Sunday, October 21, 2007

Rugby Final

I watched the game in some Irish bar downtown. Possibly the dullest game of rugby I've ever watched. I spotted this on the Guardian's website, a comment by some anonymous person,

Well done England for getting to the final with a crap team. I hope it will be some solace to you to know that Wales scored 50 points more than you despite playing three games fewer.

Home come Johnny didn't do that thing with the drop goal in the dying minutes?


Jake Stacey said...

Hmm, it wasn't pretty, but it was (almost) effective.

I suppose the comeback to the anonymous detractor is "Wales may have scored 50 more points, but didn't make the quarter finals".

Can't really argue with results, but there's a huge amount of work to be done before February 2008, both for England and Wales.

I was impressed with the way England scrapped on, but they lacked that incisive edge that teams like SA, Australia and the Kiwis have. If Golden Boot had slotted the drop goal attempts, then we could have knuckled down and scratched out a win. The only real attacking came from Tait and Flood, who are at present outclassed. As for keeping Jason Robinson in the team over someone like Cueto, Strettle, Richards - I wasn't convinced by that.

Still, with Gomersal having played a blinder, and the kids having been exposed to rugby of the standard required to compete in a World Cup, the future's bright.

Alun said...

The one thing that elevates this and previous England teams above the likes of, say, Wales, and clearly of France and Australia, is their ability to grind out a win under high pressure. It's what won them the cup in '03 and nearly got them it here.

Particularly impressive is that, once they start playing their grinding, high-stress game, they are able to force their opponents into playing it. Unfortunately for them in the final, South Africa showed that they are just as capable of a grinding win as they are of a 36 point training exercise.

One interesting comment which was bought up by some New Zealand official was that, despite the progress of the so-called second-tier nations, the All-Blacks still favour a 16 team WC next time because scoring 100 points against Portugal doesn't prepare you adequately for the high-stakes games in the knockout games. Personally I don't agree with reducing the team numbers for the next cup, but I can see the argument - the first really competitive game the All-Blacks played was the one they got knocked out of, andone could argue that that was because they got a bit complacent after walking through all thir group games.

My team of tournament award has to go to the Argies though, other than SA they are the team that played the most consistent rugby through the whole tournament, and I'm very pleased to see them in third. The question is will they make the 6N 7, or the 3N 4? My hope is for the former!

Alun said...

PS I was well impressed with Tait, him and Steyn were the only two people on the pitch worth watching. He has bounced back well from his disastrous debut a couple of years ago and become a very promising player.

PPS Jake White for the next Wales coach - I wouldn't say no!

Jake Stacey said...

Argies - absolutely, with Fiji/Tonga/Samoa exceeding expectations as well. If the Kiwis didn't keep nicking their best players, they'd be a force to be reckoned with - a combined 'Pacific Islanders' team anyone? ;-)

You can imagine the nascent "7 Nations" headlines now, though - "Argy Bargy" etc... Interestingly, I was reading an interview with one of the Argies' coaching staff (I think) which said they're not keen on Argentina getting into the 6N/3N, because at present most the team are amateur players and play at home. If the national side is elevated, they'll most likely turn pro and move to European clubs, pretty much gutting the domestic league.

When Tait's pace is tempered by a bit of experience, he'll be a force to be reckoned with.