Monday, 7 September 2009

More Corners Than the Pentagon

When the Wallabies defeated the Springboks in Brisbane last weekend most commentary was along the lines of 'turning corners'. But surely by now the Wallabies of the Deans vintage have turned so many corners they've already done a couple of laps of the block.

First there was the appointment of Robbie Deans in the first place, then the victory over the All Blacks in Sydney last year, then the scrummaging effort over England and a famous victory, then the annihilation of an almost full-strength French team earlier this season and now the victory over the Springboks.

We've heard it all before. Deans' attitude of youth, playing what's in front of you and thinking on your feet is the oft-repeated mantra of his Rugby philosophy. Well with an average age of 24 if the Wallabies get any younger Deans'll be calling up players directly from schoolboys level, and not the Australian team that recently failed to win the Junior World Cup but the Kings School 13Bs. It doesn't work for the 13Bs unless they're playing Sydney High or Grammar and it won't work for the Wallabies.

OK, so Benn Robinson is the best prop in the world and Matt Giteau the best five-eighth (when he's not playing at No 12 when he's the best centre in the world) but that's like saying that England won the Ashes on merit and not because they were a bad team that beat an even worse team. Let's face it, Rugby worldwide is in the doldrums. A World XV this year would struggle to beat the 3rd XV of just about any other era, and not just because they're pampered over paid and soft and they've never played in a scratchy woollen jersey with a sodden greasy leather ball that weighs a ton on a soggy field with mud up to your ankles.

But if there's a glimmer of hope for the Wallabies then that's where it lies. Not in beating the Springboks or the All Blacks but by taking advantage of the fact that the rest of the world is crap too. A World Cup semi-final should be a cinch given the paucity of talent in Europe. And now that the Wallabies have proved that when the dominoes fall in their favour they can beat the 'best team in the world' with a bunch of kids just making it up as they go along then World Cup glory should be a shoo-in.

It's just lucky for the Wallabies that if you turn enough corners you'll eventually end up facing in the right direction though you might get a bit giddy in the process.