Rollo Manning has been a rugby tragic all his life since being named after a Wallaby winger and educated at a private boarding school in Sydney, Australia. Manning has been working in publicity and public relations for 40 years, and during that time has commented on the "game they play in heaven" through radio, magazines and newspaper coverage.
As a correspondent for the Australian Broadcasting Commission, he has broadcast in magazine style programs and live coverage of games. He is currently a regular contributor on ABC Radio in his hometown of Darwin in the Northern Territory of Australia.
Manning has been contributing to eSports for six years and relishes the opportunity to express his views on the first of the two rugbies. He is currently completing work on a study of the inter play between rugby league and rugby union over the past 100 years, when league was formed as the professional arm of an otherwise purely amateur game.
Since 1995, both have become professional and the drift of players is going back from league to union. Where will it end? That is the question Manning is now asking himself.
Australian Rugby will only enter a "new era" when more tries are scored, kicks in general play are limited to touch finders and players are played in the positions they prefer.
The 7th and the 61st minute of the game against Wales (November 28, 2009) should have shown the Wallaby selectors that Matt Giteau is an inside centre and not a five eighth. With Quade Cooper at first receiver (five eighth), Giteau had that extra bit of room to create gaps. He did this through the kick pass that put Digby Ione in for a try in the seventh minute and the pass that put Tatafu Polota-Nau in for a try in the 61st minute. Compare that play with the dead pan attack against Scotland that saw the Wallabies spend 59 phases in the Scots 22 metre zone for no tries.
The Wallabies desperately need a go-to man in the centres – another Tim Horan – and it has the man in Giteau, but NOT at fly half. The defense are being made to look good against a Wallaby backline that lacks the ability to penetrate. Playing out of favoured position is the death knell for Australian rugby and the sooner it is realised that this was a fun game when players enjoyed it because they played in the position of their choosing.
Australian rugby is blessed with fly halves (5/8) – Berrick Barnes, Quade Cooper and Kurtley Beale with Matt Toomua on the way up. Why the world's best centre plays at fly half is puzzlement. And what about Beale turning up on the wing in the mid week game against Cardiff? If it was a matter of giving Beale a game what about the winger who missed out?
If the Australian rugby selectors could be made to understand that you don't play the best centre at fly half when you already have three fly halves able to match with the best from other countries.
The Wallaby team of 2009 will have to go down as one of the worst when it comes to scoring tries.
How agonizing it was to watch the game against Scotland when, while being in the Scottish 22 metre area for 59 phases of play, they were unable to score once. The average of three tries per game was the worst for nine years in the Tri Nations.
Maybe if the Wallabies stopped kicking away possession it might help to give more ball in hand time. In the four tests in the UK there was only 23% of kicks that found the touchline. Not only is this boring to watch it must be frustrating for the forwards seeing the valuable ball just won being kicked downfield to let the opposition have a run.
It is fundamental to the revival of Australian rugby that Giteau plays at inside centre and kicks are reduced to only touch finders. Maybe the occasional half back "box" kick or an up and under but no fruitless kicks to the opposition unchallenged.
The answer is simple, so let's see a Nike and "Just do it"