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Five things we learnt from Super Rugby


Paul Cully

Will Genia, right, clashes with Ryan Kankowski of the Sharks last Saturday night.

Will Genia, right, clashes with Ryan Kankowski of the Sharks last Saturday night. Photo: AP

1. Will Genia is a halfback. In isolation, the decision to push him out to No.10 did not cost the Reds the game, but it contributed to the feeling that they comprehensively lost the battle of the coaching boxes as well as the physical one. The extent to which the Sharks upset Queensland's normal rhythm can be seen in how the hosts used the ball. Prior to Saturday night, the Reds were kicking 25 per cent of ball from five-eighth and passing 64 per cent, but against the Sharks they kicked just 13 per cent and passed it 79 per cent – including, of course, Genia's fateful intercept pass to Charl McCleod. Genia's kicking game, too, was inaccurate and to compound the problem Nick Frisby had a poor game from halfback. When Genia went to No.10 the Reds managed to weaken both playmaking positions.

2. The South Africans are on the rise. From Marcell Coetzee to Paul Jordaan to their Junior World Championship winning team, there is plenty of evidence that a flood of talent is coming through in the Republic. Whether they can turn that into something meaningful in the Test arena depends on how bold they are prepared to be at No.10. Morne Steyn's poor season – he was booed against England in the third Test of the June series and looked mentally shot against the Crusaders on Saturday – might make that decision easier for Heyneke Meyer. Away from Pretoria, the Bulls' game plan looks tired and bordering on irrelevant.

3. Australia is not alone. John Plumtree's negative comments about the relative weakness of the Australian conference have merit, no question, but he is lobbing those verbal stones from a glass house in South Africa. The South African conference has, for years, been a virtual cartel with the best players gravitating towards the Sharks, Bulls and Stormers and the Cheetahs and Lions battling to avoid the wooden spoon (and let's not forget the Force beat the Lions this year). Australia has its problems but if the social mobility of teams is one sign of health in each conference, South Africa has its own issues.

4. Don't write off the Wallabies. In one sense, the failure of the Australian Super teams this year hasn't told us anything new: the Wallabies have a shallower pool of talent than New Zealand and South Africa and when a few key players are missing it has a huge impact. But if it means that expectations going into this year's Rugby Championship are kept in check then that is no bad thing. When the All Blacks come to Sydney on August 18 the best state for the Wallabies to be in is unfancied and desperate.

5. We'll see more and more of McCaw out of No.7. Whether it's the thickening impact of age, or the fruits of gym work, Richie McCaw is a noticeably bigger athlete these days than the wiry scavenger of the past. He is increasingly looking comfortable with the No.8 jersey - his ball-carrying ability against the big Bulls was a feature of a strong display – but he also has the physical attributes to play No.6 for the All Blacks if the claims of young Chiefs No.7 Sam Cane become more and more irresistible. There is no sign of McCaw's powers lessening either – in fact he looks in far better shape than last year when that foot problem was hampering him.

30 comments so far

  • Great article. Mckenzie did err by not having Genia stay at 9, moving Harris to 10 with Tapuai in the centres. This was a blunder in my view. But we hear nothing of Jonathan Kaplan's incorrect question to the video ref. If he asked "try or no try" surely the Reds would have been back in the game. Lastly I think Quade Cooper has evaded critisism for his role in the defeat. His tackle on Berrick Barnes the week before was worthy of suspension, and he again put the team under pressure.

    Sideline Sam
    Date and time
    July 24, 2012, 12:48PM
    • I agree with your sentiments, Sideline Sam, save Quade's tackle meriting a suspension. I'm not sure what SANZAR's guidelines for adjudging a tackle worthy of suspension is, but IMO, I thought his tackle was a clumsy attempt at a ball & all, which went awry when Berrick received the ball, which was just before Quade was upon him, Berrick crouched just a tad & Quade's momentum slid up Berrick's shoulder to his head, which took a lot of the impact, concussing him, & putting his career in doubt. It's tragic for Berrick.
      I thought J Kaplan had a poor game. The Shark's 1st try came from a very much forward pass. I looked at it on You Tube a few times, & it was at east a metre. Craig Joubert was right there. I don't know why he didn't say something to Jonathan. I thought Mcleod might have been off side before his intercept try but after checking it on You Tube I think it was legit. It was a great game & the Sharks were way better than the Reds on the day. They look like the future of SA rugby & the rest of us had better look out.

      percy p
      Hong Kong
      Date and time
      July 24, 2012, 3:27PM
    • Sideline Sam - The benefit of the doubt goes to the defending team in union so the call was correct. If you cant see a grounding (which you couldnt) its no try.

      Percy P - Yeah I have no doubt there was no intent (Coppers forte is the cheap shot rather than face to face hits) but he made damaging contact to the head. Clumsy or deliberate makes no difference, if you knock someone out with a high shot expect to get suspended.

      The Winners Circle
      Date and time
      July 24, 2012, 6:59PM
    • Camomatic - what benefit of doubt? As far as I know if its inconclusive, then its inconclusive in a 'Try or no Try' situation. If there is any doubt and the ref is leaning towards a try, then the question is 'Is there any reason Why I cannot award a try.'

      If the question is, 'Try or no Try' or 'Look at the grounding'. Its either, Try, No try or inconclusive (5m scrum to attacking team, Drop out, Penalty for previous infraction.)

      Date and time
      July 26, 2012, 1:24AM
    • If it's 'inconclusive', it's not a try is it?

      If you can't see a grounding, it's 'held up' and a 5m scrum to the attacking team, reffing 101.

      'Benefit of the doubt' is the wrong term perhaps, but Camomatic is right in what he said..

      Perth via Rakaia
      Date and time
      July 27, 2012, 4:46AM
    • On McKenzie/Genia, on some level I agree. On the other hand, I'm not the couch. It could well be that it was too early in the game, and since Tapuai's coming back from injury he didn't think he should put him in that early (before making some argument about 'if he can't play a full game, he shouldn't be on the bench - it's naive. He's got more talent then anyone else they could've picked, and it was just an unfortunate circumstance that put them in that position). The truth is, it's impossible to know what the factors were unless you'd been at every training. Though personally, I wouldn't have minded seeing the same players in different positions - keep Genia at halfback, Frisby on a wing, bring Digby into the centres. But again, not a coach.

      In regards to the try not given - the point was, that the question referred to a 'first grounding'. The video ref didn't seem to really know what to do with that, because, as the video evidence suggested, the first grounding wasn't actually a grounding. There was, what I thought was evidence of a grounding, but it came later. Though really, it's more of just one more terrible video reffing decision - in real time, I know you can miss things, but I see no reason why these professionals should be getting these things wrong in slo-mo.

      Date and time
      July 27, 2012, 10:05AM
    • I'm using the league term as I suspected it would be more easily understood in Aus. As piru said in Union you must or a least your supposed to (I saw no grounding for the 1st Chiefs try tonight) have definitive evidence of a try being scored. So then if you asked "Is there any reason I cannot award a try", then the correct TMO's answer would be "I can see no grounding of the ball, you may not award the try"

      Regardless the whole furore of the TMO's wording & Coopers ban have confirmed my distate for the Reds & Qld in general. That & the apalling behaviour of Qld league fans towards NSW in the origin this year & the Reds fans towards the Crusaders last year, has me switching from a Qld League supporter & (when playing the Tahs) occasional Reds supporter to a position of backing any team who plays them.

      The Winner Circle
      Date and time
      July 27, 2012, 11:21PM
  • Five things we learnt this week:
    1. Will Genia is not a halfback- he completely lacked flow & rhythm from no. 10. It was a huge mistake to place him there.
    2. To borrow the words of QC: SANZAR=lottery.It was an absolute joke that cooper copped a 1 week ban when players like Hooper avoided bans completely for considerably worse tackles earlier on in the season. Whilst Lucas remaining fit probably wouldn't have made the different, Quade definitely could have. HIs form in super rugby against SA sides is superb.
    3.Kaplan is useless. How many penalties in your own 22 are needed before a card is shown. It was laughable that he decided to show one in the 80th minute, that doesn't make up for the last half an hour and incompetently wording your TMO question.
    4. The Reds will be Grand Finalists in 2013. At times this year the reds showed signs that they were a better team even then last year. 14 points down and with a loss surely ending there season against the then top-of-the-table chiefs, the reds engineered a 29 point turn around to win by 15. In the final round the reds managed to score 5 tries against the waratahs, a feat which they have not achieved in 8 years and was as good as any other team in the competiion managed against them. Hopefully, the injury gods will be kinder in 2013.
    5. The Sharks will be Grand Finalists in 2012. I think the sharks showed enough on saturday to suggest they will take care of the stormers. Whilst the reds attack was lateral and lacked spark, regardless, the Sharks defence last week should be applauded.

    Hayden Mitchell
    Red Land
    Date and time
    July 24, 2012, 6:31PM
    • 5 more things we learnt this week

      1. Hayden Mitchell doesnt know what a halfback is (I think you'll find Genia IS a halfback & currently the worlds best). The position you a referring to him not being is 1st 5/8th or flyhalf
      2. Only a one eyed Reds supporter could argue Coopers ban...... he deserved it regardless of what others may have got away with. That just means the others didn't get the suspension they deserved rather than Cooper got a suspension he didn't deserve.
      3. Reds supporters have short memories & (Im being generous here) a selective understanding of the rules. The wording of the question to the TMO makes zero difference. No matter how your ask the question the fact remains the defending team gets benefit of the doubt and as there was no view of the ball being grounded its not a try. I also remember the Reds scoring an extremely dubious try against the Crusaders last year after a knock on so blatant even the Reds players thought it went forward. So dont go whinging now.
      4.The Reds win last year was largely off the back of a golden streak from Copper, some great breakdown work, leniency on their creeping defensive line (i.e. offside) and lazy runnners foulng oposition halfbacks trying to launch counter attacks (Horwell being the main offender). In other words it was a fluke!!
      5.Reds will go out in the same round next or not make the finals at all
      6.Stormers vs Crusaders will play this years final

      The Winners Circle
      Date and time
      July 25, 2012, 6:39PM
    • @Camomatic

      Not going to deal with the other stuff, but regarding 2 - the point of a rule is that you have something that you can apply consistently, so people know what to expect. So the fact that a whole bunch of other guys did a lot of worse stuff is a relevant consideration - the ban he deserved should be the ban that others were given in similar circumstances. In the same week, others in similar circumstances got no ban, therefore he too should have gotten no ban.

      Though I think you're right if you look at it as the judicial body that made the decision on the suspension made the right decision. That's probably true. However, the only reason why it got to that point was because a white card was given here, despite the fact it was equal in severity as a whole bunch of instances that didn't draw one. I think that's where the problem lies - if you've got these new white card things, then don't use them sparingly. If you want to give any credibility to the system, make sure the judiciary has a large sample size, where it can apply the law equally to every instance, rather then only getting half of the particularly bad ones, and being put in a position where they are suspending some and not others for the exact same indiscretion.

      Date and time
      July 27, 2012, 10:10AM

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