12 December 2010


Gents, you have to check out this website - a must for Rugger B@ggers!


I read a really nice and impassioned article tonight by Cameron Treloar, a former Tah and the only ARC winning captain (since we only had one season of the ARC .. given up on that debate!).

He's now playing in Italy and his thesis is that, while Rugby is probably only the 6th favourite sport in Italy, behind soccer, motor racing etc, and while they get tiny crowds, they can still put an Australian Rugby crowd to shame in terms of their passion. It was a good article, and if
you want to find it, you'll need to go looking for it, (but Twitter would be a good place to start - [editor please note: Twitter: http://bit.ly/hGrQrK)

He made a very good point that they don't have lots of security guards stopping kids from running onto the field at the end of the game, that players are encouraged to really interact with the crowd and drink in pubs after the game. Are we really that professional in Australia that we need to eschew all of that?

What are our points of difference from League, AFL, soccer etc?

I wonder whether we need to be selling ourselves as a professional game to the extent that we alienate the fan base. Should we persist with the notion that Rugby is entertainment, or is is truly a sport that all of its supporters can buy into?

His opening statement was: ....The very culture of how we support our teams, be it the Wallabies or a super 15 side, is sadly defined by one man… the guy in the tight black t-shirt with the clip board running the door at Cargo bar......"

He goes on to say: ........" The Australian Rugby public has only themselves to blame for this travesty. Australians go to the Rugby now to be entertained, as if it were a concert or a movie. If the entertainment doesn’t live up to expectations, the critics pan it and the crowds stay Away. We have it backward in Australia. We have come to rely on the something miraculous, something Quade Cooperish to spark us up....."

I don't think that you can argue with that logic.

Personally, these days , I prefer to stay at home and watch games on TV, because I know that there is not going to be much "after match" atmosphere at 10 pm when most people know that they have a bit of a drive ahead of them, can't really have too much to drink, and they are not likely to run into any of the players, anyway, who have had a long shower and meal in the shed and jumped on the bus back to the team hotel, either to go out on the town or get some well earned sleep. I'm too old for the Cargo Bar and there is no bloody way that i am going to stand in a queue, just to have a few beers after the footy, and pay through the nose for them!

The essence of going to the Rugby (at least to me) is getting back to the clubhouse, the boatraces, the tall tales, the catching up with mates - no way that's going to happen at the top level in the professional era.

I'm old enough to remember Test nights in Sydney and Brisbane at certain hotels (thanks, Buddha!) where most of the crowd and the players went back for a very late night/ early morning session. That was when you enjoyed being one of the fraternity. I suspect that, to do it these
days you have to get invited to the formal sessions that are run by the marketing guys or the sponsors. Most of us won't get to do that and we just have to "get on the bus and go home" after the game.

This is a bit of a rant but the theme is, I believe, reasonable .. and that is let's keep our feet on the ground and not get too far away from our roots.. what makes our game the wonderful creature that it is.

....and how are we going to encourage Aussie supporters to be more vocal, to out-sing the Welsh or the Poms, or anyone else, for that matter?

10 December 2010


IRB caught in WikiLeaks firing line

James Stafford

From: ESPN www.espnscrum.com
December 10, 2010

The fallout from the publication of hundreds of embarrassing emails, letters, notes and minutes belonging to the IRB and governing bodies, such as the Rugby Football Union (RFU), the South African Rugby Union (SARU) and French Rugby Federation (FFR), could lead to years of frosty international rugby diplomacy as nations come to terms with often blunt comments or accusations from rivals and supposed allies.

WikiLeaks have stood by the publication of all the documents claiming that the rugby world and its operations should be 'transparent and open'.

One rugby insider has claimed that some aggrieved unions have already made threats to withdraw from major tournaments such as the Six Nations or even the Rugby World Cup as a result of the WikiLeaks scandals.

Among the most damaging revelations is a top secret dossier from the IRB complaining that the 2011 World Cup should never have been awarded to New Zealand as the country 'wouldn't know a decent bloody draught beer if it came in from the wrong side of a ruck and trampled all over them'.

The statement, written by a senior IRB official, goes on to say that: "I can take the fact New Zealand doesn't really have enough big modern stadiums for a World Cup, I can accept that they may not have the infrastructure relating to transport and accommodation and I can accept the fact the ticket sales aren't going to be as big as in previous tournaments, but I can't accept the fact I won't be able to get a bloody decent draught beer for the four weeks I have to be at the tournament. We (the IRB) messed up big time on this one and I want heads to roll. We need to look at our whole World Cup bidding process and ensure this never happens again."

Another controversial secret missive from the IRB apparently warned various national unions to be on their guard when visiting Ireland over the coming few years. Due to the current dire economic situation in the Republic of Ireland the IRB feared that unnamed Irish rugby persons may choose to ply visiting guests with Guinness and whiskey and then 'indirectly drop hints about possible loans of equipment, kit and labour' to help cushion the financial impact of the economic crisis on Irish rugby.

"It is very possible," said the statement from the IRB, "that loans of tracksuits, shorts and electrical tape (for keeping players' socks up during matches) may not be returned, if at all, for many years. We urge unions and visiting kit/bag men to be vigilant." The IRFU are said to be seriously offended by the allegations.

Among other serious revelations made by WikiLeaks are the following:

Stade Francais players wrote series of letters 'begging with all their hearts' to be allowed to wear, for just one week, a set of kit that did not make them look like clowns/question their own masculinity.
RFU officials and the English media met with Vatican officials several times to try and get World Cup hero Jonny Wilkinson made into fully fledged Catholic Saint before the 2011 World Cup. Merchandise sales and profits from associated Saint Jonny relics were to be split 50/50 between London and Rome if the deal was a success.
A Scottish plan to aim to score at least one try per game for the 2011 Six Nations was widely mocked by several unions in a series of circular emails as 'utterly unrealistic'.
Cardiff Blues are planning a shock move to the Millennium Stadium in 2012 due to problems coping with capacity at new ground Cardiff City Stadium. Emails from Blues' management have indicated the recent decision to abandon their historic city centre ground (which they rarely ever filled) to play in a soulless Lego-style stadium (which they never ever fill) was 'just not crazy enough'.
South Africa considered hiring an interpreter to speak 'for, on behalf and instead of' outspoken head coach Peter de Villiers at all matches, press conferences, public appearances and training sessions. One extreme memo indicates a plan by SARU to give de Villiers a significant bonus each year if he never ever spoke at all in public.
The IRB's referees boss Paddy O'Brien sent a series of emails to friends claiming the constant controversial law changes to rugby union in recent years were the result of a forfeit he had to perform after losing a drunken game of 'rock, paper, scissors' in a pub late one night.
Welsh Rugby Union officials refused The Victorian Society's request to classify Rodney Parade, home of the Newport Gwent Dragons, as a listed building and turn the ground into a 'living museum'. Apparently the WRU were initially happy to agree to the museum being created but then relented when talks broke down over the use (or lack of) the word 'Gwent' in the potential museum's name. Using 'Gwent' was deemed 'too political'.
Result of 2011 World Cup final leaked.
The IRB have produced a confidential memo on the WikiLeaks affair, which they expect to be leaked online next week, so that the wider public can read their response.

9 December 2010


Just when you thought we had a settled line-up after the Northern tour, it is worth speculating on those who couldn’t go for one reason or another, those who couldn’t be selected because they haven’t been seen yet, those coming back from injuries, those who will be next season’s “bolters.”

Once the Supe 15 season kicks off, all bets are off in regard to the last tour, though some like Cooper, Genia, O’Connor and Ashley-Cooper, Mitchell, to name a few, have definitely put a marker in the sand, as have Slipper and, Robinson, and probably McCalman.

But it’s a longer Super 15 season, there are lots more opportunities to impress, just as there are lots more opportunities for season-ending injuries before the RWC.

So it seems to me that the field is wide open.

Since Robbie Deans, himself, was quoted as saying “there are no Wallabies until the next squad is picked,” I thought that I would adopt the theme and categorise the next squad into Probables, Possibles and Bolters.

There are some old names on the bolters list, such as Mortlock, Waugh, Baxter, but you never know, a couple of strong performances, some injuries and they get a foot in the door.

You would back those guys to go all out and keep their noses in front of some of the rookies, and the World Cup year is not a time for blooding new rookies, unless one or two absolutely stand out.

I’ve also included some “league’ies” on the bolters list, such as Saffy, Rooney and Vuna, since they come across with pretty strong reputations. But they are up against it.

Here’s the list.

Props: Robinson, Alexander, Slipper,
Hookers: Polota-Nau, Moore, Faingaa
Locks: Sharpe, Vickerman, Chisholm, Horwill
Flankers: Higginbotham, Elsom, Brown, Pocock
No 8: Palu, McCalman

Half back: Burgess, Genia
No 10: Barnes, Cooper
Centres: Ashley-Cooper, Giteau, Faingaa. Ioane
Wingers: O’Connor, MItchell, Turner, Morahan
Full-back: Beale, Hynes,

Props: Kepu, Henderson, Blake, Shepherdson
Hooker: Edmonds, Freier
Locks: Mumm, Chapman, Simmons, Kimlin, Humphries, Byrnes
Flankers: Salvi
No 8: Hoiles

Half Backs: Phipps, Kingi
No 10: Toomua
Centres: Horne,
Wingers: Shepherd, Davies, Cummins, McCabe

Props: Baxter, Palmer
Lock: Dennis
Flankers: Stubbs, Waugh, McCutcheon, Saffy

Inside Backs: Karauria-Henry, Mortlock, Lealiifano, Vuna,
Outside backs: Chambers, Taumoepeau
Fullbacks: Gerrard, Huxley, Rooney