Wallabies Grand Slam tour is at last finished

If anything, this tour has shown how easily the Wallabies could have achieved their second Grand Slam tour.

A Brian O'Driscoll play at Corke Park denied the Wallabies a win over Ireland, while a missed conversion by Giteau made the difference between winning and losing at Murrayfield.

But being so close and still not being able to accomplish the goal is one of the worst situations that you can be in.

The Wallabies should be aware that it is only their fault, their inability to win close matches, the main reason that is preventing them for realising their full potential.

It's a tough task to find it once you have lost it.

Deans' end

Last post was about Richie McCaw and how close could he be to the end of his rugby career.

This one is about Robbie Deans' end as Wallabies coach.

  1. In 2009, the Wallabies have played 13 tests, with 5 wins, 7 losses and one draw.
  2. In 2008-2009, the Wallabies have played 27 tests, with 14 wins, 12 losses and one draw.
  3. Eddie Jones was sacked in 2001 with a better success rate.
  4. Deans' continuity has been a subject addressed by up to 5 different sources, including ARU boss John O'Neill in the 24 hours following the Scottish hiding.
  5. This season the relation between the ARU and Australian players has been patchy at its best, and clearly Robbie Deans has been supporting the ARU. Issues have arised with Giteau, Tuqiri, and bold coaching decissions like those involving Smith, Mortlock, the captaincy and vice-captaincy have certainly not helped.
  6. Australia should have never lost to Scotland.
Robbie Deans is a good coach. He is an outstanding coach, in fact. But this Wallabies team apparently has got a lot of internal issues that he has not yet managed to fix. I wonder if anyone is capable to fix them.

I don't know if the ARU should keep him or sack him, what I do know is that winning is the best way to solve them, and solving them is the best way to winning.

And Robbie Deans has not managed to do any of those things.

Richie McCaw's closing to the end

First the All Blacks coaches said they were preparing an understudy for McCaw's subsitute.
Then it was suggestions that McCaw could eventually switch to 8 latter in his career.
After that we sought him playing 8 for Canterbury.
Last week the talk was how damaged and stressed was McCaw's body after a test.
A few days ago we knew that McCaw would skip the first three games of the Super 14 2010
Also this week he could be seen scrummaging at 8 during the All Blacks training session.

All in all, McCaw can't last forever, as tough as he is, putting his body to the line, week in week out. So I bet he will be targetting RWC 2011 as his ultimate goal. Nothing longer than that. Yes, perhaps he will still play for a year or so after the RWC, but he's sending out messages that rugby's a heavy burden when you are an openside, and just like Schalk Burger's and George Smith's, his body's got a limit.

I like him more than ever.

Graham Henry's words about the Twitter afair

"I had to find out what bloody Twitter was. I thought it was a new guy playing five-eighth for England."

Scrummaging, Boks-Saracens and Habana citing

Three questions have been cleared out in the past 24 hours.

Referee Stu Dickinson from Australia has been cited for his refereeing of the scrums in the Italy-New Zealand. The news have been gathered with joy by the kiwi team. While I think it's fair Stu Dickinson's job has been revised, I don't think Paddy O'Brien should go much into the details, as is exposed here. Ok, the guy did a mistake. Moreso, he did it once and again and, fortunately, it did not affect the outcome of the match. Let the guy learn what he missed (the binding of Castrogiovanni) and he'll be better for it. But dirty clothes are cleaned at home, goes a saying in my land, and I think that Dickinson has already coped with a lot of flak. Paddy O'Brien should be true to his word and remember his fellows are the referees and not the kiwis, kiwi as he may be.

The Boks are simply lost. Three consecutive losses against Leicester, France and Saracens are three to many. Now games against Italy and Ireland will be tougher, especially the one against the Irish. Plenty to lose and not much to win for the Boks as things are right now.

Habana citing for a kick to France's Vincent Clerc has been dismissed for some unclear reason. While I think the video clearly shows that Habana's leg was pulled by Traille and therefore it is France's number 15 the one who should have been cited, it is far from encouraging to know that a possible explanation of the dismissal is that the citing was not made within the legal 48 hours after the game was played. What is so rotten in the governing bodies for these things to happen? I am so glad that Habana did not mean to kick the French player... Bok as he is, he is one of the best sportsmen I know and only fair play I have ever witnessed from him. As long as no other prove is presented to me, he will in my mind, be not guilty of such behaviour. (That does not mean that I want anything different for him than to be badly beaten by whoever wearing the 14 jersey any time)

Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika

Some Springboks accepted it with a smile. Keep it cool, guys, anthems shouldn't be such a serious thing :)

Weekend's games in two sentences

France - Springboks: A very spirited french team. Were those guys really the Springboks?
Italy - All Blacks: Nice forwards effort by the italians. Where did you say the depth in NZ's gone?
England - Argentina: Argentina needs game time in the Southern Hemisphere. England needs a new 15.
Ireland - Australia: Australia should start learning how to finish games off. It's becoming a familiar trend to spoil it over in the dying minutes.

Good bye, McLinden

Brisbane Reds are a Super 14 franchise full of talent; Ioane, Cooper, MacMeniman, McLinden, Barnes, Horwill...

It is beyond my understanding how they have systematically been at the bottom of the table and the worst-performing of the aussie franchises. I always said and I'll say it again: I like the Reds.

But it is awful news that Mark McLinden has announced his retirement. He's a great player, very experienced, and the Reds are surely going to miss him, especially since this has been only year two after Chris Latham left to England.

Sad news for the Reds and sad news for Australia.

The fact that he's quitted due to health issues makes it sadder. I remember Julian Huxley who's also got to quit.

Best of lucks for Mark in the future.

Gatland is only doing his job

Warren Gatland complaining at the referee is not something that should surprise anybody. The fact that at least two tries were denied to the All Blacks is something that he was always going to "forget" in his criticism to the referee.

Just exactly when was a scored try much more important than a clearly-unintentional high tackle?

The plain truth is that whereas the All Blacks did never show more skill than the willing Welsh (except when it comes down to tackle, especially with their flambuoyant left winger), physically they were a level above. And the game was always going to be Black.

But Warren Gatland has sworn he'll get them to the promise land, and now he's just trying to convince them he's leading them there.

Congratulations, Can'bury

A final with a lot of starring players.

Brett, phenomenal with his boot, for once.
Alby Mathewson, the smartest guy in NZ?
Victor Vito, skill and power.
George Whitelock, growing and growing and growing.

But above all, one who shut them all. Despite being sin-binned, despite being intercepted in the Lions first try, Colin Slade was the main figure of the match. He was all around, intercepting, catching the high ball, giving counter-attack chances, and scoring.

Congratulations, Can'bury, and congratulations, Slade.

Quade Cooper

Yes! Yes!

I don't exactly like Australia, but Quade Cooper is my man. I like him ever since the first time I saw him. It is not really a coincidence that he is a born-kiwi, is it?

He has had limited opportunities at the Wallabies, but he's always performed,I think. I don't see the need of moving Ashley-Cooper to 2nd five eighth, when he's available.

Robbie, please consider using Gits and Quade Cooper. Or Quade Cooper and Barnes. He's not the best defender, but he's got skill and speed and is a great player.

Not that Carlos Spencer was the best man to outplay him, though.

Air New Zealand Cup semifinals

Canterbury came back in fashion from their Ranfurly Shield defeat against a willing Hawke's Bay side who made a few too many errors. If only two weeks ago the Magpies were denied a chance to draw the game by the lack of a TMO in the ruling of the final action, on Friday they had none. Canterbury played a semifinal with the aim to host the final, and it showed.

Isaac Ross was impressive, just like Stephen Brett was. George Whitelock drew his series against Lowe after a clear sweep by the black and white seven two weeks ago. The whole team stepped up and Rob Penney must surely feel confident.

The most entertaining game, both before and during the game was the one played in Wellington. The Stags must call themselves unlucky that Wellington rediscovered the magic in time for the semifinal. The second half of that game is a must-see. Running rugby, going from coast to coast and tons of quality in both sides. I could give you a few names who were worth to see playing: Scott Cowan, Jason Kawau, Hosea Gear, Victor Vito, David Smith, Josh Bekhuis...

A really exciting game in which the better team won. Wellington Lions may well be this year ready to secure the title that they just let slip last year.