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World Rugby Awards recap to honour Dan Carter, Japan, the Best Try and more

I think you've taken my comment too seriously. I was having a little dig at all those who have used this meaningless 'analysis' as a reason for NZ's failures in other World Cups. It was a joke.

7 Months, 3 Weeks ago

World Rugby Awards recap to honour Dan Carter, Japan, the Best Try and more

Three days and still no comments. I'm not surprised, I think most of us have moved on now. I know I have… I'm increasingly concerned that the All Blacks have peaked way too early for Japan 2019. It's a worry.

7 Months, 3 Weeks ago

Highlights and celebrations as All Blacks win successive Rugby World Cup titles

I take your point, Oliver, and of course sports like basketball and others are big in Australia too. I didn't go into detail (my posts are already too long) but the matter of rugby competing with not just one, but two or three other powerful football codes is very pertinent. Rugby League and/or Aussie Rules absolutely dominate the football culture across Australia in a way that few people who haven't lived in the country appreciate. So not only do they attract the vast majority of the potential fan base, sponsorship money and media attention, without even mentioning the competition from other major sports like soccer, cricket etc, they also absorb the bulk of exactly the kind of young athletes that would do well in Union. It's this competition with two similar but much bigger and more wealthy football codes in all regions of a relatively small general population, that makes Australia's case a little different, in my opinion.
And with the fan base strung thinly around the edge of a land mass that would easily swallow up Europe/GB and then some, the economics of trying to run a workable national competition to develop young players are also formidable. In comparison to the wealth of the game in countries like France and England, a year ago the ARU announced that it was nearly insolvent and only a WCup TV deal saved them from literally running out of cash by 2015.
So I'm not trying to write a sob story for Australian rugby, just noting a few of the particular challenges that it faces. They've made four WC Finals and won a couple of them, playing a fine brand of rugby. Oz rugby gets a lot of knockers online (not so much on RD) so I'm happy to defend what I think is a pretty admirable record, all things considered.

7 Months, 3 Weeks ago

Highlights and celebrations as All Blacks win successive Rugby World Cup titles

As a New Zealander and life-long ABs fan living in Australia for a number of years, I've eventually been able to do the unthinkable for some of my NZ friends and family, and adopt the Wallabies as my second team. Seeing the Australians play so often has given me a familiarity with the players, and an appreciation of their attitude and style of game that allows me to pretty much barrack for them against anyone but NZ. I also follow the AFL and watch quite a bit of NRL and see the difficulties for rugby in a society where it's often the third or fourth ranked code of football.
It wasn't so long ago that Australian rugby was in poor shape. The style attempted to be free-running but often looked repetitive and uninspired, and the packs were getting marched about the paddock too often. The loses were stacking up, and you could sense the media and public losing interest, in a country where there is so much other sport going on. So, in my opinion, the turnaround in recent months has been a very good thing, because I think a strong, adventurous and successful (up to a point!) Wallabies is good for international rugby. Australia always has some great players but in some periods the depth hasn't been there. Maybe they're entering one of those eras where the right group of players and the right coach starts to make things tick along nicely for a while.
In 2011 NZ played their best match of the WC tournament against Australia, and they knew they had to bring their best against them this time too. It feels pretty good to be an All Blacks fan at the moment, but I'm also glad about how well the Aussies played throughout this WC and I'll continue to enjoy supporting them, despite my sister's dismay.

7 Months, 3 Weeks ago

Rugby Tactics: Screened Passing Analysis

Several aspects of Union don't exist in League (e.g. line out, ruck, maul) so the changes and innovations in all those areas over the years in Union have nowhere in League to crossover to. The League scrum used to have a competitive element which has now been removed completely by the ball being allowed to be fed directly back through the second row. So there's not much crossover there except that in Union a crooked feed is not penalised as often as it used to be, but penalties do happen and halfbacks are aware of that. To my mind the most important area where Union has learnt from League is in defensive patterns in the backs. Fairly straightforward wraparounds and missed-man passes are no longer effective in Union as much as they used to be, the defences are more savvy.
The screen passing discussed here has increased in Union in recent years, especially closer to the line, as one of several methods of giving the defence more to think about. I watch a lot of League and tries are regularly disallowed due to crossing and obstruction after this type of play. So, as you say, the dummy runners are allowed to draw a defenders into making the wrong choice, but cannot hinder their movement towards the ball carrier. It's often a very fine line and the frequent groans from commentators and fans after TMO decisions show that general agreement on a ruling is rare.

8 Months, 1 Week ago

Rugby Tactics: Screened Passing Analysis

I more or less agree with your opening point, but then I feel you contradict yourself with your last comment, which is a comparison of the codes which doesn't hold up in my experience. I don't know what Rugby Union you watch, but I see plenty of running with the ball and "on-field magic". Admittedly I watch mainly comps like Super15, ITM, Rugby Champ. etc, but at least 3 of the recent WC Q/Fs had about as much running with the ball as most fans would want. I say "most fans" because I think most Rugby Union people also value the contest and strategies in the set pieces, there has to be a balance. In League, those aspects of the game have disappeared.

And I'm not sure what you mean by "when Union learns to run the ball again". I've been with Union for a long time, and in that time there's never been more running with the ball than there is now. And in terms of full team involvement, it's never been done better as far as I can see.

I also really enjoy watching a lot of NRL on a weekly basis, but I could never prefer it. Or to give my partner's point of view: "Watching all that Rugby's bad enough, but I really don't understand how you could possibly watch that horrible League" But that's another matter.

8 Months, 1 Week ago

Joe Marler explains to referee that early RWC exit is reason for late tackle against Wasps

Ha Ha… excellent. It's a small moment but a nice change from the sourness of the last couple of days.

8 Months, 1 Week ago

'Penalty was the wrong call' says World Rugby review of Craig Joubert decision

I agree with pretty much everything. Also, the majority of refs would've made the same call as Joubert did in real time. There seems to an underlying assumption in so many of the complaints, that a different referee would've definitely made a different call. Nonsense. Only by examining the slo-mo do any of us know for sure that the ball brushed Phipps' arm. The vast majority of even the best refs would have made the same call as Joubert and been in the same position you describe.

8 Months, 1 Week ago

Wallabies snatch victory from courageous Scots at the death

DrG… I'm not sure what happened, my reply ended up above your post instead of below. This might too.

8 Months, 1 Week ago

Wallabies snatch victory from courageous Scots at the death

It's taken a couple of coffees, but I think I see what you're saying. Because the Scotsman grabbed the ball while offside, then maybe that constitutes deliberate foul play and can therefore be sent to the TMO. I think the law recognises the difference between instinctively grabbing at a possibly knocked-on ball (and often, who can tell?), and deliberately playing the ball while being unambiguously offside. And thank God for that. It's only on slo-mo replay that any of us knows for sure that it brushed against Phipps. My position is that the vast majority of even the very best refs would've made the same decision in real time, and players too.

8 Months, 1 Week ago