No cycling, still full of cold.
But a big weekend of rugby, France v Wales and New Zealand v Australia in the Rugby World Cup Semi Finals.
I’ll be cheering my Celtic Cousins on from across Offa’s Dyke. As I’ve mentioned in other rugby related posts the Welsh are always the team I like to beat the most and therefore the team I hate to lose against the most. This goes back to some fearful beatings and banter dished out at their hands back in the 1970s.
But, this young Welsh team are difficult to dislike. They play fearless attractive rugby and their Captain 23 year old Sam Warburton is a seriously impressive young man and has been my player of the tournament so far.
The only fly in the ointment is France. The cliche is that you never know which team is turning up. One minute they can play rugby of the Gods and are unbeatable (just ask the New Zealanders) then they can puff on a Gauloise and give that Gallic shrug and not be bothered. I genuinely believe that if Wales beat the French then they will be only the second World Champions from the Northern Hemisphere.
The ANZAC semi will even as I speak be making most Kiwi fans stomachs churn. The Kiwis hold no fear for the Aussies. The remarkable stat is that the Kiwis have never beaten the Aussies in a Rugby World Cup. But the Kiwis have never lost to the Aussies at Eden Park. Should be a cracker. With the Kiwi idol and play maker of Dan Carter out through injury and their Talisman and Captain Richie Macaw carrying what is said to be a “minor” foot injury then all bets are off. I can’t call this one, but if you forced me at gunpoint I’d have to go with the Aussies. I just think the weight of expectation will be too much for the New Zealanders and their wait for the Webb Ellis trophy will have to go on for another 4 years.
What of England? This could be a 10,000 word dissertation on coaching, young player development, gym programmes, professionalism and structure. But in the spirit of brevity I’ll just say this. The players let themselves and us down off the pitch and the RFU needs to sort its life out even before we start looking at what goes on on the pitch. ‘Nuff said…