It’ll be put up or shut up when the Wallabies attempt the near impossible task of beating the iconic All Blacks this Saturday at Eden Park.
This Saturday, the Wallabies head to Eden Park where we have a hoodoo. New Zealand have won 35 consecutive matches at Eden Park and have not been beaten there since losing to France 23-20 on July 4, 1994. The last time the Wallabies beat the All Blacks at Eden Park was in 1986 when the side was coached by radio jock Alan Jones.
We have stars like Michael Hooper, Israel Folau, Will Genia and Quade Cooper who need to step up against the All Blacks.
New Zealand is the benchmark and has been the last 50 years. The All Blacks have won a record 44 consecutive tests on kiwi turf as of October 8, 2016. New Zealand’s previous longest winning streak was 17 test victories, achieved between 1965 and 1970 and again between 2013 and 2014. That second streak included every test played in 2013.
So why can Australia no longer match the mighty All Blacks?
Because, in New Zealand, rugby is arguably their number one sport. Young kids dream of becoming an All Black and train their butts off at school or at the local footy pitch to get there.
Former Wallaby coaches and Wallaby players have all been very vocal about the topic.
Brett Papworth, who was a part of the 1986 victory, wrote a letter to the ARU. Simon Poidevin, Nick Farr-Jones and Alan Jones have all agreed to support Papworth. The letter addresses the lack of community support.
Brett Papworth’s letter taken from the Roar:
Letter to the Board of the ARU:
Are you well.
A number of us have been talking for quite a while and have concerns about the game and its future. Sadly, it appears they have stopped listening.
So, with the help of quite a few, we have drafted the attached letter, and the plan is to have your names on it as signatories! The distribution list above is the tip of the iceberg, and just the former Wallabies I have details for. Please pass it on to anyone you think would be pleased to have their name attached …
We understand that some may feel they can’t sign this letter, given their position in the game. That’s OK, we understand and will still buy you a beer as we take the piss next time we see you!
The plan is to have this letter sent by this Friday so please send your consent asap.
Looking forward to seeing many of you on Wednesday.
At the 30-year anniversary lunch, CEO of the Wallabies Bill Pulver expressed his disappointment towards Mr Papworth.
“I’m surprised and a little disappointed, there’s a raft of Wallabies that have signed up.”
“He underestimates the amount of investment we put there and I’m trying to correct that,” he said.
Mr Poideven said this week that the ARU should take the letter seriously or it will end in tears.
In response to the letter, Chairman of the ARU Cameron Clyne has agreed to conduct a Rugby Summit meeting with the legends and the coaches to discuss the letter.
“There is no dispute that ARU board members would love to spend more on grassroots and community rugby,” Mr Clyne said.
“We’ve all had long and deep connections with clubs. But where does the money come from? The only thing inside rugby that makes money in Australia is the Wallabies. That’s pretty much the nature of professional sport these days,” he said.
Apart from all that … there has also been commentary, with an issue with rugby’s playing structure.
Former Wallaby and now commentator, Matthew Burke has come out and said that rugby union in this modern era is trying to copy League and it’s not working.
“We have stolen these second-man plays from rugby league. but there is a significant difference between the two codes: league blokes take the ball to the line; we don’t. Simple,” said Mr Burke.
Burke asked “So what’s the problem? Is it the way our teams are being told to play? Former Reds and Wallabies coach John Connolly suggested on the Fox Sports website that we are limiting ourselves by playing a ball-in-hand style and not being smart by putting boot to ball.”
The main issue that former coach Bobby Dwyer touched on was the Wallabies structure. The plays that coach Michael Cheika and the training staff are coming up with are not turning into points and are not helping our star players like Israel Folau find space to run.
“Our prime support players should be our three back row forwards, our 9 and 10 and perhaps our hooker from line-outs. With this structure, we don’t have them properly positioned because they’ve already made up their mind what their next role is, without exhausting the support play options available to them.”
“Then our new ball carriers, from the second phase onwards, tend to be tight forwards and unless they’re close to the ball and ball carrier, we can’t have a success at the next tackle contest and subsequently the next phase. I see us needing to re-evaluate the structure of our play and a need to reassess and work hard at 100 per cent accurate technique as applicable to each position,” Dwyer said.
“The next thing we need to be a lot better at is lines of running. We start with our 10s and 12s going across the pitch limiting the ability of our outside backs to perform well. If Israel Folau can perform like he does with no space, imagine what he could do with some.”
Wallaby great Owen Finegan said: “The Culture and the mix of senior and newly capped Wallabies and their changing style of play is a jigsaw puzzle that will need time and expertise to finesse.”
“When you are losing, all you can do as a team is become more insular, block out the noise and concentrate on the things that matter.”
However, Finegan proudly said: “As an Ex-Wallaby who has been in a very similar position, I refuse to question the integrity and passion of this Wallabies team.” – Jesse Mullens
Photo of some of the Wallaby players singing the anthem from the Wallabies Twitter feed.