Wallabies – It's Time For A Fightback! Part 1 - Green and Gold Rugby

Wallabies – It’s Time For A Fightback! Part 1

Wallabies – It’s Time For A Fightback! Part 1

One of my favourite sporting moments ever was race seven of the 1983 America’s Cup challenge. After 132 years of American dominance the crew of Australia II had a chance to take the Cup away from them. In fact they were favourites for that race. 

However, things didn’t go according to plan for the Australians early in that race and the Americans led from the start. With just two legs to go Australia II was 57 seconds behind and all seemed lost, but John Bertrand and his crew refused to accept that they couldn’t still win, despite the seeming invincibility of the Americans. By the end of that leg, through a combination of skill, hard work and what Bertrand described as ‘sailing in the groove’, the Australians had not only overhauled the Americans but had built a 21-second lead. And they continued to increase that lead up the last leg, until they crossed the line to end the longest-ever winning streak in sports.

The crew of Australia II that day demonstrated the sort of remarkable spirit Australians have come to be known for all around the world – we’re pretty good at punching above our weight and very rarely give up without one hell of a fight.  Their mascot for that campaign was of course the boxing kangaroo.

On Sunday night when I turned on the news Robbie Deans was talking about the Wallabies’ current position in world rugby upon his return from Auckland. I was shocked to hear him say ‘Number one in the world is very clear and we now scrap over the remaining positions.’

That sounds to me like he’s conceded and believes the Wallabies should just aim to be second-best. Australians don’t give up that easily, and just because the All Blacks are a very good team with an imposing record doesn’t mean we shouldn’t still be striving to knock them off their perch.

I don’t accept that Australia doesn’t have the players to beat New Zealand on a regular basis and be number one in the world again. I’m also under no illusion — the Wallabies haven’t been playing well since the Tri Nations final in Brisbane last year. The World Cup campaign last year was poor and whilst we might have beaten Wales in the recent series I think that there were many signs in that series that the Wallabies are playing without belief.

What do the Wallabies need to change to get their ‘groove’ back? Over the next couple of weeks I’m going to look at what’s happened in their 2012 matches to see what’s going wrong and propose some ideas on how the Wallabies should move forward. It’s time for a fightback – maybe we need our very own boxing wallaby?

I acknowledge that the current issues with the Wallabies can in part be traced back to some of the problems in Australian rugby including participation rates, funding for grassroots rugby, lack of a national third tier program and competition from other codes — but that is a discussion for another day. I’m also not going to discuss the coaches – that’s been covered extensively elsewhere on this site. I’m assuming that the Wallabies will have a new head coach before the end-of-year tour.

Today I’m going to start with the Wallabies’ first phase attack from set pieces because I believe this is a great barometer for how the team is going. When the Wallabies are going well we have a competitive forward pack but a clever, fast backline who are prepared to have a go – they score tries using deception from anywhere on the field and look like they’re enjoying themselves. When the Wallabies aren’t going well our forward pack struggles to provide clean ball for the backline, which increases pressure on the decision making from the playmakers. We’ve seen that pressure manifested in the last two matches against the All Blacks, where we’ve seen far too many poor kicks trying to relieve that pressure, and it’s obvious the backs are playing like they’re wearing a straightjacket, with the aim of not making mistakes.

Set pieces are a great opportunity for a backline to attack: the forwards are generally occupied in the scrum or at the lineout and the defence has to retreat from the gain line so that there is space to work in – a minimum of about 15 metres from a scrum and around 20 metres from a lineout. With a lineout or wide scrum a backline has the whole width of the field to work with. From a centre-field scrum both sides of the field can offer an opportunity.

So how did the Wallabies use first phase opportunities from set pieces in the last two matches against the All Blacks?  Following are tables summarising those opportunities within 60 metres of the try line and a brief description of what the Wallabies did with those opportunities.

Time on Game Clock Starting Set Piece Metres From Try Line Metres Gained First Phase Move Outcome
01:07 Scrum 15 0 Scrum penalty in favour
04:05 Lineout 55 -2 Forwards on first phase then backline run into touch on second phase
05:06 Lineout 52 14 Mid-field to Faingaa on first phase then two more phases before dropped ball
22:45 Lineout 30 22 Mid-field to Faingaa on first phase then three more phases before penalty in favour
27:21 Lineout 40 0 Penalty against at lineout
30:27 Lineout 45 -5 Mid-field to Ioane then two more phases before chip kick by Barnes
37:13 Lineout 25 25 Forwards drive on first phase then seven more phases before try to Sharpe
42:36 Lineout 40 8 Poor lineout – Genia has to clean up on first phase then six more phases before penalty in favour
48:28 Lineout 40 2 Mid-field to Faingaa on first phase then penalty in favour
66:00 Scrum 40 0 Scrum penalty against
73:50 Scrum 35 25 Yes Ball to backs on first phase – then eight further phases before penalty in favour
77:17 Lineout 40 -7 Yes Ball to backs on first phase – Beale out of position then nine further phases before ruck turnover
Time on Game Clock Starting Set Piece Metres From Try Line Metres Gained 1st Phase Move Outcome
01:56 Lineout 35 13 Forwards for five phases before ruck turnover
03:30 Scrum 25 15 Yes Ball to backs – inside ball to Ioane then 10 phases before ruck turnover
13:37 Lineout 52 -6 Mid-field ball to Timani then seven phases before chip-kick by Barnes
15:58 Scrum 45 -7 Yes Ball to backs – Mitchell in space but failed to pass ball on first phase – ruck turnover
20:53 Lineout 55 0 Mid-field ball to Timani then four phases before box-kick by Genia
27:34 Lineout 52 0 Yes Ball to backs – chip-kick by Cooper
31:17 Lineout 38 0 Lineout lost
40:08 Lineout 42 0 Lineout lost
50:14 Lineout 40 8 Ball to backs – Barnes runs from first receiver – three phases then penalty in favour at ruck
51:35 Lineout 10 0 Lineout lost
52:36 Scrum 7 0 Ball to backs in mid-field on first phase – penalty in favour at ruck
54:34 Lineout 32 10 Forwards drive off lineout – collapsed maul – scrum to NZ
66:37 Lineout 15 5 Forwards for three phases before ruck turnover
68:52 Lineout 57 7 Mid-field to Hooper on first phase – four phases then ruck turnover
73:34 Scrum 58 13 Yes Wide to Ashley-Cooper – chip-kick

To summarise:

  • TRC 1 – twelve first phase opportunities and TRC 3 – 15;
  • TRC 1 – three of twelve opportunities used up by issues at set piece and TRC 3 – three of 15;
  • TRC 1 – backs used the ball on six of the remaining nine occasions and TRC 3 – backs used the ball on six of the remaining twelve occasions;
  • TRC 1 – backs ran a first phase move on two of the six occasions they used the ball and TRC 3 – backs ran a first phase move on four of the six occasions they used the ball.

Overall the backs used the ball on twelve of the 21 occasions it was available in the two matches (57%) and ran a first phase move on six of the twelve occasions they used the ball (50%). The six first phase moves in the two matches represent just 22% of the opportunities available. Those numbers hardly look like the numbers for a Wallabies team that’s going well.

Unfortunately it gets worse when you look at how effective the six first phase moves by the backline were – they resulted in three metres gained on first phase in TRC 1 and five metres gained in TRC 3.

The lack of any potency in the Wallabies’ first phase backline moves was a result of a combination of poor execution and plays that were so basic that they had no real chance of testing the defence. Have a look at all six first phase moves in the following video.

[youtube id=”SNdozFrQp8k” width=”600″ height=”350″]

It’s hard to fathom how a team that had so much preparation time for these two matches could get the execution wrong on what are pretty basic plays, but that fact tells you this Wallabies team is lacking cohesion and belief. The basic nature of the moves certainly indicates that they’re playing more not to make mistakes than to really test the opposition.

The number of opportunities the Wallabies had in each of these games within 60 metres of the try line is typical for a tier 1 Test match: about 13 per match. Of course the set pieces need to generate quick, clean ball for these opportunities to be useable and I’ll cover that issue in my next two articles looking at the scrum and the lineout.

I’m not suggesting that the ball should be used by the backs on all first phase opportunities but for a Wallabies team I think something around 70% is appropriate (around nine per match) – attack is the best form of defence after all. Of those opportunities I see no reason why all of them shouldn’t involve set moves. Yes, there’s a risk that by moving the ball to backs in a set move may result in the ball carrier being isolated if the defence isn’t deceived by the play, but can the results be any worse than the result we’re getting now from set piece opportunities?

If you’re concerned about the possibility of turnover, come up with plays that have a high probability of deceiving the defence and pick players that can execute these types of plays on a very high percentage of occasions when they are used.

In TRC 1 the All Blacks showed us what well designed and executed first phase backline plays can do for you – create tries! We all know the Wallabies can attack very well using first phase backline moves; here are links to some of my previous analysis articles looking at well worked Wallabies first phase plays:

Wallabies v. Springboks 2007

Wallabies v. France 2010

Wallabies v. Springboks 2009

Wallabies v. England 2010

This area would be my starting point on the road back for the Wallabies and something a game plan could then be built on: the aim of everything in the plan would be to generate more of these first phase backline opportunities. What do you think?

  • Excellent Scott and thank you for this effort.
    What I loved
    – The 10 receiving the ball flatter and moving
    – The number of bodies in motion on and off the ball.
    – The 10 running straight
    – The 10 taking it to the line
    – The number of effective short passes.

  • The Rant

    Good article.

    My concern is not so much 1st play moves- but friggin gain line percentage. I read that our starting 8 forwards made only 80m combined over the 2 tests!!!! Why bother trying to focus on fancy back line moves if your gonna spend all your time going nowhere? Too often of late it seems to me we run out of ideas as soon as we go past 2 phases and our forwards are too lethargic and predictable. No dynamism or change of direction (maybe in the first 2 mins if Eden park), And the interplay between forwards and backs is woeful.
    I love a clever and well executed move, but you gotta think big picture- how will we take this ball 60m as a team without chipping it! How do we create momentum. When to go wide (hint, not the first quick phase) and when to straighten.
    The forwards need to harden up and improve technique, and will and cooper need to control the direction of attack better.
    Until then there will be no ‘sailing in the groove’ just The kiwis stealing our wind.

    • Scott Allen

      Agree – will cover that in Part 5 next week

  • DC.

    6. Gill, 7. Hooper, leave Higgas/Dennis (who really needs to steup) and Samo for 8th man.

    Taps and Shipperly into the backs, AAC to stay at FB and let Kurtley find hiim game off the bench.

    Slipper and Palmer to the front with Moore…

  • Scott Allen

    I should say that the next parts will cover the following:

    2. Scrum
    3. Lineout
    4. Kicking
    5. Attack including how our forwards can get over the gain line
    6. Defence

    All will be published before the next Wallabies game.

    • Trys NOT Kicks

      I would be interested in your opinions on forwards receiving the ball flat footed-personally I hate it. No wonder the forwards make no ground when rumbling the ball up.
      I do understand that there are reasons for it-less chance of dropping the ball for example. However surely players at this level can catch a ball?

      • Scott Allen

        Will cover that in Part 5 next week

      • Blinky Bill of Bellingen

        Was it my imagination or did I actually see our forwards using what I’m told is called ‘the hammer’ for a short time & then they fizzled out? I thought we looked okay there for a while & then went of the boil. Why do we persist with kicks but not persist with good forward play that seemed likely to bear fruit? :(

      • Steve

        I think if you compare the 2 teams, the back-line moves are very similar, just poor execution on behalf of the Wallabies players.
        The Forwards comparison would be interesting as I believe that is where the Wallabies are losing the match up.
        Anecdotally the AB’s forwards make contact (flat footed or not) and then more often with a supporting player use a good low position with strong leg drive to make that extra 1-2 metres over the gain line, the Wallabies forwards either go in to contact too high (evidenced by turnovers at mauls) or don”t continue to drive through the contact going straight to ground to recycle.
        I can see the thought process behind this is to get quick ball, but that quick ball is negated if it is behind the gain line or the opposition drive you backwards landing on you and then slowing the play before retreating support can move them.

        • beeza

          Good point, you often see 2-3 of the AB piggies pause briefly when their attack has lost shape then regroup with someone like Mealamu taking the ball up with very low body height simply to get past the gain line, reset and generate some shape and momentum. Their tight forwards also are very good changing their tactics, popping it up and switching the angle and focus of the attack when the time is right. Wallaby forwards dont tend to know when or how to switch it up when play is broken. They need to get organised and work together more effectively when picking and driving and run lines (not to be confused with crabbing!) when things open up.

  • Mart

    As soon as i saw the link, i thought please be from Scott. Another cracker analysis.

    And going against what I’ve been whinging about, that the backs haven’t been doing set moves.

    It seems they have, just poorly.

    We do have the players, they’ve just gotta get into the right positions and the right head space!

    Get some confidence and mongrel back. Stop chumming with the opposition and focus on your own game and havin some fun.

  • Rock Lobster

    Good analysis Scott. Interesting that in all bar one of those “moves” Genia starts the play scooting across field before delivering a pass. This only serves to give the defence more time to get up & pressure the potential ball carriers. The one time he does give it off the deck immediately is the play that almost works when Mitchell holds on too long. Gotta be a lesson there??

    • Scott Allen

      Looking at the six clips again, in TRC 1 both of the 2 plays involve Genia running to draw the defence up. In TRC 3 only 1 of the 4 plays involve Genia running – on the other 3 he passes within one step of receiving the ball from the lineout jumper or the number 8 at the back of the scrum.

      Good observation RL – clearly something they changed in the design of the plays from one week to the next. Both ways can be valid but the delivery in the second week certainly allowed much more room.

  • Skip

    i just don’t understand why we don’t see the mongrel of the last TN test in Bris last year. The vaunted all blacks were bashed about, given a big “fuck you and you ‘mystique’ ” and hey presto, they look eminently beatable.

    That comment from Dingo was fucking outrageous. the only other time i’ve been that pissed about a comment was before and Irish test when Tuqiri (it was rumoured i think) said he’d rather be on the beach than playing the irish in the mud and rain. FARK!

    • murph

      Yep. You’d never hear an Australian coach say what Deans said. Never. He simply doesn’t have the passion to lead Australia – and in a way I don’t blame him. It’s mentally easier to adopt the position he’s taken if he’s not hamstrung by national pride.

      • Johnny-boy

        It was the ultimate cop out Murph. Deans has done his job tho. He has totally depressed most of Australian rugby with his dour mumbo jumbo and negative minimize the losses attitude and he’s now enjoying putting the boot in to say we’ve got to accept being second best. Has Australian rugby really become so utterly gutless that we accept a kiwi coaching us to play like crap and then having the gall to tell us that’s all we can ever aspire too. It’s just unbelievable. If you can’t see he’s just trying to ingratiate himself to the NZRFU after getting over the disappointment of being dumped you’re barking mad. I mean really what coach in their right mind sends out Ben Alexander while talking up holding up the Australian scrum. It’s just a ridiculous joke.

    • Sledgey


      What was outrageous?
      Is it what Dingo said?
      Or that he said anything at all?

      • murph

        Out comes that old chestnut.

        You’ve no longer got an argument so you’re resorting to calling your opponent prejudiced and implying that the subject of your defence is some kind of victim.

        How about you defend Deans’s capitulation and, if you can’t, think about his suitability to coach the wallabies.

        • Skip

          what you said :)

    • Colonel Smouch

      That is a sackable offence right there.

      Imagine if Steve Hansen or Graham Henry pitched up at a presser in NZ and said “well we think the Wallabies are too good and we will just settle for second” They wouldn’t make it out of the room alive.

      We can’t continue to tolerate this any longer. The experiment has failed. Deans should be frog marched down to Bondi and told to swim back to New Zealand in my opinion.

      • Blinky Bill of Bellingen

        So Bondi is where they arrive and depart from? And I thought it was just a rumour.

    • Johnny- boy

      If you want to find why an organization is not working you don’t have to look any further than the top. That is always the beginning and end of the problem. End of story. The leader sets the tone, as Horwill did when he inspired that devastating demolition of the All Blacks in his first game as captain. Unfortunately Deans got to work to dumb down the Wallabies after that to make sure they didn’t threaten his beloved All Blacks by making truly absurd selections for the Wallabies and making sure they had no shape or structure. You have to give him credit tho he is cunning as hell. No coach genuinely responsible for winning multiple Super rugby titles is as dumb as Deans is acting with the Wallabies. It is not humanly possible. There is something else going on.

    • Chucka

      Rocky’s Injured and Vicks retired today….. There are the two biggest reasons the wallabies have no mongrel

  • Skip

    p.s. setting the standard again Scott.

  • Pedro

    The most important thing for a backline move to make it over the advantage line is for the first receiver to be running hard and flat at a space between two defenders. This was best displayed by Larkham, who as a result could always make at least a meter or two by already by crash balling his opposite number at worst. At best you sneak through or cause the defense to slide, thereby giving your offense the advantage. This style of first phase play was also the reason the no name brums backline was surprisingly good this season.

    We really just need a 10 that is committed to putting their body on the line. Barnes can do it at times, QC should accept it as an acceptable option. What we really need is Lealiifano to show them how, after all he has learnt from the best.

    • Mart

      Couldn’t agree more with the Lealiifano call. He had an exceptional season. Bummer about the injury. Obviously time with Bernie helped him

  • Karl

    We need Greg Ingles :-). But seriously, a big, hard, fit, fast mongrel who can crash, tackle and offload would be pretty handy. Cooper and Barnes ain’t that. I keep thinking that there are some things that can learned and adapted from League on this front. And a good NRL club back line can make the current Wallabies look pretty one dimensional and clumsy. It hurts to say it, but that’s how I feel at the moment.

    • Johnny- boy

      Oh here we go another bloody mungo from the most boring game on the planet trying to undermine rugby by telling us we should all bow to the count to six and kick borefest for the single digit iqs. Shouldn’t you be on the Roar ?

  • Brumby Jack

    On that Australia II theme..

    ‘Anyone who says Deans is doing well is a bum!’

  • BigAl

    “I don’t accept that Australia doesn’t have the players to beat New Zealand on a regular basis and be number one in the world again”. I think you are going to revisit that statement with regret for quite some time.

    • Scott Allen

      Only way we’ll find out is if the same players get a coach that can give them a clear game plan and works on improving the requisite skills to play that game plan.

      For example, could Timani be upskilled as a lineout jumper so he’s an option the Wallabies can throw to more often? I bet he could.

      Could Beale be upskilled to take high balls better than he does? I think he could.

      • Johnny- boy

        Ignore the gutless wonders and kiwi trolls Scott. I’m with you.

        • Steve

          Not a troll, just a question.
          Shouldn’t these skills be taught long before they get to the Wallaby level?
          I doubt Dan Carter, Isreal Dagg etc get any basic skills training in the AB’s setup other than practice and refining the existing talents. The biggest eye opener for SBW when he joined the AB’s was the amount of time spent learning structures and game plans, he said he spent hours after training going over videos and play books. Not how to catch and pass.
          An international fullback should have to be taught how to catch a high ball.

    • bludge

      why on earth is there all this whinging without anyone looking at other teams to see if they do things differently.

      why get excited about putting barnes into 2nd 5, giving 2 playmakers… 2 weak tacklers, neither of which can break the gainline. look at the ABs, you think carter needs backup for his playmaking duties from sonny? support kicking? cruden can do the job by himself. steyn does it himself too… any decent 10 should be able to run a game by himself. leaving the 2nd 5 with his own job, ie break the line ala frans steyn, SBW, the huge guy from wales, nonu….. pat mccabe even. deans had moved his style to match the trends last year, why not put someone else in there who can do the same role? hell, put timani in there to do it, or higgen botham. and let the 10 do his job, or get a 10 in who can.

  • Lee Enfield

    I really do think there is some internal problems with Wallabies. Without knowing what is going on inside camp Wallaby, my gut tells me they are not a team. I think there might be some merit in strapping on the gloves and having the boys sort out the differences with some boxing.

  • @sackdeansnow

    I rembrr that moment.it was 1982 and it was year 12 – I was at a party in mosman and surrounded by queenwood girls – I am still finding it hard to top that feeling even 29 years later- is that pathetic or was it just that good? …. Oh and Robbie Deans – get a woollie dog up ya and go home !!

    • @sackdeansnow

      PS – Im referring to the queenwood girls not the race.

  • le roo

    Excellent piece as usual Scott, thanks.

    However according to Quade you could be over-complicating it, just saw him interviewed on the news, he said the problem with the WB’s is body height.


    If thats what he got out of the post game de-brief we really are f#cked on every level.

  • Mighty Moth

    This is a

    • Mighty Moth

      Oops, technical hickup due to fat fingers. This is a quote from Scott from 2010:
      “With modern defences being so good, teams have to use use more than inside switches, quick hands across the back line and simple run arounds to ask questions of the defence. A good back line will have a number of starter plays to use from set pieces and another set of plays for subsequent phases.”
      I was screaming at the telly when the Wallabies in the first test shuffled the ball across the line to end up going out of touch on the far side for no gain.
      Simple and predictable first phase attack. We have the players they just need a bloody game plan and not just “play what’s in front of you” from the Head/Backline Coach.

      • Scott Allen

        Yes, I’ve been banging on about the Wallabies backline for a few years now.

        At least my message is consistent – when I saw your quote I thought I might have contradicted myself in 2010!

      • Blinky Bill of Bellingen

        Moth – That backline crap to which you refer had me completely stumped. Was shoveling the ball across the line and taking the space until we ran out of side line it? Like ‘what do these guys actually practice at training’ is what I want to know. I simply can not accept that our players are as dumb as they are being made to look. Maybe they need to meet privately and devise game plans, even if Robbie does get the credit.

      • They shuffle it and pander across field like they do because they haven’t got the physical presence to guarantee possession. They constantly hope Genia’s arcing runs will at one point hold up the defence that split-second long enough to allow Cooper’s bullet pass to put a player into space on the outside. Problem is, unlike NZ of old, their new defensive systems are in place to ensure all aspects are covered. You often here them talk about ensuring “clarity” in everyone’s roles in the early part of the week, leading up to a test match. This clarity ensures the space from the tail of a lineout to the flyhalf or the channels between the scrum and the flyhalf are sewn up tight giving Smith/Nonu at 13 the freedom to make a decision on defence. Repeating different defensive scenarios at training of who-has-which-man over and over again usually ensures a good strike rate – the main variable when everyone has done their homework and knows exactly who to mark on each play becomes individual fitness and whether you can concentrate for the 80mins. The thing is, NZ also lead in the conditioning department too.

        • Blinky Bill of Bellingen

          Maxwell – So can you give me some hope and tell me there is a weakness in what the AB’s are doing & how they’re going about it, and how we can exploit it?

          Seems to me that their fitness levels, game plan, skills and execution thwart any idea that our not as fit players might have of playing an up tempo game. In other words once we increase our speed we play into their hands (as they are just better at it). Slow it down and we’re easy meat.

          Once speed increases the pressure is on the technique and execution. Which maybe why we drop so much ball. Then again that maybe just down to confidence.

        • I think Oz should put all their efforts into attacking the most vulnerable channels on the pitch (for any team), namely the space between:
          1) lineout tail and first back defender
          2) scrum flanks and first back defender
          3) & the space just behind a defending backline.
          If you watch when sides defend these spaces they are the easiest to exploit. These vulnerable spaces give them the highest chance of advancing the gainline and so should work on starter moves to take advantage for every set-piece possession they get.
          In phase play they need a fluent way of transitioning from ‘pick and go’ to the “forward options off 9″ plays. At the moment they are deciding on the hoof at every phase which catches forwards out of position and tires them out quickly. They need to know when they are in one mode or another and focus on executing that mode until the call comes from 10 (or 9) when its time to change mode or attack wider channels.

  • bill

    Good analysis, I didn’t think they’d used as much angles as you showed they did, just very poor execution and good all black defence. So often out of position or just poor choices like Mitchell not passing.

  • tc63

    Scott – a great piece.
    Rather than “play what is in front of you” we should “set the bar high”.
    Wallabies looked beaten and brainless – no ideas – lets kick.
    If you are mentally defeated you have no hope.
    How many times have we seen an underdog with attitude win ?
    Hell, I coach kids and tell them it is 60% attitude and 40% skill and am probably being conservative.
    Wallabies have a track record of playing a great game following a series of poor performances. Why – attitude.
    They also are “serial disappointers” in losing games when they think they are going to win.
    Why – attitude.

    Who is accountable for attitude within a team ?
    Certainly each player, however in my view a coach is first and foremost accountable for attitude of the team.

    While I am on the current Wallabies coach – the lack of skills coordination and game plan development across the Aussie S15 conference is disturbing.
    Dingo cannot be expected to teach skills in 3 weeks – maybe set attitude, game plans and moves.
    However, he has had 4+ years to get our broader conference coaching system working and all I can see is backward movement. He may not have direct accountability – however he is in the chair to setup the systems – sounds like what Rod Macqueen achieved doesn’t it.

    Sorry for the long rave. Love the work Scott.

    Cheers TC

  • boutbloodytime

    Top analysis Scott, as usual, highlighting problems & focusing on solutions-

    Maybe giving the backline carte blanche to create half a dozen of their own first phase set moves would create some of the belief & cohesion that you mention appears to be lacking…involving the players in the process gives them confidence, ownership of their ideas & style of play which stimulates them to think more, especially in game situations…then test it in training & see where the weaknesses are & fine tune it into something workable that the players have created themselves.

    I’m not sure if it’s the case, but it appears that since the start of RWC2011, they have been shackled & told to be conservative, hence running basic moves, which they have no confidence in & consequently, execution suffers.

    I could be way off the mark & I’m tired of giving Deans a kicking, but it becomes a bit of a downward cycle when a style of play is dictated to you, you begin making mistakes due to lack of faith in the style, the coach sees the low percentage of execution, creating more basic plans to limit mistakes…and the cycle continues…

    Get the players involved & one of 2 things happens:
    1. they develop confidence in their own plans & skill execution improves
    2. they get hammered, learn from the mistake & think ‘shit, maybe the coach wasn’t so dumb after all’…

    Thoughts anyone?

  • RedsfanDan

    Would there be any merit to getting in specialist coaches to work intensively on particular aspects of the game? e.g. Get in some kind of AFL coach to teach the players how to take a high ball. It seems strange to me that there’s no Bram van Straaten of the breakdown or highball receipt running around or that the wobs don’t employ one

  • Hooper for 12


    I’ve had it now with Deans. The guy is just not smart. Full stop.

    I want to see him be forced, by himself, to front a publicised ARU Hearing where he explains to the Public the strategies and tactics he chose to focus on and have the Wallabies practice and employ for these first 2 games against the ABs. If he comes across as smart, strategic and convincing, we keep him through the Autumn tour. If not, curtains NOW.

    Are you listening JON????!!!!

  • From the sideline

    I have had it with the players. None played for 80 minutes. The new hero hooper was one of the better players doing his job for 15 minutes. Not a great player and really did not make a difference nor did anyone else. No x factor anywhere. Execution poor. If the kicks came off deans would b a genius but the players could not deliver 1 to 15 inclusive. The subs did not mKe a difference either. We looked like a school is team taking on an uncoordinated club side

  • chasmac

    Nice Analysis Scott.
    Seems that the Wallabies have been running more set piece moves than I originally thought. But the execution is woeful.
    Looking at the linked clips it highlights the need for well executed 1st phase moves against a known defensive line.
    It would be interesting to know the recent trend in world rugby (given the current rule interpretations) for backline moves and their success rate.
    My feeling is that defense has improved in broken play, with players like the Franks brothers close to topping the tackle counts.

    • chasmac

      Sorry this comment lacks clarity.
      What I was trying to say is I would like to know if any teams are able to successfully break down defensive lines from say 4th – 5th – 6th phase by running backline moves.
      My guess is that the primary way to score tries from multiple phases is to somehow win a collision, create quick ball, get it to the backs who can hopefully exploit a mismatch with a fatty.

  • Nipper

    Great analysis, as usual, Scott! A couple of things are made clear by the video:

    The “second line” set moves appear to only have one option (OK, there was one where they used a short option with Genia giving it to Ioane on a switch). So, if that one option isn’t on, you’re screwed – “time for a kick!”

    Conversely, if you look at the AB’s set piece move that you illustrated last week, there were at least three options, and you have a great decision maker picking the correct one. That’s “playing what’s in front of you.”

    Creative doesn’t need to be complex – the AB’s move wasn’t that complex – just executed and timed to perfection, with an expert decision maker.

    That leads to the other observation I took from the video – nearly every time they run these moves, it appears as though it’s the first time they’ve ever run it! The timing is off, the wrong options are taken, players don’t time their pass when it’s on… what exactly DO they practice?

    The All Blacks excel because they do the basic core skills of rugby REALLY well. Their timing, execution, and knowing exactly what their and their teammate’s roles are. Nothing terribly fancy or complicated. Just a common understanding and high level of execution.

    And it’s damned annoying.

  • spectator

    The Wallabies are not going to be under more pressure in general game play than the situation at Eden Park, the All Blacks at home.

    The backline, with a Cooper & Barnes insides combination, was able to function and in general carried out alot of high risk football play with alot of composure under big pressure while having a go from anywhere for just about the entirety of the game.

    They still lacked penetration for attack, but wasn’t the best situation and with more game time that form of play – those half chances that this approach starts to make a constant factor in a game – will come as they find their rhythm between their X factor(s), direction and linking.

    The All Blacks have to play the Boks in Sth Africa and the Wallabies at Brisbane, and they are not quite the same team playing further away from home, so there is the possibility of the All Blacks losing their last two matches potentially closing up the rankings gap if Wallabies can win all their remaining games.

    The Wallabies away from home is not such a big factor in the make up of their game, so they should be a decent chance of winning their away games.

    I think they just need to develop with the way they were wanting to play in their last game at Eden Park which showed alot of potential positives for dealing with the A.B.s ( & everyone else) in a hard to pin down way, rather than reverting back to the type of game intent they were looking at in Sydney.

  • Redsfan1

    All these massive Posts!

    It’s very simple. The AB backline is huge and aggressive. Ours is small and weak. Get boys in there 100kg plus that can catch, pass, & have short tempers.

  • Kigyptian


    This is great Analysis, I can’t wait for the remaining parts :)

  • Cantab abroad

    If defence is about attitude then there wasn’t a lot wrong with the wbs attitude in either match. Very good defence in fact, especially when the pack is under pressure.

    So why isn’t that team desperate mongral attitude swithced on in attack?

    If the coach sets the team attitude then it shows most in defence in which case, dare I say it, Deans has done his job.

    Personally I think its a fitness issue. I don’t think the wbs players have got their conditioning right. Players make mistakes when they are tired and therefore less focussed.

    Also its about the step up from super rugby to test rugby. Some players can, some can’t and with the longer season depth is critical.

    When is it the coaches fault when the players don’t excecute basic, well practiced moves on field?

  • spectator

    The criticism of the kicking is abit one dimensional.

    Quite a few of the kicks were attacking ones – they just weren’t coming off.

    The outside backs shouldn’t be receiving the ball and the opposition player at the same time as it takes away from free flowing movement and passes in that area of the game. When that is happening constantly the opposition is over extending itself with rush defence; and grubber, chip kicks and occasional bombs are the way to reap the dividends of that.

    The problem was as a unit, the backline didn’t have the communication or rhyme to capitalize on those appropriate options as a whole – ( then the better option in that situation is too concede for the time being and stand deeper rather than persist) – and perhaps just requires abit more practise as a unit to have this other dimension of play ready to reap rewards when the opportunities present themselves.

    Forward passing game is a different style, as is more ball and player at same time from giving to receiving and requires a diff. style although the tear-aways should be adaptable to both, but for backs, free flowing passes in space is the gel for expansive attack ball in hand.

  • sarina

    Wallaabies jus nt as gud lookn as the abs luk at ritchie liam dan sbw.

    • Johnny-boy

      Yeah well at least our Sheila’s are better lukin than your wahines

  • sarina

    Spectator the wallabies away record is shokn the abs away record is the best of any team so wat r u talkn about?

    • spectator

      re: Sarina

      Brisbane, Hong Kong, Durban, Port Elizabeth for starters.

      I’m not sure if the Wallies are as significantly more inconsistent further away from home than when at home & is more of a team dynamic at play, excluding when playing the A.B.s at home;

      where as the A.B.’s significantly have been all be it with a better overall temporary record.

  • In the centres

    Its all about passion, until the Wallabies Players demonstrate something like State of Origin Passion, we will not win. When you look at the faces of the Blues playing against QLD you can see how much it means to put everything on the line and still lose. If we lost like that to the AB’s because they just had better personel you could understand. We do not show the passion yet, it doesnt mean enough obviously to the current crop. Somehow someone needs to give them all a serious dose of State Of Origin commitment, passion and unbridled desire to win. Get this first and the rest will follow…..

  • Johnny-boy

    Gee Centers I wonder how the Queensland league team would go if they were told they had to be coached by multiple state of origin winning nsw coach Gus Gould after he had just been told nsw would rather employ anybody but him. I can tell you there’d be a f…. riot and the players would refuse to play. The wallabies aren’t there yet but aren’t far off. Like the Brumbies were last year, they aren’t Interested in playing to their potential anymore either and in the end they got a great coach and are loving it. What is amusing is that the ex Wallabys on the ARU board have no doubt all experienced the frustration of dickhead gutless idiot administrators in their playing careers, and now they are one …..

  • KiwiStu

    I always look forward to the Wallaby AB games – have done all my life. Recently though the Wallabies do not seem to value the ball to the same degree they used to. There was a stage where if the Wallabies got the ball they held on to it until they got points (it seemed) and it was damn hard to get it off them. I don’t feel the same worry these days – the ball comes back to the ABs too easily I think. Not to say that the ABs are not having an effect – the defence at the moment is ferocious, just the Wallabies are not protecting the precious ball. Like others on here I think that coaching is not the whole story – the Wallaby players need to match the AB attitude that the ball is theirs. That might see a return to the nail biting 1 point tests that would go either way!

  • sarina

    Spectator i think u r merely that as hi lightng 4 away wins hides the fact aus loses away frm home more often than nt wgere as its
    Oppposite 4the abs. Woblies hav a birrible away record luk it up. Abs for eg havent lost in nthn hemisphere 4 years. Aus hav won 3/17 v abs in deans 5 yrs thats a fair few wins away 4 abs and losses away 4 aus. Wins in sth africa altho a bit mor frequent than in nz r stil rare. Yes aus won in hong kong but wata bout in japan twice!

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Scott is one of our regular contributors from the old days of G&GR. He has experience coaching Premier Grade with two clubs in Brisbane.

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