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Thursday Sep 21, 2023

Exclusive: David Campese calls for inquiry into Australian rugby as he provides explosive thoughts on the World Cup

David Campese returns to Rugbydump to share his thoughts on the World Cup, Australia’s gameplan, the much anticipated Ireland vs South Africa match, and much, much more.

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Hear from the man himself:

3 Aug 1996: David Campese of Australia in action during the Tri Nations Tournament match against South Africa played at Bloemfontein in South Africa. Mandatory Credit: Dave Rogers /Allsport

Thoughts on Thursday’s Italy vs. Uruguay match

“Uruguay’s struggle against Italy in the second half was always going to happen. The problem is that a lot of these countries don’t get to play consistent rugby week in and week out. Fiji have improved massively because they’re now playing Super Rugby and now they are an 80-minute team.”

France naming their strongest side against Namibia

“France are now trying to secure their combinations heading into the latter stages of the World Cup where you can’t make mistakes. They have to solidify these combinations and put their game plan together. They’re going to go big because they had a close run game against Uruguay when they gave their rotation players a bit of a run out and allowed their strongest team a rest, but from now on you pick your best team.”

England’s playing style

“Farrell’s back so it’ll be interesting to see how the mood changes in the back line. Against Chile, they should be going out there to try and get the combinations going. They should give Farrell just half an hour and then just bring someone else in, in case something happens down the track.

“England are still not playing great rugby They are probably a bit like Australia where they’ve been through the mill. We want to see some individual flair and allow the ball to get out to the wings. Goal kicking is clearly part of England’s tactics, but against Chile, it would be great if they can try a few things.”

South Africa vs Ireland predictions

“This is one of the biggest games of the World Cup and it is going to be a beaut. You’ve got one team that defends, Ireland don’t really commit too many players on the ground. So South Africa as an attacking team will look up and see plenty of numbers in front of them to break down. The Springboks have got a very quick defence out wide which is probably vulnerable from the kick behind.

“This one’s going to be a tough one as they’re both in-form teams, they’re both very unique in the way they play. There has been a lot of discussion about the Springbok 7/1 split on the bench. But to be honest, who really cares? I don’t know why that’s such a big talking point, it’s about playing the game and whoever the players are that come on, need to make a difference. We haven’t seen a lot yet from other teams when these subs came on, there was no real change, you need to bring players on that make a difference to the game.
We know what the South African tactics are, you can see the way they play, I just hope that the referees in these games going forward don’t destroy the game and don’t give a penalty away that’s going to change the result.

“I predict the Springboks to win. Scotland struggle because in the backline they have Finn Russell, but that’s really it. There’s no real danger out there, there’s Van Der Merwe on the wing but he doesn’t really get the ball. Scotland have got good players, but unfortunately, you need great players, and players that do something different.

“When you play against the same guys week in and week out you know exactly what they’re doing, there’s no anticipating, the players don’t really want to try something different and that’s probably one of Scotland’s biggest problems. They’re a good team, but they’re not a great team. They do struggle and we saw that against South Africa, they didn’t even look like scoring a try which just shows you the style of rugby that is being played at the moment.”

Australia’s gameplan vs Wales

“I don’t think Australia can change their game plan now, it’s too difficult these days to change at this stage. I don’t think that the Welsh are a great team either, They’ve got three world-renowned goal kickers so it’s obvious how they are going to play. We saw Biggar just before halftime in the Fiji game go off at his players because he’s very passionate and he wanted to win. He, like many players now, realises that the pressure of these games is now on and knows what they need to do to progress.

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“Australia has got to go there and hold onto the ball, that’s very important, you can’t win a game of rugby if you kick the ball away all the time. I’d bring Tate McDermott back again to start as he’s a very good number 9 who will keep the opposition guessing, whereas Nic White is more of a kicker.

“Australia have got some good backline players, but again they’re all individuals, so they have to learn to back each other, support each other, utilise the ball, and try to do something different in the backline. A simple switch dummy switch to get the opposition guessing what you’re trying to do, we haven’t seen much of that, it’s just all boring hands, and spiral pass out to the wing and hopefully score. I mean, that’s a pretty simple game plan but sometimes it doesn’t work so they need to think outside the box.”

1 Dec 1996: David Campese of Australia (number 11) gives out a few final instructions in his farewell match, during the international between Wales and Australia at Cardiff Arms Park in Cardiff. Australia won 19-28. Mandatory Credit: Dave Rogers/Allsport

Australian wingers

“When I was playing I learned that on the attack you’ve got to come in the back line about three-quarter pace, and when you get the ball then you go into full pace. These wingers now are in full pace before they even get the ball, and as a result, they can’t really do much, they can’t step, they can’t swerve. We saw Kolbe do that in in the game a couple of weeks ago, he came in the angle at three-quarter pace, and off he went.

“You’ve got great runners but they also don’t look for support, so I think they just need to try and bring their wingers in close or create space for them instead of just trying to kick it through which is a rugby league trait.

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“Rugby league has had a massive impact on our game. In the 22 it’s all about kicking the ball away, and the reason is because the players haven’t got those instinctive thoughts to run the ball, using switches, changing angles, looping, or trying to keep the opposition guessing. All these things the Wallabies used to be great at, but we are not anymore because we are trying to be like everyone else. As a result, it’s up to the wingers to try and get involved and try and create something nothing for themselves.

Rugby in Australia

“It’s pretty hard for the Wallabies at the moment. Rugby union is low down here, we’ve got rugby league finals, and we’ve got Aussie rules finals that are all free to air. The Wallabies get a bit of coverage on the news and in the papers, but it’s not much, no one reads the papers these days as it’s all online. It’s very sad from what we used to be, not many people know who the players are, I just think that the Wallabies need to go out there and play with some passion and pride and understand our culture.

“Professionalism changed everything, it’s more about the money instead of actually the prestige of playing for your country. So I think that if the Wallabies win there will still be a lot of skeptical people out there thinking “oh that’s lucky when Wales weren’t that good” so win lose or draw we’re up against it. I just think the Wallabies have to go out there and enjoy themselves and show a smile, and that’s why you play you play the game…because you love the game.

“If Australia lose, I think they should call an inquiry into Australian rugby. It’s been 20 years like this and the people on the boards are still there, they’re not accountable for anything. The fish rots from the head down, not tail up. We need to find out what our problems are. Grassroots is fine in Australia, we’ve got a lot of kids playing, but nobody watches the international game. People don’t know who the Wallaby players are.

“We’re getting to the pressure end of the competition now and we’ll just see what sort of teams can handle the pressure. You’ve got the Irish and the South Africans who are professional in their areas, you’ve got England who have been there before, the All Blacks, and France who are dangerous teams.

“The Wallabies are a very young team compared to the rest so that’s why they’ve got to just do the simple things right. If you do the simple things and the basic things, everything works out. If you try the hard things, you put yourself under a lot of pressure, so just enjoy the game. The crowd’s there to support so you just make sure you don’t do anything silly, play the game in front of you and just try and put the ball in the space.

“You’ll never get in trouble for trying things, and I think that’s one thing Australia have lost is our instinctive rugby skills to try and do something different. We saw Fiji last week and they just played an up-tempo game and we couldn’t handle it. We’ve just got to find our tempo and look after the ball.”

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