G’day G&GRs, Reds and Wallabies Fan here with a late call up to cover for BLL who had some urgent matters to attend to.
Farewell to RWC2023
It’s been an interesting week in rugby since the World Cup finished and we said farewell, or
adieu, to the festival of Gilbert. In addition to the rugby, most of which was great to watch, the coverage by Stan and the access to all of the games in full, mini-games, or highlights made it so much easier to watch more of the games than ever before. In years past, Foxtel allowed you to record games and watch them, but the streaming platform took it new heights, and we the audience are better, if more sleep deprived for it.
The Week that was
There was a lot written about Australian rugby, the board, the chairman, the CEO, and the coach. And then a lot more about the coach. Anyway, the coach has left, and Rugby Australia has announced the panel that will conduct a review into the Wallabies performance at the World Cup, which was covered by Yowie on Friday and heavily commented on by G&GRs far and wide. I couldn’t find anything about the terms of reference for the article, but if it’s limited to the Wallabies performance at the World Cup then it’ll be a lost opportunity to improve rugby in Australia for all of the people that play and support it, not just the Wallabies.
There was plenty said last week about it all, and there will be plenty more said in the coming weeks, I’ll leave it to others more qualified to carry on the discussion about Rugby Australia.
The Week that was Rugby Games
There was also some very good ruby played this week.
Congratulations to England who were the clear champions in the WXV1 series played in NZ, they won 3 from 3 including a comprehensive 33-12 victory over New Zealand in the final game of the series.
Well done to the Wallaroos who were superb against the Welsh in their final game of the year and closed out a close match 25-19. The Wallaroos were excellent in most aspects of the game though poor discipline did let Wales back into the contest with a red card early in the second half, followed by a penalty try (and yellow card) that had Australia playing with 13. While Wales did close the gap they couldn’t get past the Wallaroos though including attempting a full team offensive maul in the closing minute of the game. The Aussies held on, pushed the maul back and secured a great victory. The win gave the Wallaroos 2 from 3 record in WXV1, and saw them finish in third place ahead of New Zealand and France.
Speaking of France, the Wallaroos victory over France last week was excellent, if you haven’t watched it, do yourself a favour, it’s better than any performance by the Wallabies this year.
Source: WXV1 website.
One thing I noticed about the Wallaroos in this campaign was the number of new players in the squad compared to the World Cup last year, with new players taking their opportunities and improving the team performance. It’s a shame that international players are lost to other codes, and the contracting environment must have something to do with it.
Jim Tucker wrote a good article on Rugby Australia’s website which you can find here: https://www.rugby.com.au/news/five-things-we-learnt-from-wallaroos-v-wales-2023113
Queensland hosted the Panasonic Wild Knights at the revamped Ballymore on the weekend, and a good crowd turned up to enjoy an entertaining Saturday afternoon game. The Reds got the chocolates in a close game with a 31-29 victory. There were 11 debutants in the Reds team for this game.
You can read about it in Sully’s review here https://greenandgoldrugby.com/the-reds-narrowly-defeat-the-wild-knight/
It was the first Queensland men’s representative game at Ballymore since 2010, and hopefully we’ll see more games there next year.
Great initiative by the Reds to have this series and give our players more experience at the professional level. It’s doing something to build depth and improve the skills of our players outside of the Super Rugby season.
The Barbarians took on Wales on the weekend, with the Welsh grabbing a couple of late tries to finish with a 49-26 victory. The score flattered the Welsh a bit, for while they held a 16 point lead in the second half, the Barbarians closed the gap with 10 minutes to go but alas, a famous send off for Alun Wyn Jones and Justin Tipuric playing against Wales wasn’t to be and Leigh Halfpenny got to end his international career with a victory. It was an entertaining game, well worth watching if you need a rugby fix this week. The number of Australians in the team makes it interesting to G&GR fans, though it did detract from the overall spirit of the Barbarians. I’m sure there were some restrictions that Eddie Jones and Scott Robertson had in selecting players from other countries, maybe club commitments for European based players made them unavailable.
Where to from here
There’s been a lot written and said about the future of rugby in Australia, and for mine there’s too much focus on the performance of the Wallabies, as the most important measure of Australian rugby success. For years, Rugby Australia has shuffled the deck chairs by hiring and firing coaches, while boards came and went, and with each iteration the Wallabies have gone backwards. At the same time our Super Rugby clubs have regressed compared to the Kiwis, maybe the Brumbies are keeping pace, just.
The Wallabies won’t be a force in world rugby again unless we improve the quality and quantity of players that can play for them. For me this means better players in all of the Super Rugby teams so that there is a better, bigger pool of players to choose from. This needs to be supported by more players competing to play Super Rugby, which means that we need a wider base of players playing at the levels below Super Rugby. Not just players though, we need better coaches across our Super Rugby teams to drive better results.
One thing RA has to do is win back the hearts and minds of its constituents and supporters, starting with this current review and having the courage to make changes that improve rugby in Australia for all of the people that play, coach, and support this great game of ours.
Anyway, happy Monday G&GRs, over to you in the comments section and I’m sure that BLL will be back on deck next week.