Wallabies wins over the All Blacks are so rare these days that the celebrations too easily paper over the cracks.

Saturday's 24-22 win in the final Bledisloe Cup clash was gutsy stuff which will hopefully mark a turnaround in the team's fortunes after last weekend's humiliation in Sydney.

But no-one should be carried away with that performance because it wasn't a fair dinkum contest.

And that's not because New Zealand had already wrapped up the series and the match was a dead rubber.

It was because the game was ruined by the officiating. The softening up of rugby has turned the sport into a laughing stock that it's little wonder fans are turning away.

For anyone who can remember when rugby used to be a test of physical courage, Saturday's final Bledisloe Cup match at Suncorp Stadium was an embarrassment.

Neither Wallabies debutant Lachie Swinton or All Blacks prop Ofa Tuungafasi should have been sent off for their harmless tackles. A penalty would have sufficed, a yellow card at the most would have done the trick.

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Contact sports have an obligation to stop hits to the head but as the rules currently stand, the match officials had no choice other than to issue red cards after they watched all the slow motion replays, which made both incidents look far worse than they were.

But the existing rules need an overhaul because they don't take into account whether high hits are intentional and what damage they make.

Neither of those two tackles were reckless and neither of the players who were tackled were harmed.

Swinton's dismissal was especially cruel. On debut, he had been the outstanding player of the first 20 minutes, pulling off a series of bone rattling tackles but now faces the prospect of a suspension. What purpose does that serve him in the game?

It also leaves an asterisk next to Australia's win. The Wallabies may well have gone on and won the Test fair and square but the record shows that they haven't beaten New Zealand in a 15 on 15 game since 2017.

 

 

Last year's record win by the Wallabies in Perth was against a 14-man All Blacks side after Scott Barrett was unfairly sent off and the Kiwis beat Australia 3-0 in 2018 so no-one can be sure how well they played.

The only thing that is in no doubt is that the Wallabies grow a leg every time they play at Suncorp Stadium so Rugby Australia should be scheduling Bledisloe Cup matches in Brisbane every season.

The All Blacks always play matches against the Wallabies at Eden Park because they know they always win there so Australia should do the same instead of shopping the game around to different stages.

The low turnout at ANZ Stadium last weekend should be the clue for Rugby Australia not to take the biggest game of the season back to Sydney until the Wallabies have got the Bledisloe Cup back in their possession, which may not be that far away.

 


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