ABC Grandstand: A rough old week for Australian rugby

New Wallabies Coach Michael Cheika, speaking at his announcement on Wednesday. Image: ABC Grandstand.

ABC Grandstand Digital: With Dan Lonergan in the Grandstand Breakfast chair this morning, we reflect on a week of headlines for the Wallabies and the Australian Rugby Union. There’s no doubt the appointment of Michael Cheika has Wallabies coach solves some problems, but there’s still many, many off-field issues for the ARU to get right before this whole episode is fully resolved…

 

National Rugby Championship: Semi-finals preview

The danger men: Kellaway (NSW Country), Kerevi (Brisbane City), Stirzaker (Melbourne), and Morahan (Perth).

The danger men: Kellaway (NSW Country), Kerevi (Brisbane City), Stirzaker (Melbourne), and Morahan (Perth).

The Roar: The regular season of the National Rugby Championship is done, and now it starts getting serious as we head straight into the knockout stage of the new competition.

Though it was very much up in the air this time last week, in the end, the best four teams of the competition have finished in the top four spots.

In Melbourne, NSW Country, Brisbane City, and Perth, we have the only four teams to finish the nine rounds with positive for-and-against records, and who scored more tries than they conceded.

Melbourne finished 13 points clear of NSW Country, and they’ve been the standout team in the competition without a shadow of a doubt. Eight bonus point wins on the hop will do that. They finished with a +215 point differential, and scored 32 more tries than they conceded. Rising averaged more than seven tries per game, and finished with an average scoreline of 49-23.

NSW Country and Brisbane City both finished with six wins, with a single losing bonus point for the Eagles being what separated the two teams. Ironically, that bonus point came in their loss to Brisbane City in Round 4. City scored more tries, but also conceded more tries than did NSW Country.

Perth scraped into fourth spot with a three and five record courtesy of a losing bonus point last weekend in Dubbo, though with a better for-and-against they would’ve finished ahead of the Greater Sydney Rams anyway.

Another @GAGR Podcast appearance: Cheik mate for the Wallabies

So much for annual appearances on the Green and Gold Rugby podcast, where after a rather traumatic week for Australian rugby, I’ve earned a second guernsey in a month. It may mean I’m not on again until the 2019 Rugby World Cup, though.

A really enjoyable chat with Hugh Cavill and Will McDougall where we cover off the appointment of Michael Cheika as Wallabies coach, the Ewen McKenzie legacy, a narrowing of the focus now onto Bill Pulver and ARU management of this whole debacle, the Spring Tour squad, and even a quick look at the NRC Semis this weekend.

It’s been that big a week in Australian rugby…

One day soon, Bill, the penny will drop

Bill

ARU CEO Bill Pulver, speaking after Ewen McKenzie resigned on Saturday night.

The Roar: One of these days, between 10am last Saturday morning and the release of Ewen McKenzie’s eventual book detailing his side of the story, the pennies will start dropping for ARU CEO Bill Pulver that all is not right at the pointy end of Australian rugby.

And not even the now-likely appointment of Waratahs Coach Michael Cheika, with a possible dream team of Stephen Larkham and Michael Foley as Wallabies assistants, can paper over the canyon-sized cracks in the administration of the game in this country.

Pulver’s extraordinary press conference follow-up on Saturday night, where he laid blame upon the media, and then the rugby public for the “character assassination” of McKenzie would’ve been funny if he wasn’t so absolutely serious.

And while my initial reaction was to wonder where this spirited (attempted) defence of McKenzie was ten days ago, it quickly turned to one of disbelief that Pulver was yet again missing the elephant-sized point behind all the media reporting over the last fortnight.