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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.

Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 0vs FJI 0 05:00Twic
TGA 0vs GEO 0 21:00Kholm
IRE 0vs CAN 0 23:30MilS
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs JPN 0 01:45Brig
FRA 0vs ITA 0 05:00Twic
SAM 0vs USA 0 21:00Brig
WAL 0vs URU 0 23:30MilS
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs ARG 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 0vs JPN 0 23:30Kholm
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs ROM 0 05:00Olym
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs NAM 0 05:00Olym
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 0vs GEO 0 01:45Kholm
ITA 0vs CAN 0 23:30Ella
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SAM 0 01:45Villa
ENG 0vs WAL 0 05:00Twic
AUS 0vs URU 0 21:00Villa
SCO 0vs USA 0 23:30Ella
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 0vs ROM 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 0vs NAM 0 01:45Sand
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs CAN 0 05:00stadium:mk
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs GEO 0 05:00MilS
SAM 0vs JPN 0 23:30stadium:mk
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SCO 0 01:45St James' Park
ENG 0vs AUS 0 06:00Twic
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 0vs TGA 0 00:30KPS
IRE 0vs ITA 0 02:45Olym
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 0vs ROM 0 02:45KPS
FJI 0vs URU 0 06:00stadium:mk
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 0vs USA 0 02:45Olym
NAM 0vs GEO 0 06:00Sand
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 0vs TGA 0 06:00St James' Park
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 0vs SCO 0 00:30St James' Park
AUS 0vs WAL 0 02:45Twic
ENG 0vs URU 0 06:00Manch
ARG 0vs NAM 0 22:00KPS
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 0vs ROM 0 00:30Sand
FRA 0vs IRE 0 02:45MilS
USA 0vs JPN 0 06:00Kholm
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinB 0vs RUpA 0 02:00Twic
WinC 0vs RUpD 0 06:00MilS
WinD 0vs RUpC 0 23:00MilS
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinA 0vs RUpB 0 02:00Twic
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF1 0vs WQF2 0 02:00Twic
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF3 0vs WQF4 0 03:00Twic
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
LSF1 0vs LSF2 0 07:00Olym
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSF1 0vs WSF2 0 03:00Twic
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
France 0 0 0 0 0 0
New Zealand 0 0 0 0 0 0
Canada 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tonga 0 0 0 0 0 0
Japan 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Romania 0 0 0 0 0 0
Argentina 0 0 0 0 0 0
England 0 0 0 0 0 0
Georgia 0 0 0 0 0 0
Scotland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 0 0 0 0 0 0
USA 0 0 0 0 0 0
Italy 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ireland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Fiji 0 0 0 0 0 0
Samoa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Namibia 0 0 0 0 0 0
South Africa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Wales 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all

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