Well hello for 2022 G&AGRs & shaggers!
Back from my summer solitude, relaxed, refreshed and released on remand, ready for rugby and what a rugby year in looks to be! Off season, what off-season! There’s been wall-to-wall rugby in the lead into what promises to be a ripper of a rugby year ahead.
Two new PI teams (so the Western Farce & Mexican Rebels at least have someone to beat/finish ahead of on the ladder). The Soap Dodgers scheduled* (*Wuhan Wonder Bug dependant) for an incoming three test series. The Sheep Shaggers sulking & brooding in middle-earth from their Northern Tour shellackings at the hand of The Frogs and Paddies and awaiting a possible home series against the Oirish. The Catholics fobbed off by the 6Ns keen to play anyone who’ll have ’em. The Nippon XXIII keen and rightfully so, on permanent SR & TRC involvement. David ‘Brian’ Pocock entering politics, talk about putting your head in dark places, and the return of the Friday Fast 5 Bonus now banned on Spotify because of the wildly popular and hugely dangerous ‘how to make your own WWB vaccine’ series.
But enough foreplay – let’s jump in head-first into what really matters in life – rugby.
Wow, how long have I been gone?
It seems the Oz sides pre-seasons have indeed been the season of love?
Some of the quotes outta all the respective sides have bordered on nauseating at best and at worst have me worried about what stadia cleaners might be faced with post-match clean up?
Kulcha is indeed the new ‘it’ phrase for all & sundry across Aussie rugby franchises aint it! I guess it’s pre-season and there’s a lot of excitement and vigour around the sides before the matches against the sides from middle-earth bring us back to earth with a resounding thud, thus extinguishing, with extreme prejudice, said enthusiasm.
But when I read an article on RA by serial ‘Summer Bay’ binge watcher and new CEO of Cutlery Allocation for RA functions, Nathan Williamson about a ‘Culture of Love’ (I shit you not) then I started to dig deeper for articles on similar matters and it seems all Oz sides had players espousing the virtues of new coaches, new cultures, new man-love of varying degrees and how this pre-season ‘was the best ever’ and blah-dee-blah-blah-bloody-blah.
There’re stories of what a ‘great guy’ Force coach ‘Sampo’ is (by new Farce recruits) – yep same coach who’s won exactly NADA during his tenure – they couldn’t even beat the Thailand Tin Heads’ in that pretend competition they ran a few years back ‘Global Rapid Antigen Tests’, or whatever it was called. Then there’s Angus ‘The Bull’ Bell on how under the guidance of likely future Wallabies Coach Dan ‘Chuckles’ McKellar he learnt the value of deed over words, yet doesn’t at all see the irony of telling us how much he’s improved? All pretty sanitary stuff I guess and yep, it’s preseason, there’s not yet injury or form or scandal to answer for and I get you have mutton-head journo asking ‘vanilla questions’, but I reckon we’ve all been here every year for the past 1,000 years before haven’t we?
There’re the old chestnuts trotted out each preseason of training, we’ve never been ‘fitter’, ‘the boys have bonded’ the new coach is the best thing ever, well, since the old coach anyway. THEN season proper kicks off and it more often than not comes-a-cropper, real fast.
So perhaps it’s timely that our boys take some sage advice from Mr ‘Iron-Mike’ Tyson when he says
‘not guilty your honour’ ‘everyone has a plan, until they get punched in the face’ and the Kiwi & PI sides are lying in wait for us-with rather large fists clenched too…
The Life of Brian?
Politics, where noble men perish and arseholes proliferate.
Look, it’s fair to say I lean to the left of cynical in most matters. Life has left me learned, battle scarred and pragmatic. I want to believe good people can make a difference and to frank, there is no more ‘gooder’ person perhaps in the cosmos, than David ‘Brian’ Pocock. BUT but when I read over my summer hiatus that Brian was heading to the Canberran cesspit I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
There can be no doubting the calibre, determination and integrity of this man, but up against those gormless political apparatchik of our political system, well, we are more chance of winning the Bledisloe this year in a landslide-ain’t we?
This from Poey “Getting away from just having a bunch of career politicians who’ve climbed the party ranks, we need people who are from communities who are real, and who are able and willing to kind of tell it how it is.” Well yes, there’s telling it as it is, but then there’s the ability to actually change it.
Let’s hope Mark Twain proves accurate when he says “An honest man in politics shines more there than he would elsewhere.”
Watch this space and go well Poey, for the good of us all, go well.
The upcoming 2022 SR season is important for a variety of reasons for Oz Rugby & Dave ‘Moses’ Rennie.
This could be a pivotal year for the code and the orange ones alike. Provincial success against the Sheep Shaggers, financial health of RA, TV deals to be renewed in 2023, incoming test series v The Soap Dodgers and of course RWC 2023 selections to be locked in.
Yep, 2022 looms LARGE for the code and perhaps the start of a golden run that could well run into ’23 RWC, ’25 FUKIRS (Formal United Kingdom/Irish Rugby Side) tour to our shores as a precursor to a likely 2027 RWC held across this sun-burnt country. It’s against this backdrop that those in charge of the code and the teams do NOT have the luxury of more rank mediocrity, dreadful results or just plain dumb decisions (looking at your spray of Gandalf & QC here Lex) The financial future of RA and the code, for the next decade, literally starts 18 February 2022 and could run 5-6 years that might leave the code in rude financial health to last a rugby generation.
So with all that said, it’s SR team selections and, by association, Wallabies selections that has caught my immediate attention. I reckon the orange jerseys of #2, #4, #5, #6 & #15 are the main spots up for grabs and standout SR performances will go a looooong way to sealing the deal for those who grasp the opportunity.
It’s with all the of the above reasons that I really like Jordan ‘of Nazareth’ Petaia getting a run at #15 in the trials for the Reds this weekend and possibly beyond. He has the physical attributes, the size, skill and pace. Can he kick, buggered if I know. Does he have a ‘Gilbert-like’ propensity for on-field self-combustion with loose carries, silly passes, dumb options, flakey moments that cause involuntary excrement flinging at the widescreen LG by fans, interwoven with freakish athleticism and pure rugby genius? Well, yeah, he possesses all of that too, but I am hoping some off-field maturity, a body free of injuries and some mentoring from Jon Snow, The Padre & Moses & Co will all help shape him into the #15 this punter hopes he may become and tout-suite at that.
I would concede with young Jordan that after injury and personal setback over previous seasons it’s time for the rubber of ‘potential’ to meet the bitumen of ‘consistency’. You can be young with potential, but sooner or later that potential must be realised, or you become just another sad tale of woe, whispered behind your back as you run out in reserve grade, or worse, the Rebels.
For mine, no one yet has to make #15 their own on a permanent basis. Some have tried, some have done ‘ok’, but don’t we deserve more than ‘ok’ from those who are custodians of the Orange Jersey?
So the door is more than ajar for someone to charge through and make #15 their own for the next 5-7 years and my money is on this young man.
Good read here from RA’s own Jim ‘Mother’ Tucker on JP and his chances.
Friday’s Fast 5 Bonus
Bez, Better, Best
Jaco Johan’s favourite official, our own Nic ‘Bez’ Berry has been named Australian Official of the Year again and winning, for a second time, the Roger Vanderfield FedEx Referee of the Year award. I remember reading over the off-season the impact that Johan’s comments re the BIL test and subsequent trolling had on Bez and his family. Here’s hoping this award and a a great season ahead allows our #1 pea blower to move on from 2021’s ugliness.
Methusela keeps on keeping on!
Serial good guy and 112 year old former Tah & Wallabies legend Sekope ‘Methuselah’ Kepu has been named captain of the inaugural Moana Pasifika team for this year’s comp. Sometimes, just sometimes, the planet delivers good things to great people. Go well Kep, except against the Tahs when I trust it all turns to shite for you & yours.
Tah’s extend unbeaten run to #1.
That’s right shit-stirrers and non-believers (you know who you are). The Tahs decisive, nay, glorious defeat over perennial Australian easybeats The Brumbies in a trial (still a rugby game) last week means those in blue are unbeaten for season 2022. At time of publication, the ONLY Oz side to lay claim to said RECORD for this season. Methinks it is a scary omen for all other Oz sides. After all 2022 is Chinese Year of the Tah. and the Tahs are on record with their stated mission for this year of: ‘Renew
16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, so, you know…..
With COVID disruptions sure to be the ‘norm’ for the foreseeable future and schedules and fixtures constantly on the move it seems Nic ‘The Lip’ White is a fan of an occasional ‘afternoon delight’. With SRA whipping boys, The Farce from West-somewhere again relocating, the Ponies kickoff the year with a couple of home Sunday arvo offerings.
The Lip goes onto say “It’s good for us and the fans, three home games, two in the afternoon, we’ll have that home crowd advantage and hopefully there’s a real opportunity to hit the ground running.”
Grab some more ‘afternoon delight’ here
Kiwis hate New Zealand
Stuff.co.nz reports that Kiwis really do hate staying in Kiwiville any longer than they have to and would happily consider relocating all their sides to Oz for the
dole good of the SRP competition. It’s a sign of crazy times when Kiwis talk commonsense, fluidity and willingness to bend. They come across as a decent bunch, even more reason to hate ’em all I say.
Until next week – toodles.