The Mole has been pretty surprised by the attitude of quite a few Aussie fans: http://www.greenandgoldrugby.com/a-drunken-letter-to-the-wallabies/
Since Deans took over post RWC07, Ireland and the Wallabies have only played three times. There was an 18-12 Aussie victory in June ’08 in Australia [with the Irish team coached by Mick Bradley], a 20-20 draw in November ’09 and a 22-15 Aussie victory in June ’10 in Australia. So, in the period during which the teams have operated under Kidney and Deans respectively, there’ve been two matches: a draw and a +7/-7margin.
If you want to take it back a very reasonable five year period to October 2006 – and five years is hardly an unusual period to select as an era – five of yesterday’s Irish starters [Drico, D’Arcy, Rory Best, POC and DOC] started the November ’06 test in Lansdowne which Ireland won 21-6. Granted, both teams were operating under different coaches, it was a different world cup cycle etc., but Ireland and Australia don’t actually play too many games. Yesterday’s was only the fifth in five years. And how’s the list read?
Nov ’06 [Ire] Ireland 21 – 6 Australia [Ireland +15]
Jun ’08 [Aus] Australia 18 – 12 Ireland [Australia +6]
Nov ’09 [Ire] Ireland 20 – 20 Australia [0/0]
Jun ’10 [Aus] Australia 22 – 15 Ireland [Australia +7]
Sep ’11 [NZ] Australia 6 – 15 Ireland [Ireland +9]
That tells a tale of two teams who have been very evenly matched over a reasonable period of time. Now, most Australians – going from what I’ve read on greenandgoldrugby.com – don’t know that much about Irish players, and even the Aussie players didn’t really seem to know much about them other than Drico. So I’m not at all convinced that they [the fans] were basing their expectations on the fact that we had a poor enough Six Nations or that we had struggled to put things together in the warm-ups.
I think that some of them got overconfident – cocky even – based on:
i] the back of the Reds’ success in Super Rugby. Three Australian teams out of five finished in the bottom four of the Super XV. No Australian team had won it since the Brumbies in 2004. That doesn’t speak too loudly for either their strength in depth, nor their pedigree.
ii] a distinctly odd Tri-Nations win. They beat a completely second-string SA side in Australia [of whom only 9 of 22 made the RWC11 squad, so more like a 2nd/3rd string outfit], then got plowed by the Kiwis in Auckland 30-14 [who were 30-7 up with 5 minutes to play]; then they beat a ‘full strength’ South Africa of whom all but two players [Smit and Russouw] were playing their first game since Super Rugby and a heavy conditioning course – still a good result, it’s tough to beat SA in SA for anybody – and then beat NZ in a cracker at home. Still, that’s only two good wins, a thumping of a less-than half-strength team and an absolutely whipping away from home … and that wins you the tournament?
If Wallabies fans want to claim the Reds’ Super XV win as meaningful [and some of them are all about it], then it should stand to reason that the HEC wins of Leinster and Munster are legitimate currency. The difference between Australian Super Rugby pedigree and Irish HEC Rugby pedigree is that Irish provinces have won three of the last four Heineken Cups and, in the one year that they didn’t, had two provinces in the semi-finals.
The Mole thought Australia could edge us in a tight match, but predicted that Ireland would win it: https://dementedmole.wordpress.com/2011/09/06/crystal-ball-gazing-1/. Here at Mole Towes, we’re obviously delighted by the fact that we won. It was a great performance from us, and an even better result.
On the other hand, it seems that a fair majority of Australian fans thought that it was going to be competitive for an hour and then they would start to build a lead, i.e. essentially an Australia vs Italy Part Two. This despite the facts that:
i] recent matches between the teams have been close; and
ii] Ireland have beaten Italy for something like fifteen years in a row. There’s a reasonable enough record there to expect a harder game.
*Then Get That Into Ya! [Thanks, Matty]