Chris Rattue on sport
The latest sport analysis and comment from Herald columnist Chris Rattue

Chris Rattue: Should Deans quit after Irish shocker?


Call it the green revolution, Ireland swarmed into the spotlight by overwhelming the underwhelming Australians, but events in Wellington - where the Springboks played like no Springbok team many of us can remember - were more significant.

Australia were gutless to the point that Robbie Deans' future as the Wallabies' coach will become untenable if there is a repeat or no dramatic turnaround. Deans looked shattered and confused, afterwards. He is heading towards the same situation, but on the other side of the fence, as four years ago when overlooked by Steve Tew's NZRU for the All Black coaching job.

This time, Deans is the underperforming incumbent with a friend in a high place. First Samoa, and now this. If the Woeful Wallies flop again, Deans should do the right thing and seriously consider resigning. He has a contract extension, but contracts are made to be broken and Ewen McKenzie is a high-class rival ... and Australian.

Wallaby supporters will feel that if the national team is to turn all powder puff when it counts they might as well suffer with an Aussie coach. McKenzie's demeanour inspires players, he has a rare tactical sense, he would not have done worse than Saturday night and the former Wallaby prop can play the patriotic card when necessary.

Not all of the blame lies with Deans because he has a lot of rubbish to work with, especially in the front row. Much has been made of David Pocock's absence, but the loss of Stephen Moore was also a massive blow.

Moore is the most combative of the Aussie pack, the one who leads the battle cry. The Aussie ball runners went AWOL - Radike Samo and Rocky Elsom were lemons, while the giant Tatafu Polata-Nau was as scary as the cookie monster. Under the circumstances, blaming any of the Wallaby backs is harsh, but Pat McCabe qualifies as being half-dimensional which is very un-Australian for an inside centre.

Ireland were magnificent in a limited way. They belted anything that moved and crushed a disgraceful Australian scrum. Let's be picky, though, and point out that having beaten up a pathetic foe, they couldn't even score a try. Come on, lads - show a bit of dazzle to match the muscle.

The atmosphere at Eden Park, via television, was truly magnificent - which shows you don't need a high-standard rugby match to be enthralled. It is difficult to recall the old ground in better spirit and voice.

The Irish are jubilant, and rightly so, but experience has limited their expectations. A sports show producer in Ireland said to me after the match: "They'll lose to Georgia now." And they're not even playing Georgia.

The Springboks were sensational against a physical Fijian team, continually moving the ball to promising attacking zones, showing relentless aggression, and unveiling hitherto unseen skills. Rassie Erasmus must have held some excellent whiteboard sessions for his battered audience at the controversial Rustenburg injury rehabilitation camp.

South African rugby is halfway around a corner. Springbok coach Peter de Villiers, the yappy Jaapie, has been ridiculed by many of us but there is always more to any man than meets the ear and we may have misjudged him. People with connections to the Springboks say de Villiers is a much-respected man manager and he is now also allowing more advanced rugby thinkers - particularly Erasmus - to thicken the plot.

Few of us can hope to understand the worlds de Villiers has had to dance between in his life. The weird press conferences may be a deliberate distraction or maybe they reveal how a man whose identity has been confused tries to belong, or even keeps the world at bay.

Apart from revealing a surprisingly expansive and exhilarating game, the Springboks were spirited and cohesive, unlike the Wallabies.

What can be read into the All Blacks' destruction of Japan? Nothing. All this "Sonny Bill Williams is a terrific wing" stuff is amusing. Japan B had already been smashed up by the time SBW arrived.

Wales were brave and well organised on defence in beating Samoa before a packed house in Hamilton, but their limited game doesn't deserve to travel far in this World Cup although that doesn't mean it won't. Samoa were disappointing though, failing to really test the Welsh tackling in a game that didn't reach the heights expected.

* Beware - security video is not secure. What has happened to Prince Mike could happen to anyone. At first, it was a good laugh, the internet-available video that revealed the English stand-in captain Mike Tindall cavorting with a woman his new wife - the royal Zara Phillips - subsequently described as an old family friend.

But once again, privacy has been invaded. The walls are forever being chipped away. Tindall knows he is a tabloid target and the public is armed with cameras these days. But all of us, even Prince Mike, deserve better than being spied on by businesses we patronise.

- NZ Herald

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