Sunday, June 27, 2010

Northern rugby drought

Saturday , June 26                    

New Zealand 29 - 10 Wales

Australia 22 - 15 Ireland

South Africa 55 - 11 Italy

Argentina 41 - 13 France

Another Black(and Green and Gold) day for the North I’m afraid.

First up was the All Blacks and Wales. The AB’s obviously had this down as a cake walk – turn up, mince the leek, go home.

The scoreline doesn’t do the game justice as New Zealand faded badly in the second half and picked up a consolation try at the end to put a gloss on the result that wasn’t really there.

The AB’s struggled in the scrum, Tony Woodcock was not at his best, and there were mistakes, missed tackles and dropped passes. In between there were some good skills shown by the backs.

Wales looked the best when they threw the kitchen sink at it, Jamie Roberts was huge as was Mike Phillips.

The AB's need a big step up to the trinations in the next few weeks.

Ireland, I’m afraid, butchered a golden opportunity to get one over the Aussies in the next match, letting in two trys as soft as Kerrygold butter.

Mick O’ Driscoll had a great game but his namesake BOD won’t want to keep a DVD of this match, he’s going to have to be managed carefully in the build up next year.

 Australia are not right at the moment at can’t be looking forward to the Tri Nations much.

Their man of the moment is Quade Cooper, who sparkled briefly, but blew hot and cold as well.

The Boks put the Azzurri away comfortably but it won’t have told them much, with real deal starting for them in two weeks.

Finally, France were abject in their defeat to The pumas, looking like they used their soccer team as a model for motivation and inspiration. Marc Lievremont is not a happy man.,25883,16024_6232620,00.html

Thursday, June 24, 2010

More pain for the North

Saturday , June 26

New Zealand vs Wales 8.30

Australia vs Ireland 11:00

South Africa vs Italy 14:00

Argentina vs France 19:45

First up we have Wales against the All Blacks. The AB’s have a few injury enforced changes, and I’m surprised to see Dan Carter lining up, surely this would have been and ideal opportunity to test out Aaron Cruden, as it’s the one position New Zealand have no depth in. The AB’s should sleep walk through this, their only enemy is over confidence.

Australia vs Ireland – bring it on! Both teams have strengths and weaknesses in the same positions, and want to bounce back after defeats. I’d love to see a bit of Irish mongrel come out, but at the end of a long and pretty difficult season, I can see the boys in Green tiring at the end and the Aussies shading it.

South Africa and Italy should be more of the same again as last week, but it’s good to see some fringe players getting a run for the Boks, and a should be a good work out for the pack.

Argentina and France will close it out, and after two losses on the trot it should be three in a row for the Pumas

Photo from

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The North fights back

Saturday , June 19

New Zealand 42 - 9 Wales

Australia 20 - 21 England

South Africa 29 - 13 Italy

Argentina 9 - 13 Scotland

Friday , June 18

New Zealand Maoris 31 - 28 Ireland

The Friday match was an exciting encounter, the lead changed hands several times, and in contrast to last week the NZ commentators were full of praise for the Irish side.

Jonathan Sexton put his hand up for next week, and apart from lock and front row it looks like there is depth in Irish rugby after all. This is what the Kiwis thought of it:

But smell the fear of the Springoks in NZ when you see an article like this:

Wales fell away disappointingly in the second half against the All Blacks in the second half, after acquitting themselves well in the first 40 minutes.

There’s a gulf in class though that’s all too obvious with the Blacks picking up some of the easiest trys you could wish for. Back to the drawing board for Warren Gatland, as he figures out how to instill the self belief his teams needs to try and cause an upset.

England meanwhile, finally looked convincing against an Aussie side who looked they thought they had an easy win on the cards.

 Ben Youngs had a great match, and Martin Johnsons hairdryer approach to team talks adopted after last weeks loss is paying dividends.

It’s looking good for Ireland next week, and it could be a long Tri-Nations for the Green and Gold.

Scotland wrapped things up on in the evening with another victory over Argentina, their first series win in the South, and marking the rise and rise of And Robinson and the Scots.

Picture from:

Friday, June 18, 2010

Round 2 North vs South, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Wales, England, Italy

Friday , June 18

New Zealand Maoris vs Ireland 08:30

Saturday , June 19

New Zealand vs Wales 08:35

Australia vs England 11:00

South Africa vs Italy 14:00

Argentina vs Scotland 19:45

Ireland are fielding a very experimental side for this match, and the Maoris look pretty strong, so fans of Irish Rugby should probably look away – in fairness, the point of the game is a bit of experience for the Ireland’s fringe players so the result is immaterial.

The All Blacks should account for Wales on Saturday morning. It’s been a strangely muted build up for the match with Warren Gatland shockingly NOT blowing his mouth off about his team’s chances. I still think New Zealand are there for the taking, but maybe not this weekend.

Graham Henrys been talking up the Welsh – tell us what you really think Henry, don’t tell me you are secretly scared of Wales in reality.

I just wish James Hook was playing, he has the ability to open up defenses, but whatever happens Wales are to give it a full tilt.

Australia vs England could be the match of the weekend, England have made a few changes and bought in Ben Youngs and Courtney Lawes.

To me, neither of these players is ready to be a regular international but they need some experience now, and that’s what these tours should be about, not playing old timers who are one injury way from retirement. If only we could fast forward past those scrum resets. Come on England, show us you’re not boring.

Will Genia is back for Australia, although Luke Burgess had an outstanding match last weekend, Will can bring a danger to the game that’ll make it worth watching. Who’s going to win? Another pom bashing I’m afraid.

The Boks have made a host of changes for the visit of the Azzuri, with several players getting a well earned rest. The Italian scrum should pose a few challenges, and the match could resemble a mass exhibition of Greco/Roman wrestling for long periods.

The Boks to do what Bafana Bafana can’t seem to do.

Argentina and Scotland could be pretty good too, Scotland to win again but I hope they score some tries this time.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Message to the North - Stand up fight!

New Zealand 66 - 28 Ireland
Australia 27 - 17 England
Argentina 16 - 24 Scotland
South Africa 42 - 17 France

There was a Green and Black meltdon in New Plymouth as a red and yellow card saw Ireland ship 66 points against New Zealand.

 Ireland just kept on dropping gifts into the All Blacks laps, first an easy try then the cards – its not hard to look good against 13 or 14 men, and New Zealand lapped it all up and took full advantage.

 New Zealand is all cock a hoop after the victory but its hard to judge where they are right now.

Ireland is all doom and gloom now but now's the time to get behind the team they can only go up from here and Australia are going to totally underestimate them now.

England’s middle of the road form continued with a good solid scrumming, but against a team with a half decent scrum they are going to really struggle badly.

Their backs looked leaden footed in comparison to a sparkling performance from Australia, with Quade Cooper standing out in particular.

Australia’s lack of a decent front row though is a worry with the Tri Nations coming up.

In Cape Town it was beef, beef and beef again and a little magic from Gio Aplon to set his home town alight. The French looked shell shocked as the Boks ran riot, their form not a really a reflection of where France are at the moment.

The French cock was plucked stuffed and on the spit by half time.With Italy up next hopefully there will be a bit of rest for the front liners in South Africa’s ranks.

Finally, it was the Dan Parks show in Buenos Aries as Scotland recorded a fine win over Argentina as he scored all his sides points, continuing their resurgence in form.

(Photo from

Thursday, June 10, 2010

International Rugby

New Zealand vs Ireland 08:35

Australia vs England 11:00

South Africa vs France 13:00

Argentina vs Scotland 19:45

There are some excellent match ups in prospect this weekend as the summer tours kick off in earnest.

First up is New Zealand vs Ireland in New Plymouth, Green & Black so to speak, but is it going to mint or dark and bitter that comes out on top? It’s well documented that Ireland have never beaten the All Blacks, is that all going to change this weekend, with the added spice of a bit of history between the teams from the 2005 Lions tour. On paper, although the Kiwis out there may not agree, the All Blacks are ripe for the taking. They have injury worries all over the field, key players like Ritchie McCaw and Dan Carter are not really firing and it’s showed in below par performances of the NZ sides in the Super 14. Having never been beaten by Ireland, they don’t rate them either. Ireland, with a fit squad, can surely beat any team on their day, but their resources are looking pretty thin right now in the front row and at lock where hoary old Mick O’Driscoll is the best replacement that can be found for injured Paul O’Connell and Leo Cullen. No disrespect to him, he’s been the form lock in my eyes at Munster this season but he is getting bit long in the tooth. So if you’re going to struggle at scrums and lineouts – you’re going to struggle in general, and while I’d LOVE to see the All Blacks get beaten it’s going to be close but no cigar for Ireland.

Australia versus England is an intriguing sounding match, England are getter better but not looking convincing yet, while Australia are rebuilding and have key player scrum half Will Genia out injured but back on the bench for this match. I watched England get caned at home by the Wallabies in November last year, and it’s likely to be more of the same on Saturday. England aren’t really sure yet who their key No 1 fly half and scrum half are, and Martin Johnsons not in a position to tell them because he’s not a proper manager. That has to affect how you play. When are England going to stop @*&%$£ing around and get someone competent in the job?

South Africa versus France - bring it on! It’s the Six Nations and Heineken Cup champions versus the Springboks still on a high after success in the Super 14 and a good win last week over Wales. The last time they met in France, the Boks were comprehensively out muscled by the French, and the one thing you don’t want to do is question a South African’s masculinity. I’m expecting a total physical onslaught from the Boks, and it promises to be absolute carnage with eye watering collisions all over the place. The fact that Fourie Du Preez isn’t playing gives Les Bleu a sniff of a chance – but for me this is going to 15 giant Saffers jumping on French heads and turning them in to biltong, borewors and anything else they can think of.

The Pumas take on Scotland in Argentina to wrap up the weekend. Scotland are fast improving, but when you think that sides like the Springboks and the All Blacks struggle in Argentina I think there is going to be lots of excited Spanish shouting at the end of this one.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Wins for the Barbarians, Springoks and Australia

Saturday , June 5

Australia 49 - 3 Fiji

Wales 31 - 34 South Africa

Friday , June 4

Ireland 23 - 29 Barbarians

Friday night saw an experimental Ireland side take on the Barbarians at Thomond Park in Limerick. The Barbarians were in much better from than against England, and looked like they could run away with it at one stage. The injection of a little bit of quality near the end told for Ireland as the class of Tommy Bowe and Tomas O’Leary made a big difference, and if the match had been 5 minutes longer…Ireland could have won. Alan Quinlan playing for the Barbarians was a walking penalty and yellow card opportunity, high tackles, lying all over the ball and coming in from the side – he must have a real puppy dog look every time the ref speaks to him to stay on the field. So not the result Ireland wanted but it wasn’t their best team anyway. Sean Cronin is going to have to learn to throw in straight if he want’s to make the side on a regular basis, while John Muldoon took a big step up, and could be in contention against the All Blacks.

On Saturday, Wales came against the Boks at the millennium stadium with all the predictions being for a Welsh victory. The Boks obviously hadn’t read the script, and if this thrown together side can come up with a win like that, the rest of the world should be scared for their main team, as the Boks stamped size 12 boots all over the match in a 40 minute spell in the middle of the match. Wales , who in fairness have some big names missing, played in fits and starts, and again if the game had been 5 minutes longer, could have come up with a win. Wales just don’t seem to be able to close out the big ones. Several of the fringe Boks held their hands up, with Dewald Potgeiter and Juan de Jong in very good form. De Jong has a brilliant step, a big heart in defense and a big future with South Africa.

Australia came away with a easy win the end over Fiji, depite only leading 14-3 at half time. Their main concern will be losing prop Ben Alexander to injury.

Friday, June 4, 2010

International Warm Ups- Barbarians, Wales, Springboks,Fiji,Australia, Ireland

Ireland Vs Barbarians

This is real experimental Irish team with 4 new caps and it’s hard to know what to expect as the Barbarians looked like they weren’t quite up for it last week against England. Well ,the atmosphere at Thomond Park will be a lot cosier than at Twickenham, so let’s hope we get the real spirit of the Barbarians coming out and see some good running rugby.

Australia vs Fiji

Australia have named a strong team for this match, practically full strength apart from star player Will Genia who’s out injured. I don’t rate Luke Burgess, and he won’t have played much with Quade Cooper, so that may disrupt them a bit but they should still be way to strong for Fiji. Fiji has increasingly better players but coaching and playing time together are big issues

Wales vs South Africa

This is the pick of the weekends matches. Wales are on a high at the moment with the Amlin Cup and the Magners League trophy in the Cabinet. They are looking good as far as injuries go, and there is so much potential in this team it has to come out some time. The South African side is pretty experimental, consisting mainly of overseas based players and fringe players from back home. However, these are all big strong men, and are going to be ‘bringing the pain’ in their own inimitable style. This could be a lot of fun, and Wales should get one over the Southern Hemisphere as the half the Boks haven’t even met before.