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Myopic Deans bashers reveal the ugly head of xenophobia


Spiro Zavos

No man is an island ... Robbie Deans on the sideline at Auckland's Eden Park last week.

No man is an island ... Robbie Deans on the sideline at Auckland's Eden Park last week. Photo: John Selkirk

THIS week a xenophobic antagonism towards Robbie Deans has emerged in mainstream media. It is being asserted publicly that a New Zealander - and an All Black to boot - can't be trusted to coach the Wallabies to victories over the All Blacks. This is Australian rugby's equivalent of a Barack Obama Birther controversy.

Deans has never been accepted as a legitimate Wallabies coach by an unholy alliance of recalcitrant former coaches, players, rugby power brokers and commentators who want to take over the ARU from the establishment. He was given the disgraceful nickname "Dingo" on being appointed. Now, following the losses to the All Blacks at Sydney and Auckland, the nasty implication behind the nickname (''untrustworthy'') has been laundered into the argument that the national coach can only be an Australian.

The proof of this contention, so the dingo line of argument runs, lies in the number of defeats suffered by the Wallabies against the All Blacks on the Deans watch. After the Wallabies went down to the All Blacks 22-0 at Eden Park last weekend, a shaken Deans told journalists that his side had been given a "masterclass in rugby" by the best team in the world. This comment was seized on by the Birthers as a capitulation and an excuse by a coach whose heart wasn't in the contest.

Anyone who knows anything about Deans will understand that the personal attacks on him as a sort of All Blacks stalking horse are nonsense. There is no team in the world with a winning record against the All Blacks. Colleague Josh Rakic has produced statistics in the Herald that show that since 2008 the All Blacks have won 84 per cent of their Tests. Only South Africa (45 per cent winning record), France (20 per cent) and Australia (18 per cent) have won Tests against them during this time. Deans's Wallabies account for almost a third of the 10 All Blacks defeats since 2008. The Wallabies won the Tri Nations last year for the first time in a decade. And two years ago they defeated the Springboks at altitude for the first time in 47 years. This year the Wallabies defeated Six Nations champions Wales in three successive Tests. And they are ranked No.2 in the world. This is not the record of a stalking horse.

Another point the Birthers overlook is that careers trump national identity in rugby's professional era. Does anyone believe that Zimbabwe-born David Pocock feels less of a Wallaby even though he wasn't born and brought up here? Quade Cooper grew up in New Zealand dreaming of being an All Black. Does anyone believe he isn't passionate about playing in the Wallaby colours? Digby Ioane also grew up in New Zealand. He was Australia's best on the field in the loss to the All Blacks in last year's World Cup semi-final. After Saturday night's thrashing he was close to tears in the Wallabies' dressing room. Did the South African-born and bred Daniel Vickerman play like a dingo against the Springboks? Did Clyde Rathbone, who was being groomed as a South African captain, play dead for the Wallabies against the Springboks? Hardly. He scored a try with one of his first touches of the ball.

The Birthers accept players from other countries playing for the Wallabies, even when they are made captain. They accept Super Rugby coaches such as Jake White, the South African in charge of the Brumbies. Why is Deans, as the Wallabies coach, singled out as an exception?

A fog of rumours moved through the Australian rugby community this week. Peering into this fog for signposts, it seems that Deans will have to coach the Wallabies to victories against the Springboks and the Pumas in Australia, and the Pumas in Argentina, to save his job. A win against the Boks in South Africa, as well, would be decisive. It is understood, too, that the Waratahs and the NSWRU are considering offering him the job of coaching the Waratahs. If this happens, the Waratahs' gain is a loss for the Wallabies.

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

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