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.