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Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Reds beat the Crusaders to win the 2011 Super Rugby title

The Reds beat the Crusaders to win the 2011 Super Rugby title

The Wallabies are hoping that the success of the Queensland Reds will help boost their spirits as they head into a Tri Nations, and then the Rugby World Cup. The Wallaby squad has been announced, and includes 15 of the Super Rugby final winning Reds.

The state of Queensland is still on a high after their impressive 18-13 win over the Crusaders in Brisbane yesterday. The achievement has been two years in the making, and has even had opposition lock Brad Thorn admitting that hes happy for them.

"I've grown up here so I know there have been some hard years," said Thorn, who played for the Brisbane Broncos 200 times in the NRL.

"My brother played for the GPS club in 1996, that's when rugby was really strong here. Queensland was a proud union, one of the strongest in world rugby. It's been a tough sort of decade ... the crowds were so low and teams around Australia came along and took the (player) depth away. To see Queensland rugby so strong, there's a big part of me that appreciates that. I think it's a good thing."

The Reds had been sitting at the bottom three of the table for many years before coach Ewen McKenzie took over in 2009. In 2007, they took a 92-3 hiding from the Bulls, the competitions worst ever loss. In the past two years however, theyve turned things around drastically, narrowly missing out on the playoffs last year, but having won 23-31 matches.

"This team, all year people have doubted us and said we couldn't do it. Well, with this game I think we showed them we can. And we did it," said captain James Horwill.

Yesterday a clip of the Genia try was shown, so heres a highlights package that covers everything else. It was a brilliant game with plenty of incident, so some bits werent included to keep the video length down. Enjoy, and congrats to the Reds on a superb season.

Wallabies squad for Samoa test and Tri Nations

Forwards:
Ben Alexander (Brumbies), Ben Daley (Reds), Dave Dennis (Waratahs), Rocky Elsom (capt) (Brumbies), Saia Faingaa (Reds), James Hanson (Reds), Scott Higginbotham (Reds), Matt Hodgson (Western Force), James Horwill (Reds), Sekope Kepu (Waratahs), Salesi Ma'afu (Brumbies), Ben McCalman (Western Force), Stephen Moore (Brumbies), Dean Mumm (Waratahs), Wycliff Palu (Waratahs), David Pocock (Western Force), Tatafu Polota-Nau (Waratahs), Beau Robinson (Reds), Benn Robinson (Waratahs), Radike Samo (Reds), Nathan Sharpe (Western Force), Rob Simmons (Reds), James Slipper (Reds), Sitaleki Timani (Waratahs), Dan Vickerman (Waratahs)

Backs:
Adam Ashley-Cooper (Waratahs), Kurtley Beale (Melbourne Rebels), Luke Burgess (Waratahs), Quade Cooper (Reds), Rod Davies (Reds), Anthony Faingaa (Reds), Will Genia (Reds), Mark Gerrard (Melbourne Rebels), Matt Giteau (Toulon), Digby Ioane (Reds), Pat McCabe (Brumbies), Luke Morahan (Reds), James O'Connor (Melbourne Rebels), Nick Phipps (Melbourne Rebels), Lachie Turner (Waratahs)



Time: 06:56

Posted at 2:27 pm | 91 comments

Viewing 91 comments

Jack July 10, 2011 4:13 pm

I love that samo and beau robinson are in the squad, presumably drew mitchell and berrick barnes will be back in if fit?

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Juggernauter July 10, 2011 4:25 pm

Jeez, I couldn't be more happy for the Reds. Shows just how a team can be both strong in the set piece, fiercy in the tackle and brilliant in open play.

These guys are a source of pride for rugby everywhere...

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Mitchell J July 10, 2011 4:27 pm

Great to see the growth of the reds over the last while! Really looking forward to tri-nations and RWC now!

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creggs08 July 10, 2011 4:48 pm

that is a very strong squad to have to cut down....wouldn't like to have that job. any predictions on what the starting XV may be??

on another note fair play to the reds put in a hard fight yesterday to win.

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Darren July 10, 2011 7:07 pm

Barnes has retired from rugby apparently, due to he's last concussion taking a long time to recover from. He's susceptible to them apparently.

Thought Ireland had a shot against the Wallabys, not so sure anymore.

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Darren July 10, 2011 7:11 pm

PS feel bad for The Crusaders. They deserved something from a season where they had to play away for all their home games, and still do enough to get to the final. IMHO the final should be played at a neutral venue.

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Anarchangel July 10, 2011 7:54 pm

It was a bloody good game of rugby, I was exhausted at the end and I was just sitting in my chair!

Congrats to the Reds, they were more accurate and took every chance that was offered to them. The usually accurate Crusaders backline looked out of sorts and left a couple of tries on the park from poor handling.

But it was a damn fine effort by the boys, they did Canterbury proud this season.

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Anarchangel July 10, 2011 7:57 pm

@Darren: I don't think they should switch to neutral venues, even though in this case it would have favoured the Crusaders. A home final is the ultimate reward for the fans (and $ for the union); Queensland rugby fans had been waiting a long time for this one, and they deserved to see their table-topping team play for the title at home. Dealing with the home crowd is just part of the challenge for an away team.

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clipp July 10, 2011 9:04 pm

Just proves that australia's better than new zealand at rugby.

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Anonymous July 10, 2011 9:06 pm

@Jack yeah Mitchell, Barnes, Horne and Brown have been excluded due to long term insury. Should they be fit, especially Mitchell and Barnes, they should be in the starting line up or on the bench at least..

The last I heard about Barnes was that he was taking a break from rugby to cure his concuscions and footballer's migraine. He will be back though if he manages to overcome the injuries

In general I think it's a great line up, though i doubt that the Reds frontline has a chance of moving in to the RWC team..

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Anarchangel July 10, 2011 9:08 pm

@clipp: Fortunately, the Tri Nations is just around the corner to answer that question for this year.

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gf July 10, 2011 9:17 pm

Genia try: Nice dominant tackle from Adam Wallace-Harrison to force the turn over.. Richie McCaw over working the sweeping.. and awful attempt by 20 to make that tackle. To be fair I'm not playing super rugby but you expect better from Sir Richie and the Scrum half.

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Anonymous July 10, 2011 10:24 pm

AHAHAHAHAHAHA "Cheat McCaw" showed why him and the AB's are going to choke again this year!

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i love bacon July 10, 2011 10:47 pm

Looking through the squad named in the write-up, looks like I've still got to keep my fingers crossed for Mitchell to make it to the RWC. :)

(Although, being from the US, I'd say we're probably going to get beaten bad enough without Drew on the field!)

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i love bacon July 10, 2011 10:49 pm

And as for Cooper...well, he's showing himself to be a flyhalf after ROG's own heart (just substitute Quade's better running attacks for ROG's better boot). That Crusaders try where he just flat out gave up the tackle...the Reds definitely did it right by sticking him back in the fullback spot on defense, though.

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N July 11, 2011 3:42 am

Yeah he is similar to ROG in that he has question marks over his defence but his attacking play is possibly the best in the world (the only guy who you'd put ahead of him would be Carter).
He offers alot more than ROG in attack, a hell of alot more and that's why it's impossible to ever leave him out.
The Reds have the right idea putting him at 15 in defence (and his kick returns have been phenonmenal). The difference for the wallabies is that they have Beale as their 15 and it's difficult to take him out of 15 defensivly (becaue HIS kick returns are so good).
We'll see.

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Gaaaty July 11, 2011 4:30 am

I hate it when Mccaw gets the ball, he's such a bloody butterfingerz. Unacceptable at this level.

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Anonymous July 11, 2011 5:08 am

@clipp not really, if that was the case then the boks should have dominated the tri nations with two teams in the final. If club rugby is the measure of a national teams success then ireland and france would be up there but they aren't. Besides one win after 10 loses in a row isn't a sign of a good rugby playing nation.

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Colin July 11, 2011 5:35 am

@N, Having Beale at fullback complements the change, as when Cooper is back at 15 and a turnover occurs, Beale can step in as an acual 5/8 for a phase or two before Quade gets back and they switch.

That was the only flaw in the Reds, Quade was really the only 5,8/player maker and with him outback after a turnover they couldnt counter fast enough

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Anonymous July 11, 2011 6:08 am

@gf, richie probably didnt expect genia to run behind a player then run back behind the same player without getting penalised for shepherding so he wasnt ready to cover that lane.

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I hate ppl who write July 11, 2011 7:22 am

"If club rugby is the measure of a national teams success then ireland and france would be up there but they aren't."

Well they are actually, an Irish team are the HC champions, Ireland are the top ranked European team at the moment.
An English team came second, they are the second ranked European team and France is most certainly "up there".

How would club rugby not reflect on a national side? The higher the quality then the higher the quality of players to choose from.

Banter aside Anon, are you suggesting that Aus is not a great rugby playing nation? If you are I can only deduce that you're trolling

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Anonymous July 11, 2011 7:56 am

@I hate ppl who write "First!" ireland and france have always had great club teams, but this has not completely transferred on to the international stage as they have never reached their full potential.

Many claim they have the best club sides in the world yet these teams generally fail to beat the top 3 constantly, Ireland for example never beating the abs.

Oz do have a great team I'm not suggesting otherwise but their teams for a while until now have struggle at club level but yet still manage to beat most of the top international sides as well as winning two world cups, which nz have failed to do considering they have had a great club success.

So club level doesn't really reflect club level as oz have proven over the years.

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Anonymous July 11, 2011 7:58 am

I mean club level doesn't really reflect international level

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N July 11, 2011 8:01 am

Colin, i don't disagree with you really, Beale is almost as good a 5/8 as he is a fullback.
What I was saying is that while Cooper has done very well on kick returns, Beale is still better in that department. So you'd be sacraficing a great kick returner for a good kick retunrer (Beale is also safer under the high ball than Cooper).
It has plusses and negatives though, as you point out. Beale could be the 5/8 on the counter if he defended in the line. Although with O'Conner and Barnes/Gitaeu in the backline, it's not needed. The wallabies have three or four players capable of playing extremely well as a 5/8, unlike the Reds.

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opfazonk July 11, 2011 9:07 am

even though i'm a crusaders fan i have no problems accepting the reds as this year's champions. they did a great job and came back after the saders had a long phase of dominance. the only "weakness" in the reds team was the scrum - or maybe the crusaders were just too good? anyways, after thorn refused to pass the ball and his attempt to score was held up, momentum shifted and the reds converted every chance into points. after that the crusaders nevere really looked like comming back. good to have an exciting team like them in super rugby, after years and years of dull kicking rugby by the bulls... gonna be interesting to see if the boks will have any say in the 3N or even the RWC...

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JG July 11, 2011 10:12 am

To answer your question opfazonk, I do not think that South Africa will have any say in the 3N this year. Not when they are keeping 21 of their World Cup squad home from the NZ and Aus tour - obviously they only have eyes for the World Cup this year. As for the Reds, they deserved their win and am happy for them, and as much as I hate to say it, the Crusaders deserved to lose. Corey Flynn almost single handedly destroyed any chance they had of winning - not happy Jan.

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Anonymous July 11, 2011 11:17 am

No matter where this Beale plays defensively, the wallabie backs will be bloody dangerous offensively. they partly showed it in the last try nations, but i think most of them have even stepped up during the season. the wallabies will maybe be the most exciting team to watch. i dont dare to guess whether theyll be the most successful.

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Anonymous July 11, 2011 1:19 pm

All this club country debate blah blah. Who gives a fuck. Looking forward, wallabies will have the best backline in the comp, fact. Set piece and rucking will be a problem so we probably wont win the thing. One thing you cant take away. This squad is young and the wallabies will be a powerhouse come the 2015 world cup.

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Anonymous July 11, 2011 1:30 pm

I actually hate these NH matches. 18-13, talk about a huge "try-fest" why dont they learn how to play rugby like we do down south where all our games are packed with high scores!

Just another typical boring NH low scoring game!

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Flinto July 11, 2011 1:32 pm

^ Ignorance is bliss

It was a great final, no matter where you're from. Both sides attacked from the beginning. Nothing like the kickfest we see in some finals.

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early prediction July 11, 2011 2:17 pm

ireland will beat that Oz team.....chalk it down

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N July 11, 2011 2:46 pm

They are capable, but it's very unlikely.
Last four time Aus and Ire have played it's three victories to Aus and one draw.
In World Cups, there's no comparison, Australia have been in three finals, won twice. Quarters the other two times.
The best Ireland has done is the quarters, didn't even get out of their pool twice.
Australia is ranked 2nd in the world, Ireland 4th. And the gap between the two is pretty big on thos rankings, in terms of points.
Ireland has some good players, but Australia has arguably the best backline in rugby. Their only glaring weakness is scrummaging, and Ireland is not a major threat there either, so that shouldn't be much of a problem for the Wallabies.

But IReland are capable of the upset. But thats what it would be. On paper and form they are definatly underdogs.

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N July 11, 2011 2:47 pm

Oh, and semis once (1987)

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Sean July 11, 2011 3:54 pm

Agree with N (an Irish fan here). AUS are obviously the favourites between the two. Just look at their record and current world standings. That said, Ireland can beat any team if they decide to play to their potential which unfortunately for us Irish fans, is not too often.

For whatever reason, the form / class that is seen on a provincial level doesn't carry over to the national one. I would like to see a less conservative coach at the helm to try and sort that problem out. Someone like Joe Schmidt.

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Anonymous July 11, 2011 3:57 pm

Samo isn't Australian. He's Fijian.

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Anonymous July 11, 2011 4:21 pm

That is a fine looking Wallaby squad that may set the standard, especially for inventive backs play. However, with the likes of Pocock and Elsom bossing the break down, it would be just the backs that get the credit! I can't WAIT to see this team play!

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Darren July 11, 2011 4:50 pm

@ Sean & N,

Yes the Wallabys are clear favourites, plus they will have the benefit of a tough and gruelling Tri-nations under their belt before the WC, no better preparation.

But looking back at the world cups where Ireland began to advance with the intro of professionalism, '99 catastrophy getting knocked out by Argentina, '03 even more painful watching the great Keith Wood in tears walking off the field from his last ever intl. game after a pummelling by France (we almost gave it to the Aussies if it weren't for some stupid calls), '07 even bigger catastrophy, expected too much, wrapped players in cotton wool, bad tactics and strategy.

We've had nothing but bad experiences in the WC, pipped by Oz in '91, lost by 1 pt to Oz in '03. The best result we've had is beating Wales FFS. We're definately due something, if you learn from your mistakes, then the Irish rugby setup is a professor. We have a knockout rugby tactisian coaching things right now, and successful players at the peak of their powers. If an upset doesn't happen this year, whether it be Oz in the pools, or Boks in the QF, it will never happen..!

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Sean July 11, 2011 5:18 pm

Darren

With Kidney and his conservative crew, don't expect much. I appreciate the Grand Slam he got us but that was years ago now and I want the team to move forward, not backwards, where Kidney is bringing us.

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Darren July 11, 2011 9:46 pm

I'm not sure about that. If we're judging the displays on recent performances, then judge him on the England game. We had no problem scoring tries, disciplne fucked us over in the last tournament. Conservatism is needed, as we're not of the caliber of NZ/SA/Aus. I know what you mean though, it needs to be balanced.

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Sean July 11, 2011 11:51 pm

Ireland / England games are special and you can't judge them on one game. I'm a huge Ireland fan and a Leinster season ticket holder but Kidney needs to go. The quality of our players has been getting better and better but Kidney remains as conservative as always and limits the Irish teams' potential.

I'll admit, Kidney has taken some steps in the right direction recently, but it has taken him years and he had to be pushed. Even now he continues to play certain Munster players and Paddy Wallace (hasn't done a thing to deserve a place) for whom there are better options (I don't care which provence players come from, if the team ended up 100% Munster, 100% Leinster, 100% Connacht, I wouldn't care, I just want the best) and he is slow to pick new talent (e.g. Sean O'Brien, Mike Ross).


I'm not arguing with you at all if that's what it sounds like, just trying to get my point on Kidney across.

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Sean July 11, 2011 11:55 pm

"We had no problem scoring tries, disciplne fucked us over in the last tournament."

True, but we should be able to smash Scotland, beat Wales comfortably and beat France and England the majority of the time. So far, we only beat England the majority of the time. We have the potential to do more but we don't.

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Anonymous July 12, 2011 1:39 am

ireland didnt really turn up to much against wales this 6n however they were "robbed" (i know play to the whistle etc... and i know it happens to all teams so im not moaning as such!) against wales with the different ball try....

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N July 12, 2011 2:52 am

Darren, unfortunatley, sport doesn't work on who's due.
It's about performance, not dues.

So while Ireland may feel due for a run to the semis or even the final of the WC, what's most likely is that they'll lose to Aus, beat everyone else in their pool, then get knocked out by South Africa in the quarters.

But who knows, they may acheive more, against the odds.

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Rugby Fan July 12, 2011 6:41 am

Rugby World Cup is almost on bitcheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeees!!! :)

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zacaria July 12, 2011 7:33 am

so pumped for the rwc and tri nations, great to see rugby pushing a new style of play cant wait.

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Lei July 12, 2011 9:19 am

Man I remember reading in the paper (here in Australia) a few years ago the Reds were absolutely getting smashed by sports journalists. Some former players even suggested the team should go without pay because of their poor performances. Amazing turn around.

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Anonymous July 12, 2011 10:38 am

I'm with N on Ireland..... Although I think the guy meant Ireland had not done well in ages they are 'due' a bit of luck or a good performance.... I.e I've had bad luck for so long I'm due a bit of good'

I think Australia does have the better back line however I think what Ireland lacks in the backs they make up for in the forwards (at least on paper against the Aussies) but the rwc being in the SH means I think it will predominantly be a quick 'backs' game, so my money is still on Aus for that one. Which as N said leaves a more than likely game against SA and i believe SA is definately stronger in both the forwards and backs side of the game...

Can't wait though. I'd rather see Ireland go down fighting that getting thrashed by not really turning up as they sometimes do....better still I'd like to see them win it (:

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N July 12, 2011 10:51 am

Didn't mean to be rude, it may have sounded that way.
I just think it's most likely they'll lose to Aus then SA.

And I have to disagree with the forward thing. Ireland has a comparable pack to Australia, there;s no way you could say they are better. They have similar problems in the scrum, their second row is ageing but decent and their backrow is very good.
You could say basically the exact same thing about Aus except their second row is younger and getting better. They also have Pocock, an that will definatly make a difference.

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worldcupfevervictim July 12, 2011 11:30 am

Great try to win it on! Should be an exciting World Cup.

On a seperate note is anyone else worried about the attendance figures this year? I really think the IRB or whoever need to do more to promote rugby across all levels worldwide because I can see the sport struggling in the years to come.

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Anonymous July 12, 2011 12:48 pm

ireland have better forwards i think

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Paolo July 12, 2011 1:01 pm

Anon at 6:21 - no need to wait to see this Aussie team play - they already have. England beat them 35-18 in the autumn of 2010

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Anonymous July 12, 2011 1:37 pm

the comments section of super 15 is full of reland this"and ROG that " what the fuck? ..... retards

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i love bacon July 12, 2011 2:17 pm

^Anonymous troll: we're talking rugby. Got a problem with that? Maybe we ought to just sit here calling people "retards" since that's obviously very mature to do.

I agree with N in that I'm not sure where on the field Ireland might be better than Australia...forward-wise, sure there are players like O'Brien, Heaslip, and Wallace who have shown themselves to be great running forwards...even Healy likes to have a dash down the field. The thing is that while Australia looked to have started out a bit janky in the scrum department, their forwards only keep getting better. For some reason, Healy has needed to improve at the scrum for a while now, but still hasn't. And John Hayes isn't getting any younger or more powerful either...

As for the backline, despite Ireland having a pretty good squad from 9 to 15, Australia's backs simply look to be the most exciting backline in the world at the moment. For too long, Kidney seems to have overlooked trying new players in the backs *cough*Fion Carr*cough*, and has kept in the likes of D'Arcy (don't get me wrong, he's not an awful player or anything, but he gives up too many missed tackles and against teams like Australia, that simply cannot happen or they'll rack up the tries). It is good to see he's got a few young guys in the prelim squad so far like Felix Jones and...uhhh...well, I guess that's it. Unfortunately, the choice for inside center seems to be stuck at D'Arcy and Paddy Wallace...neither of whom sound that capable of shutting down Australia attacking runs.

Without getting into a hemispherical debate here, I'll just say that Ireland's fantastic game against England back in March was unique in that for once, Ireland played more like a SH team - with the emphasis on offloading after breaking the line, running rugby, Reddan getting quick ball out, and the attempts to poach the ball in the tackle. Granted, it was a special game against the red roses, but hopefully that's the direction Ireland are moving forward. If so...then maybe there's a chance they'll maybe surprise OZ.

Either way, I'm just looking forward to a lot of great games this September, and some upsets by the underdogs would be fantastic.

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Anonymous July 12, 2011 3:05 pm

@ i love bacon

Healy has improved his scrum. Dramatically. And Hayes is not their first choice. Or second choice even. I don't even think he was on the bench in Ireland's last match.

As for what you said about the backs, I agree.

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Anonymous July 12, 2011 6:03 pm

I think people are underestimating the Aussies scrum. While it is true that it hasnnt been great in recent years they have improved a lot. The Waratahs for example had a fantastic scrum this year, and they will probably make up the Aussie front line as well during RWC with Robinson, TPN and Kep, as long as injuries permit it.

There's also an intresting article about the Aussie scrum in the Sydney Morning Herald: http://www.smh.com.au/rugby-union/union-news/wallabies-scrum-woes-behind-us-robinson-20110709-1h7rl.html which claims that the aussie scrum will be good come world cup.

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Z July 12, 2011 6:05 pm

@ N (I comment to you before N about Ireland being stronger in the pack... complications arising i'll call myself Z)

I actually (embarrassingly enough) forgot about pocock, i remember watching him and thinking he was a great player. I think he will be a massive contributor to the Aussie team in the rwc...

Im still not sure whether Ireland are just that bit tighter in the forwards.... I do agree (after more thought) that Ireland are not clearly better in the forwards than Aus, however i still think they might inch it a little in a forwards battle, at least up in the NH in the rain, however as you pointed out the youth and the performance of the Aussie back row and second rows will play a HUGE part in the SH where no doubt it will be more dry and a faster quicker game...

should be exciting though.

I think the backs for Ireland are just lacking.... I mean someone like BOD (I know you guys down south are sick of the name) but I really think he (if he survives) will show some magic, but its those positions inbetween and outside of him which are a little choppy and changey and unreliable. whereas Aus at least are pretty tight in the back line.

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N July 12, 2011 11:27 pm

If you have a look at Australia's forward pack it'll probly be this :
1. Robinson (great ball runing front rower, decent in the scrums).
2.Polotau-Nau (Bam-Bam, one of the most kamikaze hitters in world rugby, puts on massive hits and runs and if he comes off he's replaced by the tough as nails Stephen Moore).
3. Kepu or Slipper (both great ball running tight heads, very athletic, egt rhough alot of work in defence. Both have question makrs over their scrummagging though, tight head is an issue for Aus, which is why their scrum suffers).
4. Horwill (very, very good second rower, big athletic, great defender and runner. Also young, improving all the time).
5. Sharpe (not the best second rower in the world, but big, gets through alot of work, excellent in the line out and tons of experience. He'll be approaching 100 caps and this'll be his 3rd World Cup, so he'll add experience and leadership. Great workrate despite his age).
6. Elsom (Captain, great player. Not in the best form though and coming off injuries, but still has a hell of alot to offer. The great thing though is that Higginbothom has developed into an excellent no6, so Elsom is not the only option at this position).
7. Pocock (one of the best flankers in the world, Mccaw's succesor as best no7. Incredible defence and dominates rucks. Also a good ball runner).
8. Palu/Macalmun (Both good players, Palu just a massive lump, devestating in defence, good ball runner, but he has really struggled with injuries lately. Mcalmun is a good player, not amazing, but solid in all aspects. Gets thru a ton of work and is young and improving).

All in all the forward pack of Australia very good, although their are better forward packs around.

But what people must realise is that Australia could not possibly win the games they do and have risen to no2 in the world without a good forward pack. It would be impossible.

The thing is, Europeans really focus on scrums as a litmus test for forward play. For some reason they don't really focus on defence, ball running, line outs or support play when they look at a forward pack. Australia struggles in the scrum at times, but excells in virtually all other areas of forward play.
Perhaps not to the extent of the All Blacks, and they don't have the power game of South Africa or England (although that's a choice, Australia plays differently, by spreading the ball and backing their athleticism and stamina).

Ireland has some very good players too in their forward pack, particularly in their back row.

But they are no better. In fact they are similar. Solid second row, very godo backrow, front row with mibility and skills but struggle at scrum time.

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Anonymous July 13, 2011 8:42 am

Robinson seems to be out for the World Cup due to a knee injurie http://www.smh.com.au/rugby-union/union-news/wallabies-lose-benn-robinson-for-world-cup-20110713-1hdhi.html

are there any valid replacements for him?

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Z July 13, 2011 10:38 am

I think Ireland just appear tighter in the forwards....

I'd agree that no one player jumps out as better or worse... (with exception to perhaps pocock who i sincerely believe is ahead of mccaw...at least he isnt penalised 24/7)

The scrum isn't a bad test for the forwards though, as technically it is one of their primary jobs....

and at the set piece like a scrum you need to have a tight group whereas australia i honestly find a little shakey, whether this is something they have ironed out a little bit recently i do not know, i must admit i think i missed their recent games. (Im not trying to sound like a dick, i know they lost and shit happens but) how did they get on vs England around the forwards region?

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Anonymous July 13, 2011 10:55 am

LOL go back and watch the behind the scenes with the crusaders video. It's damn funny now in retrospect!

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Paolo July 13, 2011 11:33 am

Z

the answer is not very well,and if hadn't been for the brilliance of Beale, it would have been a lot worse

The Aussie pack was...

Robinson (Slipper 55), Moore, Alexander, Chisholm (Mumm 57), Sharpe, Elsom, Pocock, McCalman

And they got completely done by England, who weren't playing a power game at all, but a dynamic attacking game

Elsom and Pocock were about the only two who put their hands up - but 2 flankers do not make a pack

I think this contrasts with Ireland who have a lot of experience in their pack along with a lot of talent and players on form.

O'Brien is a monster, Heaslip is in the form of his life and Wallace is as wiley a flanker as they come. The locks have massive experience and in the front row Mike Ross seems to have taught Cian Healey how to scrum

I think so long as the Irish backs and flankers can shut down Cooper and Genia, then they have the power and skill to beat the Aussies

(can't wait to watch O'Brien running at Cooper....)

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Anonymous July 13, 2011 2:49 pm

Robinson is out of the RWC. Ireland don't have a great scrum, but on paper it looks better. I'd be worried about the Italian scrum though. That may just give them a minute chance against the Aussies unless the ref picks up on Castro's illegal scrummaging techniques early.

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Anonymous July 13, 2011 2:51 pm

"can't wait to watch O'Brien running at Cooper...."


Rest in peace Quade. You shall be dearly missed.

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Anonymous July 13, 2011 7:07 pm

Not sure if the Reds deserved that one. Don't get me wrong, they had a wicked season. But it looked to me that the Crusaders were playing a better game and the Reds just got a couple lucky breaks. Congrats anyways!

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Anonymous July 13, 2011 11:11 pm

"Not sure if the Reds deserved that one. Don't get me wrong, they had a wicked season. But it looked to me that the Crusaders were playing a better game and the Reds just got a couple lucky breaks. Congrats anyways!"

I'm not a Reds fan, in fact, I'd be more of a Crusaders fan, but you can't say they don't deserve the title when 1) they were at the top of the table (ahead of Crusaders by 5 points) and 2) the Reds won the final and there wasn't any controversy.

They didn't really have "lucky" breaks. Digby just flat footed everyone in front of him because they were drifting and didn't think he go flat out. That was just smart and speed by him. And the Genia try, well he just saw a gap and ran. He is lucky that Cooper distracted the defenders in front of the try line, but that was Cooper making the right choice and making luck for Genia.

Great to see this turnaround from the Reds. From whipping boys to League winners. Sounds like an American football Hollywood type film.

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N July 13, 2011 11:52 pm

The italians have never, ever beaten Australia.
It's basically ridiculous to think they have a shot at beating them at the World Cup.
It will be a training run for the Aussies.

In regards to the game against England, yes they were outplayed in that game. But that's the only game they lost on that tour.

They beat Wales, Italy, France and significantly, New Zealand on that tour.

Every team has a bad game from time to time. But to pick out the one game they lost in five, and say that defines the Aussie pack is non-sensical.

In regards to the backrow, Elsom and Pocock are amongst the best flankers in the world. The Aussies don't have any real issues in the forward pack beyond their scrum.

And to define a forward pack purley byt heir scrum is a very European way of looking at a pack. It doesn't really make sense to look at that in isolation.

It's like looking at a backline and judging them only on their kicking, and ignoring passing, running lines, support play etc.

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murph July 14, 2011 8:49 am

Not sure if the Reds deserved it???!

Gotta love the Kiwis. Reading their media you'd think the only reason the Reds won is that the Crusaders didn't turn up. The Reds have beaten the Crusaders four times on the trot (inc. one trial match) and they still won't accept it. Classic!

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Anonymous July 14, 2011 12:19 pm

digby ioane is the most dangerous winger in the world IMO. his sidestep is freaking smooth. galloping run, great body balance, and massive upper body strength. and plus, he knows where the gap is.

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slap July 14, 2011 12:48 pm

@N

They had never, ever beaten France... it's not ridiculous to think they have a shot. It would be ridiculous to think they have a good chance at winning.

They were comprehensively beaten by England. They were controlled from start to finish and never had a look in. Wales are shit, Italy are shit, France imploded as only France do and Stephen Donald won the game for Australia. People also forget how New Zealand beat them quite a bit before that match.

Elsom might have been the best back rower. Not now. He was fantastic in Ireland and then he came back took a break and never really returned for some reason. Pocock, yes. I'd consider him better than McCaw. I'd much rather have the Irish flanker O'Brien over any other flanker.

I'm not trying to take anything away from Australia, I'm just pointing out they're not as dominant as people think. I'd say NZ are favourites to win, and Aus are a close second.

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Z July 14, 2011 2:31 pm

Hmmm N the only problem with what you said about the rest of Aus games were their opposition I.e Italy, Wales, france with the exception of France are all terrible teams, and in some ways France at their current state have been terrible... So effectively it's like sending England down south and them beating tonga Samoa and fiji but losing to Australia an saying it was only a bad game in a patch. Ofcourse I'm not saying it defines their pack or something similar but I do feel the Aussie pack is shaky... Take NZ they have a solid pack strength wise and they're fast same as SA. To exaggerate and put it very crudely I feel Aus has somewhat sacrificed scrums so they can have another 8 back row or backs on the pitch.... As I said it's exaggerated and crude but honestly they don't seem to perform as a "pack" as well as other teams. Perhaps it's just ironing out a few kinks and getting a bit more practice into a young team but for a team which I truly believe is one of the best in the world their forwards seem to let them down slightly....without a real indication of why....

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murph July 14, 2011 7:28 pm

Fact:There is not a single Irish forward who would make the Wallaby forward pack.

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JG July 14, 2011 8:51 pm

The problem I see for Australia in this world cup is England (if they both make it to the semi finals unscathed). England have beaten Australia in the last two world cups - the English seem to know how to get it over the aussies when it counts.

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N July 14, 2011 11:59 pm

What about NZ, Z?
That was the only game they lost last year.

And if beating NZ, Wales, France and Itlay doesn';t count for anything, what does?
They also beat South africa, Ireland, England and Fiji that year.

So what does count?

Who do they have to beat?

They beat the teams ranked 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 12th.

They didn't play anyone else.

What are they supposed to do?

And the wallabies forwards defend well, run the ball well, good support play, good rucking (good at turning over the ball), good passing skills, good line outs, decent mauling, great line-outs...

The only real area of major concern for the forward pack is the scrum.

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Z July 15, 2011 2:19 am

'And if beating NZ, Wales, France and Itlay doesn';t count for anything, what does?
They also beat South africa, Ireland, England and Fiji that year.'

If you are referring to Australias last win over England that was in 2010, they have then proceeded to lose every other game against England since.... bearing in mind England is pants, or at least has been pants up until lately it doesnt show much promise.

As I said, beating Wales and Italy is not a great feat for a team like Australia. Wales are currently flopping around hoping for a good run and italy are....well.. lets face it, italy are italy... they show the occasional bit of promise...

Which brings us to France. France as we all know produce some cracking rugby, yet still have the tendency to play like a bunch of school boys suffering from an all you can eat buffet... and as stated france's latest management has had a different player starting every position every different game and generally the players dont know whether they're coming or going from one week to the next. (not to mention they lost to Italy lately)

But ofcourse it is a good result for Aus to beat France.

onto Ireland, another good result for Australia, and NZ another fantastic result, albeit rather a "scotland vs south africa" sort of result though....i.e a little bit of luck!

But you seem to misunderstand me, im not saying that Australia is bad, in fact they are far from it. and if you look at each australian players individual performances for their provinces there is very little to complain about. All i mean is when it comes to forward play there is not the sort of play i'd expect from them...

They do turn over well, however that is down to pocock and honestly pocock alone...again as i said "each individual performance can not be faulted" butttt things like scrums are basic, and how australia can have the team that they have and still be less than effective or downright sloppy in a lot of their forwards basics is beyond me.....

They play quick ball, they basically play a variation of 7's or league, good offloads quick ball etc etc etc, however things like rucks and static slow play they seem to be shown up in...

All im saying is their forwards are great on paper and for their provincial teams yet for some reason albeit a lack of experience or nerves they do not perform so well for real... (yet anyway!)

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N July 15, 2011 9:54 am

Sorry Z, but we aren't gonna agree.
Australia don't play sevens rugby.
They actually play something very close to Crusaders rugby. It's Deans' influence.
They turn over ball all the time with or without Pocock (though obviously more with him there), just like the Saders.
They actually play a much more NZ style of game now. Rucking is a major focus, especially counter rucking.
Their backline play is basically a model of Deans' crusaders teams. They are mostly basic in what they do, but they have a really high skill rate (ie make very few mistakes) and they play very, very fast. Again, just like the Saders.
The most complicated thing they do is use alot of dummy runners, but their primary focus is just having great passing skills and executing skills quickly.
Sometime they pull fancy stuff out off line-outs or scrums, Deans is fantastic at coming up with great set play like that, but in open play they just play what's in front of them.

Their forwards focus on skills as well, like support play, mobility and passing. They dominate rucks as a unit, they either don't attack rucks at all, or they attack in numbers. Almost never will they send anyone one in alone.

And again, you cant say their defence is terrible, their line outs are very good, their running game is excellent. They dont maul much, but none of the tri-nations teams do these days, just occaisonally.

They aren't perfect, particularly at scrums, but their rucking is one of their strengths, as are line outs. In terms of tight play, Im not sure what you mean. They don't hit it up one off all that much, just occaisonally, but that's how Australia has always chosen to play. They have great backs, and good skills, so they use them and try to play with width.

And again, they lost to England twice, which is their worst reuslt last year. They beat them once.
They also beat South Africa, home and away (on the veldt), NZ (luck? If it came down to luck NZ would lose alot more often - Ireland sometimes gets lucky and has never beaten NZ), France, Ireland. These are the best teams in the world. What more can one ask.

They aren't the best team in the world, NZ, SA and ENG all can challenge them at the moment. But apart from NZ, they are just as capable of beating those teams.

Anyway, I guess we could go on forever.

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Z July 15, 2011 10:47 am

Sigh, either you aren't fully aware of my point or you aren't so interested in it.

My point: Australian forwards are not playing as a team thats 2nd in the world should be. they are not gelled. and if they continue to lose to a team like England then they could be in serious trouble.

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Anonymous July 15, 2011 12:56 pm

"Fact:There is not a single Irish forward who would make the Wallaby forward pack."

Hey Murph, amazing front row you have... better than Ireland's... oh wait! You don't have any props.


Hey Murph, amazing second row you have... Nathan Sharpe... lol

Back row? The only Aussie that would make the Irish back row is Pocock.

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Slap July 15, 2011 1:00 pm

@N

You missed my response: They had never, ever beaten France... it's not ridiculous to think they have a shot. It would be ridiculous to think they have a good chance at winning.

They were comprehensively beaten by England. They were controlled from start to finish and never had a look in. Wales are shit, Italy are shit, France imploded as only France do and Stephen Donald won the game for Australia. People also forget how New Zealand beat them quite a bit before that match.

Elsom might have been the best back rower. Not now. He was fantastic in Ireland and then he came back took a break and never really returned for some reason. Pocock, yes. I'd consider him better than McCaw. I'd much rather have the Irish flanker O'Brien over any other flanker.

I'm not trying to take anything away from Australia, I'm just pointing out they're not as dominant as people think. I'd say NZ are favourites to win, and Aus are a close second.

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N July 16, 2011 2:50 am

Hey Slap, I didn't miss it, i just figured I'd crapped on enough already.

Look, alot of what we're talking about are subjective judgement calls.

I personally don't fully agree with the assesment you guys are making of the Aussie pack.

I think it's largely based on a perception that Australia is all about backs and not forwards that does the round, aperticularly in the UK/Ireland, but that is completely unrealistic. I think the reason that perception does the rounds is Australia's scrum, and the reaction the media there to the weakness of that scrum.

I alluded to it earlier when I said that judging a forward pack just on a scrum is ludicrous from my point of view, that it's not a litmujs test, it's just one of many different facets. E.g., if the All Blacks (as has occaisonally been the case in the past) struggle at line-outs, but excell at everything else, they are still a great forward pack, they just have one area of weakness.

In regards to judgements of players, it's subjective, but there aren't that many Irish players I'd pick in an Australia team. Basically only their backrowers, and O'Driscoll. Maybe Bowe off the bench or something.

But even in the backrow, the only position I think they might be stronger in is n08, because I think Heaslip's a good player, and Pa;lu is injured all the time, while Macalmun is still developing. At no 6 I would still take Elsom and Higginbothom over O'Brien and Pocock over anyone in the world apart from maybe Mccaw.

But it's all subjective I guess.

And Z, I'm sorry to exasperate you, but it's not that I am not interested or I won;t acknowledge your point, I just simply don't agree.

But that's ok, we'll all know the truth of it soon, come the World Cup. Then all this speculation will be proven one way or the other.

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Z July 16, 2011 11:49 pm

Actually N, perhaps the real issue lies in the fact australia would rather keep the ball in the backs rather than the forwards, so we dont reaaaally get the forwards domination we see with other teams....

just a thought...

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Anonymous July 17, 2011 5:43 pm

the whole team got a wake up call from Tonga. great to see this whole thread and then the result

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Anonymous July 17, 2011 7:16 pm

It was Samoa?

But the Australian pack is alright in open play. Pocock is brilliant and I like higgenbottom too. But they are a weak pack compared to most other teams. And it will show in the WC. Can't see Australia doing very well, seeing they were beaten home and away by England in 2010, and haven't improved since. Can't wait for the Tri Nations tho!

If Newzeeland bottle it or lose DC the WC is up for grabs. And i'd fancy England then. But if they play at there best I can't see them being beaten.

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Anonymous July 17, 2011 7:17 pm

AAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHHAHAHA

Australia just got a wake up call from Samoa!!! Now that was f*cking hilarious!

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Anonymous July 17, 2011 7:27 pm

" I didn't miss it, i just figured I'd crapped on enough already."

You didn't crap on anything buddy. Samoa just shat all over you though

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i love bacon July 18, 2011 3:41 am

I tuned into the game 45 minutes in (I hadn't remembered it was on this Sunday), only to be amusingly surprised at the score on the screen.

I mean...Australia are ranked no. 2 for a reason, right? And I don't buy into the "IRB rankings are crap" argument, because the formula for calculating it is pretty sensible and actually favors teams that can pull off upsets - like Samoa - rather than the guys at the top.

I'll have to try and catch the whole game to see where it all went wrong for Australia (or, more appropriately, where it all went right for Samoa).

But I was definitely in the "Australia will take Pool C pretty easily" camp. Not that this match means they won't (in fact, a weak showing can sometimes be the kick in the ass a team needs to get back on form), but I was pretty happy to see the result of this game...but maybe it was just Australia having a particularly "French" rugby day?

...or maybe there will be a lot more entertaining and less steamroller-type games in this year's RWC than previously thought.

Well done, Samoa! Thanks for the hope :)

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N July 18, 2011 5:37 am

You know what Z, after that display against Samoa, you may be right.
Pretty disgusted with the Wallabies after that.
Not taking anything away froma very good Samoa side, they had more passion, rucked better and used the ball better in attack. They showed great grit and determination in defence and generally outplayed Australia, across the park.

After this I'm thinking you might be right Z. Maybe they are soft.

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Z July 18, 2011 11:21 am

hmmmm, im sort of with I love bacon though on this one...

I mean i dont honestly believe the wallabies have a good gelling up front but after the upset by samoa chances are they will take their big red faces to the training field and sort it out...

I mean take for example SA in the autumn, they lost to Scotland one week and thrashed england the next... well england is generally better than scotland... so we can assume that SA had a "french day" (as bacon put it!) and made england pay for what scotland did...

so in some way, god help the next aussie opponents because although they may not beat them (whoever it is) they'll definitely give them a hard game!

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Anonymous July 18, 2011 1:33 pm

Remember England trashed the Aussies the week before, so your logic is just wrong.

England had an offday, SA aren't very special at the moment which will show this Tri-nations. Australia showed they can't play hard and other teams will pick up on this. Disrupt them at the breakdown and they can't manage.

The Aussies wil beat SA saterday cause SA are bringing a second string team? And Australia wont.

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Z July 18, 2011 6:42 pm

Well anonymous my logic was obviously NOT wrong considering you used my logic to say England had an off day....

So in your opinion it was my facts that were incorrect not my logic...

Obviously we will see whether SA or Aus will be dominant in this tri nations... however I still dont believe that England could have such an off day and lose to a team that lost to Scotland...

perhaps SA had an off day against scotland, then had a good day against England and England had an off day at the same time..... if you want to be a cock about it..

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N July 19, 2011 3:02 am

It tells me that the Wallabies rely on a few key individuals, heavily rely on them.
Without the grit of Pocock, the power of Palu and Polota-Nau and the physicality and bulk of Horwill, the Aussie pack may well just be a bit soft compared to the best packs.

And without the magic of Genia, Cooper, Beale and O'Conner the backline looks fairly average too.

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