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Thread: What value a Test Cap?

  1. #1
    Immortal Contributor
    Burgs's Avatar
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    Oct 2005
    Country WA

    What value a Test Cap?

    My 3000th post "Special"!

    What value a Test Cap?

    There was a time in history, many years ago, that there was a goal for those dedicated enough Rugby players who dared to dream the impossible dream, to forgo the pleasures of their peers and even risk their livelihoods in the pursuit of that one great personal trophy of all, a Wallaby Test Cap!
    These small pieces of cloth symbolized so much more than the great honour of playing a fixture for their country.
    They represented becoming part of a “brotherhood” of men who would give their all for their team mates, never take a backward step and often be on the end of a severe beating on the scoreboard (and often on the paddock as well!!) for their troubles.
    Rarely, if ever, would a recipient be substituted. To a man they played eighty minutes of grueling rolling warfare.
    Rarely, if ever, did a lesser player get selected. It was the best man for the job unless injured, every match, every opposition.
    Greats of the game cherished every single match they played and Cap they earned as they knew it may well be their last.
    If someone was selected in front of them or work meant they were unavailable they knew the dream may well be over. Likewise in sustaining an injury, to rupture a ligament was to retire.
    Some of the legends of our code have played far fewer than today’s average players in this age of Professionalism, more Tests and medical miracles.
    For example:

    The Immortal Tom Richards, 3 Caps
    Bill McLean, 5 Caps
    Charlie Eastes, 6 Caps
    A.C. “Johnnie” Wallace, 8 Caps (5 also as Coach plus 9 for Scotland)
    Ken Wright, 9 Caps
    Dick Tooth, 10 Caps
    Jules Guerassimoff, 12 Caps
    Graham Cooke, 13 Caps over 16 years!
    Syd King, 14 Caps as a 69kg Centre
    Tom Lawton Snr, 14 Caps
    David Hillhouse, 16 Caps
    Stan Pilecki, 18 Caps
    Cyril Towers, 19 Caps
    Col Windon, 20 Caps
    “Wild Bill” Cerutti, 21 Caps
    Roger Gould, 25 Caps
    Peter Grigg, 25 Caps
    Cyril Burke, 26 Caps
    Enrique “Topo” Rodriguez, 26 Caps (plus 15 for Argentina)
    Ken Catchpole, 27 Caps
    Mark Loane, 28 Caps
    Nick Shehadie, 30 Caps (1947-58 and a then Australian Test appearance record)

    Those of us who have followed the code for some time should recognise most of those names and appreciate what those Caps mean to the individuals and to Australia’s Rugby Heritage & History.
    Now, I understand that times change and with the advent of Professional Rugby we have seen many changes in the last few years.
    There are now many more matches to be played to meet the demands of sponsors, broadcasters and the public, probably in that order.
    Players have a greater longevity due to better and safer methods and medical practices.
    Tours can happen far quicker than in the days of the Touring Party waving goodbye from ship deck.
    However, the one thing that should not have changed under any circumstances is the devaluation of the Wallaby Test cap.
    In modern times this mark of greatness has become a training aid, a trinket to be distributed to those who may or may not be good enough to play a second match.
    Coaching phrases such as “We just want to see how he performs a little closer to the ball“, “We will trial several players in that position on Tour” and “We have adopted a rotation policy” make a mockery of the honour of playing for your country at the elite level. These comments and resultant actions are the domain of Australia “A” Squads and Club Rugby fixtures.
    Topo and Big Stan must just shake their heads at Baxter being “trialled” at Loosehead after 39 Tests!
    The Great Tom Richards would roll in his grave at Phil Waugh going from Test Captain one week to cutting the Oranges a week later, so as to allow an inferior player (in Hoiles) “more time”! In the mean time, seeing the awesome 69 Test Capped George Smith omitted for the first time in seven years, only to be returned a week latter to the starting XV as a Vice Captain!
    “Wild Bill” Cerutti would be devastated to find out a chump like Matt Dunning could gain four more Caps than him.
    And perhaps the greatest Halfback of them all, Ken Catchpole, must cringe at the treatment being dealt out to Test record holder George Gregan through the media at the moment.
    The “development project” Rocky Elsom already has 19 Caps, Mark Chisholm 23 virtually all from the bench, David Lyons remains on the outer having achieved 40 Caps and after 37 Caps Matt Giteau is being tried at the elite level in a new position. Can just about hear the disbelief from Syd King from way down here!
    This is not about change. And it is not really about individuals either (otherwise I would probably bring up Matty Rogers having played 42 Tests and only 39 Super 12/14 matches in a “Mister Fixit” career), it is about what value a Test Cap.
    It’s about not devaluing these simple items of head dress and keeping some tradition in the code. It’s about respecting those who went before and left their blood on the fields around the world to create the legacy we enjoy today.
    I would prefer to see Australia “A” play thirty matches and the Wallabies three than to see this endless lucky dip selection process of trialing players and giving bozo’s “more time” ever season in a Test Match Fixture!
    Yes, I accept that times change and methods evolve, but surely pride and values are non-negotiable?
    My utmost respect to the modern greats of our sport, the Waugh’s, Latham’s, Vickerman’s, Mortlock’s et al, but please make those who play alongside them, who tread in the footsteps of legends, truly earn their honour before yet again adding another Test debutant to the Role of Diminishing Honour.
    To Knuckles and Co, to the ARU, to you the passionate supporter, I ask you, what value a Test Cap?

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  2. #2
    Legend Contributor fulvio sammut's Avatar
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    Apr 2006
    Accountants now control the game.The media own it. Players are dispenable, replacable commodities to be traded and treated like any other.

    The principles of amateurism, of respect for the arbiter, of honouring the opposition, of playing for enjoyment and love of the game,are gone.Dinosaurs like us who clutch pathetically to what is left of the game as we knew it are laughed at behind our backs by patronising young marketing gurus with no soul but bucketloads of hype and self importance.

    So be it, most of have lost the fire in the belly to attempt to wrest back control, and to be realistic, the battle was long since lost.

    Let us enjoy the merchandised soulless spectacle of today as best we can, and reminisce together on this site of what used to be.

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  3. #3
    Veteran Jess's Avatar
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    Jun 2006
    Big congrats for your 3000 posts Burgs. You're work only gets more insightful and more impressive as the post count goes up. Keep up the excellent work! Here's to 3000 more. *raises glass*

    I agree FS.. Rugby has been so overwhelmingly turned into an economically concerned... well... industry almost. With so much money and commodities at their dispence it has become much more about sensationalism and media hype than the raw, rugged beauty of the game itself.

    Old man cringle always tells me the story of this older man who lives in our suburb and who dad always sees out walking. He was selected to play for Australia twice but had to decline both times because he wouldn't have been paid enough to support his family while he went to play over seas if he was in fact paid at all.

    In this sense maybe it is good to see an improvement in what players are paid to represent their country but in many respects the pay rate has become more important than being capped. I mean personally I would be so honoured to play for my country I wouldn't give a hoot about how many millions I could potentially make.

    Also the increasing number of players who leave Australia to play in places like Japan to receive lucrative amounts of money is another testament to the shift from national pride and passion to economic gains. I don't begrudge them for doing it because there is so much money to be made... I just wish the focus was on good rugby, not good pay checks.

    Well there's my rant for the last couple of weeks. ... Felt good to get a good rant off my chest.

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    I made Happy sad...

  4. #4
    Veteran Bookie
    The Lone Hydrangea's Avatar
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    May 2006
    [QUOTE=fulvio sammut]Accountants now control the game.The media own it. Players are dispenable, replacable commodities to be traded and treated like any other.

    This applies to every popular sport nowadays. Way of the world.
    Congrats Burgs

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  5. #5
    Veteran Contributor frontrow's Avatar
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    Apr 2006
    Perth/ Area C Newman
    Superior quality again Burgs, you are a master and i hope you continue contributing brilliant and heartfelt posts/threads for a long time to come, well done mate...cheers

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    Proudly bought to you by a brewery somewhere....

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