The death of rugby

So Wellington wins the Ranfurly shield match against Auckland. Just. With a drop goal making the difference.

Meanwhile the All Blacks win the deciding Bledisloe cup game against Australia. Just. With a lucky penalty awarded after a missed drop goal.

Then All Black coach Henry calls out Wellington coach Jamie Joesph for not allowing the resting All Blacks to pay for the province last week.

I try not to comment on rugby, but:

  1. There is too much rugby. We can’t watch it all so it’s just a matter of choosing what you care about – and the answer seems to be less and less. I watched the end of the Wellington-Auckland match on TV and that was it. I feel it is sad that a classic Ranfurly shield match between Auckland and Wellington is diminished by their key players being on All Black duty, and sadder that the All Blacks are playing nothing games against the same teams too many times. Bring back the long tours with mid week matches.
  2. Wellington was right to exclude the all Blacks last week. Wellington would most likely not have won against Auckland if their team had been disrupted by the entry of the All Blacks in the previous week. The game was very tight and hinged in the end of the team staying the course, and the confidence boosting decision from the previous week would have helped enormously
  3. Drop goals win matches. I have no idea why New Zealand crowds often boo drop goal attempts, but they are simply the easiest way to get points in a tense match. You even get the ball back if you miss. The Springboks know this and use the kick well at all levels, and we will never get good at them until it appears as a valid option here – and at all levels.

Winning the World cup

I blame the Super Rugby format for the World Cup debacles of the All Blacks. The emphasis seems to be on scoring tries at the expense of winning at all costs.

That format has meant the All Blacks are wonderful in high scoring matches but punch well beneath their ability in tense affairs – such as every game in the knockout stages of a World Cup. In those knockout stages every team throws everything they have into the game – and when the All Blacks are on the other side of the field the intensity lifts even further. Kick the ball away at your peril.

The All Blacks have to play a different kind of rugby, with the emphasis on denial of opportunities to the opposition and poaching chances to score where they can. It actually seems we can play that kind of rugby, as Stuff notes:

“Wellington retained the shield with a gripping 16-15 win in the capital, a result which owed everything to their willingness to graft for every metre gained.

Auckland looked the more promising with ball in hand but Wellington were better at the basics after leading 8-3 at halftime in a tight contest.”

That could have been All Blacks – France.

A pointless brutal kick fest in the second out of three games against Australia is poor training for the real deal.

Published by Lance Wiggs


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