Opinion

Alan Jones Rugby Comments 4th March 2022

This weekend all eyes will be on the Waratahs to see if Darren Coleman’s team have the resilience to bounce back from a tough loss at home to the Reds last weekend.

Taking on the Brumbies, in Canberra, is one of the toughest assignments in provincial Rugby.

It is a bit like going to Christchurch to take on the Crusaders.

The Brumbies always embrace a NSW verse ACT derby contest.

It goes back to their very formation, in 1996, when Rod McQueen assembled a group of castoff players with a point to prove.

Many of these original players like Owen Finegan couldn’t get a run with NSW and they looked forward to getting stuck into the boys in sky blue.

That culture and tradition has been maintained, in Canberra, thanks to people like Laurie Fisher, the Brumbies’ most accomplished coach.

Fisher has coached in Europe and Australia for the past 20 years.

He is a massive figure in the Brumbies’ organisation.

My money is on the Brumbies, and in the other matches this weekend, the Reds should be too good for a brave Force and the Rebels should overcome the Fijian Drua.

If you get a chance to watch the Force verse Reds match, keep an eye out for the Force halfback Issak Fines-Leleiwasa.

He is an electric running halfback making his run-on debut.

In the Six Nations, the French look set to win their first Six Nations in over a decade and I am backing them to go unbeaten in this year’s Championship.

Winning a Grand Slam is a rare occurrence, but this French team is special and they are capable of winning the World Cup next year on French soil.

France is the only team in the Championship to have won all three of their matches to date.

They have already comfortably beaten Ireland, who are the only other outstanding team in this Six Nations.

Interestingly, the French will face England in Paris, in the last round of the Championship, and they will be playing for a Grand Slam.

If the French can hold their superb form for two more matches, the biggest prize in European rugby will be theirs.

Make no mistake, this French team is the real deal.

Their halfback combination is currently the best in the world.

Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack play their club rugby together for Toulouse, so they have a brilliant combination.

The Toulouse influence on this French Test team is very apparent, thanks largely the coaching maestro, Pierre Villepreux, the Toulouse game is based on counterattack, offloads and creativity.

That is now the hallmark of the current French team – a fantastic rugby side.

Interestingly, Eddie Jones is under the pump, with the English rugby media, his “New England” team lost to Scotland and only just scraped past Wales.

In their last two Six Nations matches, they play Ireland in Dublin and France in Paris.

On current form, England would lose these remaining fixtures and if that happens could end up fifth in the Championship as they were last year.

Stuart Barnes, and a number of other influential rugby writers, are calling for Eddie’s head.

International coaching is an unforgiving beast.

Talking about coaching, there is no doubt Rugby Australia have a mountain to climb to get the game financially stable.

It is hard to believe we need more senior management with their snouts in the trough wasting the game’s financial resources.

Yet that is what is happening at Rugby headquarters in Moore Park.

We already have a Chief Executive Officer and a Chief Financial Officer reporting to Hamish McLennan and the Board.

Now we learn of three more ‘Chiefs’ who will have to report in!

Don’t laugh. This is fair-dinkum.

The new appointments include a Chief Performance Officer, a Chief Marketing Officer and finally, a Chief Commercial Officer.

That is a lot of ‘Chiefs’ for an organisation that has lost $28 million in the last financial year.

It is hard for the average rugby fan to understand how we could have money to throw at senior executive fat cats when we are considering selling part of our game to a private equity group.

It is like selling your kidney to pay for a party.

The current administration is out of touch with reality.

Not only is Rugby Australia wasting financial resources on rugby bureaucrats, they have also rubberstamped the ridiculous signing of Jamie Roberts at the Waratahs.

Roberts, as you may recall, played Test Rugby for Wales when Warren Gatland was their coach.

He is now 35 years old and he is taking up a spot on the Waratahs bench that should be used to grow a young, local player.

I have nothing against Jamie Roberts. He was a champion in his heyday.

But he is getting in the way of young Australian players and that should be a worry to all of us.

How many times have I said it?

Cultivate your talent at home.

There is a stack of it unacknowledged and unrewarded and that talent includes young Australian coaching talent.

Give the homegrown product a go.

 

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