Saturday, 26 February 2011

Position Vacant: Attack Coach, QLD Reds.

When are administrators going to realise that playing SuperRugby in Queensland in the summer is a really dumb idea? Apart from the obvious concern  that a player will one day have to be carried from the field suffering from heat exhaustion, the lacklustre performance of the Reds this week suggested that it takes some time to recover from playing in such conditions.

The other possible explanation for the Reds poor performance on Saturday– that the attacking spark of previous seasons is gone--  is equally troubling. If so, Queensland rugby needs to send out an urgent S.O.S. to Phil Mooney to re-join the team as the Reds attack coach. Come back Phil, all is forgiven.

Despite some awesome hits put in by the Tahs  defense, the crowd never seemed to warm to the game. The difference between the atmosphere at the previous night’s game in Melbourne and that in Sydney, methinks, is related to the demographics of those attending. One can understand the reluctance to put on a gonzo mask in team colors and scream yourself hoarse when you’re wearing a tweed coat with leather elbow patches. 

Hopefully one day New South Wales rugby will wake up, look in the mirror, and discover where the problem is. 

Friday, 25 February 2011

From Skid Row to Hero

What a difference 7 days makes! In a gripping and intense game of rugby the crowd went wild as the Rebels stole victory in the final minute of the game. Sure, it was a dubious penalty that got them home, but no-one could begrudge them their win after an awesome defensive display from the new team was complemented by brilliant tactical kicking from Cipriani and Gerrard. Cipriani, who during the week had looked to be on a fast-track to skid row, was suddenly the crowd's pin-up boy. Cooper Vuna was always dangerous on the left wing while in the forwards Lipman and the admirable Delve had huge games. The crowd support for the Rebels was remarkable, at times more reminiscent of an English Premier League game than Australian Rugby.
Rod Macqueen once again showed he is the master coach while rumors and rumbles suggest that Andy Friend is on the nose in Brumbyland. 

What odds a return of Eddie Jones to Canberra next year?

Sunday, 20 February 2011

There's Nothing More Deceptive than an Obvious Fact

They promised so much in 2011 but in their much anticipated first game the Reds delivered so little.

Under Phil Mooney they developed a free-flowing attacking style not previously seen north of the border. But Fort Knox would have fallen had the Reds been required to defend it.

Then along came Ewan McKenzie. A great forward and forwards coach, he turned the Waratahs around but eventually lost his job  because of the boring  style of play he seemed unable to escape from.  Returning 2 years later from exile in Europe, McKenzie became the Reds saviour when he stiffened their defense and turned the Reds forwards into a formidable unit. But although McKenzie received the accolades, the backs had continued to play the no-fear attacking style developed by the much maligned Mooney. The difference this time was that they could tackle too.

Fast forward to game 1 of 2011: what Mooney taught the backs has been well and truly erased from the memory banks and replaced by the game plan favored by the MacKenzie-coached Tahs. 

Perhaps big Ewan, also famous for the number of meat pies he could put away, should have paid heed to the words of the Muad’Dib: The person who experiences greatness must have a feeling for the myth he is in.”

Saturday, 19 February 2011

SuperRugby starts for 2011

Hi everyone and welcome to Ken & Art's rugby blog!

Well the Super rugby season kicked off and for me the big talking point was just how bad the Rebels were. I expected them to be scrappy and expected the Tahs to be too good, but the Rebels were just terrible. They looked slow, their line-outs and scrum were a mess, they missed tackles, they made zero line breaks until Huxley started a short-lived assault in the final minutes, and they just had no attack whatsoever. Some of their older players just looked like geriatrics -- Cordingley and Mortlock come to mind. I can't recall Luke Rooney -- a potential attacking weapon -- receiving the ball once in attack the entire game. He must be eyeing a return to the NRL after just one game in SuperRugby. Rod Macqueen -- supercoach -- you've got a lot of work to do to make this team competitive.

As for the Tahs: with all the options they've got I was surprised to find yet again that we had Tom Carter -- who has the speed of a tractor in low range -- the first choice at inside center. That said, he had a good game, although it wasn't hard to look good against the Rebels. Beale was brilliant as usual, and Drew Mitchell took over where he left off last season as a try scoring machine. The Tahs back three -- if they can get the ball past their inside backs -- are brilliant to watch.

The new AAMI stadium looks great -- but how many of the 25,000 who attended this game will front up for more punishment next week........?