A long Rugby related post here, so click away if you’re not interested!
What a competition, what a final. Knowing quite a few Kiwis I can imagine they’re all waking up this morning with monumental hang overs and fair play to them! But I can also imagine that with 10 minutes to go in the final they were entering that well known area to sports fans in general, that of the squeaky bum time. France at last turned up and delivered a perfomance worthy of them and the final. Tierry Dusautoir their Captain was monumental and well deserved his Man of the Match award, although his back row comrade of Imanol Harinordoquy could have won it just as easily. He was a one man line out!
I think the Kiwis didn’t turn up at all, quite a few of their players looked like rabbits caught in headlights, Nonu, Dagg and Read all were terribly below par. But a 1 point victory that of 8 -7 with the winning points kicked by their 4th choice Fly Half Stephen Donald will go down in the record books as a New Zealand victory and with the New Zealanders being crowned deserving World Champions.
What of the home nations?
England had a disaster. Poor performances on the field matched by stupid behaviour off the field reflects the chaos that is English Rugby in general. Non of the on field stuff will be sorted until the powers that be get their act together. I am predicting a very bloody board room war. Hopefully with the end game being that of the return of Sir Clive Woodward as the man in charge of everything. As far as I can tell he’s the only Englishman with the grand vision of what makes a truly professional sports organisation. I just hope we don’t get another fudge and yet another sticking plaster over the supporating wound that is the highest echelons of Twickenham.
Scotland. I’m running the risk of the “arrogant Englishman” label here, but Scotland achieved their level. I’m not criticising their heart, courage and passion here, truly. You could see it every time they sang their anthem and played. But the truth is that they lack the player resource and unfortunately they just haven’t got top quality world class players. All of their players are good players. But there is a difference between good and world class. I don’t know what the answer is for them, but the long term solution doesn’t lie at the international game, the Scottish Rugby Union needs to look at it’s grass roots for the answer.
Ireland. This competiton was always billed as the swansong of Ireland’s Golden Generation. The likes of Brian O’Driscoll, Ronan O’Gara and Paul O’Connell and others will not be playing in another Rugby World Cup. So their quarter final exit will be seen as a failure. They really fancied their chances of doing something in this competition and their pool victory over the Aussies promised much. But it was not to be. Rebuilding is now the order of the day for the Irish and the blooding of some youngsters when the old guard finally retire.
Finally Wales. The only home nations side who can look in the mirror and like what they see.
I’ve said it before, Rugby has laws, not rules and as such the game is open to interpretation of the officials and also as such Rugby can be a mystery to the uninitiated. It can be a mystery to the expert! So Wales’ campaign will always be remembered by that Red Card brandished in undue haste by Mr Rolland in the semi final v France.
Yes the powers that be produced a dictat regarding the type of tackle made by Sam Warburton and yes Mr Rolland WAS within his rights to produce a red card. Of that there is no doubt. But, he could just as easily consulted with his touch judges, took the time to look at the big screen and not made the call in haste. Which is exactly what he did. And that was wrong in my book. He showed absolutely no empathy for the game and for the Welsh Captain who he sent off in the 17th minute. Saying all that, if the Welsh Kickers had brought their A game to the party, they still should have won even with 14 men. I imagine that will haunt them for the rest of their lives.
The Welsh still emerge with massive credit though. They were exactly what England were not. Adventurous and dangerous on the pitch and a fine example of professionalism off the pitch. Their interviews after the semi final were humble, dignified and inspiring. England take note, especially as we are hosting the tournament in 2015…