The Tuesday Top 5 - Green and Gold Rugby

The Tuesday Top 5

The Tuesday Top 5

It’s Tuesday. It’s the Top 5. Not much more to say really.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Good – The Pumas coming out firing against the Spring Boks. 3 tries in an 8 minute period, they were just electric!

Bad – Bledisloe gone for another year. Before both matches I watched the comments turn from doubting to hopefully optimistic. But deep down, are we really surprised?

Ugly – The Wallabies defence. We could be playing against the best in the world or a tier 3 nation. You still have to make tackles!!!

Photo Courtesy of Keith McInnes

Photo Courtesy of Keith McInnes

Speaking of making tackles …

Honestly, I’m not going to go too much into the stats from the two Bledisloe matches we have just seen. They are pretty straight forward and don’t really need too much analysing.

Bled stats 2018

Obviously our defence was pretty terrible. Especially in the first match. 67% tackle rate is barely acceptable at any level of rugby, let alone test match level. It improved slightly in the second match, but is still below where it should be for a national team. Watching the game, I recall too many players just falling off tackles.

It gets even more concerning when you look at the individual player stats for defence from game 2.

Simmons – made 4 tackles, missed 3
Beale – made 7, missed 6
Koroibete – made 11, missed 6 (incidentally, in game 1 he made 5, missed 5)
Genia – made 2, missed 3
Robertson – made 3, missed 2
Haylett-Petty – made 2, missed 2

Between 4 of our starting players, they missed 17 tackles.

Thank goodness for players like TPN (made 12, missed 1), Alaalatoa (made 10, missed 0) and Pocock (made 18, missed 0)

The worrying thing is, this stat doesn’t account for the times a player didn’t even get a hand to the attacker. There were numerous occasions when an All Black player simply stepped a Wallaby so there was barely even an attempted tackle.

Photo Courtesy of Keith McInnes

Photo Courtesy of Keith McInnes

Wallaroos on the rise

Yes, they were beaten for the second week in a row. The Black Ferns scored 7 tries to 3 on Saturday to take out the Laurie O’Reilly Memorial Trophy. The score-line of 43-17 sounds pretty bleak, but there were some glimpses of some really good rugby from the Wallaroos. They struggled a bit more defensively this week, but made a number of breaks in attack, only to be let down by poor handling or decision making, which was frustrating to watch. The gap could have been smaller if not for a few errant passes on the end of some nice breaks.

The Black Ferns, on the other hand, looked incredible. Every time they had the ball in attack they looked threatening. They slid through the defence with ease an scored some very good tries.

As I said last week, the Wallaroos are playing against a more experienced side, with more time as a team and more time simply playing rugby. They are reigning World Cup Champions, in fact they have won 5 out of the 8 World Cup tournaments that have been played. The Black Ferns are the best. And the Wallaroos have shown that at times they can challenge the best. They can break through the defence, they can score tries. And the more we play, the better we look.

Are the Wallaroos world beaters? No, probably not. But they are improving each time they play together, so in the coming years? Anything could happen!

And on a brighter note – sort of – our girls scored more points over their two matches than the men did. They also let in fewer points than the men did. The losing margins were smaller for the Wallaroos in each of their games than the losing margins for the Wallabies.

Accepting the reality

So that’s it. At least it was short and sweet. Another edition of Bledisloe done. So, let’s move on.

The reality is we are simply not good enough. Can we compete? Sometimes; if the stars line up and the All Blacks are having a bad day or fielding a weaker side.

The quicker we accept this and stop obsessing about beating the All Blacks and persisting with unfounded optimism the quicker we can look at the tangible result that can be achieved.

But that leads to a challenging and very uncomfortable question for rugby supporters and a really hard decision for Rugby Australia.

Do we keep plugging away with a team that can’t beat the All Blacks regularly and is unlikely to win the Rugby World Cup (RWC) unless they have an abundance of luck? The benefit here is that we can probably reap some financial rewards from getting to the finals of the RWC. However, will the rewards be offset by allowing the supporter base to erode further?

Or do we draw a line in the sand, gamble and rebuild now? Clean house and gamble on youth? It might attract the supporters back if the mould is recast and people can subscribe to a new and reinvigorated rugby. But the RWC? Would we have much of a hope?

For me it’s the latter. Thinking big picture, we can’t keep buying lotto tickets and living on winnings as it will not save rugby. Bums on seats at both the games and in front of the TV will.

Aussie’s love an underdog, will back our new blood and will likely subscribe to a new, fresh re-branded and reinvented product. They will back bold and innovative decisions as it appeals to the fighting ethos of our culture.

They say timing is every thing and having the RWC in a convenient time zone and needing to build a product to sell for the future, I am not sure when the game here in Australia will have a better opportunity.

Photo Courtesy of Keith McInnes

Photo Courtesy of Keith McInnes

Broken tools

How can you fix something when the tools required to repair it are broken?

When you look at the Wallabies and even more broadly at rugby in Australia, when you look for the solutions or ways to fix the problems it’s hard to actually identify any. Why is that?

Pondering this it’s not hard to start looking at some of the impediments and elements that really don’t serve the game well.

The reported negotiations between RA and Andrew Forrest gave us the first real insight. At the top of the list of “imperatives” from RA was that Super Rugby and the State Union’s premier competitions were sacrosanct and Twiggy ball was not allowed to compromise their integrity.

One of these competitions is failing in both popularity and its ability to produce players of an international standard. The other is failing to produce a pathway for players to transition to Super Rugby or produce many players that are of a sufficient standard to be developed for Super Rugby. The latter also has a small footprint of supporters to support it financially.

Force v Wild Knights (Credit: Delphy)

Before you accuse me of overlooking the NRC, it’s not only privately licensed in many cases with RA at arm’s length it’s also a flash in the pan competition which can’t yet define its identity or purpose. It’s good, but being used poorly and mistreated in my opinion.

“But there are commercial realities”; so will go the arguments. Based on what? What was used to benchmark Super Rugby financially? Where do the forecasts come from? There is no other competition like it. Sure the Pro 14 is now similar but there is nothing else.  Let’s face it, the data indicates that Rugby is growing worldwide and most of the domestic competitions are strong. From that base line and the geographical advantages, it’s fairly obvious why the Champions Cup works.

It’s no coincidence that our problems are very similar to South Africa’s problems. We both invested in the same product. However they have a far superior domestic platform and have looked for greener grass. We just cut ours as it was easier.

So what tools have we got to fix this mess? Right there is the problem. We can’t produce the players as our production line is simply too small and it can’t compete against other nations. The Kiwis have shown that they will take on any players as it pushes the standard up and increases the numbers and level of completion for the few elite opportunities.  Their turnover of players at the Provincial level shows how competitive it is.

Bad workers always blame their tools. These broken tools can’t fix the problems.

16 Bledisloe Cups later and we still can’t get it. Same broken tools, same issues and same failed solutions. Another run at a RWC ill prepared and scrambling to cobble together an answer.

I wonder if GAGR’s own Jamie Miller will be dusting this off soon and updating the names and dates?

It’s a sad reality that we really are stuck on a merry go round.

What do you think?

I’m just gong to leave this one here. Sergio Parisse, who took the mark, was red carded for this incident. Deserved? What do you think?

  • If that was open play I can see why Parisse gets a red.

    But in this situation he’s just landed from catching a kick. He hasn’t had time to step, probably not to really establish his balance. One step earlier and the other guy is getting penalised for hitting a player in the air.

    I think this is one where there needs to be some thought. If you think Parisse maliciously landed so as to be leaning into the hit and apply more force, then it’s red for a deliberate blow to the head. (He does land with his feet pretty close together, which you might read as intent.) If you’re in the camp he’s just landed and they both have a duty of care to themselves and each other, then it’s certainly not red. It might not even be a penalty.

    I think Parisse is a great player who has been shackled by being born Italian so I might be biased. While I can see the case for red, I think it’s the wrong call.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      I don’t think there’s a case mate. The injury occurred because the tackler went high into a player who just braced himself for the hit. Absolute shit decision.


      It was a terrible call……. and the case your making is what should have been done during the week after the game. Not decided on by overzealous refs in the heat of the moment. Red cards should never been seen unless it’s 1000%clear an obvious IMHO!

      • I can certainly agree with most of that.

        While I can see the case, I think it was the wrong call – because I can see the case I’m not sure I’d go so far as to say terrible, just wrong. However, because it’s not really clear I think leaving it for a citing panel who can take more time, if they even decide there’s a decision to make, would be a really good choice.

  • Parker

    That red was absurd. Parisse was punished for the tackler’s poor technique

  • Custard Taht

    That Red was garbage….so they just expect him to take no action against a shellacking.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Hey MST, thanks for this. Not a lot to like about the last couple of games and some pretty shit play to be honest although I think there was more intensity in the 2nd game. I like the idea but as Mikado mentioned yesterday the risk is that the growing phase turns off even more people. The issue if you do this is who do you keep? I can’t see RA allowing the highly paid players to sit on the side and unfortunately they are all part of the problem. Personally I’d put Folau at 14 and if he sulked I’d fuck him off. I don’t think he achieves much on the field and looks disinterested anyway. I’d put almost anyone at 10 and make him defend there, Toomua at 12, Hodge, Banks and DHP at the 11, 13 and 15. Bring in Rory, I’d keep Coleman as I think his main issue is trying to do too much, Pocock at 7, Samu at 6 and Timu at 8.

    Also a bullshit red.

  • Patrick

    I’m joining the chorus, I think that is literally the worst red I’ve ever seen, it wasn’t even a penalty in U16s.

  • Mart

    This is an example of the injured players reaction influencing the outcome with the referee. Ala soccer
    If Folau did this in Sydney……..

  • RedAnt

    Thanks MST.

    The tackle stats are pretty damning – the ABs lost as many turnovers as we did yet they still ran away with the games. That level of tackling is just not acceptable… I mean, you could almost live with it if our attack was brilliant but that is clearly also way below par.

    Thank goodness for the women, hey? One of the few bright spots in the game here.

    I agree we need a re-think in our approach. Some young talent prepared to have a crack wouldn’t be a bad start. I think the public would rather see us go down fighting than what they’re getting at the moment. I also think planning everything around world cups is seriously flawed. Once every four years we play a tournament that is completely different in nature to everything else. Yes it’s important, but not as important as performing well every year.

    There was an interesting article from Michael Pascoe (who usually writes about politics and business) today about ‘saving’ Australian rugby. It may or may not be the answer but what I’d give for a little bit of this long-term vision at RA HQ.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      That’s a pretty good article. However, what it misses is that the administration of rugby is not capable of making these or any other decisions that will benefit the game here. Far too much state bias and an old boy network that is out of touch.

    • Interesting article. I’m not sure he’s 100% right but he’s a damn sight closer to right than anything I’ve seen out of RA.

      It’s not even really a hugely bold plan, if you look at any other country. If you look at SA, NZ, Wales, England, Scotland and I’m pretty sure France you’d see something broadly similar. There are tweaks to it in NZ for sure, but the basics are there.

      It’s just radical in Australia and without blowing up the old boys network at the top of the power structure, it won’t get changed.


Brumbies first, then for the love of the game. "It infuriates me to be wrong when I know I'm right." —Moliere

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