10 Things We Have Learned

The Wallabies northern hemisphere tour is over bar the Barbarians (I think there's a Beach Boys song about that). A month of discovery for the players and lessons learned that will hold them in good stead the next time they're sitting on the bench with their arm in a sling watching their colleagues lose to the All Blacks.

The Rolling Maul has cast his (its?) eye over proceedings and learned a few things too:

1) The experiment of playing Bledisloe Cup games outside of the Southern Hemisphere was a rounding success. In years to come the concept of playing Bledisloe Cup games in Sydney, Brisbane or Auckland will seem as quaint and old fashioned as Test Cricket or Royal Tennis. "I was there" you'll be able to tell the grandkids, "at the first Bledisloe Cup game played in Mexico City".

2) Italian Rugby is still a vital and important indicator of the health of Rugby in the Northern Hemisphere.

3) All Black Rugby has never been stronger. They are scoring more tries while preventing the opposition from scoring any. Players like Richie McCaw are in their prime while others such as Ma'a Nonu and Brad Thorn are finally fulfilling the promise and faith shown in them by Graham Henry, another Kiwi on top of his game. It's all falling in place. Three years early.

4) As a coach, Martin Johnson makes a fantastic second rower.

5) Sebastian Chabal still looks like he eats babies. This can only be a good thing. Australian Rugby hasn't had a player with enough mongrel in him to even contemplate eating a baby since Owen Finnegan retired. The closest thing to a baby eater now is Matt Dunning, but that's only because he'd eat anything.

6) For too long George Gregan was ridiculed for his habit of taking two steps back before passing, thus wasting time and heaping enormous pressure on his five-eighth. Now, with Luke Burgess, we see that Gregan was an inspiration to kids everywhere to take two steps back before passing. But not only has Burgess perfected the two-step, he's also perfected the pass to no one. At the upcoming Barbarians game Gregan will defend his legacy by not only two stepping and passing the ball to no one but passing it to the opposition. Take that Luke Burgess.

7) Stirling Mortlock has a very hard head.

8) It took 60 matches, but Al Baxter has finally learned how to scrummage.

9) Babysitting Wally the Wallaby team mascot may help you get a root but it won't get you any game time. Then again, who's complaining?

10) First there were the ELVs. Then there were the SANZAR ELVs. Then there were the Northern Hemisphere ELVS. And now there are the Alan Lewis ELVs. Irish referee Alan Lewis refereed two Wallaby matches - vs All Blacks in Hong Kong and vs Wales in Cardiff. The Wallabies lost both. Coincidence? I don't think so.

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