to make them ‘competitive’. As you say though, the only thing we can really do is control the number of teams but that’s is fraught with difficulty as we’ve seen. I guess at the least we could have an Australian draft so you don’t end up with teams stacked with players in one position and allow for mid season transfers e.g. Mack Mason would have been better off at the Rebels in 2018 and having Quade and Hunt playing club footy was a travesty.

  • onlinesideline

    The problem I see is that the 4 nations is test footy and the RWC is knock out footy. The latter ie RWC the defense efforts are a different universe to typical test matches.

    Foley will again get the benefit of looking “acceptable” in test footy and will keep his spot accordingly come the RWC. But come the tight matches in the RWC where its say 9-9 (65th minute) both sides are a brick wall defensively, he wont be able to open them up like Quade.
    This will be the script. Cheika is dreaminggg Foley can open up England, Kiwis and Saffas, absolutely dreaming. Furthur all the playmaking / risk taking will fall on Beale AGAIN who doesnt work well when he is the only guy out there that can mix it up and its all on his head to win the match. Love Christian Lila but unsure if he can handle the speed of things. Its been a while. I would have like Sefa to be in teh squad becuase he is the kind of guy Ive noticed to benefit from protracted / long campaign training which is intense and focus ie RWC. At his peak he is scary good (has a couple of weakness but doesnt Moribte). Personally stoked if JOC is back on wing and Im big fan of Nick white. If Reece hodge aint on field good to have a long range kicker in Nick white on field to win tight RWC matches.

    I just get the impression the side is going to look and play just like RWC of 2015. Problem is everyone else has moved on.

    • UTG

      The Rebels had the least attacking creativity of any Australian team, Quade certainly didn’t help to mix up their plays at all. Don’t see how he should make the team on playmaking merits given this. Quade’s also 31 and hasn’t been able to take the ball to line nearly so successfully since he did his ACL, not sure how that solves our speed problems or the Dad’s army issues…

      • Mart

        I agree about Sefa.

        Same attacking threat as Koriabete, if not faster and better defensive reads

        • UTG

          If Sefa hadn’t done his ankle against Italy a couple of years ago he would have had a mortgage on the 11 jersey. That injury seems to have hampered his pace a bit. I can see why Koroibete got the nod over him though, Sefa was unfortunately injured again while Koro peaked at the end of the season as the rest of his side (apart from big Isi) fell down around him.

          I’d have had him over Maddocks myself, however. Jack seems to have gotten a pretty easy ride and I’m not sure he’s up to it physically, yet.

      • onlinesideline

        Really. Didnt he set the rebels backline on fire in first few games ? His flat passes were a thing of beauty. He was chipping over to Maddox and putting Meakes through the hole. Wasnt that mixing it up and playing very well ? You telling me the Waratahs were more creative ??

        • UTG

          The first few games…what happened after that? They had no variation in their game plan and were quickly found out. Waratahs were certainly more creative the two occasions they beat the Rebels.

        • Who?

          Not sure I’d say the Waratahs backs were more creative. Their forwards, certainly – their forwards won both games. Cooper barely touched the ball in the second game, felt like he touched it about as many times as the forwards dropped it!
          .
          Cooper played inside the strictures of the inflexible game plan provided. When the game plan is to dominate the contact in the forwards off flat forward runners, and the runners are struggling to get their timing right then either stopping at the line or are being met behind the gain line, it doesn’t allow your 10 to do anything.
          .
          I don’t think speed of foot is a great issue at 10. And I don’t think a variation of a year is a big deal at a RWC at 10. Either way, it’s their last RWC, and experience is arguably a bigger deal at 10 than age. Age is a bigger issue the wider you go, where age diminishes speed, especially by contact.

        • UTG

          Barrett and Mo’unga show how much of an asset speed at 10 is. Anyway, I don’t think you need speed to be a good 10 just find it funny onlinesideline says Foley is too slow and then wants to draft in Cooper who’s been playing on one leg the last few years.

          Cooper played far too flat when his forwards weren’t getting the go forward they had been previously. I’d say the hallmark of a good playmaker is being able to adapt during a match and I don’t remember him once adjusting during a game.

        • Who?

          I don’t consider Barrett a traditional 10. He’s a 10 in the same way Hooper’s a 7 – a one off player who’s very hard to replace like for like. Doesn’t mean I’m not a huge fan, but I can see why Hansen originally identified him as a 15 (at his best, like Beale, he scores the tries, rather than creating them for others). Mo’unga’s speed is an asset, but it’s not his primary asset. His primary asset is his game management. His ability to identify space and get the ball there, primarily with his hands and feet (his speed becomes an asset especially when chasing those kicks).
          .
          I’ve got no issue saying Cooper’s not going to have a win over Foley for pace. I just don’t see pace in the inside backs as being a key thing. The same way that I can deal with an inside centre who’s not quick, but need more pace at 13, and serious pace on the wing. That’s good for Kerevi, because he got chased down by a hooker this year!
          .
          Playing flat when your forwards aren’t going forward isn’t great, but if it’s what you’re instructed to do…
          The hilarious thing is that two seasons ago, Cooper was criticised – widely – as being unable to play a flat game. Last year, he was apparently dumped for being unwilling to follow a game plan. This year, he’s pretty clearly followed a game plan and played flat at the gain line (there was a game where he did change it up whilst trailing, a runner soon appeared and they went back to Plan A), and apparently he’s now unable to vary a game plan and play deep. It’s hilarious. And proof that some people aren’t judged by the same standards as the average person.
          .
          I’m not surprised Cooper didn’t get selected. I found the Fox articles earlier this year saying, “Cheika is a big supporter of Cooper’s” hilarious. Cooper was the form 10 according to the G&GR team of the week voting, narrowly beating Leali’ifano, with Foley not even gaining half the votes of Leali’ifano. Foley was always going to be the 10, and the only reason Beale won’t be the 12 is that Folau won’t be the 15.
          .
          Cheika’s proven nothing this year, and until he proves that he’s discovered how to play Rugby in the last 8 months, I don’t see why I should have any more hope than I had going into Bledisloe 3 last year (i.e. absolutely no faith in the competence of the coaching). We’ve got some great players, but let’s be honest, even at its worst, our selection has been at least 2/3 right. We could have the expected 23 – and even with Foley at 10, it’s not close to a bad squad (just not as good as it could be, IMO). The question is whether it’ll play as a team, and use game plans and intelligence to best advantage the selections.

        • UTG

          Really bending over backwards to excuse Cooper here. He never varied the attack at all when the game plan clearly wasn’t working. An international 10 needs to show some variety in attack if the game plan goes to shit. This didn’t happen in the course of one game either, it happened for a few weeks. Lilo copped flak for not changing things up in Argentina, this is not some anti-Cooper conspiracy.

          Anyway, we had selection panel this year, if Cooper had been so great and it was just some Cheika grudge that was keeping him from the team he would have been selected by the other panel members. The fact of the matter is, he dropped off once it came to crunch time and the upsides to selecting him didn’t outweigh the negatives.

          Our players are significantly better this year than last, your pessimism is misguided.

        • Who?

          He did vary the attack, a runner came out, and he reverted to the original game plan. I agree – an international 10 needs to be able to vary the game plan. He’s demonstrated over the years he can do that. Contrast the way he played at the Reds with how he played this year. How he played against the Reds (he and Genia kicked corners all night) against the way he played other times (perfect example being the Lions in 2013 – the opposite of the kicking game). He can do it, but you’ve got to be permitted to do it. That doesn’t seem to be something that Wessels allows. Yet?
          .
          Regardless, go back to the middle of last year on here, and you’ll find countess posts about how he was a terrible 10 who wouldn’t follow Stiles’ game plan, and that’s why Thorn was completely justified in sacking him.
          .
          Also, I didn’t see any complaints about Leali’ifano failing to change the game plan in Argentina. And, given the issues were created by the Jaguares’ excellent analysis of the Brums’ lineout (learning to key off McCaffrey), it’s again rather misguided to blame the backline for failings in the forwards.
          .
          The selection panel, Schnoz came out and said that he expected our 10’s to defend in the front line when asked about Cooper’s chances. That was his direct line. Cooper defended in the front line the vast majority of the year, generally made his tackles, and hit rucks in both attack and defence. Not sure that Foley did any better than him there.
          .
          Dropped off once it came to crunch time? Go back to what Hoiles and Mitchell said about the Rebels’ season in their end of season summary on Super Rugby Wrap last week. They were very clear – Hoiles in particular – that the problem was that the Rebels’ pack didn’t provide their backline with the quality of ball required to run their game plan, that Wessels’ game plan wasn’t suited to his pack. That he was looking for Saffa forwards, big heavy ball runners, and that’s not Australians – that we tend to work better when focusing on fitness and workrate.
          So I don’t think it’s accurate to say he dropped off at the end of the year, rather he didn’t have a chance to do much at the end of the year.
          .
          Time will tell whether my pessimism is misguided. I didn’t think our players were the primary problem last year, or in 2017, or in 2016……… There’s always going to be debate around selection. But I don’t care who you’ve selected, if the game plan doesn’t fit the players and the team can’t play cohesively, then the outcomes won’t be positive. Poor game plans and lack of cohesion aren’t an issue of selection, they’re an issue of tactics and coaching. And the coaches – for the most part – haven’t changed. And they’ve proven themselves incompetent over the last 3 years.

        • UTG

          I’m not really that interested in what Cooper did in 2013 against the Lions, I’m interested in what he did this year. I was disappointed that despite his forwards getting smashed multiple weeks in a row he continued to play flat. If he can only perform when his pack is going forward then that’s a major concern, in test footy even the ABs have games where their pack gets beaten. The best playmakers still leave their mark even if their forwards aren’t romping home. I’d find it very odd if Wessels sent a runner out to tell his playmaker to stick to a failing game plan, if true he’s clearly not ready for a Super coaching role.

          Lilo was criticised, maybe not on these pages, but his poor kicking options definitely got put under the knife.

        • Who?

          The point about 2013 is that it shows Cooper can play multiple styles. But if you don’t have permission to vary the game plan – as indicated by actions on field (think it was the Stormers loss – they played tight until late in the game, Cooper started playing deeper – with success, then suddenly everything tightened up again and they started kicking away the ball) – then you shouldn’t be blamed for continuing to follow the game plan. It’s not like Stephen Hoiles is one who looks to defend Cooper regularly.
          .
          And I do think that game plan is an area where Wessels needs to grow. He clearly does some good things, but look at the squad he had, the type of game that he tried to play, and the results.
          .
          Just look at that last Tahs game. It’s hard to have an impact when your 10 gets almost the same number of touches as your forwards use to drop the ball. 24 touches for Cooper, 22 turnovers (largely dropped ball). It’s even worse when, out of 24 touches, 2 are directly involved in a try (a touch in the lead up and then backing up to score), another is a disallowed try (Rangi knocked on)… So you’re already at ‘only’ 21 touches. And in a game with 80 kicks (I think 35 for the Rebels), you’d expect then that half of those 21 touches would be kicks. Effectively, he had no opportunity. The difference that game was that the Tahs forwards have great hands, and the Rebels forwards don’t.
          .
          Forward win games, backs only determine margins. If your forwards’ game plan isn’t able to be executed, and you don’t change that, then I don’t care who your 10 is, you’re going nowhere.
          .
          Do you mean Lilo’s botched kick through for the first try of the second half, and the chip ahead at the death for the last try? I don’t have major issues with those. Poor execution but positive intent with the first one, and the game was gone so trying something different for the second one. Not what you want, but I’ll take failed attempts at positive actions.

        • UTG

          Really don’t think any Super coach is telling his players to move away from something that is working back towards a failed game plan. If they are, as you suggest, they shouldn’t be a coach at Super level.

          The Rebels dropped the ball a lot in the Tahs game but Cooper failed to adapt in multiple other games. I’m certain Cooper can play deep and flat depending on the attacking structures implemented by different coaches but if he’s not changing the way he’s playing to suit different scenarios in game it’s not much of a help.

          Forwards win games, backs decide by how much is a load of poppycock in the modern era. The Tahs made the semis last year on the back of Taqele and Israel, the Hurricanes for the past few season have performed very well with a strong backline + Savea. You can still win games with a good backline even if your forwards are struggling for parity.

          I think your analysis of Lilo really sums up with where we disagree. If you’re happy with positive intent then you’re obviously going to be more of a Cooper fan. He does a lot of things with positive intent even if they’re high risk. And, yes, Lilo might have had positive intent behind his kicks but those low percentage plays are a sign of poor decision making to me and the choice of the wrong option.

        • Who?

          ‘The modern era’ isn’t a relevant marker. There’s always teams that are exceptions to the rule. The Wallabies beat the Poms 51-15 in Brisbane in 2004 running a mere 29% of possession. The Canes are similar – they miss none of their opportunities when they get them. But no Australian team has been so strong in counterattack since that Wallabies team. For the most part, the forwards do decide who wins. They decided the final. They decided both semis. They decided the quarters. They decided the Rebels/Tahs games. There’s always exceptions to the rule, but, generally speaking, generalisations and stereotypes tend to ring true…
          .
          So, did you think Leali’ifano’s first missed kick was the wrong option, if it’d been better executed? Poor execution isn’t the judge of whether or not it was the right option…
          I’d also argue that Cooper significantly underplays his hand these days. He doesn’t take near as many ‘high risk’ options.
          Compare that with Foley, who shovels the ball on or runs himself. I don’t blame him for the gerryowens in his own 22, because the frequency of their repetition last year for the Wallabies shows that they must’ve been part of the game plan (otherwise he’d have been hooked, in the same way that, if Cooper was the problem, with Toomua on the bench, Cooper would’ve been hooked in the Chiefs game). Foley doesn’t take as many attacking options because, more often than not, he doesn’t see them… He leaves that to Beale.

        • UTG

          To the contrary, poor execution is often precisely the judge of whether you chose the right option. If you can’t execute the skill under pressure then you shouldn’t be taking that option. If you throw a one in a million cutout ball on your own try line is that poor execution or simply the wrong option? Of course, there are times when you choose the right option but don’t execute, such as kicking it out on the full when you were aiming for space that was left in behind, but these weren’t the errors Christian made. Both his errors were low percentage plays he shouldn’t have taken in the first place.

          I don’t think the forwards decided the game at all in the final (didn’t you say in another post below you hadn’t even seen the game?). I thought the packs were relatively even for the most part but poor kicking from the Jaguares stifled their moment at crucial times when they were hot on attack. Conversely, the Jaguares kicking prowess against the Brumbies never allowed them to get into the game and meant the Jaguares could capitalise on their lineout superiority. The Crusaders and Hurricanes was basically a shoutout between both backlines with some scintillating play on both sides. The Brumbies vs the Sharks was definitely a case of the forwards winning the game but this was simply the Brumbies playing to their strengths, the 2018 Tahs won many games through their strength in the backs.

        • Who?

          I get where you’re coming from with option taking, but I’ve never seen Leali’ifano make such a basic error as that kick in terms of skill execution. Which is why I don’t think it was a bad option, just poor execution. It was the sort of catch and kick that I could pull off, I honestly don’t know how he messed it up so badly.
          .
          I can’t comment as authoritatively on the final given I haven’t seen it, but if the Canes/Saders semi was a shootout, the Canes won. 4 tries to 3. Instead, it was won by the team with the better tight five, who ground down their opposition. I don’t debate the Tahs won games in 2018 off the strength in their backs. But they didn’t win the big game. The Crusaders haven’t built a triple title winning team off a dominant backline. They’ve built it off Owen Franks, Codie Taylor, Michael Ala’atoa, Sam Whitelock, Scott Barrett, Romano (an All Black lock on the bench! I can’t remember their LHP’s). A great tight five.
          A great backline game can be great. The Wallabies lived off it for years. But it’s only been when we’ve had a pack that could provide parity that our killer backs could be unleashed. And these days, we’ve had a lot of times when our backs weren’t nearly as lethal as they had been in the past…

        • UTG

          CLL should have directed Powell to keep the ball in the tight or go back to the left. Instead, he received the ball with next to no support and had to rush a kick he was likely already in two minds about.

          The Hurricanes were hardly ground down since they came back in the second half and had a chance to win bar a somewhat contentious knock on.

          I don’t think of the Crusaders as necessarily building their success from a strong tight five. Sure, there are some great players up front but their real skill is being able to score from anywhere through their lethal backs and well skilled forwards.

        • Keith Butler

          Not a bad assessment of the Rebs season. You could have pretty much written off 2018 and look for improvement on 2019 whether that has been achieved or not? What has really disappointed me was the poor game management in the last 20-25 mins where winning positions have turned to losses. We do need a strong forward squad but equally we need a backline where players are selected in one position and one position only. We have too many ‘utility’ backs. Jacks of all trades but masters of none.

        • Robbo_76

          This is all correct – well said Who? I agree 100%

        • Robbo_76

          one small addition I would make in addition to the QC analysis is that we know what Foley is like, he has been generally poor with few exceptions for 3 years. For us to expect that things may be different this year and things may now be different is a little silly in my view

    • Twoilms

      Cooper showed he wasn’t the man for the job when he failed to get back and ground a regulation ball behind his try line, allowing the attacking player to swoop and score. The match ultimately ended with the Lions winning by a penalty.

      He is the most naturally gifted player the Wallabies have had since Larkham but he has never had the temperament for Test rugby.

  • Who?

    All the talk of Crusaders dominance… Now, I’ve got to admit, I’ve not had a chance to watch the game yet. But from everything I’m reading, the scoreline doesn’t necessarily reflect the game as it played. As in, I’m reading the Crusaders scored one try and took the points every time they were offered. But I’m also reading that the Pumas were very close to scoring at least three tries. I don’t read anything about the Crusaders being denied tries, or failing to convert territory into points.
    .
    It reads as though the Pumas played at least as much Rugby as the Crusaders. The scoreline might be one sided, but that’s down to great tryline defence, not down to possession and territorial domination by the Crusaders. Razor said the half time talk was that it was time to put away the flash game and get ugly. Roll up the sleeves, on pass Rugby, pin them in the corners. It reads as though the Pumas didn’t do that, but still created – and almost stole – enough opportunities.
    .
    So, perhaps the only difference between the two teams was that one adapted to the conditions a little better in their decision making (i.e. taking the points from kicks every time they were offered them), where the other one continued playing a little looser. Would that be fair? And if that’s the case, then you’d expect a team at home in their third straight final should adapt better! But that’s no discredit to the opposition, in fact it shows that there’s great prospects for the future. I’m open to comments otherwise, I’m just wondering if we’re looking at a scoreline and reading gloom when perhaps there’s more to it.

    • nmpcart

      Not quite reflective of it. Yes the Jags played very well, especially in the 1st half and bombed one try on the line. They were very good but the Crusaders absorbed the pressure and came close to scoring themselves a few times – held up over the line etc and then chose to take their kicks. Some of the Jags kicks this week were a bit aimless compared to when they played the Brumbies but some very good performances nonetheless.

      • Who?

        Exactly. It wasn’t one sided. The better team won, but it wasn’t completely beyond the Jags. They had chances, just couldn’t make it work, so the scoreline doesn’t necessarily reflect that they were in the game, that they had a real shout, had a real go.

        • Brisneyland Local

          If they had taken their shots at goal when they were handed penalties inside the Saders half it would have been a hell of a lot closer.

    • idiot savant

      The Jags had as much talent if not more but were unused to pressure rugby. They will take a lot of learnings from that game and should be better next year. They made errors under that pressure as well as some head scratchers. Why Moroni cut back infield instead of running for the corner, drawing the fullback and passing to two men on his inside we will never know.

      The Crusaders were their usual composed self and played the ref like Charlie Daniels plays the fiddle. Two kiwi touch judges didnt help the Jags. I dont think the Jags got a fair split of penalties for scrum infringements, hands on the ball in the ruck, or players leaving their feet but it wouldn’t have changed the result. I think the Crusaders were allowed to slow the ball all the time which really contributed to the result. But credit to the Crusaders. They would have got it done any which way.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      mate I think that’s true of every game at this level. There actually isn’t that much between any of the sides but when one can adapt to the condition better and change their game to suit then they usually come out on top. I think you’ll see this at the World Cup as well. There actually isn’t that much between the top 6 or 7 teams and in any game the bounce of the ball, referee call, poor or good decision and just a mistake can be the difference between winning and losing. The team that comes out on top will be the one that is able to adapt better, change plans as needed and make the most of the opportunities they get.

      • Who?

        You’re probably mostly right there. I think what’s disappointing for Aussie fans is we regularly see our teams perform as groups of individuals, rather than teams, and so games don’t feel like they’ve turned out as they should. Be it that our own paper team isn’t as far away as the scoreline hints, or that the scoreline flatters such disjointed teams in their losses (i.e. they were so disjointed that they were lucky to get away with the narrow margin). Our performances aren’t as consistent as other teams compared to our ‘on paper’ talent levels.
        .
        But amongst other teams, I think you’re right. Which makes the sort of gloom we have about ‘yet another Crusaders victory’ a little unfair. They work hard, they took their chances better. Sounds like they have fewer of them than the Jags, they just extracted more points from them.

    • From NooZealand

      I think you have concluded well. Crusaders / Canes and Crusaders / Jaguares could have had a different final. In both games, the second half was to defend and counter attack.

  • idiot savant

    Dang those Crusaders are a good team. They can absorb pressure and make the most of slim opportunities. They just do everything well.

    One thing beginning to annoy me is the practice of jackalling and continuing to hold onto the ball when cleaned out off your feet. This tactic was used to slow the Argies ball the whole game an tolerated by Jaco. Its a blight on the game and should be penalised to speed it up.

    • Huw Tindall

      The lack of policing for ‘not supporting your weight at the ruck’ is a blight on the game.

      • Keith Butler

        You are absolutely right Huw. The ruck area in general is a complete dog’s breakfast and referees have abrogated their responsibilities but not refereeing to the letter of the law because they are afraid of being criticised for not letting the game flow. I would actually love to see more yellow cards and be damned and if it’s a question of persistent infringement by a number of players, then red card the captain.

        • Huw Tindall

          Absolutely KB. The game is already stacked in the favour of the defense right now so cleaning up the ruck would at least give the attacking team a little more opportunity.

        • Greg

          I am so sad that we have not seen Mr Pocock this season.
          I hope that he has a few games left in him in gold and that we can see him shine.

          Hopefully some protection as well for his neck.

        • Who?

          I actually disagree there. The issue is that referees are allowing much more leniency than you’d ever see before the law changes in 2016 because without that leniency, it’s pretty well impossible to turn over possession. Do you think many of the turnovers we’ve seen this season would’ve been paid in 2015?
          .
          There was less need to allow illegal contests at the breakdown before the law changes, because a tackler could get up and play the ball from wherever they regained their feet. Which forced attacking players to clean out tacklers (whereas now they do it, but it mostly doesn’t form a ruck, because tacklers are less likely to try and regain their feet, more likely to lie on the ball to delay it rather than contesting it legally), which created offside lines. Which forced players back onside.
          .
          Unfortunately, without allowing players to start contesting after the ruck has been formed, we end up with a position where players don’t bother to contest the breakdown, because it’s impossible to turnover the ball. And with one player over the ball – from either side – creating offside lines, it means they immediately form up their defensive line (where previously you could choose not to form a ruck). That turns the game into unlimited tackle league, where you can’t turnover possession at the tackle, but it’s hard to attack because the defence doesn’t commit. World Rugby law changes invariably change the game for the poorer…

        • Huw Tindall

          I agree wholeheartedly that the 2016 law changes had the potential to screw pilferers over. It made it almost impossible for the tackler to effect a tackle and jackal so it’s evolved into the second man in being quick over the ball. Are the refs making up for this by going easy on the pilferers?

          I feel a bit for the tacklers though as there is a rash of players getting up and going again once tackled. You only need a hand on a player once their knee hits the ground to constitute a tackle but refs seem to be seeing it as requiring the tackler to ride the player to the ground.

          What’s just as bad is the offensive ruck players diving over the ball to clean out and staying off their feet. They are allowed to go off their feet for the clean out but then they need to roll away or get up immediately. A lot of rucks these days just look like a stacks on from primary school.

          We have England to blame for the one man rucks after Italy confused them by not forming rucks. That was a knee jerk reaction if ever there was one.

        • Who?

          First paragraph? I think yes. I think the second man tactic was already a big deal – look at Taf’s grasscutters, which were emulated (more effectively – without breaking his forearm) by Saia Fainga’a, allowing Liam Gill to pilfer everything that moved. But it’s not even second man now – often it’s someone like Whitelock when he knocked the ball out of TJ’s hands in the semi.
          .
          The rest, completely agree. There was some great debate about it after a Nick Bishop article a couple of months ago…

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      To be fair, the rules state that if you get hands on the ball before the ruck is formed you don’t have to let go. If you get driven off your feet and manage to continue to hold onto the ball then that is also ok. For me the issue is if the player is actually supporting his/her weight on his/her feet. I think a lot of the time there is no way in hell they are but it’s something that has crept into the game from the NH. I penalised it on Saturday a couple of weeks ago and the indignation from the players was palatable. Still I was fair to both sides so they didn’t have an argument really.

      • idiot savant

        I realise its difficult for the ref as it happens at such speed you often cant tell if the ruck is formed – this is where the timing of the Crusaders was so good. Often it seemed simultaneous. I realise its also very difficult to see if they are supporting their weight sometimes because of bodies in the way.

      • Actually 15.11 says you can play the ball with your hands as long as you had it in your hands before the ruck was formed and you manage to stay on your feet. If you go to ground, you’ve got to let go, just like in any other phase of play.

        It isn’t a tackle – you’re already in a ruck – so in theory you don’t get to place the ball anywhere but should immediately release it, but we’ve all seen immediately isn’t necessarily measured in milliseconds, it’s measured in seconds in rugby.

        And, if the tackled player has properly released the ball and the jackalling player has lifted it up it’s a whole different ball game: If it was a tackle and you’ve lifted the ball, before anything forms, then it’s a new tackle when you go to ground, and you get to place the ball. If it stays in the air, it’s a maul not a ruck. If they legally lift it during a ruck, it’s not clear to me from the laws if it remains a ruck or turns into a maul – it ought to become a maul.

        And all of this takes places in a really short period with a mess of bodies piling in to each other.

        I do agree that players not supporting their own weight is also an issue. Not sure if it’s really something that has crept in from the NH or something that’s always been there and the NH is just a bit lazier about it though.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Yep 100% correct. The guidance we’ve been given is if the player holding the ball is driven off his feet and retains the ball then like any other tackled player he can then place the ball. It’s a murky area and you just have to rule on the picture in front of you at the time. All depends where you are and what you see when the ruck forms.
          I’ve always said the best referees are those who get to the right place at the right time to make the best decision for the game at that time.

        • To be honest, I’d like to see it clearer. But… if we’ve got the muppets that think “oh, we’ll steal the 40-20 from league to make the defensive line softer” in charge of tidying up the breakdown, I despair of their cunning plans.

          In all honesty, I don’t know what I’d do. I don’t have a clear picture in my mind of one or more changes that would keep rucks and mauls as a competitive entity similar to what we see now while making them clearer to the players, referees and spectators.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Mate you never will. There’s so much happening at every ruck that we just rule on the picture we see. Depending on where you stand will depend on what you see. You also look at both the technical and tactical aspect and try to get the one that is most important for the game at that time.
          Don’t worry we get it wrong too and the aim is consistency in the game and being at the right place at the right time to make the right call

    • From NooZealand

      Yes, they are. he he he

  • Huw Tindall

    This is going to be a long week without any rugby. Thank Christ the Cricket is on.

    • Hoss

      Careful what you wish for mate. Can u imagine the 4 years of shite we will cop if Ol’ Blighty rolls us in the semis Thursday – the thought is horrifying

      • Who?

        Did you see over the weekend Mrs Toomua complaining that no one recognises her in Melbourne, and no one criticises her?
        Then the next day she takes 7/22. How are we supposed to criticise her when she’s taking the best ever – male or female – ODI figures for an Australian?!

        • Hoss

          No missed it mate. Was in a cabin in Leura over the weekend. Just the sound of whisky sliding into lead crystal. Ahhh the serenity.

        • Who?

          Hoss Kerrigan?!
          Thanks to Mrs Toomua’s efforts (I’ll have to remember to call him Mr Perry), we’re in a very, very strong position in the women’s Ashes. We’ve won the first three ODI’s.

      • Huw Tindall

        Will be a tough week at work but I was at the Aus v NZ game at Lords with a bunch of Kiwis so have been dining out on that. Kiwi cricket fans know what it’s like to be Aussie rugby fans. I like it like that.

Rugby
@NathW1997

Loved rugby since the day I could remember, got the nickname Footy to show that, I watch Matt Dunning's dropkick every night before going to bed

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