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Aisle be Back: Fulltime on the season

Swindale Shield | 30 November 2018 | Kevin McCarthy

Aisle be Back: Fulltime on the season

Above: Northern United celebrate winning their opening Swindale Shield match against Petone back in March. 

Rugby has stopped. In case you hadn’t noticed. Sometimes the news cycle makes you feel like the year never ends, even in rugby.

This off-season will no doubt be full of much speculation and conjecture. If in doubt conjecture.

So anyway, here in no particular order, are some jottings.

  • We’ll know a year from now, but was this the mythical year of losses we had to have in order to succeed in 2019. Get ready for the proverbial rocks under the blanket on the beach line to get a thrashing. At least it isn’t rocks in the head.
  • The Six Nations will be mandatory watching after clear signs the gap between North and South has closed. The All Backs at least can rest up while those up north bang each other about and attempt to build momentum. Team with most to lose? England, who are feeling better but have to sustain that.
  • It’s not me, it’s you. How will Ireland go as the world number one side. Now the expectation is on them to keep winning, and other teams will benchmark themselves and lift themselves against the Irish. Welcome to our world, as the All Blacks might say.
  • The rugby public seem to be taking the spotty Northern tour with an eerie calm. Knives appear well sheathed. Expect all hell to break loose if the All Blacks stumble badly.
  • Who will the new coach be? Well, what we definitely don’t want is a non-race. Steve Hansen by the way should step aside, job well done and if there’s success in Japan, exceptionally well done.
  • There’s an awesome Super rugby 2019 comp coming up soon. Hurricanes can’t fail this year. New coach, the Wiz, Dane Coles back. What could possibly go wrong?



Of course the Hurriblacks v Italy fixture last weekend raised the question of whether Jordie Barrett will become a genuine test wing option.

Will that experiment mean the Hurricanes will give him a trot or three on the flanks to oblige the selectors?

That’s something coaches tend to only do only if it works for them.


It’s the end of the year so people do silly things, because it’s the end of the year. I am not talking about sitting on photocopiers at parties, but the widespread practice of producing World Best XVs in the media.

It’s a parlour game of course, and aimed at thinking through who are the top players in any given position. New Zealanders usually get precious that some overseas bloke they ‘ve never paid much attention to gets picked.

I read them like anyone but they’re just opinions, and like posteriors (photocopied or not) everyone’s got them. Why I think they’re daft in the end is that such teams would probably not be the world best if they ever took the field.

That’s because good and great teams are so much the sum of their parts.

Haven’t you noticed how great teams will spawn newly-minted world class players. Funny that. 

Enjoy the off-season.  There might be a bit of rugby to talk about next year. Just saying.

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

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