Prediction Time - Wallabies vs Lions

It's not the place of the Rolling Maul to predict results or scores. That's the role of other media outlets that take themselves way too seriously or claim to have some authority when it comes to all things Rugby. Indeed, given the Rolling Maul's track record in tipping competitions and the moths in the wallet as a result of failed sports betting attempts, that's probably not such a bad thing.

So with the British and Irish Lions tour of Australia about to kick off in Hong Kong (let's face it, there's a buck to be made here and anyone who's wistfully thinking of this tour as some sort of romantic throwback is kidding themselves) the Rolling Maul is looking at the bigger picture. Or maybe the smaller one. Whatever it is, it has some artistic worth, and for that reason reason The Rolling Maul has 10 predictions to make about the upcoming tour:

1) The ARU will claim that the tour has delivered millions of dollars in economic benefit to Australia as the roaming hordes of Lions supporters book out hotels and restaurants and drink the local pubs dry everywhere they go. But as anyone who's ever had a major sports event descend on their town knows, this is bollocks. Hordes of unwashed, drunk rowdy sports fans just keep the locals away and any other sports or business event also keeps clear, so for those hotels, pubs and restaurants it's really just business as usual.

2) Sales of Wallaby merchandise will not rescue the ARU from their perilous financial situation. The reality is,    no Wallaby fan buys a jersey more than once in their lifetime, usually when they're about 25 when they're starting to get a disposable income, have no real responsibilities, and the plight of the Wallabies is integral to their self-worth, so they can afford to waste their money on clothing they might wear once or twice a year. So while Wallaby imitation jersies and supporter shirts will sell, they won't sell any quicker than if the Wallabies were playing France or Fiji or anyone else.

3) James O'Connor will sport a new hairstyle. That's really not a hard prediction to make given that O'Connor  changes his hairstyle more often than Robbie Deans get rubbished in Queensland for not picking Quade Cooper for the Lions squad.

4) Plenty of handbags, no king hits. Unfortunately, any Rugby fan looking a repeat of the Battle of Ballymore in 1989 or Duncan McCrae going the biff and rearranging Ronan O'Gara's face in 2001 are going to sorely disappointed. The game has changed, and with it have gone the sneaky upper cuts, eye gouges and rucking that made Rugby the proving ground of thugs and hulking monsters for generations. While it might make for a better Rugby spectacle, one can't help but pine for the days when the match was won in the trenches and inside the rucks and at the end of the day the toughest team was victorious rather than the most accomplished with ball in hand.



5) Combined NSW and Queensland Country are highly competitive for about 20 minutes. It's the nature of these things. A bunch of farmers lads and local butchers up against the Lions mid-week team with nothing to lose and ready to have a red hot go. For 20 minutes they stand up and get counted, start a couple of biffs and get a few points on the board. The Lions show more class but desperate defence form the local lads keeps them out. Stirring stuff. Then reality hits, relative fitness levels show, and ultimately the difference in skill levels is telling. The score blows out but everyone is a winner.

6) Injuries see Kurtley Beale recalled from his duties with Randwick and Luke Burgess also sent an SOS despite him not having played any Super rugby this season. Neither of them get much game time and ultimately you wonder what all the fuss was about. Quade Cooper is still ignored.

7) State of Origin gets more publicity that the Lions tour. Yet another reality check for Australian Rugby. League is the bigger sport and always will be as long as Rugby is primarily played in private schools and the grassroots are underfunded or not funded at all. That's not necessarily a criticism of the ARU or the State bodies, it's just that there isn't as much funding to go round as Rugby League or Aussie Rules. So be it. Accept it and move along.

8) Foxsports unveil another broadcast gimmick. Already this year we've had queasy cam (also known as Referee Cam) and the Fox Copter which buzzes around the ground threatening to fall on top of scrums and rucks and shred everyone to pieces. Even Rod Kafer has got into the action buddying around with virtual players on the weekly Rugby show Rugby HQ. Expect more of the virtual reality nonsense, this time on the field. No doubt 3D is just around the corner. Smellavision would be good though. Mmmm, Linament.

9) Super Rugby returns post Lions series but everyone is over it. Cue the whingeing abut having a mid-season break for internationals, especially from the Super Rugby coaches who have a bunch of bruised, battered and unenthused players to deal with.

10) OK, a real prediction. Wallabies take out the series 3-0 (remembering that The Rolling Maul is notoriously bad at making predictions) and the whole concept of Lions tours is questioned after their fourth series loss in a row. Meanwhile in Australia, yet another resurgence in Rugby popularity is trumpeted by the ARU once they dissect and selectively release the TV viewing figures they like the most. Come 2014 and everything returns to normal.

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