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.

Five things we learnt in Super Rugby


Paul Cully

Big loss...James Horwill of the Reds.

Big loss...James Horwill of the Reds. Photo: Getty Images

1. There is no avoiding it - the Canberra game was awful. The first meaningful act was a Test winger with previous form at the judiciary tackling an opponent in the air. From the resulting penalty a Test aspirant failed to find touch. And, apart from a few flashes of quality, it was all uphill from there. There were several blatantly forward passes, players deliberately lying on the wrong side of the ruck, players lying on top of the ruck, players lying on top of each other behind play, kicks booted into touch on the full, dodgy handling, teammates colliding at the lineout, inaccurate lineout throwing, messy scrummaging, players haranguing the referee like Premier League footballers, and the targeting of lower legs without any intention of using the arms (again). It was 79 minutes and 55 seconds of joyless cynicism and inadequate skill levels in Australian rugby's biggest shop window outside the Tests, which should be enough to start a conversation about the reasons behind it.

2. Twenty minutes is a very long time on the high veldt. Even after an encouraging start that included some smart attacking play and greater commitment to the counter-ruck, there was never a sense the Waratahs were in control against the Cheetahs. With oxygen deprivation taking its toil on legs and minds, NSW were unable to find the composure to land the final blow after their handy lead had been whittled down. It was cruelly apt that Cheetahs winger Willie le Roux was their chief tormentor. The left winger has pace to burn and his second try – a chip, chase and regather – was the sort of game-winning improvisation that the Tahs have been robbed of this year with the injury to the Drew Mitchell.

3. James Horwill is as big a loss as anyone. The scoreboard favoured the Reds 10-6 after the Queensland captain left the field early in the second half, and there were a couple of incidents in the opening period that pointed to that positive influence. First, he produced some great driving defence on Nic White that led to a turnover. Later, he capitalised on another untidy Brumbies lineout to rip the ball away. The lineout has been a traditional area of excellence in Australian rugby, but Stephen Moore's throwing wobbles and Horwill's absence might pique the interest of the very tall timber among the Scottish and Welsh packs. Some of their giants stand around the 2.07m mark.

4. The net is being cast very, very wide. The inclusion of Cadeyrn Neville in the 39-man Wallabies training squad surely says more about what the selectors think is missing from the set-up – a genuine physical presence in the tight five - than his immediate readiness for Test rugby. He ticks a few boxes with that big frame but with just a few promising starts in the decidedly less confrontational Super Rugby he is firmly in the 'project' category: the combined 236kg of Neville and Hugh Pyle failed to stop Jack Lam close to the try line against the Hurricanes. On Friday they will face the overlooked Brumbies second-row pairing, who will presumably be breathing fire after being effectively rated the weakest among the Australian franchises. Jake White's motivational work has been done for him this week.

5. Motu Matu'u is a man to avoid. There have been murmurings about the legality of the Hurricanes hooker's brutal tackling style, but as long as he keeps lowering his stance and promoting his arms before he drives into his opponents he will stay on the right side of the law. He sent two Rebels – Lachlan Mitchell and Mark Gerrard - to hospital on Friday and Matt Hodgson was on the receiving end earlier in the season. Quick hands might be the best policy for the Waratahs this weekend.

28 comments so far

  • 1. The Canberra game was like watching a RWC final with both sides intent on not losing.
    2.You stayed up to watch the Waratahs??? Really???
    3.Horwill is a class act that will be hard to replace - I think your a bit harsh on Moore's throwing a few left and right. I was more concerned by Sia's throwing over the back too often.
    5.Don't really care if it's legal - two in hospital says he needs to think about what he wants to be known for in Rugby

    Date and time
    May 29, 2012, 11:29AM
    • Have to agree with you on Matu'u tackling style, leading with the head, isn't something I want to see kids emulate. Nor is it something everybody wants to watch, the game isn't about inflicting serious injury. I don't think he will last long in the game if he continues with it, just look at Polota Nau who has a similar disregard for his own well being and how easily he goes down because of a head knock.

      Date and time
      May 29, 2012, 12:36PM
    • Lachlan and Gerard for some reason both lead with their heads on these occasions - stupid. Motu'u was also down for a period after the Gerard tackle. He gets into a good tackling stance and fires from the hips like you are supposed to. Answer is to get lower I suppose, lead with the shoulder or don't run straight into him.

      Perth via Rakaia
      Date and time
      May 29, 2012, 12:36PM
    • @ PxD
      Liked your #1. Right on the money!

      inner west sydney
      Date and time
      May 29, 2012, 8:09PM
    • @PxD and @stojo1 you guys sound like northern hemisphereans .. no one in this world intentionally leads a tackle with his head. obviously youll be on the wrong end if you do. if you didnt notice Gerrard changed direction at the last possible second which put him in line with Motu Matu'u's head. Lachlan on the other hand was a perfectly legal tackle and there is nothing wrong with being renowned for hospitalising players. it'll put him right up there as being one of the most fierce defenders and will definitely have a mental effect on opponents going up against him. That is a technique that Saia Faingaa and TPN have to look into instead of their cheap low no-arm tackles.

      Date and time
      May 30, 2012, 12:48AM
    • "Don't really care if it's legal - two in hospital says he needs to think about what he wants to be known for in Rugby"

      That statment encapsulates everything thats wrong with Australian rugby. After a season playing club rugby in Australia it was grossly apparent that the average player was smart, skilled, organised..... & soft. The islanders & kiwis I played with would simply bully any team they couldn't match in organisation & teamwork into submission.

      The Winners Circle
      Date and time
      May 30, 2012, 9:37AM
    • I don't see anything wrong with Matu'u's tackling style. It's hard and efficient. He doesn't "lead with his head", he takes a low solid stance and drives into them - And boy, does it work!
      Opposition teams will soon learn that if you have the ball and Matu'u is coming at you, GET RID OF IT!

      Jon B
      Date and time
      June 01, 2012, 2:30AM
  • Without Horwill and now Beale and with both an under-performing and/or under-played roster and limited preparation time the Wallabies are looking a touch fragile n'est pas and Scotland, let alone Wales, will be licking their lips ... as far as the backs go, Deans has a dilemma at fly-half and whichever way he goes won't give the Australian public a whole lot of confidence ... midfield looks okay - McCabe and Horne - but the back three also present the coaching staff with problems ...

    Date and time
    May 29, 2012, 11:57AM
    • @ chracol
      Suffice to say there has always been a dilemma at fly-half!
      That said, I somewhat agree with your comments as to selection under adversity for the coaching staff of the Wallabies. Thus I would always hope that Scotland and Wales would be, as you say, 'licking their lips' in anticipation of another opportunity to sack the convicts. For me that's what it is all about. Which teams brings their thing and how they do their thing is the spectacle.
      Ideally it would be just fine to have all our talent fit and on display but that's NOT going to happen this time nor most.
      Therefore it should be either a forecast disappointment of results or a little ecstasy of new found talent due to the present situation.
      Whatever, bring it on!

      inner west sydney
      Date and time
      May 29, 2012, 7:58PM
  • What about the loss of Kurtley Beale? The Rebels simply gave up as soon as he went of??

    Date and time
    May 29, 2012, 11:57AM

    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.

    Super Rugby 2015

    Round 1
    Fri, 13 FebTimes shown AEDT
    CRU 10 vs REB 20 Report Stats
    BRU 47 vs RED 3 Stats
    Sat, 14 FebTimes shown AEDT
    LIO 8 vs HUR 22 Report Stats
    BLU 18 vs CHF 23 Report Stats
    Sun, 15 FebTimes shown AEDT
    SHA 29 vs CHT 35 Report Stats
    BUL 17 vs STO 29 Report Stats
    WAR 13 vs FOR 25 Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 2
    Fri, 20 FebTimes shown AEDT
    CHF 19 vs BRU 17 Report Stats
    REB 28 vs WAR 38 Report Stats
    Sat, 21 FebTimes shown AEDT
    BUL 13 vs HUR 17 Report Stats
    HIG 20 vs CRU 26 Report Stats
    RED 18 vs FOR 6 Report Stats
    Sun, 22 FebTimes shown AEDT
    STO 27 vs BLU 16 Report Stats
    SHA 29 vs LIO 12 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 3
    Fri, 27 FebTimes shown AEDT
    HIG 20 vs RED 13 Report Stats
    FOR 13 vs HUR 42 Stats
    Sat, 28 FebTimes shown AEDT
    CHT 25 vs BLU 24 Report Stats
    CHF 40 vs CRU 16 Stats
    REB 15 vs BRU 20 Report Stats
    Sun, 01 MarTimes shown AEDT
    BUL 43 vs SHA 35 Report Stats
    LIO 19 vs STO 22 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 4
    Fri, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
    CHF 17 vs HIG 20 Report Stats
    BRU 27 vs FOR 15 Report Stats
    Sat, 07 MarTimes shown AEDT
    BLU 10 vs LIO 13 Report Stats
    RED 5 vs WAR 23 Report Stats
    Sun, 08 MarTimes shown AEDT
    CHT 20 vs BUL 39 Report Stats
    STO 29 vs SHA 13 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 5
    Fri, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
    HUR 30 vs BLU 23 Report Stats
    FOR 17 vs REB 21 Report Stats
    Sat, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
    CRU 34 vs LIO 6 Report Stats
    HIG 26 vs WAR 19 Report Stats
    RED vs BRU 29 Stats
    Sun, 15 MarTimes shown AEDT
    STO 19 vs CHF 28 Report Stats
    CHT 10 vs SHA 27 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 6
    Fri, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
    HIG 13 vs HUR 20 Report Stats
    REB 16 vs LIO 20 Report Stats
    Sat, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
    CRU 57 vs CHT 14 Report Stats
    Sun, 22 MarTimes shown AEDT
    BUL 25 vs FOR 24 Report Stats
    SHA 12 vs CHF 11 Report Stats
    WAR 28 vs BRU 13 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 7
    Fri, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
    HUR 36 vs REB 12 Report Stats
    RED 17 vs LIO 18 Report Stats
    Sat, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
    CHF 37 vs CHT 27 Report Stats
    HIG 39 vs STO 21 Report Stats
    WAR 23 vs BLU 11 Report Stats
    Sun, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
    SHA 15 vs FOR 9 Report Stats
    BUL 31 vs CRU 19 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 8
    Fri, 03 AprTimes shown AEDT
    HUR 25 vs STO 20 Report Stats
    REB 23 vs RED 15 Report Stats
    Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
    CHF 23 vs BLU 16 Report Stats
    BRU 20 vs CHT 3 Report Stats
    Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEDT
    SHA 10 vs CRU 52 Report Stats
    LIO 22 vs BUL 18 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 9
    Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
    BLU 16 vs BRU 14 Report Stats
    Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
    CRU 20 vs HIG 25 Report Stats
    WAR 18 vs STO 32 Report Stats
    FOR 15 vs CHT 24 Report Stats
    Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
    LIO 23 vs SHA 21 Report Stats
    BUL 43 vs RED 22 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 10
    Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
    CRU 9 vs CHF 26 Report Stats
    Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
    HUR 24 vs WAR 29 Report Stats
    HIG 30 vs BLU 24 Report Stats
    BRU 8 vs REB 13 Report Stats
    FOR 6 vs STO 13 Report Stats
    Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
    SHA 10 vs BUL 17 Report Stats
    CHT 17 vs RED 18 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 11
    Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
    CHF 35 vs FOR 27 Report Stats
    BRU 31 vs HIG 18 Report Stats
    Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
    CRU 29 vs BLU 15 Report Stats
    WAR 18 vs REB 16 Report Stats
    Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
    LIO 34 vs CHT 29 Report Stats
    STO 15 vs BUL 13 Report Stats
    RED 19 vs HUR 35 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 12
    Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
    HIG 48 vs SHA 15 Report Stats
    BRU 10 vs WAR 13 Report Stats
    Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
    BLU 41 vs FOR 24 Report Stats
    HUR 29 vs CRU 23 Report Stats
    REB 16 vs CHF 15 Report Stats
    Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
    CHT 25 vs STO 17 Report Stats
    BUL 35 vs LIO 33 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 13
    Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
    CRU 58 vs RED 17 Report Stats
    REB 42 vs BLU 22 Report Stats
    Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
    HUR 32 vs SHA 24 Report Stats
    FOR 18 vs WAR 11 Report Stats
    LIO 28 vs HIG 23 Report Stats
    Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
    STO 25 vs BRU 24 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 14
    Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
    BLU 23 vs BUL 18 Report Stats
    RED 46 vs REB 29 Report Stats
    Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
    HUR 22 vs CHF 18 Report Stats
    WAR 33 vs SHA 18 Report Stats
    Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
    LIO 20 vs BRU 30 Report Stats
    CHT 24 vs HIG 45 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 15
    Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
    CHF 34 vs BUL 20 Report Stats
    RED 14 vs SHA 21 Report Stats
    Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
    BLU 5 vs HUR 29 Report Stats
    WAR 32 vs CRU 22 Report Stats
    FOR 3 vs HIG 23 Report Stats
    Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
    CHT 17 vs LIO 40 Report Stats
    STO 31 vs REB 15 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 16
    Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
    CRU 35 vs HUR 18 Report Stats
    BRU 22 vs BUL 16 Report Stats
    Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
    SHA 25 vs REB 21 Report Stats
    HIG 36 vs CHF 9 Report Stats
    FOR 10 vs RED 32 Report Stats
    Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
    STO 42 vs CHT 12 Report Stats
    LIO 27 vs WAR 22 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 17
    Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
    HUR vs HIG 17:35McLean Park
    FOR vs BRU 21:00nib Stadium
    Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
    REB vs BUL 15:30AAMI
    BLU vs CRU 17:35EP
    RED vs CHF 19:40SS
    CHT vs WAR 23:00FSS
    Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
    STO vs LIO 01:05DHL Newlands
    View All Fixtures
    Round 18
    Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
    BLU vs HIG 17:35EP
    REB vs FOR 19:40AAMI
    Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
    BRU vs CRU 15:30GIO Stadium
    CHF vs HUR 17:35Yarrow Stadium
    WAR vs RED 19:40AS
    Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
    BUL vs CHT 01:05Loftus Versfeld
    SHA vs STO 03:10Growthpoint Kings Park
    View All Fixtures
    Round 19
    Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
    7 vs 7 09:00
    Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
    7 vs 7 09:00
    View All Fixtures
    Round 20
    Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
    7 vs 7 09:00
    Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
    7 vs 7 09:00
    View All Fixtures
    Round 21
    Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
    7 vs 7 09:00
    View All Fixtures
    Super Rugby 2015
    Overall standings
    Team P W L D +/- Pts
    Hurricanes 14 12 2 0 126 57
    Stormers 14 10 4 0 72 43
    Waratahs 14 9 5 0 45 42
    Highlanders 14 10 4 0 116 48
    Brumbies 14 8 6 0 108 42
    Lions 15 9 6 0 -22 40
    Chiefs 14 9 5 0 60 44
    Bulls 14 7 7 0 23 36
    View all
    Featured advertisers