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Tuesday’s Rugby News

Tuesday’s Rugby News

Tuesday’s Rugby News looks at French ‘flair’, talking up Matt Philip, the Reds kicking woes, and Aussie 7 in Canada.

The French doing very French Things

France has, in this reporter’s humble opinion, been the form side of this years Six Nations. They have played some incredible attacking rugby and a defensive pattern, thanks to Shaun Edwards, that is an attacking weapon all on its own.

So was it really a surprise when french Tighthead Mohamed Haouas smashed Jamie Ritchie’s shnoz three minutes before half-time effectively ending his country’s run at the grand slam in a moment of madness? At the time France was leading 7-6 but that change after the resulting penalty and Scotland was never headed again.

Haouas’ mindless act brought back memories of Sebastian Vahaamahina’s own implosion in Oita at the Rugby World Cup, red-carded for an elbow on Aaron Wainwright that killed off France’s hopes of progressing to the semi-finals.

Haouas’ exit, a third penalty by Scotland fly-half Adam Hastings and then a well-worked try to put Maitland over in the corner all came in the space of less than five minutes. Collectively it felt like a knockout punch, not only in the context of the match but for France’s Grand Slam hopes as well, even with the second half still to come. Maitland’s second try shortly after the interval – made by a fine break from Chris Harris, slipping past Paul Willemse then combining with Ali Price – hammered that point home.

“You get confidence when you see the rewards you get for doing something, and the way we’re training, it really gives me a lot of encouragement. We had a big session on Wednesday, lots of physicality, lots of tackling and contact work, and we saw the players take that into the game,” explained Gregor Townsend.

Ritchie was unhindered by the cheap shot and went on to win the Man of the Match award. “It was the metal cheek. I’ve seen the photo a couple of times. I was a bit shocked. I must have one of those faces,” Ritchie said afterwards. “I couldn’t sense they were getting rattled. I saw Nick Haining on his own and three French guys around him, so I ran in and I got punched in the face. It’s one of those things that happen in a game and the guy’s got sent off. I can’t say too much about it.  I don’t know what was going through his head but I caught the brunt of it.”

Wessel’s Spruiks Matt Philips

Matt Philip is tackled by Hamish Stewart.

So David Wessels’ has an ulterior motive for talking up Matt Philip to all and sundry. Philip has fielded an offer from French club Pau when his contract at the Rebels is up. If he can get his guy a Wallaby top up it’s going to be a lot easier to keep him in Australia.

But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve it! Philip is the lock every great team needs, the guy who shifts bodies tackles his guts out and does the hard yards. with the added bonus of being able to snaffle opposition lineouts, seemingly, at will.

But your coach talking you up to Rugby Australia and its coaches can’t help and he does a bloody good job.

After playing his three Tests on the Wallabies’ Spring tour in late 2017, Wessels said he had earned another call-up.

“I don’t think Matt is heading to France but I can understand why French clubs want to chase a guy like that,” he said.

“Matt is a really great story, he’s one of those guys who really cares about the team so he’s really motivated by that but one thing he really wants to do is play for his country.

“Matt is the type of guy who is going to have a good career with Australia. He’s waited a long time to have that opportunity but he’s earnt that now.”

But it wasn’t all smooth sailing for Philip with Wessels. Wessels admits that he nearly didn’t sign the lock and had to be talked into it by Dane Haylett-Petty.

“I wasn’t going to sign Matt back in the day until Dane talked me into it at a hotel in Sandton [South Africa],” Wessels said.

“When he started out I wasn’t convinced but Dane saw it long before I did so Matt’s got Dane to thank.”

Dave Alred Back At Ballymore

Kicking clinic for Jock Campbell, Carter Gordon and Hamish Stewart, as Dave Alred looks on

After the Reds 24-20 loss to the crusadist it was clear that the Reds had a problem. Four misses at conversion from three kickers and numerous declined penalties shots show a pattern that needs to be arrested quickly. The penalties may have been part of a plan but if only 50% of the conversions had succeeded the Reds would have salvaged an unlikely draw.

As a Reds fan, it’s hard to fault the up and coming side for their efforts last Friday. The Reds weren’t supposed to come within cooee of their more fancied opponents but managed to score four tries to three in what would have been a morale-boosting win for all of us north of the Tweed.

Which is why the return of Dave Alred, back from a month away coaching golfers like Italy’s 2018 British Open champion Francesco Molinari couldn’t be better timed. Alred now has just a week to get the misfiring Reds kickers back on track.

But before Alred gets to work question must be asked as to what happened last Friday. Why was Jock Campbell only given two shots in the gusty conditions? Surely if he’d kept going he would have landed at least one of the four. Why give Scott Malolua just one shot at goal?

It was always going to be a tough start to the season and 1-5 is probably and depressingly about right for the reds but, they now have a chance to rack up a few wins with four of their next six games at home.

‘It’s time to re-set. We have a lot to play for with plenty of Australian Conference games in this middle part of the season,’ Reds coach Brad Thorn said, ‘We knock over our conversions and it’s a different result which is the big frustration.’

Alred has spent more than a year refining the Reds kicking game and you can see his mark on several players. But with only Bryce Hegarty, who can’t hold down a starting position, kicking at a reasonable percentage there are only days to get at least one guy shooting straight.

Aussie 7 Men take second.

Lewis Holland - has sneaky acceleration

Lewis Holland – has sneaky acceleration

Australia has just failed to defeat New Zealand in the final of the Canada Sevens in Vancouver going down 14-17.

The Aussie 7s took control of the match early on, starving New Zealand of possession for most of the first half with tries to Lachlan Anderson and Maurice Longbottom giving the men in gold a 15-5 lead.

Two yellow cards for Australia and a determined effort from All Blacks Sevens side allowed the New Zealanders to take the lead 14-17.

Australia fought back with seconds to go in the match, but a pass deemed to go forward by Lewis Holland prevented the Aussies from taking what would have been a famous victory.

The second-place finish moves Australia into fourth position on the HSBC Sevens World Series ladder on 81 points, just trailing Fiji on 83 points. New Zealand has extended its lead over the competition on 115 points with South Africa on 105 points.

Earlier in the day, Australia had defeated England in the quarter-finals and Canada in a tough semi-final, where the Aussie 7s held out against the home team 19-14 with some desperate defence on the goal line.

Qantas Australian Men’s Sevens Head Coach Tim Walsh said: “We fought hard today, and it wasn’t to be in the Final but it’s been a really great effort by the team over the last few weeks.

“Building consistency is the key to build confidence and momentum, its pleasing to be on the podium again but naturally disappointed to go down to New Zealand.

“We will look at the positives and move forward.”

Day one results 
Australia 33 defeated Scotland 19
Australia 40 defeated Samoa 12
Australia 29 defeated USA 7
Day two results 
Australia 31 defeated England 12
Australia 19 defeated Canada 14
Australia 14 was defeated by New Zealand 17

  • Gottsy

    It’s blokes like Matt Phillip we need to keep around. Too often we have an obsession with picking flashy players, when all we need is someone like a lachy mccaffrey or a Matt Phillip to secure rucks and make clean outs and stuff like that. One of the reasons the reds lost against the sharks last week was because of a lack of this

    • KwAussie Rugby Lover

      Absolutely. I hope he does stay

    • Patrick


    • Keith Butler

      Unfortunately the Rebels have form for letting players go.

  • Steve

    Oh man, Haouas getting himself a red card was so dumb it hurts. How to cost your country a grand slam and probably a six nations in one moment.

    To do that as a professional athlete is unforgivable, especially because France has been on FIRE this tournament.

    And good on Matt Phillip, I think between him, Rodda and LSL we have some decent locking for the Wals this year although I’m not sure who’s capable of calling.

    Genuine competition in all three rows of forwards?? What magic is this?

    • Nutta

      I can’t remember the year but the All Blacks toured Oz with a 2-man front row a long time ago (2 tight heads). The pressure coming through that combination put a number of opposing Hookers in hospital. But 2-props means 3-locks! We could be onto something there…

      • Yowie

        I’d take it one further – a one-man front row. Some kind of indestructible mutant as the tip of the spear.

        We would split opposing scrums in half and roll-on to the tryline.

        • Reds Revival

          Like a flying wedgie. I mean wedge.

        • Nutta

          Look at how the 3-man pods are getting closer & closer together and almost forming…wait for it… a flying wedge… The Jarpy’s have been taking latching to the next level for a few years now and it has gotten to the point where everyone is starting to tackle the Tip & Hazard guys in a 3man pod outright.

        • Nutta

          If you look at how mauls are developing you can see the trend emerging (re-emerging?) to have a small “face” and thereby limit the surface area or “gate” to defend it through. Napoleon, Blitzkrieg et al… all used the same principle.

        • Reds Revival

          On top of the small face, a lot of them have no necks and a cro-magnon like forehead…

        • Damo

          I remember many moons a go as a youngster playing League in the CQ bush we had a reserve grade trial against an Aboriginal team from one of the mission towns. These boys travelled 3hrs + on the back of an open truck to get to the game and none of them had boots- as in they played in bare feet. Anyway 1st scrum of the game and they set up with 4 in the front row! Ref had to do a bit of on the spot coaching to get it sorted. We got a win, but we also endured some bloody big hits, high and low. Good blokes, lots of laughs, a few beers after the game and back on the truck they went.

        • Yowie

          …then the truck got flagged-down by AFL or NRL scouts and those players were lost to Rugby?

        • Damo

          We were Leaguies ( a period of my sporting life I still regret). And there was no NRL- that was the name of the girl who worked at the hairdressers.

        • Geoffro

          No regrets mate.League back then had contested scrums,you could ruck at the play the ball,tap and play on and it wasn’t one out bargass.It was a bit more fun then, than it is these days

        • Love it Damo.
          Years ago, I was working in a small country town decided to put together a team/club to play a couple of surrounding towns.
          The council gave us a small park to train at, in the middle of the “Community Housing Estate”
          Copped several warnings from locals saying the “local indigenous” wouldn’t appreciate having us there, being their main housing area.

          3 weeks in, no issues to speak of, then on the Thursday night around 20 odd young fellas, all half-cut on there way home decided to stop by and have a bit of a niggle.

          One particular individual looks up the field at old mate holding a barge bag, mouthed some smart comment about hitting pillows and launched himself at the barge bag.
          Great technique, poor head placement, his temple meeting the bag carriers elbow at high speed and knocking himself out cold.
          After the initial concern over his welfare, the comments started getting thrown, we ended up calling him “PillowBoy”, which we all joyously yelled every time we saw him anywhere about town, his mates all soon joining in.

          To cut a long story..four of the guys ended up playing for us for the next couple of seasons, great bunch of guys, real fine players, all with an evil sense of humour.
          Gave me a total different outlook on life.

        • Damo

          Great story HO. Thanks for sharing.

        • Geoffro
        • Mortahs Incoming – custardtaht

          Even further…..scrums become chicky peck!

        • AllyOz

          Taniela has the calves for it

      • Geoffro

        Theres been a few AB hard nuts who would stick their heads anywhere and seemed indestructable.We had a beauty in Topo Rodriguez,played loose,tight and hooker in an uncompromising manner

    • Watched a video a bit earlier today of Haoas belting one of his own players during the pre-game warmup (Montpellier).
      Slight anger management issues?

      • Patrick

        I think he’s just expressive.

        • Expressive, a much more descriptive term and not as emotive. I’ll have to remember that for next time.

    • I agree, 100%. But the Top-14 is just about the last refuge of the regular fight, from what I see, and 25 year old props do the crazy. Look at both Sinkler and the other young English prop who sides love to wind up for recent example, but a couple of years in and they’re no longer rising to the bait. Although Marler shows that more years doesn’t always stop the stupid…

      He’s a good, but young, prop. He will, you hope, learn from this. Get a right bollocking from everyone, as opposed to an improper one from Marler, and never do it again. And in 2025… He’ll be a real handful in France’s home RWC.

  • Yowie
    • Geoffro

      or…”bollocks, complete bollocks”–intonates a shining review of AWJ’s boys

      • Yowie

        Highly likely that’s the joke. As much as I don’t condone the bits-grab, there is something intriguing about Marler maintaining the larrikin attitude even as the disciplinary wolves are at the door.

        • Geoffro

          Just one of those lads maybe.Knew a few in my younger days who were obsessed with giving a playful tweak and (they) saw nothing wrong in it.

        • Hoss

          Lucky he’s not a golfer, he’d be penalised a stroke.

        • Geoffro

          Easy big fella,somebody’s gonna unload……. (double entendres I mean)

        • Damo

          Damn, I’ve missed another productive conversation here. I’ve got to stop going to meetings.

        • I’m sure we could run with that

        • Yowie

          Depends if it’s stroke play or match play. Since it was an Eng v Wales test match, match play rules probably apply.

          Stroke Play
          If you are a competing in a stroke play competition and you, your caddie or your equipment touch another player’s ball, there is no penalty and if the ball is moved it must be replaced (Rule 18-4). This means that there is no breach of the Rules if you lift another player’s ball to identify it, even if neither of you had marked it first.

          Match Play
          If a match play player’s ball is moved other than during search the opponent who moved the ball does incur a penalty of one stroke (Rule 18-3b). In either case, if the ball is moved it must be replaced.

        • Replaced??
          No wonder they take it serious then.

        • Hoss

          It could be reasonably argued it was moved ‘during search’ ?

        • Ok, now deleted 3 replies in the name of good form.

          Yes, it would be a reasonable argument, the alternative sounds painful.

        • Yowie

          Moderators – I would like to report this. Someone is trying to drag the tone and maturity level up.

        • Sorry Yowie…ex referee, no fun allowed.
          (Plus this is one of the few forums left that I haven’t been banned from)

        • AllyOz

          well you say the penalty is “one stroke” wasn’t that the very offence he was pinged for?? Confused. Who has to administers the penalty? The referee?, the player who was offended against? or the judiciary chairman? This could get out of control.

        • Yowie

          Also, how many penalty strokes before he has to come off?

        • AllyOz

          it reminds me of an old joke about when Alan Jones coached the Tigers. But, in respect for common decency I won’t tell it.

        • AllyOz

          I think my reaction might have been closer to the frenchman’s than the welshman’s (though I have a feeling picking Joe Marler might not end like I would like it to).

        • Offending but amusing, not sure how I feel about it all.

          I do think he could have handled it better…

        • Keith Butler

          You are dead right Yowie. His action was stupid but the game needs players like Joe Marler to add a bit of levity. No doubt he’ll cop a hefty ban but I for one am pleased that he’s upholding the tradition of props. Back in my day the 70sand 80s the Harlequins were looked on a West London City Slickers. That was until the arrival of an entire front row of lorry driving Claxton Brothers (Mickey, Gary and Terry), complete with mullets and tattoos disappearing into every orifice. All played high level rugby and I had the ‘pleasure’ of coming across them once or twice. They liked a pint or three as well.

    • Andrew Luscombe

      He’s got balls.

  • KwAussie Rugby Lover

    Thanks Sully. Gotta love the French. Still despite this I think they are at least developing players and it will be good for their future. Much better than everyone else relying on the older “experienced” players.
    I hope Matt Philips does stay, he’s certainly demonstrating a better option than some and if he keeps going he’ll be awesome.
    Bad luck at the 7’s but great to see the development of the team and it loos like they’re timing their run for the Olympics really well.
    Thorn is perhaps lacking a bit in the strategic planning side of the game. I agree on the question about changing the kickers through the game. You either trust someone until he’s injured or you don’t start them but changing just for a couple of misses in poor conditions is a bit silly.

    • Geoffro

      Beggars the question of whether you carry someone for their kicking prowess eh.Hegarty probably needs to be promoted as he’s close to their most reliable

      • KwAussie Rugby Lover

        I don’t see a good kicker but crap at everything else being the right answer but it’s definitely a balancing act. I do remember Mehrtens being told to learn how to tackle or he wouldn’t be an AB and to his credit he did get a lot better but then we always had options and so could do that

        • Geoffro

          Sure,Merhts is a good example same as Morne Steyn or even Matty Burke who I rate as competent but not great players but they sure won a lot of games with the boot.Hegarty is competent.

        • Reds Revival

          I would say that Hegarty is more than competent. he has some real rugby smarts about him. I don’t know if many others would have dummied to Daugunu and then passed back inside to Speight, but that try probably wouldn’t have been scored without that vision.

          As much as Jock Campbell is lighting up with his open play, I don’t think the Reds lose much by bring Hegs back in, and it least they will have an effective goal kicker.

        • Yowie

          Until you have played at “competent but not great” level you can’t comprehend what happens out on the field.

        • Geoffro

          sure you can,some of the best comprehenders were far less than competent or great players :)

        • Yowie

          haha, better tell Matty then.

          [Firstly, Matt Burke in The Sydney Morning Herald said, “In the most humble way possible – until you have played at Super Rugby level you can’t comprehend what happens out on the field.” – https://www.theroar.com.au/2011/04/01/critics-of-tah-booers-miss-the-point/comment-page-4/ ]

        • Geoffro

          Got it now. (wot a twat)

        • Yowie

          All good, a bit obscure stripped of all context. It was a 5 minute slog finding the original quote via google.

        • Nutta

          Ahhh… great line. A momentary yet precise glimpse at the absolute soaring peak of self-entitled garbage. One of the defining moments of Burke’s journalistic career. That’s a gift that keeps on giving and it has been referenced in these pages quite commonly ever since.

        • If you go back pre-Merhts, Rob Andrew was even more of a “I can only kick” proponent. But he was in the era when England only played 10-man rugby too, so that might have been ok.

          The ABs have kind of demonstrated with Barrett if you can score enough 5-pointers you can live with a patchy kicker. It’s not fair to call him bad, because if you do, he’ll go out and kick 10/10 from every part of the pitch. But in the next match he’ll miss them from just in front… so patchy.

          But for everyone else, I don’t think you can carry a kicker in the modern game. However, it doesn’t have to be your 10. The ‘Canes used Jordie, wherever he was playing to get their percentages up. The French for a long time used Parra as he was their most accurate kicker, in a 9 jersey. At the weekend, while they weren’t sure how Biggar’s knee would hold up, the Welsh reverted to Halfpenny (hardly a step down) in the 15 jersey. The English used Mr “let me tackle you with my shoulder” Farrell jr. in the 12 jersey. (Ironically he taught tackle technique to his partner in the 13 jersey, despite Fast Eddie’s post-match meltdown.) And Eales of course, can’t forget him, although forwards and goal kickers are a bit rarer.

          Now, that doesn’t necessarily help the Reds who might not have another kicker elsewhere. But if they want to stick with Campbell, they could do worse than line the whole match day 23 up and see who can do it…

        • Geoffro

          So,post Foley,Lilo,Beale and Hodge (who, personally,don’t figure in my Wallaby side going forward) .who would you hand the kicking tee to.Does Toomua get more favour due his kicking abilities-lucky his form is good now but that can change.I woud be surprised if Rennie went into a test without a decent goalkicker and somewhere in the side the better player in a given position may not necessarily be selected

        • I’m still reserving judgement to be honest. I need to see the Rebels against some tougher opponents but I wouldn’t mind Toomua for this year, not necessarily long term. I know at least one person vehemently disagrees with this, but starting Toomua and rotating the youngsters on for 20+ minutes (rather than 5 minutes) at the end of the matches to get them used to test match speed is a smart option I think for this year – maybe not against Argentina and whichever Tier 2 nation the Wallabies play in November. Next year, swap that, and put Toomua back where I think he actually belongs as a bench utility back. He’s just too versatile not to use that way.

          I wouldn’t mind Lolesio from what I’ve seen. His overall kicking% is a bit low, but the Brumbies style of play lands him a lot of conversions out wide off the driving maul, which pulls his stats down. They also tend to eschew kicking the goals for going to the corner, which pulls his numbers down, because he then gets a harder conversion from what you’d think would be an easier PK. He’s kicking basically 70% despite that, you’d think it would go higher at test level where they’d probably take more of the easy kicks at goal.

          If the Reds cast the net wide and turn up another kicker who would be a borderline Wallaby, I wouldn’t object to them picking him, but that’s pulling rabbits out of the hat. And if the Reds can fix Campbell’s kicking foes, I’m not going to rule him out either. They’ve got basically 3 months to do that, and he clearly knows how to kick, he’s just not executing.

          All of this is subject to change. I’m not sure when Rennie is picking his squad, but they’re the three names in the frame for me in the 10 jersey. I haven’t seen an alternate kicker, but I’d look at certainly all the backs in the squad who’ve got a decent kicking game just in case… kicking out of hand is not the same skill as kicking from a tee, but it’s a good starting point. I’d look at the best golfers too, apparently that’s a similar skill, although I don’t play golf or kick goals, so that’s pure hearsay.

        • Geoffro

          Fair call.At this stage Id be happy to see Toomua and Lolesio sharing 10 and kicking duties.JOC used to kick at goal,I wonder where that went

        • Reds Revival

          I saw that Dave Aldred is back as kicking coach for the Reds this week (and not a minute too soon). I’m guessing that he will be doing some intensive sessions in the coming days…

        • Patrick

          I agree re Toomua, there will be a lot of change as is, as we do not have the same continuity of development that the French managed this time around, we should focus on a degree of transition with players like Toomua to provide stability and support.

        • Keith Butler

          Excellent posts EP as usual. I think you’re right about Toomua and also giving extended game time to the youngsters. One of the things that really irked me about Cheika’s game management and a lot of coaches for that matter was putting players on with 5 or 10 to go. A complete waste of time.

        • Reds Revival

          Apparently Harry Wilson has said that he can kick too (is there anything that kid can’t do?).

        • Patrick

          Neil Jenkins anyone?

      • Bernie Chan

        Daugunu is a ex-football/soccer player who can kick…

        • Geoffro

          Is he any good though ?? maybe thats why he switched to rugby ;)

        • Bernie Chan

          Think he was a Fiji youth Rep. No money in football in Fiji though.. and he is a decent winger, but been injured. Any half decent football player can kick off the ground..

        • laurence king

          and throw themselves onto it

        • AllyOz

          We had a lock who was an ex-soccer player….and he was an excellent kicker. So my extensive survey of one says you’re bang on Bernie.

        • Patrick

          Mark Latham was one such, too

        • Who?

          Mark, or Chris..?
          Mark didn’t seem intelligent enough to play Rugby. :-P

        • Patrick

          Shoot me now.

          Mark was definitely a leaguie

        • AllyOz

          He has certainly demonstrated an ability for cross-code (or party) transformations. Labor leader to One Nation, soccer to rugby union … or did you mean Chris Latham?

        • Patrick

          You bet I did. I definitely need to sleep more

  • Reds Revival

    It’s good to see that the RA Board have opted for some professional sports administrators on the board.

    Dan Herbert was a bit of a head scratcher (as he didn’t really inspire during his time with QRU). However, Brett Godfrey from Virgin Airlines, and Peter Wigg from Supercars Australia represent a true departure from the “jobs for our mates” kind of thinking that has been proposed earlier in the debates. Hopefully, we can move away from the John O’Neill sabotage style and more into sound corporate and management decisions that help Raelene get on with the massive job that she has on her hands.
    This is another step in the right direction. Keep making good ones like this RA, and we may have a growing sport again.

    • AllyOz

      They were saying that the bloke from Channel 10 might still also have a chance to be considered when McLean is replaced in a few months. Still they may also want a female director as they are losing Ann Sherry. She was a director at P&O – though I think she finished up there – it would be a good time NOT to be involved in a cruise ship company I would think.

      I imagine AJ will kick off as he had supported the Mortimer bloke from Sydney Uni as a proper rugby man.

      So, if I understood the argument correctly, one of those three that have just been put up, and the existing board members that aren’t leaving will be the Chairman. I am not sure which one they are looking at for the moment…is it either of Godfrey and Wigg?

Melbourne Rebels

Just another Rugby tragic. Shane "Sully" Sullivan has been in man love with the game since high school in the 70's. He inflicts his passion on family and anyone who will listen. He can't guarantee unbiased opinion but he can tell you the Reds are Awesome! To read non-rugby content head to http://www.onesully.com.au

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