First of all, let’s just remember Waves
yesterday morning was a very exciting and entertaining game of rugby – what the
game should be. That was mainly thanks to the standard set by brilliant Welsh attack in the opening 15 minutes or so.
Then Australia came back and really
looked at half time as if they would kick on to finish comfortably as they
clearly had a much bigger, stronger set of athletes in the back line.
the final 40 minutes the Wallabies were exposed as being a team that has been poorly coached to handle the
evolution of the game over the past two years. Wales
deserved to win and they did.
What’s galling for Wallaby fans is that
we arguably had better individual players or certainly better athletes in most
positions, yet Wales were the better team. The Welsh scrum didn’t push the
Wallabies all over the paddock because they were a set of England-style
behemoths, it was because they were better coached and skilled. The Welsh team
didn’t off-load in tackles as often as they did, switch angles and support in
such depth because they were better ball runners or handlers – it was because
they were coached and encouraged to do so.
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The last time Wales defeated Australia,
we only had 14 players for 76 of the 80 minutes in a game none of the Wallabies
wanted to play in smelly Rotorua – and even then they only lost by one, 22-21.
That was the 1987 Rugby World Cup
play-off for third and fourth place –
memorable mainly for David Codey becoming the first Wallaby to be sent off in a
Yesterday’s loss in Cardiff
will result in the dismissal of many more than one. As suggested on Friday, it
makes a necessary cleanout unstoppable. With the promise that the review will
be driven by Rod Macqueen’s cool and clear thinking, it will be a good thing
for Australian rugby.
The SMH‘s Greg Growden makes the bluntest case for the demise of the coach, captain, numerous
assistants and ARU head office flunkies, but Wayne Smith in The Australian holds out a sliver of a chance for Eddie
Jones. Make that a tiny sliver.
As The Daily Telegraph says this
morning in the context of a dismal weekend for both rugby codes, while the
Kangaroos produced one of their worst displays in recent memory to lose to the
Kiwis, the Wallabies have been a long-brewing catastrophe.
The problem has been spelt out in many
places, including in the postscript chapter of Stephen Larkham’s World Cup
Diary: “What this World Cup taught us – or,
rather, reminded us – is that the team with the best set pieces and the best
kicking game is likely to win, and I expect that Australia
will try hard over the next few years to improve in both departments.”
Well, no – Australia
didn’t and that failure has been exposed. Australian rugby hasn’t sunk to sixth
place in the world order because we don’t have the cattle – it’s because the
coaching and management haven’t used the cattle properly.
And as for the running game beyond the
set pieces, poor Eddie Jones has been pointing to the number of line breaks
Australia makes as some sort of indication of what is right, instead of
realising that the inability to support those breaks, the unwillingness to look
to unload, is the condemnation of what is wrong.
Bring on the cleanout. With the fresh
eyes and focus of Ewen McKenzie or John Mitchell assisted by the right
supporting coaches, it should be another 18 years before the Welsh can sing
about defeating the Wallabies again.