The Rugby Man – Wallabies vs The Irish Match Report

Up and down.

Yup, we’re missing some key personnel. Sharpe. Kefu .. err, Palu. The two Benns. Digby.

There are some good signs, particular in the forwards. And there are some worrying signs.

Piggies (Forwards)

Daley and Faingaa, quality. Improving every game. Daley trucked up well, and with a bit more weight I reckon he’d be an excellent ball runner. Faingaa was a loose foward in work-rate.

Ma’afu had an interesting game. He did well in the scrums with his fellow row-club. He did some good stuff, splintered a maul, made some tackles. I’m still not convinced that he shouldn’t have gone off instead of Daley though, unless Deans has a master plan (which is quite possible).

Slipper did good after he came on. Ran the ball well. Defended well. And scrummed above average with the rest of the crew.

Mumm did well in Sharpe’s absence. Not as big obviously, but can tackle well enough.

Chisholm puts paid to the truth that image means squat. The guy *looks* like he’d be a monster. He’s not. Meek and docile most of the time. Sure, he’s playing at a level I only ever dreamed of, but hey, what good is being an arm-chair expert if we can’t make a few critical calls. Chis makes bad decisions (why look at everyone retreating from the ruck and then go yourself?), doesn’t involve himself and be proactive, and really, should be sacked on the reasoning that his guns are too big. But then, if you did that, Diggers wouldn’t get a look-in. Heh.

The back three. I’ve got a feeling the Brown is similar to Chis. He made a couple of off decisions, but did do some excellent work AND popped up when he should have.

Pocock was sensational. Everywhere-man. He was able to make himself look very good. If he can do it against the back-row of the All-Blacks and the Springboks, then we’ll see some real form.

Rocky had a *much* improved game. He got through a lot more work, good runs, great defence. However, he’s still not captaining. After one of the more ridiculous ref decisions (and there were quite a number of those) we get a full camera shot of him standing quiet and still. What the? He’s the captain! Get after the ref. You are the captain of the team, your heart should be bleeding every time you get a penalty (and it might well be). So as Captain, you have every right I reckon to question the Ref, especially if the other options you are taking is silence.

The Rolling Maul

From my memory, it wasn’t just Johnny that won the English the World Cup here in Sydney.

It was that wonderful maul. Once they got motoring, Neil Back at the back (always good for a giggle that one), it was something to be feared. I remember vividly the fear in my heart whenever that maul got a-moving.

So when is it coming back? We (Aussies) should be doing it more. Especially on occasions like tonight when we don’t have a lot of experienced personnel.

It’s one of the best sub-cosms (okay, so i made that one up) of team-work you’ll find. And the percentage rate of it working is quite good. Making yards.


Hairboys (Backs)

Burgess was good. I’m a bit worried about the run a few steps and pass. It kind of worked tonight. Kind of. Problem was we lost too much ball, and that should have twigged something. Try straight from the back of the ruck a few more times. But no, it was again and again until bam .. one-off runner .. lost.

Cooper. Well, he had another magic night. That try was quite awesome. Massive step on the Irish fullback.

Mitchell. Erg. Not a good night. He started the tests on such a high, but has progressively slid into the form that had me grumpy last year.

Gits. Better. Although missing that first kick, ouch. But played better. More .. *composed* than last week.

Horne. Champion. Hope he’s not injured too bad. Hopefully just a precaution.

The Earl (Ashley-Cooper). Wait.

Adam Ashley-Cooper .. HE SHOULD BE STARTING EVERY SINGLE GAME. ‘Nuff said.

O’Connor. Far *far* better than last week. Loved seeing him run.

Beale. Injected. That’s the word. He really did inject himself. Lovely to see. Big future.

Bryce Lawrence.

* silence *

Seems like every match we win I have a LOT of complaints about the ref. Lawrence wasn’t as bad at scrum-time, but oh boy oh boy *everywhere* else he had a shocker. Sure, there were a couple of decent calls, but 90% was just standard and 9.99% repeata were WOEFUL.

The camera actually caught Rocky and other forwards standing still after Giteau had kicked it long from our 22. But no, apparently they were moving forward. And how about pinging Giteau for hanging onto the ball as he slid into the touch-line. Hmmm.

Yeah, a little miffed.


We did okay. Scrums improved again. And it’s great to see this happening with the two Benns and first/second choice Hookers not available. Actually, it’s FANTASTIC too see. Great stuff fellas!

Brian O’Driscoll really is so very handy. Wish I’d seen more of him play over the years. And their Fly-half, the young fellow, boy he did well.

The Rugby Man – Australia (Wallabies) vs England, 19th June 2010


I’m shattered, but I reckon the players will be more shattered.

We heard all week about how William "B.J." Blazkowicz (aka Patricio Noriega) would be smashing the men to pieces over their scrummaging of the previous week. I’ve already shared my opinion about those scrums in the last Match Report.

1. Did we improve our scrums?

Absolutely. We held. We wheeled. We still were crunched. But the improvement was vast.

However, that mattered little again,

2. England played a much MUCH different game to last week.

They came out firing, they played all the way across the field, first left, then right. They had their forwards running well, and their backs looking for work.

AND their scrum-half, Ben Youngs, had a cracker. Game-changer. The kind of game you hope for every time from Genia, or O’Connor, or Cooper, or ..

3. For whatever reason, Genia didn’t spark.

The backline seemed awry, and so did the forwards. But Genia not sparking as Burgess did last week was very much a big deal. Towards the end you could even see him limping, so I really hope he hasn’t pushed himself back and done harm. Not that he wouldn’t know what to do.

4. The Breakdown

Pocock played well, Faiinga had a couple of moments, but the forwards were not AT the breakdown.

As a pack, our forwards were not bad, but they certainly weren’t good. Our own breakdown was fractured apart a lot of the time by enthusiastic Pommie counter-rucking. It was unnerving to see.

5. The kick in front!

Gits missed the kick in front. ‘Nuff said.

No, not enough said. It was the third kick he veered away to the left in the game.

6. Barnes

Some folk (myself included probably) thought Barnes had a shocker in the mid-week game with all the kicking.

But most of the backs tonight did a fair bit of kicking themselves, and not a lot of it turned out that well.

I’m not sure if Barnes would have made a difference, but he could have come on for Gits after he dropped that kick.

7. Our Backrow

Brown did a couple of things that I noticed, but only on his own, never at the breakdown. And Rocky wasn’t really there either. We need our backrow to step up. Pocock is good. But he’s not the entire backrow.

I’d hope Deans gives Hoiles a shot next week. When does Cliffy get back? Not that that will solve things, given he’s a ball-runner. But certainly things need to staunch up.

What scares me is the ferocity of the two backrows that actually matter to us. The Springboks and the All-Blacks. How are we going to compete?

Even if it were just after last week, we just don’t stack up. Rocky is potential world-class, but he’s not showing it. Brown just isn’t. And Pocock is almost there.


In the end, if our backrow were as enthusiastic as the Pommies were tonight, for the FULL eighty minutes, then even with Brown’s lack of skill, I reckon we could at least manage the other two backrows.

With Cliffy back, and Hoiles on the bench, it’d be a better sight.

But again, enthusiasm makes a big difference. We saw it tonight. England shouldn’t have won. How could they? It didn’t enter my mind. We were going to win. No hesitation.

But we didn’t.



Last week, the brain-snaps were out-weighed by the good decisions and silky skills.

This week, it was the other way around. There were moments of good decision-making and crafty handling, strong running, good defence. But they were out-done by the lazy defence, the bad calls, the worse kicks, and the seemingly fractured nature of the TEAM mindset.

That’s my two cents.

And another week goes by without seeing Rocky be ROCKY. Maybe the captaincy is too much?

The Rugby Man – Australia (Wallabies) vs England, 13th June 2010

I’ve just finished watching our Tivo’d recording of the Wallabies match versus England, played over west-west at Stubiac .. errr, Subiaco oval.

How exciting is it! To see so much promise being fulfilled. Yes, I saw the scrums.

Let’s be honest. Every single person on the field was involved and did good things.

1. Ben Daley

Made some good runs, good tackles, and did better in the scrums when coming back on after Ma’afu was binned.

2. Saia Faingaa

Solid. Should have learnt a boatload from this experience. Good work around the park.

3. Salesi Ma’afu

Didn’t think he was doing much, but had a monster hit on one of the poms. As with his other front-rowers, should have walked away with a lot of experience. They got schooled good, but that’s the point of being schooled. You learn and get better.

Reserve: James Slipper

Came on right into the blazing depths of fire and brimstone. Smashed. But got up again.

Scrum change after Ma’afu was binned .. Daley – Faingaa – Slipper

It seemed to me that this combination was actually better. They gained parity (man I don’t like that saying) some of the time, and if the Ref had have forced the Poms to use the ball instead of listening to them whinging that the scrum was down, I think the media would be playing a different tune.

I counted two (but possibly more) scrum sets (with the above combination) where IF the English had played the ball, the boys at front could have walked away heads high.

And this again brings up a gear-grinding point. The Ref and Scrums. This bloke wasn’t as bad as certain other Muppets (Mr Joubert, no names mentioned), but seriously. A scrum is one of the most awesome battles that mankind can have. It was obvious the Aussies were getting chewed over .. BUT .. Two things.\r\n

1. They were learning.

2. While I commend using and getting away with strongarm tactics in a scrum (it is a scrum after all), the Ref should be trained to spot things. Or, in the case of tonight, actually call them consistently. If on attack or defence, the tight-head is pulling down the loosey .. Ping him! It’s his job to do it fast enough not to get caught. It’s his job to bore in on the hooker. It’s the loosies job to buckle up the tight-head and stop him boring. It’s the loosies job to bind super-fast and long and strong. BAM.


\r\n4. Dean Mumm

I’m liking this gentleman more and more. He stood out tonight in the tackle and ruck contest. Made good yards too. Him and Sharpey are rubbing well together, sparking friction.

5. Nathan Sharpe

Seriously. I think it was over on G&GR (Nathan Sharpe a Force Collossus) that someone talked about his many resurrection seasons. What a champion. Was once a vader-hater, but now I’m a committed fan. Strong in every area, even .. I believe .. the scrum.

6. Rocky Elsom

Did well, but not awesome. And that’s what I can’t wait to see. Awesome Rocky. Balboa style.

He pulled off a couple of great tackles. Ran some ball. But like one of the commentators said (Horan or Crowls), the backrow needs to be one with the tight-five come scrum time.

7. David Pocock

How strong is this guy? How good is he getting? How un-ruffled and un-caring of opposition is he?

I’ll tell you.

At 21 George broke open the world of open-side flankering. I reckon Pocock (he might be a bit older, maybe) will do the same thing.

8. Richard Brown

He was perhaps solid. Did some good stuff. But not sure he’s appearing as much as a number 8 should. Hope Deans gives Hoiles a shot next game.

9. Luke Burgess

Oh did I think he shouldn’t even be in the squad. It’s been so long since I’ve seen him have a good game (he did, a long while back). But tonight he had an absolute cracker. Strength in the tackle, sniping, quick distribution.


Does anyone else think that Robbie prefers Burgess over Genia. Regardless of Brugo having a great game, I’ll be ropable if Genia doesn’t start next. Seriously.

10. Quade Cooper

Reminds me a lot of King Carlos. Played well tonight. Showed great composure. Great vision. Made a couple of poopoos, but nothing that more experience won’t beat out of him.

11. Drew Mitchell

How does he do it? Looks way too small. But man alive he can motor through traffic. What a champion. Coming off a stellar Super 14, has brought his triple-A game.

How good is it to see Australia having backline players consistently run the ball and do amazing things!

12. Berrick Barnes

Was good. Made some great tackles, in cover and in pushing up to disrupt England’s attack. Really super fantastic happy hour.

13. Rob Horne

Dude this guy is awesome. The real thing. The press keep saying it, which worries me. But this year he has shown that what he possesses is the absolut vodka reality.

Just one of the many moments in the game was when one of the Wallabies was tackled and being mauled (support was a moment too late). Horne was the first one there. Not only did he drive out the Poms, but somehow he wrapped himself around the ball so they couldn’t get at it. Now that’s thinking man’s rugby.

14. Digby Ioane

The cheetah of rugby. All upper bulk and gonzale’s legs. Except for the dropped ball (my biceps are too huge), he did well. Wasn’t the “star” like last week, but in my mind did enough to show just how sweet he works with the existing backline, and how much talent he does have.

15. James O’Connor

Again, the real deal. Man I love being able to say that. Is getting better with his instinct in the game, although did a couple of doodoos (like cutting out Horne for Schmoo to take it and get bashed into touch). But that’s nothing in comparison to the good. AND, it’ll learn him good. Hopefully.

None of the other reserves were on for long, although Matt Hodgson got a great penalty, George Smith style poaching the ball.

And then there was one ..

It’s really very exciting. To think that we won a match against England without our choice (choice mate) front row. To think the only tries the Poms scored were penalties (I mean it’s a problem no doubt, but our boys did good). To think .. That our backline looks electric!

Of course, the real test is coming. Like winter. Three nations (soon to be four). The best of the best. The most ferocious rugby you can see outside of watching Mariusz Pudzianowski play (well, I imagine it would be ferocious watching that guy smash someone).