England is dominating World Cups in rugby and cricket with Australian coaches, so where are we going wrong? – Analysis & Opinion – ABC Local

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Posted October 28, 2019 06:19:58

The English invent sports and Australian coaches show them how to play them.

This is the only conclusion to be reached after England’s ICC World Cup victory under the guidance of a top bloke from Goulburn, Trevor Bayliss, and their march to the Rugby World Cup final under another bloody ripper Aussie fella, Eddie Jones.

Well, it is the only conclusion to be reached if you are trying to rationalise Australia’s relative inadequacy in two of this year’s most significant global sporting events in comparison with the brilliantly executed England campaigns.

Otherwise the only other way to think away the irritation of England’s achievements is to remember there are worse passports to be clutching right now — you could be a Kiwi.

On a day of national mourning across the Tasman for the dear departed All Blacks, the only consolation to be taken from a second heartbreaking defeat to England was that it didn’t involve a spurious tie-breaking method (Most line-outs won? Least scrums collapsed?).

Then the Constellation Cup netball handed New Zealand sport another bitter dose of death by calculator with Australia’s Diamonds winning the trophy for the seventh straight time after the teams tied two games all and the trophy was awarded on superior goal shooting percentage.

As for England’s reliance on Aussie coaches? For every one of us making light-hearted banter, there are others seriously wondering why Jones was not at the helm for the Wallabies, and even why Bayliss was not in charge of the Australian cricket team.

Jones is now painted in a particularly flattering light compared with counterpart Michael Cheika for whom this World Cup delivered a damning final verdict on his Wallabies coaching career.

So the quick fix narrative penned by those with a wafer thin appreciation of Australian rugby’s shortcoming is to offer Jones a contract with more zeros than Glenn McGrath’s batting history, bring him home and wait for the Wallabies to start accumulating the silverware.

But this not only underestimates Australia’s parlous state, it ignores the advantages bestowed upon Jones and also Bayliss as England coaches.

Somehow it has become seen as unsporting to mention the significant impact sporting immigration has had on England cricket and rugby over recent years; particularly the Kolpak players from South Africa and the Pacific islands who are eligible to play in domestic leagues — and after shortened eligibility periods, for England — by dint of their homeland’s association agreement with the European Union.

But if you don’t want to be howled down by an English friend for mentioning this conveyor belt of talent, then read some of the many stories written by English journalists who believe losing the Kolpak bounty is a significant reason to block Brexit.

This is not to underestimate the talent of England’s home-grown players or ignore the excellent organisation of both their cricket and rugby World Cup campaigns — assuming England’s rugger boys gets the job done next weekend.

A common theme of both World Cup pursuits is that a lofty ambition was set some time ago by an ambitious national organisation and an appropriate coach was put in place to execute this long-term venture.

Thus Jones and Bayliss were under no illusion about what was expected, while their employers were subsequently obliged to provide the best possible resources to achieve the collective ambition of winning a World Cup.

In Australian rugby, on the other hand, there has been the vague notion that it would be a good idea if the Wallabies sent a competitive team to Japan and perhaps even attempted to stop the ritual humiliations of the Bledisloe Cup. But the ambition has not been matched by astute long-term planning or well-invested resources.

Thus those who believe replacing Cheika with Jones will ensure instant Wallabies success will also believe that Lewis Hamilton could win the Monaco Grand Prix in a clapped out Corolla.

Regardless who gets the Wallabies coaching job, is it too much to expect Rugby Australia appoints a CEO-coach combination that doesn’t consider an embassy garden party an appropriate forum for a heated informal review of their historic differences?

The fractious relationship between Cheika and his boss Raelene Castle might only be a symptom of the game’s deeper malaise.

But when diplomats are forced to eat sashimi encrusted in the spittle of screaming rugger types you know the sport has reached a rather obvious fork in the road.

The road less travelled by Australian rugby in the past decade or two has been the one leading to sustainable success with the appearance in the 2015 World Cup final now exposed as a misleading aberration rather than the harbinger of good things it seemed at the time.

In considering comparisons with Australian-coached English cricket success, Australia finds itself in a far more fortunate position.

Having inherited a dumpster fire and an empty watering can, Justin Langer already deserves much kudos for his post-sandpaper era reign, particularly his role in the Ashes retention.

Langer’s great test now will be aligning his team’s ambitions (or, in the modern landscape of specialist Test, ODI and T20 squads, his teams) with those of Cricket Australia including victory in the home T20 World Cup next summer, a campaign that got off to a bright start against the sub-strength Sri Lankans on the weekend.

As for matching England in cricket or rugby, the key is not necessarily repatriating the Australian coaches who have guided the arch enemy to success but replicating the conditions that have made their jobs so much easier.

Topics: rugby-union-world-cup, rugby-union, netball, cricket, sport, england, united-kingdom

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