Wallaby Euro Tour: what’s your pass mark?

Wallaby Euro Tour: what’s your pass mark?

Being a Wallabies supporter is a schizophrenic ride right now. On one hand you see that we have the second-least effective attack in the top 10 rugby nations with a propensity to lose ‘banker’ matches; on the other you see us sit at number two in the IRB rankings, having just come second in The Rugby Championship.

So when it comes to choosing a pass mark for the Euro tour that commences this week, it’s not easy.


The Poms of 2010

On the more touchy-feely performance side of things, I’m sure all of us would like to see an improvement on scoring an average of one try per match! In addition, a bit of style wouldn’t hurt either — a resurgence of the set-piece move and the counter-attack from kick return. I won’t be holding my breath for these outside of the French match, however.

My focus for the pack will be based on my KPI match win: England. The poms have the wood on the Wallabies, having beaten them home and away in the last two fixtures, and know how to jab a pudgy pallid finger into our weak spot.  A true top-three nation should be able to adjust to nullify this threat, and as such it’s a bellwether of our maturity as a team. In any permutation a loss to England will sour the whole deal. Also, I’ll be in the stand!

There’s nothing that’ll get 85,000 soap-dodgers braying from their Barbours more than to get on the front foot with the pigs. This means aggressive line speed to knock ’em back, followed by solid ruck work to win ascendancy at the breakdown. Nailing the scrum is just as critical from a psychological perspective — nothing puffs up a pommy pack and deflates ours more than scrum ridicule.


A load of rank

That’s all well and good, but what about the hardest measure: matches won? What should our minimum be here?

For this aspect I’m going to use the big event just around the corner. On the third of December we’ll see the Rugby World Cup 2015 pool allocation draw. Teams outside the top four face the prospect of finding themselves in the same pool as a top-four seeded country — e.g. New Zealand or South Africa. Considering Australia came second in our pool to Ireland last year, this should have added resonance.

Playing with rankings points is always a nightmare with multiple teams involved as every win and loss (and whether by more or less than 15 points) generates a new set of permutations.

But, if our main target is to stay at least fourth, most likely by staying ahead of England and France (in fourth and fifth currently), what do we need to do (or what can we not do)?

Let’s look at some different scenarios. In all of them I’ve assumed wins and losses by 15 points or less (reasonable for Test matches).


We lose to everyone but Italy. France win all their matches (they have only three). England not only beat us but also the Saffas before losing to the Kiwis.

Result: Aus 83.92, behind Eng 84.46 & Fra 84.22

More Likely

Australia defeats France, loses to Poms (they have the wood on us), beats Italy, then loses to Wales* (revenge for close losses in Aus).

Result: Aus 85.39 – above England**, France & Wales (83.52)


France turns up to play and wins, Australia out-grinds England, Italy finally turn the Wallabies over, we redeem ourselves versus Wales*.

Result: Aus 85.75 – above England, France & Wales (83.52)

Crappy Curveball

France turns up to play and wins, Australia out-grinds England, Italy finally turn the Wallabies over, the wheels come off against Wales.

Result: Aus 83.75. Below France (84.22), but probably above England** and Wales (83.34)

Interestingly enough, if you look at the scenarios above our absolute bottom line from a rankings perspective is that the Wallabies need to knock off the Poms. The rest can go to crap (well, within 15 points of crap) and we can still sneak into the top four. It makes sense — England are currently fourth in the rankings, after all.

Now, I think most of us would say losing three out of four (including against Italy) would be a court martial offence. But I can just hear Major Deans’s defence counsel citing the injuries and the RWC draw KPI (i.e. top four) now — and then appealing for clemency because ‘it’s too late to change coach before a Lions year’.

So is just beating the Poms the ARU’s minimum aim for this tour? Materially, I would say it probably is, but surely we should be expecting a whole lot more.

What’s your pass mark?


*Assumes Wales win other matches and lose to New Zealand

** Assumes England doesn’t beat New Zealand


Matt started G&GR just before the 2007 Rugby World Cup and has been enslaved ever since. Follow him on twitter: @MattRowley

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