New Zealand finally gets a monkey off its back

THE Shaky Isles have finally got a monkey off their back by winning the rugby world cup title again. They won the first, held in their own country, in 1987, and have been knocked out at various stages of the tournament ever since.

Due to the series of losses, they have been accused of choking. I’m sure it won’t take long for the next diatribe to emerge – that they choke whenever they play in this tournament away from home.

The manner in which New Zealand won was strange; they were defending for a better part of the game and their flair was totally missing.
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Wayne Barnes proves that incompetence will help one make progress

ENGLISHMAN Wayne Barnes has earned a reputation for refereeing bloopers, continuing the trend he set in the World Cup rugby tournament of 2007 when he awarded France a try from a blatant forward pass.

That try helped France to knock out tournament favourites New Zealand in the quarter-finals. Barnes does not appear to have improved much – at the ongoing tournament, which concludes on Sunday, he denied Wales a try conversion when the ball had clearly gone between the uprights.

This was in a pool game with South Africa and as Wales lost the game by a point, they certainly had reason to feel cheated.
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Australia should be grateful this was not the final

AUSTRALIA has one reason to be grateful after last night’s humiliation at the hands of the All Blacks in the world cup rugby union tournament – this was not the final.

According to the draw, Australia was expected to come through the pool stages on top of its pool, play Wales/Samoa/Fiji in the quarter-finals, England or France in the semi-finals, and meet New Zealand in the final.

That would have been a real blockbuster for the organisers given the fact that the tournament is being hosted in New Zealand.
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Wales deserved to lose

THERE were great expectations of Wales after they made it to the World Cup rugby semi-finals and came up against France.

Today they lost a match they should have won. The scoreline was 9-8 in favour of France. And in the process they illustrated one fundamental fact of the knockout stage of the World Cup – you also need some intelligence to win these games.

For all the playmaking it did, Wales should have gone home with a final in the bag, despite playing with 14 players for 62 of the 80 minutes. France did nothing of note, they played a waiting game and made a couple of line breaks.
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How Australia beat the Springboks

AUSTRALIAN rugby writers are in the seventh heaven after their national team, the Wallabies, ensured the ouster of the defending champions, South Africa, in the world cup rugby tournament over the weekend.

Australia was behind the Springboks in every possible aspect of the game but still ran out 11-9 winners. In the process of trying to explain this, writers from the Australian side have put forward every possible reason – the relative age of the two teams (Australia had a much younger team), the lack of strategy on the part of the South Africans, the courage of the Australians, etc etc

Nobody, but nobody, is willing to look at the fact that the presence of a referee from the southern hemisphere played a big role in the Australian win. Not that the referee was one-sided and favoured Australia – no, he had a very good game. But his interpretation of the rules went Australia’s way due to the prevailing circumstances.
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The revolution is on hold

MONTHS after the governments of both Egypt and Tunisia were toppled, protests continue apace in Yemen and Syria but there is no end in sight, one way or the other. In Libya, on the other hand, it seems to be the end of the road for Muammar Gaddafi.

In Syria and Yemen, the governments are hanging on because the US has been unable to provide military aid through its proxies; an attempt by the US to pass a resolution in the UN Security Council against Syria was vetoed by both Russia and China.

The same two countries have connections to Yemen, Russia from the old days when there were two countries, North and South Yemen, the latter friendly to the old USSR. That the US has been unable to get Russia and China on-side is an indication of how much the US has lost its clout as a superpower.
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