Is winning boring? Is the rolling maul dead? Tate McDermott? Plaintive pleas from a green-gold couch

And so to Brisbane and Boks II: Revenge of The Boks, who surely can’t be beaten again, can they? They are of course world champions while the Wallabies were recently ranked the seventh best international rugby team on the World Rugby standings. And yet, who will win, nobody knows, not for sure. The weight of […]

Is winning boring? Is the rolling maul dead? Tate McDermott? Plaintive pleas from a green-gold couch

And so to Brisbane and Boks II: Revenge of The Boks, who surely can’t be beaten again, can they?

They are of course world champions while the Wallabies were recently ranked the seventh best international rugby team on the World Rugby standings.

And yet, who will win, nobody knows, not for sure. The weight of betting money leans to South Africa. But the Wallabies, our dear sweet Wallabies, for reasons I don’t absolutely understand but readily accept, don’t have the same mental thing playing South Africa as they do playing New Zealand.

And that’s what it is: a thing. It’s just one of those things. One of those things that just are.

Anyway.

The rolling maul is a thing, too, and there are calls from well meaning people to outlaw it.

I am not one of those people. I like it. I’m not touching the rolling maul. I think it’s a pure and good part of the game, a skilful, manifold organism that’s a link with the game’s origins when the populations of entire villages in England wrestled one another to move a bit of pigskin from one pub to another, or something, whatever those hundreds of mad bastards do on the telly when they’re not charging down hills after tumbling wheels of cheese.

Anyway, I like the rolling maul. They could maybe tweak the laws such that if you’re not going forward then the ball is given to the other team for a free kick. Give the defending maul a reward for fighting it. Use it or lose it, as they say.

Because if we remove the maggoty old rolling maul the game’s another step closer to… don’t say it out loud… rugby league.

Which brings us completely free of segue to Tate McDermott.

(Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images for Rugby Australia)

Tate McDermott has been picked on the bench for Saturday’s Test match. And I would like to say: What? Hello? No! David Rennie, what have you done?

Now, look, Dave. Dave-o: I like Nic White. Like him a lot. Like him more and more.

But no! You start Tate McDermott! You want to reward the players who took down South Africa last weekend?

Tate McDermott was one of them! Start him!

Dave-o! Answer me, you madman!

Or don’t and give the nine to Mr White for was it not him that pilfered the pill and won a penalty at the very death that Quade Cooper – Quade Cooper! – banged over from 45 metres out to win the Test match last Sunday night?

It was indeed. And it begat the cracking vision of kneeling Taniela Tupou, who looked to the heavens while everyone else was leaping on Quade Cooper (Quade Cooper!).

For there was our Tongan Thor – who’d just played the mother of all parts in the mother of all scrums that pushed the Springboks’ heads up their very jacksies – having a brief moment to himself as the win washed over him.

Very cool indeed.

Taniela Tupou of the Wallabies makes a break

(Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

It was a bit like Michael Foley, who was on the bench when John Eales won the Bledisloe Cup with a penalty goal in 2001. But Foley looked bloody miserable. They asked him about it later and he said it was just relief. All the built-up angst falling off him. He was so happy not to be sad he looked miserable.

That’s happy when the joy is so intense that you look bloody miserable.

Anyway. It was great stuff. We can watch these people go around so often that we can see them only as professionals, as muscle-bound automatons, as actors in our weekly entertainments. But they are but men and they feel and they love and they hurt. And some of them, true story, give less of a shit.

It’s a rich tapestry.

And good luck to them.

And good luck to our Wallabies, too, because I fear they will need a bit on Saturday night in Brisbane because the Springboks – and do please channel your best Tony Greig – are smart and hard and fast bastards, and proud people who are led by a top man.

I do love their skipper, Siya Kilosi. Cracker of a player. Real presence about him. And his heartfelt quotes following the loss to the Wallabies, he’s clearly a good man.

“They took every opportunity they were given, so well done to them,” Kolisi said. “They always pitch up when we play them, and it’s always difficult to play them here.”

Siya Kolisi

(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Maybe it’s like having your tummy rubbed. But he’s clearly a good fellah and one to be proud of, both in South Africa and in rugby.

But his team are big bunch of bores.

Not Boers. Not boors. Bores. In that they play boring rugby.

Did you know “the Springboks made just 54 passes in their 28-26 Rugby Championship loss on the Gold Coast last Sunday, compared to Australia’s 129”, according to rugby statistician Russ Petty, who was quoted by AAP?

In a game that lasts 4800 seconds, there were only 54 passes?

It doesn’t sound possible. How does the ball get from the halfback to the back line if not passed a time or two?

It is hard to argue that the game plan hasn’t been effective, of course, given they beat the British and Irish Lions and won the Rugby World Cup.

Siya Kolisi

(Juan Jose Gasparini/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

But y’know, I’ve found myself nodding along to Clive Woodward who declared that “positive, imaginative, attacking rugby is the way forward generally”.

“I looked on in horror last weekend at the sheer poverty and boredom from the South Africa team against Australia. Rugby was not — and is not — meant to be played like that and I’m just pleased Australia won,” Woodward wrote.

I particularly liked this bit: “The ball must always be your friend, not a ticking time bomb. What is the point of neutralising your best players, kicking the leather off the ball all day?

“I’d love to sit down with the South Africa team and ask them, ‘Do you really enjoy playing this way?’”

It beats losing, I would suggest. And they don’t tend to do a lot of that.

And thus, Saturday night in Bris Vegas looms large for South Africa indeed.

Source : The Roar More   

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Coach’s Corner Issue 26: Is Dave Rennie thinking outside the ‘Boks?

Thanks to all who contributed a question at call-out time. The Wallabies front row was penalised in the early scrums. Did the ref get it right, or were SA pulling some sneaky moves? – JC Could you try and explain the scrums again this week? I was a bit befuddled by a lot of the […]

Coach’s Corner Issue 26: Is Dave Rennie thinking outside the ‘Boks?

Thanks to all who contributed a question at call-out time.

The Wallabies front row was penalised in the early scrums. Did the ref get it right, or were SA pulling some sneaky moves?
– JC

Could you try and explain the scrums again this week? I was a bit befuddled by a lot of the decisions. There were times when I thought the Wallabies had the ascendancy only for a penalty to be blown the other way. Other times, I thought we were certainly going to concede one and it was blown in our favour. Overall, however, I was left underwhelmed by the mighty Bok scrum.
– Oblonsky’s Other Pun

Agreed. I don’t understand how a team can be penalised for collapsing etc before the ball is even put in.
– Numpty

Although English official Luke Pearce gave a very positive account of himself overall, the refereeing interpretations at the scrum remained as mysterious as ever.

The first three scrums on the Springbok feed all ended up on the deck, with young Angus Bell copping the blame at the first of them.

At six feet and four and a and half inches tall, Bell is about two inches taller than his opponent, the redoubtable Frans Malherbe, and the longer levers create the visual impression of a ‘hinge’ by a taller man. A reset at the first set-piece of the game, at least until the true picture of ‘dominance’ became much clearer, was in order.

The mystery deepened halfway into the first period.

There is no significant forward movement on either side, and as soon as Malherbe feels some pressure underneath his right shoulder, he drops the scrum to the floor. In this case Luke Pearce waved play on as the ball was ready to be played.

Angus Bell conceded his second penalty of the game just after half time.

Again, Malherbe does little more than extend his upper body and fall flat on his face, but he has done enough to force the ‘hinge’ shape in his opposite number that triggers a decision by the referee.

When the scrum stayed at a more comfortable height, Bell looked to be in control, and Australia won slick ball from their own first two feeds. With Malherbe reluctant to drop the scrum close to his own goal-line at the end of the first period, the young Australian loosehead went to work.

This is a real picture of dominance for the loosehead prop. Frans Malherbe’s right foot has left the ground and his right shoulder is at the apex of the set-piece.

The Wallabies squeezed an even bigger advantage out of the battle between Taniela Tupou and ‘Ox’ Nche off the bench. With eight forwards on each side, Tupou discovered that Nche could not defend a shift of weight towards the middle of the set-piece.

This was one scrum before the decisive event, right on the hooter. Nche’s left foot has left the ground and his upper body is angled towards the far side-line. The impression was replicated one short minute later.

Interestingly, Luke Pearce did not award a penalty for any aspect of the South Africa scrum disintegration, but only for the Nic White strip at the tackle afterwards. Fortunately for the Wallabies, it did not matter.

What to do with JOC? Will he just become a super-sub, or given his rugby nous would he better be utilised at 13 as a running 2nd distributor or 15 where he can interject himself as a playmaker?
-Cookie.

Does anybody think Quade is now an automatic choice to start at 10? I’m a fan but I am aware that he’s 34 and will be knocked around a lot as he takes the ball to the line and will be asked to do a lot more tackling by smarter game plans than the one from the Boks on Sunday. I also hope Rennie doesn’t just give up on Lolesio. There will be opportunities to play JOC but he’s been injured for months. Let him come off the bench at 10/12 depending on the game situation.
-Ozinsa

Having both JOC and QC compete at 10 is healthy and given their age, injuries are unfortunately going to be more common than not. Also having them both play 10 (one on bench) will keep them fresh, hungry and offer Noah more mentorship for when he eventually gets the required skills/experience to run the ship.
– Chester B

QC should be an automatic starting 10 until he actually gets a niggle or Noah performs better off the bench. JoC should be on the bench next Game 1MO. So, my question is who should he replace on the bench – Petaia or Hodge?
– PeterK

One ‘amigo’ has just had his Peter Pan-like rejuvenation against South Africa, now it is the turn of another (James O’Connor) to make a comeback from injury.

But if Quade sticks at number 10 for the remainder of the Rugby Championship, as now seems likely, where can Dave Rennie fit in the talents of O’Connor, who was so central to his plans last season?

I doubt he will move him into the back three. fullback or wing may well have been his best position in his younger days, but Rennie will now want him in and around the ball, to make best use of his leadership and communication skills.

That means jersey number 13 could be the answer. It would be harsh on Len Ikitau, who enjoyed his best outing so far in the green and gold against South Africa in Townsville, but Samu Kerevi and O’Connor played together throughout the 2019 World Cup group stages in the centres.

Defensively O’Connor is well-versed in the duties at outside centre from his time with Sale in the UK, which means Samu can remain at 12. On attack, JOC can link directly with the outside backs, which is so often his function at the Reds in any case.

O’Connor and Kerevi enjoyed a good understanding together at the World Cup.

Imagine Quade making the final cross-kick instead of Bernard Foley, and you have the perfect balance of functions!

If James O’Connor comes back on the bench, either Reece Hodge or Jordan Petaia could move into the starting fullback role, with the other riding the pine alongside O’Connor.

What are the Wallabies getting wrong with their backfield kicking/kick receipts and exits in general? Is this a personnel issue, and if so, who could/should come in? Or is it a tactical issue that they could tweak? The Wallabies turned over a lot of ball on or near halfway, particularly in the 2nd half.
– Numpty

Stop the infatuation with box kicking from our 22! Get set, and once the ball is ready at the back, pass quickly to option kickers. Cooper, Banks etc…
– Hoy
What I seem to have noticed is that because the defence can rush so fast now, if the 10/12/15 isn’t perfectly positioned, and unless the pass from the 9 is perfect, then that split second it takes to get set can mean they are under so much pressure from the defence that the kick is often rubbish.
– Oblonsky’s Other Pun
I’m keen to know whether we are capable of being a top 3 side with McDermott starting, if he does not improve his kicking.
-Oblonsky’s Other Pun
Tate was pretty poor. Say what you like about a minor injury, but for me White replaced him on the back of Tate’s performance.
– Bobby

I remain convinced their respective skill sets are way better suited for opposite roles – White starting and McDermott finishing.
– Ozinsa

I have no doubt that Tate McDermott’s recent performances ta number 9 have left him well in credit with the Wallaby coaching panel, but the kicking game still lags behind the rest of his play, and this makes the box-kick exit a much less attractive option with Tate starting than it is with Nic White in ‘the box seat’!

There are a number of different aspects that influence the effectiveness of contestable kicks. South Africa reclaimed all of their first three high kicks, while Australia lost all five of theirs. Aggression on chase was a big factor.

It’s a decent effort by McDermott in the first instance, but Andrew Kellaway stops short to make the safe tackle, whereas Sbu Nkosi charges straight through the aerial space and knocks over Tom Banks in the process.

It is really a foul because Nkosi has no chance of catching the ball himself, but South Africa pick up the shrapnel and play moves on. The Springboks are prepared to play much closer to the edge in order to win the ball back.

In the English Premiership, referees tend to require number 9’s to play the ball far more quickly once it reaches the base, and on occasion the faster cadence seemed to hurry Tate before he was ready to kick.

There were also problems associated with the set-up phases before the exit was ever made.

You don’t really want McDermott having to make a longer pass off his left hand so close to the goal-line! In the second half, Lachie Swinton also lost control of the ball twice on easy, ‘surrender-tackle’ type phases in preparation for the box exit.

What are the best solutions? Especially in matches of the strategic variety which the Wallabies will encounter against both the Springboks, and on the end-of-year tour in Europe, it makes sense to start Nic White for accuracy on the box kick.

The ball lands in the danger zone where the chase can attack the receiver and generate a turnover.

The other major option is to make far more use of Len Ikitau’s left boot kicking towards the left side-line. This is a tactic which Wales (with Jonathan Davies) and Ireland (with Rob Kearney) have used successfully for many years. Ikitau’s left boot is possibly longer and more accurate than both,

A big thank-you once more, to all who made a genuine contribution at call-out time!

Source : The Roar More   

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