Wallabies

Monday’s Rugby News – 21/11/22

Monday’s Rugby News – 21/11/22

Hello, G&GRs, and welcome to another Monday! I trust that your weekend was well spent wherever in the world you are. I’m so pleased to see readers and commenters from all over the globe popping in to say g’day and be a part of the environment we have here with G&GR.

In today’s news, we’ll review the Wallabies result against the Oirish, a rundown of the scorelines in the other spring tests, ponder who’s left to actually play for the men in Cadbury Orange next weekend against the Taffs, options for RA post-RWC and a little piece of my mind about referee interactions on and off the pitch.

Bit of a challenge for you for some fun. I quite liked the first Super Troopers film. If you can find the references in here, I’ll let you guest write an article 😁😁😂

WALLABIES v IRELAND

So, TL;DR – same shit, different week. But if you really want to read my ‘journalism’…

Another match, another loss. I admit I phased out of listening to the post-match interviews as the reality is it’s exactly the same story we’ve heard all season long: we didn’t do the basics right, our discipline let us down and an injury toll as long as the flight back home to Oz.

In what was an exceptionally frustrating game to watch in terms of time it took, but the number of opportunities that the Wallabies failed to take. It seemed as though we were camped within the Irish defensive 22m for an eternity, yet, once again, we got absolutely nowhere. Indeed, with the ill-discipline we went backwards! Now, don’t get me wrong, the Oirish defence is as rock solid as Shaun Edwards French side’s defence. An example is Josh van der Flier, who is a mate of mine, and is an absolute tackle machine. I counted at least four missed tackles in this game from him alone. This isn’t surprising considering that the Oirish tackle count, at one stage, was 3:1. Further, the Oirish were a total pain in the arse at the ruck (anyone note Irish #8 Caelen Doris lying on top of the rucks – “I’m bound” – then constantly doing the niggly shit a halfback would be proud of? Delighted BOK cracked down on that, too) But this isn’t my point. My point is that there was absofuqinglutely nothing we did that caused the Oirish line any real concern. There was no deception, no deftness, no subtlety, nothing. It reminded me a lot of watching the Welsh attack at RWC2015, i.e. “Eh, Jamie Roberts, hit the ball up would ya” over and over. The way the game’s played at the moment requires these small moments of movement to get one over the opposition. Instead, we’re playing crash ball running, shovelling sideways and simply braindead ‘attacking’ rugby. The fault here lies directly at Foley. The justification for bringing him into the fold was to have ‘an experienced game manager’ run the show. Well, from what I can tell, he’s done sweet fuck all. In fact, we seem to be going backwards at a rate of knots the Titanic would’ve been proud of.

On a personal note I got fact checked (fair enough, I’m not above being proven wrong. I’ll admit when I’m wrong unless Law 6.5.a applies!!) last week by ‘maulalltheway’ with stats of our main two hookers, Porecki and Fainga’a. He provided evidence that Porecki was a bigger culprit in terms of PKs and poor throws compared to Fainga’a. Well, in this match, I would say both were absolutely diabolical. Porecki was poor in this game prior to being subbed for a failed HIA with a silly PK or two given away and failing to hit his target. Fainga’a, well, I don’t think anyone could say it better than Morgan Turinui response to Sean Maloney’s question of, “why, on that part of the field, are you doing that?” on Stan’s commentary. “Well, the why is because you lack the discipline and maturity of a test player. And that’s the price.” Compounding the “Folly of Fainga’a” was the Wobs being forced to drop a man when unable to provide a player who could fill in as hooker. Meow, the law in this instance was never put in place for this situation; however, when teams ‘fucked around’ previously trying to be smart alecs, well, we’re now finding out exactly what happens. Surprise surprise, it’s the Wallabies who cop it. Someone in Aus rugby has really pissed on the rugby gods’ cornflakes. I blame Tahs HQ 😉

But, was it all bad? Well, after yet another shattering loss it can be hard to find he rays of light, especially as we’re on a run of losses. In fact, our four games have been decided by a total of six points combined. But we have to find something to be happy/thankful for or we’ll all go insane! For me, Ikitau at 13 then 12 worked exceptionally hard all night. Maybe his name doesn’t stand out like he deserves, but gee if he isn’t the glue holding our backline together then I don’t know what is. Props to Marky Mark for some excellent work, especially under the high ball and getting the chocolates over Mack Hansen. Tom Wright didn’t have a brain fart (and ran for 100m) and Kellaway did his job well. I thought 7As pulled a big shift in light of Nela being taken out by a sniper and the two second rowers kept on trucking. Bobby V and Hooper played their hearts out as well. Slipper I’m not sold on in a captaincy sense. I get the players love him, but, we can see how that’s working out in cricket land! Nic White was far better than Jake Gordon (I almost lost my mind when he took too long and we got counter-rucked 🤬) and kudos to Jordy Petaia for filling the breach of Hunter at 12. Upon reflection, it’s a 50/50 to have a crack at Rennie for his treatment of Lolesio in this match (though I’d argue he could’ve come on for Hunter as well, but that’s moot). It was a close game and likely to go down to the wire. We all blew up the last two weeks when the starting 10 was replaced within cooee of the final whistle. As much as I want Noah to be on the field, it’d likely have been the same as what has happened the last two matches. Rennie and co have destroyed the kid enough this season so a “Suliasi” of minutes at the end would’ve been useless.

WHO’S LEFT TO PICK?

Ala’alatoa, Banks, Campbell, Donaldson, Fainga’a, Foketi, Foley, Frost, Gibbon, Gleeson, Gordon, Hanigan, Hodge, Holloway, Hooper, Ikitau, Kellaway, Lolesio, Lonergan, McDermott, McReight, Mark Nawaqanitawase, Neville, Paisami, Petaia, Philip, Porecki, Robertson, Samu, Skelton, Slipper, Swain, Talakai, Tupou, Valetini, White, Wright.

Meow, folks. This is who, from what I can tell at 9:15pm on a Sunday, we have left to select for the Taffs this coming weekend. On top of a crippling injury list back in Australia, we really are left with the barest of cupboards, especially in the backline and at hooker. I’ve heard on the grapevine that it’ll be, literally, back to the future this weekend (which it should always have bloody been, we’ve pissed away an entire season picking blokes like Spanners) with a number of younger players getting a crack. That said, there is still a squad that has experience and calm as the Taffs will likely be after their exceptionally pissy loss to the Lelos. Therefore, my XVIII to run out against the Taffs is:

  1. Allan Ala’alatoa
  2. Noss Lonergan
  3. James Slipper
  4. Darcy Swain
  5. Caderyn Neville
  6. Holloway
  7. McReight
  8. Samu
  9. McDermott
  10. Donaldson
  11. Nawaqanitawase
  12. Lolesio
  13. Ikitau
  14. Wright
  15. Petaia
  16. FF – no-one left 🤬
  17. Robertson
  18. Gibbon
  19. Frost
  20. Gleeson – will get plenty of minutes
  21. White – token minutes
  22. Hodge
  23. Campbell

What do you all think? Yes, I’m a bit out there with the 10-12 axis, but it worked in the U20s and, well, the alternatives for inside centre I see are a non-passing Petaia, shifting our one healthy back (Ikitau) in one, going all out and whacking Hooper in, or Hodge. I hear your groans all the way down here in Mexico!

AUTUMN INTERNATIONAL RESULTS

Some big matches, with some significant results from a Wallaby point of view as well. If you could subject yourself to the first 70 minutes of the England v NZ game the last 10 minutes was certainly cracking! Sorry, KARL! Other results of importance were the Lelos getting one up on the Taffs, who’ll be VERY desperate for a win next weekend in Cardiff against the Wobs, and the Portuguese taking a last minute draw against the Yanks to qualify via superior points difference in Australia’s pool at RWC2023. Check the last two minutes of the match here!

USA 16 drew with Portugal 16 – match report here and highlights here

Hong Kong 22 def Kenya 18 – highlights here

England 25 drew with New Zealand 25 – match report here

Georgia 13 defeated Wales 12 – match report here

South Africa 63 defeated Italy 21 – match report here

Tonga 43 def Uruguay 19 – highlights here

Scotland 52 def Argentina 29 – match report here (Argentina went ‘full Cheika’! At the 50th minute, the Pumas were down to 12 players… shock horror, Lavanini was one of the binned players)

Samoa 22 defeated Romania 0 – highlights here

Namibia 43 defeated Canada 37 – match report here

France v Japan – TBC

DAVID NUCIFORA TURNS DOWN RUGBY AUSTRALIA AND WALLABIES

Christy Doran, writing for FUX The Roar, has written about the unlikely appointment of David Nucifora into a RA-equivalent post of his current role with the IRFU in an effort to sort ought the shitshow that is rugby in Australia.

“David Nucifora believes Rugby Australia must move to a centralised system and has urged the national body to make “some hard choices” if they want to return to past glories. But even if they do, the man who has overseen Ireland’s rise to the top of the summit says he will unlikely be the one to implement the reform needed for Australian rugby to make its own comeback when he plans to leave his Irish post following the 2024 Olympics. Indeed, it was almost a year ago that Rugby Australia CEO Andy Marinos flew to Dublin to meet with the former Wallaby, who led the Brumbies to their last Super Rugby title in 2004 and is in his ninth season as Ireland’s director of rugby. Marinos wanted to lure Nucifora home to lead the charge of centralisation, or as the CEO would call it “alignment”, in Australia, almost a decade after the states voted against Nucifora’s reform measures, thereby ending his association with the then-Australian Rugby Union. Nucifora is a divisive figure throughout the rugby world. Everywhere he has gone eggshells have been broken. As one Australian source said, “All the guys thought he was a fraud, I suspect he is better than that”. Even today, he has his detractors as Ireland’s DOR, with “friction” a constant within the centralised model where he is, as Friend says, the “main man”. But there is one thing that can’t be denied about Nucifora: he gets results, and Ireland have never had such consistent success before.”

I like Christy much more when he doesn’t write for FUX.

But, on a cautionary note Nucifora may not be the bloke people can love. Shit, the Brumbies players all but forced him from the country despite winning a Super title in 2004. Ever since he arrived in Ireland, he’s done wonders; sure, it’s cost a few old, white men in suits a bloody nose or three, but gee whiz is the model the IRFU are working under paying rich dividends. Their national side is performing, including a drought-breaking tour victory over New Zealand IN New Zealand, their Sevens is finally getting somewhere, they have implemented professional contracts for their women’s side and their provinces are generally as strong as they’ve ever been. Personally, I’d give him the RA credit card and bid him ‘bon chance’ as he sorts the mess that is Australian rugby out.

Rumours are that Eddie Jones is being courted with a carte blanche (and a sizeable bit of pocket money) to take on the USA ahead of their hosting of the men’s RWC2023 and women’s RWC2033. If RA want anyone, they’d better bloody hurry up!

THE RASSIE EFFECT

As a referee, I expect to get the odd bit of carry on from a halfback or two. Further, you’d be hard-pressed to find a referee that doesn’t like a bit of banter as well. Some even take the piss out of themselves!

Unfortunately, the world of post-Rassie ‘Twitter meltdown’ rugby is not a place I’m liking. Indeed, far from being the sport that has always prided ourselves (even to the point of being on a perpetual high horse) on being the sport that doesn’t tolerate abuse of match officials, we are fast heading towards a danger area. Not only are the male players acting like spoiled brats, but the constant whinging and haranguing of match officials is a disgrace.

I was absolutely livid to read about Wayne Barnes and his family (his wife and two young children, seriously!) receiving death threats after the France v South Africa. This isn’t who we are as a rugby people. We don’t do this. And if you’re a person reading this who in any way has done this, get out of our game.

I’m social media friends with a number of referees around the world. Having had the opportunity to either assist as a Super Rugby subs controller, a TMO assistant and as a chauffeur between ground and hotel, it’s been a privilege to talk rugby about some of the best in the business in the referee stakes. So, I was appalled when Ben O’Keeffe posted some of the vitriolic messages he received on social media from some absolute fucking cowards over the weekend. Firstly, good on BOK for posting these sorts of messages onto his social media. The more people that see the shit that our referees cop, the more they will realise how much in the wrong they are. Secondly, despite common belief, referees are human (even the Hobbitses like Karl) and will always make mistakes (though far fewer than any of us couch referees would in the same environment!). Finally, this is compounded by the perfectly imperfect game that is rugby union.

How low do you have to be to send a social media message to someone you’ve never met with the language that is in these messages? The bigger irony is one of these cowards has an Insta handle bio of, “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”. Well, chum, take some of your own advice. Even more concerning is that one of the offenders appears to be a teenager from France. So to those saying that Rassie isn’t having an effect on anyone but South African fans, well, you’re very wrong! The impact Rassie and his “twits” (spl intended) are having on rugby is, well, I can’t even think of the word I’m so mad. World Rugby, and SARU as his employer, really must make sure that last week’s effort was the last.

For those who would like to see four messages I’ve seen, here they are (with Dr Ben O’Keeffe’s permission). The only reason I’ve blanked the offending profile names is there’s a grey area these days with lawsuits and defamation. While these four people are “See U Next Tuesdays” of the highest order, they, unfortunately, will have to remain nameless on G&GR.

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