Wallabies – We Can Fight Back! - Green and Gold Rugby
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Wallabies – We Can Fight Back!

Wallabies – We Can Fight Back!

In 1987 Mark Ella authored a book called Path To Victory: Wallaby Power In The 1980s. Ella had plenty to write about at that time but sadly you couldn’t write such a book today. What will it take for the Wallabies to get back to the pinnacle of world rugby — what is the path for today’s team? In my Wallabies Fightback series over the last two weeks I’ve tried to map out the obstacles and some possible solutions.

Whilst the All Blacks are a very good team I don’t accept that they are playing so well that they are unbeatable. In fact I believe that if the Wallabies start to get some of the basics right they can compete with the All Blacks the next time they play them.

I’ve been raising many of these issues in this series in articles on Green & Gold Rugby since 2009. The Wallabies under Robbie Deans appear to be not progressing and in fact have regressed in some areas.

THE ISSUES

Backline Attack

The Wallabies are not playing to their strengths – historically when we’ve been at our best we’ve been a team with a competitive pack of forwards but with skilful, creative and fast backs who could score some magnificent tries, but as I detailed in Part 1 of the series it appears that Deans wants a more conservative game plan.

Scrum

In my view the Wallabies scrum has been under pressure in 2012 from both Wales and the All Blacks, as I showed in Part 2 of the series.

Andrew Blades has only recently taken over as the forwards and scrum coach so it’s hard to judge his performance at this time. But when we interviewed him this week for Podslam 77 I put my views to him on the scrum performance so far in 2012, and he claimed that the scrum has actually only been under pressure on opposition ball and that on the Wallabies’ own feed the scrum has been good.

Since that interview I’ve gone back and watched footage of every scrum against Wales and the All Blacks and I maintain that the Wallabies’ scrum has gone backwards or been penalised in 12 of the 28 completed scrums in 2012 where the Wallabies fed the ball. That’s a failure rate of 43 per cent which I’d hardly call a good performance.

I’m not sure where the Wallaby coaches get their scrum statistics from but if they don’t even believe the scrum has been under pressure it’s unlikely they’ll implement the necessary changes.

Lineout

As I showed in Part 3 of this series the Wallabies’ lineout was reasonable in the series against Wales and in attack against the All Blacks, but I thought the defensive performance against the All Blacks was very poor.

As far as I’m concerned the Wallabies won only one of the All Blacks’ 26 lineouts in the two matches – just 4 per cent.  When we interviewed Blades this week I put my views to him and he claimed that he was happy with the defensive performance against the All Blacks and that Verusco, the company that provides statistics to the Wallabies, said that the Wallabies actually won 5 of the 26 All Black lineouts (three in the first match and two in the second), which would equate to winning 19 per cent of All Black-thrown lineouts.

Since that interview I’ve gone back and watched footage of every All Black lineout and I maintain that the Wallabies only won a single lineout in the two matches. Nonetheless, other providers of statistics record the Wallabies winning a second All Black lineout in the second match. The Wallabies didn’t compete at either lineout and the ball was only turned over due to errors by the All Blacks, so you could argue the Wallabies didn’t actually ‘win’ any of the All Blacks lineouts but it comes down to a matter of interpretation and I’ll go with the majority view, so that’s at best 2 wins from 26 All Black lineouts (8 per cent).

I think most people who watched the matches against the All Blacks would be surprised if you told them that statistics showed that the Wallabies had won 19 per cent of the All Blacks’ lineouts. If the Wallaby coaches are basing their analysis of their lineout on data showing 19 per cent of lineouts won against the All Blacks when the actual figure is no higher than 8 per cent, it’s clear the issues aren’t even being correctly identified. The Wallabies have their own full-time analysts so I don’t understand how the statistical errors they’re being fed are not being picked up or questioned by the coaches.

Kicking In General Play

As I showed in Part 4 of this series the Wallabies’ kicking in general play has been poor for a long time. Whilst the amount of kicking is generally not an issue there are far too many errors being made with decision making and execution.

General Play Attack Structure

In 2012 the Wallabies have appeared disorganised in attack.  n the Welsh series it often appeared as though they had hardly trained or played together, and in the two matches against the All Blacks their mode of attack kept changing.

In Part 5 of this series I suggested using one of the Wallabies’ existing structures as a base structure – same-way attack by the forwards until the playmakers see an opportunity.

Defence

The Wallabies’ defence has been reasonable in 2012 but as I showed in Part 6 of this series, in the two matches against the All Blacks the backline has started missing too many tackles (whilst the forwards have improved their defensive performance).

CONCLUSION

The Wallabies may be the number two team in the world and the All Blacks are certainly a formidable number one, but I don’t accept that the Wallabies do not have the players or the ability to compete for that number one spot.

I believe that if the issues with the core areas I’ve outlined were addressed the performance of the Wallabies could be improved dramatically and relatively quickly.

Nothing that I’ve proposed is radical; none of the ideas are complicated and all of them have already been discussed by many other people — and that’s what frustrates me the most: the need for changes in these core areas is obvious and the solutions are not rocket science.

  • Sharpey

    Scott Allen to become the Wallabies statistic analyst!

    • ooaahh

      here here, AND possibly one of the coaches.

    • Garry

      No, he’d never get the job. He’s too honest.

      He’s not telling the coach what they want to hear.

    • Stin

      Bloody oath!! I hope they’re reading this!

  • johnny-boy

    Nice summary Scott. Funny how your detailed analysis confirms a lot of ‘perceptions’ by mug punters. If it walks and talks like a duck, it’s probably a duck. It is sad that it seems we have to wait until the Wallabies hit absolutely rock, humiliating, scraping the barrel bottoml,
    before JON and the ARU board concede their egos can no longer justify this monumental error and injustice to the current crop of Wallabies. The abrogation of their responsibilties to Australian rugby is disgraceful. However when you consider Michael Hawker got dumped from IAG before it got in to even more strife under his leadership and JON was in charge of the NSW State Bank before it went belly up, well what can you expect.
    It’s equally sad that some Australia rugby supporters are happy with recent selections because the new players can at least do one thing well. But we still have a centre (AAC) who will point blank refuse to pass it under any circumstance to the finest strike weapon in world rugby (Ioane). We’ve got to stop shooting ourselves in the foot, eventually. Surely ?

    • Ian

      AAC refusing to pass???

      maybe when he has been playing full back or wing, but that isn’t one of his flaws playing at center. Maybe you are confusing AAC with Horne?

      Last time he got a few games in a row at center he had blinders. Particularly agianst the Saffas.

      And yes there are certainly perceptions about particular teams, the players job is to change those perceptions by dominating and making it impossible for referees to “assume” it must have been the their fault.

      Like the perception that All Black players don’t linger off-side at the breakdown enmasse, they damn well do! Genia needs to be yelling at the ref to get them back on-side. It is all about asserting your authority on the field.

      As I have said before, the Wallabies are far too timid on the field, long past time they started throwing some disrespect at the opposition regardless of how much the kiwi supporters whinge that you can’t shove poor richie!

      • I agree with Johnny Ian. AAC does not pass.
        He always tries to beat the man himself.

        • Ian

          I always felt he was a late offloader, but never as far as I remember, held on when he shouldn’t have… Could be wrong, glad he is in the gold regardless.

        • Coodabeenawesome

          Absolutely 100% correct. Two dads cannot/willnot/doesnot pass the ball. Ball will always die with AAC unless he does one of his aimless up and unders. I’m sure Scott could knock together a vid of AAC passing the ball to advantage those 3 times he’s done it for the wallabies…

        • Ian

          Wow.. so much hate for one of our best performers, we really do expect the best i guess!!

          AAC is one of the go to guys, he really is that good. I just quite simply disagree with you boys, cant see him as a ball hog. sorry, ain’t seen the evidence.

    • Pedro

      He may not pass often but at least he runs straight and hard. I will always rather that than running diagonally into the wingers space a la Mr Horne. Who incidentally also never passes.

      • Coodabeenawesome

        Criticism does not mean hate. I’m a big fan of two dads I just think AAC is a great example of what is wrong with the Wobblies as a whole. He is a supremely talented guy who can play anywhere in the backline well enough. But the whole point is ‘well enough’ isn’t good enough. And for last few years ‘well enough’ is all we get from Wobblies

  • Scotty

    So in further summary, we have two options for victory:

    a) Win clean ball at your own scrums, pressure the opposition lineout, don’t fall off tackles in the backs and be consistent with your mode of attack. (Sounds like our Macqueen coached team of 99-01)

    b) Ignore the stats, put your head in the sand and hope something lucky happens. (The entire coaching staff should be fired now if they truly believe those lineout and scrum stats.)

    I wonder which is the best way forward.

  • johnny-boy

    I thought to myself, being of inquisitive mind, I don’t suppose the Wallabies stats supplier Verusco is a kiwi company who might be giving the Wallabies dud stats and helping Deans cobble the Wallabies would they …….?
    Well blow me down it’s surprising what Google turns up. (Verusco – Level 1 89A Fitzherbert Avenue Palmerston North New Zealand 5301).
    Feeling suspicious ?

    • Jimmy

      Probably the same company the coach came from??

      First thing we need to do is focus on developing everything at home – I don’t care if its players, coaches, or stats. We are representing this country and the efforts put in should be from people here.

    • Ian

      That’s more like it JB, Get on board and start throwing some flame at the kiwis, those dirty buggers.

      We must form a united front against the smug, arrogant and ill informed new zealand masses!

      The good guys in gold will overcome!

      DAMN THE MAN! SAVE THE EMPIRE!

      • badabing59

        Smug? Guess when you’ve been #1 for so long, you can be a little smug.
        Ill informed? Eh?
        Is your tin foil hat a little tight today?

        • Ian

          Theres that smugness i was talking about. You don’t have to wait long to see it.

        • RJ

          I would be way more smug than the kiwis are if positions were reversed. The Kiwis are much more gracious in victory than us actually

      • badabing59

        And Aussies are humble when they win? LOL. Give me a break

        Mind you very hard to tell as they don’t win all that often…

        • boutbloodytime

          Well done mate,

          You’ve been keeping that comment in the back pocket since 1999 & now you can finally bring it out now the ABs have 2 world cups too eh?

          Your patience has paid off…your mum would be so proud!

  • Old Weary

    Really excellent work here Scott, albeit a little depressing seeing the repetitive nature of some of the simply errors and oversights.

    I really hope you get the opportunity to engage ARU coaching staff again as would love to hear their thoughts on this work

    cheers.

  • murph

    Blades not knowing the basic stats should result in his immediate dismissal. Outside of the dregs of the public service, I can’t think of any industry where such incompetence would be met with anything but a sacking.

  • tc63

    Scott,
    The best analysis I have seen and provides clear factual evidence of what many of us experienced rugby followers intuitively know.
    I sincerely hope you will trigger a consciousness in the wallabies camp.
    Please keep it coming and hopefully this is rock bottom and you will highlight the improvements and the areas for further focus.
    I am glad you did not do a chip/grubber in attack series as I would have slit my wrists.
    Great stuff – keep it coming and hoping for a big improvement this weekend.
    TC

    • Moz

      I actually wish you would do an analysis on the chip/grubber kick in attack. Who knows, maybe some of the actual players or coaching staff might see it and suddenly think “Hey, Scott’s right, it is a bloody stupid idea, why do we keep doing it. Maybe ball in hand might be a better option. Yeah, lets try that next time” And Adam Two Dads and Mr Berrick, I am looking at you two in particular!!

  • Patrick

    I too am horrified to think that the wallaby coaching staff are living in such a bubble! Sadly I agree they probably should all be sacked.

    Do they even watch the games?

    PS: for everyone on twitter, qantas wallabies or whatever their twitter feed is is currently asking for people’s favorite rugby Tweeter – I’ve nominated @ScottyA_ and recommend you all do the same!

  • Hugh Jarse

    Nice to see that I am not the only one to notice that Adam Two-Dads is on an annual allocation of pass (deliberately singular) as part of his RUPA contract.

    We have lazy backs that die with the ball, rather than look to have the ball moved around. Is this a game plan issue or a basic skill level or both?

    Can not believe the self delusion of Mr Blades. This guy is a full time professional isn’t he? How has he not questioned what appears to be basic flaws in the stats from a quick review of the tapes from the game?

    Austin needs to be on ARU Payroll, or at least be paid to develop and deliver a Video Analysis Module for delivery to the Level 2 Coaching Course.

  • tc63

    Andrew Blades is probably the best scrum technician / coach in Australia.
    Clearly he has struggled on questions regarding the Lineout.
    What fool made him the Wallabies forward coach vs the scrum coach is the better question ?
    Would that be the head coach Deans ?

  • Joe Blow

    Some are a little harsh on AAC here.
    On one hand we are saying do not go one step too far and put in a grubber or go for an impossible offload, hence turning over the ball. On the other we are looking for AAC not to go to ground with the ball.
    He has the ability to pass the ball and has done so many times in the past to set up tries. He is also our strongest back in contact, including Diggers, and he has the ability to get us over the advantage line. That is why he tends to hold on to the ball more recently. He has two very good finishers outside him this week and hopefully he will use them.
    Blades came across poorly in the podcast. He may be Australias best scrum technician tc63 but he also showed he is wearing blinkers regarding the scrum and lineout stats for the Wobs and that can only be a very bad thing.
    It is also a good indication that Deans is clutching at straws while he struggles to keep his head above water.
    Hope the boys get it together this weekend.
    Go the Wallabies!!

  • Pedro

    Top work for powering out all these articles in such a short time. The sacrifices you must have made to your job/family were totally worth it.

    Go Wallabies!

  • Robson

    Your articles have been amazingly perceptive, informative and brilliantly constructed Scott.

    I’ve run dry on ammunition to fire at Deans, (because I’ve been firing it for around four years now) but no doubt I will be able to find some after tonight’s test match if the Wallabies don’t put together a winning performance.

    I agree that Deans endorsing the All Black as being light years ahead of anyone else is nothing more than a feeble attempt to save his own arse. The All Blacks made enough mistakes in both Sydney and Auckland for the average observer to recognise at least one thing.

    The mistakes were unforced. What might have happened if the Wallabies had put them under some real pressure?

    The Wallabies might not have scored any points in the Auckland test, but most of the All Black points came from penalties. To go into poetic overdrive on the AB performance on this basis is like saying beer tastes like chambpagne. Deans needs a swift kick in the bum for promoting the All Blacks in this way; especially after crippling his own team with half baked strategies, some mind boggling selections and a clear absence of any skill training.

    Hmm looks like I found some Deans ammunition after all!

  • sarina

    Constantly saying the abs are always offside and thats y we lose is head in the sand stuff. Have u not been reading scotts analysis? Yor saying they always cheat and refs neva pick them up. Wat for 10 years?? U obviously dont want to admit they r beta than us. You constantly sayingthat is the same as deans defeatist comments smoke screening the real problems. If we worried about our problems and wat we can control we might beat them more regularly rather than bleating like poms all the time

  • Yogesh Nair

    CAN I SAY “HOOPER”.. !!!! an unsong hero!!!

  • Yogesh Nair

    **sung..

  • bill

    I don’t think the Wallabies set piece is that bad, it’s the general play/phase play that slaughtered them against the All Blacks in that second game. And as shit as the Wallabies were that night in the backs a lot of the All Black ‘second stringers’ like Ritalick and Romano played out of their skins that night.

    Ritalick especially played way better than I thought he could, that performance should be required viewing for every debutant as to what they could achieve.

Rugby
@ScottA_

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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