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The Call of the Wallaby - Episode 1

So you are suggesting that newspapers and the media in general are more prone to cover league over union. I guess then that's just what has happened historically. League just has more of a fan base, especially in Sydney. Union still looked upon as a schools sport for the upper middle class. I got that from the documentary, regarding the single mom who has a kid going to St. Joseph's.
So winning two RWCs hasn't had the sort of knock-on effect that one would think would happen with that kind of success. Again I see some irony here too, because the union game in the last decade or two has changed so much as to have so many similarities to league. Maybe the average casual fan of rugby has it in his mind, in Australia, that with the two codes having become somewhat similar, why not just be focused on league, especially if coming from a family of league club supporters.
An uncle of mine who lived in Sydney was a Balmain Tigers fan back in the day. He died a few years back. Yet he always knew who was on the Wallabies, and certainly watched the internationals when they were on the TV.
Being an American, from California, I only will comment that rugby here in the States is never, ever going to be very popular, though it's past being a "cult" sport. There was some interest developed with the telecast of the 1995 RWC, but most games were on an night. Next year it will be interesting to see how much ESPN gives to its coverage on TV. My point is that interest is lower for rugby than soccer, which has recently peaked with the WC in Brazil. High school rugby is still rather spotty. It's been eclipsed by la crosse, as American boys have been attracted to playing that sport if they aren't into football, baseball, and basketball. Soccer is very popular with youth here. Ask Americans on the street if they've ever seen a rugby match, and most will still say no.

5 Days, 7 Hours ago

The Call of the Wallaby - Episode 1

There is some irony in the fact that when rugby union was still amateur Australia got on top, as they were on the upswing in the 80's and on into the early 90's with the 1991 RWC championship. Sure, the 1999 RWC was in the new era, but since then, well into the professional era, Australia hasn't done as well as the other top rugby nations. So did League counter Union going professional, one-up it if you will? I'm really curious about this, as it seemed rugby union was really going well in Australia before this past decade. It's been nearly 30 years since I visited Down Under. This web site is one of the only ways I can keep up with what's going on, since I dropped my Fox Sports World subscription a dozen or more years ago, as they were showing less and less rugby, more and more soccer, at the time here in the USA, and it wasn't worth the money to keep it on my cable TV subscription.
Believe it, rugby on TV here in the States was much more available between 1995 and about 2002. It's now only on premium channels, and they aren't always showing games in pubs at really good times, and I'm not spending over $200/month just to see some rugby matches. Sometimes NBC Cable Sports has rugby, like some recent 7's and last months Japan/US and Canada/US matches. That's rare!

6 Days, 6 Hours ago

Jonah Lomu wreaking havoc against Australia in 1995

I doubt he had or has a 28" waist. Maybe a 32 or 33 inch waist. I'd believe that. For comparison, an old American football player, Jim Brown, when he was playing in the 50's and 60's for the Cleveland Browns, had a 32 inch waist at 6'2". He was considered to be about the fittest player in professional American football at the time. Weight lifting was just starting as a training regime then.

1 Week, 4 Days ago

Jonah Lomu wreaking havoc against Australia in 1995

Agree with you about the league influence. Hit and drag meant, overall, less concussions. Hit and wrestle: that's a lot of head to head contact.
The only area of the pitch where going back a yard or two makes a difference is on the goal line.

1 Week, 4 Days ago

Jonah Lomu wreaking havoc against Australia in 1995

You have a good point about space. I wonder if Lomu would have made a really great international number 8. Wasn't that his position in school? His speed and size made him a battering ram on the wing who could also run around and away from tacklers, but when you think about it there's usually been one big player out on the wing for many national sides over the years: David Duckham was a slightly smaller version of Lomu, as was John Kerwin.
The irony is that a small wing on that French side, with two small wingers, took down New Zealand and Johah Lomu in 1999's RWC.

1 Week, 4 Days ago

Jonah Lomu wreaking havoc against Australia in 1995

My negative memory of Johan Lomu is that game against France in the RWC of 1999. He was marked by a 12 stone 5'8" wing (was it La Salle?), but his weakness was exploited: kicks behind him that he had a bad time trying to cover.

1 Week, 4 Days ago

Jonah Lomu wreaking havoc against Australia in 1995

It was considered "bad form" then to swan dive when not needed to do so.

1 Week, 4 Days ago

The Top 5 Moments from the 2001 Super Rugby Season

I agree with your comment about TV. I does seem that laws have been changed so that the TV spectator can see what is considered a better game to spend time watching. Sure, those who governed rugby wanted to change the laws so that there would be less stoppages, and to encourage more try-scoring, but for those of us who played before these changes, the game isn't like what we played. It just doesn't seem right to me, how the game is played now. For instance, what was so bad about 22 drop outs that the laws were changed so they rarely happen anymore? Regarding lifting, the first law allowing it was better, because it still meant a jumper had to jump, and then be supported. And certainly professionalism has meant those bigger and stronger have all the time they need to train, as I assume they make enough money so as not to have a real job (which isn't true here in the US: our better players are playing club rugby in Britain for their coin).
Going back to the 22 drop out, I ref mostly 2nd division college games here in California. I called one this year when a ball kicked into the in-goal was touched down. The team dropping out had to sort out what they needed to do, and check with their coach on the sidelines. I asked the captain what was the problem, and he said they had only practiced it a few times before the season started, and it was the first time they had to do it all season, and this was near the end of the season.

2 Weeks, 1 Day ago

The Top 5 Moments from the 2001 Super Rugby Season

Yes, rugby has changed. I question if it's all for the better, though. I do not like the "guaranteed" possession aspect of the new game. Recycled rucks are really just that, unless a player knocks on. There is more 15 man rugby played than before, but I'd like to remind you of the 1971 Lions: they played 15 man rugby for much of their tour in New Zealand, less so in the test matches (and that's the first international play I ever saw, on a film screen, as my college coach had some 16 mm film of those games, and he showed us some highlights of those games at our end-of-season banquet in 1973; now they are on You Tube, and I've made a DVD of them). I really like to re-watch the first match of that test series, because one sees that the All Blacks moved the ball in the pack much of the game, and the Lions tackled well near their own goal. But the All Blacks were moving that ball up and down the field a good portion of that game, yet still lost it.
I'd like to see more of that sort of tactic: forwards moving the ball in a more vertical attack, and not dying with the ball to set up that recycled ruck. I really think that takes practicing passing, and practicing using that tactic. My old club had a few New Zealanders on it back in the 80's, and we practiced that move in a drill, backs with forwards. There's more of an emphasis now on making longer cut-out passes, and moving the ball upfield horizontally. There's nothing wrong with that, but I'd like to see less phase play and more open loose play, with ball being off-loaded quicker to supporting runners.
There's this 5 second law now, but what about the ball being at the rear foot? When you think about it, if a scrum half or acting scrum half puts hands to ball, and doesn't do anything but check for a number of seconds as to whether the ball should to left or right, isn't that really hands in the ruck? Hands on ball should mean the rucks is over, and the defense can come across.

2 Weeks, 1 Day ago

The Top 5 Moments from the 2001 Super Rugby Season

I started playing rugby in 1973, at age 18-19. There was really no high school rugby yet in California. So I started in "university" and went on to play club side rugby after school. The standard of rugby was okay, not great, back then. Did improve in the 80's some. Yes, I did play in the day when forwards were expected to commit to breakdowns at the tackle. I played hooker first, moving to fullback for some games in school, and later in club rugby played fullback and wing.
I did see a lot of rugby on the TV starting with the 1991 World Cup (I went to the first one in 1987). In the mid-90's international games were broadcast by the International Channel here in the US. Later Fox took over the station, and it was put on a premium channel, so it cost more to see these games. I taped a lot of those games in the mid and late 90's. So I did get to see how the game started to change, which is why I make the comments about the game looking more like League (and I saw League first in 1986 when I visited an uncle who lived in Sydney, and he was a Balmain Tigers supporter). I also started reffing in the mid-90's, usually 2nd division university matches, a fairly good standard of rugby, and coaches were changing tactics to take advantage of the laws and their changes then.
I see rugby now as a game in which the ball is expected to move horizontally up the field. Of course it was when I played too, but there also was an emphasis in moving the ball vertically up field too, and that took a pack that moved together with ball in hand, shifting it out to the backs when there was an advantage to do so.
That vertical movement now seems to be these endless recycled rucks. One way to change things might be to change the laws as to when a ball is actually out of a ruck. If the scrum half or acting scrum half puts hands to the ball, it should be considered out, and the defense can come across as long as they were on-side to begin with. That could speed things up!

2 Weeks, 1 Day ago

 
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