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Thursday’s Rugby News

Thursday’s Rugby News

Thursday’s Rugby News sees two legends calling time, Fardy in line for accolades, and Parahi on the Singapore Sevens.


Calling Time, Pt 1.

Ash Hewson kicks

Ash Hewson kicks

Womens rugby has moved forward in leaps and bounds over the last ten months, and a lot of that has come off the back of the outstanding way female rugby players have conducted themselves as fantastic role models.

Now, one of the greats of the Aussie Womens game has officially announced their retirement from international rugby.

Ash Hewson, the veteran who guided NSW to the first ever Super W title and whose boot proved to be the only difference in the grand final, has announced her retirement from playing for the Wallaroos.

While she is leaving the international game, she will remain a prominent figure in Womens rugby with a playing role at Sydney Uni, which could lead to a potential coaching role.

When asked why she was deciding to leave now, she made it no secret that it was time for the new generation to step up.

“To be honest, probably that [Super W] win (sealed my decision),” she said.

“I realised that the game’s in really, really good hands and that competition I think week in, week out showed that.

“To see the young girls coming through and for me to lead that group of women to the first Super W final was really special and to be honest with you I don’t think you can beat that, so it was definitely it was definitely seeing the young talent coming through.”

Hewson bows out as the Wallaroos third most capped player and highest point scorer. She represented the Wallaroos at three World Cups, including their most successful campaign in 2010 that saw them finish third. She was also the Australian Womens Rugby Player of the Year in 2016.

Outside of rugby, she has also represented Australia in soccer, cricket and athletics.

“In any sport if you play it with love and passion which is exactly what women do,” she said.

“There is not much financial reward and I think that will come in the future and that all comes through development and getting corporate Australia behind us and after the spectacle of this inaugural season I can’t imagine that they wouldn’t want to.

“I think I’ll be playing for Sydney Uni until they take me away in a coffin.

“Club rugby’s something I really enjoy and it’s with an amazing club and an amazing group of girls and I’ve met some of my best friends and people that are very special in my life through rugby.

“In terms of Super W, I’d love to be a part of it again next year.”

Calling Time, Pt 2.

Juan de Jongh looks to put Bryan Habana away

Juan de Jongh looks to put Bryan Habana away

As a legend of the Womens game calls time on her international career, a legend of the mens game calls time too.

The man, the myth, the legend, Mr. Byran Habana, will officially retire at the end of Toulon‘s season this year.

In an emotional post on Instagram, Habana confirmed that the knee injury he suffered a year ago is telling him it’s time to move on.

“The inevitable moment has come knocking on my door and I’ve welcomed it in for a drink,” he wrote on Instagram.

“It’s been more than a year of hoping, trying, pushing and willing to get back on the field for one last time, to taste the sweet victory or encounter that gut-wrenching despair.

“But it’s unfortunately just not to be. I, like most, would have liked my career to have ended differently, but sometimes things don’t turn out quite the way we hope for.

“So at the end of this season, it’s time to say goodbye and thank you to the game I so dearly love.”

Habana finishes with a truly amazing record, and as one of the most loved and respected figures in world Rugby.

His record includes 61 caps for the Bulls (which includes two Super Rugby titles), 57 caps for the Stormers, and 66 caps for Toulon (which includes a Top 14 title and two European Rugby Champions Cup titles).

His biggest achievements however, came playing for the Springboks. He finishes with an unbelievable 124 caps (the second highest-capped Bok of all time behind Victor Matfield). That includes a Tri-Nations title, a British & Irish Lions series win and, to top it all off, a World Cup.

He also was the International Rugby Board Player Of The Year in 2007 and, even at the most recent World Cup in England, showed he’s still got it when he equalled Jonah Lomu‘s record of 15 World Cup tries in a single campaign.

That really says it all.

“As a player, Bryan has set the bar incredibly high for succeeding generations,” said South African rugby federation chief Mark Alexander.

“He has left behind a legacy of discipline, leadership and professionalism. He and his family can be very proud of all that he has achieved.”

Habana finished off his post by saying one last thing:

“As a close friend once said: ‘memories are all we have’. And I’m immensely grateful for the memories I take with me into the next chapter.”

Hearty Fardy

Fardy Headshot

From one legend to another, Scott Fardy could be in line to win European rugby’s most prestigious award off the back of his form with Leinster.

The former Brumbies veteran has, as we mentioned on Tuesday, been in the form of his life since moving to Leinster. Yesterday, he was revealed among five nominees for the European Player of the Year Award, despite the fact that he’s not actually a European player.

Leinster will be heading to the European Champions Cup final against French outfit Racing 92 in May, and Fardy has competition for the gong, with fellow Leinster teammates Johnny Sexton and Tadhg Furlong up for the title, alongside Racing 92’s Maxime Machenaud and Leone Nakarawa.

Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje, Jonny Wilkinson, and Sean O’Brien are some of the most prominent players who have earned the gong.

If only we could get Fardy to come back and play for the Wallabies, but he’s only got 39 caps to his name.

God damn it.

Setting the Standards

Jesse Parahi

Jesse Parahi

With the disappointment of the Commonwealth Games behind them, the Mens Sevens team are turning their attention back to the World Series, which continues this weekend in Singapore.

Jesse Parahi will be directing the troops around again, however it will be a fresh focus for former Womens coach, now Mens coach, Tim Walsh. 

To help him with adjusting, current injured Sevens Skipper Lewis Holland will be helping Walsh to find his feet and set the standard for the team.

“He’s a huge advantage for the team but selfishly it was more for me,” Walsh said to rugby.com.au. 

“Just to help with the transition – having in depth chats with Lewi and the rest of the leaders.

“Lewi has great knowledge and understanding about this team and he certainly drives a lot of the different plays and structures.

“To have him here gives me a better understanding of what the team is all about.

“It’s part of the transition for me and secondary, having him here is just a benefit for the team.”

After the Mens had a mixture of youth and experience for the Gold Coast, the squad now has a lot more mature heads.

“They are very experienced and there are some core players there that really hold it together,” Walsh said.

“But we are also looking to the future as well to make sure we have some strong depth within the squad.”

 

  • Parker

    The Fardy story exemplifies much that is wrong with Oz rugby officialdom. Just don’t get me started on what a massive squandering of talent goes on.

  • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

    I’m not sure Fardy has been in the form of his life since moving to Leinster. In his final season with the Brumbies (2017), after we lost almost all of our experienced players (Vaea, Pocock, Lealiifano, Toomua, White, Mogg, Tomane) Fardy put in what I considered to be his best season by far, and probably the best season Australia has had from a number 6 since about the days of Owen Finegan.

    He took on the duties as the defensive leader and organiser despite Carter being made captain, and was often the one talking to them in the huddles. He is a true leader, and an enforcer, and Australia let him go so that we would play Dean Mumm and Ned Flanders.

    Based on all of this I am more inclined to believe the stories I’ve heard about Fardy having a personality clash with Cheika as he isn’t a Yes Man and didn’t believe bullshit. Fardy, Higginbotham, Cooper—three senior players with strong personalities moved on for inferior players, or no one at all in the case of Cooper.

    So let’s not create a narrative of him rediscovering his form in a second career with Leinster. That lets Cheika off the hook for a bone headed error that has really hurt Australian rugby.

    • Guest

      I agree with you (not) that Cheika is the one thing that destroy Australia rugby, but to say that he’s only looking for Yes-Man because he let go of Fardy, Higginbotham and Cooper is ridiculous. Without knowing anyone of the player personally, I wouldn’t think you can describe Pocock as a yeas men, and apparently not Folau, yet they are a wallabies.
      I have no idea why Mumm was picked over Fardy (and Hanigan was never instead of Fardy, but don’t let that confuse you), it was annoying but Fardy didn’t waste time to sign in Europe, instead of fighting for his place.
      Higginbotham was tried and failed, it had nothing to do with his characters, and Cooper – he’s mediocre for the last few years, yet Cheika brought him back from Europe. (Foley is just marginally better, but we don’t have anyone else)

      • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

        I’m basing it off things I’ve heard from people who know Fardy. And Folau is not a yes man when it comes to religious views, but I think that that is a bit different to not being a yes man when it comes to rugby, don’t you think? Cheika couldn’t possibly let go off Pocock, he is on record saying that he was our best player at the RWC. There would be a national outrage if he was let go.

        And yes, Hanigan was picked in 2017 while Fardy was not picked in June and I heard was then allowed an early release on his contract to go to Ireland.

        Why would Fardy fight for his spot if he was dropped in favour of someone he massively outplayed in 2016? The writing was obviously on the wall. Go back and look at the video of the moment Coleman is yellow carded in Bled 2 and Fardy is pulled off, that was the last time he started aside from the France game where Cheika played the ostensible B-Team.

        Your logic about Higginbotham and Cooper not being good enough is only relevant if they were dropped for better performing players. Higgers was dropped in favour of the far inferior Hanigan and Cooper was dropped for no one so that we only had one 10 in the squad.

        • HK Red

          Very good point about Fardy being subbed in the second bled. I vividly remember at the time thinking “WHat the fcking fck????”
          If I recall, Fardy appeared to be thinking pretty similar when he was pulled.

        • Gareth

          Fardy was picked until he announced he was heading to Europe. He was also in OK form in his last season – was giving away plenty of penalties so i can see why cheika slotted in a young number 6 like hanigan for the future. Wasnt happy with the decision but cant bag it either as he doesnt have enough caps under the 60 rule to every play again – we wouldn’t have unearthed Jack Dempsey as a gun number 6 if wed played fardy.
          Higgers and QC are done and not up to standard. You can hardly say higgers has impacted the reds in a positive way on the field this year.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          No he wasn’t. He was occasionally on the bench, but often not, in 2016.

          If you can see why Cheika slotted in Hanigan then there’s no point discussing it. The bloke had zero form in one of the worst teams in all of Super Rugby, and that was ineffectual and useless for the Wallabies all year. It wasn’t his fault, he was picked too young, but it is the truth.

          Jack Dempsey was pretty good but a “gun number 6″ is classic Australian overrating of players. He has a few good performances and he is a “gun”. He’s a pretty good ball-runner, especially in the wider channels, but isn’t really elite in the line out and isn’t hugely effective at the ruck. He’s probably the pick if he gets back to form, but he was nowhere near Fardy. And, most importantly, despite being very young he spends most of his time injured.

          Sorry to burst your narrative, but sometimes the truth wins.

          QC outplayed Foley in 2016 when Foley was in abysmal form, but regardless, even assuming he is nowhere near Foley now the point is that not having a backup flyhalf is moronic in the extreme. What happens if Foley is injured? You think Hodge can be the backup? Really? He’s a running back, not a playmaker and is really only a limited distributing 12. You think that Beale can be the backup? He crabbs more than Giteau ever did, and cannot play 10—did you see the Tahs collapse when he went to 10?

          Higgers in 2015 was in great form, and in 2017 he was in very good form. He outplayed Hanigan in the tight, is massively better in the loose and is better in the line out.

          Whether he or Cooper are good objectively or not is irrelevant, they’re better than their competitors.

        • Gareth

          D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies – I love your passion but your view is not the truth, its just your view. Higgers left at the end of 2016 and has done nothing since returning this season. Cooper went to France in 2015 then came back to play 7’s at the Olympics, he was simple awful in 2017. Just not sure why they would be picked over the previously discussed.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Higgers was back last year, mate, and played very well for the Reds last year actually. He also outplayed Hanigan in the June series last year.

          Really?

          https://www.theroar.com.au/2016/08/31/should-quade-reins-rest-of-rugby-championship/

          You might also want to check out the player ratings given to Cooper (and Foley) during the 2016 RC by both GAGR, Fox, the regular papers and even the Roar’s crowd votes. Of course, performance is subjective, but he outscored Foley in virtually every match across almost all of these sites.

          And, yes, he would be any sane person based on the very fact that he is a flyahlf, whereas Hodge is a centre or an outside back, and Beale is a fullback without the high-ball taking ability to play fullback, and an outside centre without the defence to play outside centre. Neither is a flyhalf. Cheika had no backup flyhalf last year.

        • Gareth

          Ok I was wrong with Higgers 2017. Happy not to be sane. Dont get me wrong, i am not a fan of foley or hanigan but disagree that the alternatives are better. I still think the above part timers are better then QC, at least they are less likely not to be sent to the bin.
          We can agree on the brumbies – as i am a supporter too.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Beale has played at 10 before. I think the last time for the Wallabies was in 2012, or maybe 2013, but it was against the All Blacks, and the way they flustered him and his decision making should have put to bed the idea he is an international 10.

          On the weekend he played at first receiver for a portion of the match against the Lions and it was disastrous. He’s just not a 10.

          Hodge can only be damage control as he can defend. However, his inability to pass left to right should make him eligible as a flyhalf.

        • Gareth

          Agree with all of your observations – he’s a few about QC. Can’t stick to a game plan, players 2 metres deeper than in 2011, doesn’t run at the line well anymore, loses the ball in contact too much, place kicking % very low, have to hide him defensively, gave away 3 yellow cards in 2015 for wallabies, needs Genia to make him look good.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          But that wasn’t true in 2016. I implore you to go back and watch one or two of his performances for the Wallabies in 2016. I think Cooper has the best win % as a 10 since Larkham, offering at about 65-70% when he starts.

          His place kicking is about 70%, not great, but not horrendous.

          https://www.rugbypass.com/news/time-waratahs-move

          Foley only had three fewer handling errors than Cooper in Super Rugby last year.

          Name one Australian 10 that has looked good without Genia since Larkham?

          Foley has to be hidden as well.

          The difference between Cooper and Foley isn’t as big as the myths would have you believe.

          Not that I am trying to compare the two of them as to who should be 10, it is pretty evident that Foley is the only real option at 10 at present, just trying to show some perspective that the myths about Cooper take on a life of their own.

          He was unquestionably a better option at 10 last year than an outside back who can’t pass left to right and a fullback/centre who doesn’t play 10 even at SR level for a reason.

          In regards to sticking to Cheika’s gameplan, he actually did do so in 2016. Not that we can really say much positive about Cheik’s game plan anyway.

        • Gareth

          Im a reds member so i saw all the homes games and watched the away games. QC was average.
          Its interesting that apart from 2 years Mckensie at super rugby level, QC has struggled with all other coaches at all other levels.

          Also he would have a higher win % as no coach has felt comfortable playing him against NZ and England. He tends to get a restriction of the throat.

        • juswal

          QC was successful under McKenzie because the Reds had a successful forward pack in that era. Every five-eighth in the world needs the extra half a second and half a metre that dominant forwards provide. They all struggle without that. They never look good.

          At the Reds in 2011, Cooper had the authority to refuse the ball and keep it in the forwards until they were going forward. When Deans’s Wallabies went to the RWC, the forwards were only allowed a few phases before the ball came to QC, who was expected to launch an attack with his outside men backpedalling. The myth of his “choking” and “flakiness” derives from that doomed campaign.

          He has made some unforgivably bad kicks in Test matches, as have Giteau, Genia, Phipps, Beale, Barnes and Foley.

        • Who?

          Problem with your ‘observations’ from the first post…

          1. Can’t stick to a game plan. But when in the past 4 years has there been a game plan that’s actually been worth sticking with? Show me an Aussie coach who’s got a better than 55% win/loss ratio since then. If you’re not winning 60+% of the time, then the game plan’s not good enough.

          2. Depth for a 10 – any 10 – is determined by breakdown dominance and speed of clearance. The Reds haven’t had a good 9 since Genia, their breakdown security hasn’t been as dominant as needed for quick ball, and the accuracy of their ball place isn’t as good as the McKenzie era (which allowed quick clearance in games like the Lions game, where they weren’t going to dominate the contact over the breakdown, but quick placement allowed quick clearance).

          3. This is exacerbated by having outside backs offering nothing in attack. You rarely see them running varying angles, different paces, let alone hard lines. It’s as if Aussie backs have decided not to commit to running lines unless they’re certain to receive the ball, and if they’re the only one receiving the ball, then the lack of genuine alternative runners makes their success rate lower.

          4. That’s a pretty subjective call – have you got anything to back it up?

          5. Place kicking’s barely different to most Aussies, sadly. But your 10 doesn’t have to be your goal kicker. Your 10’s kicking from hand is far more important than kicking from the tee.

          6. No different to any other 10 (also noteworthy that Beale and Foley have gone ok in the line for the Tahs, and Cooper did ok for the Barbarians in the line. You can’t blame any of them for being poor in defence when they’re consistently put into more difficult defensive positions (i.e. isolated places)).

          7. YC’s haven’t stopped Hooper.

          8. Needs Genia – how’s that any different to any other Aussie 10?

          Regardless of all that, he’s one of only two genuine options at 10 for the Wallabies right now, and Thorn’s wasting a bucketload of cash by not releasing him. Just as Cheika did last year, by giving clear falsehoods (Quade needs to look like he’s enjoying his Rugby – please!), before complaining about him being left in clubland this year.
          This one… Did you ever consider that the Reds pack last year was atrocious? That they didn’t tackle? That, by the second half, they were all completely gassed, completely incapable of playing any attacking Rugby, and in those circumstances the correct tactic is to take the pressure off your forwards by giving them a break in play and seeking territory?
          Your point about playing against England? When’s he ever been an issue there? Cheika’s the only one who’s held him back against them. NZ? He’s played more games IN NZ over the past 5 years than he played against NZ in Australia. So he hasn’t been held back against them, either, and his performance in Dunedin against them remains the last quality performance by an Aussie 10 against them (quite incredibly, Foley’s two wins against the ABs were among his poorest personal performances. Just as Elton Jantjes was atrocious for the Lions last week, but the Lions smashed the Tahs. Weird, but it happens). Foley and Cooper actually have an equal number of wins against NZ.

        • Gareth

          1. Re the list, Can you honestly say that the top coaches don’t have game plans. I was only a grade/colts coach but myself and my fellow coaches all had plans. The lower the grade the greater chance of it not being implemented, but the higher the grade – the better you can see the plan.
          2. a lot of excuses there, its amazing how the truly excellent 10’s make the players outside them better. QC did that in
          2011-12 but that was a long time ago.
          3. I will agree with you on this as it is a common problem.
          4. i could break down the video footage, but who’s go the time. perhaps reference the last two home reds games last year.
          5. i guess my point is that he adds nothing re kicking as his accuracy is low.
          6. foley and beale have improved their defence but have further to go. QC has always been too high and all arms.
          7. Hooper is a 7 – B Barrett/ butch james are the only other 10 i have seen get that many cards
          8. agree with you there. But i think the aura of 2011 was genia mostly.

          If you are getting that much for playing at souths then good luck to him. But i support thorn on his call.
          Plus the 10 is not the current weak spot. Lance has been one of the better reds.

        • Who?

          1. If the current top level coaches have plans (and we agree that there’s a dearth of quality coaching in this country), then they aren’t of any sort of quality. Having a game plan and having something that’s both capable of being implemented and worth implementing are two different things.
          2. QC made the players outside him look rather good through 13 (Wallabies), but the complete lack of guile and option making in the backline alignments over the Graham era and beyond has meant no 10 was going to look much good. There’s nothing easier to defend than a backline who are all running the same angle and speed. Doesn’t matter who gets the ball, you can number up easily.
          And the ‘excuses’? They’re all valid, and every 10 has issues based on what happens inside them. Even DC had them. Beaudy demonstrates them (when they’re not being executed) as well as Quade. Quade shows it more than Foley because Foley wants to run crashball lines, which is the last thing I want my 10 doing (there’s 13 other blokes who should be able to do that, 9 and 10 have decision making to do!).
          3. Yep, we agree the coaching isn’t up to the mark. I don’t get why coaches are happy to make life easier for their opponents. They should be thinking about what makes them squirm in the box, and then trying to implement that in attack…
          4. I wasn’t thinking footage, I was thinking stats (drops/carry, etc), if you could find them. But these things tend to be more perceptions than stats.
          6. That’s one of the big disappointments with Thorn. You’d think that, if anyone could ever get him to change technique… It’s not like he’s not got the ticker to do it – you can’t hide in the boxing ring.
          7. Hooper’s card rate is miles beyond other 7’s. QC’s card rate actually wasn’t that bad until the Cheika era. Which coincided with changes in reffing standards around high tackles, and gave Cheika a convenient excuse (because he never understood Quade – he thought Quade and Kurtley were similar players, when both are very different in how they contribute to the team).
          8. I think you’re right at Wallaby level. At Super level, I think it was the combination. But by the time the RWC had come around, Robbie had sucked all the confidence out of Quade. I was at the 25-20 win in Brisbane, and Quade didn’t go anywhere near overplaying his hand that day.
          The biggest issue with Thorn’s call is that he’s widely rumoured to have turned down a request from the Brumbies and perhaps also the Rebels to release Quade to them. Instead, Brad’s still paying Quade’s wages. Perhaps he could’ve organized some support for Carozza in his attack role…
          Oh, and Thorn’s not bothered to retain Jono for next year. He’s back to Worcester at the end of the season, so he’s ineligible for the Wallabies.

        • Kevino

          Does Michael Hooper not have the most yellow cards in international rugby? and is still first picked every game even though the worlds best 7 is fit and available to start?

        • Dud Roodt

          I think you’re making the mistake of passing off your comment as the only truth, without using any sources or statistics to back it up.

          As I’ve commented on here before, some on this site get a nice dose of the rose-tinted glasses when talking about Fardy. He was a very good Super Rugby player and a decent international player. In my opinion (of course, not fact), he had some games for the Wallabies where he was completely ineffectual.

          It doesn’t mean he shouldn’t have been picked at times, but that’s the way it goes. Everyone has a difference of opinion. There are very few players (particularly in Australian rugby) that would be a consensus pick.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Fardy > Mumm was about as close to consensus as is possible.

          Just like Read or Kaino > Fardy would be pretty close to consensus.

          If we were discussing Fardy vs Dempsey vs O’Mahony vs JL Du Preez then you’d get a pretty big difference of opinion. But we’re talking about two players in completely different classes here.

        • Dud Roodt

          Not according to the coach of the Wallabies, and no matter what you think of him, his preferences carry more weight than yours or mine.

          But I’m sure Cheika only did that because he is involved with the Illuminati and Deep State etc whose plan all along was to have Dean Mumm start a few tests at 6 instead of Fardy.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Yeah, his preferences carry more weight as he is the coach.

          But an appeal to authority is not a way to win an argument. Especially an appeal to authority who has managed:

          – a 0-3 series loss to England
          – a less than 50% win rate in 3 of his 4 seasons
          – has never beaten a home nation team at home (0-4)
          – record losses vs England and Scotland and New Zealand
          – failed to beat the worst Bok team of all time

          I’m sure he did it because he is a biased and poor selector trying to adopt a game plan that won’t work at test rugby level in which the set-piece, defence, kicking and the breakdown are sacrificed in order for mobile players from 1-15 who will run the ball from everywhere and win by scoring a lot of points via tries.

          Consider our team from Bled 1 last year.

          1. Sio, 2. Moore, 3. Alaalatoa, 4. Arnold, 5. Coleman, 6. Hanigan, 7. Hooper, 8. McMahon, 9. Genia 10. Foley, 11. Rona, 12. Beale, 13. Kerevi, 14. Speight, 15. Folua

          Look at that backline and tell me that it was ever going to be able to defend, or look at that back-row and tell me it was ever going to be able to compete at the breakdown.

          We need to stop making excuses for Cheika just because he’s the coach when he does illogical and stupid things. If we accept mediocrity then mediocrity is all we are going to get.

        • Dud Roodt

          His bias and poor selections have currently added the following to his resume;

          – Shute Shield victory (2004)
          – Celtic League Champions(2007/08)
          – Heineken Cup Champions (2009)
          – Super Rugby Champions (2014)
          – RWC Final (2015)

          Now in one breath we can all talk about the parlous state of Australian rugby. Each Super Rugby team a basket case of mediocrity or downright abysmal talent. Then in the next, “we” say “well if only Cheika picked player x, y and z, we’d be champions of the world”.

          Unfortunately this is one situation where those two things are mutually exclusive.

          Scott Fardy didn’t get us the Bledisloe Cup when he was selected, the Wallabies didn’t get it when he wasn’t selected. His lack of selections, along with the selection of Foley aren’t reasons we’re shit at rugby.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Succeeding at Shute Shield is irrelevant to international level – the standard is so different. Matt pointed out on one of the earlier podcasts this year that rugby is a different game at Super and international level.

          At Super it is possible to get a good enough squad together to win with bash em tactics, but that at international level all of the players you’re playing against are skilled, and all of the coaches have (a), (b) and (c) game plans.

          You also have to remember that the traditional trajectory of a Cheika team is that first year he makes a big impact by improving standards and culture. Second year is usually the most successful when plans come together. It usually falls apart after this as game plans are worked out.

          As for the RWC, we beat Scotland due to a mistaken refereeing decision in the final minute, otherwise we were out in the QF. Otherwise, we beat a Wales side we have beaten every time since 2008, we beat England at their nadir and we beat Argentina. Was it really as good as we thought it was?

          We’re not talking about winning the Bled, we’re talking about being the best team we can be. Creating a straw man argument doesn’t change that.

        • Gareth

          I still worry about our level of coaching here in OZ. I think super rugby coaches have improved but when i see our team unable to run a backline, cant draw and pass and unable to change the game plan unless they have 10 minutes at half time I get concerned for our rugby IQ. Its not up to super rugby coaches to be teaching this, the players should know it before they get to that level.

          Both Ireland & Scotland dont have the pure athletic ability of other countries but they are winning because they play smart rugby, do all the little things right and make smart decisions.

          Watching out super rugby teams i see errors that school 15’s shouldnt make and it happens all game every week.

        • Who?

          Our coaching level is something that’s had me astounded for the last five years. The training material coming out of the state unions has degraded over the past few years (prior to that, there was great IP, it just didn’t filter out as rapidly and far as it should’ve done). The standard of coaching in Australia has been down the toilet for years. We had Macqueen, Jones, McKenzie, other than them, who’s shown a level of innovation and smarts at Super level or above for a sustained period? Cheika, as others have intimated, is a king of standards. If the standards are good when he arrives, his intimidation factor and drive get instant results, results that see him leave soon afterwards (or results fall away). He’s not a deep thinker on the game – and he admits that.
          Who else is a deep thinker on the game? Who’s shown innovation? Wessels is the only current Super coach I find impressive, but he’s still very green. Thorn’s so green that he’s almost still blue and yellow! Gibson is struggling to stick around, having been a failed assistant under Blackadder and had two poor years at the Tahs. McKellar, I don’t know. I know of Brumbies fans who didn’t want him appointed.
          Lord Laurie’s a good technical coach, and Simon Cron’s on the rise, but neither are successful Super coaches (yet, in Cron’s case). We rarely see any form of innovation in play. Where have our clever coaches, our innovators gone?! And why hasn’t anything been done, even though it’s been a clear issue for years?!

        • John Miller

          “Thorn’s so green that he’s almost still blue and yellow!”

          Gold.

        • Who?

          You’re right, John, I messed up. Thorn’s from Otago, so the colours should indeed have been blue and gold… ;-)
          Thanks. :-)

        • Braveheart81

          Fardy had a poor series against England which is the principal reason why Mumm ended up starting ahead of him for the rest of 2016.

          Who knows what he would have decided to do if he’d been kept as a starter for the rest of 2016. My guess is he’d still have signed with Leinster because the dollars on offer would have been much greater and he’d have never been a high priority for Rugby Australia as a 32 year old three years out from a RWC for one of their biggest contracts.

        • Missing Link

          I think any coach would make those selections given what happened in June.Those players played well including Speight and they justified their selections. Beale replaced Hunt (injured?) and Rona was a late inclusion for the injured Naivalu and let’s face it, Rona had an alright season with the Force. But point taken, that backline would have been better served at the gates, allowing patrons to enter the stadium :)

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          It isn’t a matter of the individual selections, it was the selections together and as a group.

          Going into the Bledisloe we all know that Foley, Beale, Speight and Kerevi (at 13) were very poor defenders.

          We knew that Folau is not a brilliant defender.

          Rona had had a good season playing at outside centre, not on the wing.

          Meanwhile, Hodge did not get a run.

          Surprise, surprise, playing a defensively weak 10-12-13-14 and an 11 out of position tended to leak a LOT of points.

          Go Cheik out the discussions on the GAGR and Roar pages from when the team is announced. Prior to the match being played everyone is talking about how it will collapse defensively. It did.

          If the fans could see this, and asked why defensively strong guys like TK and Hodge were ignored, why couldn’t the coaches? Cheika needs to wear such decisions.

        • John R

          “has never beaten a home nation team at home (0-4)”

          Well this one isn’t true….

          Wales – Millenium Stadium – 08/11/14
          England – Twickenham – 03/10/15
          Wales – Millenium – 05/11/16
          Scotland – Murrayfield – 12/11/16
          Wales – Millenium – 11/11/17

          Fake news bro! Fake news!

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Has never beaten a home nation team ‘at home’, meaning Australia at home. Lost all three against England and lost to Scotland (0-4 combined at home).

        • John R

          Ah roger that, roger that. I misinterpreted your original comment there.

          Here’s hoping that gets rectified come June.

          Up the Wallabies!

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          All good.

          The matches are winnable, but will be difficult. Series is winnable but will be very difficult.

          Let’s hope both that the Super Rugby players are brought to Cheika at a better standard of fitness and skills than last year, and that Cheika adopts a better gameplan and selections than last year also. We need all levels of the game working to succeed against top teams like Ireland or the All Blacks.

        • Who?

          I have little confidence the players are at a significantly higher level of fitness this year compared to last year. Just look at how hard the players are generally blowing at the 30 minute mark compared to their opposition over the past month… Get ready for the fitness excuse again.

        • John Miller

          “Fardy was picked until he announced he was heading to Europe.”

          McMahon was picked after announcing he was heading to Japan.

          Fixed it.

  • Guest

    With Fardy’s fantastic form, we had Lealiafano, in Europe in fantastic form, Dean Mumm was killing it out there, Douglas was the best player, and so on. And my question is why?
    Is that because the competition there is much worst? game are slower, which is giving our player the edge? or are the couches there so much better to get the best out of the Australians?

    • Dally M

      Definitely the couches, they are far more comfortable to sit on…lol

      • Guest

        LOL.
        Fixed.

    • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

      The standard of European rugby is definitely not much worse than Australian Super Rugby.

      • Brumby Runner

        I’d have to say, based on the standard of play at the national level, that rugby in the UK is probably at a significantly higher level than Super Rugby, Aussie style, at the moment.

        • Gareth

          Glad you said Aussie Style as i cant see many European clubs beating the kiwi super rugby teams.

        • onlinesideline

          agree – def a level slower

        • Kevino

          Depends on the weather, watching the Crusaders v Sunwolves game last weekend I don’t think a kiwi team could mix it with some Irish or English teams on a cold wet pitch.

          On the other hand I would hate to see them play in 25-30 degree heat and perfect conditions.

    • joy

      We are just poor judges of form.

  • Campese

    Interesting I am hearing regarding the Mens Aussie sevens team. There is some unrest regarding some players in the team. There is a little group forming with huge egos and dickheads some players are wanting out. Super Rugby and the NRL could be the go for some

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Sad to see Hewson go but she’s absolutely correct in tbat the womens rugby is going well. What a great representative for Australian rugby.
    Sad to see Habana have to give it away, a great player and competitor.
    I’ve got nothing on Fardy – just a huge lost opportunity for rugby here.

    • Hoss

      Thank Jehova for women’s rugby mate. The one shining light in a festering bucket of excrement, that is my life as a Tah’s, Oz Rugby, Wallaby follower.

      Its a disgrace that in 2018 a female athlete cant make a living out of the code, but i acknowledge there is momentum on this front.

      As for Hewson, what a warrior, what a legend and what a great ambassador for the code. Enjoy Club Rugby and thank you for your efforts – her legacy will be huge.

  • Hoss

    Morning all,

    Back refreshed, full of national vigour, optimism, a stomach full of Rum & Milk (its a long story) and a yearning for Oz Rugby success.

    A lot of salient points here regarding Fardy. The Wallabies of 2013 – 2016 were ultra competitive on the back of the work, grunt and the sheer bloody-mindedness of Fardy at 6 and to let him go / show him the door is, for mine, the single biggest selection faux pas of the Cheika era.

    Imagine the likes of Thor, Rodda, Tui, Dempsey, Hannigan, Timu, Naisarini et all coming through Wallaby ranks under the wing of this old school, hard as nails, warrior 6 ?

    We talk succession plans and building for the future – well Chek, the bigger the house you want to build, the stronger the foundations must be.

    Just dumb.

    • onlinesideline

      And playing 2 of the above for baabaas , 1 week before northern tour goes down as the stupidest f..king thing I ever seen a national coach do. That was a huge opportunity for Tui and Dempsey to mold into our pack of the future and get the feels for the whole thing and take on the poms who we desparately needed to beat to realign the universe back to normality. Its called selection restraint Cheika, pick your battles mate ffs – still livered.

      • Hoss

        Completely concur mate.

        I only get the fine china out at hope for special occasions and dignitaries that visit (monster-in-law). The plebs can eat off paper plates. Same with a nothing Baa-baa’s game. Pick the green-horns and those on the periphery of wider squad selections. Not the guy who was MOTM in the Bled game just prior (wrap him in cotton wool).

        Its so obvious its a no-brainer.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Morning Hoss, the old gunfire breakfast with rum and coffee was my lot.

      There has been a fair bit of talk over the years about a rift between Cheika and Fardy. Maybe there’s some truth in that. I couldn’t see anything else keeping him out of the Wallabies and there certainly hasn’t been anyone better since he left.

  • John Smith

    To be honest, I always just saw ‘Byran’ Habana as a cheat. A damn quick cheat, but a cheat nonetheless. I remember him claiming on more than one occasion that he was in the right, with the video replay showing that he wasn’t. Luckily for him though, those games were in SA.

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@Nick_Wasiliev

Die-hard Brumbies/Country Eagles fan now based in Sydney. Author, anthropologist, musician and second-rower trying to kick start a writing career in an increasingly bonkers world...

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