Wallabies frustrated after training pitch switch

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Retiring Wallabies hooker Stephen Moore has described training conditions in Edinburgh as some of the worst he’s experienced, after a frustrating day for the Wallabies setup.

It was 90 minutes before they were due to embark on their major training session of the week that they were told by the groundskeeper that they couldn’t use the ground, because of an upcoming match.

The University of Edinburgh will be taking on Durham University and Strathclyde University on Wednesday in their regular season fixtures, and ground staff were concerned about the pitch for those games.

The Wallabies were forced into the in-goal for training. Photo: Getty ImagesThe Wallabies were forced into the in-goals of the field for parts of their session, and were moved across to the 3G artificial turf, a ground that doesn’t lend itself to full contact sessions, especially at short notice, with the chance for burns.

Moore said the field was among the ‘poorest surfaces’ he’d seen in his 13-seasonTest career, in an ‘Amazing Race’ of training spots.

“Well, it was a little disappointing. It felt like the Amazing Race a bit there...darting around different fields,” he said.

“It was probably one of the poorest surfaces I've ever seen actually.

“It was very slippery. We tried to do some drills on the side but it was very, very difficult.

“It was difficult to get any purchase. We had to do our best on the artificial surface.”

Though it was a challenge, Moore said it wouldn’t be an excuse for the Wallabies ahead of their crunch game with Scotland

“One thing we pride ourselves on as a team is to have no excuses about anything,” he said.

“That's probably the message we are trying to get across because what you face, particularly away from home, you can't use as an excuse for your preparation.”

It was a muddy afternoon of training. Photo: Getty ImagesCoach Michael Cheika missed large chunks of the team's meetings in between sessions, on the phone to the groundsman and the Scottish Rugby Union, looking for a solution to the impasse.

Initially they were asked to go to a far field, set on a hill, but the uneven surface of that space ruled the option out, with the risk of injury deemed too great.

The SRU offered up a venue next door to Murrayfield, just below the union’s administration offices, but the idea of training in the pocket of their opposition was knocked back by the Wallabies.

Though the Wallabies won’t be pointing to the setback as any kind of excuse, it was an inconvenience for Australia, who ultimately had to cut their afternoon session short.

Australia trained at Peffermill with no issues in similar weather last year, while New Zealand trained at the venue last week ahead of their clash with Scotland.

The Wallabies have a day off on Wednesday, and are yet to settle on a venue for Thursday’s session.