Australia vs England series. David Campese Column, Ella-Mobbs Trophy
It’s great news that Rugby Australia is finally starting to recognize the legendary players and style of play of the 1980s, with the new Ella-Mobbs Trophy replacing the Cook Cup for next month’s Wallabies-England series.
I was very lucky to play with Mark, Glen and Gary Ella when I was young and they played a huge role in influencing my career and inspiring me to play an instinctive style of rugby.
Australia’s famous 1977-78 Schoolboys team changed the mindset of rugby and produced many Wallabies who went on to play the best rugby in the world at the time.
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There were 10 future Wallabies on this team – including the three Ellas. To put it into perspective, the talented Wally Lewis often struggled to break through the roster and the team went undefeated on a 16-game tour of Europe and Japan. Australia’s greatest schoolboy team of all time.
Of course, before that there were a lot of great players and coaches, but changing the style of play like we did in the 80s and early 90s was a privilege and a time that many fans of rugby fondly remembered.
Besides Lewis and the Ella brothers, future Wallabies on this schoolboy team were Michael O’Connor, Tony Melrose, Michael Hawker, Chris Roche, Tony D’Arcy, Shane Nightingale and Dominic Vaughan.
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PREPARE FOR A KICK-FEST IN ENGLAND
The weekend’s Premiership final at Twickenham featured over 100 kicks in the general game. I hope that Eddie Jones will not adopt this style. We have to entertain the fans.
But Eddie just wants to win, beat Australia. He is under pressure as England finished fifth in the Six Nations this year. He dislikes Australia as he was sacked as the Wallabies coach back then.
He’s not here to entertain us. He doesn’t care how he wins. But how to counter the game at the foot of England? When you look at the style of rugby to play, we have very good outside backs.
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We have to create chances for our wingers and we have two good finishers, Marika Koroibete and Tom Wright. Andrew Kellaway has also proven to be a great finisher, so why not have the backs to create things at scale? The English won’t like to go away all the time so it will put a lot of pressure on them.
And instead of kicking the back all the time, why not kick some space and try to create more opportunities for us? We have strikers who have dominated Super Rugby and we have to go out there and use our strengths. Don’t give away possession, make them think, don’t just punch and punch.
We have very good runners, Michael Hooper is a good receiver, so step back. We have to fight for the ball and deprive them of possession. The more you starve a possession team, the more desperate they become and the more penalties they inflict.
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LESSONS FROM THE SUPER RUGBY PACIFIC FINAL
If you look at the Super Rugby final, the Crusaders played the type of rugby we used to play in the 80s. They supported each other, they put the ball into space, only kicked it only when necessary and had the confidence, vision, unpredictability and flair to succeed in a pressure game.
Australian Rugby, if we’re going to be successful going forward against other codes, we need to get players to improve their skills and master the basics all the time. We also need to entertain. If you entertain people, they will come to watch.
I would still like to know what style of rugby Dave Rennie is trying to play. We have some really good young talent coming in and I think they should experiment and move away from this pod structure that came out of New Zealand years ago and we’re still trying to play which doesn’t work not really.
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Squad selection is crucial for a Rugby World Cup next year.
It is very important at this level that there are combinations. Quade Cooper is back which is great, he’s a fantastic player and with his vision, flair and unpredictability the other players need to start giving him options. He can’t do everything for everyone and that’s one of the things we’ve learned in our time.
Anticipate what will happen, try and it starts to come out – the passes stick and the tries come. The more you play together, the easier the game.
THE FUTURE IS GOLD
There’s tough rugby ahead, but if you want to be the best, you have to play the best. Last year’s Super Rugby competition showed that we were not well placed, but this year we are starting to improve and hopefully we will continue to do so.
Maybe in the future we could go back to three Australian teams in Super Rugby so you have all the right players together.
We would be more competitive against the Kiwis and the Wallabies would be much stronger.
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I hope in this English series the coaches allow the players to play and make mistakes. That’s what I do when coaching kids and it’s still very important for players of this generation.
The only way for them to improve is to try different things if they are allowed to. It’s a great opportunity to build momentum for the World Cup next year.
We have to entertain the crowds and Australian fans are looking forward to a new golden era of rugby. I would love to hear rugby people’s comments on what they think of my instagram and Facebook pages.
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