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