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Thread: Media coroners knew Force's second half cave-in was inevitable

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    Media coroners knew Force's second half cave-in was inevitable

    AJP Taylor could have made an excellent rugby critic but instead he devoted his life to more trivial pursuits, like determining the origins of World War II.

    It was while so occupied, specifically while examining the role of accidents in history, that Taylor provided the first evidence of what a brilliant rugby columnist he might have been. The hint was contained in a single observation he made: "Any event, once it has occurred, can be made to appear inevitable in the hands of a competent historian."

    What a brilliant insight to have wasted on dry, dusty historians when he could just as easily have turned those words on the rugby commentariat. Because the same applies to us. We take events that have happened and retrospectively build a compelling case for why they were always going to happen.

    Take the Western Force's second half cave-in against the Blues on Friday night. Under normal circumstances, it would have been slammed merely as a messy first-up performance. Perhaps the critique might also have been flavoured with the observation that the Perth players fell for the oldest trick in the book - working their butts off while running into the wind but then expecting the breeze to win the match for them in the second half. But the media coroners would have gone searching for nothing deeper or more sinister than that.

    Yeah, but we know better, don't we? Competent historians that we are, we know there was a disturbance in the Force during the off-season. In fact, something far worse than a disturbance. A downright mutiny against coach John Mitchell, with players, coaches and officials all signing a petition protesting against his management style.

    So that automatically becomes the new starting point for every analysis of what went wrong last Friday. That dropped pass? Undoubtedly caused by post-traumatic stress syndrome triggered by a bawling out from Mitchell after a pass was dropped in training. That kick out on the full? Clear evidence of a tit-for-tat response to Mitchell's out-of-bounds behaviour. That crooked throw to the lineout? A definite Freudian slip that, pointing to a disturbing lack of straight talking.

    Brick by brick it's easy to build a wall the Force won't have a chance of scaling.
    And there are some within Australian rugby who would delight in seeing the Perth club fall in a heap at the base of that wall.

    They've never forgiven Mitchell and Peter O'Meara for raping and pillaging the other provinces, Queensland especially, in their desperate, even cavalier scramble to put together a playing roster back in 2005.

    O'Meara has gone. Now it's Mitchell's turn, even though his harshest critics concede he knows his rugby and can coach. At what point do we reach the "get over it" mark?

    Of course what fuels the "mutiny" scenario is the disturbing lack of passion from the players in the second half against the Blues.

    They didn't exactly capitulate but they sure didn't dig deep to mount a rousing recovery either.

    Still, they turned in similarly flat performances in the 2006, 2007 and 2008 season-openers as well and no one suggested afterwards they were at loggerheads with their coach.

    In fact, cast your mind back to the 2007 shocker against the Highlanders and Drew Mitchell's absolute howler of a game. Had he played anything like that on Friday against the Blues, it would have been "case proven" for all those now arguing that the Force is self-destructing.

    He didn't, of course. Indeed, he was one of the Force's best. But it goes to show how perceptions can be coloured.

    Still, we can never discount the possibility that the Force really is imploding. Sometimes the simple, obvious explanation is also the correct one. By the end of the 2007 season, the Reds had simply stopped playing for Eddie Jones. It may be that the Force players, whose disgruntlement stretches back at least to last year, finally have reached the same level of disillusionment with Mitchell - but at the start of this season.
    We probably won't know for a little while yet. Even if the Force is a veritable cesspit of conspiracy and the players have been secretly building a guillotine between training sessions, it's hardly likely they're going to capitulate to the Cheetahs at Subiaco on Friday night. Then again, if they do lose to arguably the worst team in the competition, it's into the tumbrel for Mitchell and off with his head. No, if things really are as bad as the doomsayers are suggesting, it probably will take the pressures of the difficult road trip to Canberra, Hamilton and Christchurch to force open the cracks.

    On the other hand, the Force was outstanding away from home last year so maybe going on tour is precisely what it needs to restore harmony - assuming of course that it needs restoring.

    Who knows what's going to happen from here. I haven't got a clue. But rest assured that as soon as whatever is going to happen happens, I'll bring you the explanation of why it was inevitable.

    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au...-32102,00.html

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    Legend Contributor blueandblack's Avatar
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    Mitchell saga having Force effect

    Media coroners knew Force's second half cave-in was inevitable

    AJP Taylor could have made an excellent rugby critic but instead he devoted his life to more trivial pursuits, like determining the origins of World War II. It was while so occupied, specifically while examining the role of accidents in history, that Taylor provided the first evidence of what a brilliant rugby columnist he might have been. The hint was contained in a single observation he made: "Any event, once it has occurred, can be made to appear inevitable in the hands of a competent historian."

    blah blah blah...

    Take the Western Force's second half cave-in against the Blues on Friday night. Under normal circumstances, it would have been slammed merely as a messy first-up performance.

    Perhaps the critique might also have been flavoured with the observation that the Perth players fell for the oldest trick in the book - working their butts off while running into the wind but then expecting the breeze to win the match for them in the second half. But the media coroners would have gone searching for nothing deeper or more sinister than that.

    An interesting, somewhat positive (or at least vaguely equally balanced) article

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    Just read that in full. Makes for good reading. I think Wayne Smith has to be far and away the best (and most unbiased) rugby journo in Australia. Mind you with the likes of Growden to go up against it's like an able-bodied man racing in the paralympics.

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