After all that technical cancer stuff I think you need a break, I certainly do. So, what’ll it be? I know, Rugby!
Part 1 The World cup is over, Ritchie and his boys kicked-ass, beautifully and legally, of course. Commiserations to Australia.
However, they (Aussies) were a tad lucky to have that coward Joubert refereeing when they beat Scotland, perhaps unfairly, but we’ll never know. Can someone tell my wife why, if we was wrong in his decision to award a penalty (scored smartly by the way) that Scotland shouldn’t have been awarded the match post-play? (I’d like to know too!)
Having lived in both New Zealand (Auckland) and Australia (Melbourne) I think I have the flavour of their rivalries. A bit like Scotland (NZ) versus England (OZ). Though we spent longer in OZ I’ll admit my fondness for NZ, in parts, a place, like my own Patria, the North East of England (I may even be a wannabe Scot), where I grew up in my own childhood days of the 1950s.
I was recruited from the University of St Andrews to Unitec, NZ, Auckland in 2008 as their Dean (VP) of Teaching and Learning and never looked back. They knew me well, an ex-Captain of my own Grammar School’s Rugby First XV. On one of the five days of the recruitment and selection process, I got to watch the Auckland Blues firsts versus reserves teams, practice and then play on one of Unitec’s own training pitches – their home! Was I in seventh heaven, or what? How could I turn down the job offer after that?
I bet you’re wondering who he actually supports. Well I actually support great, free-flowing rugby, that’s all. So, in point of fact I don’t often mind who wins if there’s a great match. Nevertheless, here’s my top 10 team my pecking order (with a National pride tinge):
- England (Always – I dreamed of being that damned number 10, fly-half, Jonny Wilkinson kid, in my own youth!)
- Scotland (We moved here and still reside in Fife)
- Wales (For my great friend, Anthony, who is Welsh but sounds like a posher Englishman than me)
- Ireland (So unlucky in this last world cup with injury and suspensions at just the wrong time)
- New Zealand (Need I comment?)
- Australia (Well, most of their really brilliant athletes play either Rugby League or that other thing called ‘footy’, or Aussie Rules, curiously still played with a rugby shaped ball. So, I feel sorry for them.)
- Argentina (What a revelation this world cup?)
- Canada (For my best friend, Brad, even though he doesn’t play, doesn’t watch many matches of any sort, but is truly patriotic!)
- South Africa (I can’t actually quite forgive the apartheid years)
- France (Who likes them? Well again actually, I do. I met some great French fans during the 2011 world cup in NZ; and they were also on the wrong end of that man, Craig Joubert’s poor decision making in the All Blacks v France final.)
Part 2 So, to the future. England sacked their Director of Rugby, Stuart Lancaster, rightly in my view. His team selection was fraught even before the opening ceremony and the great win over Fiji that followed. What followed was a debacle. He was scared not to pick Burgess (an ex Bradford Bulls Rugby Leaguer, Sydney Rabbittoes Rugby Leaguer too, and then over to Bath to learn Rugby union at top level in less than a year). It was never on.
That and other strange selection changes in the Wales game sealed the deal – out you go sunshine! I’m glad. Not because we went out of the world cup ignominiously (which we did), but because it leaves open the possibility of someone (Japan’s now favourite son, Eddie Jones, it turns out) with an eye for flair, hard work and a passion to beat the shit out of the All Blacks next time up.
I’ll just name you two of possibly three or four back lines steady Eddie could pick. The first is my favourite:
- Will Youngs (9), George Ford (10), Jonny May (11), Luther Burrell (12), Jonathan Joseph (13), Anthony Watson (14), Mike Brown (15)
- Danny Care (9), Danny Ciprianni (10), Jack Nowell (11), Henry Slade (12), Kyle Eastman (13), Semesa Rokoduguni (14), Ben Thoden (15)
Looks mouth-watering doesn’t it, especially if the ex-Aussie, ex-Japan coach gets the forward pack playing like Japan’s Samurai warriors: tackling anything, hooking (yes, hooking the ball at scrum-time, almost unheard of for the last three years) and playing a fast free-flowing game, scoring tries by the bucket-load?
On a sad note, we also saw the passing of Jonah Lomu an ex-All Black extraordinaire; ex-Auckland Blue; and universally agreed, the gentlest yet most powerful wing three-quarter to have ever played the game – like a gentleman, too. The good die young often, don’t they?
Well on a happier exit I like Jethro Tull’s motto, “Too Old to Rock ‘n’ Roll: Too Young to Die”.
That’ll do me! ‘Til tomorrow folks, CYA.