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5 Classic Moments from New Zealand vs Wales Clashes

As soon as I saw the heading for this on RD I knew you wouldn't disappoint me Larry, and sure enough, it's the day that Wales was robbed (again). But I honestly think you should let go of this 1972 obsession and move on. It really was a long time ago and there have been many many more contentious decisions in the intervening years, with the All Blacks being on the wrong end of their share. And I'm not at all convinced that this one was wrong. Johnson was a good referee and he was perfectly placed, and the laws were different then. Nobody at the time who knew the game well would have been surprised at the try not being given, going on what we can see on film. An All Black try disallowed under the exact same circumstances would have been greeted with nodding agreement by each and every Welshman on this earth, no question.

Another interesting incident from that test was early on when the Welsh hooker, Young, came around the front of the lineout, ran towards the NZ number 8 Sutherland who was kneeling on the floor and kicked him square in the face. Even the Welsh crowd went Ooh! He then trotted away followed by the ref and several All Blacks, letting Young know what they thought of it all. Meanwhile Sutherland can be seen feeling around for his nose. In these day of ARs and the TMO, Young would be looking at a red card and maybe a couple of weeks cooling his heels. Some of those old test matches were pretty wild and wooly and it's often pretty unwise to try and claim the high moral ground for either side.

As for this weekend, recent history suggests that the first test is Wales' best chance, the All Blacks regularly being pretty scrappy first time up. I'm looking forward to it.

5 Months, 3 Weeks ago

England beat Wales in tour warmup match at Twickenham

My tuppence worth, as a complete neutral. The ball was intercepted, went straight down and bounced backwards. Play on.

6 Months, 4 Days ago

Super Rugby 2016 - Round 4 Highlights feed

You can hear some discussion after the try and at one point the ref says "… it's a maul" (2:41). So he obviously thought that the ball came loose before the pack of players went to ground and Robertson was in his rights to pick it up. A close thing, but it's hard to tell from the angle we have.

8 Months, 2 Weeks ago

Nemani Nadolo HUGE charge sends debutant flying and leads to great Crusaders try

All due respect to Duffie, but this clip makes me laugh every single time I watch it. To be honest, after looking pretty good last week, the Blues were almost comically bad at times in this match with more than one or two Keystone Cops moments in open play. This bit of slapstick was right in the spirit of things.

8 Months, 4 Weeks ago

A Look at the First Ever NINE Point Try in Rugby

I've got an idea that will unlock the entertainment potential of rugby union.
After taking possession of the ball a player may go back through his/her own goalposts and then move down the field making sure that the ball is passed at least once in each quarter of the field (although a kick and regather in the same quarter cancels the need for a pass), and no player should handle the ball more than once (except when regathering his/her own kick within the quarter in which it was kicked, if the kicked ball travels beyond that quarter the kicker may not regather), and the try scorer must run the ball in under the goalposts (this can be done from the in-goal area, in which case the player must then double back to force the ball) and then convert his/her own try. I think that has to be worth 25 points and I can foresee no problems for referees in adjudicating what is bound to be a popular innovation of real benefit to this great game.

9 Months, 2 Weeks ago

World Rugby Awards recap to honour Dan Carter, Japan, the Best Try and more

I think you've taken my comment too seriously. I was having a little dig at all those who have used this meaningless 'analysis' as a reason for NZ's failures in other World Cups. It was a joke.

1 Year, 4 Weeks ago

World Rugby Awards recap to honour Dan Carter, Japan, the Best Try and more

Three days and still no comments. I'm not surprised, I think most of us have moved on now. I know I have… I'm increasingly concerned that the All Blacks have peaked way too early for Japan 2019. It's a worry.

1 Year, 4 Weeks ago

Highlights and celebrations as All Blacks win successive Rugby World Cup titles

I take your point, Oliver, and of course sports like basketball and others are big in Australia too. I didn't go into detail (my posts are already too long) but the matter of rugby competing with not just one, but two or three other powerful football codes is very pertinent. Rugby League and/or Aussie Rules absolutely dominate the football culture across Australia in a way that few people who haven't lived in the country appreciate. So not only do they attract the vast majority of the potential fan base, sponsorship money and media attention, without even mentioning the competition from other major sports like soccer, cricket etc, they also absorb the bulk of exactly the kind of young athletes that would do well in Union. It's this competition with two similar but much bigger and more wealthy football codes in all regions of a relatively small general population, that makes Australia's case a little different, in my opinion.
And with the fan base strung thinly around the edge of a land mass that would easily swallow up Europe/GB and then some, the economics of trying to run a workable national competition to develop young players are also formidable. In comparison to the wealth of the game in countries like France and England, a year ago the ARU announced that it was nearly insolvent and only a WCup TV deal saved them from literally running out of cash by 2015.
So I'm not trying to write a sob story for Australian rugby, just noting a few of the particular challenges that it faces. They've made four WC Finals and won a couple of them, playing a fine brand of rugby. Oz rugby gets a lot of knockers online (not so much on RD) so I'm happy to defend what I think is a pretty admirable record, all things considered.

1 Year, 1 Month ago

Highlights and celebrations as All Blacks win successive Rugby World Cup titles

As a New Zealander and life-long ABs fan living in Australia for a number of years, I've eventually been able to do the unthinkable for some of my NZ friends and family, and adopt the Wallabies as my second team. Seeing the Australians play so often has given me a familiarity with the players, and an appreciation of their attitude and style of game that allows me to pretty much barrack for them against anyone but NZ. I also follow the AFL and watch quite a bit of NRL and see the difficulties for rugby in a society where it's often the third or fourth ranked code of football.
It wasn't so long ago that Australian rugby was in poor shape. The style attempted to be free-running but often looked repetitive and uninspired, and the packs were getting marched about the paddock too often. The loses were stacking up, and you could sense the media and public losing interest, in a country where there is so much other sport going on. So, in my opinion, the turnaround in recent months has been a very good thing, because I think a strong, adventurous and successful (up to a point!) Wallabies is good for international rugby. Australia always has some great players but in some periods the depth hasn't been there. Maybe they're entering one of those eras where the right group of players and the right coach starts to make things tick along nicely for a while.
In 2011 NZ played their best match of the WC tournament against Australia, and they knew they had to bring their best against them this time too. It feels pretty good to be an All Blacks fan at the moment, but I'm also glad about how well the Aussies played throughout this WC and I'll continue to enjoy supporting them, despite my sister's dismay.

1 Year, 1 Month ago

Rugby Tactics: Screened Passing Analysis

Several aspects of Union don't exist in League (e.g. line out, ruck, maul) so the changes and innovations in all those areas over the years in Union have nowhere in League to crossover to. The League scrum used to have a competitive element which has now been removed completely by the ball being allowed to be fed directly back through the second row. So there's not much crossover there except that in Union a crooked feed is not penalised as often as it used to be, but penalties do happen and halfbacks are aware of that. To my mind the most important area where Union has learnt from League is in defensive patterns in the backs. Fairly straightforward wraparounds and missed-man passes are no longer effective in Union as much as they used to be, the defences are more savvy.
The screen passing discussed here has increased in Union in recent years, especially closer to the line, as one of several methods of giving the defence more to think about. I watch a lot of League and tries are regularly disallowed due to crossing and obstruction after this type of play. So, as you say, the dummy runners are allowed to draw a defenders into making the wrong choice, but cannot hinder their movement towards the ball carrier. It's often a very fine line and the frequent groans from commentators and fans after TMO decisions show that general agreement on a ruling is rare.

1 Year, 1 Month ago