I hope this episode of the Chewsday Chew finds you happy, chirpy, smiling and enjoying the world around you. Apparently the stats show that if you’re reading this article then you are likely to be male, middle class and living on the east coast of Australia. According to a mate of mine who works at the ABS, that also means you’re statistically well within the top 0.5% of standard of living on the earth. And we are in that group largely by accident of birth, so we should probably just put a smile on our faces and be happy.
Super Rugby Pacific is over for another year. Congratulations to the Crusaders as we saw them weather the storm of Waikato head-highs, offsides and cowbells to win their seventh straight title on Saturday by 25-20. I think that was their12th Super title overall since 1996. Enough has been written all over the interwebs, including by our own Charlie yesterday, so I won’t rehash the game here other than to acknowledge the quality of both sides in the match.
But I can’t but help to ask the fundamental question again: is such dominance in the best interests of the competition? As withering viewing and ground-attendance numbers across the 8 states and 2 territories of Australia demonstrate (think about it), if the Super comp is to survive it needs reinvigoration. And one element of that is recognising and proactively addressing that having one franchise continually winning everything is just not sustainable. As has the likes of Sydney Uni in the Sydney Shute Shield and Tuggeranong in the Canberra John Dent, the Cru have marshalled their resources, planned, plotted, timed and done an absolutely stellar job in managing their assets and not resting on laurels. The Cru organisation has been producing ruthlessly good players and sides for nigh on 30yrs now. I’m not taking away from the Cru, nor am I detracting from Syd Uni or Tuggers. I’ve quoted my departed old man often enough before and do so here now again by saying “You don’t kick a dog for winning a fight.”
And so, just as the Cru take talent, turn it into players and churn them out in such a remorseless production line manner, and one such as I cannot do anything but admire it (again full credit to the Cru), I then can’t help but turn my own eyes in a rather withering fashion towards our own franchise bodies. Especially in terms of NSW, we must ask “Well if they can do it, why can’t we?” And we must view that seemingly simple question through the prism of all the while watching another bomb get spent on the likes of Kurtley Beale and Joseph Suaalii.
As such I find the words of Phil Waugh last week, not the least of which was when he recognised the vast untapped resources that lie in western Sydney and the opportunity therein, to be most encouraging. However, bitter experience has also conditioned this rugby tragic to view such words with a great deal of scepticism; I’ve heard this bovinial excrementus too often before.
So facta non verba. We shall see. But certainly the benchmark of ‘what good looks like’ has been set and the rest of the game must change to meet it, rather than kick the dog that won its fight.
Jumping sideways and looking at EJ’s opening Rugby Championship squad, it’s easy to find plenty to talk about. I posted up a Nutta’s World Cup squad last week and so for the sake of chat I’ll do a head to head comparison here below of EJ’s Rugby Championship Squad to my Bill Squad to identify the differences and call a few things out:
Green denotes an overseas player while ‘match’ is self-explanitory.
A couple of comments:
- I called Hodge a ‘match’ as with EJ naming 34 against my 33, Hodgey steps in as he was my first back who was “next in line”. However, given EJ is experimenting, I would’ve used Flook, especially as Perese got a start.
- I think Uelese is a mistake. Uelese has had more than enough chances. I’d take Conal Mc whose meat & potato play is far more reliable.
- Pietsch will benefit from the experience but Toole will probably (should) take his spot once fit.
- I think Vunivalu over Muirhead is a mistake especially when you look at the ‘off the ball’ workrate and contribution of Muirhead to the Donkey success. However, Vuni wouldn’t’ve been cheap and there would be pressure to justify the spend. So, couple that with EJ wanting to send friendly messages towards other league players to convert to the cause, it’s not a surprising decision.
- I am gobsmacked regarding Donaldson over Lolly. I don’t know what else to say there.
Simply put, from my point of view, EJ has some damned big calls to make before naming his WC squad. And he has about four matches of the Rugby Championship in which to make those calls. If he’s going all the way down deep to try and grab that jewel, he needs to be brave. He can’t be half pregnant, predictable and living life inside the safety manual and yet still expect to crash through as he’s ‘talking up’. In that light, while I am disappointed at some of the names, I’m not surprised he’s experimenting. He has no realistic alternative choice at this stage.
Player of the week:
In closing, for my Player of the Week, I am nominating you guys: the readers and commenters. I’ve been hanging about this site since about 2009 or 2010 I think and I’ve had a ball. A few years ago this pokey little site of misfits went through a bit of a volunteer-contributor crisis as the group who had previously devoted their time and energy to writing had stepped away for their own reasons, and a core of us remaining readers came together to rescue the situation. For my part, with that I went from ‘sometimes contributor’ and ‘madcap ranter’ (as one pundit put it) to a regular weekly contributor. And I have very much enjoyed it.
But now my circumstances have changed a bit and it’s time for me to move on. So to be clear, this is my last Chewsday Chew. The position is, as of now, vacant and open for the next volunteer.
For anyone so concerned, I’m OK, there’s nothing wrong, I just have other stuff on.
I’m happy to leave at a time of peak content being available with the U20s tournament underway, the Rugby Championship commencing in a fortnight or so and the World Cup looming large. As such, the next person to step forward does so with the help of a target rich environment in which to find inspiration for something to wang on about.
So, with that, thank you to the readership for tolerating my rants, bad grammar, poorly informed opinion/infliction and harebrained ideas. Having inflicted the demands of producing content weekly onto myself, it forced me to lift my game (even when others disagreed). As such, it was you who genuinely made me try to be better (even when I didn’t succeed). And thus you all have made me a richer man for the experience. Therefore I step away owing you all my gratitude.
There’s one more thing: it’s been emotional.