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Aisle be back: Ireland

Club Rugby | 23 November 2016 | Kevin McCarthy

Aisle be back: Ireland

Above: All Blacks right wing Israel Dagg makes a break for it against Ireland on Sunday morning. Photo credit: Google Images. 

RLM

The judiciary has spoken, and I think  got it right concerning Sam Kane and Malakai Fekitoa's citings from Sunday's Dublin rematch.

Not that the more vehement Irish critics will be satisfied. Indeed, the Fekitoa ruling (reckless but not intentional, but warranted a red card, not the yellow) will probably stoke the fires, and with some justification.

Sam Cane's head clash with Henshaw, although with more unfortunate consequences, never looked likely to get pinged and rightly so.

But Fekitoa's head high was always in the danger zone. The Irish gripe will be that, in the 48th minute and the scores just 5 points apart, a red card is a game changer.

Getting a "virtual" red card a few days later is all very well, but not something that will change any results.

Heaven forbid that we move to have a judiciary panel TMO making in-match calls on red versus yellow. But even when a citing panel has time to review, it still leaves plenty of room for murkiness.

In Fekitoa's case, what does "not intentional" mean? Presumably that he meant to make a punishing tackle rather than take off the head off the Irish player and physically harm him.

But to me the way he chose to tackle (on the high side) was intentional. He didn't intend for it to go wrong, but I don't think players should be absolved when they put themselves at risk of committing foul play.

In a team sense, I see some Irish media have described the All Blacks mindset as dark and disturbing.  I doubt New Zealand fans saw anything other than what they expected - a substantial lift in intensity that was enough to squeeze across the line.

In the end, the All Blacks made twice as many tackles as the Irish - yet the Irish missed tackles at twice the NZ rate.

So despite dominating possession, there is the tale of Ireland's demise. But a heck of a challenge all the same.

Incidentally, if you like stats, check out this story link - about my favourite magazine, The Economist, trying to get under the hood of All Black success.

The conclusion they reach as to the main predictor for match outcomes is an interesting one.

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As heartening as it is to see some nations like Ireland and England lifting their levels, it's mortifying to see Springbok rugby now hitting the depths.

Sunday's loss to Italy was staggering, almost as much so as Japan's World Cup triumph.

Where we go from here is anyone's guess, but these are the Boks. Were they, our greatest rivals, to go into terminal decline, it would be a very sad day for New Zealand rugby.

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A week ago I had thought about lampooning some the very ugly alternate strips on parade in some of the Northern Hemisphere matches, with France's funky tricolor look being a prime offender.

France should wear blue as their home strip. Just like the All Blacks should wear black.  And Aussie should bring back the gold.

However, I did not realise that the latest incarnation of the New Zealand jersey was just around the corner, a two-tone bob each way. At least it isn't Cardiff 2007 slate.

Now of course we already have an historical away strip (white top, black shorts).

So I guess this is a marketing move - and no, I not bagging the realities of mordern rugby branding.

But hey, just remember, Darth Vader chose black. And he never feels the need to stray.

Lifelong All Blacks supporter Kev has followed the Hurricanes since they began. This year his faith in them was rewarded when they won the title. 

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