Stop it

It has happened again.

Adam Thomson is the one who has not been able to behave. And he is not guiltier than many others.

I am seriously considering changing my 2009 Highlanders allegiance if nothing changes or this goes on.

Please stop it.

Heineken Cup hangover

Ironically, the day that Daniel Carter started his season in the northern hemisphere, the best player of the day was in another match.

If you ask me why I like Evans so much, why I consider him most unfortunate for the focus always being on the cantabrian (not that I don't like him a lot), just watch the (at times) best first five in the world in action.

Dan Carter at Perpignan

If we are to pay attention to all that speak about rugby, the 7-month sabbatical that Daniel Carter is taking in Perpignan is going to change the face of rugby world.

You can see it in most blogs and newspapers' webs. They are all awaiting the kick-off of the first Carter's game for Perpignan (against Leicester Tigers).

Is it deserved? Can Carter bring the first title to a club that has always been there but never crossed the goal line in first position? It is not going to be easy for the man from Canterbury. The biggest thing of the northern hemisphere rugby is that there are thousands of competitors; it is true at domestic competitions, but especially at the global competitions such as the Heineken Cup. I am no clairvoyant and therefore, I cannot tell the future. But I find Carter has what is needed; Carter could be the man, yes. No matter how difficult it can be, he has got it, and will take Perpignan, if not to the heavens of the Heineken Cup, to be the reference team in Europe, and of course, in France.

The never-ending stare and the game that witnessed two hakas

The never-ending stare

The game that witnessed two hakas

Dan Carter at home

You know I like to from time to time post something less relevant. This time is about Dan Carter. Do you know why is he one of the best kickers?

I wonder if his house in Perpignan does have one of these.

A last word on the November Tour

There is one last thing I would like to say about the November tour.

The prospect of facing the All Blacks has led to a lot of addo in every country, a lot of talking about the haka, about the kiwi arrogance and a lot of media talking up the chances of any national side or talking down the greatness of an All Blacks team that had a lot to prove after a horrendous World Cup Campaign.

The plain truth is that every national side is under pressure when playing the All Blacks at home.

On the other hand, the best game of the tour has not been a test. Munster, by heart, by will, have undoubtedly been the best opposition the All Blacks have faced. No pressure at all for Munster when playing the All Blacks, and a great privilege for the players. And even nowadays, when players are paid millions to play rugby, passion and will are the most dreadful weapons. Wayne Smith, All Blacks backs coach said it best: "We have seen teams go out and just about die for a cause on this tour. I have never seen a team like Munster so beaten up after a game."
A good reason for longer tours, is it not?

My 2009 super 14 franchise

So sorry, but I couldn't stand watching yesterday games at the HC. I tried to watch the Stade Français vs Harlequins and it was boring. But afterwards I made a major mistake in the Leicester Tigers vs Perpignan. Horrible.

Therefore I turn back again my face to southern rugby and I am chosing my franchise for the 2009 Super 14.

Last year I picked both Hurricanes and Blues. The Hurricanes did well, but the Blues were simply too irregular after a bludgeoning start and despite a wonderful last rounds.

This year, I am switching totally my allegiance. I will, as usual, cheer all kiwi sides, but my priorities will be on the southernmost side of the country. This season I will follow the Highlanders.

I feel that, given the current status of New Zealand rugby, the great improvers of this 2009 will be the Highlanders and that's why I want to be the first to say: I already foresaw it!!!!

So, go Highlanders!!!!!!!!!!!

News Salad

Here you have a brief mix of the relevant news in the last hours

All Blacks vs Irish and British Lions

November tour players and ratings: New Zealand

Outside backs

Mils Muliaina: He's in the form of his life. 10/10
Isaia Toeava: As a fullback, much better than elsewhere. 8/10
Cory Jane: Promising, but not enough game time to tell.
Anthony Tuitavake: Improving, a regular in the All Blacks from now on. 7/10
Hosea Gear: Needs more test time but still, not enough games to tell.
Joe Rokocoko: He's taking his time. 7/10
Sitiveni Sivivatu: Much better under the high ball. 8/10

Richard Kahui: He's been excellent, even tired as he was. 8/10
Conrad Smith: Outstanding. Always the best choice. 9/10
Ma'a Nonu: The player of the tour. 10/10


Stephen Donald: Work in progress. But needs to improve. 7/10
Dan Carter: At his best. 9/10
Jimmy Cowan: One good and one bad, but I like him. 7/10
Piri Weepu: The same can be said about him. Much better as a replacement. 7/10
Andy Ellis: Not enough games to tell.

Third Row
Liam Messam: Not much time, but he was unbelievable in the number 8 jersey. 8/10
Kieran Read: He has moved past Thomson. Excellent choice by Henry. 8/10
Adam Thomson: How did he manage to get there? 6/10
Scott Waldrom: He needs more game time. 6/10
Jerome Kaino: Getting more and more consistent after every game. 8/10
Richie McCaw: As good as ever. 8/10
Rodney So'oialo: The silent worker. I like him more than ever. Always winning meters in his runs. 8/10

Second Row

Jason Eaton: Needs more game time. Not enough games to tell
Ross Filipo: Not enough games to tell.
Anthony Boric: Outstanding against Wales. 8/10
Brad Thorn: A bit tired, but a force. 8/10
Ali Williams: Superb: 9/10

First Row

Neemia Tialata: the best option at scrum-time. 8/10
John Afoa: the best running prop in the world (with permission of Tony Woodcock). Just needs a bit more consistency at the scrum. 8/10
Ben Franks: Not enough games to tell.
Corey Flynn: Too bad he got injured again.
Keven Mealamu: More than a decent cover. Hore or Mealamu? Cannot tell. 9/10
Jamie Mackintosh: The young giant gets better and better. Give him more time. 7/10
Tony Woodcock: He was called Myth and showed he's the best 1 in the world. Please, keep calling him names. 10/10

November tests

Now the tours are over. With fourteen games played (NZ 4, AUS 4, SA 3, ARG 3), eleven of them have been wins for the southern teams and just three wins have been chalked up by the northerners (FRA-ARG, IRE-ARG, WAL-AUS).

Actually, France should have beaten Australia, too, and only Skrela's erratic kicking saved the aussies.

Leaving the aussies apart, both NZ and SA have fared too high for the Home Nations. They have not got the resources to match either of the big two. Nor will they for long years. Only Wales and Ireland seemed able to give them a game but they are still behind. Of course, England and France are different and they have the pool to build a brand new generation of players but, will they find the right men? I don't like Lievremont or Johnson, to begin with.

Australia is, to my eyes, building some depth that was lost after 2007, and their below par performance during this tour is less relevant as much of Deans work shall produce results not sooner than 2009. Deans has worked hard in order to find a competent forward pack, and when he ticks that box, Australia will be as strong as the other two (at the very least).

Argentina is in a highly unenviable position. They have been the admiration of rugby world for long years but after 2007 they need to replace some players and still be on top. This is what makes the difference between an outstanding generation of players and a rugby legacy.

NZRU: How to destroy a franchise

Say you have the most successful franchise in history. Say that, for whatever reason, you want to destroy it. What steps would you take?

First, the coach should leave. Leave no chance to your coach to stay in your franchise.
Second, give your star player a year off.
Third, cut one of the two provincial unions that feed this franchise off so you drain the flow of players into the franchise.

Can Canterbury face Wellington, Taranaki, Manawatu and Hawkes Bay at the same time? I guess next season I will be cheering the Crusaders more than ever.

On Sonny Bill Williams

Even if you are not a NRL expert you may still have once or twice the name of Sonny Bill Williams two months ago when NZRU had an eye on him when he was considering a change of codes.
Now, I don't know what part has the NZRU played in the late decisions this 23 yo guy has taken, but I would not be surprised if they were tuiting the convert. Putting him under Tana Umaga's orders is not such a bad move.
Everything would be fine in the NZRU considering a "special project" for this guy, should he not have broken a NRL contract. The truth is that this guy has already started Toulon' pre-season where, funnily, he's been sinbinned due to a charge.
Today the boy says he's eyeing 2011 RWC and he's also willing to become the best centre in the world so... who could say NZRU is not behind all this mess?

Now understand what I mean: I don't care if league disappears. I just don't like league, but as long as a player has a contract, he should respect it. I don't like rugby players breaking their contracts for more profitable ones, either. It is interesting what he has said about the matter: Why can I as an IT professional break my contract but he as a professional sportsman cannot? The difference is in the contract. How many IT professionals are and how many professional league players are there? That is paid in €, AU$ or pounds and he has earned them.
SBW is eyeing money and All Blacks glory at the RWC 2011 and the NZRU is desperately looking forward to end this RWC draught so... who could think they are not partners?

Back. Angrily back, but back after all.

Hi. I am back. I am angry at MediaZone, angry at All Blacks and angry at Henry but I am back after all.

  1. I am first of all, angry at MediaZone, madly angry at them, as I can't watch any rugby games despite I have contributed with the required amount of $. Their response is: get another computer. Wonderful.
  2. I am angry at the All Blacks for losing the way they lost to the Wallabies in Perth. I don't know what went on as I have not been able to watch the game (despite the fact that I paid)
  3. I am somewhat relieved that the All Blacks convincingly defeated the Wallabies back just a few minutes ago but I won't be able to watch this game either, even though I have paid.
  4. I am angry at Henry for such nonsense. Blaming onto the ELVs for losing? Smith saying he was outsmarted in the backs? What the hell? Why Does Deans always show common-sense and why can't our coaches show it too?
  5. I am angry at the fact that we shall not win the Tri Nations. With two games won and two more lost, the remaining two games are away while the Wallabies have the same amount of victories but have still one more game to go.

But, for now, let me just enjoy the quality players in New Zealand.

Quick and without time

With no time to write properly, these are some of the things that trouble rugby today as I see them:

  • Chris Masoe leaves for Castres: You cannot miss the Hurricanes fighting to avoid the last place alongside Lions and Cheetahs next year with no Collins and no Masoe.
  • Mortlock takes the Wallabies to victory: He fighted hard against Luke Burgess who was trying to help the Springboks get their first important win on the road this season.
  • Keo says the Springboks are favourites for the 3N: And Schalk Burger is favourite to be named Mr Universe, too.
  • McCaw targets playing at Sydney: He is desperate to be used as an excuse for the poor play the All Blacks will display in Australia.
  • de Villiers blamed the referee for SA loss: Indeed? You are not surely going to tell me the Wallabies are scrumming illegally, are you?

How many players can you name?

ELVs schism

According to Rugbyheaven, IRB and John O'Neill, the situation is (near to) dramatic. IRFU, WRU and a third union whose name I can't remember could provoke a(nother one) schism in rugby by not accepting any of the ELVs to be trialled within their competitions.

While these news have bothered me for a few days ever since it appeared p(osted)rinted inRugbyHeaven and I have much more hated the POMS phlegm since, it seems that common sense will prevail and you won't have three codes of rugby playing at least for the next years. WRU has released some tension by allowing 13 ELVs to be trialled.

That leaves Ireland and another country quite alone. In fact, it leaves the other country quite alone, as Ireland is but a puppet.

I hope they will come to terms, but a lot of harm is already done: some country still thinks they can rule things in rugby their way just because they are big and rich. More than ever it is needed that they lose every single game, every singe poll, every single fight, so they are forced to release some of the power they have gathered. If only a bit.

The game belongs to all.

Brave behaviour

Nicely done, kids.

Just when you are number 1 and number 2 in the world. Reigning World Champion and Reigning Tri Nations Champion. Just when you set the standard of world rugby for others to follow and no match is like a match between All Blacks and Springboks...

Then you start showing that astounding lack of manners.
"You Racist"
"You Puppet"
"You try to influence umpires!"

Guys, the world is looking at you... And it is not nice what you are showing. You seem 2 kids having arguments. Just think about it.

Air New Zealand Cup (NPC)

The Air New Zealand Cup pre-season matches start tomorrow, and by the time the season officially starts we'll already know who's able to win the 3N and who is not. What is certain is that there are a number of provinces who can consider themselves "cheated". What would you think if you were an Auckland supporter and realise that you will not get Evans or Nacewa to play for your team? I mean, they are not selected for the Internationals. Players playing for the All Blacks won't play the NPC and Canterbury fans well do know it but, what happens with people like the former two?

Let's forget those fair or unfair issues as the NPC is interesting in itself (same as the Currie Cup is). This year the team to beat should be Auckland as well. Despite losing Nacewa and not lining up Evans, and despite Hawke's Bay feeling confident with some Super 14 efforts by certain players like Latimer. The question is, who shall be fighting with the Aucklanders? What will Canterbury show? Can Wellington pose a threat to the reigning champions? Will this be the year of Waikato?

As usual, I have to choose my favourites and I don't really know where to start. I must support Auckland, if you forgive me, for I very much want Taniela Moa and Lachie Munro to play strong and be selected as Super 14 regular starters (by the man who will replace Nucifora who's no other than Pat Lam). I must also support Bay of Plenty and Waikato but, as happens to me with Blues and Hurricanes in the Super 14, don't ask me exactly why.

Let's see what the NPC unfolds and let's also wait for which All Blacks are released after the 3N. Some of them, like Mealamu, do always love playing big for their provincial teams.

The best game of the season

The All Blacks and the Springboks played today the best game of the season so far. The score pleased the kiwis 19 - 8 in a night whose crowned kings were the All Blacks forwards.

Both sides have reasons to be pleased, as they played a great great rugby, with the All Blacks playing their good old-fashioned attacking rugby and the Springboks playing their good old-fashioned deffending rugby.

Byron Kelleher celebrating the Top 14 title

The Dropkicks is a kiwi blog focused on sports. From it I have borrowed this unforgivable video featuring "monsieur Biron Quellegue" while celebrating the Top 14 title he achieved a few days ago with Stade Toulousain.

I absolutely recommend you to go read The Dropkicks. The author is currently doing live commentaries on the All Blacks matches and it is quite funny the way he sees them. Thanks to the author for his research.

It's even worse than this one!!!!!

(ok, no; it is not)

How do you like this team?

Montgomery, Ndungane, Fourie, Olivier, Habana, van der Westhuyzen, Januarie, du Randt, Smit, van der Linde, Matfield, Rossouw, van Niekerk, Smith, Spies.

Would you have betted on a 49-0 loss to Australia?

All Blacks vs Springboks

It's funny to see how many things change upon a man. Just two weeks ago, the All Blacks were the best team on earth (again). They had happily managed convincing wins with solid games against Ireland and England and were in everyone's lips favourites for the tri Nations. Meanwhile, the Boks had to struggle to defeat Wales and their fans were quite pessimistic.

Only a few days after, Richie McCaw's injury has left everyone in the kiwi-environment with a heavy anxiety feeling while the Bokke seem to be more confident than ever that they can stop their losing streak in New Zealand.

It must have something to do with their buoyant Schalk Burger having no McCaw in front of him.

Ok, here comes my warning to all those who see a Bok victory in New Zealand almost unavoidable:
  1. Do not overestimate the importance of the breakdown. It is really important. Really really important, but Henry and their men know it, and they will seek to cut-off the handicap of not having McCaw and the All Blacks are no newbies.
  2. It is by the ELVs that this game will be played and the ELVs say that the scrum can be more of a weapon, if one team has dominance over the other one.
  3. Likewise, line-outs are less important.
  4. Every All Black has played under the ELVs in the Super 14.
  5. Butch James, Montgomery, Matfield, Bakkies... have not. Three of them play from the start for the Springboks.
  6. In dead-even games, your crowd means a lot.

It is going to be a wonderful test. Both sides need to prove things. The Boks want so badly to achieve what they could not for four years under Jake White. The All Blacks want so badly to show they are the best side in the world despite their once-and-again disasters in the world cup.

Please, by no means miss out this game. Mark my words: there is going to be an after and a before, no matter of the outcome of the match.

Drinking and rugby

So, for the second time in less than two months, Cowan has been arrested as he was found guilty of D.U.I.

Meanwhile, Jerome Kaino has also been involved in such trouble.

What now? Should players be banned from playing the All Blacks if found guilty of such behaviour? Should they be allowed to play as these are off-the-field offenses?

Which, if any, relation have these issues with the english players missbehaviour last week?

It's all about the same: Is it acceptable that so-called sportsmen drive themselves these ways? But with an added consideration: What kind of things a sportsman can and can't do in his free time?

I think anything that involves violence would rule anyone out of my team. I think, however, that everyone deserves a second chance. Did Cowan do enough already to spoil his second chance? That I cannot say, honestly...


This blog is about rugby. It has little to do with yellow press. However, it seems that rugby is more often than a bunch o other sports involved in yellow press affairs, the latter being the consequences of the english tour of New Zealand.

That's the reason for this blog to have its say about violence and rugby. I hate to mix them both in a sentence.

First thigns first; inappropriate behaviour off the field is a matter that affects all, not just poms. Second, and more importantly, we are not surprised to see the names of these 4 people involved in such allegations. And this is the wrong thing as it's inside our minds.

As long as we "understand" or "expect" or "tollerate" or "anything but absolutely reject" bad behaviour off the field and the "doers" (and that includes Doug Howlett to my bitter sadness), these things will continue and people will find the way to excuse them.

I don't know what these tourists did in New Zealand, nor what has really happened for them to be in the razor's edge without having been charged by the New Zealand police. What I don't stand is the idea that these and similar things are normal. We are all guilty for them being normal, unless we don't hate them loud enough.

Why Robbie Deans is an excellent coach

I don't know if he is the best. I know, however, that I like him better than all the Meyer, Henry, Kidney, de Villiers, White, Gatland and other species that roam the world coaching here and there.


Well, forget for a moment all the Crusaders titles, right? Forget about the Super 14 and his successes. Pay attention only to his manners.
  • When it was public that the All Blacks coach position was open for applicants, he looked at him and said: "I think I am ready for the next stage". He was New Zealand's people favourite but the only thing he cared about was whether he was ready or not. It is not easy to have things clear and be honest when anything in New Zealand relating to rugby has so many attention drawn.

  • He is a leader and as such, cares for his people and is responsible for them. Mistakes and successes are shared and belong not to the individual. When the Crusaders fell to the Highlanders in the last rounds of the Super 14 2008, he did not blame at any player, but spread the guilt amongst all, he being the first. As a leader, what impresses me most is the freedom that he gives to his players. After her first game as wallaby coach, against Ireland, what he did was praising his players for trying new things. He said he meant them to try these things. Imagine the difference between a coach that says: "I never ever want you to do this" and another one that says "Well done, we must try new things. This time it did not work but, do you think it could work next time if ...?" The difference between making someone feel valuable and making someone feel he does things wrong.

  • He is often looking to collaborate with others. I will never forget the offer he sent to all the Super 14 coaches coaching Australian sides to share their impressions about the players they were coaching. Only Laurie Fisher did not want to cooperate and it made it impossible. I imagine him being the first to give the All Blacks coaching staff his views on the Crusaders players, if needed.
  • An important detail: He teaches, he cares. Look at him technically helping Luke Burgess, look at him telling Dan Carter to do with his future what he (Dan Carter) thinks is best.
  • He knows what his people need. Just take a look at the wallaby camp; they are the side with more changes after RWC'07. And the season has been designed to let them grow as a group first (with a clever first test and two weeks time after it to build from it) and as a team afterwards. Just what is good for Australia.
  • He does what he thinks is right. As when he raised Dan Carter to the vice-captaincy of the Crusaders or when he took Brett out of the semifinal against the Hurricanes to include Bateman.

And now, get back the memories of him riding the horses of the Crusaders to their titles and see how proud their players were of their coach the last day they were together on a field. Compare it to the Waratahs coach Mckenzie, who was sidelined by his skipper Vaugh when he spoke after the Super 14 final game.

I like Robbie Deans as coach and I think he will produce an outstanding performance for the wallabies. My question is, have Australia enough material for Deans?

Weekend Review

The All Blacks romped England 44 - 12.
McCaw has a serious injury that will rule him out of most of the Tri-Nations.
South Africa looked not very bright in their 26-0 defeat of Italy.
Australia A scored 90 points against a weak Tonga side (they were beaten last week by Japan, too).
New Zealand are playing against England in the final IRB Junior World Championship, the score being 3-0. Mind you, 8-0.

Tri Nations preview

The Super 14 is over. Internationals are on course and they show they good old-fashioned gap between north and south. What about the Tri Nations? How are the teams performing? How will they fare through July and August games?

Let's take a look at them:

All Blacks: No one will doubt of the inmense quality in the kiwi pool of players. In normal conditions, the All Blacks would be clear favourites to win the tournament. But there are two issues that have been threatening New Zealand's national squad ever since RWC failure: Players exodus and Graham Henry. Exodus towards the wealthy north has affected many an All Black: Hayman, Howlett, McAlister, Kelleher, Mauger, Gear, Jack... and recently Nick Evans and Jerry Collins have also quitted. On the other hand, the controversy around Graham Henry has issued many a trouble to the NZRU and, it was feared, even amongst the very players. To make things worse, New Zealand's favourite son Robbie Deans has coached the Crusaders without a trace of irony or polemics to their seventh title and it has been with great sorrow that the kiwis have seen him cross the Tasman.
The two international games played have somewhat diminished the pressure on the All Blacks. Good victories over Ireland and England have answered many a question and, more importantly, may have shown the solution to a problem that the All Blacks are carrying since back in 2005: the mid-field. Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith may be the answer and this more than anything lifts the spirit in the All Black camp. So the Tri Nations is awaited with anxiety and excitedness in the land of the long white cloud.

Wallabies: The Wallaby side may have a great advantage over their rivals. It is the only one side which could register a bad result, even coming last at the Tri Nations and still, be confident about the future. That is the credit of Robbie Deans, a luxury that not many a coach nowadays can benefit of. The key to Deans and the Wallabies is that theirs is a long-term partnership and no just a one-year deal. Being said that, I am sure it is not in their plans to get such result and, given the quality of the Aussie squad, they are actually title contenders in everyone's mind, which may be a difference to any of the other two teams (if you are amazed of me implicitly saying that the All Blacks are not clear favourites for everyone, go and see Zinzan Brooke's opinion). But Australia is more, far more than a selection of the best aussie players. They have got Deans. And to help you make a whole picture about how important that change may be, let me just quote him a few days ago. All in all, it makes me wanna write a post over Deans, I think he deserves it.
Coming back to the team, it is a big oportunity for many a player. In a time of change, without names like Larkham, Gregan and Latham for the first time in a decade, it is a chance for the Giteaus, Tuqiris and other species to rise to the top, with Mortlock the only link between past and present. The future is in the name of the Shifcofskes. However, the weak point of the Australians could be again the scrum. It is something that has hurt in the past (remember the RWC quarterfinal) and, with the ELVs in play, New Zealand and South Africa could take a fair advantage over the aussies. It is going to be interesting how Deans manages this one.

Springboks: It is amazing how the World Cup champions and by far the less changed side from last year is apparently also the weakest of the three. It does not give much credit to the Rugby World Cup certainly (but of course I am an All Black supporter, maybe I am a bit biased against a tournament so ellusive to us), but it does put a lot of pressure over Peter de Villiers. Perhaps the hardest time of the three head coaches is that of Peter de Villiers. Henry has half of the country against him, Deans must start over again but has the whole country behind him, but de Villiers can't afford a single mistake or he will be ferociously devoured by the roaring public opinion. If he succeeds, however, he could change the future of the country. And I don't mean rugby (here I am just quoting Monsieur Rugbycan). The problem is, they don't look like succeeding. Northern exposure to Matfield, Montgomery and co seem to have somewhat softened them or perhaps they have never been really that good. It is a pity that they won't face Ireland next week but Italy instead, as the celts have become a touchstone for the southerners this season after playing exceptionally weel both against New Zealand and Australia. A good win against Ireland would suit them well, but a scrappy win against them would simply put to much question marks over the Springboks. Unlike the All Blacks and the Wallabies, the Springboks are in our minds as a much more finished product, whereas the other two have a long way before the peak. After scrum struggles against the Welsh in the first game, things went worse in the second, being the whole team who struggled to get a win in the final minutes. At the scrum was not thought to be a problem and they were confident that it would only get better but, to quote Monsieur Rugbycan again: "What makes you think you are so f...... good at scrummaging?"

All in all, I am quite confident the All Blacks will win. I want to see, however, how this Wallaby side is handled by Deans as, I think, does the whole rugby world.

quote of the day

«What I did like was the preparedness of the guys to play, even the wide kick such as Berrick's. That's great. If we're not prepared to give things a go we won't succeed. You just cannot play conservatively at Test level and hope to achieve what we want to achieve.»

Robbie Deans

Hodgson is not to blame

It is funny that after the comprehensive sweep of the english team, Rob Andrew pointed at the first five as a place needing some rethinking.

I mean, he could have said the same silly thing about any but only one of the fifteen positions on the field, as only Ojo seems to have performed at a high level.

But given what Gatland considers "gaining some respect" when playing the Springboks, maybe Andrew is targetting a 10-point defeat for next weekend...

And perhaps he does not need Hodgson at 10 to lose.

quote of the day

«In France there are 150 South Africans playing in their professional leagues»

Rugby around the world: Iberia

I kindly remember one comment in the NZ Herald last year about the pool rivals for the All Blacks (Italy, Portugal, Romania and Scotland)

"Portuguese scare me. I don't know anything about Portugal".

Spanish as I am it made me smile; How high this kiwi aficionado rated the rugby in Iberia (Spain and Portugal)!!! Portugal managed to score two tries against the All Blacks, true. But they received 105 points against, if I am not mistaken.

The truth is that Portugal and Spain play in the same division, and they cannot certainly pose any threat to any Tier 1 nation.

But, alas, some news are nice to read, and the news that Spain and Portugal are engaging their own SuperRugby competition is certainly good news.

  1. Ten teams, 5 from Spain, 4 from Portugal, 1 from Gibraltar (since Gibraltar belongs to Britain, they could be hot-favourites, don't you think? :-)
  2. 10 players in each team will get paid (that is how professionalism can be introduced in Iberia)
  3. The name shall be: "Liga Super Iberica"
  4. Kicks off in 2009 hopefully

No country for old men

According to Percy Montgomery, ELVs will require more fitness. In his own words:

«I’m really looking forward to the ELVs. They’ll be introduced in the Vodacom Tri-Nations, so needless to say I’ve been working hard on my fitness. Watching a few of the games from the Super 14 has reinforced that it’s really not an old man’s game!»

"Stu who?"

It is a famous story that the first time that a young David Campese heard about legendary All Black Stu Wilson, the wallaby answer was: "Stu who"?

What follows is Stuart Wilson's views on one of the all-time best rugby players in the world. It is a tale of old, as you will see.

«Well, David Campese hit New Zealand, his first tour over here. We’d heard about this brash, upstart little prick from Sydney
– you know, he was running around, goose-stepping, and saying he’d do this and do that. We saw him during the provincial games. He was good – without a doubt the most exciting talent we’d seen for years – and I’m saying, ‘He’s on my wing, I have to mark him.’ So I said to the big gorillas, ‘Look boys, I catch him, we get him in the ruck, you do it to him: we’ll give him the good, old fashioned New Zealand welcome, all right? I want size-fifteen boots right over the top of him.’ They said, ‘Can you catch him?’ I said, ‘I’ll try.’ Well, for three Tests I tried but couldn’t catch him. We had the boys sharpening their sprigs. They said, ‘Stuey, this time we’ll get him.’ I even brought Bernie Fraser over from the other wing and gave him 10 minutes. I said, ‘Bernie, you come have a crack at him. I can’t catch him – he’s too quick.’ He had the goose-step, he had the chip and chase, he had the typical cockiness of all Australian backs. But we just couldn’t get near him – he was that good. He knew that we were after him, and he knew that if he’d got into the Doctor Death House, as we used to call the rucks, than Doctor Death would deliver. So he would always scoot around. When he got into the heavy weather, he’d make sure that he’d scramble out of the rucks before our boys could get to him. A good player, damn him. He made life hell for me for three tests.»

The All Blacks step past Irish

It was not easy. Nervousness ruled the first half, while the rain and the icy cold temperature was the winner of the second spell. The irish defense held and they commited themselves to their Munster's pick and go tactics. They kicked a lot and kicked awfully well.

But in the end, the only two attacking actions the All Blacks produced were enough to win the game 21-11. I was delighted at the first one by Conrad Smith. Simple but most efficient, he took advantage of the nice pass by Carter and out-manouvred the so-called best centre in the world just to serve a perfect pass to Sivivatu to finish it off. I think this will help Conrad Smith and the All Blacks mid-field.

Concern rises when the sights set on the english. They will be tougher. But today fears are put aside. The All Blacks looked consistent, and the quality is no doubt there waiting for a more proper chance to appear.

Julian Huxley

News at last from planet Julian Huxley.

You will surely remember that the Brumbies player he had a brain tumor diagnosed.

Although he won't be able to play again, he will join the Brumbies coaching stuff as is said here.

Best of lucks for Julian Huxley!!!

Conrad Smith speaks

He's supposed to be intelligent as he's got a law diploma. He's supposed to get the 13 jersey. And these are his impressions about playing at centre:

«It's not an easy position. I've always said that the hardest thing to finding a replacement is that you need a lot of experience in that position.»

«It's something I talked a lot to Tana about. He played wing and he only felt happy at centre late in his career. You look at a lot of centres and the better ones around are older players.»

Conrad Smith dixit.

Do not expect anything spectacular from the Irish

Unlike the english, french or welsh teams, the Irish national side has not substantially been changed from the one that so poorly performed during RWC 07 and so averagely walked through the 6 Nations.

Just look at the names; it's the entire good old Munster forward pack, with old good O'Gara at first five and the good old Leinster backs.

Do not expect any change in their game plan, do not expect any new weakness or any new strength.

Just remember the 2005 test at Dublin (45-7) or the two 2006 tests at Hamilton and Auckland (34-23 and 27-17). This is the irish side that the All Blacks are facing within three days.

It will not give account on how have the irish improved. It will make for how much have the All Blacks declined.

Is the Pacific Nations the second toughest yearly-tournament in the world?

That the Tri-Nations is the toughest tournament (RWC apart) is something no one can deny. But, when Fiji defeats the utterly Grand-Slam fashion winner of the 6N, when Tonga has a 25-25 score against world champions South Africa with 5 minutes to go, and with an Australia A side full of Super 14 players and a NZ Maori side that could kick asses of any Tri Nations side...

These are some of the names that Donny Stevenson has named for the New Zealand Maori:

- Tim Bateman
- Daniel Braid
- Stephen Brett
- Callum Bruce
- Keith Cameron
- Aled de Malmanche
- Jason Eaton
- Hosea Gear
- Liam Messam
- Shannon Paku
- Piri Weepu

to name some "known" names. (it is a different question how "maori" this team may be) But the real question is: Is this the second toughest tournament in the world? Or is the 6N tougher?

England, France, Wales, Ireland, Scotland and Italy?
NZ Maori, Australia A, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and Japan?

Well, there are two things that are out of any doubts:

-which competition of the two generates more revenue.
-which competition of the two provokes more yawns.

Good day.

Note: Do you remember the Classic All Blacks putting 41 points one week ago against the Leicester Tigers? This very team has been put to the edge of a loss against the National Japan team. 15 - 13 was the score.

Crusaders are 2008 Champions

And Robbie Deans heads to Australia with the end he deserves. Crusaders players were uttering:
"Robbie, Robbie, Robbie: oi, oi, oi!!!!"
which is a certainly funny thing to wish him good luck in the future.
Congratulations, Crusaders. And Farewell, Deans!

My Super 15

15 Conrad Jantjes. What is this new Perpignan kid on the block doing here?
14 Anthony Tuitavake. He deserves a chance with the All Blacks.
13 (left blank)
12 Ma'a Nonu. At last, he's doing his business.
11 Bryan Habana. No words.
10 Nick Evans. I know you won't understand, but I would always put him here.
9 Brendon Leonard. He's my 9.
8 Ryan Kankowski. Everybody knows my liebling player is So'oialo, but here I must concede.
7 Schalk Burger. Just look at the Stormers with and without him.
6 Jerry Collins.
5 Andries Bekker. It's hard to choose between him and Vickerman, so I pick both.
4 Dan Vickerman.
3 John Afoa. No other.
2 Keven Mealamu. The best. He also scores tries.
1 Tony Woodcock. No less than him.

What would be yours?

PS: This is my last post before Super 14 Final. So, for the first time this season I will say: Forth Crusaders!

FIFA rules 6 + 5

I would have never paid attention to such news as this. I mean, I live in Spain, football is something you can't hide of no matter how hard you try. So maybe my blog would be the only place where I could get rid of football.

But according to an unmatchable rugby knight, this can easily be one of the things that could set the pace for other sports, rugby included (nattürlich!!!).

It happens that the FIFA has ruled that club football will have to be played with a minimum of 6 national players at any time. I know I should now make a joke about Athletic Club de Bilbao and their players selection policy and pride, but what the f., I don't care. According to this rugby knight (I can imagine him telling me right now) this rule could be inherited by the RFU and IRB and that would definately mean something for the continuously trans-equator leak of southern hemisphere players.

Of course, Brussels may have a word. Bosman case was not so long ago and I am not sure this can be so easily agreed and done, at least, in European Union.

Super 14 tries

The season is over and only the name of the 2008 champion remains unknown.

This is a nice collection of some tries scored this season.

Players ain't guilty

If anyone has any doubts about the real reasons for people like Evans and Collins not to have been selected for the All Blacks squad this year, go and see Henry talking and the players answering.

They have been left out because they are seen as traitors.

It is funny that so many players during last RWC (Chris Jack, Luke McAlister, Doug Howlett, Aaron Mauger, Byron Kelleher, Carl Hayman...) were nowhere near of being treated the unpolite way that Collins and Evans have been treated and it is also funny to see that the "beautiful girl" Dan Carter has not been treated this way (maybe the decission of not unfolding his close future yet was even suggested by the NZRU to let Henry select him for the All Blacks)

So, Evans is a traitor and deserves no All Black jersey and so it seems happens with Collins. This message of strength that the All Black selectors are sending... is this the right way to proceed? I mean, are the players guilty of trying to make the most of their time-limited career? Is it greed or common-sense or a player like Evans heading to England?

I am the first one that hates seeing the best kiwi players playing for english clubs. I damn hate it. I hate it more than anything. But.. Is Henry right when he puts on the brave face and rules these "traitors"? Who's responsible for New Zealand rugby not offering competitive salaries? Are the players responsible?

I can remember Robbie Deans advising Carter to do what is best for him... Who would not? When you truly appreciate someone you want this someone to do what is best for him... But it seems NZRU wants players to stay despite the players' own ideas of what is best for them.

I am going to miss Nick Evans more than most will. But I understand him and maybe it is now or never.

So sorry, Henry and NZRU, but players ain't guilty. should not make these mistakes II (!)

Yesterday I was astonished that the team made such mistakes as this one.

One day after, this has been published by this website in their article about big names not making the All Blacks. Aparently greatest of them all is that of Piri Weepu.

Yeah, you are right; according to this is supposed to be no other than Piri Weepu. Yes, I repeat, Piri Weepu.

2 mistakes in 2 days and both were related to southern hemisphere rugby. It must surely be the high quality rugby played northwards... Yeah, it must be so.

Oh, no!!!

Graham Henry, from this blog I have ever been supportive of you as an All Blacks coach and I was the first to say you deserved to stay even when your own words were to judge you based on the RWC performance.

But I must say that I would have never expected you to say, just one day after Jerry Collins announced that he was to break his NZRU contract, that he would not have made the All Blacks in any case.

Mr. Henry: I think it does no good to anyone. Not that people could not see that JC was a bit out of form, but still he was our clear first option at blindside. And, if it was not yours, it does no good at all to say it just one day after JC spoke. It is good that people like Kaino or Read have a chance. They do deserve it. But, does JC deserve you saying this? Are you at war on him or anything? It is, in the best of the possible situations, a very nasty thing to say.

I have always supported you, Mr. Henry, but I feel it is fair to say that this was an ugly thing to do. should not make these mistakes

Just read at that Doug Howlett won titles at the Super 14 with the Crusaders.

Does that mean that any fool can be a reporter for How long does it take to go to the Wikipedia (for example) and take a look to find the truth if you are not sure?

People from, Doug Howlett did play for the Blues and only for the Blues at the Super 14.

NZ win Sevens Series

They were unable to get the title in London, as they lost their quarter final game against England by 12 - 17 but they did win the remaining three games to get the Plate including the final Plate game against South Africa and sealed the Sevens series with only the Scotland fixture to go.

A number of surprises have occurred, such as Portugal emerging as a Sevens power, even defeating an Australian side full of Super 14 players (!!!) and performing well enough to lose 28 - 14 against New Zealand. Or both South Africa and New Zealand losing in the quarter finals...

Samoa went on to defeat Fiji in the final and got their first leg this year. Congratulations to the winners!

And congratulations to the Sevens Series winners!

Tautahi Gold are 2008 champions at the Pacific Rugby Cup

Tautahi Gold defeated Upolu Samoa at Apia 3 - 11 in the final of the Pacific Rugby Cup and are the 2008 champions.

Congratulations to the tongan side!!!

Super 14 final: Crusaders - Waratahs

The Crusaders and the Waratahs have shown just what the regular season suggested, that they are the best teams as both teams have made the final with certain ease.

It is going to be a very special game for Robbie Deans, who will try to leave the Crusaders with a last win, at home, in Christchurch.

Crusaders 33 - Hurricanes 22
Waratahs 28 - Sharks 13

Pacific Rugby Cup

Ever heard of the Pacific Rugby Cup?

It may not be as famous as the Super 14 or the Premiership, but it includes 6 teams that could surely kick the ass of more than just one european club. It is a competition ruled by the Pacific Rugby Union.

  • 2 teams from Samoa: Upolu Samoa and Savai Samoa
  • 2 teams from Fiji: Fiji Warriors and Fiji Barbarians
  • 2 teams from Tonga: Tau'uta Reds and Tautahi Gold

It is a relatively young competition, a single round robin competition with the best two teams facing each other in a final game.

2006 saw the Savai Samoa crown champions while in 2007 Upolu Samoa defeated Tau'uta Reds to win the second edition of the Pacific Rugby Cup.

This year, Upolu Samoa have also reached the final but their rivals will be Tautahi Gold, and the final game is played in Apia within a few hours!

Peter de Villiers is just what South Africa needs

Read this if you thought otherwise.

the "other" semifinal

My blood boils when I read the predictions at . If you read the predictions, only one out of ten has given the Waratahs as winners. Why? I read the poll in the website about what will be the final and
  • around 40% believe it is going to be Sharks. Crusaders
  • aorund 40% believe otherwise, it is going to be Sharks vs Hurricanes

I mean, what the f....

The you come down to reasonings, like Steve Farrell tries to do and... oh! surprise!!! his prediction is that the Sharks will win by five!!!

Ok, I am no Waratahs supporter, but ademittedly, few teams have shown the consistency that the 'tahs have shown during this season. Not the Sharks, for sure. I feel that I must give some realistic data over the Waratahs chances to go to the semifinal.

  1. Since 1996, only 4 times out of 24 (17%) a Super Rugby semifinal game has been won by an "away" team.
  2. From 2003 on, no team has won an "away" Super Rugby semifinal.
  3. In 2008 the both Waratahs and Sharks have won every single game at home, but only 3 out of 7 games played away.
  4. Their game in Sydney earlier this year resulted in Sharks second loss of the season by 25-10
  5. The Sharks have managed to win just three times (out of ten games) against the Waratahs.

I think this semifinal will be very very very close. Both teams are excellent at defending but I think the Waratahs have a better attack. I don't expect a clear winner but in the end, the home soil can be a decissive factor.

Of course, the Sharks have their own chances but what I think is nonsense is this absolute certainty of certain media in the Sharks triumph.

McAlister could come back to New Zealand

All Black Luke McAlister could come back as early as next year if we are to trust the information that The NZ Herald publishes.

It would be good news surely for the Blues, as two all-star midfielders called Evans and Nacewa will leave creating a big hole in the Blues line-up.

McAlister also says that England will struggle against the pace of the All Blacks. But that is hardly a news, just like saying that a stone will fall off a building with an acceleration almost equal to 10 meters per square second.

Graham Henry speaks

Apparently, the level of the 2008 Super 14 has not been good enough for Graham Henry for much of the past 4 months, as he has publicly stated that it is a luck that the level has been raised during the last weeks.

What now? Is Super 14 not enough for the All Blacks? Or could it be that it is a bit difficult to adapt to the new ELVs?.

What are then, northern hemisphere teams going to face if it is needed at least 2 to 3 months to get used and reach the test level that Henry wants? What is going to happen in the test games in november?

The Sharks make the semifinals

Low-scoring Sharks managed to dish 7 tries against the Chiefs and gathered a 47 - 25 win that pushes them ahead the Stormers and the Hurricanes for the third place in the 2008 Super 14 semifinals.

Thus, the semifinals will be Crusaders - Hurricanes and Waratahs - Sharks.

Stormers win in the final 5 minutes

The Stormers seemed unable to defeat the Lions for much of the second half at Johannesburg, but two late tries in the crazy dying momments of the match (3 tries have been scored in 5 minutes) awarded the Stormers the win and are in the fight for the semifinals. However, the came one try short of the crucial bonus point, which would have classified them directly for the semifinals.

The Hurricanes are thus, classified, and the Blues are out of the top 4.

Lions 13 - Stormers 22

Waratahs to the semifinals

The Waratahs have defeated the Reds at Brisbane and haved booked a place for the semifinals. Blues and Hurricanes have to wait.

Reds 11 - Waratahs 18

Blues top Hurricanes

In a extremely tense match, the Hurricanes were defeated by the Blues in Auckland. Thus, now they both have chances to make the semifinals but they also need the Stormers or the Sharks or the Waratahs not to win in their own final matches.

Blues 19 - Hurricanes 17

Final word: Super 14 week 14

As I said, it was such a close call, such a close call...

This is my last prediction for the semifinals spots as displayed by a wonderful website:

I remember I first predicted Crusaders, Sharks, Hurricanes and Blues.
Two weeks ago I said Crusaders, Waratahs, Hurricanes and Chiefs.
And with one day to go I say: Crusaders, Waratahs, Hurricanes and Stormers.

What will be the end of the road?

ELVs at the Tri Nations

Robbie Deans wants the ELVs played during the Tri Nations.
Wayne Smith says NZ wants them too.

Does it mean we will have an ELV Tri-Nations?

What does South Africa think?

Waratahs and Stormers draw

And are both still in the fight for the semifinals.

Stormers 13 - Waratahs 13

Chiefs spoil it against the Lions

The Chiefs have lost against the Lions in what is the greatest surprise of the week so far.

They are out of the semifinals and no one but them is to be blamed.

Lions 33 - Chiefs 27

Sharks bonus-point win in the last minute

The Sharks managed to get 5 points out of their match against the Cheetahs with two tries in the last minutes.

Sharks 33 - Cheetahs 14

Blues late charge

Tuitavake and an incredible Nick Evans spearheaded the late charge of the Blues in the game at Dunedin.

Both in the game and in this 2008 season the Blues took and early lead just to fall victim of some slumb. They did however end on a high, which was enough to secure them 5 points but... will it be enough to make the semifinals.

Highlanders 15 - Blues 40

Hurricanes win

In slippery conditions at Wellington and despite a ferocious defense by the West Force, the Hurricanes managed to win and have moved a step forward to the semifinals.

Hurricanes 21 - West Force 10

New Zealand: 100 years coming to an end

Whoever doubts that New Zealand has been the dominant power in the world of rugby for the last 100 years, either he believes rugby is played with 13 men or is a Springbok.

In fact, only the strongest South Africa has been able to stop the All Black machine of rugby, being the Springboks/All Blacks tours the most intense that this game has witnessed.

Please, do forget the Northern Hemisphere.

But it happens everywhere. Ford was the everything in the world of automakers until the decade of the thirties, where so many changes in the industry saw a new giant best prepared to become the world leader (no other than GM, who, 70 years later, was also banquished when it was not strong enough to compete). Take Microsoft, the world leader was innovative but at the end died of success when a new kid on the block, Google, was healthier and ready to face the changes the industry needed.

Now come back to New Zealand. New Zealand have got the strongest rugby culture in the world. Their love for rugby is immense, and their have been the world power while rugby has been an amatheur issue, and also during the first and a half decade of professionalism, when the NZRU has been able to retain kiwi players at home.

The idea was that rugby in New Zealand was a home issue, and the best players of this secret world were shown abroad during tests and no one could match them.

Now players are not playing at home anymore: McAlister, Howlett, Jack, Hayman, Mauger, Rush, Marshall, Gear, Kelleher... are already gone. Evans, Flavell, Nacewa will. Collins, Carter, Tu'uiali most likely.

And NZRU cannot keep them at home any longer. Rugby has changed. Definately and forever. Provincial championships will no longer sustain the game. Privatised franchises will have to arise and the game become a business like business is football or basketball. Who shall rule then? When the Internet appeared, no one was greater than Microsoft and, even so, they fell to Google. Why? Because they were not flexible enough to adapt. With size often comes resilience to change. And the surname of adaptation is change.

Will New Zealand be adaptable enough to face the changes after 100 years of being the best?

He's gone

He's packed and he leaves for three years. To play with the Quins. He's better than they deserve.

The problem arises when you read that his contract is for three years. What will happen at the RWC 2011? By that time, he'll already be 34, and many things will have changed (I'm sure). Perhaps the NZRU will have agreed to let the players abroad play with the All Black jersey by that time.

Perhaps the RWC will not be it all in the rugby world.


ELVs become global

With due apologies to my friend Monsieur Rugbycan, IRB is not exactly the same as the RFU. I don't think that, were it so, the IRB would have decided to introduce the ELVs everywhere as they have as neither WRU and RFU are fond of this idea.

It seems that now it is official, and that everyone shall play under these laws from August 1, so my question would be:

Shall the Tri Nations be played under the new rules? I think it's the only thing that would make sense.

Does that not give Robbie Deans certain edge over Graham Henry and Pieter de Villiers? Well, I don't consider these two to be any fools so I think the fact that Deans has already faced them for 10 games (up to 15 before they meet) can be a factor.

I am just glad that the ELVs are exported northwards, as south has still a thing or two to teach the north, not only players to lend-lease.


Many a fan will miss Nucifora as the aussie coach heads back to 'Stralya after this super 14 season is over. (many however, won't at all)

Apparently he will be involved with the ARU and the Wallabies although the actual level of involvement has not been disclosed yet.

What now? Who will take care of a promising but needed of new ideas Blues side?

3 weeks to go

It's incredible. Just 3 weeks ago it seemed impossible that anyone could put Blues and Sharks out of the semifinals and the only question was which of the 'tahs, the Hurricanes or the West Force could grab the fourth place.

Now, only the Crusaders have maintained their pace and lead ahead of everyone while Stormers, 'tahs and Chiefs have proved the real powers of this part of the tournament. The 'tahs are happily second and it seems difficult that a miracle could prevent them from playing a semifinal. The Chiefs have won 5 in a row (franchise record) and tie with Sharks (unbelievable, right?) with the promise of a last heartbreaker game in Durban in week 14. The Stormers also keep winning and winning and tie with the Hurricanes 5-6 just a point behind Sharks and Chiefs.

But three more teams could also be in the semifinals provided they manage to bonus-point win their three games: Brumbies, non-resilient Blues and even the Force.

This is the schedule for the last three weeks. In red I have coloured the key games (the ones I would expect to be decissive).

Week 12:
Crusaders-Sharks (a hard game for the Sharks, as the Crusaders seek a home semifinal)
Reds - Blues (nothing less thatn 5 points is expected from a talented but agonising Blues side)
Hurricanes - Lions (another side who should pick a bonus point, the Hurricanes have the lightest schedule for the last three weeks)
Force - Chiefs (a must win for the two sides but the Force does not look good enough to stop the hot Chiefs)
Bulls - Waratahs (the 'tahs should win here as the Bulls fight for very little right now)
Stormers - Brumbies (another must wind for the two sides, could rule either side out of the semifinals but expect the Brumbies to lose here)

Week 13:
Hurricanes - Force (only if the Force has still any chance by week 13, it can be tough for the Hurricanes)
Bulls - Brumbies (I expect this match to mean nothing by the time it is played)
Highlanders - Blues (the key match for the Blues. They need another bonus point and it will be really hard to beat the Highlanders at Dunedin)
Reds - Crusaders (the revenge of the pre-season game and nothing else)
Sharks - Cheetahs (no matter what will have happened in week 12, this will be a win for the Durban franchise)
Lions - Chiefs (the only easy game for Laulala and co)
Stormers - Waratahs (the Stormers have it difficult to get to the semifinals, and here they will miss Burger a lot, but I cannot foresee what will happen)

Week 14:
Blues - Hurricanes (the end of the dream for one (or even both) of the two NZ franchises. I wish the Hurricanes will win)
Crusaders - Highlanders (if the Crusaders have lost any of the two previous games, this one will put them into the home semifinal)
Reds - Waratahs (a must win for the 'tahs)
Lions - Stormers (5 points for the Stormers)
Sharks - Chiefs (this will rule one of the two sides definately out of the semifinals)

My prediction:

Crusaders, Waratahs, Hurricanes and Chiefs. The Chiefs could be replaced by the Stormers depending on the outcome of the week 14.

It is such a close call, such a close call...

Crusaders vs Blues: That's why I like rugby

A game like the one these two monter teams played yesterday is my reason to love rugby. The game was one of the best I have witnessed, with the Blues adding the spice and the Crusaders the efectiveness.

The Crusaders won at last and managed to get a bonus point, while the Blues have plenty of opportunities to cross the line which were spoiled by inches (and a ferocious Crusaders defense). The Blues won't get to the semifinals, but they have a lot of things to be pleased. Their rugby is spectacular, and if only they could retain Nacewa (much better playing at first five) and Evans, next year they will surely rock. On the other hand, few teams look good enough for these Crusaders and I don't think anyone can stop them in their run for their (seventh?) super title.

Just one last thing. The Crusaders have shown a quality that I thought it only belonged to the SA sides, which is, capitalising from opponent's errors. It would be the best thing to export to the All Blacks, who in my opinion, are far more similar to the Blues than they are to the Crusaders.

You cannot play in the All Blacks if you don't play the Super 14...

...unless your name starts with "D" and ends with "an Carter".

Or so it seems the NZRU is willing to do. NZRU would be relaxing its policy to gain the All Black jersey. They would accept a player who's played a year abroad. Does it makes any sense to you?

Just watch it here.

I think this is a shy step and the full step will be taken sooner or later.