Posts Tagged ‘Rugby’

Wallaby jersey descends further into the yellow abyss

There’s always a little, immature butterfly that flutters in a man-boy’s stomach when something is given a new skin.

Like when a snake slithers out of its former scales, looking all slimy and nubile, to grow a new, more prominently coloured batch of decorations.

Just like when you unlock the camo version of the MP40 on the latest Call of Duty game.

Or like when your EPL club wears a colour that the founding fathers would eat, spit out, eat again, digest and deposit, then burn as it is a disgrace to everything they stood for, damn it!

So when the Wallabies don their new regalia and show it off on a prominent Australian media website, I do tend to giddy up just a fraction.

I’m not talking anything untoward. No inappropriate questions need to be asked about my trousers after I’ve gazed for hours at Will Genia wearing that particularly fetching shade of yellow. I just like to look, summarise, think that it’s not the worst thing in the world, then wait for the geezers to come out of the woodwork again and tell us of the days when the gold jersey was just that: gold. And only gold. And we couldn’t afford truffles or Playstations or ‘extra virgin’ olive oil and we were better for it!

But no, as Quade Cooper reminded us all to candidly last year, undermining both his and his team’s proclaimed heritage, the Wallabies journey has slipped further and further into the yellow abyss. The national team has seen the light, and only a World Cup victory will see us reaching back to what was (though ironically our last World Cup victory was almost achieved in those butt-ugly jerseys with green and white flashes down the shoulder. Yuck!).

“And we’ll be better for it!”

Sorry, sorry. That old geezer somehow got a hold of the keyboard for a second.

I am slightly quizzical about the folks they chose to display the new strip though.

Genia fronts the lot. No worries there. He’s the boss of Aussie rugby right now, the only one who, according to many scribes and armchair critics, would walk into a hypothetical World XV tomorrow. Not only does he turn Quade Cooper from shuddering nancy boy to a veritable rugby Baryshnikov, but he apparently has eerie powers over forwards he commands. He’s like an overlord for piggies, herding them this way and that so the people with brains in the backline can work out a way to transcend the try line.

But that’s where the ‘Wallaby’ stops and the ‘Why is he there?’ begins.

There’s Berrick Barnes, full time moustache-wearer and ball-kicker-awayer just over Will’s right shoulder. Now, far be it from me to question a Wallaby with over 50 caps, but he’s barely in calculations to start for the Waratahs right now. He’s no certainty for the Wallaby 22, and will only be there to add an element of “He doesn’t screw things up as bad as Quade Cooper, but doesn’t do things as well as him either” to the Wallaby side.

Add to that the tache he’s been sporting for the last six months and I think what’s actually going on with the jersey promo is that they are tapping into the hipster crowd.

That would explain why Scott Higginbotham’s there I guess. Far from a shoe-in for any Wallaby team, the lushly bearded, latte sipping, Kurtley Beale-fist-avoiding Melbournian must have impressed somebody in the ARU PR department with his facial growth. His rugby hasn’t warranted him wearing the coveted ‘yellow’ jersey on posters all over the interweb.

No David Pocock? I know he’s injured, but his guns can’t have dissipated that badly yet! No Radike Samo? He’s got an afro that goes all the way into tomorrow! No Ben Mowen? Oh, that’s right, no Ben Mowen, ever.

Then, most confusingly, Drew Mitchell stands there, snugly behind Will.

How does Drew, fine player that he is, warrant a jersey promo over chaps who’ve worn gold for the last three years while Drew’s been having God-know-how-many terrible and unfortunate injuries tended to? He’s not a guy people would associate with the jersey for the past three years, so why’s he there?

What about Ioane? Or Adam Ashley Cooper?

If you haven’t realised my point by now, I’ll cut to the chase.

Who the hell is going to be in the Wallaby team when the Lions rock up on our shores in three months? It’s vastly unclear to me, and it seems the same goes for the PR folks at the ARU.

If the PR people have to trod out these folks on the basis of what they promised to do five years ago but never quite did, or the fact that their facial hair grows denser and more attractively than the horribly patchy Nick Phipps, then hell, get The Beards in on that promo.

I think some work needs to be done people. Super Rugby must be watched, dissected and discussed with great vigour over the next few weeks. Facial hair must be analysed. Work must be laid to one side. There’s rugby afoot.

The Lions tour is a big deal (so I’m told) and I’ll be damned if I’m not a part of the conversation that is largely ignored about who should be selected!

What did I miss?

What the hell, man!

I duck off to Florence for a few days, eat some delicious food and see some very pretty townscapes and Michaelangelos, and come back to home base thinking nothing will have changed.

In that time, Ricky Ponting, one of Australia’s best cricketers ever, decided that he can’t be bothered sifting through “Ten reasons why Punter should retire” articles anymore, David Campese tweeted that he dislikes female rugby journalists, the entire Aussie pace battery went flat (I’ll never get sick of pace battery puns), Israel Folau told Parramatta to shove it and England beat the All Blacks.

Has the entire world fallen in on itself, or does the sporting news cycle just move that quickly?

To think, while I was eating bolognese in Bologna and Eggs Florentine in Florence (lie, never even saw it on a menu) Kurtley was running in a match winner against Wales and The Blecks (phonetic) were being put to the sword by an English team relieved not to be wearing red-wine-spew maroon.

Florence, in case travel and not sport is your thing

Florence, in case travel, and not sport, is your thing

When I left, just four days prior, Siddle and Hilfenhaus had bowled the house down in an effort to dismiss the Proteas on the last day in Adelaide, and both were recovering in an attempt to be fit for Perth. “Apart from a few callouses and some sore joints, how bad can their afflictions be?” I thought to myself.

Apparently bad enough to not recover in time to bowl on a bowler-friendly WACA track. So today we saw Mitchells Johnson and Starc leading the attack, with John Hastings about as conspicuous as James Pattinson was on the last day in Adelaide.

As a side note, here is an interesting factual/statistical development. I am informed by Brydon Coverdale (the cricinfo guy) on Twitter that Peter Siddle bowled 383 balls in Adelaide, and Ben Hilfenhaus 321. People called the effort Herculean, monumental, worthy of utmost praise. It also seemed like it made a whole Test rest a necessity (in what is a rather important game). Coverdale goes on to note that Dennis Lillee, that hairy-chested, open-shirted fast bowler of yesteryear, bowled 535 deliveries against Pakistan in 1976, and played the next Test with only a two day break.

I’m not calling anyone soft. Brydon Coverdale is.

The Wallabies, meanwhile, bored Wales silly before Kurtley Beale decided to win the game after one of the rather more brilliant pieces of rugby this season. Imagine if the Wallabies played like that for eighty minutes instead of two. The nation would cease activity for two hours every week and sit transfixed on couches, bar stools and stadium seats. But enough rugby scribes lament the Wallabies, so let’s try to be positive.

They did bounce back after losing to France to win three on the trot and make sure they’re ranked in the top four. Right guys? Right?

The Aussie cricket team are on the verge of losing in Perth, despite the fact another favourite of mine, Mitchell Johnson, is playing. He’s the guy no one thought could bowl a cricket ball without the universe exploding. I’ll admit that I only watched the last half of day three, but in the time I did watch he looked good. Mitchell Starc looked good too, but if we’re being realistic it was Johnson who bowled better, whatever the wickets column might read.

Campo did a bit of a silly thing too, saying that the “girl” who was covering the Wallabies wasn’t fit to sweep up trimmings from Greg Growden’s barber’s floor. The only good thing to come out of it was that most people, and by no means all people, seem to agree that Campo came out of it looking backwards and silly. It was nice to see David Pocock read it this way, anyway.

So basically, the moral of the story is to never go on holiday and to keep on top of sports news at all costs, lest you miss blogging opportunities.

PS I’m going to Munich tomorrow. When I get back Quade Cooper and Sonny Bill will be signed for Real Madrid (fight clauses and all), John Hastings will have scored a triple ton to silence the ‘haters’ and Nathan Hindmarsh will be making a comeback as a professional curler.

The wheels keep turning, no matter how many Chianti Classicos or Weissbiers you drink.

Such is life. Such is sport.

The bolognese in Bologna was delicious.

Tagiiatelli al ragù. It's Italian

Tagiiatelli al ragù. It’s Italian

Wallabies fail to thrill; Cricketers pick up the scraps

In sport, there are ways to do things and ways not to do things.

In the two biggest international games this weekend, we’ve seen one Australian team play with a bit of self belief and impose themselves on a side that is fancied as the best in the world. The Wallabies also played.

By my count, the sessions won in the Test match being played at the Gabba would be five for the Saffas and the Aussies four. The three sessions played today, however, were won more emphatically than any of the three that belonged to the Proteas on day one, as well as the session before lunch on day three.

1/376 in today’s play, a throwback to scoring rates of ten years ago when the Aussies were in their pomp. Hayden and Langer would thrash boundaries at will to the delight of the crowd, and if they gave way the stands could look forward to Punter, Gilly and whoever was in form at the time.

Granted, today was a longer day, having to make up for the first entire day lost at the Gabba since 1990, but it was still good scoring.

I could only imagine my Dad watching Ed Cowan ton up earlier in the day. He would have called all and sundry to let them know what he good player he was. I know he certainly told me what’s where and who’s what about Ed Cowan on Skype yesterday, all with a wry grin on his face; a grin that comes from the success of a player one has picked for greatness. Love you Dad.

I managed to catch the final session, and saw Hussey and Clarke playing attractively and aggressively. Huss compiled his 86* swiftly, though not without its foibles. He looked to be sorted out by Morne Morkel on multiple occasions.

More intemperate batsmen would have lashed out in frustration, edging the big quick to slip or some such rashness. But the Huss forgot the delivery as soon as he missed, and often followed it up by dispatching Morkel to the boundary. Slats was more than correct to point out the difficulty of refocusing after four straight plays-and-misses, to then follow them up with an elegant cover drive for four biscuits.

Clarke played some sumptuous, breakfast delaying shots. I had to wait until 9am, cricket’s end in Norway, to begin grilling my Kneipp. By then I’d watched Clarke play one of the best cover drives I’ve seen, and possibly the best straight drive, again off Morkel. He offered the full face, didn’t play it with any big effort, saw it onto the juicy section of the bat and watched it flow to the boundary.

Kneipp: A delicious way to start the day

The side-on angle of this shot was the most telling thing about it. The frame of his body was textbook. His arms and shoulders and torso formed a perfect square that didn’t alter in shape as he raised his left elbow in the playing of the shot. His front foot was forward, more than just a forward press, which allowed him perfect balance in stroking the cherry to the fence.

A thing of beauty, people.

Which is perhaps a pertinent segue to the thing that was not of beauty: the Wallabies on Saturday night Norway time.

I’ve previously written of the proverbial merde that has been heaped in, around, and on the Wallabies in the past. It’s gotten to the point where I feel like a father of a forty-year-old uni-dropout working at Subway. I’m just disappointed, that’s all.

That is very, very unfair of course, considering the terrible amount of injuries sustained within the squad. Given a fully fit Wallabies side I think the contest would have been much closer than the abysmally one-sided 33-6 event I watched over two bottles of homebrew.

I think all of this writing off of Quade Cooper will be short lived. Sure, what he said was dumb, but I think he is a player who, when in form, can lead a side to great things, just as he did with the Reds.

The forgotten man in all of this is James Horwill, who was one of the biggest inspirations of the Reds’ win in 2011. He led a forward pack that dominated the best packs in Super Rugby. They didn’t do that because they were the best eight, but because they played like filthy animals.

Beau Robinson looked like a world beating seven, outplaying Schalk Burger in their clash with the Stormers and matching the great Richie; Scott Higginbothan had his breakout season and Ben Daley got through more work than a contractor with a blank cheque.

When Kevvy gets back one would expect him to rev up the boys in a different way to the myriad of captains we’ve had in his absence. For this reason I think Horwill, and not Genia or Pocock, is the best captain in a fully fit Wallabies side.

Whatever happens in the next few games, we must at least admit that the Wallabies are just not there yet as a team. The lack of attacking flair is a problem, whatever people say about scoring tries. We must remember that Robbie Deans saying tries aren’t everything was take dramatically out of context by the Rugby scribes, but in an Australian market who love runs, wickets, goals, tries and everything else, it was probably not the ideal thing to say at the time.

The Reds in 2011 weren’t all about scoring tries, but they were damn good to watch. It’s the best rugby I’ve seen played by an Australian side in five years. Let’s hope we can channel some of it in the games to come.

And if we can’t, flick over to the cricket, because some of the shotmaking today was quite special.

Dead rats aplenty in Australian rugby

A dead rat

You’ve probably all got two questions for me.

The answer to the first one is yes, I definitely think it was my blog post that forced John O’Neill’s hand and made him call it a day as ARU CEO. I kid, but indulge me for a second on one of my favourite topics.

Being a sports administrator in Australia sucks. I think that, generally speaking, they are incredibly hard working, intelligent people who are honestly trying to do their best for the sport, but people who have no idea what they are talking about still blame them for every problem they don’t understand due to their lack of comprehension of things that are fundamental to being a reasonable human being. David Gallop did the same as JON, quitting the sport he had worked so hard for with no thanks from the fans or journalists who didn’t realise exactly what he had been doing for the ten years that was possibly the best in the game’s histroy. So I suppose some sort of thanks should be in order for John’s work and his putting up with being covered in shit for so long.

As for the second question, I just don’t know. I don’t know what the previous record for the most uses of the word “shit” in a blog post is so I can’t comment. I know many of you might find that “disappointing,” but there you have it.

Begin aiming handfuls of shit at me.

And to further preface this post, I want to explore two more phrases sporting people in the media like to say. The first is “can’t comment,” which is extremely frustrating mostly because the utterer is inevitably pretending they’re harbouring national security secrets in those pea brains when really they’re only not saying what’s written on their wrist tape: “Run hard at player with x on their back.”

The second one is “accountability.” If there’s one thing I’ve learned from sports media it’s that everyone has a different definition of accountability for every situation and will use it against people with a different, in their view flawed, view of accountability. The other thing is that everyone except the person who actually should be accountable is responsible for the mistakes of others.

As for this post, well, what’s it about? It can’t be about shit, I’ve done that one to death.

No, this one is going to flesh out one of the things I hinted at in the last article, and that is people blaming the Waratahs for everything that’s terrible in the world. Are they really “accountable” for the Wallabies terrible play?

I know they weren’t terribly impressive this year. The fans weren’t happy with their performances, which was reflected in the crowd numbers. But Sydney has always been a fickle market and when a team ain’t winning on the field, chances are they’re probably not packing out their horribly located venue.

As usual, journalists thought the Waratahs were the worst thing that ever happened to society, and once again we have a change in coach, change in CEO, fan forums, the works. It almost seems to me like the Waratahs are being accountable, but I can’t really comment on that. I know that might be disappointing for you to hear.

In fact, it is hard to tell with journos exactly whose fault it is. Is it everyone’s favourite person to hate, the head administrator? Michael Foley copped a lot of stick this year, so maybe it was the coach? Perhaps it’s the players? No, what was I thinking? It’s never the players’ fault for playing badly. How silly of me!

In the case of the Waratahs it seems to be some sort of joint venture of all three ‘camps’ (pet peeve alert), which honestly doesn’t help when you’re trying to write a snappy headline.

“Combination of poor administration, bad coaching and terrible play cited as reason for Horrortah season by Waratah CEO,” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as “Fire the NRL refs.” Rugby League journos just have it made, what with everything being in black and white and all.

But one very well thought of rugby scribe went on record after John O’Neill retired saying that the Wallabies were on struggle street not for the reasons that Quade “Toxic Environment” Cooper was rabbiting on about.

There’s nothing wrong with the ARU, he says, or the Wallabies’ management or coaching structure or gameplan or any such thing like that which would make sense in the context of the Wallabies playing poorly. These people are and have been accountable for their errors according to this journalist, and it was an entirely separate entity bringing down the house.

It was in fact the Waratahs, from beyond the Super Rugby grave, making the men in yellowy-gold play badly. He said that the Waratahs players are so brainwashed by an inept administration (recently fired and replaced) and coaching setup (ditto) and playing poorly themselves (never really the players’ faults though) that they can’t possibly hope to play well ever again, even under another structure like Deans’ (which happens to be excellent). All along, it was the bloody Waratahs are screwing it up for the rest of us.

Sorry, but do you know how ridiculous that sounds?

Let me just savour it for a moment. Hmm. Yes. It has strong notes of Warnie blaming mum for taking diuretics, with a background palate of Bulldogs players not yelling at the media, but in fact at each other. But how are the legs? Sadly they are shithouse.

Let’s humour this man for a second. Let’s pretend that the Waratahs do objectively suck, and could never play football after being cursed by donning the sky blue jersey. Could we compare the inept organisation at the Waratahs to, say, what must be a terrible culture at the Lions? This is a team that has hardly competed with other teams, let alone won a game, in Super Rugby since its inception.

Do people blame the Lions for South Africa losing to Australia, or drawing with Argentina? No. But the Saffas sure as hell don’t pick as many Lions’ players as they do Stormers or Bulls.

And yet this current batch of Wallabies is proverbially heaving with Worrytahs, or Horrortahs, or Wobbletahs, or some other terrible pun on the state flower. Why is that?

Well, it’s either they are good players, deserving of playing for the Wallabies, or that the Australian selectors are mistaken in selecting them. Notice how neither of these two reasons involves a problem created by the Waratahs franchise. In fact, one would even involve some kudos for the Tahs, directly contradicting the point that Waratah players can’t catch, pass or run (we all know they can kick).

I know it’s sometimes confusing separating the Waratahs problems from the Wallabies, what with both teams start with the same letter and all, but the jersey is a different colour for one, and the coach of the team in gold is a New Zealander.

There’s just no way we can or we should blame the Tahs for problems that aren’t theirs. For me, it’s “disappointing” that people try to pass the buck of “accountability” onto the younger brother when bigger brother has a shocker, but maybe I shouldn’t comment on that.

My dad has a saying: if it looks like dead rat, and smells like dead rat, then it’s probably dead rat. To me, it looks and smells like there is more than one dead rat, and to pass off two dead rats as one, well, that’s just disrespectful to the other dead rat.

When it all goes to shit, have a shower

The Wallabies sure have created something of a shitstorm in the past few weeks haven’t they?

For all those who have been on Mars or in Norway for the past month or so let me summarise what’s been happening.

Basically everyone, the team, journalists, Quade Cooper, people who are not Quade Cooper and every blogger and guest columnist that ever existed have taken little handfuls from the big pile of shit that was heaped on the Waratahs throughout the year and begun flinging it at each other. They no longer know why they are doing it, just like monkeys probably don’t know why they throw their own faeces at other monkeys, but hey, there’s still shit flying through the air.

If you’ve ever read a newspaper in Sydney or Brisbane then you’ll know that the pile of shit that has been dumped on the Waratahs is ample. Well, the shit flinging to date has put a rather severe dent in that pile, and in the wash-up almost everyone’s left with their hands and body covered in shit.

First of all the Wallabies incurred the wrath of the ‘aimless kicking brigade,’ those rugby fans who come out of the woodwork every year when the Tri-Nations, sorry, ‘Rugby Championship,’ starts, by playing like shit against the All Blacks. These people threw shit at the men in yellow (thanks Quade) for two weeks until their arms were sore and covered in shit from flinging so much shit.

The Wallabies’ players and coaches found themselves covered with shit as a result of this barrage from the public. But they hadn’t thrown any themselves. Yet.

Then Quade Cooper decided to dig up a big handful of shit and fling it at everyone at the ARU; not so much at the players, but at the coach and whoever it is who decides where they train.

Robbie Deans is again asked for comment by the shit-flinging journalists who are praying for a reaction from him, just hoping he will scoop up a handful of shit and throw it at someone, anyone. After the amount of shit he has all over him by now, who wouldn’t? But he refuses to bite.

More people dip their hands into the shit pile, with a number of “senior Wallabies,” mysterious, eerie figures who remain nameless (are they ghosts?) throw a bunch of shit at Quade, then Drew Mitchell does the same, labelling Quade’s “comments” as “disappointing,” the universal sporting term for anything anyone doesn’t like.

The headline on a certain webpage I visited said “Mitchell slams Quade” then goes on to quote Mitchell as saying Quade’s comments were “disappointing.” But we all know the subtext of “disappointing.” It just means that the disappointee has a big pile of shit in his hand, and he/she (don’t want to be a misogynist) is throwing said shit at the disappointer, cuing the throw by saying the word “disappointing.” Sort of like how you say “heads” as a stray football almost kills a senior citizen. The word disappointment is used more a gateway to shit being thrown than it is to describe a real emotion.

Now Quade’s covered in shit too, and a bunch of journos come out and throw shit at the Wallabies some more, more because they’re rugby writers and there’s no rugby at the moment, as well as just to reminisce. Then people say the journos are just bored and tiresome so they throw some shit at them.

There’s brief respite when someone figures out that this is all the Waratahs fault again, and the pile of shit at Moore Park is built back up a little, before people realise the guy’s an idiot so create a brand new mess by throwing shit at the guy who suggested it.

By this time all the boys in, or formerly in, yellowy-goldy-margeriney coloured jerseys are covered in shit. The journos are covered in shit too, thrown by the public, the players and themselves, and Robbie Deans is still caught in a shit crossfire and is up to his knees in shit. Still hasn’t thrown any though.

At one stage I threw some shit. I wrote an article on The Roar throwing shit at the Wallabies because I thought they sucked up a storm one day in Pretoria, before I realised that afterwards my hands were covered in shit and I retreated before any shit could be flung back. Dodged a bullet there.

Even Richie McCaw found time between winning footy games and having tea with the queen to throw some shit at a Robbie Deans, at which point Robbie must have been asking the eternal deity what he’s done to Richie except improve his resume, and Quade Cooper.

Finally the team wins. It might have been boring, but they still won. Less shit than normal is thrown.

The situation as it stands is that everyone’s covered in shit. Everyone’s hands are dirty from greedily diving into wheelbarrows of shit and hurling it nonchalantly at any passing target within convenient range. The people who have had shit flung at them fling some back, and somehow everyone ends up just throwing shit at each other and they’ve all forgotten why, but the shit-flinging must go on.

Robbie Deans, a poor New Zealand chap who it just so happens is a really good coach and seems to be a really good guy, is covered in shit because for whatever reason he is in the middle of the shit throwing and can’t wade out fast enough.

In general, the sooner people start using their noses the sooner they will realise they are covered in shit, and might go take a bath or something. The sooner everyone figures that out the sooner I might be able to read some good rugby writing.

Until then, I’ll just wash the small amount of shit I accumulated off myself and applaud Robbie Deans, for although he might be covered in the stuff, he’s the only one who doesn’t have to wash his hands.

Why the All Blacks always win

There is little doubt in my mind that the Wallabies’ continued losses to the All Blacks are not because of a lack of will. Every year our players and our journos build our side up to be the best chance of reclaiming the Bledisloe since our dynasty over the trophy in the Rod McQueen years. Pretty much every year they let us down; or we let them down. Either way the “Orl Blecks” win.

Maybe it’s just a perception thing, and the things that I am about to say only appear to be true to Wallabies supporters as we watch the games unfold, resulting in piles of hair on the floor and a whole lot of vacuuming to do later. It could just be that the things the All Blacks do are due to them just being better than us, but I really doubt it. What I’m attempting to do is make a list of the things we notice in the game that the All Blacks do that the Wallabies don’t, or the things the Wallabies do that the All Blacks don’t, that give those boys from across the ditch the seemingly insurmountable and inevitable edge over the other team wearing poncy yellow. Maybe I just found our first problem.

The first one is really obvious to anyone who watched the game from tonight. The All Blacks relish being shitheads.

Remember the stick Quade Cooper copped from the New Zealand media after he pushed their poor defenceless captain Ritchie McCaw around a little. He gave him a nudge, maybe a stray knee, and had to endure weeks of torment from those black-eyed peanut journalists. Yet, we see Keiran Reid and Liam Messam take David Pocock out of the game all night (see: 0 pilfers on Pocock’s stat sheet) and it is barely acknowledged, and if it is it is seen as cunning strategy.

The truth is Quade actually stumbled upon a little secret the AB’s have been harbouring all these years that the Wallabies never caught up with. They love being dickheads to the other team. Did you see Ritchie take out Rob Horne to open up a massive gap for by Israel Dagg? Is that the same Ritchie who was being bullied by that big fat meanie, that nasty man in yellow, Quade Cooper? Is that the same Ritchie who loves being on the ground between the ballcarrier and the halfback every ruck he gets to, and the same Ritchie who himself loves bullying little Aussie backs whether he has the ball or not?

Quade needs to keep that mongrel, and teach it to the 15 who took the field tonight. Only then will the Wallabies actually be intimidating to play against.

The best example of this has to be the oft-criticised Bakkies Botha. The media complained endlessly about him being a cheat and a terrible person yada yada yada; but did Bakkies ever change his game once in response? Not the eye-gouging, face-mashing, off-the-ball-taking Bakkies I watched. And the Springboks thought he was a legend. Yet we chastise Quade because he has the guts to stick it to the bloke who loves sticking it to us. It needs to change.

Secondly we need forwards who can actually pass!

Think back to the number of overlaps the Wallabies had today but could not take advantage of because a big guy with number 1 through 8 plastered on his back doesn’t possess the first skill taught to everyone who has picked up an oval shaped inflatable object. Numbers 4 and 5 being the worst offenders. And while we’re there, our number 10 looked like he couldn’t pass today either.

Contrast this to the pride of the Commonwealth of New Zealand, whose second rowers by my count offloaded three times to put outside men (also often forwards) into space that meant linebreaks, metreage and quick ball. In Wallaby land, meanwhile, the ball is being suckled by a nurturing forward who is scared it will cry, until Genia stops worrying about how his sure-thing multi on the dishlickers at Wenty is going and decides pick it up. More passing drills are not the answer. A willingness to use one’s skill is.

Finally, break the rules.

The frustration and glory of rugby is, was, and always will be the interpretations offered by the men in the middle. It is a game where the audience, players, and referees embrace and respect the grey areas, not demand that the referees call them by their full name and tell them why they can’t take a piss into their whistle. Subtlety.

When 5 forwards in black are suddenly all fall to the ground on the gold side of the breakdown it’s probably not due to peer pressure. They know that referees, despite the protestations of the crowd, are not going to penalise them every time. It’s also obvious that in those messy rucks the ball does not magically go from being on the Wallabies side to the All Blacks side. There are a bunch of dudes in black who are rather adept at subterfuge, and are masters of using their hands and all that dastardly, All Black business. They understand they won’t always get away with it, but when they do it quickly turns to genius. We need to make this part of Wallaby business.

Turnover ball is dangerous. The Blecks understand this. The Wallabies, with their thirty second waiting time so Benn Robinson can do his shoelace before taking a hit up, probably do as well. They just don’t cheat hard enough to capitalise on it.

So please, please, for the sanity of the fans and probably the All Blacks, who must be sick of winning by now, cheat your heart out, use the skills you spend so long training and ruck some skulls, rub some faces behind the referees back, and do some other nefarious business (non-Hopoate related) that will make those fellas in black think twice about getting their head down the bottom of a pile of bodies again.

Football in Australia: How generous thou art

Does your suburb have a major sporting franchise in every code with an accompanying stadium? Don’t worry, you’ll get your turn.

Sure, it will fold pretty quickly because it never was, and probably never will be financially viable, but the salary cap will ensure that your team at least has a chance of making the finals. That is unless you’re unfortunate enough to get an AFL sponsored team, in which case it will be financially viable, somehow, but will never win a game. Quite a conundrum.

You should also note that this new team, that we have so generously given to you, will represent you, your community, all your interests, and generally is the best thing to ever happen to you. So get on board, pat our ridiculous mascot on the head, sing the terrible team song (here’s a copy of the words), and make sure you buy one of our butt-ugly jerseys. Geez they suck. Do you know why we made them like that? We knew there would be a Telegraph headline talking about how butt-ugly they are, and “any publicity is good publicity.” Do you know why that’s in quotes? Because they taught us that in marketing school, or was it in swimming class? I don’t really remember anymore. It was probably media training…

Objectively though, it’s a terrible jersey.

Oh, and don’t worry that you’re from Mt Druitt and we’ve lumped you in with the rest of “Western Sydney,” wherever that is. At least you have a slightly more defined geographical area than, say, North Queensland or the “Western” Bulldogs et Force.  Western what, Bulldogs? Western what? Also, does anyone remember the North Queensland Fury?

Now time to announce the biggest signing in the club’s short but revered history. Bah bah bah bah! Drum roll please. Look everyone! A coach! A coach that you may or may not have heard of. Yeah, he’s not going to strap on a pair of boots, but holy shit can he coach. Do you KNOW how many premierships this bloke has won? I sure as hell don’t, but it’s probably more than one.

Sarcasm aside for one moment (note the italics), how much of a travesty is it that Gary Ablett. Gary Fucking Ablett, the bloke who could have been the best player ever, is getting schooled every week because he plays in a team who would probably be beaten by most VFL teams? I’m no AFL expert, but I get the feeling that’s a pretty accurate summation of the situation of the Gold Coast and GWS franchises. Hats off to the guy for trying to spread the word, so to speak, but you fancy his highlight reels would be a lot longer, and the fans could derive a whole lot more pleasure from his performances if his team could play anywhere close to the standard of his old teammates. Poor Gary. 

Worry not, fan of sport, because we have chosen a very threatening moniker for our club which will obviously translate into on field success. This was somewhat true for the Gold Coast Titans. Running twelfth in your inaugural season ain’t bad. Not ‘Titanic,’ but not bad. The Suns, on the other hand, named after the very same thing as the Egyptian Gods Ra , weren’t very Ra-like in their first bite at the proverbial apple.

Minus Gary of course. Note that the Egyptian God Ra is often associated with creative power, something Gary has in droves. But if you ain’t got the cattle…

Think about it though. Titans. Force. Fury (or was it Roofy?). Giants. Suns. All very big, powerful names. Now think Rabbitohs, Cats and FC. Well, I know which one makes my penis feel larger.

Anyway, it’s almost time for us to hand back our license, and go to Western Sydney to poach players for the Australian Olympic Ping Pong team. Such is the talent. Such is the talent.

Stand, spray and deliver.

Critiques from the arm chair