Twickenham, Saturday 16:00 In our tortured analogy of the […]
Pool C. A pool with an outcome so inevitable that it could be Danny Grewcock gameplan.
The All Blacks usually come into a Rugby World Cup as outstanding favourites having battered everyone in the run up, and while they've not been doing badly (they never do) they've not been as red hot as usual; losing to Australia in the Rugby Championship and looking unsteady by their standards in others. Also, despite being the best team in the world since the bronze age they have famously still not managed to win a World Cup outside of New Zealand, usually being knocked out in some hilarious/unjust way, depending on the nationality of who you are asking.
by James Tompkinson
It’s been a feature of international rugby for as long as anyone can remember – but it’s hardly a tradition that has remained untouched over the years. As the footage of the 1973 confrontation between the All Blacks and Barbarians reminds us above, there was a time when it consisted basically of the team stamping their feet for a bit while shaking their arms in a more-or-less freestyle way – before turning to the crowd for a round of applause.
Fast forward to the present and this tribal ritual has now morphed into something much more theatrical – complete with rolling eyes, protruded tongues and painstaking choreography. Where did the haka come from? Where is it going? How come no-one else gets the opportunity to try to exert psychological advantage over the opposing team in a similar way? We take a look…
Conrad Smith – made to look completely ordinary by a 21-year-old. Now, that 21-year-old is Jesse Kriel, who if not the real deal looks a great deal like it, but still the experience Kiwi should've put in a better showing that this.
Argentina's gameplan – The Pumas have a tried and trusted way of working: assemble a pack of men that look like they eat live wolves by choice as a hobby, let them slowly squeeze the dignity out of their opposition and hope that the backs can do just about enough. However, vs Australia this was not in evidence as the players threw the ball about as if they were so terrified of holding it tat it was covered in marmite and tarantulas. It didn't end well.
The logo – It must be tricky to come up with anything decent that involves the name The Rugby Championship because it's a completely awful moniker that sounds so downmarket it should be sponsored by Poundland. However, they have managed to make this cowpat of a brand even worse by creating a logo that looks like it should be on the letterhead of a mid-range business hotel in Slough.
Will Skelton – Albert Einstein said, and I'm paraphrasing a great theory here, that time slows down when you travel at lightspeed, this is essentially what relativity is, or something. Anyway, I've always struggled to understand this, but that was until I saw Will Skelton. Just as time slows the faster you go, it seems that Skelton's impressive 140kg mass gets lighter the faster he goes. There's no point in being giant if you don't run your weight, old son.
Many of us have had a pop at […]
The Autumn fairground carousel of international rugby has started turning, but after the first weekend who doess the computer think are the flying horses and who are the waltzer cars full of an overspun teenager's vomit?
Handre Pollard – South Africa's wunderkind turned up and attempted to play like, er, some kind of wunderkind in very un-wunderkind friendly conditions. The result, his wunderarse placed in his wunderhands by erstwhile Irish wunderkind Jonny Sexton.
Mike Brown – Needs to find the jar in which he put his 2013 mojo for safekeeping. Lancaster is a loyal coach and Brown has proven his class at this level, but netierh of them can afford another brainless, aimless runout like this.
Rhys Webb – Yes, he played pretty well. Yes, he scored a clever and insouciant try. But if you can't see a 6 foot odd bloke all dressed in yellow stood inbetween you and where you want to pass, and that pass is also about 137 feet long then the computer will take a dim view.
It’s Autumn, the season of falling leaves, increasing darkness and the usual round of matches in which tradition dictates that the Southern Hemisphere sides turn up, give everyone a pasting and then go home for nap. Will it be the same this time around? If England are to reverse this then they will have to play very well indeed giving the team the current and World Champions-elect have put out.
Some England fans would perhaps like to get the excuses in early, especially given the injury list, but the side named by Lancaster is not a million miles away from first choice in reality, so that will not stand.
On Saturday morning England rugby fans stirred to the sounds of soft summer rain gently kissing the window, a booze headache nimbly and repeatedly punching the inside of their skulls and the full horror of the cataclysmic beating that awaited them humming through their bones like an tremor of impending doom. However, it didn't quite turn out that way, and this is what the computer made of it.
Israel Dagg – He wasn't just bad by his exceptional, standards, he was bad by the standards of a one-armed, one-legged sedated fat bloke attempting to do keepy-uppies with a spacehopper.
Ben Youngs – The plateauing of the Leicester man's development and talent has been one of the saddest things to see as an England fan. Sure he's still in an England shirt and a decent player, but he was once touted by the this blog as a potential heir to Matt Dawson; instead he has become something more like Shaun Perry – ponderous in distribution, a bit dodgy in defence and appears uncomfortable at this level. He's not bald though, which is something I suppose.
Due to being away in London watching The Dark Side (rugby league), the computer has only just caught up on all the action from the weekend, so here are the slightly late ratings. Give us yours in the comments, or if you're Irish, just punch your keyboard in sheer horror and frustration.
Jonny Sexton – The margins at the very top are fine, sometimes as fine as a width of a post, as the Ireland fly-half discovered in the last five minutes vs New Zealand. No matter how well he may have played leading up to that kick he absolutely should have nailed that; there are no excuses for missing and it is absolutely right that he is judged on it. However, unlike Cruden a few minutes later, he did only get one go at it.
Wales vs Tonga – There are men who spent years in Japanese POW camps who couldn't take the torture that was second half of this game.
To mark the release of the paperback version […]