I know what you’re thinking, you’re thinking, “this is a rugby site if I wanted to see round smooth balls, I’d have botox. Rugby is a superior game and I shouldn’t waste my time watching other more boring sports.” Well, if you think that, you’re wrong.
Just like Coatsie here: (from G&GR’s Gold Section)
Soccer/Football – Snakes & Ladders
“A simple game, which is, at the end of the day, really boring to watch, as very little really happens. One simply travels up the board, and back down the board, up the board, and back down the board, up the board, and back down the board, etc. Finally, just when you think you have it all finished, Lucas Neill trips up some piss-weak penalty-pulling continental whinger and you slide all the way down a snake to the beginning. Then you might have to go again, as luck has so much bearing on the outcome. Really a game for kids. For those who know no better.”
Football, or soccer as it is more commonly called in Australia, world cup is worth the watch, especially for us die hard wallaby fans. This post will put the anal in analysis and draw up parallels between our beloved Wallabys and the Underoos (see what I did there, underdogs and Socceroos together, get it, its a pun, the highest form of humour).
The Socceroos as a rugby team:
The Socceroos reputation is one of the strongest, fittest and most physical of opponents in world football. Other teams hate playing against them because they know although they could be measurably technically better, the Socceroos punch (literally) above their weight and make the game a nightmare for physically weak opposition players stereotypically from certain parts of Asia or Italy.
In this regard the Socceroos are a bit like the springboks, however, they don’t cheat and are hence are no means a super power of their trade.
So for lack of a better example the Socceroos are a bit like the Samoan international rugby team. Never a threat to win a whole world tournament, but extremely physical and can cause upsets.
Here’s a brilliant tackle by Brian Lima, Lima goes in hard but legally, just like all Socceroo members.
A tackle this hard would be a yellow card in soccer football, which means good tackle, but don’t do it again. In rugby football, yellow cards are much worse because the punishment is served at the time. This tournament the Socceroos will be looking to maximise their yellow card count, but only get one per player, as two means they miss the forthcoming match.
So when you see Vince Grella of the Socceroos legitimately make heavy (for soccer) contact with some European or Africans leg. Just remember, the rest of the world is seeing Lima tear a South African fly half in… just that… half.
Lets look at the team overall. This is the 23 Man Squad the coach Pin Verbeek chose to take to South Africa:
Mark Schwarzer (Fulham), Brad Jones (Middlesbrough), Adam Federici (Reading), Craig Moore (No Team), Lucas Neill (Galatasaray), Luke Wilkshire (Dynamo Moscow), Scott Chipperfield (FC Basel), David Carney (FC Twente), Mark Milligan (JEF United), Michael Beauchamp (Al-Jazira), Jason Culina (Gold Coast), Tim Cahill (Everton), Brett Emerton (Blackburn), Mark Bresciano (Palermo), Vince Grella (Blackburn), Brett Holman (AZ Alkmaar), Carl Valeri (Sassuolo), Mile Jedinak (Antalyaspor), Richard Garcia (Hull), Harry Kewell (Galatasaray), Josh Kennedy (Nagoya Grampus), Dario Vidosic (FC Nuremberg), Nikita Rukavytsya (FC Twente)
Notice all the bracketed funny place names next to each player’s name. These are the club teams that each player plays for. Unlike Australian rugby, players can qualify for the team even if they play in Japan, such as Joshua “Jesus” Kennedy. Who is playing in the J-League over there (the J stands for Japan, just like the A stands for Australia in our A League). It is very rare that you get all top national players into the national team, that’s why lots of soccer mad countries go even nuttier come world cup time. A rugby analogy is having Sam Norton Knight in fly half every Wallabies game except during the world cup (like watching a familiar team in the same jersey, but with nowhere near the skills).
Rugby started as a variation of “soccer” way back in 1823 when a young William Web Ellis apparently caught the ball playing soccer and ran with it toward the opposition goal. Although this was believed to be the case for a long time historians have recently proved it inaccurate. They understand how a big gold cup can catch a ball, but not how it could have possibly ran with it.
Regardless of the events that transpired rugby rules were made made from soccer variations and here’s a few from the top of my head that remain.
- Pitch Size.
- Grass Colour.
- Marked lines colour.
Okay so there’s a lot of low cards in that hand but both rugby and soccer are games that require great passers, players that run into space and fearless defenders. Both games also feature set pieces, and set piece work is one of the most important parts of the game: if you have a bad scrum you’ll be lucky to win the game, if you cant defend corners get ready for a hammering.
In both games some players try and cheat. In rugby its by using hands in the ruck and going offside on purpose. In soccer its acting like your dad has been murdered and your mum raped when someone taps you on the leg. To put it another way if Richie McCaw played soccer as well as he played rugby New Zealand would only ever need to practise shooting penalties and he would be staring in films in his time off. Soccer cheats can best be spotted when they are stretcherd off, but then make a miraculous recovery and return to the field within a minute.
The Socceroos don’t fake injuries or dive (simulate getting badly tackled) they are a lot more dangerous on the set-peice or crosses, because they boast Kennedy and Cahill, two of the best headers of the football in the game.
Also the rugby ‘try’ was named as such because when it was scored it gave the team that scored it a ‘try’ for goal (later renamed a conversion just to make the whole ‘try’ name more confusing).
Both games are about not letting the opposition get forward with possession. With rugby you can tackle them backwards, but with soccer’s reduced contact, players rely on compressing space out of the opposition attack by moving their back line forwards and catching the opposition attackers out. A difficult move that can backfire spectacularly against a faster opposition.
What to look out for:
Watch the pool games (free to air on SBS) Australia plays and keep an eye out on our pool (d). If we finish our three games in the top two we will move onto the round of 16:
Socceroos v Germany: TONIGHT! June 14, Monday morning 04:30
Socceroos v Ghana: June 19/20th , Saturday Midnight/Sunday Morning 00:00
Sooceroos v Serbia: June 24th, Thursday morning 04:30
I spoke before about Kennedy and Cahill’s set-piece and they really are ball magnets as good crossers will try and pick them out and time again for easy goals.
Kennedy who stands at 194cms (massive for a soccer player), and resembles artists depictions of Jesus Christ, is Australia’s Striker and has come of the best club season of his career: he was the leading goal scorer in the J-league (a much better standard than our A-league). Check out this you tube video of his goals this season, also turn the vol down as the shitty song repeats itself 3 times!
Tim Cahill plays for the best club team of any of the Australian players (Everton) in the EPL. This season has been a very successful one for him personally as although injuries decimated his squad at times he proved himself better for it filling in a striker position and a captains armband for parts of the season. Cahill’s preferred position is just behind the striker (Kennedy) where he can emerge from the shadows and snatch pressure goals, as he did last world cup. If you haven’t seen that, I’ll set the scene, in only Australia’s 2nd trip to a world cup ever and still hadn’t yet scored they conceded a non goal and were down 1-0 until the 84th minute when super-sub Cahill turned the match on its head with two brilliant goals.
Also watch out for Harry Kewell on the bench, the media goes on about him 24/7 and I’m getting sick of it. But basically he’s been injured all year and no-one knows what to expect from him. He’ll try his best and if he can play anything like his highlight reel it will be great testament to a player who due to suffering from autoimmune hepatitis has been plagued with injuries his entire career.
This concludes this article, please leave a comment, also I am aware that comparing the Socceroos to the Samoan rugby team is a little weird, especially seeing how the Samoan soccer team went against the Socceroos not too long ago…
Go the Socceroos!