While last nights game between the Queensland Reds and the ACT Brumbies at Suncorp Stadium was entertaining, it provided us with great insight as to why the Brumbies will not be a force in the in finals this year.
While the teams could not be split on the scoreboard, finishing 19 all, the two teams played contrasting rugby.
The Reds can be proud of the way they played, using the width of the field and spontaneously attacking with a genuine desire to win. They can consider themselves unlucky as they scored three tries to one, crossed the try line a few more times and had some calls go against them. Uncharacteristic errors proved costly, but they were made with the intent to stretch the opposition.
That is rugby, in fact that is sport, the best team doesn’t always win. However it is fair to say, the Brumbies did not play with the same mentality. It is a thought echoed by the Reds captain, James Horwill;
“We went out there with a positive mindset and tried to play but there was some cynical stuff.
“But that’s the reality of it and we knew it was going to come. They try to slow the ball down – they’re good at it – but we should have been better.”
Without question in the last 10 minutes of the game, the Brumbies should have had another player yellow carded, or even a red. Countless infringements on their try line (with a player already in the bin) while defending the Reds attacking waves, helped achieve their numbing game plan of continuously slowing the ball down. It was very negative rugby. As a spectator it was frustrating, and if the officials do not punish these types of personal fouls, Rugby will continue to lose out to the other football codes in Australia.
To be honest, leaving Suncorp Stadium with the draw is a good result for the Brumbies. However that style of rugby is not what wins you a premiership, not in the southern hemisphere. It is not a case of the Brumbies playing this way once or twice a season against the best teams, it is every week. Apart from the odd Flash of Jesse Mogg brilliance, the men from the nations capital were uninspiring with the ball in hand. This lack of creativity is where the Brumbies will be found wanting come finals time in July/August.
A late season fade out – much like 2012 – is a distinct possibility for the Brumbies as the competition heavyweights ramp up their Rugby in anticipation for the finals.
Every team in the competition could play the Brumbies style of football, stifling opponents with uninspiring play, but thank god they chose not to. If the Brumbies were a New Zealand based side, having to play each team in NZ twice, they would not have more wins than losses at seasons end.