This was another week for the history books with the British and Irish Lions showing true class and grit to steamroll the Springbok second string side and leave Peter De Villiers with egg on his face. Lote Tuqiri is suspended permanently from the ARU and the All Blacks squad for the 2009 Tri Nations is announced with no new surprises. A wee footnote too about the whole sad Basteraud affair.
British and Irish Lions' 28-9 victory over South Africa
The British and Irish Lions came back from the disappointment of losing the 2009 series in South Africa by taking Peter De Villiers’ back-up team to task and completely annihilating them out wide and up front. The Baby Boks, controversially sporting white armbands to reflect their solidarity with Bakkes Botha after he copped his ban had no answer to a spurned Lions outfit with fire in their bellies. The northern hemisphere lads played with style and ended their seven game losing streak in what was in the end, a dramatic and hugely entertaining tour. As usual there was exciting play on the field matched by ineptitude and brain farts (Ronan O’Gara take a bow), the usual underhanded dirty play (Simon Shaw and Schalk Burger), bitching and moaning about the officials from members of the public and British media (the usual suspects, Stephen Jones, Robert Kitson etc etc) and yet more idiotic comments from the South African coach. Although South Africa look like the team to beat in the Tri Nations – can they really be considered such a potent force when they have a complete donkey at the helm? Interesting Lions comments here by Chris Hewett summing up the good and the bad of the tour.
No, I won’t be sad that Lote Tuqiri has been banished from the Wallaby set-up. I just wish that those breakers of All Black supporters hearts - Stirling Mortlock and Matt Giteau would join him. But in all seriousness - the termination of Lote’s ARU contract is all very mysterious, especially with Dingo Deans wandering into the fray and adding his support to John O’Neill’s decision. Tuqiri has allegedly been involved now in one too many off the field mishaps where alcohol and no doubt pig headed aggression have been to the fore. A great rugby player to watch who could really cut a defensive line open with his running and skill, in form Tuqiri was always dangerous. So no, heading into the tri nations with our straggly lot of butter fingered bambini I’m not sad at all that he’s been dropped. Although rugby will definitely be the poorer now for his departure.
Graham Henry and his fan club
Another All Black squad announced for the Tri Nations and another chance for the talk back radio callers and message board bloggers to have a good moan about Ted. Griping about the All Black coach is becoming more of a national sport than the national sport. As usual, the knives are out for Henry because:
A/ He’s not a cantabrian
B/ He’s not dingo deans
C/ He’s not either of the above
D/ He picked Rokocoko and Toeava
E/ He didn’t pick Messam or Masanga
Firstly – although the media would say differently, polls suggest that Henry still has support of at least half the country. All the doubters that hassle Henry should take a good hard look at who else is in the wings if he goes? Colin Cooper, Ian Foster, Pat Lamb?! Yeah right. People think the player depth in this country is bad – I think the coaching stocks are more depleted yet. The day Colin Cooper becomes All Black coach is the day I give up on rugby completely.
So Henry’s selections. He’s made some that I kind of scratch my head at. I’m definitely with the punters who think he was mad to reselect Rokocoko and Toeava. Roks has looked sluggish for years now and as for Toeava – how many chances does he need before the selectors stop selecting him? The guy can play amazing rugby but when it comes to the crunch, his nerves fail him in the big ones. As one witty blogger posted: “Toeava can wear the jersey of anyone in the backline- whether he can actually play in any of these positions is highly questionable!” Meanwhile, Tialata who I think is the true Achilles heel of the forward pack sneaks through unnoticed. Why?
Good things about the selections? At least Lauaki didn’t another call up. Also, Messam doesn’t have it at the moment and they were right to let him go. Another time maybe for him.
The sorry saga of Basteareaud
Poor guy has been through the mill. I thought this Rosemary McLeod column was a good compassionate take on the follies of youth.