Leinster and Harlequins repeating Nucifora's mistakes

No Blues side has possibly ever been stronger than 2008 Blues. To their already fearsome forward pack, the signing of star first five Nick Evans from the Highlanders drew a very pleasant perspective for their 2008 Super 14 campaing. Evans, alongside with Rokocoko, Nacewa, Tuitavake, Toeava and Wulf formed a promising line-up.

The fact that the Blues did not even reach the last 4 despite an outstanding start with 15 points during their first three games suggests a big question mark over the former Blues head coach David Nucifora.

The quality was undoubtedly there. But apparent lack of form of Toeava first and Nick Evans afterwards, injuries to Evans, Rokocoko and Nacewa and strange tactical decissions like those of switching Nacewa and Evans eventually lead to a bitter 6th position for the Blues.

Possibly the strangest decission that Nucifora took was switching Evans to fullback and Nacewa to first five eighths. What was the point of it? Nacewa spent 2007 playing at first five for the Blues while at the same time he said that his favourite position was wing. 2008 saw him trying at fullback while the number 10 was automatically given to Evans.

Why switch them? Is not Nacewa better fullback than Evans? Is not Evans possibly one of the two best first five in the world?

It amazed me last week during Heineken Cup to see again Nick Evans playing at 15 for the 'Quins while Nacewa wore the Leinster 10 jersey.

People taking care for these two sides, don't you have enough money to sign whoever you want? There is no excuse if you lack a better 10 than Nacewa and there is no possible reason that I can envisage for switching Evans to 15.

Well, not entirely true; there's one, but he's playing for Perpignan this season.

Super 14: Warm up

Super 14 is closer and closer. This is a selection of news related to Super 14.
  • Refereeing politics change: The time when a referee for a match was chosen based on the nationality is over. SANZAR will start naming referees based on merit, regardless of the nationality.
  • Saracens to play a match against the Stormers (the same weekend, although two days before, Saracens will have played their ECC game against Mont de Marsan in France) at Newlands.
  • Warm-up matches for the weekend: Blues - Hurricanes; Chiefs - Highlanders; Stormers - Saracens; Crusaders - Force; Sharks- Cheetahs; Waratahs - Reds.
  • Brumbies have just signed rookie Matt Toomua, to fill in the first five position. (So confident were they that Giteau was coming back)

Latest News: Michalak is a halfback

French head coach Marc Lievrèmont has reportedly said:

"For me, Fred is more of a scrumhalf but he currently plays at first five at Toulouse and for me, in that position, he's behind guys like Lionel Beauxis and David Skrela at the moment"

Queer coaching decissions

Harlequins have specialized this season at come-back. Against Leicester, Stade de France and many others, their will and their cool heads have taken them to important scores. It must be said that Nick Evans has often been the executing weapon of a Quins side who never give up.

Against Ulster, things looked pretty much the same when, after trailing 12-0 at halftime, the Harlequins recovered to trail only 16-10 with 10 minutes to go and a very kickable penalty for the english side.

"16-13 and 10 minutes to get possession and have another score" I said to myself.

But then the english coach (Dean Richards) decided he had enough of good results and he wanted to risk everything. Malone in for Evans.


I mean, Malone has not played a single minute, Evans is your specialist and you are close to it... What's going so wrong to change everything?

Nevermind, Malone kicks to goal and misses. Five minutes later, a kick of his is intercepted and Ulster Scores. Game over. 21-10.

It will not be published anywhere, as Stade de France has lost today and the Harlequins are already classified, having a 6-point advantage with one game to go.

Justin Marshall signs for the Saracens

It seems his fight with Montpellier is over and he's been released to sign for the english club. Justin Marshall will be then, if my reckoning isn't wrong, the first kiwi to have played in all four top european competitions: Magners, Top 14, Guinness and Heineken Cup.

Not a bad feat for a player who has consistently been an outstanding performer at his position for over a decade.

But clearly, Marshall's situation at the french club and his change to Saracens does mean something's not going right for him.
What is it?

Maybe 12 years at the highest level are too much.

Maybe... could it be time for Justin Marshall to start thinking about putting an end to his career?

Northern hemisphere competitions

So, less than one month to kick the Super 14 and here I am watching a few games of the northern hemisphere competitions, which is not that bad, really. What can be said about the four top competitions?

Top 14: This is a matter of 3 teams. And, unlike rugby in the south, in the north the presence of Carter won't change anything. The title is meant to got to Toulouse, mark my words, with Stade Français coming close at the second place. Ever since watching them at the Heineken Cup I like Clermont Auvergne more than any other french team. Worth to watch a game.

Guiness Premiership: The best thing that has happened to this league this season in Nick Evans. However, much like in the french case, a player won't change anything and I don't see anyone able to prevent Bath, Gloucester or Irish to get the trophy. I would very much like to see the Quins or the Saracens trying, though.

Magners League: Ospreys? Munster? Leinster? This is by a lot, the less predictable competition. Munster, as strong as they are, are not consistent enough to grant them the championship, although they are hot favourites. But the Ospreys have gathered a strong side, beware.

Heinken Cup. Just 4 rounds have been played and all is to be decided yet, in the Top european championship. This year, the bets should go on to french teams, specially Toulouse, but Munster, Irish or Gloucester also look very strong. Beware with the Quins, they have not beaten Stade Français twice for nothing.

My bets are on:
Top 14: Toulouse
Guinness: Bath
Magners: Ospreys
Heineken Cup: Toulouse.

Cipriani: Enough is enough

I liked this guy one year ago. He looked like a real promise, a project of a player. A good player. But we have been fed Cipriani for breakfast, Cipriani for lunch and Cipriani for tea, dinner, supper and even during slumb.

And the guy does not deserve it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

He cannot behave, he cannot kick, he cannot lead England and he simply WILL NEVER BE a good rugby player.

The last news from him is that he might be better looking for some aid for his kicking in the NFL.

Oh, please, do not make me laugh. Hundreds of players in South Africa and New Zealand are just younger, better and no one pays any attention to them. They make it their own way and no whole country will give them any advise for him to eventually become the fucking national hero. Much unlike Cipriani.

He's only 21 and he's already burnt out.

Please, do not talk to me about Cipriani again unless he scores a hat trick against the Springboks or the All Blacks. I just can't stand it.

All Blacks only lose, they never win

Happy new year to you all.

Now that I have finally filled in a facebook profile, I've it clear: I prefer losing my time here, writing stupid things about rugby, as I always do, than writing stupid things anywhere else.

And to kick 2009 off in fashion, my first thought; about the All Blacks, of course, what else?

Outside New Zealand, the history of the All Blacks is built upon a hundred years long list of defeats.


Have any doubts about it?

Let me remind you which memorable AB's games you have in mind.

1905. Wales defeated the All Blacks 3-0 in their first match-up in what eventually came up to be the only defeat of the "Originals" tour (34 wins and a single loss)
1936. Obolensky scored two tries in the first defeat of the All Blacks against England 13-0.
1973. Barbarians - All Blacks. The game that any POM (and POM-lovers) recall as the best game of rugby ever played.
1978. Munster defeat the All Blacks 12-0. The only reason for irish (any irish) to still play rugby, according to many, Monsieur Rugbycan included.
2007. France 20 - All Blacks 18. Choke. Choke. Choke. Choke. Choker.


If you happen to be a southerner, or by any chance you know anything about real rugby, sorry, I mean southern-hemisphere rugby, your ideas about the All Blacks might well be truly different. You will surely remember 2000's thrilling end of the Tri-Nations tournament, when a tank disguised of left wing called Jonah Lomu scored the decissive try in injury time to give the All Blacks the game against the Wallabies, the BC and the 3N. Or you might recall Gregan's tackle on Jeff Wilson or maybe his famous "4 more years, boys" or perhaps the last-gasp try at the House of Pain last June that gave the Springboks their first win in New Zealand (first ever at Carisbrook, Dunedin) in 5 years. But then, you will agree with me, we are a minority.

For the rest of the world, the history of the All Blacks is built upon defeats, much like those of chessplayer Jose Raúl Capablanca or tennis player Roger Federer, individuals whose victories were deemed normal and whose defeats were always first-page news.