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Bob Dwyer chats to Sport24

2014-07-31 15:06

Cape Town - In an exclusive interview, former Wallaby and Waratahs coach BOB DWYER laments the poor standard of refereeing, offers his assessment of SA rugby and a prediction ahead of the Super Rugby final in Sydney on Saturday.


Sport24 asked: Since last coaching the Waratahs in 2003, outline your involvement in the game.

Bob Dwyer: I went on to coach the Waratahs academy, before partaking in various freelance coach-education programmes in countries such as England, France, Italy, USA and even Thailand. While no longer involved on a full-time basis, I keep a keen eye on the modern game. Moreover, it’s rewarding to see a fair number of the players I coached, such as Ewen McKenzie and Michael Cheika, now coaching professionally themselves.

Sport24 asked: In which ways has the game evolved post your coaching career?

Bob Dwyer: In recent years, the better teams - predominantly New Zealand sides - have started playing a game which focuses on not only continuity and phase play, but also attack which poses questions to defences. Admittedly, there might be one or two forward drives. However, the better teams are now defined by phase-play that boasts good passes, a number of contacts, a second touch or an offload in or before the tackle.

Sport24 asked: With an all-Australasian final cast in stone, your take on the state of South African rugby?

Bob Dwyer: The reality is that each year at least one of the SANZAR countries will miss out on the final. As such, I don’t believe a massive amount can be read into a South African side failing to reach the championship match this season. In the last two years, I feel SA teams and the Springboks, in particular, have played some really good “modern” rugby. Not only are they now posing a physical threat but a mental one as well on attack.

Sport24 asked: Are you concerned that Super Rugby’s expansion in 2016 will put player welfare at risk?

Bob Dwyer: I’m actually more concerned that the competition will cost too much money to stage. Rather than produce nett profit, it might well lead to reduced profit – that’s certainly a massive concern in Australia. While Australia generates very good income from staging and broadcasting matches against New Zealand sides, the reality is that matches against South African and now Argentinian sides, have, and will, prove far less lucrative.

Sport24 asked: Your take on the standard of refereeing in Super Rugby this season and the appointment of Craig Joubert for the final?

Bob Dwyer: I’m of the opinion that the standard of refereeing has left a lot to be desired. Too many times aspects that are totally contrary to the laws of the game have been allowed to go unchecked. For example, the number of times a player has been taken out of play by another that hasn’t entered the tackle contest legally is astounding. In my view, this amounts to deliberate obstruction and should be far better policed. I’m not calling for referees to constantly blow the whistle, but am rather advocating better application of the advantage laws. Pertaining to Joubert’s appointment, I’m most pleased, as he possesses both the ability and experience.

Sport24 asked: How would you compare and contrast the Waratahs side you coached, to the class of 2014?

Bob Dwyer: I believe the current crop is a much better side. During my stint, we had a handful of very good players, whereas the current side boasts two handfuls of top players. As such, I believe Michael Cheika’s side could be better compared to the Brumbies team of 2003. 13 players from that side comprised the Wallaby 22.

Sport24 asked: Name the best player/s you had the privilege of coaching and why?

Bob Dwyer: The player with the most natural talent and instinctive genius was David Campese. He had tremendous influence on the way the team played. Meanwhile, Mark Ella was probably the man who understood the game best. He had a clear vision of exactly what was happening around him and possessed the tools to overcome difficulties in a match situation and the ability to capitalise on opportunities.

Sport24 asked: Having made the switch from league to union, your take on Israel Folau’s development?

Bob Dwyer: While Folau is a terrific athlete, and has hands the size of baseball mitts, his seamless transition has come about owing to the fact that he’s been smart enough to listen to those in the know. In rugby union, support in both attack and defence are absolutely crucial elements. I've observed how Folau’s natural ability has aided his decision making. Folau boasts the ability to stand back and watch what’s happening in front of him, stay in touch but not overcommit and then take advantage when the need presents itself.

Sport24 asked: Why do you believe the Waratahs and Crusaders are the last two teams standing?

Bob Dwyer: In all good rugby teams, I believe the total performance must be greater than the sum of the parts. Both Michael Cheika and Todd Blackadder have discovered the right balance, and neither leaves his players in no doubt as to what is required of them both in preparation of and during a match. Someone once said that the most important thing a player can offer his coach is predictability and the Waratahs and Crusaders are no better proponents of that philosophy.

Sport24 asked: Set the scene for us in Sydney ahead of the final and share your score prediction…

Bob Dwyer: While rugby union crowds in Australia are traditionally quite conservative, judging by the atmosphere generated during last weekend’s semi-final win over the Brumbies that certainly won’t be the case. The stands will once again be filled with sky blue supporters. As far as the game itself, I believe the set-piece will prove a crucial facet of play. While the Waratahs were able to overcome a difficult first half in the set-phases against the Brumbies, they simply can’t afford to be on the back foot against the Crusaders in the final. Taking everything into account, I’m backing my former team to win the match by nine points. 

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