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12.03.22

Alan Jones Rugby Comments

There is plenty to report in today’s rugby round up.

It has been enjoyable watching the Australian provincial teams playing one another over the past few weeks; but pretty soon, the local derbies will give way to the Trans-Tasman fixtures against the New Zealand teams.

When that happens, we can expect some of our domestic teams to get a reality check.

As I see it, only the Queensland Reds and the ACT Brumbies will be competitive against the well-coached Kiwi sides.

Both the Reds and the Brumbies know how to win and they are a good match for anyone on home soil.

The other Australian franchises are a real concern; in particular the Rebels appear to be in freefall.

Last weekend, the Melbourne franchise lost, at home, to the Fijian Drua and, to be honest, the Rebels have not been competitive in any of their matches this season.

To make matters worse, a Sydney Shute Shield team hammered the Rebels’ back-up squad on the same weekend.

The Rebels have a good roster and a great home ground, which they share with the ridiculously successful Melbourne Storm.

Most rugby fans can’t understand why the Rebels currently look like the worst team in Australia by a long shot.

Forgive me for saying this, but losing at home to the newly formed Fijian Drua team, full of semi-professional players, is completely unacceptable for any Australian provincial side.

The coach should resign and the players should take control of the team.

How did the Rebels become a rabble?

I have a theory.

From my perspective, the Rebels have the wrong coaches in charge.

Instead of backing an Australian coach, who understands the game from the grassroots up, the Rebels’ administration has chosen a former South African Sevens player to lead their club.

To compound matters, the South African “Head Coach”, with no track record of success in the 15s game has then hired more foreign coaches who, also, have no knowledge of the game in Australia.

Who is running the coach development program for home-grown coaches in this country?

It would seem the Rebels have hired a foreign dud.

Perhaps they should have followed the Waratahs’ path and signed a deserving, young Australian coach who knows the game in this country and has earnt the respect of his peers.

To the Northern Hemisphere.

Get ready.

The best fixture of the fourth round of Six Nations will be the England vs. Ireland clash at Twickenham.

Eddie Jones has large parts of the English rugby press death-riding him.

Ireland are playing an absolutely brilliant style of rugby, making well over 200 passes a game, when the average number of passes in Test Match rugby is almost half that.

Most neutrals are cheering for the Irish to beat this “new” England team.

Remember, it was this fixture in last year’s Championship that triggered big changes to the England camp.

In 2021, Ireland smashed England in Dublin, relegating England to fifth place in the Championship.

Eddie Jones then sacked most of his staff and threw many of his playing group under the bus.

He did all this in order to survive a root-and-branch review by his boss, at the Rugby Football Union.

On top of that, Eddie recently branded his current squad “new” England, and he is promoting the talented maverick Marcus Smith to the coveted number 10 jersey.

Jones has done all of this to prolong his tenure at the RFU.

So, find some time this weekend to watch this clash at Twickenham.

Ireland are a treat to watch and England are desperate for a win at home to keep their supporters happy and the wolves from the door.

There will be 80,000 Poms singing “Sweet Chariot” or whatever has replaced it in this era of wokeness.

Back home, someone needs to tell Rugby Australia, that when they select the Wallabies, the world expects them to choose the best 15 players.

To do otherwise completely undermines the game in this country.

Giteau’s Law is a complete shambles.

And, as I have said many times, Rugby Australia should abandon it all together.

Instead, the governing body continues to tinker with a dumb law that denies rugby fans what they want – a bloody strong Wallaby team.

In the most recent tweak of Giteau’s Law, Rugby Australia have decided to allow only 3 players currently playing outside the country, to represent the Wallabies.

If it is ok for 3 overseas players, why not more?

Surely we are entitled to see the strongest possible Wallabies’ team take on the All Blacks, Springboks, Pumas and England this year.

To take on these teams without our best team is a rugby nonsense.

Meanwhile, Rugby Australia’s bid to host the 2027 World Cup is starting to wobble.

World Rugby is demanding a $300 million guarantee and Rugby Australia, of course, don’t have the financial clout to do that.

Only the Federal Government can guarantee that sort of money but the Coalition has wracked up huge debt thanks to COVID-related welfare payments.

With a Federal Election coming up, Scott Morrison may want to distance himself from the football code seen as a private school game with poor international performance.

It is understandable that flood-affected people on the east coast, from Brisbane to Sydney, will be asking how Rugby Australia could be supported to the tune of $300 million when these poor flood victims have lost everything and received, to date, little to no meaningful Government support.

In the ideal world, our Federal Government would have a war chest available to deal with pandemics and support flood-affected people and still have enough left to bankroll international sporting events; but in the real world, however, choices need to be made.

Understandably, our current domestic political landscape puts the Federal Government under financial pressure and Rugby Australia’s World Cup bid may, therefore, be in serious jeopardy.

Enjoy the weekend.

Don’t miss Ireland verse England at Twickenham.