Almanac Rugby – The Rugby Championship: Round 3

For the first two rounds of the Rugby Championship, the four teams were slugging it out in time zones as far apart as almost humanly possible. The Springboks hosted Argentina for two test matches and promptly made short shrift of their guests. The All Blacks embarrassed the Wallabies in a leadup test in Auckland and then promptly rinsed and repeated when they returned to the same venue and again in Perth to get their campaigns underway.


Leading into Round 3, the two heavyweights had unblemished sheets, while the Aussies and Argies were possibly dreading the next fortnight, until they square off against each other in the last two rounds.


All four teams took the field in a double header on the Gold Coast on Sunday. One result was entirely predictable, the other proved to be the redemption story we all love to see in sport.



All Blacks 39 Argentina 0

The first game was an intriguing affair early on. The ABs were out of sorts and made uncharacteristic errors while the Maginot Line defence of Argentina was impressive. Once the men in black figured out ways to get around that barrier they opened up their opponents like a zipper.


The inability of Los Pumas to spend any extended periods close to the ABs line often resulted in frustration boiling over into errors. With their ruthless counterattack, the Kiwis put points on the board at a steady clip to ensure the result was never really in doubt.


Brodie Retallick took the captaincy cudgels with aplomb and the halves combination of Perenara and Barrett would be a walkup start in most other teams. Coming in as the B Team seemed to inspire them. Their execution of set pieces was clinical. Weber’s performance at 9 off the bench further highlighted the ridiculous depth on the shaky isles.


As for our amigos in the blue hoops, they showed resolve and grit all day long but they will not be getting a magical upset like they did last year. Their first-ever win over the ABs was less than a year ago, so they should still feel immensely proud, but they should also steel themselves for another flogging next week.



Australia 28 South Africa 26

Leading up to this game, there was really only one story. The prodigal son deemed unqualified for Australian citizenship was back in the gold 10 jersey. Quade Cooper is a divisive and controversial figure. In the three tests against the ABs, Rennie had stuck with Lolesio despite the evidence he was a bit too green for the job. A new opponent brought a new approach.


While there were plenty of other selection choices to mull over (Kerevi, Rodda, Swinton in the starting XV and Leota debuting off the bench), all eyes were on Quade.


I was always of the belief that when Cooper was matched with Genia there was sufficient spark and magic to nullify his inevitable brain fades at crucial moments. In this new era, four years after his last cap, I was sceptical, to say the least.


In this game. his role was adjusted to reflect the new reality. He sat back more. He ran less. His tactical kicking was more in the mould of an English flyhalf. His efforts at set shots became the story. A truly great story it would turn out to be.


The Boks went about their usual intimidation around breakdowns looking for easy points. It looked like it would be enough throughout the first half. Copper’s opposite number, Handre Pollard, had been in exceptional touch in front of goal throughout their home tests, particularly against the Lions. If it was going to be a shootout, many would have had a sinking feeling Pollard would prevail.


However, the Wallabies counteracted the negative tactics masterfully. Despite conceding more tries, our boys looked calm at key moments and ran nice hard lines all match breaking through far more often than their opponents. They then backed that up with solid defence.


All the while, the bloke in the gold 10 jersey was popping them over whenever we got a penalty in striking range. When the full-time siren blew, Quade had slotted seven from seven to keep the Wallabies in the game. An infringement at the death gave him the chance to ice his comeback fairytale.


He didn’t disappoint. He caressed that sucker through the big sticks and snatched a last gasp win. It was a great team effort but the maturity and nerve he exhibited was a sight for sore eyes.


This win will warm many hearts, as will the story of Quade’s return. There are plenty of other blokes, too, wearing gold at the moment who deserve gold. There must have been a rainbow over the Gold Coast as it looked like a huge pot of gold to me. May there be another rainbow over Brisbane on Saturday when we do it all again.




The Tigers (Covid) Almanac 2020 will be published in 2021. It will have all the usual features – a game by game account of the Tigers season – and will also include some of the best Almanac writing from the Covid winter.  Pre-order HERE



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Grew up playing the rugby codes in suburban Sydney. Moved to Melbourne during the Carey era so becoming a Shinboner was the natural call. Still love the game they play in heaven. Took an interest in MLB a few years back and have become infatuated with America's pastime.


  1. Thanks for the review.

    I was also sceptical of bringing Cooper back in at 10. Thankfully his experience and nerve under pressure got us back in the winners list. I am not sure that he can be the long-term answer at 10 but the win against a top-class opponent should give a lift to the younger squad members.

    I do feel for Lolesio (even though I was a critic at the time). He was found to still be a bit green against the All Blacks, and he did make some critical errors, but the All Blacks are still the toughest test going around. It probably didn’t help him that our first choice at no. 9 was still being debated and we were rotating blokes through no. 12 as well. The All Blacks are brutal when it comes to punishing mistakes. It is like sitting an exam where you get one mark for every correct answer but lose three marks for each question you get wrong!

    Hopefully we can rack up another win on Saturday, and inside the 80 minutes this time.

  2. Haha he caressed that sucker alright – omg what a climax straight through the sticks!

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