The Rogues Rant #254

Welcome to The Rogues Rant, an occasional look at all things Rugby

Hats off to Wallaby coach Dave Rennie. He summed up the Wallabies performance against the All Blacks in Sydney for what it was, unacceptable. He made changes to the side and made things clear in no uncertain terms just what he expected from the playing group going into the game in Brisbane. He got what he asked for and what most Aussie Rugby fans hoped for and that was a much more vigorous and committed effort from the Australian Team. There were eye catching performances from Matt Phillip, Michael Hooper, Harry Wilson, Nic White, Reece Hodge, Marika Koroibete and Jordon Petaia. After the game Rennie again summed the match up beautifully and honestly showing his pleasure with the manner in which his side performed on the night. Urging everyone not to get carried away with the win, Rennie reminded all of us  that while this was a much better effort there is still a lot of work to be done. This was almost a second 15 side for the All Blacks with eight players being rested from the week before but none the less the effort from the Aussies was pleasing for long suffering Wallaby supporters.  

Young University halfback Cooper Hanson has won a spot in the 2020 NSWJRU Under 18 GEN BLUE Team that was selected this week after last weekend’s City V Country U/18 match played at Camden. Hanson was one of seven Illawarra players who represented Country in the hard fought match won 24 – 19 by the City boys. The NSW Team will now go on to play a combined GPS/CAS squad at the NSW rugby complex at Dacyville in Sydney on Saturday. Hanson, who has already had a handful of 1st Grade matches with Uni at the end of 2019, has a bright future as a very skilled Fly-Half or Halfback and a prodigious Goal Kicker as well. Also in the Country side last week was Junior Illawarriors Blake Curls, Blake Gurney, Anthony Moataane, Jack Neich, Luke Platt, and Kaylem Tytherleigh.

I don’t agree with all the chatter about how the high tackle laws should be changed in light of the send offs in last Saturday’s Test in Brisbane. There is no question that both tackles were high and dangerous with direct head contact being made. Given all the information available now in regard to concussion etc., every attempt needs to be made to encourage players to forever be on guard against making such dangerous tackles. Players need to be on notice that if such a tackle goes wrong and such impact is made then they can expect to spend time on the sidelines. The answer is clear. Get your tackles down and you will not be caught out.

Despite the send-off Lachie Swinton’s performance was deservedly well received by Wallaby Coach Dave Rennie. Swinton’s physicality and aggression was just what Rennie was looking for from the players he brought into the match with the coach glowing in his praise for his back rower after the match. Most people would agree there did not appear to be any malice in his tackle but it did go wrong and the big man must suffer the consequences. Clearly with two similar offences on his record which went against him at the Judiciary where he received a four week suspension, he needs to make adjustments to his tackling technique.    

What does Rugby Australia’s new television deal mean to us all? Looks like we will have to have a look at how we get our Rugby hit on the TV. For us old blokes all this technology and streaming services can get a bit confusing. Hopefully my grandson can work it all out for me!

It’s twenty years this year since an Illawarra Caldwell Cup win in Country Week at Parkes in 1990. The Old Illawarrior shared a ragged old program from the weekend tournament with me recently. It makes for some interesting reading with some big names in the squad coached by the legendary Illawarra Coach Val Tyson. The front row consisted of Peter Palmer, Mick Prior and Spiro Lozenkovski who went on to make up the Country Front Row with Palmer also playing for NSW. Camden player John Maynard was also in the squad. John is now the President of Central West Rugby after moving to Bathurst some years ago where he was instrumental in the growth of the Bathurst Bulldogs Rugby Club. Mark Giacharri and Ian Westwood made up the second row. Giacharri went on to play for Italy and Randwick and also had a stint coaching Illawarra in 2007. Ian Westwood became the first man to win the Caldwell Cup both as a player and a Coach winning the Caldwell Cup as Coach in Tamworth in 2005. The Fly-half in the squad was a young bloke named Andrew Walker, who was just 16 years of age at the time and played a major role in the side’s success. Craig Wells and Shamrocks Ray Wylie also figured in the backline. Not a bad group of old Rugby players there.

All opinions offered in this column are the opinion of the author. They should not be considered to represent the views of the IDRU.