Let us bury Rugby Year 2023. Wallabus Annus Horribilis began with Eddie Jones promising unbeaten as January began, making January the apex of the Australian rugby year. This columnist kept up with the Jones tragicomedy quite well, predicting the whole mess with precision, missing only the failure to emerge from the pool.Every month got worse for the infirm firm of Jones & McLennan, until the dismal confirmation of his disinterest in the long haul Wallaby dream. First, irrational boasts. Then, odd selections, followed by plans which rendered veterans tackling crash Test dummies, until some broke down. Then, pugilism with the press, and outright disrespect towards stalwart players who were spurned. Finally, the awkward waltz towards Tokyo.Whispers placed him in Japan in 2024; credible voices but hushed.Meanwhile, in Wales, it was nearly the nadir, with money gone and players in a mood to strike, and a dreary return to Warrenball on tap. It was the year of the Coach Redux: Jones back to his roots, ready to root a journo, and Warren Gatland paring back Welsh ambition and attack. Similarly, Steve Borthwick brought basics back to England for the Six Nations without great effect. Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber preserved grumpy old men Willie le Roux and Duane Vermeulen over and above. Early in the year, referees warned online and in-person abuse was spiking and needed attention. No legal tool exists to curb the portion of humanity who threaten officials; almost every attempt will end in futility. England’s Tom Curry speaks to referee Ben O’Keeffe during the Rugby World Cup.The reception given the consensus ‘best ref in the world’ by some after an extremely complex final match at the World Rugby was a low. World Rugby never caught their leaker, instead using their energy going after rugby influencers for daring to publish video or gifs of games they had likely paid thousands to attend. The interest in rugby as a whole was a high for the year. Portugal and several other rising nations showed the world how brilliant rugby can look. The United States failed to qualify. French rugby continues to burn cash. A high was the Grandest of Slams by Ireland. Despite lofty achievements, Sexton ran afoul of the refs at club level in a portent of the Cup melodrama. Owen Farrell is taking a break from test football for mental health reasons. The scarring of the brain was front and center. World Rugby seems to be focused on tackle height and in-match cards as the fulcrums of showing adequate care and appropriate action.

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