All Blacks

Monday’s Rugby News – 08/08/22

Monday’s Rugby News – 08/08/22

Welcome, G&GRs, to the start of a new work week where we can savour a Wallabies win in the ungodly hours of Sunday morning and, unless you’re KARL, another Kiwi loss. We’ll recap both matches, observe yet another nation moving their women into the professional ranks and a chat about Hoops.

WALLABIES V LOS PUMAS

The Wallabies have defeated Los Pumas 41 – 26 in Mendoza. Despite yet another slow start where the Wobs were beaten off the ball and made poor decisions when attempting to exit their own 22m zone, they were able to overcome the Argentine side and secure a bonus point win.

While I hate to be pessimistic about any sort of orange gold win, there is still the stench of the same old Wallabies in this game. What do I mean by that, you ask? Well, for one, the discipline is still in the toilet (I wonder if this is the McKellar attitude here?), Nic White still won’t STFU, Nic White is still trying to quarterback the game, the forwards went missing in the first 15-20 and the inconsistency is still plaguing us in tackle/ruck/maul and set piece. Indeed, it wasn’t until the game really opened up and Los Pumas tired that we saw any real control from the Wallabies.

Now that’s out of the way, there are absolutely positives. Our line-out functioned relatively well, and our scrum was stable (and arguably on the wrong end of one or two misplaced penalties). But it still isn’t world beating or leading. That will be the challenge with next weekend’s match against Los Pumas and then two matches against the DDFs.

Players of note were the loosies as a trio (it was nice, despite circumstances, to have a more balanced back row) and they functioned effectively. FF will get credit for not buggering up his throws; however, points deducted for being a prat every chance he could otherwise. The centre pairing of Paisami and Ikitau were solid and didn’t overplay their hands.

Otherwise, the rest of the team stuck in and did their jobs. Credit as well to Reece “Clydesdale” Hodge for coming on as a makeshift 10 to replace Quade and performing well enough. He’s not the long-term answer at ten but he served a purpose in this win.

I would question the logic of picking a 6-2 split on the bench then not utilising the bench in a consistent manner i.e. some players getting 30+ minutes and others getting >10 mins. Seems a bit odd…

Looking ahead to next week, I would really like to see Tate start with Noah to allow Noah to run the match. The reality is that Noah will now be the starting 10 at RWC 23 sans any more injuries to the side. When Noah starts with Nic White, Nic takes over the entire back line and, consequently, the team feeds off his momentum (or lack of). It’s the same as the Brumbies “Real Madrid” side of the early naughties when there was a star-studded back line being held up by Josh ‘Periscope’ Valentine. Apart from that, I don’t foresee any changes, though it’d be interesting to have Simone play 12 as I think that would settle Noah down quite well.

As an aside, Sully came up with an ‘unavailable for selection’ list:

Swinton, Bell, Porecki, Johnson-Holmes, Perese, Hanigan, Sio, Cooper, Banks, Kellaway, Kerevi, LSL, Rodda, Neville, Mafi, L Wright and Hooper. That’s 17 players that would be in the squad. Some of those would easily make the XXIII. A few certain starters there as well. It’s no excuse… but gee whiz… How many more injuries can we get? *TOUCH WOOD TOUCH WOOD TOUCH WOOD*

ALL BLACKS v SPRINGBOKS

The Springboks have defeated the All Blacks 26-10 in Mbombela (formerly Nelspruit) in a comprehensive victory over the Nearlies.

Indeed, for me, it was the first time in my life that I have seen the ABs so abjectly beaten. Perhaps it’s the era I grew up in (being 32) so a ‘weak’ All Black side has never really been seen in the majority of my lifetime… let alone a side that would give the Clown’s teams at the end of his regime a far crack for most hopelessly outgunned.

Even though everyone (except Fozzie apparently) knew EXACTLY how the DDFs were going to play (physical, quick but decisive defence, hard on the ball and kick, kick, kick), yet the Nearlies were never in the game. I’m surprised that the DDFs even let them score in the 77th minute as, for the rest of the match, they barely looked close. The forwards allowed Malcolm Marx and co to pilfer many balls in either clean or penalised pilfers and have horrendously slow ball. The Kiwi back line was as flat as I’d like my stomach to be and there was more creativity in a kindy classroom. Yes, there were moments of brilliance; however, not enough to match a formidable DDF side.

This coming weekend’s game in Joburg shapes as, potentially, Ian Foster’s final game in charge of the Nearlies. A second loss, irrespective of the nature, would surely bring his tenure to a close. With this weekend’s loss the Kiwis have slipped to a once unheard of fifth position on the rankings charts and sit at the bottom of TRC ladder (OK that’s a bit sensationalist of me… but I gotta take the opportunity 😉). The question I would ask is: does Scott ‘Razor’ Robertson want to come in at this moment? He’d inherit a team that has zero confidence, zero form, on the way back from an African drubbing and is very much on the downhill slide. He would have literally one week to sort out what would happen with the Argentina games. Would NZ look to place Schmidt in an interim role instead? This is, of course, if Fozzie falls on his sword (willingly…. or otherwise). It’ll be an interesting fortnight either way!

IRISH WOMEN SECURE PROFESSIONAL CONTRACTS

In another fantastic step the IRFU have announced that there will be 43 professional contracts available for elite players and a new Head of Women’s Performance and Pathways. The IRFU is pleased to announce that Gillian McDarby has been appointed as Head of Women’s Performance and Pathways following an extensive recruitment process directed by the IRFU National Professional Game Board. Gillian will be responsible for the development, delivery, and implementation of the approved strategic and operational direction of the women’s rugby performance programme for both XVs and 7s. She will be responsible for developing a cohesive player pathway that connects and feeds the needs of both national programmes. She will work with the domestic rugby department to grow the playing base of young women and girls, thereby facilitating consistent performance of Irish teams at an elite level into the future.

In addition, the IRFU has confirmed that it will be providing a total of 43 centralised, paid contracts to elite women’s players next season, this includes contracts already in operation for members of the women’s 7s programme. To respect the importance of the upcoming test windows in Japan and the Sevens World Cup, the IRFU will discuss the details of the contracts with players before making further public pronouncements on these exciting developments. The contracts have been benchmarked internationally and will range up to €30,000 + match fees and bonuses.

One can only wonder when RA will sort their collective… brains… together and find suitable sponsorship and fully professional pathways for our female players and officials. Tick….. Tick…. Tick….. Tick…. Time is running out.

MICHAEL HOOPER

If you are in need, please contact any of the below for assistance:

Beyond Blue – https://www.beyondblue.org.au/

HeadSpace – https://headspace.org.au/

Lifeline – https://www.lifeline.org.au/

Mental Health Australia – https://mhaustralia.org/need-help

OK, Folks. We’ve all seen this story break late last week that Michael Hooper has left the Wallabies camp and returned home. All I can say is, ‘well done that man’. I’m certain we’ve all been in the dark space before where everything seems hard and you are in a black hole. The light, while there, is flickering and so very hard to get to. I don’t know Hoops personally, and I absolutely do not pretend to know his mindset at the present moment. But what I can say is that the decision for him to open up to the team medical staff, irrespective of the reasons he found himself where he is (and that is no one’s business but his own), must’ve been one of the hardest decisions he’s had to make. And fuck me, am I proud of him to do that. To have a man, of national significance, a leader of a team that plays such an historically ‘manly’ game, where the prevalent attitude is still somewhat one of ‘shut up and get on with it’ say that he was not in a good place… well, it goes to show that whatever processes are in place at RA and the Tahs surrounding mental health is exactly where it needs to be. For that, Hoops, is one of the most inspirational pieces of leadership this country has seen.

Now, I’m one who has criticised Hooper the player. That’s part and parcel of being a player in a national team. But Hooper the man, by all accounts, is one that blokes would follow into whatever hellhole you choose to put in this article. For years he’s carried the Wallabies and had to deal with the Clown at his absolute worst. But he stuck it out, potentially to his own detriment. Nevertheless, whatever the reason for his break from the game, all I can say is, ‘get well soon, Hoops’ and that I hope all works out.

I would now like to say to you all… look out for your mates. Whether you’re a player, coach, ref, spectator, armchair coach or someone simply passing by, ask ‘are you OK?’. This simple question can be the difference. As I said last week… be kind.

Happy Monday, folks!

CM

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