Top of the morning to the lot of you and I hope you’re not too sad and sorry from the weekend’s results. If you are, then not to worry as the Donkeys won at least, ending the season for the Hurricanes on a typically balmy June evening in Canberra.
But not everything was smooth sailing either on and off the field in the Brumbies victory. We made it hard for ourselves. As a usually unashamed fan of the Donkeys, not the least because we tend to make life uncomfortable for those who generally consider themselves as otherwise ‘born to rule’ from NSW and Queensland, there were some notable events during that game. And I’m sorry to say that front and centre for me was the unedifying crowd behaviour by elements of the Canberran faithful. Occasionally I am OK with booing in as much as ‘They paid their money, they can have their say’ and especially so when folk paid a fair whack of money for a pretty poor performance and they have no other way of expressing their displeasure to the players before they disappear back into their bubbles. However, some of the vitriol and petulant childishness we saw and heard in Canberra on the weekend is distinctly not the rugby way.
Now don’t get me wrong; I am not taking the blue-blood, upper-class line here, I’m decidedly not. For a start, I lack the blue-blood. And the Canberra crowd was certainly not on their Pat Malone given the antics of the Chiefs fans at FMG Stadium over the dutch. And further to be fair, we have a long way to go before we reach even the dizzying heights of even the paltry efforts of Australian soccer crowds when compared to their European counterparts;
But an element of our game we have always prided ourselves on has been more courteous behaviours be it towards the ref or an opponent. And that was sadly, and clearly, lacking on Saturday night.
So let’s just hold ourselves to a higher standard yeh?
The other thing that confounded me happened following Len ‘Sticky’ Ikitau tasting the shiraz. Following what I thought was a fairly innocuous tackle, a fact the ref clearly agreed with given he apologised to the poor bugger while flashing the red card, I could then scarcely comprehend Owen Franks only seeing frommage for his
tackle flying-headbutt on Lolly Lolesio. If Sticky’s effort warranted an apology for adherence to form over fact, but was nonetheless an accurate application of the current interpretations, then how could a full-frontal, flying headbutt, from a guy who has some serious form in his kitbag, not attract at least the same outcome, although likely sans the apology? Seriously, if Icky had to put his feet up and boire le vin, how In the Gods of Rugby Name did Franky only get a spell in a blanky with a toasted cheese sandwich? It was just bizarre to this simple country lad.
And now I fully expect to be proved wrong in my assessment. Mark my words; Sticky-Icky will be judged evil incarnate and be-so banished by a highly reliable and predictable judiciary for coincidentally just long enough to deny his services to the Donkeys for the remainder of the Super campaign. While obviously Big Owy Franks is free to wipe young Lolly Lolesio’s blood off his crown and simply start his June test preparations. For such is the way of things.
But enough of that palaver.
Welcome to Episode 12 of the Chewsday Chew. The purpose herein is not to write something overly sagacious, complicated or mesmerising, but rather to pose a simple observation, question or proposition and let the good readers of this esteemed site share their opinions thereafter. Call it the lazy man’s attempt to fill a void by poking our collective bear of rugby knowledge to share their reflections and lift the average beyond the humdrum.
And on the weekend gone, while we saw the Donkeys go through to the final four of this years Trans Tasman Super finals, we also saw the Pinkos and the Tarts crash out. That said, I don’t want to seem too harsh on the Pinkos or the Tarts. Given where both sides were in the last few years, and indeed given Australian rugby’s dismal showing against the Kiwis in-general over the same period, both franchises can hold their heads high. And in fact, they may even privately be ruing what may have been if the Reds had a bit more depth in critical positions and the Tarts had not dropped a few matches they really shouldn’t have.
But all that said, I feel a surge of optimism that a large part of the tide has turned and Australian rugby is again starting to put itself into positions where we have the fundamentals right (or coming right) and so we can jag a bit of luck and show a little flair. So bring on the English.
And this general improvement in fortunes and capabilities was demonstrated no better than by a fantastic moment of play in the 2nd half of the Tarts game, where, while down 27-10, we saw a bit of defensive guts turn into outrageous fortune. In the not too distant past, the Tarts would have closed up shop by that stage and the score would have been mounting alarmingly. But a new breeze is blowing and thus we saw this bit of never-say-die play which generated one of the great sights in world sport – a big man on a long-range charge down the rugby field:
This got me thinking of some other good long-range forwards tries we have seen scored, regardless of their ilk or jersey. And firstly, as a proud Frontie, I feel compelled to represent The Row and thus tender Exhibit B and this bit of tearaway brilliance of a big bobba tearing away downfield. I give you Richards Bands outstanding 45metre effort in 2003 to skittle all manner of All Blacks at Carisbrook:
Of course, anything the Catholics can do, a Wobbly can do better. And thus I feel morally obligated to give you Greg ‘Homer’ Holmes 65 metre effort from 2006 against the Oirish:
And while reflecting on great bits of effort from the workhorses upfront, I was also reminded of this fantastic bit of gutsy chase and just sheer will from Bridie O’Gorman, proving that indeed whatever us blokes can do, there will likely be a woman who can probably do better:
And given I was now off and running, waxing lyrical and riding on a wave of front row brilliance, dash, dare and joie de vivre, I was also then reminded of a fantastic bit of skill from last year when we saw this 65 metre pearler from the Wellington hooker Asafo Aumua:
But as much as I love my Frontie tries, I must confess that nothing emulates the ideal of watching a big man flying down field better than this 62 metre bit of rugby folklore from 2011. It still brings a lift to my arm-hairs and inexplicable dust to my eye even more than 10 yrs later. I give you Radike Samo, at that stage the oldest man to ever wear the Wobbly gold (until Greg Holmes 2021 re-selection), scoring arguably our greatest Wobbly ever try:
And so there’s a challenge to lift the spirits of even the most jaded among us. Give me your best long-range, charging forward tries. Make them ugly. Make them obscure. Drag them back from the depths of long forgotten wonderment and stick ’em up here for a think and a chew.