I often think of Denis Denuto, the hapless lawyer from the movie The Castle.
This week I was reminded of his immortal closing argument in court that “it’s the vibe and aah no that’s it, it’s the vibe. I rest my case. “
The Vibe is around, and its dangerous. Most dangerously, a well-known rugby writer this week wrote that the Hurricanes already looked odds-on to be 2018 champs.
The headline said Title is Canes to Lose. Which they will (lose that is) if they believe the vibe.
Five games in and a modest 19 points, albeit 8 of them won in the best possible way, Kiwi derbies.
Just 80 points conceded, which no other team is close to matching.
A forward pack that’s starting to hum. Few injuries and a lot of depth for when the bad times do roll around.
All of that is true, but we are only four matches on from the Pretoria shocker, and it’s way to soon in such a long competition to get ahead of oneself. That’s the fans I mean; heaven help the team if they were think like that.
So how will we know when the vibe is real for topping the comp and getting home advantage.
Strictly, that usually takes until the last round.
However, in this column’s history of bad use of statistics, I’d suggest history shows (from the last five years) that the round robin winner finishes with a minimum of 3.50 points per game played.
That’s the Canes in the freakish finish to 2016. The Lions in 2017 with their cushioned schedule, racked up 4.33. Others are 4.1 (Canes 2015) 3.66 (Chiefs 2013) and 3.60 (the Waratahs, yes THE Waratahs in 2014). Obviously the comps are all a bit different but that shouldn’t affect the average.
So next time you feel to sure about the Canes, check their average points per game played. Right now they’re at 3.8, so perhaps Denis will be proved right.
But to use another Australianism, one day a rooster, next day a feather duster.
Chief suspects for immediate vibe killing of course are the Chiefs (I see what I did there) and the Crusaders.
The game two weeks from now is pretty critical for the Canes. Keep winning the derbies and of course the rest of the table should look after itself.
That’s because the Australian teams will struggle whenever they play cross-over matches, and the Lions look like they may do the same. So I’m suggesting neither overseas conference is going to throw up a serious challenger to a Kiwi side topping the table.
The Crusaders with the close win over the Lions at the weekend show why they are the paramount threat. They find a way to win, and will keep doing that to the closing round.
It’s hard what to make of the passing this week of New Zealand’s most famous rugby recluse, Kieth Murdoch, but it certainly shines a light on how such thngs would play out today.
In 1972 he was basically sent home in disgrace, and in secrecy, after smacking a security guard at the Angel Hotel in Cardiff.
He perhaps wisely though sadly chose to hop off a plane n Australia, and literally go walkabout for the rest of his life.
If that happened today you can imagine how it would go. There’d be video of the assault, a remorseful and possibly tear soaked mea culpa media conference, and any number of measures put in place to reassure the public and sponsors that lessons had been learned – until next time. In the meantime it would have churned through a maelstrom of social media and opinion spouting.
I’m not saying that is a bad thing, although we could all do with less of the walking cryfest that is Australian cricket.
But it shows the staggering gap in how such matters are treated now. 45 years ago feels like an eternity.
Hurricanes v Sharks, McLean Park, Napier, Friday 7.35pm.
Kevin is a lifetime Hurricanes fan. He and his partner are on a two-year Volunteer Service Abroad posting to Vanuatu's Espiritu Santo island. He's working on a project to build a South Pacific World War 2 museum on the site of an enormous Allied base on the island. Check it out at www.southpacificwwiimuseum.com