The Waratahs and January Hype: A Necessary Evil?

Hugh Cavill January 21, 2013 56

No GravatarSo it’s late January, which in the Aussie rugby world means one thing: time to talk Tahs. Specifically, it’s time for every man and his rugby-playing dog to talk about how this year, 2013, will be different.

Say goodbye to the bland, uninspired rugby of Waratahs past. Say goodbye to the uninterested, dwindling crowds and the so-close-but-so-far losses to quality sides. Say goodbye to injuries, illness, suspension and painful press conferences. This will be our year.

No more soul-searching, 2013 will be all about the celebration huddle

No more soul-searching – 2013 will be all about the celebration huddle

Because this year is different. We have a new coach and new star player. But most importantly we have a new attitude. We’ve got our mojo back. We’ll be spinning it wide while opposition coaches will be crying into their sponsor’s beverage. Scoring tries and filling the stands. Taking rugby to the back pages, then to the front pages. First Sydney, then the world.

Sound familiar?

In the press it goes in its traditional cycle. On Monday the coach will say something vaguely positive about a solid hit-out at training. On Tuesday a current player will echo the coach’s sentiments. Maybe they’ll trot out an ex-player on Wednesday (think Phil Waugh, Matt Burke, Simon Poidevin) who will reflect on past glories and point out the obvious similarities between those moments and 2013. Thursday will be an analysis piece, or maybe the reaction to the up-and-coming Tahs from north of the border or across the ditch. Then on Friday you reflect on the week that was. Rinse and repeat until the season starts and it all changes.

Slowly but surely this talk rubs off on the average fan. After the final game of last season (an insipid loss to the Brumbies, if I recall correctly… or an insipid loss to a South African team… who cares, really?), the Tahs barely had any fans left. They’d be lucky to get 10,000 to a game. But time (and shrewd off-season signings) heals all wounds. Once again we Tahs fans pick ourselves up of the canvas and begin to believe again.

Reverse those teams, and you've got 2013 right there. Maybe.

Reverse those teams, and you’ve got 2013 right there. Maybe.

And by jeez it irks our friends north of the border. They rant about Waratah bias, and try and bring us down by informing us that we’ve been hurt before. Like the caring best friend trying to talk us out of getting back with an old flame who treated us so badly last time. And the time before. And the time before that. But when January comes around and the sun is shining, you look at that lineup and it’s just so hard to say ‘no’….

But here’s the kicker that the Negative Nancys can’t seem to acknowledge: rugby needs Waratahs hype. Awarding them the January Championship for yet another year may give you the shits, but it’s a much-needed title for a team struggling for wins. Despite the expansion of the game into new frontiers in the West and South, the greater Sydney area is still vitally important to the health of the game. And we need them to care about the Tahs, to believe for a second that they may throw off the shackles of the past and be the team we have always wanted them to be.

So my message to jaded non-Tah fans is this: give us January. Please! At the moment it’s all we’ve got. You will have your fun when the season starts. We need the hype, the attention. And the game needs it too.

Tahs 2013. It’s happening. But even if it doesn’t, prepare to meet me here next year (same time, same place) and we can do it all again….

Discussion

  • Duncher

    yeah but seriously, this is our year!!!

  • Alessandro Del Piero

    January is the best time of year. Go the Tahs.

    At least we didn’t drop $2m on an import like SFC did and still only get 11k through the gate. Their goal was to beat the Tahs crowd average. What an inspiring goal.

  • Rex Mundi

    Australian rugby might very well need the Watatahs but the Wallabies can’t win without the Reds and Brumbies being strong and there being selections on merit.

    The continuing selection of players from the Tahs in order to give them a trial run in test matches simply stinks. It’s utterly pathetic old boys nonsense. How many test jumpers did pro-Waratah bias burn before the powers that be recognised Rob Horne as a pretty average player?

    Kepu, Dennis, Robinson, Timani, Douglas, TPN, Palu all get more starts than they deserve and solely because they’re Tahs.

    • Barbarian

      Snore. Does this comment have anything to do with the article? Jeez I tire of this argument, I really do. If you think Palu doesn’t deserve to be a Wallaby starter then I struggle to take your point of view seriously.

      • Rex Mundi

        I didn’t say he didn’t deserve to be a starter, I said he gets more starts than he deserves.

        You may think its a snore, but we non-Tahs supporters find the ritual of taking up the Tahs and then ignoring form in loading the wallabies squad with Tahs players regardless, as fairly tiresome too. I guess it cuts both ways!

        • Barbarian

          I don’t mind you disputing selections but when you start to spout crap about ‘pathetic old boys nonsense’ and pro-Tahs biased it makes me think you’re an idiot. Do you even know who selects the Wallabies, and what their background is? The fact is there was a case for every one of those players being selected in gold (which you may not agree with, obviously), and talking about biases is tin-foil hat stuff that does your argument no good.

        • Eternity

          There’s also a case for replacing the entire ARU staff with a horde of typing monkeys. The difference in ability would certainly be negligible.

      • Redsfan1

        Palu? The bloke who looks big but can’t thread the line or play 80 minutes? You can’t be serious if you think he merits long term Wallaby selection. Maybe as an impact player.

        • Barbarian

          Look at the stats. The Wallabies play way better with him on the park, it is just fact. He was outstanding against Wales mid-year, and on the EOYT. There is a reason he is always rushed back into the starting team, and having no viable alternative is only part of that reason.

        • Redsfan1

          Palu is a bit like the Tahs- has some potential but is seriously over-hyped. He has barely played in the last couple years. In the Championship I remember Kafer noting how ineffective he has become at breaking the advantage line, I agree. Had no form in Super rugby but because of his light blue jersey was rushed back to Wallabies. Bit like Horne, Mitchell, Benn Robinson coming back to the Wallabies from injuries & no form under their belts. Not smart selecting.

        • http://www.greenandgoldrugby.com/ Matt Rowley

          Name a better Australian 8

        • Redsfan1

          Ben Mowen. Good form in Super rugby right now. 80 minute player & a leader. Not riding a reputation from a couple years back & put in with fingers crossed.

        • redbull

          Please

        • p.Tah

          ‘look at the stats’ Barba that argument only suits the Reds fans when talking about Quade?

          Fuck I hope this our year, just to stop the bloody Reds fans taunts.

      • redbull

        I agree with that….but I certainly do not agree that the Tahs should win a competition. Finals, fine, even THE final, especially if it is against a team I like. But never to be to be winners….NEVER

    • Johnny-boy

      Not to mention Ryan and McKibbin and Barnes and Turner and Horne. I’m amazed Tom Carter hasn’t got a call up yet. Is he really that bad ? Actually I think Douglas deserves his spot and possibly Palu but only because Mowen hasn’t been given his chance to step up to test rugby, which I think he would grow in to exceptionally well.

    • Eternity

      Honestly, I think you could make a much stronger Wallabies team entirely without Waratahs players. Say…

      1. Alexander
      2. Moore
      3. Palmer
      4. Horwill
      5. Simmons
      6. Higgers
      7. Pocock
      8. Mowen
      9. Genia
      10. Cooper
      11. Ioane
      12. Tapuai
      13. Faingaa
      14. O’Connor
      15. Beale

      That team is infinitely superior to one that includes Waratahs.

      • Bay35Pablo

        How many of them were kinacked last year?

  • The Ham

    Finally the Waratahs have come of age. It’s the 18th year of their 3-year plan!

  • Ryan

    BRING BACK BILL!

  • Eggsie

    As a fervent, one eyed, parochial, banjo playing Reds supporter I look forward to the annual false dawn of our intellectually superior, latte sipping, polo neck wearing, rhynophymatic southern cousins with the same sort of macabre glee that an older brother has watching his younger sibling don the superman cape and climb to the roof of the garage. You know that confidence is high, and he has purchased the tools he thinks guarantee success but in the back of your mind you know that the turkey can’t fly. Sail on you lovely ship of fools!

    • Ralph

      As a queen-slander you shouldn’t be using big words you don’t understand

    • Redsfan1

      Ha ha priceless! Then the Tahs tanty is sure to follow when the toys fall out of the pram.

    • Parra

      Brilliant! I’m already sipping on my latte in anticipation. Love the analogy but this year the pig’s gunna fly!

    • Kinghitz

      Rhynophymatic? WTF!

      • Eggsie

        Sorry about the bulbous nose reference, it’s just I visualise a stadium full of Rumpoles and Mellions when I think of Ye grande olde supporters of Tah rugby..

    • BPC

      No need to be so harsh on Victorians.

    • Bay35Pablo

      You know we don’t pull the polo necks out until after Super rugby season is over. Doesn’t get cold enough until then …

  • http://www.greenandgoldrugby.com/ Brumby Jack

    Public Enemy’s ‘Don’t believe the hype’ should be played in the Waratahs gym

  • http://twitter.com/martyaskew Marty Askew

    I’m feelin it BaBa. This is the year!!

  • Hannibal

    Give me Foley at 10 and Barnes back at 12 or 15 with the backline being Cheika-ized and I’ll buy a season pass again. At least we then have a chance of scoring tries which will keep me in my seat rather than in the pie queue. I’ll even promise to be excited to see Folau on the wing. Do we also get to see Tah-son or whatever that competition settled on this season?

  • Johnny-boy

    That is actually your very best article Barbs. “Like the caring best friend ….and …” the January Championship.” Pure gold. Well done. I can’t see the Tahs doing anything but improving and I hope they rise to the occasion against the NZ and Saffa sides, but crash to the ground against the Aussie sides :). The real indicator will be whether or not Tom Carter or Rob Horne is in the run on side. Tom Kingston, a criminally wasted talent at the Tahs has ten times more potential than either of them and thrice as much talent as Lachie Turner.

  • gel

    “So it’s late January, which in the Aussie rugby world means one thing: time to talk Tahs. Specifically, it’s time for every man and his rugby-playing dog to talk about how this year, 2013, will be different”

    Snore. Does this regular occurrence have anything to do with the Australian rugby as a whole? Jeez I tire of this argument, I really do. If you think the rest of Australian rugby doesn’t deserve to be considered in the Australian rugby landscape then I struggle to take your point of view seriously.

  • ooaahh

    Your such a fair weather fan Barbar, I started this joyfest in December.

  • Redsfan1

    Here’s the real kicker: rugby DOESN’T need the Waratahs hype. It needs the 5 teams to get air time. It needs to acknowledge that the Reds & Brumbies played better then the Tahs & have big fan bases.

    Riddle me this- Auckland & Jo’Bourg based teams don’t dominate NZ or SA rugby so why should Sydney?

    If the Tahs top the comp & have 70,000 Facebook fans (Reds) instead of 20,000 then yeah maybe you have a point. But they don’t! So stop expecting succes ‘just because’ it’s the Tahs…

    • Barbarian

      Why? It seems like you have missed the point of the article entirely. Why in January of 2013 do we need to acknowledge the Reds and Brumbies are/were better than the Tahs?

      January coverage should have nothing to do with 2012. It should be filled with optimism and high hopes, not just in NSW but everywhere. And it isn’t like the Tahs are dominating the Queensland press, or the ACT press. They are getting there fair share of coverage too.

      The whole point of the article was that this yearly period where we ignore those facts you rightly state is a healthy thing. It is needed to get fans in the gate, thinking for a second that 2012 is behind us and things will be bigger and better in 2013.

      • Morsie

        Mate, you’ll have to draw pictures for them to understand what you’re writing about.

      • Redsfan1

        Barbarian, I take my hat off to you. I thought Queenslanders were one-eyes but you have taken it to a new level.

        But here’s a shocking thought- maybe try taklkin up the Tahs AFTER they have had a good season. It would give the Tahs more credibility & I’ll be the first Queenslander to praise our frustrated cousins down south.

  • Catriona_A

    Hugh I love the way you write and I love your passionate one-eyed support of your team. I love the angle you took with this post. There’s just a lot of love.

    I may have read it differently to other commenters but it seemed to me that you were commenting more on the process of the hyping and less (if at all) on the player-selections, the Wallabies or the actual content of the hyping.

    I must admit that I missed a game here and there during the Reds doldrums of yesteryear (however out of everyone I’ve spoken to I am the only one who admits to it – I can’t believe they still got crowds of 40K+ while getting beaten by 80+…)

    IMO discussions along the lines of “they are getting more publicity than they deserve/my team” come down to two factors:

    a) if they are getting a disproportionate amount of publicity, then bloody well done to their media and marketing team! If we had said at the end of last season that the TAHS would be the franchise we would be talking about so positively in January (and yes I know there are no results to back it up yet – which makes it more extraordinary) I doubt many would believe us. It’s hard getting press at the best/worst of times, let alone positive press between seasons for a franchise that by all measures was shithouse in 2012. Hats off on a f***ing great job by the Tahs team (both behind the scenes and the players)

    b) If there is too much Tah-talk on these blogs and people think we should write more about their team, please let us know that you’d like to put your hand up to write for the site. We’d LOVE to have you. I understand that the content on this site is usually of an exceptionally high/professional standard, but none of the bloggers do this full-time. All write about what they like to write about because it’s a hobby, and I think as long as people spend hours of their own time to write what they want to read, they shouldn’t be told what to write about.

    • Morsie

      No one in Queensland can write, they can’t even spell beer ffs……….

      • redbull

        Course we can, it XXXX you bloody idiot.

    • Richo

      Cat, the automatic ranting about Wallaby selections by many Reds fans is inextricable from the January Hype. I think Newton wrote about it somewhere — for every action, an equal and opposite reaction.

  • Hawko

    This article helps to perpetuate a myth – that the Tahs are a really crap team who always let their supporters down. They’re not. Are they crap because they don’t meet our expectations? Maybe its the expectations that are the problem.

    NSW supporters seem to want us to win every year, to always win 50-0 and to have two out of three tries scored by wingers. There is a need for us to get a grip, to look at the reality. Only one team can win the comp each year. Since the start of Super 12, seventeen years ago, the Crusaders have won 7 times, the Bulls and Blues 3 times, Brumbies 2, Chiefs and Reds once each. The Waratahs, along with the Stormers, Sharks, Cheetahs, Lions, Force, Rebels, Highlanders, Hurricanes, have yet to log a win. That’s a lot of teams who have supposedly disappointed their fans and under-delivered.

    In the last eight years the best teams have been, in order of finals results, Crusaders, Bulls, Waratahs, Sharks. But to listen to the whingers, especially those north of the border, the Waratahs have been awful. A lie repeated a thousand times might seem to be the truth, but its still a lie. Being a top four team over the last eight years is a record to be proud of. They lost two finals to the Crusaders. The first was probably the best Crusaders team since the start of Super 12 and the second wasn’t half bad either. No shame in either loss.

    But expectations are still there. According to the knockers, this year the Waratahs must win the comp or else they’ll be in the toilet. Again. But the Lions tour will kill off any chance of this. The Waratah forward pack will most likely all be in the training squad and conceivably in the match day 23. They’ll reportedly all have to miss games to prepare for the tour and will return battered and bruised for the Super finals series. The Reds and Brumbies will also have similar problems, while the Saffers and Kiwis will have a much lighter load. For all three squads, a place between third and sixth would be an excellent result, but given the structure of the finals only the first two teams are likely to win it.

    The first decent chance the Tahs, or any other Australian team has to win Super rugby again is 2014. Does that mean that all of our three best franchises are doomed to disappoint their fan base this year. Maybe if they place bottom six, but otherwise no.

    • Barbarian

      I agree with you to some extent that the bar has been set a bit too high for the Tahs. But I do start to cringe when you start talking about how we have been a ‘top 4 team over the past 8 years’. There comes a time where near enough just isn’t good enough.

      With the talent on our playing roster we should have won a title by now, plain and simple. But instead we have had to sit back and watch our cousins in Qld and previously ACT enjoy the spoils of victory while we have had to settle for a couple of ‘so close but so far’ moments that are getting further and further away from the here and now.

      It’s tough, but that is top level sport. You need to win titles if you really want to be taken seriously- by both the opposition and your fan base.

      • Hawko

        So by that reasoning, over the last eight years, only the Crusaders, Bulls, Reds and Chiefs can be taken seriously. I don’t buy it.

        • Barbarian

          Hmm that’s a valid point. I suppose the Tahs have a far larger history than some of the other sides, and there is a bit of baggage that comes with that. I suppose ‘taken seriously’ wasn’t quite what I meant, but I think at some point if you want to consider yourself as a premier side (which the Tahs should and often do) then you have to win the competition.

  • RugbyAntics

    As a one-eyed Reds supporter myself, all of you arguing with Barbarian seemed to have completely missed the point of his article.

    Regardless of what you think about the ‘Tahs the fact that a Super Rugby franchise exists in the League fortress that is NSW is incredibly important to the sport AS A WHOLE (health of Super XV in Australia as well as the development of new Wallabies talent). To have this franchise grow and prosper this year would further help to develop and grow the game in NSW (ala the explosion of new players registering following England’s RWC victory in 2003). Regardless of how you feel about your particular franchise the health of the ‘Tahs is vitally important to the growth and health of Rugby throughout Australia. NSW is a large state and Rugby is far from the dominant sport there, meaning less potential Wallabies talent and less entertaining Super XV matches due to competition over athletes. The more popular the ‘Tahs get, the more players register, the more stars are discovered, the more entertaining rugby we get to see at the Super XV level and the more wins we get to see from the Wallabies.

    Get it now?

    • Bay35Pablo

      Who else is going to supply all the players to the Force and Rebels? :)

  • Eternity

    You know, a couple of years ago crowing about the strength and depth of the Waratahs squad may have been justified. But looking at them now, the squad as a whole looks surprisingly weak. Much weaker than the Brumbies and Reds in fact. Frankly, as a Reds fan, I’m struggling to think of one Waratah I’d want in my starting XV. The forwards are grossly overrated, as shown repeatedly for the Wallabies. And the Waratahs backs are ahead of only the Force in the Australian conference, and perhaps the weakest in the halves. I can’t see any reason for optimism at all. Well, aside from the inevitable Wallabies selections despite finishing in the bottom third of the table…

    • Blinky Bill of Belligen NSW

      No you’re probably right, us Tahs fans should just curl up into a ball and try not to feel good about ourselves or our team.

      Where’s all this stuff coming from? I’m not seeing too many Tah fans beating the drums with inflated expectations. In fact I’d reckon most will be happy just to see the team fully fit and play decent footy.

      • Eternity

        Aside from the normal NSW/Queensland rivalry, there’s definitely also an element of bitterness and frustration with the incompetence habitually displayed by the ARU administration and coaching staff over the past few years. It makes the Tahs a natural target because they seem to benefit from this incompetence through unjustifiable Wallabies selections. The fact that it’s mostly Tahs fans who continue to defend Robbie Deans doesn’t help one bit either. Thus wishing the Tahs well is basically synonymous with wishing the ARU well as things stand.

        • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW

          Er……..I think I follow that. Seems to me that the flames of rivalry appear to burn brighter North of the Tweed. But then to be fair, that may be just this indifferent New South Welshman’s observations.

          I actually live closer to Brisbane than I do to Sydney but still can’t stand the thought of dropping the Tahs for the Reds. That though may have more to do with me feeling sorry for the sky blues and not wanting to feel a right prick dropping then when they are on the ropes than anything else.

        • Redsfan1

          I used to not mind the Tahs because when they put on Gold jerseys they were Wallabies. Not now. There is massive frustration in Queensland that the Tahs are so over-represented in the Wallaby/ARU setup. Suncorp is packed with Gold for a Wallabies game. Yet the ARU has given every first Bledisloe game to Syndey where they can’t fill the stadium & boo the team. Even in the dark days of the Reds the team wasn’t booed liked it had been down South. And of course there is the Tahs getting all the Wallabies spots.

        • Barbarian

          That post is almost 100% bullshit. Thought someone should point that out.

        • Johnny-boy

          No Barbs Redsfan is correct. The Wallabies no longer represent Australian rugby. They essentially represent ARU and NSW rugby politics.
          If the Tahs, with a team chock full of Wallabies, a great new coach and great new organisation heads don’t sweep everything before them this year, the game will be up. They have bought themselves a mountain of pressure to perform.

        • Redsfan1

          the truth hurts Barbarian. Are you seriously suggesting that the Tahs were in good form & deserved so many selections? Maybe you should try & be a bit more realistic. The NSW punters are leaving in droves. What does that tell you?

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