Saturday, 20 October 2007

The Final

South Africa deserve to win the RWC final tonight, and if they don't, then all credit to England - they'll have done it the hard way. SA have ran in 33 tries, many of them top drawer, in scoring > 30 points in each of their six games - but at the same time they haven't really been tested yet. Hardly their fault though. England must score early - they can almost close a game out with 70 minutes to go.

That NZ article was a disgrace, but hardly reflective of the average Kiwi opinion. If been beaten by France who in turn were beaten by England and in turn beaten by the Boks makes him feel better about the state of world rugby, and the balance of power between the hemispheres, then that's his prerogative. But it's his opinions on Argentina that are truly galling. They have single-handedly made this competition, and tired as they must have been, their approach to the 3rd place play-off last night was truly inspirational. Leguizamon and Hernandez have been 2 players of the tournament, with Pichot, Corleto & Contepomi (Felipe) not far behind.

So, off to my South African neighbour's house now to cheer on the Springboks, and hoping for a final to grace the tournament with.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Rockies october classic

21 of 22 - what an incredible run, clinching the wild card spot by one game, it beats the run of the Broncos in Elway's 97/98 went they went 18-1. Now before the Rockies clinched their first pennant in their 15th season with their 7th consecutive playoff win, 21st in LoDo was named Rockies Road.

When I was going to see the Rockies when Coors field opened, it was the Blake Street bombers - Andres Galarraga (the cat), Larry Walker, Vinny Castilla and Dante Bichete, the later nearly winning a triple crown in 95. Now, in a so called hitters ballpark, Coors Canaveral even, the Rockies have a team ERA of 1.77, that's one of the lowest in MLB history for a postseason. In reality since the introduction 5 years ago of a humidor for baseball storage, it's relatively average in terms of long ball hitting. Even before that though, pitchers could do well - I was there when the LA dodgers visited on 17 Sep 1996 and Hideo Nomeo threw a no-hitter. We were all on our feet for that, back then you could buy a ticket on the day for a $1 to get into the Rockpile (centre field bleachers).

Todd Helton is the only survivor from when I last saw the Rockies in 98. After blowing big wads of cash on 2 pitchers who got injured in the early naughties the Rockies started building from within, and now the majority of the roster are homegrown, In game 4 against the diamondbacks they were 1-0 down when Seth Smith, a 1 month major league veteran, stepped up for a pinch hit and doubled a fastball for 2 runs. But it's been pitching & defence that has brought the pennant, Willy Taveras diving full length catch in the NCLS games 2 was a prime example.

I fancy the red sox nation to take the indians to 7 sunday night but regardless on who goes to the series they will be meeting one of the hottest teams in baseball postseason history, who hopefully will not have gone cold with the eight day layoff. After the Broncos and the Avalanche it could be a 3rd major sports championship for Denver in 10 years. What other cities have managed that?

Kiwi whinging

Chris Rattue is a winging disgrace in the NZ herald. Some of the all blacks had to fly back in economy because they had their flights booked for 2 weeks later, that is the reality, they had their worst world cup ever.

Waughboy what's the perspective from down under?

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

What about them Rockies!

I was just going to start writing baseball before I got side tracked by
George Monbiot's excellent investigative journalism on Gary Player
building golf course in Burma. And then I get a text from Blaker, just
now, how about them Rockies! The cat's out of the bag!

This October has been a project of some weeks. Moving into a house in
Andover which had channel 5 but not digitally, meaning I could not record
on the PVR and therefore not watch in it's entirety (can't do
3/4 am's with this job). A fiend told me about joost - where you can
actually watch al the playoffs games live and highlights over the web -
it's awesome, an easy download and works great. But I fancied the bigger screen.

The land ladies big tv is an 80s model and it took a post on the newsgroup to find somewhere I could buy an adaptor to convert from it's 7pin din to scart so I could connect the PVR. Then I had to talk our 60 year old land lady into splashing out 200 quid (she's getting enough short term lease money from us in fairness) to upgrade her aerial to digital. This happened last Friday - 3 weeks before we are out of the house!

So it was with much satisfaction and anticipation I finally sat down at 11
last night with a port and ice to watch baseball - Channel 5's Sunday night
show recorded. Got a good summary of what's been going on so far - wow,
another early exit for the Yankees, Hall of famer to be, Joe Torre, is in
trouble with Steinbrenner's sons taking over.

And then it was game 3 of the Rockies! Crazy stuff. 12 years ago I scalped
into the Rockies only 2 previous playoff games (before this season) in
Coors field with Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux pitching. Now here they were
with a home grown team - the only players I know are Helton & Matsui.

Watched the first 3 innings fully focused but then had to do other stuff
like booking ferry...a wee bit busy getting the loose ends tied up...but
before I crashed it was still 1-1 in the 5th. I'll still watch more
tonight even though the result is now known! Thanks Gav :-) I fancied the
Rockies anyway, 2 up coming back to Coors, no way for the diamondbacks.

My favourite time of the year!!

Friday, 12 October 2007

Semi final winners & spread

The quarters reminded us never to take things for granted in sport.

France 18 England 12
Argentina 17 South Africa 10

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

McDaid strikes gold!

McDaid sir I salute you. I hope you went to the bookies with your rugby know how, fantastic forecast. My £20 on France at 9-1 is looking good pocket money but you could have cleaned up on that call!

I knew the All Blacks were chokers too...but somehow got caught up in the hype again. Why did they not go for a drop goal in the end...still wanting to win in style. They needed to be in the group of death to have had a few matches first. Hopefully we can meet them at the groups stage next world cup, which they won't loose at home.

Now that Doug Howlett has passed Cullen's record and played the last time for the All Blacks and is going to Munster for the money he trashes a few cars in the Hilton!

Friday, 5 October 2007

RWC Quarter final predictions

Ok so the semi line seems obvious but how about the winning spread...

Australia by 20
All Blacks by 15
Argentina by 25
South Africa by 15

Add your predictions in the comments

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Stade de France 21st September 2007

Last Friday night's visit to the match was born out of a drunken friend's frustration (Dave Hanly) at losing the proud Thomond record to Leicester Tigers last January. He reckoned that we wouldn't be going to the HCup final so this match was targeted instead.

I doubt if I will go through the same traval arrangements again unless I have a Sherpa to carry my bags. Shannon - Stansted - Liverpool St - Waterloo - Gare du Nord - Metro is a hard sell for the future.

Had a great day Friday, lunch in the sun, beers at the the Trocadero looking down towards the Eiffel Tower, lads and lassies from Belfast, Waterford, Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Clare and everywhere playing tip rugby and managing not to break a window. A bunch of English joined in too - the only ones who didn't buy in were the French security.

As for the match ... well the stadium is outstanding, not as steepling tall as the Millenium and good views all around. Much easier to get there, in, and out of than Croker.

Loads if Irish there - eternally optimistic, but praying for a loss by less than 7. Anthems were great. Ireland's call sung respectfully, la Marseillaise put the shiver up the spine and, as the teams broke up and lined up for the kick-off, a rousing unplugged Amhran na bhFiann. Some of the Norners near us were less than impressed.

We just didn't have it in the night. This was very disppointing as the French looked so poor at times. How often have France failed to put real width and pace on the ball across the backline in Paris? To be honest the French crowd only cheered three times in the whole match, the anthem and the two tries. Beyond that, it was sqeauky bums all around. Chris White delivered for the French, but we drove his van. Some of the ill-discpline was shocking and for me displayed a total lack of confidence/concentration/cohesion. Few players really showed the leadership on the pitch - Easterby, BOD, Hayes; hard to go beyond them without lowering standards. All in all I feel that they will all go home with reputations diminished and futures uncertain.

The wives watched the match in a bar outside the stadium, with some 60 year old dear. Her husband spotted Eithne and Fiona, and dropped her - he must have thought she was a grenade because he ran away like he was holding the pin. They watched the match in in a half empty bar amongst an attitude of expectant indifference. French supporters are like Kilkenny and Kerry - they just can't be arsed until the final is reached. No jersies, balloons, music - nothing. Just gouged people on prices.

Overall, a bad night but an experience. Time heals all wounds and the IRFU know they will sell out the three 6N home games next spring. Fans are fickle indeed - they forgive and forget.

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

NZ v France 1999

Good video, 9 minutes no dossing there....only watch during lunch break.

Team for Sunday

This is what I hope EOS picks and hopefully it will deliver a victory. The required number of tries is another matter.

15. Demspey
14. Murphy 13. BOD 12. Darcy 11. Hickie
10. ROG 9. Reddan
1. Horan 2. Flannery 3. Hayes
4. Mal O'K 5. POC
6. Easterbunny 7. Quinny 8. Leamy

16. R Best 17. S Best 18. O'Callaghan 19. N Best 20. Stringer 21. Wallace 22. Horgan

Horgan is out for lack of form and clearly not recovered enough after injury. We need tries so Trimble goes as he is not a real finisher. Hickie offers something in this area. I still think that ROG has a big game left in him.

In the pack Donncha has got to go, big Mal won't weaken the lineout. Wallace is finished due to ankle injury so I would give Quinny a start as he has a wrecking ball presence and offers more than Neil Best who runs like Helen Keller on speed and steroids - all action, doesn't look, doesn't listen. Leamy just about survives, bring on Best for Leamy with 25 mins to go. I don't think that Wallace is anymore of a ground hog loosie than Quinlan in his current form.

I'd start Fla' over Best but if we start losing lineouts, EOS has to be ruthless and take him off immediately.

I don't agree with Franno's suggestions about BOD at 10. Mind you, given ROG's fragile state and Contepomi's familiarity with all of the Irish, he is in for a tough night.

Otherwise, we'll be fine. Let's give it a lash!

Monday, 24 September 2007

Penalty Points

How can the tournament be taken seriously when Scotland field a B team against the all blacks? Surely they now need to bring in penalty points on top of the bonus points.

But onto more important questions, like will Johnny Wilkinson break the Rugby World Cup points record against Tonga?

I have to say as soon as O'Gara missed the penalty I felt the match was over. Now to see if Ireland can stay in the tournament everyone has to get out the calculators. What happened, did winning Europe finish the Munster boys?

Friday, 21 September 2007

Le Crunch Match

Two big events today, let's talk about the match first.

Lots at stake tonight for both teams - we lose by > 7 points and we're going home regardless of our Argentina result; they lose by any margin and it's au revoir to the hosts. I think most would agree the tournament would be the poorer without them. Lot's of other distractions this week for our camp, but Eddie will use this to motivate the troops. We'll know a lot 20 minutes in, and it could be over for us by half-time. Chabal in the 2nd row will be the focus of our pack, and although he's a huge danger, he is also a smokescreen - I'd be more worried about their back row, especially given the form of ours. O'Gara and the rest of our backs have to find their touches or their back 3 will murder us. Hickie was the only one who did this against Georgia, hmmm. I'm really looking forward to this, it's a war. Heart says a blood and guts performance and we scrape the win, but head says France by > 20 points.

Ruby is 2 today - I've told her this morning, but I don't think she really got it. So, regardless of the result, I'll be celebrating tonight.

Monday, 17 September 2007

Where to start?

Another shocking display against Georgia - this was a great game for the neutral, but in the end we were lucky to get out with a win. Not getting the bonus point means we now have to beat France, and probably Argentina too to avoid an All-Blacks team who would embarrass us. But EOS says it wasn't as bad as the Namibia "performance". Hardly the point, even if it were true.

Given that he picked his strongest team again, and they haven't performed, he has backed himself into a corner. Flannery in against France, but would he have done this if Best not injured, and will our scrum suffer? Back row needed drastic surgery, but hasn't happened. Pack has been fairly awful, particularly in the loose - we need players like Gleeson, Cullen, Jennings but they aren't even in the squad. We have no-one to replace Leamy who has been also below par.

Stringer shocking, deserved to be dropped, but hardly helped by the 8 in front of him. Reddan gets his first start having played no warm-up games, against France who have to win, in Paris, for a mis-firing team who now have to win too. Serious pressure, sink or swim. Murphy desperately unlucky, Hickie too - Trimble will surely be targetted by French back 3, he is defensively weak I think. Chabal is on fire, he'll remember Thomand Park last year - this is payback time. O'Gara not right in the head, but again, no-one better to come in. Dempsey and O'Driscoll the only 2 players who've been anyway close to their best.

Hook on newstalk after the game was priceless. We hear EOS being interviewed, then back to George for comment and he's apoplectic, saying that O'Sullivan has clearly lost his mind, that what he's saying makes no sense, he's hysterical etc.

I'd generally go into any game we play with some optimism, but i have absolutely no hope that we'll beat either France or the Argies. The best prepared team we've ever sent to a World Cup (remind anyone of Woodward and the Lions last year?), and probably the most talented too, will be going home in disgrace.

Saturday, 15 September 2007

South looking North

Howdy from Christchurch. Just off the telly after watching the news. The vibe here is pretty much that all Northern hemisphere rugby is in sorry state and the gap has opened hugely in the last 4 yrs. The commentators here are more or less stating it as fact that New Zealand will play South Africa in the final and treat most games in between as a bit of a distraction ( bar the aussies of course).
It's hard to blame them and for an Irishman down south looking north it makes the so called 'Achievement' of eddy winning a few triple crowns ring very hollow indeed. The holy grail of winning the 6 nations for Ireland would be seen down here as being the best of a pretty bad lot. It makes for dreary reading of the sports columns here- and lets face it sports journalism down under is unreadable at the best of times. However, as a typical romantic irish sports fan I live in hope that Ireland and hopefully one of our celtic cousins has enough in them to knock the tri-nations down a peg or two yet... God.. I forgot about France and Argentina....Think I have to go with dave. Argys for the semis.
Look forward to reading about the Georgia game- to be honest my heart and soul will be elsewhere this weekend, shouting for my beloved red jersey in Croker.
cheers, waughboy

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Gap closing

Yep Kev, the Argies got a good hammering around the pitch. Our lads will have nowhere to hide from the physical stuff. Bonus point in the last minute of the game clock (6th minute of injury time) tells a story.

I saw some of Italy v Romania last night, similar pattern of a real slugfest. Considering POC's comments on how he feels worst getting out of bed after an Italian game, he won't want to play these guys in a hurry.

One slight wory for the future is a scenario where we don't make the QFs and have to prequalify, we will be playing against teams like Romania and Georgia who have a physical approach well beyond what our lads are used to.

This RWC seems to me to be like the last 10 yrs of gaelic football. The gap between the good teams and their lesser opponents has been closed by fitness, workrate and brutal physicality.


Thanks for setting up the blog, Tom.

Anyone notice the Argies really struggle to get 4 tries past Georgia? They (Georgia) were ferocious tacklers and could seriously take your head off in a tackle. I got the hopes up of no bonus point for the Arg, 10 mins to go, still needed 2 tries, but it wasnt to be.

The commentator said a Georgia v Russia rugby match once had a 70,000 attendance!

Anyway, we'll have to bring our "A" game to this match to secure the bonus point. In fact, seeing as the players have watched how the Argies nearly blew it, they'll know they cant be shirking their responsibilities, and will have to get stuck in.

Monday, 10 September 2007


That was some bag of you know what last night. Quick ball from two-man rucks? It just doesn't work. Which team wore the other down over the course of 80 mins? How many points did we score in the last quarter which is when the weaker teams cave in (traditionally)? I wonder is O'Connell asking if they put the fear of God in anyone? Nivea for girls night sums it up for me. What chance changes - not Eddie's style? How many more matches must we endure Stringer for? I wonder if last night was the platinum that O'Gara craves?

Some comments:

  1. Horan - isolated in the loose, no impact in the scrum, spotted him slipping his binding a few times.
  2. Best - rubbish, can only be in the team to bulk up the front row and compensate for Horan
  3. Hayes - As usual, does the limited things well to very well, not fair to expect any more of him. He looks like the only guy who has lost bulk in all the conditioning work.
  4. O'Callaghan - I find it hard to believe that he was on the pitch. He continues to represent the gulf in class between being a good Heineken Cup level player and real international class
  5. O'Connell - really struggling with his game right now. Poor against Scotland and Italy, he had little impact and provided no leadership.
  6. Easterby - one of the better players on the night
  7. Wallace - totally off the pace apart from one excellent foray in support of Dempsey in the 1st half.
  8. Leamy - like Easterby, provided some power in contact, too often iin isolation
  9. Stringer - time to say good-bye, overshadowed by his opposite number - again. Have you ever honesty said he could displace any other teams' 9, apart maybe for England at present?
  10. Happy to float out cut-out passes that had interception written all over them, place kicking malaise betrays serious problems.
  11. Hickie - Clearly not the better of the clash of heads. Seemed intent on justifying his retirement announcement
  12. D'Arcy - Some breaks made but seems to have a sign saying "I'll have the ball on a mo, I'm the one to tackle" on him. On the receiving end of most of the Stringer/O'Gara semaphore/telegraphs passes.
  13. O'Driscoll - One of the better players on the night, struggling with the ineptitude all around him.
  14. Trimble - See comments on O'Callaghan, gulf in class etc.
  15. Dempsey - did nothing wrong but alway happy for others to take on the work of trying to change a game. Just another ordinary Girve game.
A few other observations:

  • Clearly the forwards have done nothing but continuity work and neglected the basic set pieces. Scrums ineffective/insecure, lineouts similarly insecure and no longer a platform for rolling maul. Ball off the top is pointless if the 7 can't get to the first breakdown.
  • Definite reluctance to embrace physicality and impose ourselves on other teams. Seem to have forgotten that you have to win the non-ball parts of the war also. No ability or desire to grunt the ball through rucks - they need a session with Jim Telfer.
  • Total lack of confidence is now a huge issue.



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