As the Springboks ran over the Wallabies in the dying minutes of last weekend’s test match at Loftus Versfeld, the Australian commentary team were venomous in their criticism of coach Robbie Deans for not sending on fresh legs and using his bench.
This is again a phenomenon that is becoming very common, the expectation that a coach in football or rugby should always empty his bench; because it is there he should use it? This is a view that this writer does not agree with. Sometimes if you have the momentum on the pitch it is best not to make changes.
Had the Wallabies line out been better, and had they looked to mix this set play up they may well not have lost crucial line outs five metres from a ‘Boks try line. Had they scored then when they were on top in the game, and Deans had still not used his bench would he have been a hero for sticking with those on the park? We will never know but I would suggest that it would have been a very different stance to the one that was adopted. Such are the margins by which top coaches live.
Having taken this stance, it was disappointing that the commentary team when face to face with the coach in a post match interview chose not to raise this issue with the man himself. I know he is a New Zealander, but an Aussie being sheepish, is a dangerous stance to take.