For mine, this tour has been a huge step forward for the Wallabies. The most important thing is that they’ve started laying the foundations of what could become a very good, if not great, winning, team.
The key to winning games? Your pack and your goal kicker. Australian rugby has tried to ignore this for 10 years, but the last time we held Bill we had a solid pack and Matt Burke. In this European tour, of all the international teams playing the Wallabies had the highest line-out completion rate and highest goal kicking percentage thanks to Le Gits. In the games where our scrum succeeded, we won.
In the pack we’ve developed a power and pace around the rucks in both attack and defence that is also top of the class. It’s hard to name a forward who hasn’t heroicly stood up and the conversion of Sharpe and Chisholm from seagullers to word class locks doing the dirty stuff brought a tear to the eye. Sharpey, don’t shave.
And this has been missing the likes of Horwill, Elsom and Vicks, and with Palu injured most of the time. The young guys like Mumm and TPN when he got a run really stood up.
In the backs, a crucial injury to Barnes early on really exposed the achilles heal we’ve carried for so long; play makers at 10 and 12. Thus, all the pressure was on Gits and fish out of water at 15 AAC to replicate Dingo’s mantra of not playing rugby in your own half, and they still have a long way to go. The Wallabies made among the least yards with ball in hand of all national teams playing this tour.
Next year I believe we’ll be seeing a lot more of O’Connor, Cooper and Beale around that backline, and another year of Super 14 wont hurt any of them. With the centre’s and wingers we’ve got on tap, these guys will time a good run into maturity perfectly over the next 3 years.
What was especially pleasing about this Euro tour was the re-emergence of the famed Wallabies defense. By the end of the Tri-Nations I was calling for Muggles or Kissy to get back on board, but the 4 week intensive training camp, and a never say die attitude brought this back in spades. I’ve not seen defense as awesome live from any international team as I did from the Wallabies at Twickenham and Wembley.
So, with 4 out of 6 wins, a rejuvinated pack, a clear way ahead for the backs and the Aussie D back, I’d have to give AntipoDeans a “B“. Very good work with room for improvement (and keep working on the vowels)