Sunday, October 16, 2011

Composure and World Cup Rugby

Alain Rolland (Picture )

Australia 6 - 20 New Zealand
Wales 8 - 9 France

This weekend was all about composure – if you can keep your head while all about you are losing theirs – you’re probably not French, Welsh or Australian.

I was really looking forward to the French Wales, two teams giving it welly, a feast of running rugby, a try fest, spy vs spy unlocking each others defenses.  Well, we didn’t get was on the tin on Saturday. The Welsh will all be sticking pins in their Alain Roland dolls, while the French confound us again, doing barely enough to scrape through.  The low point of the match was Warburtons sending off, after that, the French thought, ‘Ne problemme pas,  this one’s in the bag’, and the Welsh could only do so much with 14 men. The incident was a 50 50 call, judged on the real time view of the officials,  and could easily have been a yellow as well. Now if you were a Welsh conspiracy theorist, you’d be going into overdrive. What nationality is Alain Rolland? Irish. And who did Wales  beat last week? Ireland. And who did Wales controversially beat in the 6 Nations with a dodgy refereeing decision? Ireland. And who was the ref that day, and  touch judge today who could well have helped  the decision on the sending off? Jonathan Kaplan. It all comes together…

Leaving that aside though, Wales left 11 points you’d think they should have got on the table, and so really they should of won this anyway, with a magnificent effort from the 14 left on the field. If you ever wondered why Gatland  has been starting Priestland, Hook and Jones were there to provide the answer.  Where was the drop goal when they needed it? I was disappointed there was so much kicking by both teams, and Wales’ unloading game deserted them. So the French straggle into the final, well thye still have a lot in reserve because they didn’t use any of it this weekend. Their man of the match for me was Yashvili, who just kept the game ticking over nicely. I knew Wales wouldn’t thank me for shouting for them.

The first 20 minutes of Sundays match were as good as you’ll see anywhere anytime. The All Blacks put maximum effort into breaking the Australians, which they did successfully, and then went into containment mode. Australia got into the match a bit after that but never looked like they were going win. The All Blacks had that composure I was on about , sorely lacking for them last week, but the Australians never had composure, Quade Cooper had a mare, they really missed Beale, and didn’t have anyone to grab the game by the scruff of the neck and drag themselves into back into it. Even Sonny Bill Williams long overdue union yellow card for a shoulder charge didn't dampen their spirit. The All Blacks do all the simple things really well, and then have that X Factor – not the Louis Walsh type (Although I’m sure Gary Barlow has it in him to throw a dwarf) – players like Dagg and Jane that can turn the game on it’s head in a flash.

The win meant the world to them, their whole scrum started punching the air and giving each other high fives when they won a scrum penalty near the end – steady on lads, it’s only Australia – but they rightfully claim their place in the final.

1 comment:

  1. I still think the red was harsh, but that said, if Wales had any kind of kicking game on Saturday, we would be talking about an All Black-Welsh final.

    Halfpenny's bomb was SO close. For a moment, I actually thought he had hit it. OH well. I hope Gatland will still continue to coach Wales, he did a helluva job. Oh, and this team's core is still pretty young-young enough to be a force in 2015? The Six Nations? I almost have to put them as the early favorite.