Waratahs Are So Yesterday - Bring On Scotland And Wales

The Waratahs are history (for 2012 at least). The Rebels are the number three team in Australian Rugby. Kurtley Beale is the true messiah and not a naughty boy. The Brumbies are the real thing and the Reds will make the finals. Now that reality has been faced let's move on.

Scotland shouldn't prove much of a threat to the Wallabies even if most of the team are still hurting from a round of Super Rugby the weekend before (the match is on the following Tuesday). The Reds and the Force have a bye that weekend but don't expect Brett Sheehan to be turning out at halfback or Nick Cummins to be in the centres for the Wallabies. Both are good players but neither are Wallaby material. Nathan Sharpe may make a swansong but that'll be it in terms of surprise call ups as Robbie Deans doesn't want to stuff this one up as happened with Samoa last year.

Also, now that the Tahs season is effectively over the players will be dead keen to ditch the blue and don the gold. Brumbies players are young enough to handle the wear and tear of two matches in three days and there won't be too many Rebels to worry about apart from Kurtley Beale and maybe Mark Gerrard off the bench.

Deans will be wanting to finish off Scotland by half time, put his bench on and start getting ready for Wales. And even if it doesn't happen that way and Scotland are still in the hunt the bench could well be first choice Wallabies anyway, so you might still see all 7 subs playing 35-40 minutes. Only a couple of war-torn forwards might be forced to sit it out in their suits. Wallabies by 12.

And just as an aside: why do Rugby players not playing on match days have to wear suits anyway? None of them suit a suit or have the neck to handle a tie - it's time for an open-knecked revolution in off-field playing fashions.

Wales present a more formidable challenge, but winning a Grand Slam in some ways is easier than a one-off tour to a land far far away. Even a World Cup is a campaign that can be developed over time and acclimatised to via pool games and warm ups. None of that applies here. Even through their dark days (and that's most of them) the Wallabies have had the wood on Wales (even for the 15 minutes in the 70s where Wales were the best team in the World supposedly).

As much as the Wallabies will be coming out of Super Rugby mode, Wales' last international was some months ago and they have only the one warm up against the barbarians and that's in Wales. Surely a Wales vs Australian Barbarians in Australia would've been a much more useful warm up? So with the home town advantage the first test will be a bumbling fumbling affair dominated by kicking but Australia should take it out with some relative but frustrating comfort.

The other two tests will be more interesting, more skilfill and tighter. But the Wallabies will still take out the series 3-0.


Barney Davis said…
Forgive me for sounding like Stone Cold here, but...



You really are prepared to dismiss Wales so easily? Are you seriously arguing that a Grand Slam Six Nations win is easy? Are you insane?

Yes it's been a while since Wales played a test match. But it's been even longer for the Wallabies.

You argue that coming out of Super Rugby will make the Wallaby players strong, but don't mention that Welsh players are coming out of their European club competitions?

It's not that you say Australia will sweep the series that bothers me, but that you have made no argument as to how they are supposed to do so.

Wales have the better scrum, and if Sharpe is not picked than they might have a better lineout too. They have two of the best flankers in the world in Warburton and Lydiate. North and Cuthbert are destructive forces out wide. Davies is a world class center. Halfpenny might be the most complete fullback out there right now, and his kicking for goal is excellent. Moreover, three words: Shaun Edwards defense.

Then you have the Wallabies. The last time we saw the boys in green and gold they were coming apart at the seams in the World Cup. They're players have struggled since in club competition, by and large. They don't look like a side, if not in decline, at least failing to progress, while Wales are clearly in the ascendancy.

That said, Australia has a wealth of good to great players; backs who can make magic happen and forwards who can fight it out with almost anybody. If they show up and play to the best, they can beat anybody on the day. But Wales are too good a side to think you can just show up and snatch three wins.

Can the Wallabies beat Wales? Yes. But tell me how you think they will. Can the Aussies hold onto the ball enough to starve the Welsh of possession and deny their big wingers chances to run it, and if so can they break the Welsh defense? Can they beat Halfpenny in a kicking duel? Can their defense stand up if they decide to play for territory instead of possession?

I think this series will go 2-1 in favor of the Welsh, with the Australians winning the first match against an unsettled Welsh side, before the boys in red machine out two solid victories behind their defense, set piece, and bringing their big and skillful wings into the game with increasing fluidity.
"The last time we saw the boys in green and gold they were coming apart at the seams in the World Cup."

... when they beat - now who was it? - oh yeah - Wales. That team that was the toast of, well, Wales, for their daring and adventurous but ultimately unsuccessful playing style!

Anyway, the Wallabies aren't the Waratahs. At least I hope not!