Australian rugby has been so battered and bruised this season — four losses in four games — that anything even remotely better than a hammering is hailed as something akin to the second coming.
That could be why journalists are slobbering over the national team after it lost narrowly to New Zealand at the death in the final international rugby game of the southern season. Australia led for more than three-quarters of the game, but could not hold together in the second half the way it had in the first 40 minutes.
To put the game in context, one has to bear in mind that New Zealand made 12 changes to the team that had beaten Australia the previous week. Given that the silverware on offer for the southern season — the Rugby Championship and the Bledisloe Cup — had both been won, New Zealand coach Ian Foster treated the game as a way to test out some new faces and see their worth. Continue reading “Bledisloe II result needs to be viewed in context”
Australia will be able to regain something of its former glory in international rugby only when it is coached by an Anglo-Saxon. The Wallabies, as the team is known, may go as far as the world cup final, but will not win until a coach who can understand the prevailing dominant Anglo culture within the team is guiding its fortunes.
Australia has won the rugby World Cup twice. In 1991, Bob Dwyer was the coach; in 1999, it was Rod MacQueen. Both white men, steeped in the same culture as the team.
But now, things have changed quite a bit. There are a fair number of non-whites in the team, predominantly from the Pacific Islands. This is partly because the game tends to come naturally to people from that part of the world and partly because the pool of youngsters from whom one can select possible players is getting smaller and smaller. Rugby is a game mostly played in private schools and is an expensive and physically demanding sport; thus, the numbers who take it up are small. Continue reading “Australian rugby needs an Anglo-Saxon coach if it wants to win”
The World Cup football tournament has been played since 1930, with a break forced by the second World War, but only eight countries have emerged winners at the 21 competitions.
The 22nd competition kicked off in the Persian Gulf state of Qatar on November 20. The competition is the biggest as far as TV viewership goes, outdoing even the Olympics. It is watched in more countries than the Games.
New Zealand’s victory in the women’s World Cup rugby union competition on Sunday — held in their own country — should be welcomed if only because it signals a triumph for the way the game should be played: fast, running rugby, which showcases the players’ skills and is attractive to watch.
The Black Ferns, as the team is known, were up against England, a team of huge players, whose main skill harks back to the 1960s: rolling mauls and a slow grinding down of their opponents. It is the worst way to try and win.
Pakistan skipper Babar Azam blew it. Which captain in the universe would choose to give the last over in a T20 match to an inexperienced spinner rather than a fast bowler, when the side chasing a win is on the wrong side of the equation?
The match one refers to is the T20 clash between India and Pakistan at the MCG on Sunday [October 23].
When Australia loses a rugby match, it is generally put down to some external factor like refereeing. This is the response of both the so-called experts and the coach, Michael Cheika, whose middle name should be “whinging”.
While many people have raised questions about the quality of refereeing at the ongoing Rugby World Cup, nobody, surprisingly has questioned the quality of commentary that is available. If one were to compare the two, the commentators would lose by a mile.
There is a strange kind of logic that has prevailed in management circles for quite a while now, namely that a person who is good in one sector of an industry would also be equally good in another. It is this kind of logic (?) that leads managers to appoint rank and file employees to positions of leadership. It flies in the face of logic to argue that someone who is good at following orders would be equally good as a leader, but that’s the conventional wisdom that has prevailed and will never go away. Continue reading “RWC commentators need to be lined up and shot”
The authorities who select referees for matches at the Rugby World Cup do not seem to think very deeply about the choices they make. This is, perhaps, what resulted in the French referee Jerome Garces being put in charge of the game between New Zealand and South Africa on 21 September.
Some background is necessary to understand why Garces’ appointment was questionable. He had officiated in the game between Australia and New Zealand earlier this year and handed out a red card to Kiwi lock Scott Barrett for a charge on Australian skipper Michael Hooper. This was a decision that was questioned in many quarters; that Scott Barrett deserved a yellow card was not in question, but a red card was deemed to be a gross over-reaction. Continue reading “Was Garces the right choice to officiate SA-NZ game?”
At times, even a polished outfit like the All Blacks can get it wrong. When the team was picked for the game against Argentina on Saturday, a number of second choice players were chosen, in order to get them match-ready and also to establish the depth that the team will need as it builds towards the next World Cup in Japan in 2019.
The major change was the presence of Richie Mo’unga as standoff, taking over from the man acknowledged as the best at that position, Beauden Barrett. Thus, there was tremendous pressure of Mo’unga, more so given that Barrett had put in an excellent performance in the previous outing, against Australia, dominating the game and scoring 30 of the team’s 40 points.
For the last 16 years, New Zealand has been winning the annual Bledisloe Cup rugby union competition against Australia, with 2002 being the last time they lost. It is a symbol of rugby supremacy, and for the two countries involved the next best after the World Cup itself.
Over the last few years, every time the games approach, the Australian media hype up the chances of their national team and for the uninitiated, it would appear to be some kind of equal contest. But in the end, New Zealand always runs away with the trophy, though some games can indeed be close.