JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Aussie Super Rugby teams showing strength and flair

Israel Folau has scored more tries per game than some rival teams this season.

Israel Folau has scored more tries per game than some rival teams this season. Photo: Getty Images

Anyone holding on to the notion that the Australian conference is weak simply has not been watching Super Rugby.

It was true in 2012, with a Waratahs outfit lacking belief and a conference groaning under the weight of two teams added in the space of five years.

This season Australian teams have met inter-conference rivals three times, resulting in a bonus-point win on all occasions. It's early days and such a statistic is no guarantee an Australian team will win the title or beat New Zealand teams more times than they lose - as was the case in 2013 - but it is a start that deserves more respect than it gets in some quarters.

It may be a surprise to some, but the fact the All Blacks proved unbeatable in 2013 does not automatically place the New Zealand Super Rugby franchises on a higher plane. Stuttering starts by supposed powerhouses from Christchurch and Wellington should dismiss those thoughts.

The attack statistics from the first four rounds make startling reading. Teams in the Australian conference average 3.15 tries a game, the Kiwis 2.08 while South African sides lag behind with 1.72. Israel Folau's five tries for the Waratahs in two games has not been bettered by 60 per cent of the teams in the other two conferences.

Of course, some of these factors may be exclusive to the Australian conference. Weaker defences and harder tracks are all possible reasons but the experiences of both the Hurricanes and Cheetahs against Australian teams suggests otherwise.

There has been a gradual evolution taking place in Australian rugby, or in the case of the Waratahs, a revolution. Last year, the Australian conference had arguably the best coaches. The presence of Jake White (Brumbies), Ewen McKenzie (Reds) and Michael Cheika (Waratahs) on the sidelines was at least a match for anything the other two conferences could offer. White (to Durban) and McKenzie (Wallabies) may have departed the Australian Super scene but their influence lives on.

If White toughened up the Brumbies and taught them to be winners again, then Cheika and McKenzie instilled an attacking intent that has filtered through to the national team.

Under new coach Stephen Larkham, the Brumbies have tweaked their game plan but still play safety-first "Jake ball". To be expected, Larkham has made some changes to reflect his own style of play. Larkham was one of the best running five-eighths the game has seen and the Brumbies now have a licence to keep the ball in hand more in their own territory and to run it if the opportunity arises. They took advantage of such an occasion against the Hurricanes on Friday night. On the stroke of halftime, the Brumbies kept possession from a restart and swept up-field resulting in Robbie Coleman's try in the corner. They took the lead and never gave it up.

Saturday night's clash between the Tahs and Brumbies reflects the two extremes of the Australian conference. It's a battle between romantic adventurism and hard-nosed pragmatism, but the Brumbies would do well to repeat the intent behind Coleman's try. Attack begets attack and the Waratahs ball-in-hand style creates opportunities for both sides to capitalise on. The Reds did that in the opening game of 2013 but forgot it a fortnight ago, choosing to hoof the ball against the Waratahs and suffering a record loss. The Brumbies should utilise the speed and elusiveness of Jesse Mogg, Tevita Kuridrani and Henry Speight to capitalise on the broken play opportunities.

It's a game the Brumbies need to win. Losses at home to the Reds and the Waratahs would put them behind the eight ball in their quest to top the Australian conference. Not fatal, but not good.

12 comments so far

  • Samuel.... sorry but how did I know this article was soon to appear ?

    With only three or four weeks into the Super 15 comp and we're already talkin' Aussie up. Some might say, fair enough but surely it's way too earlier for that. In essence the Aussie Super 15 has started it's campaign with largely local derbies. Mmmmm.... ?
    So therefore it's way too early to really say anything except it looks like any team on their day is capable of beating the other..... que the Force.
    Likewise, I think you got it around the wrong way with the 'battle between' the Tahs and the Brumbies.... if anything the Tahs now seem to be showing 'hard nose pragamatism' while the Brumbies could be accused of 'romantic adventurism' since the departure of coach White ?

    Come this w'end we ALL may know, having a better idea as to everything.... c'arn da Tahs !

    inner west sydney
    Date and time
    March 10, 2014, 9:02AM
    • It's a long long tough season. Best to keep ones head down at the moment.
      And if Genia does one more box kick .......I swear, despite the fact that Nick Frisby is the worst decision maker of all the halfbacks in Super Rugby, it will be time to drop Genia. The amount of games his awful, telegraphed, pedestrian box kicking is costing the teams he is playing for his unacceptable. Bring in Ben Lucas, pllleeeeaaaase

      Date and time
      March 10, 2014, 9:38AM
      • Agree with you about Genia...worse than Beale with his low percentage chip and chase...

        But I think there is room for a good deal of confidence this year though I would stop short of claiming the title for an Aussie team just yet. All the teams have shown (some only in glimpses true) better skills, a bit more depth and certainly a lot more maturity. It is probably this latter quality that is sticking out...and that is often the difference between winning the tight ones and being also rans.

        Let's hope that translates into the Wallabies as well...about time we gave the Kiwis some stick at the international level.

        Curl Curl
        Date and time
        March 10, 2014, 9:30PM
    • I must preface this comment by saying that I thought Steve Larkham was a great player and one of our very best fly-halves but, that said, he wasn't a flaky run at all costs player. In fact, onthe contrary, he loved discipline and apparently practiced moves so that they were executed to the centimetre. His flair was based on total confidence that Mortlock/Roff etc would be in exactly the place he expected to find then with his brilliant passes.

      He could run and beat people but did far less of that sort of off-the-cuff stuff once he moved from fullback. If his team reflects him it will add a lot of set-piece flair but will operate in a very similar way to the team under Jake when in tough situations - kick, kick, kick.

      Date and time
      March 10, 2014, 6:55PM
      • I totally agree with Stephen about the status of Australian teams. They had worse starts than this in previous years. I said it on this forum 4 years ago that as soon as the AUS teams grow more experienced they will be more competitive. When the NZ and SA panelists were criticizing the AUS teams on their national television programs (2008-2011) they conveniently forgot about the fact that the AUS teams were very young compared to the other two conferences. It is just a fact that teams playing together for a few years while teenagers are growing older they will get better. In 2008 it was teenagers all over the place in AUS teams, sometimes as much as 8 per squad. It was unrealistic to expect them to compete. At the moment the REDS and Brumbies still have most of their players under the age of 25 and competing very well. History shows that this is a BIG factor in the improved performances of AUS teams. What the REDS achieved with a squad with the average age of 22 in 2011 was the exception to the rule.

        Cape Town
        Date and time
        March 10, 2014, 7:33PM
        • Regarding the styles of play debate, I still think that the AUS teams (although entertaining) are playing too a risky style. The Brumbies are the closest to the ideal of striking the healthy balance between being expansive and being pragmatic (and they will win more close matches and away matches with that formula). That is the best way to put opponents under pressure and forcing them to make magic and therefore mistakes to be capiltalised upon.

          The REDS need urgent structure and a much better tactical kicking game. Teams with strong packs like the Sharks, Crusaders, Waratahs, Stormers etc. will punish them if they don't adapt. Watch this space as this is my prediction for the REDS...with their current style they will loose to these 4 teams...home and away. Their loose trio is also too weak to compete with the big ball carriers of these 4 teams.

          Cape Town
          Date and time
          March 10, 2014, 7:42PM
          • Johnny Boy , how right you are about Genia and the box kick .

            I assume the Nick Frisbie has something to do with his ability to kick the ball away to the opposition , only to see it returned in spades .

            Great name for him .

            Back with Barry
            Date and time
            March 10, 2014, 7:58PM
            • Maybe too early to tell, but I've been saying for months now that this was going to be a cracker of a season. Almost all the Aussie teams have shown far more flair than we've seen in the last few seasons, while some of the traditional NZ and SA powerhouses appear to be somewhat underdone.
              I had been hoping the Aussies would show up this season, to give my favourite Kiwi teams a run for their money, and it's turned into one of those "be careful what you ask for" moments. Now I'm just hoping the Crusaders can turn their season around!

              J B
              Date and time
              March 10, 2014, 10:34PM
              • Yous are wrong yous are negative yous are more than likely scared of your own shadows.
                2014, and the Kiwi rugby bubble has burst just like the overrated Crusaders.
                Both the Saffers and the Okkers, especially the Okkers are on the rise and all the past few years of blood sweat and experimentation will now come to fruition with the ultimate goal of the RWC in 2015 just needing a continuation of the present form .
                There can be no doubt the desire is there ,the commitment and now with the talent available and the obvious leadership in place what is there to stop Australia rising once again to claim its rightful place atop the world rugbys elite.
                Nothing except doubt and small mindedness such as is evident in these previous posts.

                Date and time
                March 11, 2014, 7:01AM
                • Your national team is still looking pretty weak, though, Sammo!
                  Australia won't make it out of pool at RWC 2015.

                  Tom Callaghan
                  Date and time
                  March 11, 2014, 9:39AM

                  More comments

                  Make a comment

                  You are logged in as [Logout]

                  All information entered below may be published.

                  Error: Please enter your screen name.

                  Error: Your Screen Name must be less than 255 characters.

                  Error: Your Location must be less than 255 characters.

                  Error: Please enter your comment.

                  Error: Your Message must be less than 300 words.

                  Post to

                  You need to have read and accepted the Conditions of Use.

                  Thank you

                  Your comment has been submitted for approval.

                  Comments are moderated and are generally published if they are on-topic and not abusive.

                  HuffPost Australia

                  Rugby World Cup 2015

                  Round 1
                  Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
                  ENG 35vs FJI 11 Report Stats
                  TGA 10vs GEO 17 Report Stats
                  IRE 50vs CAN 7 Report Stats
                  Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
                  SAF 32vs JPN 34 Report Stats
                  FRA 32vs ITA 10 Report Stats
                  SAM 25vs USA 16 Report Stats
                  WAL 54vs URU 9 Report Stats
                  Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
                  NZL 26vs ARG 16 Report Stats
                  Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
                  SCO 45vs JPN 10 Report Stats
                  Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
                  AUS 28vs FJI 13 Report Stats
                  FRA 38vs ROM 11 Report Stats
                  Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
                  NZL 58vs NAM 14 Report Stats
                  Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
                  ARG 54vs GEO 9 Report Stats
                  ITA 23vs CAN 18 Report Stats
                  Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
                  SAF 46vs SAM 6 Report Stats
                  ENG 25vs WAL 28 Report Stats
                  AUS 65vs URU 3 Report Stats
                  SCO 39vs USA 16 Report Stats
                  Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
                  IRE 44vs ROM 10 Report Stats
                  Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
                  TGA 35vs NAM 21 Report Stats
                  Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
                  WAL 23vs FJI 13 Report Stats
                  FRA 41vs CAN 18 Report Stats
                  Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
                  NZL 43vs GEO 10 Report Stats
                  SAM 5vs JPN 26 Report Stats
                  Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
                  SAF 34vs SCO 16 Report Stats
                  ENG 13vs AUS 33 Report Stats
                  Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
                  ARG 45vs TGA 16 Report Stats
                  IRE 16vs ITA 9 Report Stats
                  Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
                  CAN 15vs ROM 17 Report Stats
                  FJI 47vs URU 15 Report Stats
                  Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
                  SAF 64vs USA 0 Report Stats
                  NAM 16vs GEO 17 Stats
                  Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
                  NZL 47vs TGA 9 Report Stats
                  Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
                  SAM 33vs SCO 36 Report Stats
                  AUS 15vs WAL 6 Report Stats
                  ENG 60vs URU 3 Stats
                  ARG 64vs NAM 19 Report Stats
                  Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
                  ITA 32vs ROM 22 Report Stats
                  FRA 9vs IRE 24 Report Stats
                  USA 18vs JPN 28 Report Stats
                  View All Fixtures
                  Round 2
                  Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
                  SAF 23vs WAL 19 Stats
                  NZL 62vs FRA 13 Report Stats
                  IRE 20vs ARG 43 Report Stats
                  Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
                  AUS 35vs SCO 34 Stats
                  Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
                  SAF 18vs NZL 20 Stats
                  Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
                  ARG 15vs AUS 29 Stats
                  Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
                  SAF 24vs ARG 13 Stats
                  Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
                  NZL 34vs AUS 17 Stats
                  View All Fixtures
                  Rugby World Cup 2015
                  Team P W L D +/- Pts
                  Australia 4 4 0 0 106 17
                  Wales 4 3 1 0 49 13
                  England 4 2 2 0 58 11
                  Fiji 4 1 3 0 -17 5
                  Uruguay 4 0 4 0 -196 0
                  View all
                  Rugby World Cup 2015
                  Team P W L D +/- Pts
                  South Africa 4 3 1 0 120 16
                  Scotland 4 3 1 0 43 14
                  Japan 4 3 1 0 -2 12
                  Samoa 4 1 3 0 -55 6
                  USA 4 0 4 0 -106 0
                  View all
                  Rugby World Cup 2015
                  Team P W L D +/- Pts
                  New Zealand 4 4 0 0 125 19
                  Argentina 4 3 1 0 109 15
                  Georgia 4 2 2 0 -70 8
                  Tonga 4 1 3 0 -60 6
                  Namibia 4 0 4 0 -104 1
                  View all
                  Rugby World Cup 2015
                  Team P W L D +/- Pts
                  Ireland 4 4 0 0 99 18
                  France 4 3 1 0 57 14
                  Italy 4 2 2 0 -14 10
                  Romania 4 1 3 0 -69 4
                  Canada 4 0 4 0 -73 2
                  View all

                  Follow Us on Facebook

                  Featured advertisers