Friday, 26 November 2010

I shouldn’t bite, but ...

I know we are in their backyard at the moment, and that they are staring down the barrel of another All Black Grand Slam, but some of the writing of the Northern scribes just really is barmy. I’ll admit I trawl the Guardian’s rugby pages and blogs for the comments on articles, not the actual stories themselves. There is great banter, genuine commentary and I have found a decline in the wumming that used to be present. The problem is the paid journalists, and the latest Paul Rees’ effort just leaves you wondering ... “Why?”.

Penalty #1: "Both France and England looked more comfortable in the knock-out format three years ago than New Zealand and Australia, drawing on their experience in the Heineken Cup." How eactly does the Heineken Cup prepare NH sides better for the World Cup? If you knew anything, you would know that Super rugby has semi-finals and a final, every year for 14 years. The "World Champion South Africans" have played in those finals ... did they not "draw experience' from them? Please.

Penalty #2: The Hayman & Evans argument. They chose their path and are not wanted back unconditionally. Any thoughts that Hayman would just wander straight back in to the All Blacks after four seasons plodding around the muddy paddocks of the North East is farcical. Hayman wanted a dairy farm to come home, he went to Toulon. Evans was on the park in the quarter final loss to France, then he went off injured ... so he’s no Jedi bloody saviour! If you want to be an All Black you have to play in NZ - end of.

Personally, I believe they will first allow playing for any Australian or South African team in Super to make you eligible, but if you go North ... bye bye Silver Fern.

Yellow Card: "New Zealand have learned this year that they do not have a back-up to Dan Carter" No kidding! I think we have known that for a while, Paul. When you have a player this good (as with McCaw), that's the price. Still, at least we know who our starting 10 is every game. Biggest error on this tour was not taking Colin Slade. I think Aaron Cruden may well get there in a season or two ... or three, but with Donald blinking against Australia, it may well be that the calmer, 'just do as you are told' Canterbury brain of Slade is what we will need come the knockout stages next year. Plus, he covers fullback.

Red Card, Rees: Your whole argument is based around NZ failing a World Cup because they refuse to pick two players who have VERY limited Heineken Cup experience! Excuse my ignorance, but when did Quins or Newcastle last play in HC semis or a final???

"France were deliberately conservative in 2007, using England as their template." They played to the rules that did not favour carrying the ball into contact! Les Bleus’ tackle count in that quarter final was off the chart, but that was all they had. They folded against a lacklustre England, and then we saw a 10 man yawn fest final. New rules, new paradigm.

NZ blew it in the 2007 quarter final. I was there. The team that took that field was not the best team: no Howlett, no Mauger, and the walking wounded at the end of that game (Carter, Collins, even Evans) meant we would have struggled in the semi had we got through. We probably would have have lost a semi to England!

Next year I am picking SA to drop a game in their pool, lose to Aussie in quarter, so the Wallbies meet NZ in the final. Then we'll have a worthy final a la 1995. Who'd win that I'll keep between me and my bookie. Of course, its always possible that Los Pumas beat England in the pool match, we may well have to play the Red Rose in a quarter final ... and who knows?

I must say, I ABSOLUTELY LOVE the way UK, especially Irish, crowds give the kicker respect. NZ crowds could really learn something from that. I'll be up for the Wales game. They'll lift and I want to see this one live. I think there was always going to be a lot of feeling in this game, last match of a Grand Slam, patchy AB form etc ... but the tragedy on the West Coast has made a big impact on the New Zealand touring party, especially the President of the Union, John Sturgeon who is a Coaster, and an ex-coal miner. He was very emotional on the news a day or so ago.

Looking forward to the minutes silence pre-kickoff ... having all those rowdy fans sit still, in quiet unison, never fails to send a shiver down the spine. It is unfortunate such a gesture always follows tradgedy, eh?


Nursedude said...

Hey Ferdy, those of us here in the US are saying a prayer for the families of the 29 miners in your homeland. Very, very sad news. It just calls to mind how dangerous of a job it is for the people who provide the coal and minerals we use.

Ferdy said...

nursedude - your compassion towards people on the other side of the hemisphere always astounds me with gratitude. Thank you for your kind words and thoughts, directed to our fellow kiwis.

Slugso - great blog. You echo my thoughts entirely. Paul Rees along with a Mr Jones is a chief wummer. Singlehandedly they have turned northern crowds that once used to enjoy the brand of rugby the ABs play, against us. You can tell by the boos that echo around stadiums as they All Blacks do their time honoured haka. It's sad and I hope that things will swing one day so that people in all parts of the world will enjoy the spectable New Zealand brings to rugby and international sport.

As for the Northern teams undrestanding knock out rugby...please, give me a break. Wum central is all I can say. I'm not even going to honour these hacks with a response.

These autumn internationals have been true gems (chris rattue - honourary northern scribe take note). The North have stepped up to the plate and played some truly enterprising rugby. By taking a few risks they have discovered the joy of giving joy to their home crowds, and good on them.

I thought the Ireland - New Zealand match was superb. NZ brought the best out of the Irish, and it made for a cracking test match.

As for Wales - NZ. No team should be written off because they had a shit game the week before (against Fiji). Wales will come out fighting, and on their home ground, they will give the All Blacks a game. This could even be the game they turn things around for themselves (just look at Scotland against SA).

However, NZ's tragedy this week will surely spur on the All Blacks to play out of their skins. I'm picking a New Zealand win. Still, sport is sport, and anything is possible in this grand, oval ball game.