New Zealand Rugby
Bigger, faster, and stronger – it’s a wonder any professional rugby player lasts more than a handful of seasons before terminal injury strikes.
Professional rugby players’ representatives love to say how short their client’s careers will be – usually while negotiating for a pay rise.
They operate in an increasingly brutal arena, one tackle away from enforced retirement.
The average size of an All Black forward increased from 100kg to 113kg since rugby went professional in the mid-1990s and the backs have ballooned from 82kg to 94kg.
Collisions are now compared to car crashes. Concussion has become an unwelcome theme.
Round 2 of The Rugby Championship and Round 3 of the Currie Cup is done and dusted!
No real surprises with the results, except the huge margin the All Blacks smashed the Wallabies by, and the fact that the Bokke hardly scraped their way to a 2 point win.
The Springboks have struggled in Argentina the past three years, but most pundits thought the Bokke would at least still be closer to a 10 point margin better than the Pumas, even on a bad day.
Not until we get into the next group of games will we have some perspective and context in which to put the first two rounds of the Rugby Championship.
The All Blacks’ forward strength will be tested when they take on the Pumas and their physicality will be tested against the Springboks.
A win in either away game will put the Bokke in a powerful position, the Wallabies will have to bounce back from their thumping defeat at Eden Park or face an exit from calculations, and we will find out how many of their bullets Argentina has fired already.
There are two things that we can take from the second round of the Rugby Championship 2014.
- The All Blacks are clearly not ‘on the slide’. In fact if anything they are on the up and up and all the 12-all draw did was to inspire them to dick punch the Wallabies in their faces, hard.
- The Pumas’ ‘Bajada’ scrum is a thing of beauty, unless you are the Springboks, then it is a thing of nightmares.
A New Zealand radio station has been criticised after running a competition to see how far its male listeners will go to win tickets to the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
The Edge offered tickets if two heterosexual male friends got married. “We’ve done stranger weddings, naked weddings, same sex weddings but this is the first one that we know will end in divorce,” the station said in its promotional material.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has made it clear that Sonny Bill Williams will be on the end of year tour, though there are no guarantees he will play any games.
Hansen has voiced his views on the controversial decision to get Williams instantly into the All Blacks selection mix on his return from rugby league, even though he may not have played for his Counties Manukau union. His selection would be against ordinary New Zealand Rugby regulations.
Victor Matfield is over his injury problems and will rejoin the Springbok squad when they get together for the Australasian leg of the Castle Lager Rugby Championship, while Marcel van der Merwe has been called up for the injured Frans Malherbe.
Furthermore, Willem Alberts has also been drafted back into the squad, pending a fitness test on Thursday when the squad gets together in Johannesburg. Both Alberts and Matfield were part of the initial 30-man squad, but missed out on the victories over Argentina in Pretoria and Salta because of injury.
Eleven legends of New Zealand rugby have been inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame at a special ceremony in Auckland on Friday 21 August, staged the night before a Bledisloe Cup match in Eden Park.
This latest induction represents the incorporation into the IRB Hall of Fame of many of the International Rugby Hall of Fame, which was recently acquired by the IRB and presentations were made by Hall of Fame panel member Don Cameron and New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew. The new inductees are: Fred Allen, Don Clarke, Grant Fox, Sean Fitzpatrick, Michael Jones, Ian Kirkpatrick, John Kirwan, Terry McLean, Colin Meads, Graham Mourie and George Nepia.
IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “The IRB Hall of Fame recognises those who have made an indelible mark on our sport through feats on the field of play, displays of great character or through their tireless and inspirational work in driving forward our great Game.”
Possession, Position, Pace – the Three P’s of rugby preached on a regular basis through his career by the great Otago man Charlie Saxton, and still applicable in this modern era.
But on Saturday night at Eden Park the All Blacks might have been more about the three “A’s”.
Accuracy, Attitude, and Anger?
Springbok captain Jean de Villiers is clear that his team need to take a massive step up before they face the Wallabies in Perth in their next Castle Lager Rugby Championship game on 6 September.
The Bok captain arrived home from the great Salta escape – where the Boks needed a penalty four minutes from time to beat a plucky, aggressive Argentinean team – knowing that the weight of public outrage at the result would be waiting for his team.
But De Villiers is a pragmatist, and, as he points out: it wasn’t the greatest of performances, but a win is a win.
The Wallabies will have plenty of down-time over the next week to ”mentally relax” after their humiliation by the All Blacks at Eden Park, captain Michael Hooper has said.
The 22-year-old flanker was one of the few Australian players to stand up during the 51-20 onslaught, which kept the Bledisloe Cup, the annual trophy contested between the two nations, in New Zealand hands for a 12th consecutive year.
Frans Malherbe will miss the rest of the Rugby Championship after sustaining a serious injury to his right ankle in Salta.
Malberbe helped to stabilise the Bok scrum when he replaced Jannie du Plessis in the 46th minute, but was forced to leave the field in the 79th.
The tighthead prop will consult with a specialist in Cape Town upon his return to South Africa, when a call on further treatment and his replacement will be made.
The New Zealand Rugby Union has apologised to three fans who were hurt by fireworks during the build-up to Saturday’s Bledisloe Cup game at Eden Park.
One woman had to go to hospital after she was hit by debris from the fireworks which marked the end of the haka while another man suffered a gash to the head and was treated pitchside by paramedics.
Sonny Bill Williams has been granted a special exemption to be picked for the All Blacks’ end of year tour.
New Zealand Rugby Union chief executive Steve Tew confirmed on Monday Williams would not need to play in the National Provincial Championship following his commitments with the Sydney Roosters in the NRL.
NZRU rules state that players must take part in the preceding domestic competition in order to be eligible for the All Blacks.
However, the board voted on Friday to make an exemption for Williams should he not be able to make an appearance for Counties-Manukau either due to the length of the Roosters season, or injury.
What a difference a week makes.
The All Blacks forwards confirmed they had the acid put on them during that week, both by their coaches and by themselves, to put things right.
The conditions were perfect at Eden Park on Saturday night and when the black pack turned up with much improved intensity, physicality and enthusiasm the platform was laid on for a rout.
At the centre of it was Chiefs lock Brodie Retallick – at the tender age of 23 already a tight five international veteran and continuing to build his reputation as a test rugby super star within a 2.04 metre, 119 kilogram body.
Another Test, another couple of world records for All Blacks captain Richie McCaw.
The veteran flanker scored two tries, the third double of his 129-Test career, as New Zealand pummelled the Wallabies 51-20 in Auckland to retain the Bledisloe Cup.
In doing so, he took his tally to 23 tries, the most in Tests by any forward from a tier-one nation.
The previous record was 22, scored by former Wales No 8 Colin Charvis.
McCaw, 33, also holds the record for the most tries by any player against a tier-one opponent, surpassing a number of prolific outside backs.
The All Blacks have become like those bad guys in western movies who you hate so much you end up loving them.
Yet again Australia had their pants pulled down and we have this deflating scenario where the Test year is nine days old yet nothing seems to matter any more.
The Bledisloe Cup is gone, the four nations title is on its way out the door yet for some reason I feel minimal pain because there is a sense that justice has been done.
Ewen McKenzie is sharpening his axe, forecasting changes to the Wallabies side massacred by the All Blacks at Eden Park.
Injuries to hooker Nathan Charles and winger Pat McCabe will bring at least two new selections but more are in the offing following Saturday night’s 50-21 drubbing.
McKenzie confirmed he would look closely at promoting several squad members “itching to get a go” for Australia’s next Rugby Championship clash, against South Africa in Perth on Saturday week.
He earmarked powerful Brumbies centre Tevita Kuridrani for a return that would likely see Adam Ashley-Cooper move back to the wing spot left vacant by McCabe (neck).
Two games are gone against New Zealand and it’s now time to move the attention to South Africa. That is a whole different kettle of fish. When you take on South Africa, the playing field changes slightly.
The first change is in terms of physicality, the second in aggression and finally in terms of tactics. Games against South Africa just seem to be just that little bit harder and definitely more scatty.
I reckon we’ve heard a lot of talk over the last 24 hours about how well New Zealand played – which the did.
Did they play unbelievably well? There’s no way of making that assessment. There’s no way to completely evaluate their performance.
Sure, their passing was accurate and running straight. Sure, 95% of their passes weren’t too long.
Sure, their support play and their realignment in both attack and defence were good and urgent.
New Zealand centre Ryan Crotty has been ruled out for four weeks after fracturing a facial bone during the weekend’s win over the Wallabies.
The Crusaders back, who enjoyed an impressive first start on the international scene in the 51-20 triumph, suffered a heavy impact in Auckland.
Steve Hansen must now decide whether Malakai Fekitoa should don twelve against Argentina if Ma’a Nonu does not recover by September 6.
Meanwhile, Cory Jane (knee), Beauden Barrett (ankle) and Aaron Cruden (pectoral) are all expected to recover in time for the Napier fixture.
Beware the Boks. The more things change with our old mates across the Tasman, the more they stay the same with our greatest rivals in the republic.
We’ve been a bit preoccupied with the Wallabies of late but when you think about the challenge last year and the challenge that never goes away, it remains the South Africans. Nothing changes there.
Their tests against the All Blacks this year are important for them, not just for the Rugby Championship but working out how to beat the world champions.
There is no hiding at Eden Park.
The rain, wind and mud confused the picture in Sydney a week ago, allowing the Wallabies to draw with the All Blacks and their fans to hope.
Not so in Auckland.
In the clear, cold air of Mt Eden, back on their turf, the All Blacks made a mockery of Australian confidence with a six-tries-to-two massacre of Australia, keeping the Bledisloe Cup in New Zealand hands for a 12th straight year with their biggest ever score against their neighbours.
New Zealand rugby is claiming its second referee apology in a week, with Craig Joubert said to have admitted he was wrong with a ruling that probably cost the Crusaders the Super Rugby crown.
The Waratahs won a tense final three weeks ago in Sydney 33-32, with the winning points coming from a penalty when flank Richie McCaw was penalised for entering a ruck from the side with a minute remaining in the match.
Had the kick missed, the Crusaders would have had possession and would have been unlikely to yield their 32-29 lead with time almost up.
The Springboks have accepted the challenge:
WATCH: Springbok video here:
Former Springbok legend Joost van der Westhuizen has become the latest celebrity to take the Ice Bucket Challenge, to raise funds for motor neuron disease, according to the Times Live website.
WATCH: Joost take the Ice Bucket Challenge:
All Blacks (23) 51 / 20 (6) Wallabies (Final Score)
The New Zealand All Blacks and Australian Wallabies did battle in The Rugby Championship at
Eden Park, Auckland at 09:35 SA Time (19:35 NZ Time, 17:35 AEST, 07:35 GMT).
This was the live match discussion Article.
The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & CSN on TV in SA.
This time, Ewen McKenzie couldn’t bite his tongue.
Two weeks in a row All Blacks coach Steve Hansen fired barbs his way – the first about the Australian Rugby Union influencing Kurtley Beale’s selection and this week questioning how much more the Wallabies had to give.
Before yesterday, McKenzie wasn’t biting. But, finally, the Wallabies coach couldn’t help throwing out one subtle jab.
“Steve has got lots of thoughts. I enjoy reading his thoughts,” McKenzie began.
“Last week he was picking the team. This week he’s wondering about our improvement. We’ll just concentrate on what we’re about. That worked alright for us last week.”
Waikato 27 / 58 Canterbury
Canterbury look unstoppable in this year’s ITM Cup after another slick showing in their second outing, putting Waikato away to the tune of 58-27 in Hamilton tonight.
Round one of the Rugby Championship is done and dusted, and it would seem as if the rain was the winner in both games.
Two players picked a draw between the Wallabies and All Blacks and are sitting pretty on 3 log points.
Well done Angostura and Charo, brave call to go for a draw and the rewards for bravery means a yellow cap for Angos.
Selectors are sitting targets, an inevitable butt for criticism of the teams that did not quite work out.
But there are times when they are entitled to congratulate themselves, never more than when a single selection meeting launches not just one, but two or more outstanding international careers.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen disagrees Richie McCaw is a fading force but insists neither he, nor his captain, will be afraid to make the right call to end his illustrious career.
On either side of the Tasman, there are growing concerns an ageing McCaw won’t make it to next year’s World Cup.
Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu says South Africa deserves to have a Springbok team representative of its rainbow nation, The Star reported on Friday.
“Now, nearly 20 years later, I lament the tortoise pace at which transformation at the highest level is being effected,” he said in a letter to The Star’s sister paper, The Cape Times.
Tutu criticised the SA Rugby Union (SARU) for the pace of transformation in the team, and said it was “particularly hurtful” to see the selection of black players as “peripheral squad members never given the chance to settle down and earn their spurs.”
The Wallabies are brimming with confidence and have challenged the All Blacks to bring their A game to tomorrow night’s test at Eden Park in Auckland.
The Australian side arrived in Auckland yesterday and have their captain’s run this afternoon.
They come to Auckland having not won at Eden Park since 1986 but captain Michael Hooper said at a press conference it was not something that bothered his side.
Love the rain. Give me a stick of dynamite and I would blow the roof off the Millennium Stadium. Wet weather rugby is a whole new ball game. It demands a higher skill level, a flexible tactical mind and it gives the fate of the contest to the forwards.
Suddenly these All Blacks didn’t look half the team that some people had assumed they were.
Don’t tell me the conditions were impossible or that they ruined the spectacle. And don’t tell it to the 39,523 people, it is still hard to believe the size of the crowd, who were jammed into Wellington’s Athletic Park back in 1996.
The conditions that day were far worse than they were in Sydney last weekend, because a howling wind drove the rain, but those All Blacks played the rugby of the gods.
The past few years has seen Rugby’s world be dominated by one group of Villains that we have come to respect, hate, admire, deride, sledge and applaud. Let’s take a look at these Bad Guys and their alter-egos – whilst not forgetting that most of these guys eventually get their comeuppance. – Enjoy!
15. Ben Smith -Keyser Soze – The usual Suspects
This is one of those moments where we are lulled into a false sense of security. The guy looks harmless enough and seems to melt into the background when surrounded by other more unsavory types. But it is with the Big reveal that things unfold and the manipulator truly emerges.