The Tuesday Top 10

The Tuesday Top 10

Here are my usual ten things to chew on of a Tuesday afternoon.

10. What a difference four days makes. And a bit of dry weather. The Wallabies came out and played like we all hoped (but nobody expected) they would. They picked a team for an up-tempo game and played it very well. Sure they were blessed with moments of luck (such as numerous Welsh handling errors in our 22), but that is just the rugby gods giving a bit back after Tuesday night. Each Wallaby try was well taken and we came away deserving winners. Now we turn to Melbourne, and to see if we can get a gasp on the elusive beast that is consistency.

OK maybe a slightly bigger dog. But you get what I'm saying.

9. Robbie has picked an unchanged side for Melbourne. Which is probably fair enough. I might have made a couple of changes, but can understand how keeping the same XV is important, especially with minimal training time. Interestingly the one player who seems to be the bone of contention is Cooper Vuna. I actually think he deserves to stay. But stay with me for just one second before you angrily scroll down to angrily comment about Shipperley.  I think he brings a very important quality to the Wallaby backline- enthusiasm. He charged around on Saturday night like a dog that you have just let out of the car after a long trip. Sure he missed a few tackles, but these weren’t game-breakers, and with a bit of training you would hope these errors might be ironed out. With ball in hand he was good, and came looking for work infield later in the game. I think he deserves another shot in front of his home crowd.

8. One player I would have dropped? Rob Simmons. I must admit I have never been a huge fan of his, but after his nice stint off the bench against Scotland I thought he might have turned a corner. Sadly on Saturday night he was back to his old ways, missing easy tackles, pointlessly niggling the opposition and generally having very little impact around the field. In short he just doesn’t have the mongrel we need in that position. I would be looking to Douglas, Pyle or Timani to fill his spot.

7. All the talk post-game was about Will Genia. And sure he had a belter, and is the most important rugby player in Australia at the moment by a country kilometre (I tire of the imperial system). But the fact that a lot of commentators failed to mention was that Genia was merely profiting from the good work done by the men up front, who made great forward progress with ball in hand to set up quick ball on almost every occasion. Sanchez has always looked good when the defence are on their heels, and Saturday night was no exception. So make no mistake- like every game of rugby since Webb Ellis reached down and picked the bloody thing up, this game was won by the forwards. They are clearly a superior species of human.

We all need to say a prayer to St Roch, the patron saint of injury and illness. He's also great with animals.

6. Big Cliffy Palu also had a fantastic game on Saturday. Hopefully it silenced his critics who preferred Mowen or Higgers in the 8 jersey before the match. He had 8 carries and made 15 tackles, right up the top of the stats for the side despite playing only 59 minutes. This extended run of fitness is a rare thing for Cliff and I think we are starting to reap the rewards- he got us over the advantage line every time he touched the pill. Now we just all need to collectively touch wood to ensure he stays fit, as I think the current Wallaby backrow is the best we have seen in a long while.

5. One more guy that I want to compliment is Pat McCabe.  I think he has come a long way since the RWC where I thought he was one-dimensional and a bit flat. Last weekend he maintained his lofty standards in defence but added some beautiful attacking touches- including a never before seen passing game, some incisive running lines and a couple of great offloads in heavy contact. I expect him to play every game for the Wallabies in 2012 barring injury, as he is showing great signs of developing into a very good international player.

4. As for the Welsh, I think the time between games really showed. They played very well in patches, and their set piece was exceptional. However they just couldn’t get much of a flow on, as handling errors and good breakdown work by the Wallabies repeatedly thwarted them at crucial times. I thought their complaints about the performance of Craig Joubert were largely unwarranted, I thought he was great. Sure he missed a couple of things and called a couple of things he shouldn’t have, but you can say that about every game. The game was quick, clean and pretty good to watch, and the ref should take a fair bit of credit for that.

3. Now to something completely different- Sydney subbies rugby, and an issue that has been bubbling away for a while and is just starting to rear its head, to use a tortured mix of metaphors. In short, there has been an influx of cash at a couple of clubs and it has had a ripple effect throughout the entire competition and beyond. Money in Sydney park footy is not necessarily a new phenomenon, but it was generally only seen at one or two clubs. In the past few seasons it has started to spread, and it raises some interesting questions about suburban rugby, supposed to be the amateur heart of grassroots rugby.

A level playing field?

Now obviously every club wants to maximise the amount of money they have in their coffers, and so they generally seek sponsorship from local businesses, pubs etc. This is used to fund jerseys, insurance, ground hire and all the other stuff that comes with running a rugby club. But now a couple of clubs have sufficient funds to start paying players, and a couple have assembled quite impressive sides. And the results have come. Now I am not alleging anything about anyone specific, as I don’t know the true level of money involved. But when one club can afford to fly out an international star for a one-off exhibition game against a cross-town rival you do have to wonder.

Nor am I condemning the practice as such. If someone wants to pour a bit of cash into your club, why would you stop them? It generally means more victories, more players, and a better time both on and off the field. But it does create issues with an uneven playing field. Not to mention a couple of Shute Shield clubs who have lost several experienced players to park sides. Isn’t Subbies rugby supposed to be played for the love of the game alone? (and maybe the love of a beer and a laugh after the game?) Or should clubs be doing anything they can to get ahead? I am not trying to take sides or make judgements. I do think Subbies administration needs to do more on this issue as it has the capacity to cause quite a bit of anguish as these cash-injected clubs are starting to towel up their poorer opponents.

2. But back to the internationals. What of the other weekend matches you ask? The All Blacks were scary good, as they always are at this time of year. That said the Irish are the worst of the three sides sent down this month by the Northern Hemisphere, and I expect this result to be repeated in the next two weeks. England vs South Africa promises to be more interesting. Interesting in terms on results, not playing style. It is promising to be a great inaugural edition of The Rugby Championship.

1. My tips for the weekend? Wallabies by 3, ABs by 31, Boks by 1. Bring it on.


Have I missed anything?


Can't write, can't play.

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