Category Archive: Australia Rugby

Australia Rugby News

Sep 17

Wallabies’ killer instinct eventually emerges in win over Pumas | Bret Harris

How Michael Cheika’s side will fare in Bloemfontein against South Africa depends on which of the team’s identities turns up on the day

Michael Cheika’s grin stretched from ear to ear. And who could blame him? The Wallabies had just beaten Argentina 45-20 in chilly Canberra on Saturday night, their first win in the Rugby Championship and their first victory against anyone since beating Italy in June.

Related: Late blitz seals comeback victory for Wallabies against Argentina

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/18/wallabies-killer-instinct-eventually-emerges-in-win-over-pumas

Sep 16

Late blitz seals comeback victory for Wallabies against Argentina

Australia scored five second-half tries to rally to their first victory of this year’s Rugby Championship with a 45-20 win over Argentina at a chilly Canberra Stadium on Saturday. Fullback Israel Folau scored tries either side of halftime and Sekope Kepu, Will Genia, Nick Phipps and Jordan Uelese also crossed to secure a bonus-point victory.

Bernard Foley converted all six tries and kicked a penalty to help the Wallabies back to winning ways after they lost twice to the All Blacks and drew with the Springboks in their first three matches of the competition. Argentina led 13-10 at halftime after bullying their hosts in the back-row contest but a first-half try from Martin Landajo and a brilliant late consolation from Matias Moroni were not enough for a first win in Australia since 1983.

Related: All Blacks irresistible in remarkable 57-0 drubbing of South Africa

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/16/wallabies-rugby-pumas-argentina-australia

Sep 13

Wallabies’ tactical evolution is both encouraging and discouraging | Bret Harris

There has been more attacking intent at turnover ball but it defeats the purpose of having such a strategy if turnover ball cannot be secured in the first place

The Wallabies have finally arrived at the party only to find the music has stopped and the revellers have finished their drinks and moved on to the next event. Are Australia doomed to continually play catch-up?

There is a long-standing argument that the Wallabies, as well as Australia’s Super Rugby teams, should be more alive to attacking opportunities from turnover ball when defence is unstructured, just as New Zealand sides do.

Related: Draw leaves Wallabies in danger of Rugby Championship wooden spoon | Bret Harris

Related: Wallabies draw with Springboks in Western Force protest Test

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/14/wallabies-tactical-evolution-is-both-encouraging-and-discouraging

Sep 10

Draw leaves Wallabies in danger of Rugby Championship wooden spoon | Bret Harris

Michael Cheika’s team appear to be progressing and regressing simultaneously but one fundamental flaw in their game is becoming an alarming constant

There are still three full rounds to go and anything can happen, but the law of probability strongly suggests the Wallabies have already done their dash in this year’s Rugby Championship.

Saturday’s frustrating 23-all draw with South Africa in Perth means the All Blacks and Springboks are likely to compete for the title, leaving Australia and Argentina to battle it out for third and fourth.

Related: Wallabies draw with Springboks in Western Force protest Test

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/11/draw-leaves-wallabies-in-danger-of-rugby-championship-wooden-spoon

Aug 28

New Zealand begin to suffer from player exodus to the wealthy north | Paul Rees

Disparity in income generated in Europe leaves southern hemisphere countries hoping for some form of shared revenue from internationals

It has been another British summer when the jet stream has moved too far to the south and, as the European club seasons start, climate change is being felt with the southern hemisphere shivering in a chill wind.

Australia’s capitulation in Sydney a week ago, when they conceded a record number of points to the All Blacks, would ordinarily have led to strident demands for Michael Cheika to be sacked as head coach. Even if there was little excuse for some abject defending, especially after how the Lions took on the World Cup holders in the summer, there is an appreciation that Australia’s problems are structural.

Related: Ruthless All Blacks teach Wallabies lesson in Bledisloe Cup opener

Related: Saracens fear salary cap rules could cost them homegrown stars like Maro Itoje

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/aug/28/new-zealand-southern-hemisphere-player-exodus-shared-revenue

Aug 27

With tough times ahead, Bledisloe Cup loss restores hope for brave Wallabies

Despite a much-improved showing, the Wallabies will not meet the All Blacks on home turf again until 2020 – 18 years after their last triumph

Was it the most important Test loss in the history of Australian men’s rugby? The Wallabies’ brave 35-29 loss to the All Blacks in the Bledisloe Cup-deciding Test in Dunedin on Saturday night regained the respect of their great Trans-Tasman rivals and restored the faith of long-suffering Australian rugby fans. Could you imagine the reaction if the Wallabies had capitulated the way they did in their record 54-34 loss to the All Blacks in Sydney the week before? It could have been terminal for Australian rugby. Instead, the Wallabies showed they can compete with the best team in the world, giving hope where previously there was only despair.

For all that, it was still a loss, yet another at the hands of the men in black in a record 15-year run of Bledisloe Cup dominance. Like the Golden Wallabies of the late 1990s and early 2000s, the All Blacks found a way to win when it looked like all was lost, while the Australians found new ways to lose.

Related: Toka Natua irrepressible as New Zealand end the dream for battling England

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/aug/28/with-tough-times-ahead-bledisloe-cup-loss-restores-hope-for-brave-wallabies

Aug 26

All Blacks snatch Bledisloe win from Wallabies in dying moments – as it happened

  • Five tries apiece as All Blacks beat Wallabies 35-29 in pulsating thriller, but Barrett’s goal-kicking wins the day for the All Blacks

11.04am BST

Final thoughts

This was expected to be another NZ cake-walk, a pavlova parade if you will. But after getting off to a lightning start that saw Israel Folau score within a minute, and then the Aussies race out to a 17-0 lead in even time, New Zealand dragged themselves back into the contest. After dropping the ball far too often early on, the ABs started to dominate possession and, though the Wallabies defended stoutly, they couldn’t hold on during the second half in which they conceded one penalty after another. But a truly memorable Wallabies win was within reach when Beale scored under the posts in the 76th minute but the All Blacks had time for a killer reply. As they always seem to do.

10.58am BST

It was five tries apiece tonight. The difference was the goal-kicking. Five conversions to Barrett, just two from five from Foley who also missed a penalty conversion.

But let’s not forget that the All Blacks came back from 0-17 down. Some effort that. And to have the presence of mind, and the skills, to score the match-winning try after going behind with four minutes to go. You’ve got to hand it to them.

10.53am BST

So that’s another Bledisloe Cup wrapped up. New Zealand continue to hold the cup they regained possession of in 2013.

New Zealand won the game but the Wallabies’ effort will dominate the news.

Great to watch 2 teams having a go. Proud to see the wallabies not giving up.
Passion and pride. Well done. Back on track

10.50am BST

It’s all over! What a thrilling match! New Zealand are ecstatic! Australia gutted. After what happened last week, after everyone writing them off, they almost pulled off what would have been the biggest Bledisloe upset in some time.

10.48am BST

80 min: The Wallabies need to win possession from the kickoff but they can’t manage it. NZ need to play it out here… what a finish to this game!

10.47am BST

The ABs’ lead is back out to six.

10.46am BST

And that’s why the ABs are the world’s best! Regaining possession from the kickoff, they work the ball to the Aussie 22m. Then they explode into action. Going right Sopoaga passes to Scott Barrett who passes to Read who makes a lovely inside ball to a charging Perenara. He draws the fullback and finds Barrett backing up on his outside. Barrett scores under the posts!

10.43am BST

No even an out-of-form Foley would miss that.

10.42am BST

Aussies back in front! That was so simple. From a ruck on the NZ line Genia passed to Beale on his right and, with Whitelock holding off him, Beale said thank you very much, sport, and ducked through a yawning gap and scored under the posts!

10.40am BST

75 min: NZ offside from a midfield bomb. Reece Hodge, off the bench, takes the touch finder and does a great job. Australia on the attack from 10m out.

10.39am BST

The mercurial 5/8 makes no mistake but the Wallabies are still within a converted try. They’d be ahead if Foley had kicked all his chances.

10.37am BST

On the 19th phase Ioane races into space. He’s hauled down but the ABs then go right and put it through the hands. McKenzie sucks Kuridrani out of the line and it creates enough space for Ben Smith to race unopposed to the line!

10.37am BST

69 min: Seven phases get the ABs to the halfway line before a dash from Smith on the right wing threatens momentarily. The ABs maintain possession but the gold defence is holding, holding, holding. After last week this has been a tremendous comeback by the Aussies no matter what happens now.

10.33am BST

68 min: Foley misses from 10m to the left of the uprights, striking the uprights for the third time this match! His goal kicking has been awful today.

10.32am BST

Genia picks up from the ruck, scoots around its east coast, dummies to the man on his outside and creates enough room for himself to run 15m to score! What a response from the Aussies!

10.30am BST

66 min: McMahon and Hooper combine well to haul the tired Wallabies to the halfway line. The Australians then work their way to the NZ 22m.

10.29am BST

65 min: Five phases in and Barrett pops through the Aussie line like an apparition through the wall of a haunted house. He then grubbers ahead for himself but he can’t win the race to the ball. Lovely stuff from Barrett.

10.27am BST

64 min: Crotty is groggy after catching the hip of a charging Folau. Kiwi scrum being set 40m from Australia’s line.

10.25am BST

From 10m inside the left touchline Barrett knocks it over. That try was coming. Four times the ABs knocked back a penalty attempt this half. On the fourth occasion they made their adventure count.

10.24am BST

From the scrum the All Blacks go the short side and Smith evades Foley to find Barrett running a nice line. Too easy! The All Blacks are ahead for the first time tonight.

10.23am BST

61 min: As we wait an age for the scrum Niall writes in to praise the Aussies: “Still think the ABs will run over the top but Wallabies are showing some ‘grit’.”

10.21am BST

60 min: Australia offside as NZ attack their line! The Aussies have barely touched the ball this half. Can they hold on? Another AB scrum 5m out from their line.

10.20am BST

58 min: The Wallabies breathe easy momentarily but the All Blacks are again pouring towards their line like an oil slick. Another penalty to NZ who have been awarded 8 of the last 9 penalties! Most, no doubt, due to Australia’s efforts to stifle their play. Some, however, have the whiff of mystery about them. But that’s rugby.

10.17am BST

56 min: The Aussie scrum holds, Smith fires the ball to a charging Williams. Beale is in his face, takes a big hit and emerges from the collision with the ball in his arms! Huge effort from the Australian.

10.16am BST

55 min: But a penalty has been found from somewhere and the All Blacks will set up a scrum 5m out, 5m inside the right touchline.

10.15am BST

From a lineout Savea burrows close to the line before, from a mess of a ruck, Retallick rises from the mess of bodies with his finger in the air. A try is given before we go back to check… there was an Aussie arm under the ball as Retallick wrestled his way over the line but to me it was impossible to tell if it hit the turf.

10.11am BST

53 min: Penalty to NZ from 40m out from the Aussie posts. They turn down the likely three points. Great stuff. I love a team backing themselves.

10.10am BST

50 min: NZ on the attack now and the crowd rise. Aaron Smith, to Ben Smith to Squire, a long charge downfield. But the Aussies scramble well and, on their 22m, force a mistake from the ABs.

10.09am BST

48 min: 40m out from NZ line Foley steps inside Williams. Not enough to beat him but enough to find a pass to Kuridrani who knocks on. The All Blacks counter right and only a fine tackle from Speight prevents Ben Smith from going on a potentially long damaging run down the right wing.

This has become an end-to-end game now.

10.06am BST

46 min: The All Blacks push downfield and then, on the left, Ioane bursts into the clear 30m out! But he’s ankle tapped by Genia. From the next play Moody’s pass is intercepted by Beale who immediately lobs it out to Speight. From inside his own 22m Speight boots it downfield.

10.03am BST

44 min: Oh, so close! From a scrum on the AB 22m the Wallabies go right and Folau stands up Barrett cold. In space, from 5m out, Folau looks inside for Haylett-Petty but the pass is intercepted by Squire.

Barrett has gone off with a head injury. Can’t be too serious as he jogged off unaided.

10.00am BST

42 min: A relieving penalty to Australia inside their own half. The ABs were on the charge but Owen Franks was penalised for obstructing the defence after he ran into two gold jerseys in the defensive line.

9.59am BST

And the Wallabies kick off…

9.49am BST

Phew! What an action-packed, mad-cap half of rugby. After a lightning start by the Aussies, the All Blacks have pegged them back and you’d back them to go on with it now.

9.48am BST

An easy one for Barrett and that’s oranges.

9.47am BST

… and Smith picks up, steps inside Hooper, and crashes over! Despair for the Wallabies to concede on the halftime bell but at least that removes any potential controversy from Smith’s effort moments earlier.

9.46am BST

40 min: Another penalty 5m out to the ABs! The Aussies hold the AB scrum momentarily before folding …

9.44am BST

40 min: Massive escape for the Wallabies! After surviving Sonny Bill Williams’ charge tiny Aaron Smith burrows through the defence and finds a way to reach out with his right arm and seemingly force the ball next to the padding of the right upright. The ref goes upstairs to check and it’s determined that Smith just lost control at the last moment. A try every day of the week in rugby league, that, but not here. Smith’s hand certainly rolled to the side of the ball but I didn’t see daylight between his hand and the ball at any time.

9.41am BST

38 min: But the ref’s assistant has spotted an Aussie infringement and it’s another penalty to the ABs from the same position, 5m out. Not sure what the infringement was for. Something to do with Julie Bishop, I expect.

9.38am BST

37 min: The Blacks choose to scrum 5m out. After a big shove by the ABs the ball comes out from under Read’s boot and catches Smith unawares. He knocks on!

9.36am BST

35 min: From a mid-field penalty Barrett finds touch on the Aussie 22m. Here come the ABs pouring forward. But Barrett loses patience on just the fifth phase and, as such, attempts a grubber kick in behind for his right winger. But he doesn’t get enough on it and Genia pulls it in.

But Genia is penalised for not releasing.

9.34am BST

33 min: From the scrum Beale drops it and the ABs counter attack beautifully, Barrett finding McKenize who stretches the Aussie defence on the wing. On the next phase Barrett races through a hole and finds Lienert-Brown on his inside before Genia ankle taps him. Great scrambling defence by the Aussies.

9.32am BST

32 min: The Aussies cut loose and some slight passing sees Kuridrani motor down the right wing. He’s pulled down but moments later the Aussies win a scrum put-in just 10m out from the Kiwi line.

9.30am BST

28 min: Foley leaves his kicking boots in the sheds (1 from 4 now), hitting the right upright. But it rebounds back into the field of play and the Aussies come oh so close to scoring but for a tiny knock-on by Speight.

9.28am BST

26 min: The Wallabies attack the left edge and on their 12th phase get to the ABs 22m. On the next phase the Wallabies turn it over as they spin it right. But the ball hits the ground and Ioane pounces and sets off for the line with no-one near him! Here’s a try!

But he’s called back! Folau was tackled before receiving the ball by Crotty, preventing Folau from catching the ball prior to Ioane’s interception. Penalty to Australia.

9.25am BST

23 min: We’re spending a lot of time examining a video of a Wallaby forward landing on his head at the ruck. Retallick, it is finally determined, accidentally lifted the Wallaby forward as he rose from the ground causing him to be upended. Hooper not impressed: “So we’re allowed to lift players by the legs and drop them on their head?” he asks the ref. “There was no lift,” the ref explains. “It was accidental.”

9.20am BST

It’s from over the black dot, as they say in league, but he squeezes it over.

9.19am BST

The All Blacks are finally on the board! After winning the lineout Dane Coles sits at the back of a maul rolling towards the line. When it gets to a metre out Coles hands off to Smith who shapes to pass right but throws a short ball over his left shoulder to Ioane who crashes over.

9.16am BST

20 min: Wallabies pinged for offside when, a metre out, Smith passes from the back of a maul into the backside of Hannigan. A great interception by Hannigan’s can. Had it not intervened Ioane may have been in in the corner.

9.15am BST

18 min: Six handling errors by the All Blacks. Now seven. From the turn-over Foley kicks deep and McKenzie, I think it was, returns the favour. Now the Wallabies turn it over, Beale not rolling away from the ball.

9.13am BST

It came off Genia’s knee, not his hand, so no knock-on. Another try to Australia!! Bloody hell. Who saw this coming? It’s as if the All Blacks just thought they had to turn up to win. Foley misses the relatively easy conversion. That could be costly.

9.11am BST

17 min: The ABs push the Aussies off the ball but it pops out to Genia who scoots around the flank of the scrum and races downfield. As the defence hauls him in he passes outside to Hooper. He then offloads to Foley who races 20m to score! Or did he? Genia might have knocked on at the back of the scrum. We’ve gone to the video ref…

9.09am BST

14 min: After a dangerous attack from the Aussies Folau drops the ball in traffic and the ABs recycle, spinning it left. Ioane gets through the defensive line but before he can scoot clear Haylett-Petty rides him like a backpack full of text books. Ioane can’t carry such weight and falls. From the ruck the ABs knock on.

9.06am BST

After missing his first shot Foley converts this, easier, one from 10m to the left of the posts.

9.05am BST

The scrum disintegrates and through a mess of bodies Hooper emerges and strolls over! What a start for the embattled Aussies!

9.04am BST

10 min: Line-out win to Australia 25m out and Foley bombs to Folau’s wing where he looks to out-leap his opposite number. The ball comes off McKenzie and bounces into touch, 5m out from the ABs line.

9.00am BST

7 min: The All Blacks attack Australia’s right edge, Ioane prominent. On their 1oth phase of attack they knock it on and Beale roosts the ball to the touchline. After the Blacks win the lineout Sonny Bill Williams, running onto a flat ball passed a little behind him, spills it.

8.57am BST

5 min: The ABs win a scrum against the feed 10m out from the Aussie line and they go left sharpish. Ioane gets the ball on the wing a few metres out but his attempt at an inside ball is knocked into touch.

8.56am BST

3 min: The Wallabies turn over the restart. They’ll need to get their kick-off receiving into shape quick smart. They can’t rely on intercept tries all night.

On the Folau try, McKenzie had his eyes on an overlap on the right. Had Folau not snaffled that ball it may have been a runaway try to NZ.

8.54am BST

… and McKenzie, chiming into the backline, throws an intercept pass to Folau who races 55m to score five metres inside the left touchline.

8.52am BST

The Aussies turn it over from the kickoff but as the Blacks spin it wide to the right …

8.52am BST

Really does look like a wonderful stadium. I suppose any stadium where, as a spectator, you’re protected from the elements is a good one. How would it stand up to hail, I wonder? Or the haka? We’re about to find out…

A rousing haka with the ABs in arrow head formation and the Aussies facing them and, if they were me, wishing they were instead, in a quiet bar with a good book. No glass fall, however. And so, with the stadium intact, we’re about to get underway…

8.46am BST

A respectful minute’s silence is held for Colin Meads.

Now the anthems. So it’s an early lead to NZ: 1-0.

8.44am BST

“It’s been another week of soul searching,” says the commentary team as the teams begin to make their way onto the pitch. Some might say the Wallabies have been searching for their soul since 2004. It’s good at hiding. A chameleon if you like.

Kieran Reed leads the ABs out and the crowd give him and his team a rousing reception. Say what you like about Kiwis but they don’t get sick of beating Aussies.

8.40am BST

Phil Withall writes in to offer a commentary on the commentary: “Rather enjoy the commentary team struggling to come up with a contingency plan for the delay as they discuss the contingency plans that the players would have put in place,” he says. “Good thing they don’t do the cricket…”

8.32am BST

Watching the Bledisloe on enemy territory. This sad square of gold is all that remains of the Wallabies fans. BYO paper bag with eyeholes. pic.twitter.com/9MTsuPKfvL

8.31am BST

News to hand… due to lighting issues, the kickoff will be delayed. Now scheduled for 745pm local, 5.45pm AEST.

8.28am BST

The late great All Black Colin Meads will be remembered tonight, with the home team wearing the number 5 on their sleeves:

Related: All Blacks rugby union legend Colin Meads dies aged 81

8.23am BST

I slapped Dunedin with a wet lettuce leaf moments earlier when I compared it to Mordor. In alluding to Mordor I was, admittedly, thinking of Carisbrook, the ‘retired’ venue known as the House of Pain. These days it’s the Forsyth Barr Stadium that hosts the big games and it looks a picture, like a giant conservatory or greenhouse.

GAME DAY! Where in the world will you be watching v ? #NZLvAUS #BledisloeCup pic.twitter.com/qGe3DvhzbZ

8.18am BST

Teams:

TEAM NAMING | The #AllBlacks have made three changes to their side for the second #BledisloeCup Test.

MORE: https://t.co/qjA7lApg3j pic.twitter.com/R8DfAk4vUv

#BREAKING l Adam Coleman is out due to injury, Arnold is in and debutante Izack Rodda is on the bench. #BledisloeCup #NZLvAUS pic.twitter.com/iclNBMTCvs

8.14am BST

If I’ve been overly negative in that preamble then feast your eyes on this: a scene from today’s Shute Shield final in Sydney between Northern Suburbs and Warringah Rats. Compared to Mordor (Dunedin) it looks positively bucolic (like Hobbiton). Just the kind of atmosphere to mold and shape a fearless, hard-nosed, desperate, down & dirty rugb … oh, wait … :

#scenes @shuteshield pic.twitter.com/ZChfszCC6A

8.05am BST

“Tell ‘em they’re dreaming”: That was the headline of the Otago Daily Times on the day the Wallabies arrived in Dunedin for tonight’s Bledisloe Cup clash with the All Blacks. I take issue with it. Not for its provocative nature —that’s par for the course with the NZ press when it comes to the All Blacks, as Warren Gatland would tell you— but with the idea that anyone within the Wallabies camp actually thinks that they can beat the All Blacks tonight. Who is this mysterious “them” the Otago Daily Times is referring to?

If I’m wrong, if there is actual belief in the Wallabies camp, then their team psychologist needs a raise because there’s almost zero evidence to consider an upset in on the cards tonight. Last week, for instance, the Wallabies were pumped 54-34 in Sydney in the first game of the series. In the manner of stricken sailors grasping at driftwood some have suggested that those 34 points are cause for optimism but, really, the vast majority of those 34 points came after the red hot All Blacks had left the field for an early shower.

3.44am BST

Paul will be with us shortly. In the meantime, such is the state of Australian rugby union at the moment, you can only laugh. Can’t you? Here’s David Squires to help, if necessary:

Related: David Squires on … the Wallabies’ chances against the All Blacks

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/live/2017/aug/26/all-blacks-v-wallabies-second-bledisloe-cuprugby-championship-test-live

Aug 23

David Squires on … the Wallabies’ chances against the All Blacks

Our resident cartoonist looks at the miserable state of the game in Australia following a heavy defeat and ahead of another likely pummelling

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/ng-interactive/2017/aug/24/david-squires-on-the-wallabies-chances-against-the-all-blacks

Aug 23

Wallabies’ new defensive strategy will mean nothing if their players don’t tackle | Bret Harris

Australia will have to improve on the first Bledisloe Test against the All Blacks when they seemed to lose faith in their new system and trust in each other

New South Wales were preparing for the second game of the 1989 State of Origin series against Queensland when dual international Michael O’Connor asked coach Jack Gibson a question about the team’s defence.

“What are we doing? Sliding or up and in?” O’Connor asked innocently. Gibson went red in the face. “Sliding defence, !@#$ defence, I don’t care what you call it. You’ve just got to move up and tackle.”

Related: David Squires on … the Wallabies’ chances against the All Blacks

Related: Australian rugby looks dysfunctional and delusional – is there any hope left? | Bret Harris

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/aug/24/wallabies-new-defensive-strategy-will-mean-nothing-if-their-players-dont-tackle

Aug 20

Australian rugby looks dysfunctional and delusional – is there any hope left? | Bret Harris

The Wallabies plumbed new depths in their record defeat to the All Blacks on Saturday night , but a new high performance model may offer a glimmer of hope

Quo vadis rugby union? Where on earth is the game going in this country? Just when you thought things could not get any worse, they did on Saturday night and the Wallabies’ record 54-34 loss to the All Blacks in Sydney may have been the last nail in the coffin of Australian rugby, which has been on life-support for at least two years.

Related: Ruthless All Blacks teach Wallabies lesson in Bledisloe Cup opener

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/aug/21/australian-rugby-looks-dysfunctional-and-delusional-is-there-any-hope-left

Aug 19

Ruthless All Blacks teach Wallabies lesson in Bledisloe Cup opener

  • Australia 34-54 New Zealand
  • Kiwis run in eight tries in record tally against Wallabies

There was hope it would be the start of something big, the resuscitation of Australian rugby no less – a Wallabies-led recovery which would bring the game in this country back from a near death experience. But it turned out to be a sad, forlorn longing, crushed by the weight of 23 men in black.

Some claimed there were cracks in the All Blacks’ armour. Sex scandals, bugging dramas and even a spelling crisis, but the only cracks were in the Wallabies’ defence.

Related: All Blacks beat Wallabies in Bledisloe Cup/Rugby Championship opener – as it happened

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/aug/19/ruthless-all-blacks-teach-wallabies-lesson-in-bledisloe-cup-opener

Aug 19

All Blacks beat Wallabies in Bledisloe Cup/Rugby Championship opener – as it happened

  • Australia 34-54 New Zealand at ANZ Stadium in Sydney
  • Dominant first-half performance enough for All Blacks

1.14pm BST

At half-time in game one of the 2017 Bledisloe Cup, the obituaries were being written for Australian rugby. The All Blacks put on one of the best 40 minutes of test football in recent years to record a point per minute, and the possibility of a cricket scoreline by full-time seems ominous.

The New Zealanders showed why they are rightly considered the best team in the world – they were rapid in attack, impervious in defence and too smart for the Australian tacticians. Sonny Bill Williams looked strong on his return from suspension, while Aucklander Rieko Ioane was slick out wide.

Related: Ruthless All Blacks teach Wallabies lesson in Bledisloe Cup opener

1.01pm BST

Daunting.

Congrats to the @AllBlacks on a record breaking performance! It looks like the #BledisloeCup STREAK is set to continue! #AUSvNZL #WWENZ pic.twitter.com/2uGrEUmILE

12.58pm BST

80 min: And it’s all over at ANZ Stadium in Sydney. A valiant comeback from Australia, but was never going to be enough after utter dominance from the All Blacks in the first half.

12.55pm BST

77 min: Australia regain possession and swing the ball around in goal to create space for Beale, who has had a good return to test rugby. Can the Wallabies find another? Folau has a red hot go and gets within 10 metres of the Kiwi try line, before the All Blacks steal.

12.53pm BST

76 min: Desperate dive from Foley leads to a decision of simultaneous grounding from the TMO. Prospective try scorer Barrett is not impressed and suggests they flip a coin instead. Attacking scrum to the All Blacks.

12.51pm BST

75 min: Kiwi Barrett finds space on the left hand side with a kick and chase, and then charges down a kick to put the Wallabies in trouble in goal. Barrett thinks he put the ball down first, but the referee is checking with his colleague as to whether the New Zealanders have scored yet another try.

12.46pm BST

The last 10 tries statistic makes for interesting reading (latest-earliest): Aus, Aus, Aus, Aus, NZ, NZ, NZ, NZ, NZ, NZ. Meanwhile, the Aussies get a telling off from the referee: “To say I hadn’t called anything is pretty dishonest,” he admonishes after giving the Wallabies a penalty. Yes sir.

12.43pm BST

68 min: The Wallabies are given the benefit of the doubt and a Foley conversion puts Australia just 20 points behind. The Kiwis may have taken their foot off the accelerator, but this is still a strong second half showing from the home team.

12.41pm BST

68 min: Try? Israel Folau collects the ball amid confusion, and speeds to the try line. Some concern from the referee about offside – they go upstairs.

12.39pm BST

67 min: Polota-Nau wins a penalty for the Australians, who have now used all their substitutes. The Wallabies send a long kick into touch and will look to maintain this attacking moment.

12.35pm BST

Dear readers, is the comeback on or am I delirious (probably)? Australia would need to double their current score to draw even, but the Wallabies have definitely had the run of play in the last 10 minutes. Let me know via email or Twitter.

12.33pm BST

The snappers are doing a nice job this evening at ANZ Stadium, although it makes tough viewing for Australian fans. Exhibit A.

12.32pm BST

61 min: Beautiful rugby from Beale in his first game in Australian colours since the World Cup, collecting a misplaced ball before running 50 metres and outpacing the chasing All Blacks defence. Foley converts from the sideline.

12.29pm BST

60 min: Australia show some resoluteness in defence with the All Blacks right on their try line, before collecting the ball and making good ground via a monster effort from Speight. Foley then sends a high ball to substitute Simmons, who can’t hold on and knocks it forward.

12.27pm BST

I’m enjoying the All Blacks’ Twitter efforts tonight, while the Wallabies are keeping with a fairly orthodox approach to social media. If Australia can’t beat New Zealand on the pitch, at least they might step up their Twitter game?

TRY! That’s the eighth for the #AllBlacks! This time it’s @bensmithotago with the five-pointer. Barrett converts to make it 54-6.#AUSvNZL pic.twitter.com/XgjT5PEWvP

12.24pm BST

55 min: Try! Experienced substitute Tevita Kuridrani continues the Wallabies comeback. Is it #on?

12.23pm BST

Scott Flavell writes in from a pub in London: “Watching this at the Clapham North in London with a bunch of Kiwis. All the Woefully mob have fled, or at least removed scarves etc. I was looking forward to some Kiwi sledging but have been forced to remain silent. What has become of Australian Rugby?”

That is indeed the question. Perhaps Rona’s try will bring the scarves back out.

12.20pm BST

51 min: Rona! The Australian debutant collects a short pass from substitute Phipps to find Australia’s first try. Foley converts. Is this the start of the Wallabies come back?

12.18pm BST

49 min: Folau takes a high ball and finds Beale, who navigates New Zealand traffic and race towards the try line. He offloads but the Australians are eventually held-up by an imposing Kiwi defence. Scrum Australia.

12.17pm BST

At least our Australian readers can make political jokes.

At least @Barnaby_Joyce will be happy with the #Allblacks scoreline over the @qantaswallabies #auspol #bledisloecup

12.16pm BST

48 min: Squire evades several Wallabies attackers, offloads to Aaron Smith who finds club team-mate Ben Smith for yet another try. The century does not look far off. Barrett has no trouble converting from straight in front. This is currently the most points New Zealand HAS EVER scored against Australia, and we still have 30 minutes remaining.

12.14pm BST

46 min: More sloppy play from the Wallabies sees the All Blacks again gifted possession. The Fox Sports commentary team suggest of the current scoreline: “Nobody saw this coming.” Really?

12.12pm BST

A reader named Ant Pease writes in offering his “erudite commentary on the first half”.

12.11pm BST

43 min: It keeps coming… Full back McKenzie grabs a nice offload to open the second half scoring on the far left hand side. Barrett converts. Ouch.

12.08pm BST

40 min: We are back underway at the ANZ Stadium in Sydney. Can the Wallabies turn this around? Probably not. Will they put in an improved second half showing? Our Australian readers can only hope.

12.03pm BST

Andrew Flood from Griffith writes in:

Australia need to find some possession and test the relatively inexperienced New Zealand team. But that defensive effort in the first-half just gives New Zealand the confidence and play a high tempo game that the Wallabies can’t seem to match.

12.00pm BST

Well, there’s only one word for this: dominance. The All Blacks consistently outplayed the Australians during the first-half, to the point of embarrassment. Scrum-half Will Genia offers an apt summary as he strolls off: “We have looked sharp in attack, but defence and discipline have let us down” (or words to that effect – my hand written transcriptions are a little indecipherable).

Let me know what you think, dear reader. Email me or send me a tweet.

11.56am BST

The referee blows for half-time and the Australians trudge off the pitch dejected. The All Blacks have just recorded their best ever opening 40 minutes against Australia in international rugby. The Wallabies have looked listless in defence, and will be in for a harsh Michael Cheika team talk.

11.54am BST

40 min: Crotty crosses on the stroke of half-time after more New Zealand pressure to compound the Australian agony.

11.53am BST

38 min: A chip and chase from Barrett almost results in another All Blacks try. The possession statistics for the past 10 minutes say it all: 78% for New Zealand. The Aussie fans have had little to cheer about.

11.49am BST

Phil Withall on Twitter wants to know “How much has the failed Super Rugby expansion diluted the effectiveness of the Wallabies? The last few years seem to say a lot”. Thoughts, dear readers?

While I am contemplating that, some argby-bargy erupts on the field. The referee tells everyone that they have made their point, and threatens some disciplinary action if it happens again.

11.48am BST

33 min: SONNY BILL WILLIAMS! Four games off have clearly not troubled the rugby league convert, who is untroubled by the Wallabies defence after receiving the ball five metres out. First ever try for Williams against Australia, and he looks pleased. New Zealand convert to extend their lead, while the referee apologises to the Australian captain Hooper for the possibility he was not offside after all.

11.45am BST

32 min: New Zealand line-out 22m from the Australian line. The All Blacks begin the threaten, when Australia are penalised for Michael Hooper’s offside. The Kiwis opt to kick for touch, rather than taking an easy three points. The writer in me is also very pleased by the multiple synonyms available for New Zealand in the rugby context.

11.43am BST

We have an update from Martin Turnbull, who assures us he is no relation to the Australian prime minister. “Thank goodness my other bet was a record win to the Kiwis. Looking very much like it. Dear me.”

11.42am BST

An eagle-eyed Twitterer thinks they know the reason for the current All Blacks dominance.

#BledisloeCup are Norwich Football Club playing the All Blacks? If so this is very unfair, they are much better at soccer pic.twitter.com/fSlmBlUQe9

11.40am BST

29 min: The All Blacks almost go the length of the field after a bust from Sonny Bill Williams. Finally the Wallabies manage to drag the rampaging Kiwis down just metres out from the line, Will Genia doing well to recover. Scrum to Australia.

11.39am BST

28 min: Missed tackles and dropped balls have caused all sorts of headaches for the Wallabies so far tonight. But in attack the Australians have found space and looked dangerous with the ball in hand. It’s not over yet, although another Kiwi try would make things very difficult for the Wallabies.

11.36am BST

24 min: Slick passing from the All Blacks finds a gap, with no 13 Ryan Crotty pouncing over. New Zealand convert, and that’s 19 unanswered points. This is starting to get ugly for the Wallabies.

11.34am BST

Robin Hazlehurst has been in touch to suggest the Australians didn’t do their homework. I wonder if Michael Cheika has a dog? “I guess the Aussies didn’t watch the Lions tour then. The Lions success came from a very fast defence line and slowing the game in other areas. The Aussies are playing at 200mph everywhere except in defence. Seems risky, I fear for them.”

11.32am BST

20 min: Rieko Ioane does it again, finding his second try in three minutes. The Kiwis bust through and Ioane is too quick for the chasers to dive over right in front. This is looking bad for the men in yellow. Barrett converts to extend the New Zealand lead.

11.29am BST

17 min: After sustained attacking pressure from the All Blacks, testing Australia on both sides, speedster Rieko Ioane finds a gap on the far left hand side. He just gets the ball down before being bundled into touch, with the video referee confirming the try is good. New Zealand miss the conversion.

The Kiwis are happy on Twitter.

18′ | TRY! Slick hands outwide and Rieko Ioane lays on a brilliant finish to make it 12-6 to the #AllBlacks.#AUSvNZL #BledisloeCup pic.twitter.com/3NdRZZpnlk

11.26am BST

16 min: Penalty to Australia, Foley converts and brings Australia back within a point of the All Blacks.

11.25am BST

The big drama in Australian rugby in recent months has been the fate of the fifth Super Rugby, following Sanzaar’s decision to downside. Last week the Western Force were axed, and fans are making their feelings felt in Sydney tonight.

11.23am BST

12 min: Australia immediately respond, Speight finding space on the right-hand side before the Wallabies switch back to the left. Back to the right they go through Beale, before the ball hits the referee just as the Australians were looking dangerous. Scrum.

11.21am BST

9 min: After surprising the Wallabies with a quick line-out, the All Blacks test the Australian defence on both sides of the park before finding space on their left-hand flank. Liam Squire outpaces his opposite number to secure the first New Zealand try of the night!

TRY! Great hands from the #AllBlacks and Liam Squire shows great pace outwide to score the opening try of the Test!#AUSvNZL #BledisloeCup pic.twitter.com/ugF7Sg9Zxy

11.17am BST

7 min: Ball ping-ponging around the middle of the field, before New Zealand win a penalty and elect to kick for touch. This will be the first proper attacking threat the Wallabies have faced tonight.

11.14am BST

4 min: The Wallabies are awarded a penalty right in front and have no trouble converting.

11.12am BST

2 min: Some sloppy play from the All Blacks gifts Australia possession not long after the kick-off, and the Wallabies show attacking movement on both sides of the field. A promising start for the Australians.

11.09am BST

1 min: Peep! We are underway at the ANZ Stadium in Sydney. The anthems have been sung, the Haka has been performed and I have had my last minute snacks. Do email me or send through 140-character thoughts on Twitter throughout the night.

11.04am BST

Martin Turnbull (any relation to the Australian Prime Minister?) has sent me through the first email of the night:

Just put a punt on the Wallabies to beat the Kiwis and by a wide margin. I suspect the old saying, that a fool and his money are soon parted, will hold true.

10.59am BST

Kick-off is mere minutes away. While we wait, I have three big questions ahead of tonight’s encounter:

1. How will Sonny Bill Williams perform in his return from suspension? Will he have a sluggish return, or do the Australian defensive line face a torrid evening?

10.53am BST

Once you’ve read Gerard’s contribution, I also commend to you these thoughts from Bret Harris on how the Wallabies can secure an upset. Bret is in position at ANZ Stadium for The Guardian and will have a match report with you shortly after the full-time whistle. Until then, you’re stuck with me.

Related: Tackle, tackle and then tackle again – how the Wallabies can upset the All Blacks

10.49am BST

Good evening to our readers in Australia and New Zealand, good morning to the rugby faithful in the United Kingdom and a warm hello to anyone who doesn’t fit into those categories. Kick-off tonight will be around 8.05pm AEST/10.05pm NZST/11.05pm GMT+1. While you are waiting, have a read of Gerard Meagher’s insightful article on the state of rugby union in the southern hemisphere. For those who live on this side of the world, it makes for troubling reading. On the upside, it has some nice nautical puns. Do let me know what you think.

Related: Rugby Championship ready to launch with Sanzaar sailing into troubled waters | Gerard Meagher

10.42am BST

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen has offered some words of wisdom to Australian broadcaster Fox Sports in a pre-match interview. “The game will be won by scoring tries,” offered the gruff 58-year-old. “So we will have to score more then them.” Sagely indeed.

10.36am BST

Crisis is an oft-used word in Australian rugby right now. The Wallabies are at a low ebb, the Western Force have been removed from the Super Rugby competition after a chaotic few months and Australian Rugby Union (ARU) boss Bill Pulver has resigned. The prospect of an another embarrassing defeat to arch rivals New Zealand tonight threatens to compound a month of misery.

It is not all bad news for our Australian readers though. Kurtley Beale is back, the pack is full of potential and the Foley-Beale-Folau trio provide a potent attacking threat. The surprise selection of debutant winger Curtis Rona, a rugby league convert, could prove an inspired choice.

3.19am BST

Kieran will be here shortly. In the meantime, here’s a reminder of today’s teams:

Related: Curtis Rona to make Wallabies debut as All Blacks spring selection surprise

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/live/2017/aug/19/wallabies-v-all-blacks-bledisloe-cuprugby-championship-opener-live

Aug 16

Tackle, tackle and then tackle again – how the Wallabies can upset the All Blacks

Despite Australia’s 0-26 win-loss record against New Zealand teams in Super Rugby this year, the Wallabies still have a chance in the opening Bledisloe Test

A new book about the 1969 rugby league grand final between Balmain and South Sydney should be required reading for the Wallabies as they head into the opening Bledisloe Cup Test against the All Blacks in Sydney on Saturday night.

In The Great Grand Final Heist, respected sports writer Ian Heads tells the story of Balmain’s improbable 11-2 win against hot favourites South Sydney in one of the greatest upsets in Australian sporting history.

Related: Michael Hooper named Wallabies captain with All Blacks on horizon

Related: Two former NRL stars among seven uncapped players in Wallabies squad

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/aug/16/tackle-tackle-and-then-tackle-again-how-the-wallabies-can-upset-the-all-blacks

Aug 04

Two former NRL stars among seven uncapped players in Wallabies squad

  • Curtis Rona and Marika Koroibete amongst seven uncapped players in squad
  • Wallabies will play Bledisloe Cup and Championship Test against New Zealand

Former NRL stars Curtis Rona and Marika Koroibete are among seven uncapped players in Wallaby coach Michael Cheika’s squad for the opening Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship Test against New Zealand later this month. Rona and his Western Force centre partner Billy Meakes have each earned a first call-up, while Rebels winger Koroibete went on last year’s spring tour but didn’t get a Test cap. The fourth new back is Reds’ outside back Izaia Perese. He is joined in the squad by Reds teammates in lock Izack Rodda, and back rower Adam Korczyk, both of whom are also vying for a first Test cap. With Tolu Latu injured, Rebels hooker Jordan Ueelse is the bolter in the squad.

Related: Michael Hooper named Wallabies captain with All Blacks on horizon

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/aug/04/two-former-nrl-stars-among-seven-uncapped-players-in-wallabies-squad

Aug 02

Michael Hooper named Wallabies captain with All Blacks on horizon

Waratahs flanker chosen to replace retiring Stephen MooreAustralia face New Zealand in a fortnight in opening Bledisloe Cup clashMichael Hooper has been unveiled as the new Wallabies captain, taking over from the veteran hooker, Stephen Moore, who anno…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/aug/02/michael-hooper-named-wallabies-captain-with-all-blacks-on-horizon

Jul 27

Stephen Moore to quit Wallabies at the end of the year

The 120-Test veteran hands captaincy to Michael Hooper immediatelyHooker aims for one more season with Queensland RedsWallabies skipper Stephen Moore will retire from international rugby at the end of the year and is handing over the captaincy to Micha…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jul/27/stephen-moore-to-quit-wallabies-at-the-end-of-the-year

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