Rugby / rugby
Wallabies' win over Pumas provides a season of learnings - coach Michael Cheika
Tom Decent 07:19, Oct 09 2018 The Wallabies have three weeks to prepare for the All Blacks by working out what on Earth happened in the remarkable test win against Argentina that coach Michael Cheika said would provide a season's worth of learnings. The Australians arrived home on Monday after a two-week tour of South Africa and Argentina that yielded an 11-point loss in Port Elizabeth and an 11-point win in Salta. All things considered, the tour received a pass mark - just. As for the Rugby Championship overall, things fell well short of the team's expectations. Forget over-analysing the technical reasons why Australia gave up 31 points in a frantic opening 40 minutes, for the opening half was purely a matter of ticker. THE RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP Pos Team P W D L -/+ BP Pts 1 New Zealand 6 5 0 1 93 5 25 2 South Africa 6 3 0 3 6 3 15 3 Australia 6 2 0 4 -52 1 9 4 Argentina 6 2 0 4 -47 0 8 One thing Cheika cannot stand is when his players, after psyching themselves up all week, cannot deliver the desire and commitment he has asked for. That Cheika had to pull out a spray for the ages was an insight into how dire things had got. Will the Cheika blow-up on the evening of October 6, 2018, be a defining moment for the Wallabies in their quest for World Cup glory? Time will tell. "I think there's a season's worth of learning in that game for our lads and now it's up to them to take it," Cheika said. "No one can force that into their minds, into their conscience or their sub-conscience. They've got to take the necessary pieces that are going to help them to be standout players going forward." Cheika described some of the rugby on show as "unreal" and "outrageous". Seldom does he offer up such glowing praise. "The second half there was some sublime rugby," Cheika said. "I won't lie, it was unreal, but we don't forget about the first 40 in any way, shape or form. "At a point in the game and the season really where we were right there and then, to deliver that, you need to have courage. We didn't show that in the first half - that courage - but we showed it in the second." The backs, who have copped no shortage of flak for not being able to pile on points, showed enough potency to suggest they can slice the All Blacks' defence if they get it right. By the same token, there were poor passes that went into touch and other examples where the backs looked like rookies. Foley, in his first start at No.10 in three matches, shook off a sloppy missed tackle that led to the Pumas' first try to eventually find his groove. "I thought Bernard needed to do better in his defence in the first half, without a doubt but he wasn't alone," Cheika said. "He hasn't played a full game for a while, so I thought he got back in the saddle quite well and then very much, (in the) second half, he really ran the show there - himself and Kurtley. "They worked the inside well and I like the outside players, the running back players, they held their width nicely so it allowed the playmakers to play on the inside and gave them opportunities to run. "Izzy [Folau] was having some great runs out in the wider channels. Marika [Koroibete] and Reece [Hodge] and Dane [Haylett-Petty] as well." The Wallabies have three weeks before their next assignment – the All Blacks in Yokohama. It is hard to get a read on the performance in Salta but being able to rally and complete the biggest ever test comeback among tier one nations is an achievement worth bottling. As for the All Blacks, they will be sky high on confidence, having scraped to a 32-30 win over South Africa in Pretoria after trailing 23-6 at one point. If the Wallabies aim up like they did in the dead rubber last year in Brisbane when they claimed an unlikely win, it will be a treat to watch. Meanwhile, Cheika said Samu Kerevi and Tevita Kuridrani could be selected on the trip as they recover from injuries. He also hinted Tatafu Polota-Nau and Matt Toomua, who are both ineligible to play the New Zealand game because of club commitments in the UK, might be rested from the spring tour which will see Australia play Wales, Italy and England. Sydney Morning Herald
Rugby League Isn’t What You Think. It’s Better
Rugby is that sport you’ve heard about your whole life, and yet you also probably have no idea how it works. Here’s the problem: there are actually two different kinds of rugby, and you’ve been watching the much more complicated one. Rugby union is that more famous version you see a lot in college, but rugby league is its intense, hard-hitting sibling. League may be up-and-coming here, but it has a massive following in its birthplace of Australia. I talked with Joseph Cesario, a native of Central Jersey who now plays forward on the Philadelphia Fight, at length about the rugby league phenomenon. Rugby itself started in 19th century England. For both rugby union, which came first, and rugby league, developed later on, the basic goal is to score more points than the other team by either kicking the ball through the opponent’s goal posts or preferably through a try: placing the ball down on or past the opponent’s goal line. To accomplish this, teams work together to advance the ball up field through backward and sideways passing (never forward), or kicking it, and then holding the ball and running. The other team stops the ball-carrier by tackling. The similarities between league and union mostly end there. First off, league has only 13 players per side while union has 15. Second, point values for tries and the various kicks are slightly different. There is also a structured set of downs in league, similar to American football. This occurs based on what happens after a ruck, or successful tackle. In union, a player that is tackled must let go of the ball, in such a way that hopefully a teammate can pick it up, although an opponent certainly could as well. In rugby league, rucks are contested by having the person who's been tackled roll the ball back through the gate of his or her own feet in control while defense must retreat 10 meters. This may seem unfair to the defense, but the offense only has six “downs” (tackles) to score, otherwise they must give the ball up to the other team, just like a “turnover on downs” in football. This means, “there are a lot of kicks performed on fourth and fifth down,” in order to attempt having a better field advantage on defense or to create a scoring opportunity on offense. These distinctions are what first made rugby league appeal to Joe. Like many of us, he had seen rugby union before and was more confused than entertained. “My aunt was playing for Westchester. I didn’t understand anything, what a maul was or any of the stuff going on. I just saw my aunt getting squeezed on both sides and she’s trying to feed the ball back through people’s arms, and I’m like ‘What is going on?’” So years later when his lifting partner was hounding him to try rugby league, Joe was unenthusiastic. “You have to apply [your gym training] to something,” he’d say. “Come play rugby. It would be a good fit for you.” Eventually Joe agreed to come out and watch his friend’s team, the Philadelphia Fight, in a match. That match happened to be their victory in the 2011 USA Rugby League National Championship in the middle of a hurricane. “I got hooked and told the coach that I’d be out next season.” He’s been on the team ever since, which is saying a lot about his commitment to a sport like this. With no helmets or pads and an average total of 300 tackles in one game, rugby league is something you really must want to do. "Even at practice the training can be so intense that the most fit of athletes can have their breaking point, whether it's from a lingering injury, or having an off day. We compete at every practice for our positions that week and, as much comradery as we share, we always must be prepared to have to compete against our friend for a spot on the roster." It’s that accountability to the team at large that keeps everybody going. “They make me accountable and we’re all accountable to each other.” “The Fight is a family,” said Joe. “We’re all involved in each other’s lives.” They keep a group chat going and "even though we only compete in the summer we have get-togethers year-round”. So come check out a thrilling Fight game sometime, either at A. A. Garthwaite Stadium in Philadelphia or away in places like Boston or Delaware. Check out their website, fightrugby.com, for their full schedule, news, photos, and more.