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Monday’s Rugby News

Monday’s Rugby News

Monday’s Rugby News looks at the results from Super Rugby, Six Nations and the Waratahs reinforcements looking to avoid an unwanted record


Rebel march

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The Melbourne Rebels have marked their homecoming with a bang, dominating the Waratahs 33-14 at AAMI Park.

They controlled the first half, with Lachie Anderson finishing off a slick line-out move to give them the early lead.

Toomua would then turn into a one-man wrecking ball, slotting a series of penalties before producing one of the best individual tries of the season to extend their lead to 23-0 at the break.

Whilst the Waratahs would get some respectability back on the scoreboard at the end with two late tries, the Rebels were too good, capped off by a try to returning hooker Jordan Uelese.

Despite the strong performance, Toomua was critical of their inability to close out the match and secure the bonus point.

“It’s a good win, there was a lot of good signs there,” Toomua said after the match.

“Being critical as is our nature we will look back and say we probably should have come away with a bonus point but this first stretch of competition has thrown us a few curve balls and we’ve come away very proud.”

Despite their late surge, coach Rob Penney was once again disappointed with the effort that they put in, conceding that it might start to affect his young squad heading forward if they don’t show some resilience against the Reds.

“The damage was done in the first half,” Penney said.

“It was great the boys kept fighting to the end and the bench injected a little bit which was nice.

“We could live in a dark hole if we let ourselves but we’ve got to bounce quickly.”

Nearly Red-faced

Jock Campbell

Jock Campbell

The Queensland Reds have held for a thrilling 26-19 win over the Western Force at Suncorp Stadium.

The Reds looked set to cruise to victory when they raced out to a 14-3 lead thanks to tries to Hunter Paisami and Tate McDermott.

However, the Force managed to hand in and made the sloppy Reds pay when hooker Feleti Kaitu’u found the line, taking the lead after the break thanks to a Jake McIntyre penalty.

This would wake the Reds up, who unleashed winger Suliasi Vunivalu off a scrum play.

The former Storm flyer would break two tackles, send Jack McGregor into the shadow realm with a brutal fend before throwing a cut-out ball for a Jock Campbell try.

With the Force continuing to push as they looked to send the game into golden try, hooker Brandon Paenga-Amosa won the clinching breakdown penalty to seal the win.

The win now ensures that Queensland leapfrogs the Brumbies into top spot as they maintained their unbeaten record.

However, captain James O’Connor was unimpressed by their performance, lamenting their poor handling and failure to convert what seemed to be certain try opportunities.

”I’m happy in essence that we won the game,” said O’Connor.

“We found a way to win but honestly that was pretty poor from us.

“…That’s not what the fans deserved.

“So much dropped ball.”

Force captain Brynard Stander felt the same way, admitting that they failed to take advantage of the late pressure on the Reds goal-line.

“Tonight, we fronted up. Some things let us down, we need to build the pressure when we are at their end,” he said.

Six delivers 10/10 clash

Credit: Getty Images

Credit: Getty Images

Once again, the Six Nations has delivered one of the games of the year as France kept their Six Nations dreams alive with a 32-30 victory over Wales.

On their quest for a Grand Slam, Wales would trade tries with their French rivals as neither team could gain ascendancy as they went into the half tied at 17-all.

Wales then kicked on after the break as Josh Adams’ try and the boot of Dan Biggar put them in control before French prop Mohamed Haouas was sin-binned.

As he returned, the French were once again put down a man after Paul Willemse went for the face and was sent off for eye-gouging.

Remarkably, they would gain the man advantage shortly afterwards as Taulupe Faletau and Liam Williams were sin-binned in quick succession.

This allowed the French to steal victory, with tries to Charles Ollivon and Brice Dulin sealing a famous victory.

In the other games, Ireland sent off CJ Stander in style, crushing old foe England 32-18 to ensure that it was the first time that Pomas would lose to all of their British Isles rivals in the tournament for the first time since 1976.

As well as this, Scotland continues to bolster my claims for a pro/rel system in the Six Nations, recording a 52-10 hammering of Italy at Murrayfield, Italy’s 32nd loss in a row.

Wobble-tahs set for reinforcements

Jake Gordon needs some support

Jake Gordon needs some support

The Waratahs are set for a major boost as a trio of stars prepare to return for Saturday’s clash against the Reds.

It comes just in time, with the Tahs on the verge of setting records for all the wrong reasons, as The Herald revealed some damming statistics.

After four games, they have conceded 155 points, nearly 39 points per game, which sits four points per game higher than their record in 2017 as the worst defensive side of the era.

They’re also on track to score the least points (12 ppg) of any NSW team in Super Rugby history, averaging six points less than their woeful record in 2009.

“We need to be much more improved defensively, through midfield, and be more disciplined,” chairman Roger Davis said.

“They’re the key failings, as I see them.

“When you look at our performances over the last four matches now, they’re familiar scenes.

“You’d like to believe you can learn from your mistakes and your failings, but it is a young side and arguably an inexperienced side, despite having a number of Wallabies [squad members] there.”

With a date with the Reds looming, they are set to welcome back Izaia Perese, Angus Bell and Will Harris, with The Herald confirming that they are set to be named on Wednesday.

Perese has been sidelined since he dumped Hunter Paisami on his head in round one, which will likely see a major reshuffle in the Tahs back three as Alex Newsome retains his spot.

Along with this, captain Jake Gordon is expected to be available for selection against the Brumbies on Friday week.

  • Steve

    Some cracking games this weekend!

    Force really stuck it to the Reds and were nearly good enough through sheer force of will. Brumbies better not be taking them lightly on Friday.

    Wales vs France what a cracker. I’d give anything (well, like 50 bucks) to see a full-strength France tour to Aus this year, they are the most exciting team in Europe by some stretch and their 9-10 maybe the most exciting in the world.

    Good to see Ireland get up over the Poms too – Aki’s red card highlighted really highlighted some absurdity about the current red card rulings IMO. Billy was running at him bent forwards and head first and Aki was so low one of his knees was almost scraping the grass. How much harder can a person try?

    • I agree about the Aki RC. I understand why it was given and I’m all for player welfare but there needs to be a tweak. If the tackler is doing everything right, and I agree he certainly looked like it to me, we need to give a “free” level of mitigation for good technique, and then you get another level if there are things like the tackled player is dropping in height suddenly or similar.

      It’s simple enough to describe in the framework too, significant bending at the knee and/or waist so the contact point is judged to be below the line of the elbow on the tackled player when they’re standing upright with their arms by their side. Benefit of the doubt on “elbow height” to the tackler.

      It puts a bit of onus on the tackled player to keep themselves safe too.

  • KwAussie Rugby Lover

    Thanks Nathan, some good games and while both competitions are pretty predictable, Crusaders in NZ and either Reds or Brumbies here, there is still some good rugby being played and little battles that will mean so much more when the international games start. I like that there are players stepping up to take the place of those who have moved on – although not yet at the Tahs – and there is an indication of some depth in the game.

    I do feel for the Tahs and having the Chairman come out and criticize them isn’t helpful and demonstrates some of the shit management that has got them where they are. This has obviously been a big part of the Tahs setup for a few years and some of that has bound to have spread down into the team itself. I just hope Penney and the young guys coming through are fighting this.

    I must admit I was a bit disappointed with some of the poor individual skills in the weekend. Far too many passes going above or behind the receiver, far too many dumb decisions on when to pass or not, too much individual effort on defence and not enough team plays. I think most exams here need to do a lot more work on their individual skills like being able to pass fast and accurately both ways and how to secure the ball in a tackle properly

    • AardvarkOz

      You make two really good points. I was also struck with the inappropriateness of the Board Chairman speaking to the media. That’s never a good sign.

      And secondly, the poor skills on display. Watching the baby Tahs last night, they would mount an exciting attack on occasions (although it was usually repetitive one-off hit ups) but passes would go to where the player was rather than where they would be, and as a result players had to stop running to catch the ball. That’s not going to lead to a lot of tries.

      But two positives from the weekend: super happy for the Rebels and their fans being able to play at home again, and great to see home grown Victorian’s in the Rebs team.

      And the best positive, the Reds win again!

      • KwAussie Rugby Lover

        Always positives and I feel for the Rebels. Must be so good to be home

  • Hoss

    Dear Diary,

    I am becoming despondent. The Tah’s form is a real concern and on current levels we will be lucky to only get 15-16 players into the Wallaby squad. naturally that would decimate our chances in Gold.

    Troubling times for sure.

    Hoss.

    • Greg

      Dear Hoss,
      It could be worse. 15-16 in the starting 15 is indeed a come-down…. Imagine if it was only 15 in the whole squad.

      Seriously, it has not been a happy start to the season.It is likely to get worse before it gets better. Shooting the coach imo will not be a step forward.

      • Yowie

        “Shooting lots of leaders on your own side” worked out ok in the big picture for the USSR in WW2.

        Concerns about the lack of population/depth in NSW can be dismissed as negative talk by people asking for a ticket to the gulag.

      • Hoss

        It pains me deeply, soul scarifying, to say it, but the template to our problems lies north.

        The old duo of time and patience is all that will cure this problem.

        Speaking from wisdom – you absolutely cannot fire your way to success.

        • idiot savant

          Yep look north, more players sharing the same DNA is the secret.

        • Yowie

          If it works for racehorses and greyhounds….

        • Hoss

          Yep – it’s why unsolved homicides are rampant – DNA is all the same and no dental records to verify.

          Poor bloody coppers.

          Unless the perp leaves a banjo with their name on it at the crime scene – its another ‘cold case’.

        • Yowie

          Fortunately in Qld, the unnatural death of a whistleblower on police corruption is sometimes a suicide (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shirley_Brifman) .

          That leaves more time and resources for the homicide squad to ponder the unsolved crimes of the Banjoless Bandit.

    • onlinesideline

      Other than the glory day(s) under YouknowwhatImean (youknowwhoImean) either side of that momentous evening when the Ice Man delivered with 3 to go, its been slim pickins for years, And I really believe that quite a few players find Sydney a 2nd option to the lifestyle of QLD, ACT and timbucktoo basically. I also think players of Island heritage aren’t enamored with the Waratahs as a club and culture. Looks Sydneyish intense to me, not really familyish which a lot of Islanders like. They are integral to rugby in this country now and to success IMO, which I love because they are made for footy. Are Waratahs just too GPS old boys for some ?

      • Yowie

        In the alternative, the Tahs could focus on their strengths and turn up the “silvertails” thing to maximum.

        Eg. players with double-barrelled surnames only. Monocles & top-hats as the team uniform for media duties & airport transits.

        • onlinesideline

          I think even better (worse) would be loafers, no socks, tight skinny slacks with short hem line. Yeah you know – like Australia is really Italy in the 60s. Yeah its not pretensious at all Sydney and it looks really good Sydney, keep beliving it Sydney… your so cool Sydney.

          PS. Im from Sydney

        • Mike D

          Well at least their culture would have improved… Oh wait, wrong meaning of culture, sorry.

        • Missing Link

          and the “Campari drinks cart” comes out every time a player goes down with a minor injury

        • Reds Revival

          That’s Gold!

        • laurence king

          Lattes at the break

      • Hoss

        G’day from Lake Hunter Valley OLSL,

        Hard to say it’s only one thing. It’s more a ‘reckoning’ of all poor decisions, covid (player payments), recruitment, management, culture, pathways, grass roots et al coming home to roost at once.

        You simply cannot ‘fire’ (coaches) or ‘buy’ (player poaching’) your way to success. Any organisation is a dynamic of a thousand moving parts that comes together to deliver consistent outcomes.

        Key amongst them all is culture.

        A fish smells from the head down and that’s exactly the problem at the Tah’s. The culture stinks. When the culture stinks all you have in your recruitment armoury is cash and then it becomes a vicious downward spiralling trajectory – your culture sucks so player X comes for a fist-load of cash. Player X doesn’t give a flying fuck about culture as their guaranteed huge $$$ regardless so the culture remains stagnant or worsens and further down the s S bend you go until someone calls ‘time’ – which the Padre did perfectly. Set a tone, had values based leadership – made some uncomfortable decisions but clearly drew a line and look at the Reds know – he’s set them up for a decade of strength – that’s vision, that’s belief and that’s leadership.

        The Tahs are capable of the same – but apart from the coach, i dont see strength, vision, desire or potential to roll the sleeves up and carve out a new identity that then opens the door for a quiet revolution.

        • Steve

          Does a fish actually rot from the head down Hoss? Can anyone please confirm this?

        • Hoss

          The time is right for someone like Cheika to come back in as director of rugby – a damn wall between the suits and the players / coaches who can tell the board to fuck right off (he has the credentials to do so) provide some space and mentoring to the coach and players and use him as a recruitment asset to attract players. His coaching pedigree is first class at provincial level and for a while at test level.

          He’s a NSW boy through and through and this Tah’s fan believes he could provide great value in such a role – unusual times call for unusual solutions

        • Reds Revival

          This morning actually feels like a therapy session for you Hoss. You have not only identified the key issues with your beloved Tahs, you have also publicly acknowledged them. That’s a break through moment for you right there.
          To then go the next step and suggest that Cheika should be brought back into the fold, is either a case of you tipping over the edge into madness, or a rare moment of brilliant clarity. I’m just not sure which one it is, but I feel privileged to be part of your “intervention”. Have you heard of Saviour World at all?

        • Hoss

          A little from column ‘A’ & Column ‘B’ RR.

          I find the distance between genius & insanity to be blurred at the best of times.

        • onlinesideline

          Nice theory but wouldnt he overwhelm Penny ?
          He may as well just be coach. Do you honestly think Cheika could handle Penny putting his foot down on something that he doesnt agree with ? – if they are still losing. Penny would just walk after 2 months.

        • Hoss

          I use my corporate experience as a guide.

          My job is to set the course – explain the ‘how’, get ownership of the ‘why’ , navigate the path and then resource those on the ship with all they need to help us get there.

          Sure there are disagreements on some of the finer-print – but if everyone agrees with the destination, are clear on their roles to get us there, are happy they are resourced well with people and tools, the good ship HSS Success can leave port.

          Once on the open water challengers arise, disagreements will surface and dialogues will happen – but again, if we all agree on the destination then these skirmishes are often ‘reactive’ and can quickly be resolved.

          Would Cheik be hard to get along with and stubborn – possibly, but what’s the cost of doing nothing ………………………i’d wager the cost of getting Cheik involved would be far less than the cost of doing nada.

        • onlinesideline

          Something has to be done. It is actually a place the Tahs have been in before, although not quite with these cricket scores I must admit. But they do have a pattern of turning seasons around, away from the brink. They did it twice under Gibson if my memory serves me correctly. Pivotal next 2 weeks for the club really.

        • KwAussie Rugby Lover

          Someone mate but not Cheika

        • I’m sure that the Ass Clown isn’t the answer. But someone who is a big enough force in NSW rugby/world rugby to stand in there and say “STFU and do your job, let Penney do his” but (and here’s where Cheika won’t fit the job description) stand back and let Penney get on with it would be great.

          He might fit part one, but not part two. I don’t know anyone fits both parts, but I don’t know the politics of NSWRU.

        • Reds Revival

          If you’ve ever seen “one Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest”, then you understand NSWRU.

        • KwAussie Rugby Lover

          Big call on him mate. While he did well with some good established players when he came in and he’s a great motivator, he did nothing to stop the poor culture and I’d argue he was a catalyst for the poor self entitled culture that currently seems to exist. I think if he comes in the Tahs will get worse before they get better

        • Yowie

          One comment on a big topic, but in my opinion a lot of Chieka’s initial success came from being a rule-breaker (“always attack!”) and enjoying the associated first-mover success until the rest of the playing world caught up to it. The lack of “plan B” became a painful cliche.

          If he were to have a second stint in any leadership capacity, the “lack of plan B” issue does not seem to have gone away.

        • Who?

          I think it’s time the suits were all turfed. No one in the NSWRU has a clear track record of protecting the players and coaching staff, supplying them with everything they require, and being humble enough to work with other bodies. Because even a Director of Rugby couldn’t truly protect the players and coach from the board.

          This is further reinforced by the comments today from Roger Davis. His role isn’t coach. It isn’t analyst. His role is to do everything required to ensure that NSW Rugby is healthy away from the field, to ensure that the coaches can pull together everything required to have success on the field. Players, structures, etc. If you had Cheik (or some other strong personality) in there (and I’m far from convinced that Cheik’s the right person), I don’t see that Davis is suddenly unable to impact on the team by media comments, or actions. Such as sacking not only a coach, but also a Director of Rugby…

        • laurence king

          Hope it’s not a taste test

        • Mike D

          The chairman is making comments about things that I think are really in the coach’s domain. That’s a bad sign, his job is not on field tactics and skills assessment, he’s meant to be looking at systems and processes to support his front line earners.

        • onlinesideline

          Basically what you are saying is that they’re up themselves.

        • Hoss

          I think they have a good coach, a young squad stripped of experience and support around them and are sufferrng from decisions they had nothing to do with – see a few posts below for my suggested cure.

        • RahRah

          “ droit de seigneur” an ancient belief prevalent in NSW rugby that still permeates the halls of the Waratah establishment today.

        • Hoss

          Had to look that up, my Spanish is shit. Yes, the price of goat mince in Madrid is expensive, but I am unsure of the connection here?

        • RahRah

          More about a mindset Hoss – “Divine Right” kinda thing, but with the emphasis on screwing people over.

        • Hoss

          Yep – had to laugh when Davis was quoted as saying ‘Penney is safe for now’ – talk about kiss of death. Must be no mirrors in the hallways of power at NSWRA.

          Scientific fun fact – ‘blame’ must be more subjected to gravitational pull as it always travels downward – with velocity, never upwards. Go figure.

        • idiot savant

          The biggest change for me this year has been the breakdown of the Tahs defence. Last year they put so much more effort into it, had greater line speed, were more connected, and left less holes. They have the same defence coach this year. They have also lost 3 huge work rate defenders in Hooper, Simmons, and Hanigan. Defence, some say, is attitude – so maybe what you write about culture is correct. Good defence allows you to stop blowouts which in turn is good for morale. This point appears lost this year.

          I do wonder also if the Tahs complete destruction of the Reds last year was a bad thing. It showed they have enormous talent in attack and perhaps they felt they didn’t have to earn victories the hard way because they have so much firepower. They started this year going side to side trying to run the Reds off their feet – a strategy I for one argued was the way to beat them – but they failed to execute in the same way as last year. The passes didn’t stick, the ball didn’t sit up etc. Confidence ebbed, and you can’t play like millionaires without confidence. I think the way back is defence. And that includes defensive scrummaging and line outs.

        • Who?

          Mate… That’s serious trolling for G&GR – to claim that Hooper, Simmons and Hanigan actually do anything! :-P

          For what it’s worth, I agree with you on their defensive workrates. Not always dominant defenders, not always huge in their impact at the breakdown. But their workrate, coverage and agility was top class.

        • You know I ‘m not a fan of any of them at test level.

          At SR level Hanigan is a solid player, good enough I thought he deserved his recall to a gold jersey last year. Sadly, it proved another flash in the pan.

          While I always have doubts about exactly what Hooper is doing, he does something. At SR level, that is often enough.

          Likewise Simmons, he’s in that Hanigan boat for me, actually a bit better than that. He’s a standout at SR level who doesn’t consistently deliver at test level. He has had decent games, but they’re too infrequent for him to be a regular choice for me, given my druthers – it’s more he plays solidly and then does something stupid under the pressure of test match rugby. At SR level, where he doesn’t have that extra pressure, he makes fewer of those really dumb mistakes.

          So, while I’m not a Tahs fan, and I’m not sure they’re the right three players to build culture, I can see how losing them leaves the Tahs missing a bit of defensive grit.

        • KwAussie Rugby Lover

          Interesting isn’t it on those 3. TBH I think you’re correct, good super players that have never stepped up at test level and probably never will but were protected by a very poor management team that had no accountability

      • Steve

        I remember when AAC moved back from ACT he seemed to spend a lot of time on Bondi beach and a lot more appearances in the social pages.

        I suspect Sydney is a victim of its own ‘success’ as a city, whereas in Canberra there just isn’t that much going on so players seem to spend a lot more time hanging out with each other.

        • onlinesideline

          that and you don’t have to spend 2 hours in traffic to see a tree.

    • KwAussie Rugby Lover

      Hahahaha gold mate. Hope the weather up there isn’t playing too much havoc on you and yours

    • Missing Link

      Sarcasm aside, I actually thought about this over the weekend, apart from Lachie Swinton, Jake Gordon and possibly Angus Bell, they have nobody of test standard, have they?

      • Hoss

        I couldn’t pick any of those three as yet. Lee-Warner from the Spanish side has been exceptional, Rudolph Valentini has been huge, Wilson, Samu et al – there’s a few in front of Mad Dog at present. But he is showing signs of getting back into it after the suspension

        A guy who gets no love on this site is Powell – i reckon he’s been outstanding this season so you have the Angry Ant in White, Mc D from the reds and Powell all ahead of The Commissioner for mine. Bell wouldn’t get a gig peeling oranges at present we are spoiled for piggies – even 37yo Holmes was just brilliant last weekend.

        One caveat is we still have some distance to go till test footy and Moses’ PONI squad that meets in Brissie soon will be interesting.

        But at this point, based on form and not potential – who in blue makes it…………..

        • Keith Butler

          Powell has been a revelation for me at the Rebs. Quick ball and he’s as fast as most wingers. The try he scored the other week proves the point.

        • Reds Revival

          He has seemed to have rediscovered his mojo at the Rebels. He is combining well with 2Cows. Wells is another one who seems to be thriving at the Rebels.

        • Who?

          I’m not seeing much he wasn’t already doing…
          Which isn’t to sleight him – I think he’s been underappreciated.

        • KwAussie Rugby Lover

          I’m with you on that. TBH I don’t think any of the current Tahs squad are playing well enough to get in the Wallabies as there are at least 2 players playing better elsewhere

        • Hoss

          As someone with a rumoured tendency to a Tah’s bias I couldn’t, in good conscious, name one player in blue, at this point of the season, who has mounted anything like a claim to a gold XXIII position.

        • KwAussie Rugby Lover

          Sad isn’t it? Swinton is disappointing me as I do think he could be good but he just spends so much time trying to prove to everyone how tough he is and gets nowhere. It speaks to a poor team culture

        • idiot savant

          I’d pick Ramm

        • Hoss

          The American Ute? Cause the yaks winger of the same name ain’t be spotted this year.

    • Keith Butler

      Dear Hoss

      All that water in Novacastria has addled your brainorial encumbrance.

      • Who?

        I thought it’d sobered him up! :-P

        • Yowie

          Not if Hoss can hold his whiskey glass above the rising tide.

  • A Dingo Stole My Rugby

    Ok, I’m going to be a sh!t stirrer…

    Because some refs have an obvious empathy for the game, while others… well… don’t.

    Two games on the weekend saw the ref basically abandon the directive to apply the offside law consistently and strictly, while doing their best to keep the (eventual) losing team in the game. And neither of them was French.

    The Crusaders adapted well to being repeatedly reamed by the ref, and won comfortably. The Reds were not so good at adapting and sneaked home thanks to some individual brilliance.

    • Who?

      I agree that some refs are better than others…
      I can’t think of a ref that’s had a game with 4 or 5 high tackle penalties in the past two years, and also 15 penalties against a singular team, that hasn’t resulted in a YC…
      That being the case, did Murphy really try that hard to keep the Force in the game?

      • I’m biased Who, so no point me answering.

        Learnt something tho…you can be awarded a penalty kick from a scrum, by your entire fwd pack running around the opposition front row (only to your loose side?) as far as the 8?

        Not sure on this rulings particulars, Ill have to look into it further….

        • Who?

          Yeah, it felt like Murphy eventually decided that, if the Reds are consistently shearing across Holmes, even though the Force hooker’s not moving at all, and Holmes is only moving marginally to remain square, the Reds must be dominant…

          It was a pretty clear tactic from the Reds all night. They clearly wanted to drive through Holmes, focusing their 2 and LHP on him, but early in the night it was blatantly obvious that they weren’t staying square, so they were penalized. Later, when they looked less obviously off, they won penalties that I’m still not sure they deserved. If Holmes had split off Kaitu’u or had buckled to ground/upright/etc, then they win, and it’s a valid tactic to try to do that. It’s not an uncommon tactic. So, later in the game, the Reds were closer to legal in executing their drive, but I’m not sure they drove square enough (in the back five – which is hilarious given one of the penalties in that situation was against the Force for not driving square, when the Force front row hadn’t moved!), or that they’d earned penalties.

          Always worth remembering that a dominant scrum doesn’t deserve to be rewarded with penalties – rather, a scrum that forces their opponent to scrummage illegally earns penalties. It’s legal to be be marched 20m backwards in a scrum. It’s illegal to (appear to) move forwards by walking around. Movement forwards and backwards isn’t an indicator of the legality of a team’s scrummaging.

          I’m not a huge fan of Murphy at this stage, and it’s not just the way that Horan pronounces his first name (is that REALLY how his parents wanted it to be pronounced?!)…

        • Ya, Reds drove about as straight as Nigel, was a bit too obvious for a ref not to see it I thought.

          Oh well, rest of Murphs game was tolerable I guess…

          No point whinging, come to expect it really.

  • onlinesideline

    Look at minute 4:21
    Is that a RED card ? – looked like a hard but legit body cleanout to me

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7VxqrZKa70

    • Yowie

      Even on slow-motion viewing there is very little of note happening in that bit, let alone a red card event.

    • Who?

      Dud call on the try at 49 minutes, too. No idea how the ref ever thought that was down. Barnes… I’d argue he could’ve overturned that. If the question was, “Could you confirm there was a clear grounding,” I think the answer is no try. But when the ruling on the field is, “Try, can you confirm,” it’s a higher standard of proof.

      The RC, that’s harsh, but I can see it. It’s the right hand around the face of the jackal (not AWJ, the other guy). I wouldn’t have gone RC – because he didn’t make first contact with the head, and he wasn’t looking at what he was doing. He was just grappling to drag down the jackal. A RC for gouging should involve intent – it should be high contact with the intent of doing injury, rather than simply trying to move someone who’s a clear threat on possession. I’d likely have gone YC for high contact.

    • I don’t like Wayne Barnes, to my mind he’s overly concerned with the letter of the law, doesn’t really have a feel for the spirit of the law. (In his day job he’s a solicitor.)

      Given that, while I might not agree in terms of how it looks, I’m pretty sure he took what it says in the laws and how the referees are told to interpret them and applied it correctly.

      I mean, Wilemsee wraps his hand around Wyn Jones’ head (not sure why, he’s not even meant to be hitting Wyn Jones, he’s trying to clear out Alun Wyn Jones), which put it into penalty territory. But then he cups his fingers over the eye… and pretty much any contact to the eye area with the fingertips makes it a RC these days. If he’d kept his hand flat, so it was a “hand to the face” it probably stays PK only.

      • KwAussie Rugby Lover

        Barnes is a good referee but I’m not sure he has a good understanding from a players perspective. I think I’m not a bad referee, although lots to improve on, but having played for close to 45 years I do have a good understanding of the players point of view and I think that has helped me a lot

        • Greg

          What can you tell me about the front row KRL?

          In fact, what can you tell international refs…. they don’t seem to know much! :-)

        • KwAussie Rugby Lover

          I remember once in NZ we spent 4 training nights on just the front row. What each position is doing on attack and defence and what they do to disrupt each other. It’s always controversial but it’s a big part of our ongoing training and I actually think in most cases at international level referees get it correct as they know what to look for

      • KwAussie Rugby Lover

        Barnes is a good referee but I’m not sure he has a good understanding from a players perspective. I think I’m not a bad referee, although lots to improve on, but having played for close to 45 years I do have a good understanding of the players point of view and I think that has helped me a lot

      • idiot savant

        Some of the most entertaining games I’ve seen have been refereed by Wayne Barnes. Kiwis hate him because he’s one of the few that isn’t frightened to penalize the All Blacks.

        • Yowie

          Kiwis hate him because he’s one of the few that isn’t frightened to penalize the All Blacks.

          That and a certain 2007 RWC quarter-final…

        • I’m not saying he can’t referee a good game, I just think he too often finds reasons to blow the whistle because “the laws say so” when there are times when it’s not significant and someone with a better touch would let it go.

          I remember an interview with the great Clive Norling, when he was “the best referee in the world.” He said if you think about it, at a normal lineout you’ve got 14 players in the line, a thrower, the other hooker in the 5 m channel, two half-backs (what we’d call receivers now) and then 12 backs. Any of those people can commit an offence, the jumpers and (lifters) can commit several offences. At every single lineout I’ve every officiated I have my choice of what penalty to blow for. The biggest choice a referee has to make every second of every game, is not to blow their whistle.

          That RC for Wilemsee is a case in point. I’m a Welsh fan. I don’t think he hurt Jones. I don’t think his hand should have been anywhere near Jones, certainly not near his head. I think it was clumsy and very stupid. If Barnes does nothing about it, the game would have carried on and we’d all have been happy (well not happy with France stealing the slam away, but not bothered about that incident). If the citing officer catches it, or Wales report it after the match and he got cited, no problem.

          But Barnes noticed it, we spent about 5 minutes going through replays from “possible neck roll, PK, YC, no try” building up to “eye gouge, RC.” Technically it is absolutely the right call. But he could have not, metaphorically, have blown his whistle, and let play continue in this case and we’d all have been just as happy, if not happier.

      • Who?

        Barnesy was the TMO, not the ref… The ref was the one who made calls that boxed in Barnes. Like ruling try, rather than asking for a confirmed grounding.

        Not sure where Willemse contacts AWJ’s head? I believe the issue is the right arm around the other guy (LHP?) – not AWJ. Willemse’s left hand is way behind AWJ’s body.

        • The prop in question is called Wyn Jones, not Alun Wyn Jones.

          And I’m aware that Luke Pearce was the ref, Wayne Barnes was the TMO. I’m just drawing the parallel that in games when he’s the referee he blows the whistle for the letter of the law too often IMO. In this game, I’m not counting the occasions where Pearce asked him to make a ruling, he’s bound by what he sees. For the eye-gouge, Pearce gave the try and was all happy. Barnes said “I’d like to draw your attention to some foul play” and it all lead up to the RC.

          While I think that was technically the right call, if he hadn’t done it, I think everyone could have proceeded quite happily.

    • Patrick

      The French coach? Fabien Galthé, the same guy who was kicked out of the French 99 RWC team before a player mutiny saw him come back in after 1 match and unofficially captain them for the rest of the tournament.. Also Gareth Edwards in defence has had a real impact.

  • Hambone

    Great weekend of rugby. Provincal, regional, and international.. I’m really liking this AU comp at moment, I think it’s a great way to build into playing the boys across the dutch instead of getting slammed from round 1.
    Getting some great rivalry being played out, some even greater battles for wallabies jerseys.
    The less travel across to the continent must really be adding to recovery and keeping kick offs within peak viewing (I mean drinking) times.
    Force were unlucky not to get the chocolates, but paisami is really hitting the ground running this year. Also Lee warner for the force has got to be on the rennies radar, really liking what he brings to the table..
    My boys the rebels are starting to gel, the hair stylists out back must be loving being back in their chapel st boutiques again for a quick blow and weave before each game.
    Alot to love about Aussie rugby at the minute, oh and the poms got trounced by the hungover post St patricks day lads.
    This French tour will be golden, even if they send their under 20s team.. they are pretty special at the moment.

  • idiot savant

    Its grumpy old man time…. Everyone is waxing lyrical about Hunter Paisami, the golden child. With good reason. His talent sticks out like dogs balls. Yet when I was watching the Force stay in the game when they really should have been put away, I couldn’t help but think if Hunter’s switch to 12 is the best outcome for the Reds (or the Wallabies).

    Last season the Reds were the leading try scorer in the international SR competition before it was shut down. The Reds backline also scored more tries than any other backline in SR AU (the Brums score a lot through their maul). So to my eye, the Reds backline had a formula that was working well. They got the ball to the space and to their outside men strike power quicker than any other side. They also integrated ball playing forwards into the backline better than any other side but that’s a topic for another day. The point is it was a strategy built around distribution and the ball doing the work that was clearly working. Why throw it away?

    It began with Rennie selecting the golden child at 12 after the injury to Toomua. It was a harsh call on Simone but Rennie clearly doesn’t rate him. Rennie thought Australia would be more likely to win with Hunter at 12. Hunter played 160 minutes there against the Argies and the backs never scored a single try nor did we win. Compare the potency of the Wallabies backline to when Toomua (a distributor) was at 12 and Hunter was 13. Thorn is also on board the move to 12 and put Stewart on notice from the outset, dropping him after 2 matches. (The writing is on the wall there. Stewart will be looking for another franchise next season.) But the question remains – is the backline better with Hunter at 12 or 13 and which is most effective and successful team strategy? I think Hunter is utterly brilliant and proven at 13. I think he is a work in progress at 12. He makes plenty of mistakes in passing and the odd one in defence but I’m sure the brains trust think the upside is so great that these mistakes can be ignored. Thorn and JOC keep saying the Reds have been clunky for the last 3 matches – how much of that is to do with throwing away the game plan that delivered fluency last season?

    • Missing Link

      my only criticism of Paisami is his “big dummy”. It worked well on Saturday to open up the Force defence, however I remember him getting clobbered a few times trying to do it against NZ. He should remember that only a fool falls for a dummy.

      • Hoss

        I remember my wife’s parent’s saying the same to her when she broke the news – something about ‘fool & dummy’.

    • Who?

      First off, it should be mentioned that Stewart was said to have been dropped (for the first game) due to a ‘minor disciplinary issue.’ This wasn’t well publicised.
      Secondly… Whilst I think the Reds backline is nicely balanced with Stewart there, what role does he play? Mr Bishop wrote a very interesting article in ‘the other place’ a few weeks ago. His argument is that, with Stewart out there, Paisami’s still the one doing the ball playing, just one position wider.
      Thirdly… It’s harsh to blame Paisami for the failings of the backline when he moved to 12. Because it coincided with Hodge moving to 10. And the Rebels backline’s outcomes this year – with Toomua playing well, and Hodge being Hodge – should indicate just how rough that is for the players outside him. I’ve not seen a heap of the Rebels this year, but what I did see had a lot of Hodge telegraphing passes, then throwing them so the ball would arrive just before the receiver would be hammered.

      Paisami was our best Wallaby back last year. He was unselfish in possession (i.e. he didn’t hold it if someone had a better position to attack, and he didn’t pass it if the player outside wasn’t in a better position), he worked his backside off in defence (I don’t think he has the pace to defend at 13 – the ABs showed him up a few times for his pace). He’s far from the finished article, but I respect his work ethic.

      • Keith Butler

        A very good reason for putting Hodge as far away from the action as possible (at 15 maybe) although Pincus put in a decent shift against the Tahs – not difficult I know ( just to wind up my mate Hoss).

        • Who?

          Pincus has been pretty good all year, I thought…
          Hodge just looks like he’s totally out of position and overplaying his hand.

      • idiot savant

        Since you started with the numbers. 1. Stewart was benched after 60 for Hunter in the first 2 games and it was obvious he was under pressure for his spot from day 1 of this season. He played 80 almost every game last season. 2. Stewarts role should be obvious from the 15 or so games he played last season in a back line that kicked arse. It’s fast distribution and maintaining continuity of possession under pressure. Part of that continuity is securing ruck ball in potential isolation situations. Part is catching and passing accurately before getting hammered. He offers more than that of course ( most tackles of any back last season in SRAU, runs straight, can kick etc) what he doesn’t offer is running ability. 3. I don’t buy the Hodge excuse. Hodge is no great shakes at 10 but we beat the ABs with him there. Hunter got enough ball early enough. 4. Hunter is much quicker than Petaia and has tremendous acceleration over 5 meters. He’s easily the best 13 in Australia and has been for 2 seasons. He had already excelled in that position so he’s obviously quick enough.

        Now Hunter may well turn out to be the greatest 12 in Wallaby history. My point was I saw the most lethal back line in Aust rugby last year being dismantled which I found curious. I see a team strategy being replaced by an individualist strategy. In any case the horse has bolted. There is no going back.

        • Who?

          1. There’s definitely pressure to fit all the strike players in the Reds backline. Petaia’s been massively (over)hyped as the Wallabies next big thing at 13 for almost four years now (remember, he was to debut for the Wallabies in 2018). And people still want him there. Then factor in that they’d want their new recruit in the starting team, plus last year’s new Wallaby (Daugunu), and there’s the young fella on the bench who’s looked good when Vunivalu’s not been there. SO there’s congestion at wing, which pushes Petaia into the centres, creating congestion there.
          I don’t disagree that Stewart’s been under pressure. I’m just pointing out what Thorn said, and I’m not writing off that he was being accurate with his statement. That Stewart will be back. Because having Petaia at 13 and Paisami might be what Rennie and Wisemantel want, but Thorn’s first priority will undoubtedly be beating McKellar and the Brumbies.

          2. Distribution is not necessarily playmaking. If your job is constant quick hands and then securing possession, as opposed to being a triple threat (pass/kick/run), then odds are you aren’t a primary playmaker. That’s not to sleight Stewart – but it does indicate he’s using the skills he developed at openside as a schoolboy. Being a linking player in the attack, and securing quick ball. It makes him valuable (Bishop argued that the Reds backline is balanced with him there). The question is just one of priorities in where you do your playmaking. Would you say Ma’a Nonu was the second playmaker at the Hurricanes and All Blacks, or was it Conrad Smith..? I’d argue that, whilst Ma’a could do some playmaking (I’m a massive fan – inside centre of the century for mine), Conrad was the second playmaker.

          3. You don’t have to buy the Hodge excuse. Beating the ABs with a player out of position doesn’t mean they’re excellent every time, or that they won’t have been found out in other ways and other games. But remember – we scored two tries – one off a chip and chase for Tom Wright, and the other was to Tupou. The chip and chase (chip from Hodge) looked programmed and coached – it was a good play, but it was clearly an area that had been identified by the coaching team to go for it on such an early phase (i.e. there was no time to assess on field where the weaknesses of the defensive structure were).

          4 – I’m surprised you think Hunter is quicker than Petaia? I’m not saying that Hunter’s slow accelerating – I just don’t think he has the top end gas of some taller and lighter players. He looks – to my eye – to be a heavier player, closer to Laumape or Kerevi than Kuridrani or Conrad Smith.

          I’m not sure the horse has bolted. Or that there’s no going back. I think Jim Mackay’s the best attack coach in Australia – has been our best for a decade – and if he decides he wants Hamish back, Hamish will be back.

  • Missing Link

    The best bit about Phil Kearns going missing from the Stan Sports commentary team, was not having to hear him whinge, squirm and make excuses for the Waratahs. They were dismal and could have been 40+ – 0 if the Rebels hadn’t gone into cruise control for the last 10. That Toomua try was right out of the “you vs. your little brother backyard rugby coaching manual”

  • Nutta

    Hello Cobbers,
    Welcome to the Newbies. Nods to the Old-Stagers.
    Quick brain dump:
    1. Big Ups to Fergus L-Warner. I like this fella.
    2. Big Ups to Pone jamming Lachie Swinton. I like Swinton generally as a hard-edged backrower, but I enjoy a hard-running prop more. And I think Lachie owes HJH a beer or three for being behind him and stopping Lachie from being on the wrong side of a YouTube big-hits video for the rest of time. BTW Hodgey, get out of the fkn way. The guy doesn’t need a faux-channel.
    3. For me, Tupou seems to be getting stronger and stronger.
    4. Sorry to see Sam Wykes not have the impact on return he hoped for. Some unfortunate touches and penalties from over-enthusiasm. Bloody honest player, even better fella by all accounts.
    5. David Porecki is our best 2 at the moment on a consistency form over the last few weeks
    6. Fantastic to see the Rebel Scum whack it to the Tarts. After a long and difficult week that was just gold to watch. I’m going home tonight to watch it again.
    7. Wales v France was a belter. Sorry not to see the Jones Boys win, but a cracker of a game
    8. How great to see Ireland whack the English on/after St Pats Day? Magnificent. I was singing Fields of Athenry all day at work today.
    9. How refreshing is the Stan coverage? Still some bugs to work out and I’m no fan of their mid-week show, but these guys are certainly bringing a new approach in my opinion
    10. Lego. Just is. And bacon.

    • Keith Butler

      All good points Nutta. Can’t argue with point 8. My SDs were shite. All very well building an international team around a core of players from one club but when that club is in the Championship and the players in question are either returning from injury or haven’t played since Oct/Nov 2020 and are clearly not match fit (not even at club level) you have to qu3stion the judgement, or lack of, of the coach. Yet EJ seems to be Teflon man.

      • Saturday went from the high of Dublin to the low of Dulin. Now it’s Monday morning I can reflect on a great match, but that was heart-breaking.

        The news coming out of the England camp reminds me of the Ass Clown. Apparently “England were made ‘weak by winning.'” “Daly is a world-class player.” (I’m not sure I agree with that, he wouldn’t get into the Welsh, AB, or Springboks team at any position for mine, and I think he’s only getting picked in the Wallabies for experience.) But even if it’s true, he plays for his club at 13 and on the wings, and he sucks under the high ball… international attacks know this and exploit it.

        There seems to be a world of denial going on. Apparently both Jones and the RFU have a break clause in the contract. I wonder if the RFU will exercise it?

    • KwAussie Rugby Lover

      Hahaha I loved watching 2, Swinton is nowhere near as tough as his press would have us believe and I think if he stopped trying to prove how tough he was all the time he might turn into a good player. Needs a a huge attitude adjustment though

  • Hoss

    I have on occasion edited my pieces later

    • Yowie

      All good. I think they can only be edited within 7 days anyway. Not even Cheiks could ruin something in only 7 days*

      [*speaking of predictions to regret]

      • Hoss

        Truth or dare?

        • Yowie

          I’ve just gotten a private message from a “D Pocock” with a picture of a sand-hill in response to the thing about how quickly Cheiks can ruin something. What to you think it means?

        • Hoss

          Too cryptic for me.

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@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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