"Our job was to disrupt the Lions this week going into the Test on Saturday, and I think the boys did a great job there"

.Dick Muir


Sorry, I mean, ...what? Are you playing the Lions to get them exhausted so the Boks can win?
Are you just trying to lower their self-confidence so it is easier for the Boks later on?

Let's put aside opinions on how fair these aims are. It's up to you. Let's focus only on "what the hell, you are the Emerging SpringBoks", many of you shall play for South Africa sooner rather than later, and when you are given a formidable opposition to test yourself against, all you have in mind is "to ease things for the elders"?????

This I cannot understand.

Powerful Blues or weak All Blacks?

That's the whispered question going on all along New Zealand, and perhaps, it's the same at the other side of the Tasman Sea.
In South Africa they are all too focused on their win over the Lions to even rise their sight to other places.

But, how can we explain the fact that New Zealand did not smash France as was in everybody's mind before the series, but rather escaped a series defeat although were not able to retain the Gallagher Cup?

Well, let's examine things closely once the games are over.

  1. Casualties were there for both teams. So it's not that the All Blacks can blame casualties for failing to produce the game everybody was expecting.
  2. How can a team produce just their third Grand Slam tour in 100 years in November and draw a test series to France at home next June?
  3. Is super 14 the best breed for test games?
  4. Does Super 14 lack intensity?
  5. How important the ELVs have been?
  6. How important the Graham Henry (Robbi Deans) has been in order to adapt to the old (new) rules?
  7. Why does Donald look so error-prone at test level? Can he cope with the intensity of test matches?
  8. When an experienced tight five in a pack weighing over 900 kg misserably fails to dominate a 830 kg pack, is it a matter of form? What's Tialata exactly doing there?
  9. If France was so bad at the 6 Nations, how come they have posed such a big threat for these two tests?

And the last and more important question: Is form the glue that will put all things in place, come the Tri-Nations?

The game was not that bad

I have watched the game again and I must say there are some signs that the All Blacks should do much better next time.

First, as the coaches pointed out so wisely, it was all mainly about physicality. Turnover after turnover killed the All Blacks which were not specially bad in attack, the problem was that they didn't exactly enjoy quality possession.

Apart from that, one must admire the lock pair. Ross was superb in the lineout and Thorn was exactly doing what the loose trio should have. Bringing his body to the game. Keven Mealamu and Aled de Malmanche can show the guys how it is done.

Stephen Donald deserves a special chapter. The boy should do the basics. And just that; the basics. With time, with confidence and with a bit more experience he'll be able to do "different" things, but those are not what the team needs now, specially when every bit of ball possession is so precious. He kicks well. He kicks well indeed. Let the boy grow from where he's at the moment.

Let's see what the next test brings.

By the way: Do not be much too impressed with Deans trying Barnes at 10. Given that Quade Cooper has not got enough experience to start at 10 for the Wallabies, someone must backup the best first five in Australia.

Stupid assholes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Beware when you put your fingers onto the new All Blacks players looking for guilts after the (twice-in-a-row) defeat to the French.

I have read in some places that it was due to All Blacks errors.


The mere fact that you are afraid of the All Blacks losing does not mean they ought not to try things.

Do not be harsh on Messam for trying a late run and a chip kick over the French which the French number 8 gathered and ended up in the second French try. You'd better laud him for his audacity, or otherwise you are risking them not being able to try it again.

If I were the All Blacks coach, nothing would I fear more that a gang of players afraid to play.

Do not expect much of the first test

Twins New Zealand and Australia start their first tests of the season.

For Australia, it should not be much different than the Barbarians, except for the never-ending high expectations put on the Italian forwards. They are physical, they say. True, but physicality ain't everything in forwards play. There's more to it. So, expect a tough physical match for the aussies, but a comfortable win.

For New Zealand, things are pretty much the same. Concerns are everywhere in this ever-scared-of-losing country but the truth is that the side that Henry fields does not lack class, does not lack power, and more importantly, does not lack form. Which Les Blues happen to lack. What is more, they cannot fiedl their best 15. So, don't be afraid, the beloved All Blacks shall win.

These games will only give some ground to the newbies (less trialed players) in both squads: O'Connor, Brown, Turner for the Wallabies; Ross, Messam, Read, Wulf for the All Blacks.

And that's all.

Sonny Bill Williams (again)

So, now it seems Sonny Bill Williams is playing tricks to get a chance to play the 2011 RWC.
When Sonny Bill Williams says he is elligible to play for Australia, is he putting pressure on NZRU to sign him? is he desperate for someone to hire him? is he doing both things?

When asked about Sonny Bill Williams helping injury concerns in the All Blacks camp (Kahui needing surgery and Smith out to a hamstring) Graham Henry laughed.

Is NZRU keen to sign Sonny Bill Williams? Is Sonny Bill Williams asking too much money? Is it fair for people like, say, So'oailo or Muliaina, commited to the NZRU despite lucrative offshore offers that a youngster with as much talent as things to prove in this new code could surpass what they earn?

All in all, it's down to the same thing, the cruel and vile gold, which was exactly what rugby sold its soul for, wasn' t it?

Boring weekend

It's been a bore.

The Barbarians couldn't put up a team against the Wallabies.
The second-string Cheetahs made the Lions blush.
And Perpignan won the Top 14. Good news at last for Carter.

Which game was worst? I'll tell you one thing: The Wallabies are a very good team, the Barbarians are on vacation. That match was the worst.

Let's see what the next week brings on.

BTW: MacAlister can't play 10.

Matt Giteau, Rocky Elsom to the Brumbies

Have you paid a close look to the back row of the Brumbies for the upcoming season?
Elsom, Smith, Hoiles. Nothing less.
Have you paid attention to the halfback-five eight-center combination?
Valentine, Giteau, O'Connor, Mortlock.

So, Bulls, here's your first enemy to win a second Super 14 tournament in a row.

The question is, what can be expected from the drained (e.g. Western Force) franchises? With the Waratahs model already stuck, is Australia putting all the eggs in one single bag?

Super 14 review

The Super 14 2009 is over. The Bulls, crowned champions, have been the best team in a very very contested tournament where resilience has been the key.

Resilience was with all three Australian contenders, with the Waratahs losing the fourth spot to the Crusaders only by points difference. Resilience was also in the Brumbies, a very very interesting side for Robbie Deans, as the faith they have shown will be very handful come the Tri Nations and Bledisloe. Resilience was what brought the Crusaders from the 11th place in round 5 to a place in the semifinals two months later.

But above all, the Bulls have shone. Their easy game-plan, their ruthlessness at the breakdown, their superb kicking game, their deathly counter-attack game and the incredible boot of the young man who's going to lead the Springboks for a long time have put them beyond their rivals.
More importantly, they have fine tuned them as the competition went on and their form of the last month has been simply astounding.

A lot of "ifs" will have to be answered next season. Some of those "ifs" include Daniel Carter's absence, a load of injuries to a number of players in every single kiwi franchise, the change of the set of ELVs in use... To see whether the Bulls can show this year's impressive form is almost as exciting as to see whether any team can come up with the key to dismantle these Bulls' game.

Some warning should be sent to the South African franchises, though. Cheetahs, Lions and Stormers have too oft been sure wins and three sparring franchises out of five are far too many. When the Boks play the Lions, Wallabies and All Blacks, they are going to need more than two options (Sharks or Bulls) for every position. Andy Marinos may have fought for a sixth franchise in South Africa, but the truth is that the prospect of having another african franchise with less than 4 wins is not appealing for the future of Super Rugby.

But now the Super 14 2009 is over and the Lions tour is focusing all sights. What will the Boks do against this Lions side? Who's playing 15 and who's covering 3? What's the depth of this team?