Southern Hemisphere is on Notice

Spring tour started and now we have an idea of where the Southern Hemisphere really are at . Short answer is we have some work to do.

Over the weekend 140 Characters were definitely not enough and one of my favourite South African Tweeps, Dawn Dunn, a rugby fan after my own heart and radio correspondent for East Coast Radio in Durban, echoed some of the heart ache I knew all too well from watching the Wallabies when her beloved Springboks lost to Ireland at the weekend. (DD is well worth following for her analysis as much as her unashamed biased support for her teams of the Sharks and Springboks. Get a keen insight into the emotional roller coaster a genuine rugby fan feels with a World Cup just around the corner … and yes, I am now at peace with 2003).

I think there a few quick takeaways now we have some base level understanding of what the Northern Hemisphere is doing:

  1. Get the Basics Right first: Passing, tackling, positional play in attack and defence are mandatory. Take nothing for granted and take points on offer.
  2. Treasure possession: Don’t kick away possession. Build phases.
  3. Control the contest area: The North referee the contest area mercilessly and allowing Yellow cards are a big no-no. This is just a ‘gimme’ to the other side. Play to the referee. Set pieces and the breakdown especially. Australia, New Zealand and South Africa will be targeted for reputation alone and should be well warned. No excuses.

Now I watched Australia leak points. We had basic errors put us under pressure at times. Fortunately for us, Wales were no different and we were allowed back in to the match after what was a fantastic start by them. Foley kicked 100% with the boot and his winning the Man Of The Match was well deserved.

Kicking away the ball at the end to open us up to defeat in the face of victory almost sent me over the edge but we got there in the end. We need to treasure possession more and this is not the way to do it. I understand the concept of playing for field position but at this level the ability to link phases in attack is surely easier than defending them.

When the final whistle blew, Welsh hearts all collectively broke (again) and you could see the relief on the Wallabies faces at the end.

A win by 5 points which includes a converted intercept try requires a little perspective.  That’s lucky, but in the end you make your own luck. To do this you also need a context and seeing how the southern hemisphere matched up across the board was something I was waiting to see for some time.

The Northern Hemisphere sides have not been waiting around to gift us through these matches nor will they in the World Cup in 2015. They were ready. In our case, Wales smelt blood in the water and you could see them thinking this was a chance to really twist the knife for our off field management woes. (A knife or our own making I might add). We have let Rugby decline in Australia since 2003 and possible before and this is going to take some serious undoing.

Now I am in no way telling others what to do with their rugby teams, nor do I expect the ARU to take huge amount of notice either, but what I am saying is that we are playing a world cup in the Northern hemisphere next year and this is the best guide to what we all can expect. As Dawn pointed out, a stark reminder not to take anything for granted.

Now don’t get me wrong, a win over Wales at Cardiff is no concession and was absolutely welcomed by me but some will not pay it much mind but I know the truth.

We have been lucky with Wales for a long time now and I am not sure how many more lives we have (whether the everyday Aussie realises this). We need to get the basics right out there and remove the mistakes. Looking above us on the rankings, the All Blacks and Springboks are no different.

For a long time when Australian Rugby was in the doldrums, they were my go to game to see some good rugby. Springbok vs All Black were great lately and even after their big win over the All Blacks, the Springboks too are not immune to losing the plot. I struggled to recognise them but this is just one game – it is what they do next that matters most.

Now I would have preferred to watch all the matches live but a bizarre viewing roster made it impossible the All Black Match for me and this was crazy as captured best by Drew Mitchell below:

So after staying up much of the night to watch the wallabies, I resorted to checking out Dawns twitter feed for how the Springboks faired. When I saw they lost to Ireland, it was clear I had to watch the game on replay in full and with a clear head. They didn’t play and passes were going behind players and they were losing the ball heading into contact which was entirely out of character.

It was hard to watch and the Springboks did not look like themselves. Dawn wears her rugby heart on her sleeve.  I expect her to tell it as she sees it East Coast Radio at 8:30am ACT (or 5:30pm Sydney) and I will definitely be listening.

For those unaware why people like Dawn and I get so worked up about this World Cup 2015, here is a simple way to explain it for me at least;

“Several nations have a chance to answer a lot of critics at this 2015 world cup and as a further sweetener to the pie, be the first to get 3 titles to their name.”

I never give up on the hope it might be Australia but if it is not, I hope it is a team in the Southern Hemisphere at least because 2003-2007 was hard and I am not sure I could handle that again.

Tweetables:

Spring tour is no time to be complacent [Tweet This Now]

Spring Tour is perfect precursor to 2015 World Cup [Tweet This Now]

Spring Tour puts Southern Hemisphere Rugby on notice [Tweet This Now]

 UPDATE: I listened to my first live broadcast of Dawn Dunn on East Coast Radio for her SportsWave segment in Durban with host, Darren Maule. I liked this Rugby Report a lot and the frank and honest tone would be welcome if adopted here in Australia broadcasters (by me at least). I think I will be listening in on and off again from now on to get a fresh outside perspective beyond just following Dawn’s twitter feed. Chalk up one Sydney Fan to the No 1 radio breakfast show in Durban!

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