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Wednesday’s Rugby News

Wednesday’s Rugby News

Wednesday’s News sees the return of Sexton, Junior Wallabies doing the Italian Job, The 2019 Super Rugby season draw release and the All Blacks under fire


Irish looking for Sex(ton) to bounce back

Sexton

The Irish will look to recall star flyhalf Johnny Sexton to attempt to level up the series against Australia this Saturday at AAMI Park.

It has been reported that Ireland coach Joe Schmidt will recall Sexton to the starting line up after throwing young playmaker Joey Carbury to the wolves during the side’s 18-9 loss in the first test.

Sexton noted that he wasn’t accustomed to the role of coming off the bench and was itching to return to the starting line up.

“It’s all about starting, you want to get that starting place,” Sexton said on Tuesday. “It’s not something I’ve done in a long, long time with Ireland so it needed a bit of getting used to.”

Sexton admitted that the Irish did not deal with the pressure and tactics that Cheika brought to the test and they needed to change how they dealt with his unique style of operating.

“Any team that plays under Michael Cheika will bring that and we knew it was coming but we probably didn’t deal with it was well as we could have in terms of allowing them to come out of the line and hit us”.

In positive news for Chekia and the Wallabies, Ned Hanigan and Allan Alaalatoa are a strong chance to line up for the second test match.

Hanigan has been recovering from a knee injury and faced his first major test during the side’s contact session on Tuesday, needing to get through it unscathed to be considered a chance.

“I’m going to try and push for Saturday, today’s probably the tester,” he said before the session.

“If it holds up today, then it’s just going to get better throughout the week, so obviously the day off tomorrow, so if it pulls through today it should be alright to get fully into it on Thursday and be eligible for selection.”

Allan Alaalatoa was cautious about his chances after being ruled out of the first test with an ankle sprain.

“Hopefully get it right and then by the end of this week, not too sure, just got to see how it pulls up day by day and not running at the moment, so we’ll just see how it goes.”

Junior Wallabies complete Italian Job

Fraser McReight

Fraser McReight starred scoring twice

The Junior Wallabies have defied being a man down for the majority of the match to defeat Italy 44-15 to advance to the 5th place playoff at 2018 Under 20 World Championships.

Remarkably, it was a red card to blindside flanker Michael Wood in the 25th minute which set off the Australian side into action. The under 20 side started the game sluggish, with the Italian side opening up a 10-5 lead before Wood was handed his marching orders.

Wood was sent off after attempting to clear the ball out of the ruck with his feet, only instead to come in contact with an opposition player’s head.

To their credit, the Australians settled, responding through a penalty to Ryan Lonergan and earned prime field position when Efi Maafu forced a pilfer penalty.

Some superb hands from Maafu, Hamish Stewart and Semisi Tupou set up a brilliant try for the star flyhalf moments later, handing the Australians the lead 15-10 heading into the halftime break.

When play resumed, numbers were levelled up for 10 minutes when reserve Italian prop Matteo Nocera was sent to the sin bin for a tip tackle on Angus Blyth.

This provided the Australians with the opportunity to strike clear with another sharp run from Jordan Petaia putting the Australians in the field position required for Fraser McReight to charge over and open up a 22-10 lead.

The Junior Wallabies were then able to kick clear from there, with a second try to McReight and Bailey Kuenize sealing the victory.

They’ll next play Argentina on Sunday for the opportunity to finish 5th, a position higher than they finished at the previous year’s tournament.

Super Rugby draw marks death of Tens, Reds

Image courtesy of Getty Images

Whilst the current season is on break for the International Test matches, SANZAR has gone ahead and released the draw for the 2019 Super Rugby Season. Whilst it seems too far to look ahead towards the 2019 season, there have been a few interesting points that have come out of the launch.

The season is set to begin on February 15, with the derby between the Brumbies and Rebels set the kick off the season for the Australian conference. The tournament will commence earlier than usual, running uninterrupted for 21 weeks straight, to coincide with the shortened Rugby Championship and the Japan World Cup.

The earlier starting time has all but assured the death of the Brisbane Tens, according to the Courier Mail. Organisers had already flagged issues and doubt in regards to holding the tournament within a World Cup year.

The earlier start date of the competition has seemingly confirmed these fears as it has left a lack of available weekends to host the event.

Another interesting point to come out of this release was the nightmare start to the tournament that the Queensland Reds have received.

The Reds would have been looking to a strong start to the tournament after a less than stellar 2018 campaign (so far), however, the draw has given the Queensland side no favours.

Brad Thorn’s crew face one of the toughest starts in the competition against teams all bound for this year’s finals, the Highlanders, Crusaders and the NSW Waratahs in Sydney (March 9).

The clash against Thorn’s men will bring a packed house to Suncorp Stadium and hopefully this inspired crowd can send the Reds off to a strong start and return them back to the glory days of the early 2010’s.

The full draw can be found here

All Blacks play dumb to favourable referee treatment

All Blacks post match press conference - Wayne Smith and Ian Foster

Ian Foster trying to mount sympathy

After receiving a mountain of favourable calls against the French, the All Blacks have rubbished any claims that they get an easy ride from the referees. This came after inexperienced referee Luke Pearce was criticised for two decisions that all but handed the All Blacks momentum and the win against the French 52-11.

Controversy has surrounded the yellow card shown to French lock Paul Gabrillagues after a high tackle, which swung momentum in what began as a tight Test at Eden Park.

The referee was criticised for then doing nothing more than penalising All Blacks Sam Cane and Ofa Tu’ungafasi for caving in the head of Remy Grosso, fracturing the French winger’s skull and ruling him out of the series.

Former international Rob Debney wrote a column for The Times claiming New Zealand “get away with murder”. He believed that match officials subconsciously favour the triple world champions because of the extra scrutiny they are under.

All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster denied the claim, pointing out they were among the most-penalised teams last year in world rugby. They were handed eight yellow cards and a red to Sonny Bill Williams, a figure unmatched by most nations.

“Clearly we don’t think we get any favours from the referees at all,” Foster said. “It’s hurt us, yellow cards. We’re like other teams – we don’t like going down to 14. It’s something we work hard to make sure technically we’re as sound as possible.”

Considering there have been no other instances of the All Blacks and other New Zealand Super Rugby teams receiving preferential treatment from the match officials, I’m sure this is just merely a coincidence and it will be back to normal for the second test*.

*Sarcasm

  • Jerry

    Hey, remember when Sekope Kepu got tackled late by Dan Carter and head high tackled by Richie McCaw, SBW and NMS in the RWC final?

    Remember when Waisake Naholo knocked out Sean O’Brien and didn’t get any sanction whatsoever?

    Remember when a ref reversed a penalty against NZ in the dying moments of the Lions series?

    Remember when Richie McCaw eye gouged Rougerie in a RWC final and got no sanction whatsoever?

    Oh wait……..

    • disqus_NMXfOrw5ot

      Blah blah blah… Jerry you’re a broken record.

      • Alex

        So is the All Blacks response…”we don’t think we get any favours from the referees at all,”
        So is the lack of action from World Rugby

      • Jerry

        That’s cause people keep coming up with the same old shit arguments and ignoring any evidence to the contrary.

        There’s two issues here –

        1. The judiciary is laughably inconsistent. This I agree with.
        2. WR refs and judiciaries favour the AB’s due to bias/tinfoil hat conspiracy. This is BS.

        Honestly, can you imagine if the Poite reversal last year went in favour of NZ? The mountain of shit hitting fans all over the rugby world would be audible from Pluto. But as it went against them it’s largely ignored.

        • disqus_NMXfOrw5ot

          If people keep on coming up with the same “shit” arguments, is that because they are “shit”, or because maybe there might be some truth to it? Why do people from all around the world keep coming up with these “shit” arguments, but the contrary “non-shit” argument is constantly put up by Kiwi’s like you? Are you and your countrymen the only ones being objective, while everyone else is being subjective? Really Jerry? Have you truly looked at all this with an objective eye?

          Here’s the classic one that is really mind blowing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7C6bTHyC0U. I’d love to hear your “non-shit” objective argument of why this video is “shit”.

        • Jerry

          Well firstly cause they’re cherry picking. And secondly cause some of the examples are flat out wrong – the Read vs Parra example for instance. Read doesn’t get pinged cause when he steps offside, he retreats and doesn’t take part in play. Parra does get pinged cause never fully retreats before tracking sideways and following play. He’s in an onside position when he meets Read, but he only got there because he retreated diagonally rather than backwards.

          The Kaino example is really the only truly bad call in that video.

        • disqus_NMXfOrw5ot

          You are so blind and one sided I’m surprised you haven’t been selected as a referee.

          The only thing shit about that video is that he keeps saying that the All Blacks deserved to win, even though he points out reason after reason why they didn’t deserve to win. The bias towards the All Blacks is so ingrained that even when a referee points out obvious blatant reasons why the team didn’t deserve to win, he can’t even get himself to say so.

        • Jerry

          Ok, I’ll point out the reasons the French didn’t deserve to win.

          1. They didn’t kick a penalty which would have put them into the lead late in the game.

          2. Their only try came from an illegal turnover – funny that Williams & Francis didn’t put that decision into their video though…..

        • juswal

          Go away, Jerry. You’re boring.

        • joy

          Playing the ball on the ground is not truly bad!

        • Archie

          Lol!!! Do you also have a link to the 2015 RWC quarterfinal farce where that same referee incorrectly saved the Wallabies from an embarrassing early exit? Or perhaps a link to the 2014 Waratahs Super Rugby ‘victory’ (same ref again).

          This is exactly Jerry’s point… if you only ever commit to memory those incidents that favour your preferred narrative, then you’re likely to have a fairly skewed and inaccurate perspective.

        • disqus_NMXfOrw5ot

          Another objective Kiwi speaks.

        • Archie

          You’re the one ignoring contrary evidence. That response says it all…

        • Who?

          All you’ve done there is point out that Joubert had a strong tendency to make the wrong call in big game situations. I also remember the same ref ending Al Baxter’s test career by penalizing him off the park (literally) at Eden Park where Baxter conceded 9 points in kicked penalties in a 6 point loss for Woodcock collapsing.
          Joubert had some great characteristics, but he often got it wrong, and I didn’t rate him. Ever.

        • Archie

          But That’s EXACTLY what I wanted to point out. I agree with you… it is only ever an issue with the ref’s competence… nothing more, no favouritism to one team over another… no conspiracy. That’s why I pointed out examples of it going against the ABs or not involving the ABs.

          The blogger I was responding to appears to disagree with us both. He’s the more ‘tinfoil hat’ kinda guy

        • juswal

          Ah, you’re still here, Archie. And still peddling your theory about a conspiracy theory. Do your nipples get hard every time you type ‘tinfoil hat’?

        • lu99ke

          To be fair… the Scots should never have been in the QF given they knocked on their match winning try vs Samoa in the pool match.

        • Fatflanker

          Really, they shouldn’t have been in a position to win that QF game at the death in any case. Jubes had given them a very favourable run up to that point.

    • Alex

      Remember when Richard Loe rearranged Paul Carroza’s face and got no sanction whatsoever?

    • Twoilms

      This list could go on for pages

    • Archie

      Careful… you’ll confuse him with facts.

    • Nathan Williamson

      To be fair we could be here for ages debating who got what decisions, the passion surrounding this debate is what makes rugby fan bases so great. I think the All Blacks will always be scrutinised heavier being the number 1 team and World Champs. However, I don’t believe you can argue with the fact that the yellow card to the French changed the momentum and the All Blacks were very lucky to not have someone sitting in the bin after the tackle on Grosso

      • Jerry

        I absolutely agree with that, yes.

        Like I said, there’s two debates here – firstly that refereeing and the judiciaries are fairly inconsistent and something needs to be done to improve this and secondly the theory that the All Blacks get preferential treatment for whatever reason.

        The former is a worthy debate and I agree that things need to improve. The second doesn’t really stand up to the evidence, IMO.

        As far as the former debate is concerned, one simple thing they could do is use the TMO in ALL instances of issuing a card. So the French yellow (or Bismarck a few years back for instance) wouldn’t be issued. I really don’t know how to improve the consistency of the judiciary.

    • lu99ke

      Ummm…. the ref didn’t reverse a penalty AGAINST the AB’s… they initially gave the AB’s a penalty ( which was the right call IMO ) but then reversed and said accidental off-side – so only gave AB’s a scrum.

      In that instance, the AB’s were ripped off. Not that I mind!! Haha… I loved it… BUT, that point does not support a theory that the AB’s are given preferential treatment.

      • Jerry

        Er…yeah….that’s the point. Every one of those examples was actually the opposite of what I said – cases of people getting away with things against the AB’s or decisions going against them.

    • Bakkies

      Time the IRB and SANZAAR grow some testicles by sending off and banning players who commit dangerous tackles. These two clowns have been let off with a slap on the wrist while Grosso can’t go home.

      2016 Sam Cane cited for a dangerous tackle on a Jaguares prop.

      2016 Sam Cane let off shoulder charge to Robbie Henshaw’s head. Let off.

      2018 let off for a seat belt tackle on Remy Grosso.

      Any other incidents involving this thug feel free to contribute.

      He should be banned and told to come back when he knows how to tackle properly and within the laws of the game.

    • Alister Smith

      Remember Tana Umaga and Kevin Mealamu mistaking Brian O’Driscoll for a turnip and trying to plant him into the Jade Stadium turf

      • Jerry

        Remember when you completely missed the point of the post you replied to?

        • Alister Smith

          No

  • disqus_NMXfOrw5ot

    Ireland get Sexton back, we get Ned Hanigan, whoop!

    • RubixCube

      Ireland get Sexton, Furlong, Ringrose, Healy, Leavy, Toner and Cronin back, you have Ned ;-)

  • OnTheBurst

    So who would be dropped to make way for Hannigan? Tell Ned he’s dreaming, surely…?

    • Parker

      I found it amusing that the report described Hanigan’s possible availability as “positive news for Cheika”. It’s no news to most others. Of course we’re glad he’s recovering well, but I think there are far more deserving options for any position he might fill. His selection would be such a backward step.

      • Braveheart81

        He provides a better third lineout option. I don’t think he should be selected this weekend as everyone did well but realistically Timu filled a similar role to Hanigan last year. He worked hard around the field, made his tackles and did little on the offensive side of the ball. Timu showed good accuracy at the breakdown though which was a problem for Hanigan last year which certainly earns him another go in my book.

        Timu clearly has far more upside as a ball carrier but we didn’t see that in his debut.

        Having all our squad fit and competing for positions is important though.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Hanigan had little impact in terms of clearning rucks. This was something Ned had no impact in last year – the worst occasion was when he drove full power at Retallick who was over the ball and didn’t move him an inch.

          Further, Timu’s hits were all big, powerful hits that often drove the player back behind the advantage line. The same cannot be said for Ned last year. The same cannot even be said for Ned at SR level this year.

          You’re right that Timu needs to do better with his carrying, but let’s not make false comparisons between him and Ned. Both are industrious, but Ned has zero impact, Timu does.

          If Timu continues not to have any impact carrying then it may perhaps be time to look at Tui or someone else as the third back-rower, but Timu deserves at least 3-4 Tests to demonstrate what he is capable of.

          Bringing back Hanigan would be a joke. If you need a guy purely for the line out at least choose Tui. Timu also did okay in the line out.

        • Patrick

          Did we see Timu make one hit-up and not lose ground? Yes we did.

          Timu 1 : 0 Hanigan

      • Nathan Williamson

        I think he provides coverage as a solid defender who can fill in across the forward pack. Whether he should be picked this week is another story as I would stick by the theory that you don’t change a winning team. But it still provides us with good depth and competition within those positions

  • Parker

    The AB’s are “among the most penalized teams in world rugby” because they are the most foul. That doesn’t mean they are being as fully penalized as they should be. Foster must think there’s a quota and once your team has filled it there’s free rein after that. Pull your head in and stop cheating. It amazes me that the best team in the world is so bloody insecure that it reflexively resorts to foul play in order to gain advantage. Wise up refs.

    • Jerry

      Except they gave up less penalties than their opposition last year.

    • Archie

      The theme on this site since the weekend has been that referees favour the All Blacks and are too scared to penalise and give cards.

      Now a stat has been pointed out that completely contradicts that… so now the call is… yeah well that stat is proof they ‘cheat’ the most or in your words.. are the ‘most foul’.

      So which is it… ??

      • Nathan Williamson

        Personally I think every team copes good and bad decisions, (see Aussies vs Scotland). Ever since McCaw (and probably before that), the All Blacks will always be more scrutinised from fans in terms of the decisions they receive due to the status as being number 1. Doesn’t change the point that the call not to sin bin the All Blacks after that decision wasn’t correct

        • Archie

          Agree. But no one here is arguing that it was the wrong call on the weekend. The issue is around this wider implication of some sort of favouritism / conspiracy, and the evidence does not support this

  • Kokonutcreme

    On the positive side which is drowned out by refereeing decisions the All Blacks showed glimpses of their new template and it’s noticeable the increase in speed they’re wanting to play compared to last year.

    The quality of some of the tries scored was first class.

    Given the quality of players still to return and waiting in the wings competition to make the starting XV will be intense.

  • Nutta

    Look, it’s all pretty standard fare:
    Kiwi says Quade Cooper = Oz says Sur Rutchy
    Kiwi says Michael Brial = Oz says Frank Bunce
    Kiwi says Dean Mumm = Oz says Michael Jones
    Kiwi says Poido = Oz says Shelford
    Kiwi says Sam Scott-Young = Oz says Richard Loe
    Kiwi says ‘Wild Bill” Cerutti = Oz says Colin Meads
    Been here before…

    I did like the justification though from the Coaching staff:
    Copper Read: My name is Mark Brandon Read and I’m upset because I got harsher treatment then others proved by the fact I spent lots of time in gaol.
    Tara Read: No Mark, that was because you shot and tortured people and occasionally got caught…

    The Irish will be back. Make no doubt. 2nd Test will be a completely different kettle of fish I reckon. I’m still tipping an Oz win but it will be a very different game.

    Glad to see Ned recovering. But I would not support his selection (which I am sure Cheks will pay attention to – I’m waiting on his 10am call to run through and approve his selections!)

    It’s a shame about the 10’s. I will probably get howled down but I prefer 10’s over 7’s. A little more structure and actual rugby. Less random chance. That and there is room for the Big Boys to have a trot in 10’s.

    • cantab

      I wonder if the ten’s will be back after world cup year?

      • Nutta

        Hope so. Like I said, I’m a bigger fan of 10’s then 7’s.

    • Huw Tindall

      What do you reckon the Irish will come back with? I was saying last week that their game plan is even more one dimensional than Cheika’s. At least we get the ball wide!

      • Nutta

        I just reckon they will lift 10% and tighten up. We didn’t see much of the choke tackling. We didn’t see them exploit their lineout advantage. I expect them to play for penalties and bang 3pts.

        • Huw Tindall

          Surely Schmidt has more tricks up his sleeve than ‘play better’? Maybe that’s enough as it was a tight first test but I’d say the Wallabies can also lift 10%. Will be better for another week in camp and they are building into the season rather than Ireland battered at the end of one.

        • Caeliv Donnelly

          Ireland had as many line breaks as Australia last Saturday. We just didn’t convert our chances. Looks like we will have more creativity in the back line on Saturday so I expect us to be better. We have to be. If someone offered me Australia 18 pts last week – id have said – great – I’ll take my chances with bettering that. I think the two teams while they have differing styles they are pretty evenly matched – I would love a deciding 3rd test.
          I’ll be happy to see Sexton and Ringrose back – if we could get Chris Farrell some gametime at 13 it would be good also. He’s a tremendous talent. I’d love to see Joe play Joey Carbery at full back – Kearney while solid, offers nothing in attack these days. Up front Dan Leavy will make a difference at rucktime – probably at the expense of Jordi Murphy. And that 180 degree scrum under the posts has probably made Tadhg Furlong angry pretty much for a whole week – so good luck with that. Having said all that – I’m nearly 38 years of age and I have never seen Ireland win a summer test down under, therefore I’m still not confident of winning.

      • Patrick

        Three changes:
        1. They won’t be so one-dimensional with Sexton and Ringrose,
        2. They will play even more pragmatically, esp kicking long to touch and challenging the line-out; and
        3. Their back-row will be drinking anger shakes all week.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      absolutely mate, I don’t think the majority of people will ever even want to hear a dissenting view which is why I didn’t bother yesterday. I just accept that there are a small amount of things we will never agree on and try not to let those things get in the way of the really good banter, discussions and fun we have in the rest of the discussion.
      Like you I’m glad ned is getting better as it’s never good to see someone injured, it will be interesting to see who he replaces as I think the only thing he really brings to the game is a lineout option and that might mean a lock, however for some reason Cheika sees him as a 6 so maybe Timu. Either way I think it’s a backward step.

      I also prefer 10’s to 7’s as far as the rugby goes, however I don’t really like either and while the rugby is better in 10s I’d take 7’s as an option because the game is so different.

      • Tomthusiasm

        Spot on with the comment regarding differing opinions and yours is a good outlook. You’d be pushing shit up a hill trying to change the opinion of most people on this site anyway, regardless of what side of the fence they’re on!

      • Keith Butler

        Good post KWL your first para sums up my thoughts exactly. I love the banter on this site. Shit stirring I can do without. Got our tickets for the 2nd test in Melbourne and will be flying in from Tassie for the weekend. Will have to switch from my Pommy to GAGR hat. I reckon the Paddies will be a different kettle of fish this weekend leading to a decider in Sydney. Can’t wait.

    • Tomthusiasm

      I liked the 10s too, it was a good opportunity to see the lads in the extended squad of the team you follow get a run and find a few diamonds in the rough.

    • Alister Smith

      G’day Nutta – I was just wondering what the comparison between Dean Mumm and Michael Jones was? I didn’t think either were particularly dirty players (and Dean Mumm played on Sundays)

      • Nutta

        The comparison is based in the complete lack of empiric evidence to convict either of anything but each side seems to think the other was a bastard anyway.

        To be fair though, Michael Jones was a filthy bugger whereas Mumm was just a bugger.

        • Alister Smith

          Cheers – I loved watching Jones play – but I also enjoyed it when we drew the ABs on a Sunday

  • “In positive news for Chekia and the Wallabies, Ned Hanigan and Allan Alaalatoa are a strong chance to line up for the second test match.” Ned… positive? hmmm…

    • Nathan Williamson

      I think he provides coverage as a solid defender who can fill in across the forward pack. Whether he should be picked this week is another story as I would stick by the theory that you don’t change a winning team. But it still provides us with good depth and competition within those positions

      • Plenty better than him to choose from. He makes the easy look impossible.

      • Patrick

        Srsly?? That’s your standard for a Wallaby back-row? “Can tackle”??

        Higgers would be better by an order of magnitude, so would Fardy, but even from the guys over here, there isn’t one I would drop for Hanigan even if they were injured and he was fit. We could play Simmons at 6 first.

        • Nathan Williamson

          Personally I think he gets a hard time as a player because he’s was thrown into the Wallabies side when he wasn’t ready. He’s still only 23, having only just played 25 games for NSW and I believe that he can be a solid option for the Wallabies over the next couple of years if he continues to develop and improve (that may be because I’m a Randwick and NSW fan)

        • Who?

          I think he’ll be even more useful if he’s not over used for the next couple of years, so his body can continue to fill out. I think most people readily accept that his biggest issue was that he has a Test match attitude but hasn’t yet physically matured (and, in a few key little detail points, technically matured) to the level of his mentality (because his mentality is clearly good, given Cheika loves to pick on intensity and mentality).

        • Patrick

          Sure, that’s reasonable, and I would never suggest we just rule him out forever. But I would suggest we rule him out completely for 2018 !

  • Missing Link

    Irrespective of whether the All Blacks are given preferential treatment or not, you have to ask if their dominance is damaging the game. My opinion is that it is and has been for some time. The game will grow if an uncertainty over results is established. people will follow their team when there’s a change they can win a few games, not get a hiding from NZ every year. About 10-15 years ago they had a win/loss ratio around 70% compared to other top teams like Australia, England, SA and France who sat around 50-60%. They were already a dominant team and a popular money making product for the game with the spectacle of the Haka attracting non traditional fans to the game. Since then NZ has surged to something like a 95% win/loss ratio, while Aus, Eng and SA have remained the same. Ireland and Wales have caught up, and France has regressed a little but the point is all other teams have equalised somewhat. These numbers cannot be refuted, so how does one explain the abnormal behaviour of NZ? I’m sure I’ll get a response like, “kiwis are born with a rugby ball in their hand, it’s the magic mana of the black jersey, gilbert enoka, playing barefoot rugby in the frost as a kid …” let’s cast aside the spiritual mumbo jumbo and tell me from a sports science perspective why NZ can produce stronger, fitter and faster athletes than the rest of the world? All the top teams have access to money and professional training facilities and coaching, dieticians and supplements. How have the scales been tipped all the way to one side?

    • Jerry

      Maybe you just say what you actually mean?

      • John R

        I’ll paraphrase Raelene here: “We need teams that are performing consistently and that any team – be that South African, New Zealand or Australian – has the capability to win,” Castle, a New Zealander, told Fox Sports

        She’s talking about Super Rugby obviously, but the same principal is true of test rugby, if you know that it’s nigh on impossible to beat New Zealand, people tend to lose interest a bit. Even (anecdotally) a fair few of my Kiwi mates here have expressed that it’s gotten a bit boring knowing that the result is assured.

        • Missing Link

          Spot on John, even my kiwi mates share the same opinion that they don’t get as nervous and excited about the All Blacks anymore because winning everything has become normal that even on the odd chance when they lose, they blow their mind trying to work out how it could possibly have happened seeing as the All Blacks should never lose. Must have been a cheating ref, cheating opposition, food poisoning, a dead rubber, Shag picked a B,C,D team to rest the star players, trying a different game plan etc. etc.

      • Missing Link

        I’ve been waiting years to hear a definitive answer to this question Jerry. So far nothing of substance other than what I’ve mentioned above, occasionally I hear about “central contracting” and sometimes I hear “we are simply the best rugby team in the world, that’s all there is to it”. Even “your boys should eat more taro bro”

        • Jerry

          Have you got a suggestion though, cause if I was being uncharitable I’d say you were dog whistling accusations there…..

          Personally, I think it’s a combination of access to good raw talent (including a substantial population of Maori & PI players who have a natural affinity), the ‘born with a ball in their hands’ having some truth (school yard touch all year round develops ball skills to a high degree), a very good talent identification & development system, central contracting and a team culture at the elite level that gets the most of players.

        • Missing Link

          No I’d genuinely like to know and thanks for your response. Agree that islanders have a natural affinity, the only problem is we have an almost identical genetic make up in the Wallabies. There are so many similarities between Aus and NZ, in terms of framwork that I don’t feel that non tangibles things like team culture can make a significant difference like it has. It just seems strange.

        • Jerry

          Like I said, I think it’s a combination. And currently, I’d say NZ is superior every single one of those instances I listed bar the population one you mention. Though I’ll concede I don’t know what Aus kids do with their lunchtimes, I suspect they’re more likely to be messing round with cricket than touch.

        • Missing Link

          Fair enough, Aussie and Kiwi schools are not much different to be honest. Tried out most sports as a kid, contact sports were contact too

        • onlinesideline

          You must admit though, mucking around as the typical aussie kid, touch footy, mad backline skills and speed are in our DNA, courtesy of NRL and AFL as well as sunny weather conducive for this.

          Can a kiwi say the same thing about growing up in NZ. Maybe smashing through people at footy practise, in the pissing down rain, drew more status as a kiwi kid.

        • Missing Link

          One of the other things kiwis mention is farm work, particularly south islanders. I don’t believe many, if any of our elite players have that background.

        • onlinesideline

          Mate the whole of NZ is a farm. Can hardly call Auckland and Welligton a city. You can run it in about 30 mins. And beside 95% of the place is beautiful enough to be called a farm. The place is friggen majestic,

          Maybe in the old days but not too many blokes come through the professional system these days with years of farm work behind them. Not compared to amateur days when pig farmers juggled rugby practise and game day on weekends.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          It was big in the amateur time just like coal mines in Wales. Once the game went professional it died off

        • Tomthusiasm

          I genuinely believe that Hansen sold his soul to the devil sometime in 2009, ala Robert Johnson, for unbridled coaching success.

        • Missing Link

          I still believe Hansen is actually Donald Trump wearing a mask :D

        • Alister Smith

          I think Trump is Hansen wearing a mask – the ABs will be playing an exhibition game in Peyong Yang later this year, mark my words

        • Alister Smith

          This is drawing a pretty long bow but as a bagpiper I notice the similarities between NZ Rugby scene and bagpipes all the time and the comparisons to Australia are extremely similar. While NZ doesn’t necessarily dominate the world bagpipe scene in the same way as in rugby they do punch very very well above their weight. Australia has one Pipe Band at Grade 1 standard, NZ has 4-5 – almost all of NZ’s top bands have played in Grade 1 finals in Scotland in recent years – these are mostly amateur players so that is a huge commitment required. The key differences I find are:
          1. a very nationalised approach – even though there isn’t one representative band all seem to work for the betterment of the country overall
          2. great administration and structure
          3. a dedication to excellence
          4. always learning and adopting the latest techniques (and getting in new blokes from outside the system – in this case Scotland and Northern Ireland)
          5. a real focus on improving process – not results or outcome driven
          6. an ability to work together across different regions etc and to look past individual team results for whats best overall
          7. an extremely strong focus on junior development and tutor (coach) development
          8. there is something in the NZ psyche that is different – maybe its about being smaller and about saying well if we are going to achieve anything we need to work together to get anywhere – in Australia we sometimes like to think we are a big nation (though by international standards we arent) and think of ourselves as big players and also that we have more troubles being able to balance, club, state, franchise interests
          Still I hope we flog them in the Bledisloe

        • Tomthusiasm

          I can definitely see the parallels! I feel like we should change the format of this site to ‘Green & Gold Pipers’ now. You can’t let the Kiwis dominate any longer, Aussies should be the best at blowing their own trumpet!

        • Greg

          Isn’t it a good thing only to have one
          pipe band?

        • Tomthusiasm

          True, put all of your resources into one pipe band, rather than spread the talent over many.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Jerry it’s a bit of that but even more so is the way they brought in the change of culture and emphasis on mental preperation after the disaster in Wales. Every new AB has to say how they intend to leave their jersey in a better place than what it is. Every player has to talk through their weaknesses and show a plan of improvement – and then demonstrate they are following that plan.The coaches are always challenging each other and the current style to see where they need to change to be on top of their game.

          It sounds trite at times but if you read the book “Legacy” by James Kerr he talks about how they have changed to look for continued improvement and how the culture change has led to the other changes. The bit about the senior players sweeping the changing room down so the junior players can relax rather than the other way around is all part of it. When the players stuff up; Smith, Cruden etc, they have to front up to a panel of the senior players and tell them why they should be able to be retained, demonstrate they have learned and pledge not to do it. failure on that front means they’ll be sacked. Funnily enough there are a lot of extremely skillful players in NZ who don’t get contracts, not because they aren’t good enough players, but because they aren’t good enough people. The ABs own motto “better people make better All Blacks” is rigidly followed and stuck to. Yeah the centralised system helps as does the fact that there really isn’t a lot of options to rugby but that will only take them so far and failures at the RWC from 91 to 2007 demonstrated the limits of the physical rugby skills side of the game.

        • Missing Link

          Every top team focuses on continuous improvement, those that don’t aren’t at the top. The question is why have NZ improved so much in the last 10 years, compared to other top teams. We aren’t talking about winning one or 2 more games, we are talking about winning 25% more, while other top teams have improved around the same rate

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          mate, all I can say is because of the above. I think a lot of teams talk about things like line speed and tackle completeion and passing etc But they ignore the mental approach. Dan Carter, Richie McCaw and others all credit the mental skills development as the single biggest change that improved their game and enabled them to keep playing at the top for so long. I wouldn’t underestimate the culture side either but it is the mental approach that I don’t think other teams are doing that is the biggest difference.

        • Missing Link

          It seems like something that’s not so difficult to identify? right? focus more on mental skills, why have NZ been able to gain such an advantage over something that seems like no big secret? Why didn’t the other teams get on board and catch up before the horse bolted?

          “What are our competitors doing well that we aren’t?” simple business question that can be applied to pro sport.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          and the longer they ignore it the better for us

        • onlinesideline

          they want it more ML – its as simple as that.

        • Missing Link

          they’ve had it for 13 years now :D

        • onlinesideline

          ML you have to also realise that the warrior aspect to Moari people is also a spiritual thing as well. Their tribal history and customs and spiritual beliefs are expressed through their physical attributes and the defending of their homeland against invaders from the region. The rugby field is the perfect expression of who a Moari is, its a battlefield and they even enact a spiritually rooted custom before each match, the Haka.

          Can we say that the rugby field is comparable theatre for an aussie kid. You just cant comapre. From that perspective kiwis have an advantage before the whistle even starts. Its feels like home for them.

        • Patrick

          Amen to that!

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Only 13 mate

        • onlinesideline

          but they didnt have that mental approach when they domainated in the 50s, 60s 70s 80s 90s ? – it was just YOU DIE FOR THE JERSEY.
          They were more unbeatable then than now.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Yep and that was based more on the physical skills, the “only” game in town and the pride of the entire nation. I remeber as a kid being woken up to listen to the Abs vs Boiks on the radio which was part of a dinner party my parents put on for their friends just so they could all listen in. It really was a single focus. Later other teams have caught up on the physical side and that’s where the dominance started to end culmulating in the disaster in Wales.

        • onlinesideline

          But even though you guys employed that bald guru zen dude after 2007 I would hazard to guess there is still plenty of mental stuff going on with us, the Poms, the Irish and Scots / Welsh but maybe not starting at SCHOOLS though :)

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Mate I dont think there is. Certainly not to the level done by NZ and yeah as you can see in the video it starts early

        • joy

          Only game in town! I think you are being too hard on yourselves. Kiwis aren’t one trick ponies. The did, after all, invent bungie jumping.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          True mate, but not such a team game and the first couple didn’t necessarily go well

        • onlinesideline
        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Yep. And note they are now taking this to the schools and this is empowering the kids coming through to get involved in the same process

        • Funk

          Headfirst…Ofa Tu’ungafasi’s motto!!!
          Thank you , I’ll be here all week!

        • Human

          Yes they do – but not to the same extent as the AB’s. The Wallabies and others talk about it but do not yet seem to have consistently gone to the next level. As KRL says, team culture is a huge part of the AB’s recent sustained dominance – relatively speaking, they failed from 1987-2007 before they had a long, hard look in the mirror and made the changes that they needed. The Wallabies have not done that as far as I can tell…EM was trying but made some poor choices to assist him. Still, the fact that Smith is still an AB after the toilet tryst says that there are some holes in the AB’s culture…perhaps that is why they only win 95%.

        • Missing Link

          fair point, do you think the All Blacks culture has diminished slightly since the departure of senior players like McCaw?

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Not at all. That’s the thing about it that makes it work, it transcends the individual in the organisation

    • teach

      I will bite. Rugby is our dominant code here. League in the South Island is minimal. The further south you go, the less it appears. Students in one large rugby school were banned from playing league. They had to try and run a midweek competition to try and get it going but it faded away. Touch rugby in summer is also huge. When my son was in the high school system, his teams would always field a touch team in summer. Sometimes more than one. As far as coaching goes, I made it as high as the 2nd XV. I was able to attend coaching courses run by guys like Tony Brown, and other former NPC and Super rugby coaches. I was able to drag the boy along to coaching clinics specifically for props, where he learnt the dark arts from guys like Kees Meeuws, who played in France after the ABs and had great stories of scrum battles in the french comp.
      Having former All Blacks turn up at training was always a positive. So my take is:
      1. No other major competing codes
      2. the ball handling skills summer touch brings. Are midweek social and competitive touch competitions even a thing in Aussie?
      3. Coaches are well trained and coaching clinics help the kids. I think this is a big one.

      Maybe if Rugby was the sole winter sport you might do better. Maybe not.

      • Missing Link

        Touch is massive over here mate, midweek/social comps and all. Other points noted

        • Funk

          Yeah but where do those touch players go in winter here…95% back to league… the aussie womens 7s are diverting a few over, now it’s an Olympic sport .

        • teach

          Yeah but do the schoolboys play it? Thats the key.

    • onlinesideline

      When you go through each country that competes against the kiwis, ie the top 6 countries lets say (who are all capable of beating the ABs on a good day) each country lacks what the kiwis have in combination without lacking any of them.

      1. Australia – Union is behind AFL and NRL. We have all heard this moan ad infinitum but its true, a reality and it has consequences which favour the kiwis.

      2. SA – was a niche game for decades and is just now opening up properly. Consequently means favoured to kiwis here too

      3. Wales, Scotland, Ireland – small player base – again favours kiwis

      4. France – small player base – not national sport – favours kiwis

      5. England – only country that in theory should be able to have consisently competed but havent. Has player base and money.

      My conclusion is that the combination of 5 or 6 factors have made them unbeatable.

      A – The cultural importance of repping national side and status that comes with it.
      B – nation wide emphasis from being THE national sport – re players and coaches
      C – advanced sport science as NZ is a wealthy country globally speaking
      D – climate – players grow up in all conditions including wet rugby – makes for wide scope of skills from early age
      E – Unique BLEND of White and Moari / Pacifica player
      F – Abundance of naturally gifted Moari / Pacifica athletes who love the multi faceted aspects of rugby – ie strength, power, speed and skill as well as community and social aspect of game.

      Just a rare COMBO of above, having all of these things to me has resulted in their dominance. Of course other countries have some of these but lack others.

      My tip is that Australia is closing in on NZ due to the emergence of Pacifica talent. We will always lack A and B though – maybe that will always be the difference.

      • Missing Link

        If the answer to “has that changed in the last 10 years?” is YES, then you may be onto something because that’s the time period we are talking about. Before that, NZ were slightly better than the other 4 “top teams” but not at the ridiculous levels they’ve ascended to now. I can understand they are going to be a little better based on rugby being the national sport and the other points you mentioned above, but winning 95% of the time, against 50-60% of other top teams seems abnormal to me.

        • onlinesideline

          I would argue the oppoiste ML. Back in the day, when I used to go to matches in New Zealand, watching Gannt Batty and Sid Going and that era, no-one came CLOSE to beating the ABs. Today we sneak in the occasional win, the Poms sneak in a win every so often as do the French and Boks. Back in the 50s 60s 70s they were dead unbeatable. We went for decades without beating them. It was only in the Ella era we started to beat them for the first time.

          We were 2 mins away from beating them in Dunedin and beat them in Brizzy. We have lost a handful of games in the last 10 years to the ABs by a point or two , all in the last 5 mins. And before that we had the 1999-2004 golden era. Point being they ARE very beatable today compared to decades past.

        • Missing Link

          Fair enough, I’m not life experienced enough to remember that era. I can only go back as far as the 80’s/90’s

        • onlinesideline

          Well admittedly I was only 8 when I watched the ABs play at Athletic park in the seventies, but having front row seats, right up on the sideline, with no stadium barriers in front of us, 10 meters from game, was something that still is pretty clear in my head. As well as the abundance of sideburns.

      • Keith Butler

        Wearing my Pommy hat, Union will never be the national sport. The game is controlled by the clubs. If central contracting had been introduced as soon as the game went pro the story might be different. I’ve heard the argument about player base so many times – England has ‘x’ 100000 registered and should therefore be the best. The current squad probably comes from 4 or 5 clubs at most. A last but by no means least they play far more games in a season than most players in other leagues. The club owners want their pound of flesh and will never relinquish control.

        • Huw Tindall

          Isn’t the RFU the real cash cow though? Clubs seem to be supported by a few rich individuals and go bust regularly. Surely they have some leverage to rest control. Could go to the top 30 players and say sign centrally with us and take a hit on your club contracts or you’re not playing for England.

        • Keith Butler

          Have to admit that I’ve been living Downunder since 2006 so have lost touch with the English scene and only pick up on what’s said on various blogs. I could be wrong but I think that most of the Premiership clubs are running at a loss and honestly don’t know how much cash goes from the RFU to the clubs.

    • joy

      Australia maintaining its win loss ratio while NZ lift to 90% is flattering given we play them more than any other country.

    • cantab

      Completely agree that the All Blacks continued dominance is detrimental to the world game, it would be good to see the French get up and would be a real boost to world rugby if they won the series.

      Why are they so good? My take:
      – Capture close to 100% of the top talent due to limited competition of from other codes.
      – Genetically more suited to the game than most other countries, due soley to prevalence of citizens with pacific island heritage.
      – Have been successful in limiting the player drain to European clubs.
      – Financially stable governing bodies/clubs, largely driven by limited competition in the domestic market. To put it in perspective, Quade Copper is getting paid more running around for Souths than Dan Carter ever did playing rugby in New Zealand.

    • Kokonutcreme

      Hi Missing Link

      That question has been asked and researched by rugby coaches, reporters and academics.

      Is their dominance of the sport bad for the game? Depends – if they stopped innovating, improving and attracting new fans to the sport. If their competitive advantage was exploited to prevent other countries from learning and sharing knowledge then I would agree it is.

      Skills is often referenced as a point of difference between NZ and the opposition. But why? Practice and development of skills is not a state secret. Mick Byrne is but one skills coach, was there no other person in Australia who could fulfil his portfolio – was anyone asked before he joined the Wallabies?

      NZ’s winning percentages in the professional era was neither predicted or expected. Professionalism was expected to close the gap between nations, it can be argued that the gap has closed except between NZ and the rest since 2004.

      The saving grace for opposition teams was the RWC. NZ would win majority of tests between world cups but failed to win world cups.

      A few small changes occurred that drove wider reforms in NZ rugby.

      First was maintaining continuity of 2004 coaching team right through to present day with Steve Hansen. On its own continuity isn’t enough but combined with high performing coaches who work well as a group, that is rare and an invaluable commodity.

      Targeted player retention. The NZRU introduced the word “sabbatical” to the rugby lexicon. It was devised as a flexible solution to retain key players who were attracting big money offers from overseas. However it was also the start of reforming the concept of managing player welfare in NZ. If the players are not thrashed they’ll perform better and consistently.

      Reforming opinions on value of experience. Players in certain positions would be discarded early when reaching a certain age. There’s a reason why McCaw became the first test centurion in NZ rugby quickly followed by four of his teammates. If players are well managed and still high performing they’ll continue to be picked regardless of their age.

      Better distribution of players in Super rugby. The Blues followed by the Crusaders would stockpile players at the expense of rival teams struggling for depth. Setting the protected squad number to 23 meant that more players were available to be cherry picked. Instead of having two really strong teams the aim was to have 5. More competitive teams creates stronger depth for national team.

      Learning lessons from past failures. Cumulative World Cup failures led to innovation in mental skills coaching. This had never been done before in NZ rugby. But it was an identified weakness that our professional players were too dependent on coaching and couldn’t solve problems themselves on the field. Under pressure their minds would close and poor decisions were made. Now it’s rare to see the All Blacks beaten before the final whistle, they chase scores better than anyone else and rarely lose a lead they establish. They don’t lose faith and have strong self belief reinforced by consistently winning.

      Freedom of information at all levels of coaching. All Blacks will freely share information down to all coaching levels as do Super coaches. The NZ high performance unit coordinates from schoolboy to national level so that young professionals are better educated about the game and the importance of developing skills outside the game. Better preparation ensures the leap between teams is not as great as it used to be. Coaches at schoolboy and provincial level are given preferred skill sets in specific positions that are looked for in the professional game.

      Not losing connection to the provinces and clubs. The professional arm is better engaged and involved with the local provinces than ever before. There have been issues, controversies and mistakes made in the past but greater harmony exists now. The elite level can’t be sustained if the grassroots is ignored and neglected.

  • Gregory Parkes-Skell

    We missed a real opportunity to push for a rop four spot in this yeard U20s this year. With the arrival of Stewart and Co. the level went noticeably north for the team. If we had the full complement against Waled I suspect we’d have won that game.

  • joy

    If the brackets were dropped from SEX TON it would appear to be a mistake and, therefore, funny.

  • Bernie Chan

    Yikes…Is the availability of Hanigan “positive” news…? Samu only had a brief introduction to Test rugby, but seemed to do more than I have seen from Hanigan…

  • John R

    In other news, great wee story about our Captain here: https://www.foxsports.com.au/rugby/wallabies/michael-hoopers-selfless-act-that-helped-save-tolu-latus-wallabies-career/news-story/a6c94fbf9ef7599f40eb75f9cb4aba83

    Long story short, he noticed that Latu was putting in the extra work that Cron and Gibson requested of him, so he offered to help him if he ever needed it, Latu took him up on it, and Hooper is now spending the early mornings at Tahs training, standing on a ladder, acting as a lineout target for Latu, catching up to 100 balls a day.

    • Huw Tindall

      I haven’t got on the Hooper is a sh!t captain band wagon as I just don’t see the argument when he clearly has so much respect in the team and among the coaches. Great example here. Sure he can be a better captain and work on ref management etc but he stepped into the breach at a tough time for Aus rugby when nobody else was remotely suitable.

      • John R

        Me either mate. Full disclosure, I fuckennnn love Hooper aye, and as embarrassing as it is to say as a grown man, he’s probably my favourite player.

        And you’re right, Hooper isn’t perfect, far from it, and I’d bet ya a icy cold pint, he’d be the first to admit it too hey!

  • adastra32

    ….and in the OTHER U20 news, French pack manshames the ABs into humiliating submission and SA fail (just) to maul their way to glory vs Eng. .So (very) old rivalries resume in FRA vs. ENG final on Sunday.

    • Archie

      And Australia U20s… how’d they get on in their semi?

      • adastra32

        See article above.

  • Andy

    I see no point blaming the All Blacks for what’s gone on. They are not officiating the game.

    The real disgrace is rugby administration and its administrators.

    – The refereeing worldwide, especially in Super Rugby is appalling. My main issue is that most refs think they are bigger than the game. But there is clearly no consistency in decision making and interpretations

    – poor refereeing is rarely punished these days. How a guy like O’Keefe can get international matches let alone Super Rugby matches is beyond me (not him alone). Refer Hoffman from Oz.

    – there is absolutely no consistency with post match punishments

    – there is no consistency with citing commissioners

    None of the above is NZ’s fault and all of the above is what loses faith in the game with the general public. And in Australia, with the completion for viewers rugby has little hope

Rugby
@NathW1997

Loved rugby since the day I could remember, got the nickname Footy to show that, watches Matt Dunning's dropkick on repeat

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