All Blacks around the World (I): Spain

I start a new post with a new theme: How are the All Blacks seen around the World. I think that it is a pity that people in New Zealand don't realise how much their team is cherished and respected abroad.

So, let this post be a way to know what the All Blacks mean for people outside the Island of the Long White Cloud. We'll start with a country I know well: Spain. In Spain rugby is not among the top 5 sports... nor the top 10 sports... nor the... ok, rugby is a completely unknown sport, an amateur sport in a time when even Canadian Canoe C1 specialists (not that it is the most popular sport in Spain, either) get enough money to live.

However, the All Blacks can be proud of having a name in Spain, and more people is likely to recognise the haka than to tell the name of any single one rugby player past or present. We can, by the way, even find a bar with a section fully dedicated to the All Blacks in Madrid.

Yes, here you will find it:

Steinlager Madrid

Provided you are patient enough to deciphrate articles in spanish you will get a piece of information about the bar and its relation with the All Blacks, history of the All Blacks, a guide to do the haka and a vast description of the activities that the bar offers.

(Can you think of a farther from New Zealand place dedicated to the All Blacks?)

International coaching moves

2007 is almost over and new coaches have been appointed for the next period. These are the coaches for the 6 Nations and Tri Nations unions and Argentina:

New Zealand: Graham Henry, 2 years contract, reappointed.

Australia: Robbie Deans, 4 years contract, new appointment.

South Africa: Unknown

England: Brian Ashton, indefinite, reappointed

Ireland: Eddie O'Sullivan, 4 years contract, reappointed (before RWC)

Scotland: Frank Hadden, 2 years contract, reappointed

France: Marc Lievrèmont, 4 years contract, new appointment

Wales: Warren Gatland, 2 years contract, new appointment

Argentina: Unknown

Hayman on the wrong side of the haka?

NZRU has confirmed that matches against european clubs during tours in Europe will be played again. Two names have been given: Stade Français and Munster but the actual dates are yet unknown.

The coaching stuff has asked to do so as they claim they have little chance to try emerging players, as nowadays every game they play is a test.

It seems that 2008 calendar gets really stuffy, and should the Super 14 final see a NZ team on it, the players would have only a week before the international season starts. An international season consisting of no less than 14 tests (15 if the game against Argentina is confirmed).

But what intrigues us must is that with the massive exile of All Blacks to Europe (McAlister, Mauger, Hayman, Kelleher, Jack...) is: Shall we see a match confronting any of them against the All Blacks? Shall we watch them facing the haka?

Could you imagine Carl Hayman on the wrong side of the haka as someone else is leading "Ka Mate"?

Obsession, the downfall, Deans says.

The Wallaby coach has done a little bit of talking to the media for the first time after his arrival to Australia and he has said two things that seem of real interest:
  1. New Zealand is full of talent, and the key is "what you do with it".
  2. Obsession with World Cup has been All Blacks' downfall.

It is his purpose to go step by step, week after week, in his new job.

What do you think? Were we all too anxious at winning the Cup and was that our downfall?

Did you know...?

That Henry's best streak as All Blacks coach came from August 13th 2005 down to August 26th 2005 when his team went undefeated for 15 consecutive tests, the second longest streak for the All Blacks in 100 years?

This and many more statistics I have found on

Robbie Deans to coach Wallabies

"I am ready for the next stage" Robbie Deans said early this week.
And this next stage has just started today 3.00 AM (which is 3 PM or so on the other side of the world)

The ARU appointed for the first time in its history a foreigner for the Wallabies coach job and Deans gets thus the deserved opportunity that the NZRU didn't give to him. It is going to be a busy season for Robbie Deans as he holds the Cursaders coach job, and it is going to be interesting to see him coaching at the Cursaders the players that he will eventually face as rivals some months after (or, seen from the other side of the Tasman, it will be interesting to see him against the teams whose players he is to coach some months after).

Some online media keep their particular "crusade" on who's best, pointing to the Bledisloe will as the judge (As though it would be fair for anyone).

For my part, I can only wish him the best results as Wallaby coach except when he's facing the All Blacks; here or there, in Canberra or in Dunedin, in Durban or in Buenos Aires.

Why did we lose?

December the 12th. Two months ago we received a painful defeat that left most of us empty. It happened at Cardiff, October the 6th. The score was close, 18-20, the tears were intense, the scars so deep.

It still hurts to me but as a new year is drawing near, I think it's time to move on. And I think having my say on what went wrong is a required step in that direction.

Over the past two months I have read this and that and I have not got a clue on what went wrong. I know the numbers: $ 20 million spent, the reconditioning program, the number of games every player had, I can tell you the surprises of that day's line up: Howlett not in, Mils at centre, Robinson at second line, All Blacks coach claiming that the team had to learn from the errors on 2003...

I have gathered a few different points of view on why did we lose:

  • Planet Rugby has an interesting post. It states that New Zealand did not play that day the way it used to do. Too many rucks, much too different of what had taken the All Blacks to beat France the previous 5 times they met.

  • At Yahoo! Answers you will find lots of opinions: Most of french fans blame it to over-confidence. Some say the All Blacks proved not to being able to win a close game, some say the player selection was not good and some say simply France was better that day.

  • If you can separate fair opinions from gossip, maybe you could try to get some decent opinions at NZ Herald.
  • Graham Henry blaming on to referee Wayn Barnes can be found at Scoop

But none of this has really convinced me. What is missing? What needs to be filled?

It is hard to tell. Players tried their best, the coach tried his best, but so did the french, and I think there were some key points that should be merged to have a decent answer to the question WHY?

  1. France had been studying New Zealand for the last two years, trying different game displays in every previous loss to see how to tame the All Blacks. They used this experience to their benefit.
  2. The gameplan that France proposed was queer enough for All Blacks not to be familiar with. True that french players were not familiar with it either, but the fight of the french was against the All Blacks, not against the gameplan. The top favourites were drawn to something they did not expect.
  3. The french defense was superb. Much has been said of the number of rucks that the All Blacks provoked. But of course they would have preferred line breaks as they usually did during the previous tests against France! The high number of rucks created show the hability of french players to successfully defend. Don't forget that Laporte claimed that discipline had been the key.
  4. Fear. Once again, New Zealand team seem to have put their sights a bit further and they did not expect this game to be particularly difficult. When things went really ill and France scored their 20th point, fear was on All Blacks faces. I recall the previously uttered words by Jonah Lomu: "Silently everybody knows what they have to do, they live by the fear of losing." I am afraid that fear was too present for players and that did not allow them to manage a close contested game as they have previously (without any fear) in a number of times, namely this very season at Durban or at the winner-takes-all match at Auckland.
  5. Strategy. The drop goal should not be once and again overlooked as a resource. And I think it is a weakness that ought not to belong to the All Blacks. It is true we all like seeing tries. It is true that we don't like too much kicking, but when a clear chance is in front of you as it was on October the 6th, is it wise to overlook it? I don't question the brave decision of not taking a drop goal then, I question the decision of not taking any drop goals.
  6. It happens. It is part of the sport. Wayne Barnes could made a wrong call. It happens. Luke McAlister ought not to have missed the kick, it happens.
And to finish this long post I would like to remind you what happened during the first 28 years of Football World Cup. Arch-favourites Brazil were once and again eliminated including the unforgetable Maracanazo in 1950. It was not until 1958 that Pelé took his team to the highest place. We don't remember the suffering of Brazil, though. We remember that they have been champions 5 times and that they are the best team of the world.

Thus, I only ask for patience.

French Top 14: a three-horse race?

6 French teams are playing both the French top 14 domestic competition and the european Heineken Cup: Stade Français, Biarritz, Bourgoin, Perpignan, Toulouse and Clermont.

Playing 26 regular games plus pay-offs plus (at least) 6 Heineken Cup games during a season will be hard for them all and makes of the French rugby season a long-distance race.

Provided this six teams were the best last year one would expect the final winner of the Top 14 shall arise from one of these, but the truth is that the favourites are mostly reduced to three: Stade Français, Biarritz and Toulouse. Can the results say something else? Let's see it.

After 4 games have been played at the Top 14 and 3 at the Heineken Cup, these teams look like this:

Stade Français: Current champions of the Top 14 and reached QF lasts year at the Heineken's Cup. They have a powerful line-up, specially at first five eighth. Their start of the season has been quite good and Stade Français is currently second at the Top 14 and leader of its pool at the Heineken Cup but away loses to Toulouse and Bristol (this one being a painful 17 vs 0 defeat) show a weakness that must be overcome if they are to be title contenders.

Toulouse: Byron Kelleher's side is the only undefeated team at the Top 14 after 4 rounds. In an impressive display of power, they defeated current champions Stade Français in convincing fashion and their only loss in this start of season was against Aron Mauger's Tigers. With players like Pelous, Elissalde or centre Kunavore they have the depth and the experience.

Biarritz: With a powerful scrum, they have had slow start at the Top 14 but are performing a good pool phase at the Heineken Cup, where they have defeated the Saracens and their only loss was last week to Glasgow. Their powerful line-up give them excellent chances in such a long competition.

Our opinion: Toulouse have an edge at this point of the competition that they will use to build into confidence and eventually become winners of the Top 14.

New Zealand Sevens: 2 out of 2

New Zealand Sevens did it again; after winning the starting meeting of the Season in Dubai, they won again with a perfect record of 6-0 in South Africa.

Is it going to be a Federer-like record? Last time New Zealand lost a match was back in April when they lost in Australia 24-17 to Fiji. They have a perfect 24-0 record (on grass, of course) since. Federer's current strike (on grass) is 48 consecutive games won.


I don't live in New Zealand (I could not live anywhere farther)

I am a huge All Blacks supporter as I discovered rugby when I saw their clear 29-9 defeat of France in 1987. I have followed them ever since.

It is hard to get "in touch" with what is going on there 20.000 Km away from Spain.

But I kind of feel happy for Graham Henry. I think the NZRU has been wise to reappoint him. World Cup isn't everything in rugby or it shouldn't be and he's a great coach and he has proved it.

I think that Robbie Deans deserved equally the chance to get the job (as many others) and it would be sad if he left the Crusaders.

But at some point you have to stop this four-year cycle of hiring a coach, believe you are invincible and come down to earth four years later thinking it was all the coach's fault. I don't know who will coach the All Blacks in 2011 (it could be Deans, you know) but at the moment, NZRU has sent a message of wisdom and we public ought to hear to it.

Everybody's talking about it

- What's ELV? The new rules.
- Which new rules? Those saying there won't be penalties anymore
- Ey! No penalties? What then? Well, there will be some, but it will all mostly be free kicks.
- Superb! Then Andrew Mehrtens will be the top scorer for the All Blacks for a long time! Hahahahah. It seems so, yes.
- Are there any other new rules? Well, backs shall stay at least five meters behind the scrum, passing the ball back from outside the 22 to inside the 22 won't permit a kick to touch.
- Won't it? Why not? What if you kick to touch? The lineout will be in line where the kick was taken.
- Pheew. Any more? Well some other changes like the ball in the lineout can be thrown backwards
- What is the aim of these changes? To allow more playtime and to increase the number of tries.
- Aha, I see. Will these laws apply to every rugby match? This year they will only be used during Super 14.
- Will the Crusaders win again? That I cannot say.

Grant Fox, amongst the bests ever

Whoever makes a list of the best ever players at first five eighths will consider Grant Fox as a contender to such title. Some argue he changed the game as Grant Fox was the first true goal-kicker, an important role in the late 80's when New Zealand obtained the first World Cup ever played.
He also introduced the today well-known technique of leaning the ball forward prior to the kick that everybody uses now from Jonny Wilkinson to Daniel Carter. In New Zealand he played for Auckland in a time when the word "professionalism"meant playing with 13 instead of 15 and so no Rebel Sport existed yet.

As an All Black he kept winning every test and match from 1985 until1988 (including five test matches in 1987 World Cup) when his All Black side drew against the trans-tasmanian neighbours. His first defeat as an AllBlack came as late as 1990 to a Wallaby team that was getting better day afterday (and would eventually become World Cup winners a year later). After 1991 World Cup defeat to Australia again, things were coming to and end. Grant Fox had to fight for starting off the bench and so he did and tried hard, playing in an impressive form during the1993 Lions series.

He was inducted into IRB Hall of Fame in 2005.

New Zealand win Dubai Sevens

New Zealand emerged victorious of a hard-fought final against last year IRB Sevens runner-up's Fiji.

Leading 21-0 at half-time, New Zealand had again to fight against a come-back of their rivals during the second half. New Zealand succeeded again to reach clear first spot undefeated, winning thus the Dubai Sevens tournament for the first time since 2002.

Semifinalists of the tournament were South Africa - who lost against the Kiwis 12-7 when a late try of the south africans was ruled out to a forward pass - and England, who lost 22-21 in another dramatic semifinal against Fiji.

«Argentina belongs in the South» IRB says

The dilemma about Argentina's integration in a major Nations' tournament has made a step forward towards its decission. The IRB has divised a plan to integrate Argentina into the Tri Nations around 2010. The plan means an increase in the tests the argentinians will play in 2008 and 2009.
The solution will not be easy. A look to the map sets Argentina closer to the three SANZAR nations than to the northern hemisphere ones. However, argentinian players massively play in France, Italy and the United Kingdom and that makes it easier to find a place in the calendar for the 6 Nations. Thus, most argentinian players have stated their preferences on playing against the european nations. There even were contacts between the UAR and the spanish city of Valencia to make that city the official place for the Pumas' european tests.

The IRB has, however been clear; Argentina's integrations shall be inside of the Tri-Nations. It will raise doubts on how to arrange Top 14 and Premiership calendars when tests matches are to be played.

Now some further questions arise: Will aregntinians still massively go to Europe to play? Will a argentinian franchise be created for the Super 14? That would be a very interesting point, I think.

Dubai Sevens: NZ, South Africa and Fiji advance easily

Frances's second half almost complete come back was the only cause of concern yesterday at Dubai. Luckily for the Kiwis, a late penalty by Emmanuel Etien did not go in.

Samoa, Fiji and South Africa also completed a sweep of their pool matches and the four are clear favourites for the first Sevens tournament of the season.

These, are the pairings for the QF:

Fiji vs Scotland
Samoa vs England
South Africa vs Kenya
New Zealand vs Argentina

Some more

It's so sad when instead of staying together, this is all that some media are capable of.

New Zealand rugby does not deserve this.

The All Blacks don't deserve this.

It's hurting New Zealand's rugby

I find complete nonsense this everlasting gossip about who's in the pole position to become the next All Blacks coach. I think it does not do any good. Today we have an apparently contradiction in different news by RugbyHeaven and New Zealand Herald.

This has even gone so far in the case of RugbyHeaven that it even dares critizising the board composition.

I would like this week to pass, it is Friday 7th and the board will have made its decission on who's the next All Blacks coach. I would also love not hearing anything else from now on about this matter until it's over.

I bet it won't be easy.

The New Zealand Herald on All Blacks coach election

«With Henry and his cohorts having thrown their hats firmly back into the ring, the NZRU board must now decide if it wants to risk losing Deans to Australia in order to persevere with the regime that failed in France.»

The New Zealand Herald, Tuesday 27 November 2007

I have usually considered that newspapers here in Spain spread bullshit. "Selling news" is a business that in this country means feeding lies to people. The most absurd thing in this nonsense is that people are eager to buy these lies. Lies usually look like this: "We who vote for X are right, others are wrong". Ok, it's normal. This is Spain and we are quite stupid... people don't even know about rugby, here :-P

But I thought this was some kind of spanish folklore, and I can't really believe that on the opposite side of the world The New Zealand Herald is so biased in favour of Robbie Deans' as the next All Blacks coach.

There are, I think, two different things that should never be mixed; news and opinions. News are the plain facts; opinion is what we think about it. A newspaper should never mix them.

In this blog, you will find a clear support of Graham Henry in his goal of being re-appointed as All Blacks coach. I think that four more years would be a rare continuity which New Zealand's rugby needs. Besides, I trust Henry. But this is just the opinion of one person - the author of this blog - and it does not by any means replace in any way any newspaper whose main goal should be Information.

Carter's burden and Henry's re-applying

It is a pretty chance what we've got here: On one hand, there's Daniel Carter saying that although he loves the All Blacks it could be better for him to spend some time abroad. On the other hand, Henry's re-applying.

What's the connection between these two issues? Well, let's see: The whole New Zealand blaming at coaches and players. How many times have you heard how big was the amount of money spent in this RWC campaign just to immediately point out that this time we did it worse than ever? Lots of All Blacks leaving and... what is next? The NZRU appointing a brand new All Black coach? Is this some kind of the old "let's start over again, we can't afford failing again!"?

As I see things:
1.- Graham Henry should be considered as our best coach for the way the team has been playing for four years. Sacking him for one game lost against France (it's a game after all) is like stating: "We will not tolerate any loss".
2.- If the problem for New Zealand players is the "burden", it will certainly not be diminish in four years time. Firing Henry will only make it heavier.
3.- You can't buy success (assuming fair play). That's the beauty about sports.

Not linked? You should not fool yourself.
If players are leaving and they say "Hey, it's too much of a burden", is it of any help saying: "We don't care for the Tri-Nations victories, we don't care for the Bledisloe Cup, we don't care the 87,5%, you lost at the World Cup, you are out"?

McAlister at second center in England

In his debut at the English Premiership, Luke McAlister has deeply impressed the Sharks supporters as his side defeated Worcester Warriors 15 - 34. Leading 3 - 15 at halftime, victory was never at risk for the Sharks and it allowed an exquisite offensive display by the player who played second five eight with the All Blacks.

It makes me wonder what do they do in England when they don't have Howletts, Haymans, Maugers or McAlisters around.

I was recently watching to a Manawatu vs Waikato game from last Air New Zealand Cup and I wonder whether it was a different sport. What is it that the northern hemisphere lacks that only can get it from New Zealand? Whatever it is, it seems that money can somehow replace it.

Carter to quit the All Blacks?

Reportedly by New Zealand Herald we read that Dan Carter could be considering moving to England after his present contract with the NZRU ends next year.

What can I say? Dan has been a keystone for the Crusaders and the All Blacks for the last four years. We who support the All Blacks are extremely disappointed with New Zealand's Rugby World Cup campaign and I cannot resist the temptation of wondering whether Carter is also under any kind of post World Cup shock when stating that. After Jack, Mauger, McAllister, Hayman, etc.. left to Europe it may kind of be hard to think of keeping on fighting once again after 2003 and 2007 failures with the same old "next time we will surely make it" prospects. Dan, at 25 has already won everything that can be won both with the Crusaders and the All Blacks (except "you know what") so it seems that he is to choose between moving to England to find new goals or staying in New Zealand where for four years he won't be able to win anything that he has not already won.

On the other hand, we supporters who don't usually get tired at watching our heroes trying once and again, feel somewhat left appart by Carter. Will he do it? Will he leave us when we so badly need him? What will become of guys like Richie McCaw if they are all leaving? Will they also leave New Zealand? What will become of us, now?

I like to think of competition (any kind of competition) as the same old game with the same old clues either to win or lose. And in team sports, relationships between teammates are the key to success. Ask Gregan and Larkham for their opinion in this matter. I think that a succesful All Black team will need Carter badly. Not because he is arguably the best first five eights we can find but because he is an experienced and young guy. How long will it take to replace him in the team? Not as fly half, but as a guy? How long will it take to replace the hole left by Kelleher, Howlett, etc?

If I could have a few words with him I would like to point out that rugby in New Zealand has a special aura that he won't find in England. I guess he would miss it. We would miss him. New Zealand would miss him.

Ka Mate

Ka Mate, Ka Mate
Ka Ora, Ka Ora
Ka Mate, Ka Mate
Ka Ora, Ka Ora
Tenei te tangata puhuruhuru
Nana nei i tiki mai whakawhiti te ra
A upane, ka upane
A upane, ka upane
Whiti te ra, hi

(Es la muerte, es la muerte. Es la vida, es la vida. Es la muerte, es la muerte, es la vida, es la vida. Es el hombre que está ante mí, que trajo el sol. Un paso arriba, otro paso arriba. Un paso arriba, otro paso arriba. ¡El sol brilla!)

Muchos conocen el haka Ka Mate. Bastantes saben la letra y entre algunos se ha puesto de moda cantarlo en público. Hay quienes, incluso, conocen el significado de lo que cantan. Pero pocos conocen la historia del haka.

El haka, esa danza Maori que se ha hecho mundialmente famosa gracias a los All Blacks, ni es exclusiva de Nueva Zelanda, ni es bailada sólo por hombres, ni tan siquiera existe un sólo haka.

Los propios all Blacks en 2005 cambiaron el haka que cantaron al inicio de los partidos durante el torneo Tri Nations que ganaron e introdujeron por primera vez el haka Kapa O Pango (All Blacks). Aun más: Fiji, Samoa y Tonga también ejecutan su propio haka antes de los partidos de rugby.

Compartido, pues, entre muchos pueblos del Pacífico, el haka ha pasado de ser una danza tribal a una parte más del espectáculo que rodea al rugby. No es por ello menos indicado recordar los orígenes de este haka, "Ka Mate", que desde hace más de 100 años ha venido acompañando a los All Blacks.

Cuentan que un jefe tribal de principios del S XIX, Te Rauparaha, con fama de ser muy belicoso, tuvo que huir delante de sus enemigos, que emprendieron su persecución. Sin lugar seguro donde esconderse, lo hizo entre las faldas de una mujer, consiguiendo pasar inadvertido. Al salir de su escondite se encontró con un jefe tribal delante de él, pero para su sorpresa, se trataba de un jefe amigo. En su alegría por encontrar un amigo donde esperaba encontrar la muerte, Te Rauparaha bailó Ka Mate.

Carter, Larkham o Wilkinson?

Quedan 45 días para que empiece la Copa del Mundo. Un mes y medio para preparar, corregir, mejorar y obtener el mejor momento de forma. Algunos equipos se perfilan como claros candidatos: Nueva Zelanda (siempre la principal favorita), Australia y Francia. Otros son una incógnita. Por ejemplo Inglaterra. ¿Qué Inglaterra veremos: la de triunfante de 2003 o la desconocida de 2004, 2005 y 2006? Todo el mundo parece estar de acuerdo en que dependerá esencialmente de un hombre: Jonny Wilkinson.

Y es que así es el mundo del rugby. El número 10, apertura, fly-half, first five o como quiera que le llamemos es una pieza fundamental en el juego de los equipos. Podemos recordar los ejemplos del pasado, Jannie de Beer o Carlos Spencer influyeron notablemente en el juego de sus equipos en el pasado.

¿Qué hay de hoy en día? ¿Quién es el más influyente? ¿Quién es el mejor? ¿Quién llevará a su equipo a ganar la Copa del Mundo? Entre los tres mejores sin duda se encuentran hoy en día, Jonny Wilkinson(Inglaterra), Stephen Larkham (Australia) y Daniel Carter (All Blacks). ¿En qué orden? Por supuesto, en Londres dicen que uno, en Brisbane dicen que otro y en Auckland duicen el suyo. Pero ¿Cuál? Bien, vamos a intentar dilucidarlo.

Jonny Wilkinson: El que probablemente es el mejor apertura de la historia de Inglaterra. Obtuvo a los 19 años el puesto de apertura titular, aunque juegó con intermitencias en la Copa del Mundo que ganó Australia. Desde el partido que Inglaterra perdió contra Suráfrica (que Wilkinson no jugó), nadie ha vuelto a cuestionar su titularidad. Inglaterra ganó el 5 naciones en 2001 y 2002 y en 2003 llegó la apoteosis.
Jonny Wilkinson hizo nada menos que 113 puntos durante la Copa del Mundo de 2003, siendo en ocasiones como en las semifinales contra Francia (anotó los 24 puntos de Inglaterra) el único anotador de su equipo. De él se ha destacado sus habilidades en el placaje, su kick a palos y su concienzuda dedicación al entrenamiento. Su punto débil, sin lugar a dudas, han sido las lesiones que han impedido su participación continuada durante los 3 años posteriores a 2003. Es muy bueno a pleno rendimiento, pero este pleno rendimiento no se ve en Inglaterra desde 2003.

Stephen Larkham: Igualmente considerado el mejor apertura de la historia de Australia, es más que posible que ésta sea la última aparición de Larkham en la Copa del Mundo. Comenzó a jugar con los Wallabies como Full-back (zaguero) pero pronto pasó a ocupar la posición de first five. En el juego de Australia, el dúo que forma con el medio melé George Gregan es posiblemente el mejor de cuantos existen el rugby actual, lo que da a Australia un juego a la mano temible. A menudo se ha dicho que el principal defecto de Larkham es su kick. En las semifinals de 1999 contra Suráfrica, consiguió un legendario kick de 45 metros a escasos minutos para el final del partido, que dio la vitoria a Australia. Inmediatamente aparecieron anuncios en Australia en que compañeros y entrenadores le pedían a Larkham que no tirase, excépticos de que pudiera conseguirlo. Es la pieza clave del juego de zagueros de Australia, pero el problema de los Wallabies está en la melé.

Daniel Carter: Posiblemente el jugador con más talento en el rugby de los All Blacks, fue nombrado mejor jugador de la IRB en 2005. Después del desastre de 2003, Carter sustituyó definitivamente a Carlos Spencer en el mando de los All Blacks. Desde entonces, Nueva Zelanda ha sido considerada año tras año el mejor equipo del mundo, ganándose el singular apodo de "mejor equipo entre Copas del Mundo". Lo cierto es que el juego de Carter es fundamental para Nueva Zelanda; cuando Carter juega, Nueva Zelanda gana. Con una potente arrancada y un gran dominio del juego a la mano, Carter es el apertura que tiene la responsabilidad de organizar todo el juego de ataque de los All Blacks. Anota con facilidad tanto en el juego a la mano como a la hora de tirar a palos. Este año ha recibido muchas críticas por no estar aparentemente a la altura de lo que se esperaba de él y si no lo consigue, los All Blacks no ganarán tampoco este año.

Yo, adivinaréis, me quedo con Carter. Creo que él y los All Blacks ganarán esta Copa del Mundo y que su juego será fantástico.

Pero tú... ¿con quién te quedas?

Lo han vuelto a conseguir: Tri Nations y Bledisloe Cup!

El 15 de Graham Henry se ha alzado victorioso finalmente del decisivo partido que les enfrentaba a los Wallabies. El resultado, lo de menos: 26-12. En unas condiciones de lluvia intensa (¿Alguien se cree que en Francia en septiembre se encontrarán algo diferente?) los delanteros de los All Blacks han acabado imponiendo su fuerza ante los "tantas-veces-criticados" delanteros australianos que entrada la segunda parte han acabado claudicando.

Ganan así los All Blacks su 34ª (trigésimo cuarta) Bledisloe Cup y su 8º Tri Nations Tournament y algo no menos importante: se perfilan como los grandes favoritos para ganar la Copa del Mundo de Rugby este año.

Respirará Henry tranquilo, pues su política de rotaciones y de reservar a los jugadores para conseguir el mejor punto de forma en septiembre levanta controversias en Nueva Zelanda no sólo las escasas veces que los All Blacks no ganan, sino también cuando su victoria no ha sido aplastante.

De cualquier forma, Henry puede estar satisfecho. En una edición tremendamente competida del Tri Nations, sus hombres han demostrado que saben hacer precisamente lo que desde el otro lado del Mar de Tasmania dudan que sepan hacer: competir. Tiene además desde hoy 48 días para conseguir el mejor momento de forma de sus jugadores tal y como estaba en sus planes.

Hasta el momento, sólo puede decirse chapeau para Graham Henry y felicidades a los campeones.

Media parte en Eden Park. 12-9

Se ha llegado al descanso en Auckland con el resultado de 12-9 para los All Blacks, gracias a cuatro kicks de Dan Carter (en la foto). Australia está siendo un duro rival :-S En menos de una hora sabremos quién ha salido vencedor.

2 días

Tres cosas hay en juego este sábado en Auckland, 19:35 (09:35 hora ibérica):
  1. La Bledisloe Cup 2007
  2. El Tri-Nations 2007
  3. Bajarles los humos a los Wallabies (que últimamente se les han subido mucho)
Para ello, lo que Nueva Zelanda debe hacer es eso a lo que nos tiene acostumbrados: ganar.
Mucho está dando que hablar este final de torneo Tri-Nations, el más igualado de las últimas 3 ediciones, en el que absolutamente todos los contendientes han dispuesto de oportunidades para ganar. Ahí está ese 0-17 que los Springboks desperdiciaron en Sydney hace dos semanas que les hubiera alzado al primer puesto de la clasificación.
O el partido que los propios "aussies" perdieron en Ciudad del Cabo en la primera ronda.

Y es que así ha sido esta edición del torneo anual más fuerte del mundo. Nisiquiera en la victoria más abultada de Nueva Zelanda sobre Suráfrica la semana pasada (33-6) el partido fue claro hasta los últimos 15 minutos de juego.

O sea que, las espadas en alto, los nervios a flor de piel y todos pendientes del partido del sábado. De momento, lo que sí que tenemos son las alineaciones de ambos equipos:

Nueva Zelanda: 1.- Tony Woodcock 2.-Anton Oliver 3.- Carl Hayman 4.- Chris Jack 5.- Keith Robinson 6.- Jerry Collins 7.-Richie McCaw (C) 8.-Rodney So'oialo 9.- Byron Kelleher 10.- Dan Carter 11.-JoeRocokoco 12.-Luke McAllister 13.-Isaia Toevava 14.-Doug Howlett 15.-Mils Muliaina

Australia: 1.- Matt Dunning 2.- Stephen Moore 3.- Guy Shepherdson 4.- Nathan Sharpe 5.- Dan Vickerman 6.- Rocky Elsom 7.- George Smith 8.- David Lyons 9.- George Gregan 10.- Stephen Larkham 11.- Drew Mitchell 12.- Matt Giteau 13.- Stirling Mortlock (C) 14.- Mark Gerrard 15.- Adam Ashley-Cooper.

Bueno, en cuanto a bajas los Wallabies no se pueden quejar: Australia juega con su mejor equipo prácticamente mientras que por parte de los All Blacks faltan Sitiveni Sivivatu y Leon MacDonald.

Que en alguna ocasión les ha hecho esto a los Wallabies: