Union\'s just not in the same League

Rugby league thought it had its problems, what about its "toffy" half-brother, rugby union, it's coming apart like the cheap suits the South Sydney Rabbitohs used to wear before Russell came along and had them fitted out in Armanis.

There I was with just a cursory interest in the the sports report on the radio, when the only words that registered with me in no particular order were: "Bulls", "Queensland", "South Africa", "ninety-two", "three", "thirteen" and "Clinton".

Now I'm thinking bit strange for this time of the year, but it's obviously a cricket match involving the Queensland Bulls against a team from the Republic, and the Bulls are 3 for 92 with stylish batsman Clinton Perrin not out on thirteen. Boy, how wrong was I.

For the few of you not aware of the actuality of the report, "the Bulls" was the South African Super 14 rugby team, "Queensland" was the Queensland Reds Stupor 14 team, "92-3" was the diabolical scoreline in favour of the Bulls, "thirteen" was the astonishing number of tries scored, and the "Clinton" was in fact Clinton Schicofske, the scorer of The Reds' meagre three points.

Schicofske along with fellow league convert Berrick Barnes must be thinking what the hell are we doing playing this bonehead game? I guess you can understand the veteran Schicofske, who probably sees playing rugby a bit like semi-retirement, but Barnes is yet to hit his twenties and has such great potential. Word is he's returning to league as soon as his current contract is over, probably back to the Broncos as a replacement for Darren Lockyer.

Let's hope he doesn't make the same blunder as Lottery Tuqiri and subject himself to more years of pain and anguish by staying with rugby "yawn-yun".

If he does, then young Mr Barnes should be immediately marched off to the appropriate government department, where he must change his christian name to "Derrick" by deed poll to mark the occasion when he made the biggest knuckle-head decision of his sporting career. Gosh, he can always emulate Schifcofske and Timana Tahu and take the big pension payout once the rigours of rugby league gets too much to cope with.

The Queensland Reds' humiliating slaughter capped off an atrocious Super 14 season for the Australian teams which will miss the play-offs for only the second time ever.

But is it any wonder union in Australia is struggling when you have its captain, George Gregan, seemingly cemented in the number nine jumper irespective whether he's in a form slump or not.

For the life of me, how is it someone with Gregan's mediocre skills set has played something like a million test matches. He has no kicking game, has no running game, has no passing game, but granted, is a strong defender.

Remember the "hit" he put on All Black winger Jeff Wilson all those years ago? Oh the memories of that time in history. Colour TV had just been introduced, the first mobile phones which were the size of house bricks came into vogue and Madonna had the number one single with "Holiday".

Okay, maybe it wan't that far back in time, but it was yonks ago and gorgeous George has milked that one singular achievement that much that he'd have callouses upon callouses on his hands.

Compare Gregan's skills to those of Alfie Langer, Andrew Johns, Jonathon Thurston or Scott Prince. Poor George is not in their league by any stretch.

I'd say that if George Gregan played rugby league, he'd have been an accomplished hooker who would have alternated between first and second grade.

It would have been great to have the coffee-shop kid in rugby league if only to hear Rabbits come with one of his famous "crrrrruncchhhing tackle" on the occasion that George came up with a Jeff Wilson special.

Rugby league does have issues it needs to address in its game, but they are nowhere near the magnitude to that of rugby union. Sadly the fifteen-man game is being strangled by a complex web of rules, regulations and interpretations that has made it excruciatingly painful to watch.

I suppose the only upside for the ARU, is the royalties it collects from the Insomnia Association which uses the footage of rugby games to help sufferers overcome what can be a very debilitating condition.