515. I’ve been thinking about Michael Cheika

After sitting next to a very nice Welshman at Westpac Stadium on Saturday night (he seemed a bit annoyed with a mate who had convinced him that Warren Gatland had a masterplan to sneak a famous victory against the All Blacks, and they should add a bit extra to the mortgage to be down here for the famous moment), I toddled off to the pub to watch the Poms give the Aussies a lesson in humility.

Well, not really. I don’t think the Aussies will ever be paying attention in the Humility 101 course, and I’m not sure an English rugby type would be the lecturer anyway.

Unlike the All Blacks – Wales match, which never rose to any great heights, the Aussie-England match was full of drama and tension. And a most telling thing was that the pub goers, most of whom were fairly well gone by this stage, were unanimously cheering for the Poms.

How long since our hearts have made such a choice?

And I would have a bet that a key reason Australia has become the team at the bottom of our cheering list is a certain Mr Michael Cheika, the Wallabies coach.

He is a loud-mouthed, tanty-throwing, growling boor with a bad barber.

And I have a theory about Mr Cheika. He is not really an Australian. He is an Englishman. Which is to say, that he coaches rugby as if he was an Englishman.

He’s about boof. He thinks it’s all about physical dominance, around the fringes of legal if necessary. He thinks that mere possession and territory will lead to victory. Smash, bash and dominate.

He has a sense of entitlement, nowhere better exhibited than when referee calls go against his team. The camera on the coaches box shows him throw his pen down, his hands up, expletives expleted, stomps and steams.

Be disappointed. Disagree by all means. But you’re the coach, not the fan, and if you can’t keep your cool then you’re absolutely no use to your players. All you’re doing is telling them that there is nothing to be done because the world itself is against you. Grab hold of that grievance and hug it to your breast, and use it as whispers late at night while you sob into your pillow, because you’re never going to win.

The irony is that at the same time as the Aussies have ‘Pommy’ Cheika, the Poms have hired an Aussie coach so they can learn to play like a Southern Hemisphere team. Eddie Jones’ team survived on scraps and turned them into points by clinical execution of the merest of opportunities. Sounds like the All Blacks’ game plan: wait, wait and pounce.

The result is that after the weekend the latest World Rugby rankings have the All Blacks on top, but England go to 2nd, and the Aussies drop two places to 4th.

 

But the biggest and best news in the rankings announcement by World Rugby is that Guyana have leapt nine places:

For Guyana and the Cayman Islands the dream of appearing at Japan 2019 is still alive following their respective victories in the Rugby Americas North Championship, which forms part of the regional Rugby World Cup 2019 qualification process.

Saturday’s 23-18 win over south zone rivals and defending champions Trinidad and Tobago means Guyana will contest the final, where they will play either Mexico or Caymans Islands, who face off for top spot in the north zone on 2 July.  The Caymans maintained their interest with a 47-11 victory against Bermuda, outside centre Mike Wilson and winger Venasio Tokatokavanna grabbing a brace of tries apiece.

Both Guyana and the Cayman Islands enjoyed healthy rises to their rankings, with the Guyanese moving up nine places from 55th to an all-time high of 46th and the Caymans up three – climbing above Sweden, Luxembourg and Singapore – to 58th, on the back of a 0.59 rating point rise. Trinidad and Tobago and Bermuda both count the costs of defeats, falling to 48th and 71st respectively.

Aussie down two to 4th, Guyana up nine to 46th. Look out Cheika, at this rate they’ll be over taking you this time next year.

Or you could give up the boof and embrace the beauty.

About Ned Davy

By hokey, the big fella’s tipped into his 50s. A rangy loose forward in his prime, good with the ball in hand, but rarely up with the play any more.
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