SHIT/GOOD™ Ratings: Autumn Internationals, week four
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.
Sean Lamont - Scotland's inability to cross the whitewash is becoming so overwhelming there is a real chance that the whole squad may have some kind of mental disorder. Either that or they've all shagged a witch to give them such bad luck. However, it's more likely that they all keep cocking up scoring chances like Sean did. Why a lad his size didn't just put his head down and smash over is mystery. Also struggles with having all the pace of a 1989 Ford Transit.
James Hook - Why will they not be told? If history has taught us anything it's that James Hook is not as good as anyone thinks he is. It was worth giving him a run at 10 vs Tonga, but all it has demonstrated is that Wales's options here are limited to Biggar (decent but limited), Priestland (broken brain), and Hook (SHIT). Time for Patchell? Also, is Jason Tovey staying fit long enough to fulfill his potential yet?
Conor Murray - This blog has been critical of the Irish nine previously, and no doubt it will again because that's kinda what this blog does really, but credit to him for the performance on Saturday. Stood out in a team of standouts.
Luke Charteris - Even dropping the ball over the line couldn't take away from a very good performance. Also, remember, it wasn't long ago that he looked like a horse doing a cartwheel when on a rugby field, so it's good to see his transformation into a top player is permanent.
Nigel Owens - Has his faults as a ref. Has a novel way of dealing with the complexities of the breakdown, namely by ignoring them and letting the game flow, which tends to make for good matches, so fair play. Also, "this is not soccer"
Samson Lee - "Samson Lee, Samson Lee, his hair's the colour of morning pee!" Bow down before your master.
Sean O'Brien - Out-barnstormed Kieran Read. Nothing more needs to be said.
SHIT/GOOD Ratings: Autumn Internationals, Week 3
|JP Pietersen: Twat|
You all saw the scores in the matches at the weekend, but now the real results are in. Give us your yap in the comments.
Joel Tomkins - Lancaster gave him a crack, and it wasn't a bad selection on the face of it, but after a full series he looks a long way short on pace, penetration and class. As an aside, anyone who watched his brother Sam's performance for England RL cannot help but wonder what could have been if he was in the 13 shirt.
Devin Toner - As Crocks said on Twitter, "Ireland would have been better picking Peter Stringer in the 2nd row".
The Rest Of Ireland - The team, obviously, not the entire country. Ireland have entered so many transitional phases in the past five year that this blog can't keep up, even with the use of an abacus; but this performance shows that it's time to actually do it properly. Schmidt is no fool so he will have a plan, he just needs to engage it now. Tinkering will no longer suffice. And to lose to Australia in the scrum is the most embarrassing thing to happen to Ireland since Michael Flatley's accent.
Greig Laidlaw & Ruaridh Jackson - Scotland were never going to win that game, but he Scots halfs seemed determined to make it as painful as possible by continually sending the forwards into yet another pick & go nightmare, or spraying it around like a student on spring break. Any semblance of a plan was either ignored, or it was the worst plan in the history of plans.
JP Pietersen - Big hit on Denton was top class, the facewipe and press into the ground afterwards was, at 28-0 up, the act of a 24-carat twat. Anyone who thinks it wasn't that bad ask yourself this, how would you react if Chris Ashton had done it?
Tom Youngs - Single-handedly turned England's greatest strength, the lineout, into a scene from The Three Stooges, but will less composure. It's not too much of a leap to say that he may have cost England the game
Tom Wood - Amazing work rate and was consistently excellent. I'm going to go out on a very long limb here, as what I'm about to say is a big call, but sod it, I'm going for it: England may have finally found a replacement for Richard Hill. There, I've said it.
Dylan Hartley - He seems to have developed a bit of sense to go with his aggression. This is a good thing, but surely it's only a matter of time before he returns to usual form and bites a referee's bollock or something.
Ma'a Nonu - Sublime run and pop for the decisive NZ try. This display of skill was even more impressive when you remember he only learned how to pass in 2011.
Dan Biggar - Unlike Rhys Priestland's brain, Dan's is working fine. Tougher tests than Argentina lie ahead, but Gatland needs to accept the fact that the Osprey is the best Wales have at the minute.
Richard Hibbard - A cross between a tank and He-Man and shaping up to be a Wales legend. More than his strength, it's the sheer effort he gives. Never leaves the field without being so spent he's breathing through his eyeballs.
Kieran Read - There's nothing else to say, is there?
The Galactic Tangerine Overlord Samson Lee - Came on late, got himself binned. This blog suggests you all bow down before his Golden Majesty.
Autumn Internationals are coming at Murrayfield
It's not just England with the foul change kit: A Restrospective of SHIT, Part Deux
Some would say we were a little one sided with our slagging of the England change strips, and they'd be right. Look at some other horrors that have surfaced in recent years.
Is the treatment of injuries in rugby a ticking time bomb?
Rory Lamont has come out and said that he believes the treatment of injuries in Scotland, and specifically players being asked to play through injury is a "ticking time bomb" for the health of professionals. He also draws particular attention the way players with concussion are allowed to return too soon, something we all saw on the British & Irish Lions Tour when Christian Lealiifano returned to action seven days after being sparked out cold.
What is your view on this? Are players being pressured into playing when they shouldn't be? I'd also be interested to hear about whether this happens at the lower levels of the game. Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.
Should rugby games have a minute's silence for Margaret Thatcher?
RBS 6 Nations 2013: GOOD Team Of The Tournament
1. Thomas Domingo - There was very little that was GOOD about France this year. Ironically one of the things that was GOOD was the little prop.
2. Richard Hibbard - Looks like an extra from Geordie Shore, but Wales have uncovered another tangerine gem here. Let's hope he doesn't go the way of the previous one
3. Adam Jones - You run out of superlatives with this fella. Hard to imagine this was the bloke who, ten years ago in the Steve Hansen days, played the first 20 minutes before being hauled off looking like a truck driver jogging wheezily towards a transport cafe. He's now more like the truck than the driver. A truck fueled with bionic piss.
4. Joe Launchbury - Lost the physical battle in Cardiff, but other than that a fine tournament for a 21-year-old with great promise. Good name as well.
5. Ian Evans - Another year, another momentous performance. Hard as nails.
6. Alessandro Zanni - Eclipsed Parrisse in the Italian back row. Performed with class, endeavour, strength and nous every week.
7. Justin Tipuric - It was a good tournament for sevens and the likes of Robshaw, Brown and even Sean O'Brien were in with a shout; but Tipuric is in because I like a seven to be a seven, and in this regard he excelled. Pacey, good at breakdown, made 42 tackles with a 96% success ratio and showed in Cardiff the craft that some centres dream of. Big nose, though.
8. Louis Picamoles - Second in the metres gained figures for the tournament, carrying for 351 metres, and the only forward in the top five. This achievement is all the more GOOD when you consider that the rest of the top five were all outside backs who get open pasture to run into on kick returns - Picamoles carried as far as them while smashing people out of the way.
9. Mike Phillips - Gets some stick for the speed of his service, but the rest of his game is good enough to forgive that.
10. Dan Biggar - the quiet achiever of the tournament. Helped by not having to place kick, but slotted one in Cardiff vs England just to take the piss.
11. George North - Decisive try in Paris, huge presence in other games.
12. Wesley Fofana - Most talented centre in the tournament, when finally allowed to play there of course. It could've been Jamie Roberts in here as well, to be honest, he seems to have found his mojo in the bottom of an old training bag.
13. Brian O'Driscoll - Horrible tournament for Ireland, but was his usual brilliant best and gets in a ahead of others because of the pass for Zebo's try in Cardiff alone.
14. Tim Visser - Tough call between him and Cuthbert, but I like the Scot's all-round game more.
15. Leigh Halfpenny - The player of the tournament. Outstanding since his move to fullback last year keeps getting better, culminating in this peerless performance. Anyone suggesting that Kearney should get the Lions shirt is either lying, blind or mad.
RBS 6 Nations 2013: SHIT Team Of The Tournament
1. Joe Marler - About as convincing as Danny Glover in a Gary Busey lookalike competition.
2. Dimitri Szarzewski - Not only had a poor tournament rugby-wise, but was also outgunned in the blonde locks department by Richard Hibbard.
3. Euan Murray - Even with God on his side he ain't very good.
4. Donncha O'Callaghan - Poor cameo in a poor tournament. Can't see him playing many more times in the emaerald jersey.
5. Richie Gray - Playing in the cess pool of SHIT that is the present form of the Sale team can't help, but his pre-injury form was not great.
6. James Haskell - Pioneering the role of the reverse-impact sub, and because it's the rules.
7. Thierry Dusautoir - To be honest, no sevens had a truly awful tournament, so Dusautoir is in for the being the worst of pretty decent bunch. BUt that still puts him in the SHIT category, because this rating system is as cruel as it is arbitrary.
8. Jamie Heaslip - Magnificent failure in his debut tournament as captain. Poor both individually and as a leader.
9. Maxime Machenaud - 1) He isn't Morgan Parra. 2) He's shite as well.
10. Freddy Michalak - All the talent in the world, unfortunately alloyed with the temperament of pigeon thrown amongst a shitload of cats
11. Benjamin Fall - Crap.
12. Brad Barritt - Not interested in talk about his bravery and organising, I want a 12 who can actually play rugby with the ball at international level.
13. Mathieu Bastareaud - It's no good being big and strong if you keep dropping the ball, and if you keep getting smashed on the gainline thus nullifying your big and strongness as well.
14. Chris Ashton - I still maintain, albeit as part of an ever dwindling number of people, that his actual play in the actual position he is meant to play in is not as bad as everyone makes out and that any winger would struggle to look GOOD outside this England midfield. His downfall is his defence, which he seems to be wilfully getting worse at, and his inability not to be a gigantic gobshite of a bellend all over the park when he should be concentrating on his bloody job.
15. Yoann Huget - Play as inexplicable as his hirsuteness.
SHIT/GOOD™ Ratings: RBS 6 Nations, Round Four
James Haskell - because it's the rules
Craig Joubert - Whistle tourettes, which he evidently had in the Scotland vs Wales game, is bad enough, but his constant lecturing of the front rows about how to scrummage was as ridiculous as it must've been infuriating for international rugby players. Awful.
Danny Care - I admit to once rating this fella when he was a young prospect, but he has consistently failed to impress at this level, especially on Saturday. And his haircut makes my eyeballs itch. I'd much prefer Lee Dickson, who I believe suffers in selection due to looking like a horse doing a cartwheel when he passes and so is not trusted by coaches, due to not looking "right".
Brad Barritt - In a tight game, he squandered a gigantic overlap and thus displayed the major problem with him that no amount of defensive bravery can cover up. His head down, blinkered approach to running in possession is an irredeemable flaw that no team with lofty international ambitions should incorporate.
Louis Picamoles - the big fella has been solid throughout the tournament, but against the Irish he was immense. Everything a class Number 8 should be: big, strong, quick, fit and with unkempt hair. All the best back-rowers in history had unkempt hair. Fact.
Alessandro Zanni - When it comes to Italy the media is either in a sex-clinch with Parrisse or talking in heroic terms about their front row's longevity and so Zanni is often overlooked. Has been consistent in his quality for years, but he took his opportunity to put Haskell in his place perfectly on Sunday.
Sam Warburton - I told you, didn't I?
Luke Marshall - While all the press attention has been focused on who is going to fill the ROFG shaped gap as the second choice 10, this fella has been excellent since his inclusion and is the real good news story of the latest version of the Ireland Transition Period™
As an aside, while I am not suggesting that Conor Murray was SHIT, I am mystified as to how he was seen as GOOD enough in the 60 minutes he played to get the MOM award? He seems to do a reasonable job, but too often turns quick ball into slow ball in every game he plays. Is it me? Comments on that, and everything else, welcome as always....
RBS 6 Nations: Has there ever been a worse crop of talent at fly-half?
The Six Nations is the caviar of Northern Hemisphere rugby. Sure, there are differing standards across the countries, but you can usually find some real quality in every position if you consider all six of the teams on the field in any tournament weekend. For a Luke McLean there's a George North, for a Yoann Huget there's a Stuart Hogg - there is always a SHIT/GOOD trade-off to be found in any position.
This weekend could see an end to this in the 10 shirt as the most underwhelming set of first receivers take the field since Arwel Thomas and Craig Chalmers started the same game in 1997.
With some teams still to be announced we can safely assume that the starting out-halves will be: Kris Burton, Toby Flood, Dan Biggar, Duncan Weir, Paddy Jackson and Francois Trinh-Duc. It's not exactly a vintage crop is it? This is a bit like the Grand National 2013 field being made up entirely of shire horses and retired beach donkeys with ne'er a thoroughbred in sight.
Many will say that Jackson and Weir have so little experience that it's unfair to judge them at this point, and while there is something in that, no-one can honestly say that they look like top-drawer talent. Biggar is so mediocre that most were genuinely surprised that he managed to put two acceptable performances together recently, and Flood and Trinh-Duc are talented but not of a level that makes fans cheer their selections or their play. Kris Burton is just plain awful, but awful is relative when the other bloke is Luciano Orquera.
If this is the caviar, then imagine what the fish fingers would look like.
Is this the worst crop of tens you've seen, or am I being too harsh? You're invited to fill the comments with your wisdom...