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Thread: Retreating Rugby Australia shaving with a bayonet

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    Retreating Rugby Australia shaving with a bayonet

    Retreating Rugby Australia shaving with a bayonet

    WAYNE SMITH

    12:00AM JANUARY 3, 2019

    A little like those Allied troops who were ordered to shave with their bayonets before retreating during Operation Market Garden in World War 11, Rugby Australia is putting the best possible face on an otherwise disastrous situation as it ventures hesitantly into 2019, the year of the Rugby World Cup.

    There is no other way to describe 2018 than as an unmitigated catastrophe for Australian rugby.

    The first season without the Western Force in Super Rugby did not end well for the Australians, with the Waratahs limping into the play-offs after being beaten at home by the Brumbies. Still, they were the team to end the embarrassing run of NZ triumphs over Australian sides, though not before it had climbed to 40. The Rebels and Brumbies, with seven wins and eight losses, couldn’t escape the fact they had losing seasons, while the hapless Reds had their best season since 2013 and still won only six matches. And the pain was only just beginning.

    Little did anyone realise that the Wallabies would play their best rugby right at the outset of the international season.

    Their series against Ireland was in the balance literally right up to the final seconds of the deciding Third Test in Sydney, and though they were deservedly beaten, it was in truth an honourable defeat. As the year gradually unfolded, the Wallabies’ Brisbane win came to be raised in status as the only blemish on Ireland’s year-long record.

    Thereafter, however, the year spiralled into hell.

    It was no surprise that it was the All Blacks who nudged them over the cliff, by a collective 17 tries to five over the three Bledisloe Cup Tests. Those optimists who suggested all sides needed to “bat” against New Zealand before a judgment call could be made on the quality of the pitch were hushed into silence as the Springboks and Ireland both inflicted defeats on the men in black.

    Had it not been for a hairsplitting offside call, Eddie Jones’s Eng*land side, too, would have claimed a rare win over the southern hemisphere titans.

    But the Wallabies weren’t just losing rugby Tests. They were losing fans, some so “rusted on” they almost had to be removed with an angle grinder.

    Yet removed they were.

    Australian rugby shame knew no bounds when the Wallabies were beaten at home by the Pumas, with one disgruntled fan taking out his spite on flanker Lukhan Tui — which was understandable but unfair.

    Tui, who later changed his name to Salakaia-Loto to honour his stepfather who had died only 24 hours earlier, was one of the Wallabies’ best performers and finished as runner-up to David Pocock in the John Eales Medal.

    There was almost worse to follow when the Wallabies trailed the Pumas 31-7 at halftime in the return match in Salta. Yet while coach Michael Cheika was able to conjure up an extraordinary 45-34 victory with an emotional appeal to the players’ pride in their jersey, he had played his “one time only” get-out-of-jail card.

    Thereafter, the Wallabies could manage only a 26-7 win over a modest Italian side and even managed to evoke mild derision from Warren Gatland after losing to Wales 9-6.

    It was an utter dog of a game but Gatland still felt moved to suggest his side had never felt more at ease against the Wallabies.

    Cheika ended the year virtually friendless, with rumours circulating many of the Wallabies were utterly relieved to be returning to their Super Rugby programs. But Rugby Australia, bereft of ideas and, as it critically turned out, money, voted to keep him in place.

    The command from on high was for everyone to spruce up. A director of rugby, the likeable Scott Johnson, was appointed to mentor Cheika; a third person — yet to be identified — would join them both before the start of the Super Rugby season to form a long-needed selection panel. Other face-saving alterations were hinted at.

    As days went by, turning into weeks, the rising belief was that Cheika and his four-man coaching team might all have dodged a bullet after all, but that would be to totally discount Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle’s repeated references at last month’s press conference to the need for change.

    Shaving with a bayonet is every bit as dodgy as it sounds and it may well be that the bloodletting nicks account for one or more of the assistant coaches.

    It’s difficult to apportion individual blame to a coaching collective. Had Simon Raiwalui’s lineout functioned properly and not turned over ball after ball on the spring tour, might Steve Larkham have shown what he could do in attack?

    Still, Australia’s general multi-phase attack has been pitiful all season. Having the best ball-*pilferer in world rugby, David Pocock, should have produced a flurry of turnover tries for the Wallabies yet time and again Australia’s first response was to kick the Gilbert away. Individually gifted as they might be, Australia’s coaching staff aren’t jelling.

    The other issue, of course, is how receptive Cheika will be to Johnson or to any other “mentors”. He has made it clear he intends standing down once the World Cup is over — unless Australia wins, he did note — and it is now way too late in the day for RA to take corrective action if he forms the view the Wallabies will do it his way and the rest of you can all be damned.

    Funnily enough, that is almost what RA is wishing for. They acknowledge that, against all odds, Cheika took Australia to the World Cup final in 2015 by coaching the team in his own unique fashion, so they can hardly now rein him in if he gets too excited.

    Judging by the missteps of 2018, thoughts of a revival seem far-fetched but then, as TS Eliot put it, “last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice”.

    Castle probably stayed up till midnight on New Year’s Eve to make certain 2018 was dead and buried before deciding it was safe to head to bed.

    She, like everyone, is desperately praying the second year proves more profitable for Australia’s rising “young” coaches, Dave Wessels (Rebels), Dan McKellar (Brumbies) and Brad Thorn (Reds). If she is smart, too, she will be wishing Andrew Forrest every success with his Global Rapid Rugby project because a buoyant competition in Asia, especially one involving a rampaging Western Force, might give her and her SANZAAR partners much-needed options for the post-2020 era.

    Most of all, she will be sending prayers aloft that Cheika and the Wallabies can pull it off. Not a World Cup win, because that’s like praying selfishly to win the lottery, but a performance in 2019 that all Australia could take pride in.

    What a godsend that would be.

    https://www.theaustralian.com.au/spo...202f782993046a

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    Veteran sittingbison's Avatar
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    Eddie gave Cheika a foot of cold British steel....right up 'em, right up 'em

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    The long sobs of autumn's violins wound my heart with a monotonous languor

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    Immortal Contributor shasta's Avatar
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    The Bronze Star of Faith TWF Contributor!
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    "The main difference between playing League and Union is that now I get my hangovers on Monday instead of Sunday - Tom David

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    Veteran chibi's Avatar
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    I dunno, rugby in Australia wasn't all bad. There was a bunch of bumper crowds in Perth for matches in what was essentially an exhibition series...

    Bring on GRR 2019

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    Japan and the Pacific Islands for Aussie Super 9's!

    Let's have one of these in WA! Click this link: Saitama Super Arena - New Perth Stadium?

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    Veteran Bakkies's Avatar
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    Stabbing itself would be more accurate.

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    'I may be a Senator but I am not stupid'


    https://omny.fm/shows/the-alan-jones-breakfast-show/cameron-clyne

    Link to Senate Report http://www.aph.gov.au/senate_ca

    https://www.change.org/p/rugby-australia-petition-for-cameron-clyne-to-resign-as-chairman-of-the-rugby-australia-board

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    Champion andrewg's Avatar
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    As they say - A picture is worth 1,000 words......

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  7. #7
    Veteran Bakkies's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by andrewg View Post
    As they say - A picture is worth 1,000 words......

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    Portrait of a buffoon.

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    'I may be a Senator but I am not stupid'


    https://omny.fm/shows/the-alan-jones-breakfast-show/cameron-clyne

    Link to Senate Report http://www.aph.gov.au/senate_ca

    https://www.change.org/p/rugby-australia-petition-for-cameron-clyne-to-resign-as-chairman-of-the-rugby-australia-board

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    Player lou's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bakkies View Post
    Portrait of a buffoon.
    Which one is the buffoon?

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    The truth may set you free, but only evidence convicts

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    Veteran Bakkies's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lou View Post
    Which one is the buffoon?
    Uncle Cam.

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    'I may be a Senator but I am not stupid'


    https://omny.fm/shows/the-alan-jones-breakfast-show/cameron-clyne

    Link to Senate Report http://www.aph.gov.au/senate_ca

    https://www.change.org/p/rugby-australia-petition-for-cameron-clyne-to-resign-as-chairman-of-the-rugby-australia-board

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    Veteran SNOB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lou View Post
    Which one is the buffoon?
    Thought it was a hair style!

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    May the FORCE be with you!

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    Veteran chibi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lou View Post
    Which one is the buffoon?
    If only I could upvote that multiple times.

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    Japan and the Pacific Islands for Aussie Super 9's!

    Let's have one of these in WA! Click this link: Saitama Super Arena - New Perth Stadium?

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    Raelene..... what the f.... is he saying now ...why oh why did I take this f....ing job ....

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