Review – Australian performance at the JWC

Lee Grant June 28, 2013 10

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The Australian Under 20 team had another undistinguished tournament this year. After placing eighth in 2012, their worst result ever, they finished one spot better in 2013.

As they did in 2012 they won only one pool game in the Junior World Championship [JWC], against the worst team in the pool, and lost the other two. As in 2012 they lost their first ranking knock-out game and had to contest the play-off for seventh place; but this year, they won it.


The pool matches

Oz Under 20 scrum v. Ireland

Oz Under 20 scrum v. Ireland

Ireland 19 – Australia 15 — The Aussies were not far off in individual natural talent but they were beaten by a side whose technique and team attributes were superior. A runaway try for the Aussies with eight minutes to go gave Australia a chance, and they were driving a lineout maul over to score the winning try with two minutes remaining, but were penalised for foul play.

Australia scored two tries to one and Ireland won by only four points, but the score-line flattered the Aussies.

New Zealand 14 – Australia 10 — NZ won this game, in hindsight, in the first 16 minutes when Australia were forced to infringe when they couldn’t exit from their half and the Kiwis slotted three penalty kicks. For most of the rest of the game Australia were the better side, but again, they lost by four points.

Australia 46 – Fiji 12 — Australia had a decent win with a lot of their reserve players starting.


The knock-out matches

Argentina 22 – Australia 15 — Argentina deservedly beat Australia, as they did last year in the pool matches, scoring three tries to two. The Aussies took an early 7-0 lead but Argentina scored a try just before the break and having already slotted a penalty were 10-7 ahead at half-time. Australia got to 15-17 with 20 minutes remaining but Argentina won the right to contest for fifth place when they scored a try with ten minutes to go.

Australia 28 – Ireland 17 — In the contest for seventh place the Aussies got revenge over Ireland, who had gone off the boil after their pool matches. Australia had the wind behind them and were leading 20-3 at half-time but Ireland fought back when it was their turn to play with the breeze, and got to 17-23.

But at 63 minutes Hodge sent a long ball to Northam who scored a breakout try for Australia as he did against Ireland in the pool game. After scoring three tries to one Australia won 28-17.

Tom Staniforth - best Aussie

Tom Staniforth – best Aussie

The match results were marginally better for Australia in 2013 but I thought the Aussies improved more than the results indicated. Their two losses in the pool games were by only four points each and there was no blow-out loss as against France last year. And they won their match for seventh place, as mentioned.

Best player for Australia at the 2013 JWC: Tom Staniforth.


The finals

This does not purport to be a comprehensive report of the tournament but the finals were interesting.

It seemed strange because it was the first time that New Zealand had not contested the IRB JWC final, and the first time that two Northern Hemisphere teams did.

In the first semi-final Wales won a nail-biter on the bell against South Africa in a top game of rugby,18-17; in the second semi-final England dominated the Kiwis 33-21.

In the bronze medal game eleven tries were scored and there was an amazing comeback. New Zealand were ahead 21-0 after 21 minutes but South Africa finished with a wet sail and scored 41 points to 13 in the remainder of the match and won it 41-34.

In the final Wales were playing above their weight, literally, and were ahead 15-3 at half-time, but couldn’t score another point. In the second half the physicality of England took its toll and they scored 20 points to none to win the JWC tournament 23-15.

Well done England  — they were the big improvers in 2013.  They were seventh in 2012 and had to fight back this year after being beaten by South Africa in their pool game.

See Page 2 – What’s wrong with Australian junior rugby?

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Discussion

  • Roscoe Tims

    A John O’Neill legacy then? We go around in circles. Devolve, then centralise. Save money at all costs?

    Would a Super Rugby B competition help?

    • Roland Chan

      Flip one way, then the other as the boss changes. I guess Rugby has definitely been corporatised then.

    • Lee Grant

      That would be a good thing but it would be more of a Super Rugby thing than an Under-20 thing because it would serve to bring their reserves and wider training group players (who are nearly always not Under-20 eligible) up to speed before club rugby starts.

      But it wouldn’t be a development competition because they will want to pick hardened old stagers, not the Under-20 qualified qualified guys, to get results.

      Ewen Mckenzie said: “You can’t throw a 19 year-old into Super Rugby” and I dob’t think you should be throwing Under-20 eligible guys into B Super Rugby either.
      .

  • Joe Mac

    I would prefer they gave that money to each of the provinses in the form of 10, 40k contracts for players under 20 per season, per franchise. At a total of 2milllion, that will provide 50 very talented youngsters the funds to try and make it rugby, attracting some top talent away from AFL and Rugby League.
    Having that talent in the system will not only give a huge depth of selection for the U20 World Cup, but it will bode very well for Rugby at the Super and National level in years to come…

    • Lee Grant

      You miss the point that the Under-20 players need to be hardened in competitive games. It is no use just to pay them some money without getting them on the park.

      This will not only toughen them up and put what they learn on the training paddock to good use, but also the games will serve as selection trials.

      How often do we hear that this player, or that, should have been picked – or not picked. Sometimes those claims are valid because it is difficult to compare one player against the other unless you have an avenue of assessment.

      The development competition will help selectors to assess players better, but it will come at a financial cost.

      Lee Grant

  • david baldwin

    I know that this may seem radical but I think
    that we need to think quite a bit outside of the square on this front, not to
    mention the Australian Rugby front. I have for a long time championed the idea
    that we have a 3rd tier which is made up by club rugby however I have recently
    changed my tune very significantly on this issue. I think a genuine re-think
    needs to be had when we think about Rugby in Australia.

    I think that Super Rugby has run its course. I
    dont accept its the best format and think that we should abandon the concept
    and go at Rugby alone in Australia or the very “most” in partnership
    with NZ. I dont accept that their is not enough money in Australia nor
    is their enough depth of talent, its simply untrue. The fact that the AFL and
    NRL can garner 1 billion dollar deals suggests that their is money available.

    The issue for me is that the competition does
    nothing to engage the supporter base in Australia, not even close. I know
    some people like the idea of playing South Africans or Kiwis however the
    problem I see is that the average person on the street does not care if we beat
    a team from Waikato or Bloomfontein. The
    average punter wants to know that his Brisbane
    team has beaten the Gold Coast or North Queensland, that their Western Sydney
    team beat the North Sydney team or the Central Coast
    team. The average punter wants to engage with their “local” team against other
    local teams. I believe that is at the heart of the issues facing Australian
    Rugby. Its illogical to have a Queensland
    or NSW team as a “club” side that allegedly represents all of QLD or NSW when
    they never leave Brisbane or Sydney. Tribalism and prachoialism is what has
    done wonder for the NRL, AFL and now to an extent the A League.

    This is not to suggest disbanding with South
    Afircan/Kiwi teams altogether nor am I suggesting getting rid of the Reds or
    Waratahs. What I am saying is that players should be engaged in a club competition
    where they can then progress to play for their state (a la state of origin) and
    then afterwards move into national comps (Rugby Championships) or even play
    against other provinces from NZ or SA if they feel the need – while there are a
    couple of teams in the ITM cup that represent the Auckland Region they come
    together to represent the Blues in SR which is precisely what could happen in
    Australia, however the State/Provincial side is truly that and is only played a
    handful of games each year, much like State of Origin.

    Too my calculations there are 5 Super Rugby Sides
    each with 30 contracted players, plus 5 in the EPS which is around 175 give or
    take a few. Plus another 50 or so Academy players, not to mention the 30
    players who come through the Schools system each year to supplement. Taking
    them out of the equation there are roughly 200 “professional” players in
    Australia at the moment not to mention guys like Ruan Smith, JP Smith, AJ
    Gilbert or Cam Crawford who are of Super Rugby Quality however cant get a run
    due to the limited number of spots (In Crawfords Case – hats off to Chieka for
    giving the bloke a run) but essentially there are guys like Turner and Kingston
    who are not getting runs!!!

    I also think that moving to such a competition
    would also open the door for many extremely talented club players who could
    potentially step up to professional rugby but are lacking access to
    professional programs etc. I don’t accept that the talent is not their, it is,
    it just does not always get a chance when you only have 5 teams to break
    through in. I don’t accept that the NRL has more talent, they have 14 odd teams
    and not every team is stacked with champions. The Broncos for example don’t have
    many superstars however they go ok. Likewise with every team in the NRL, not
    every player is State of Origin standard and not everyone is as effective as
    Inglis, Hayne, Barba etc the point though is that there are solid players who
    do their job that sometimes step up to a higher level because they are exposed
    to a level that they would not get in Rugby. I also think that there are dozens
    of players in the NRL who are products of Rugby nurseries across Australia however don’t play Rugby
    anymore because of the limited opportunities and money. Moving to this model
    will change that dramatically.

    I think if you had a competition that had 6 teams
    from NSW (I don’t know NSW as well as QLD but I would imagine maybe 4 Sydney
    teams + 1 covering Western Sydney and 1 for the Central Coast), 4 from QLD (2
    Brisbane, 1 North Qld and perhaps 1 Gold Coast/Toowoomba/Downs team) 1 from
    Canberra, 1 From Melbourne and 1 from Perth and 1 from Adelaide, you would have
    a very good competition that would create enourmous support and engagement from
    the general public and would create interest because I know I want to see my Brisbane
    team smash the North Queenslanders or the Sydney
    mobs!!!

    Going off my (very rough) calculations, 200 odd
    players split into 14 teams = basically a full team (14.2) players per team. I
    would argue (as a club rugby coach) that there are enough players in Club rugby
    to make up the numbers across Australia that could step up – remembering that
    not every player is going to play for the Reds or even the Wallabies, likewise
    every Rabbitoh or Rooster is not going to make the step up to the Blues!!

    An added benefit is the introduction of coaching
    pathways for talented young coaches who have their paths blocked by the
    extremely limited pathways to professional coaching in Australia.

    Finally we would need to ENSURE that the game is
    broadcast on free to air TV. Channel 10 is looking for something to compete
    with the AFL and NRL on 7/9 and I think that Rugby
    could be that sport. Its global and I think once Australia sees it weekly as a
    product (Friday night footy, Sunday Arvo Footy) I think the global attraction
    will bring in supporters in their thousands as we will have a genuinely global game
    and global team to support, in addition to supporting your club side, like the
    thousands of NRL supporters do each week with the Titans, Rabbits etc. The
    beauty of our game is that at the end of the club season we move onto a truly global
    spectacle, challenging the best of our players against the best from other
    countries. A partnership between Channel 10 and Foxtel, much like the NRL/AFL
    does already is the way forward.

    I don’t accept that there is no money, nor a lack
    of player depth and I don’t think that saving $2million by dissolving the
    academies or banking $10 million + from the lions series should be spent on “Super
    B” – nobody I know would watch and nobody would care. Complete waste of
    money!!! This is the way forward for Australian Rugby!!!

    • Gordo

      A great deal of thought went into that David. Some bery goodl points. Fair play to you!

    • jbc

      I completely agree with a lot of what you ve said. As a kiwi, i would like to see the franchise system disbanded. More supportvis garnered when people hage close connections to something.
      The best clubs/ provinces could always play concurrently in our version of the champions league or heinekin cup, but keep the rest local with rep sides from there.

  • ScrumJunkie

    What position does Staniforth play? What was so impressive about his play?

    • david baldwin

      Second Row – from what i saw he has a decent workrate

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