Tag Archives: rugby

Lawrence of Anomaly

Standard

It’s tough at the top, or so they say. The reality is that actually it is tougher in the middle. The expectations placed on referees is growing at all levels of the game, and none more so than those lucky (?!) few who make the international grade.

Tomorrow England face Argentina in their opening World Cup clash in Dunedin. The most significant name on the team sheet is that of one Bryce Lawrence, the New Zealand referee charged with the arbitration of the match.

Normally the choice of referee is simply a matter of curiosity as a rugby fan, but this selection has some serious significance. England have NEVER won a game with Lawrence in charge. Coincidence? Maybe.

But then consider that the recent shock (but deserved) win of Italy over France in this year’s Six Nations had signore Lawrence at the helm. In matches with southern hemisphere versus northern hemisphere teams the south have always prevailed. Bias? Maybe.

Worst of all, Lawrence had the most significant impact on the 2009 British Lions tour to South Africa.

He officiated the first test so badly that most international press had a field day in criticising his quality and pedigree – he is after all the only New Zealand international referee (Steve Walsh in now Australian) and his dad was also an international referee.

He came into his own special league less than 60 seconds into the second British Lions test when he made the recommendation to yellow card Schalk Burger for eye gouging! Any under 9 player could tell you that contact with the eyes is a simple and straight red – a concept seemingly way beyond Lawrence. Incompetence? Maybe.

So tomorrow promises to be a tough day at the office for England. Even if a competent display is forthcoming will Lawrence favour the south over the north, the underdog over the favourite, as appears to have been is form for the last 3 years at International level. Anomaly? Maybe…..

Abstain for the game!

Standard

Lent is traditionally the time when we all consider giving up our guilty pleasures for a short period. An abstinence to purge the mind, body and soul. Sometimes too, as the hallowed clock strikes the strokes of midnight to usher in the New Year, we slur some drunken resolution to kick a bad habit. It seems the Kiwi’s have gone a step further…

In order to get the country behind the All Blacks in their bid to win the World Cup (now just 21 sleeps away!) New Zealand Telecom are promoting “Abstain for the game”… In effect, give up the sheep shagging for the entire duration of the competition and help the ABs lift the Webb Ellis Trophy.


You have got to ask yourself – what the hell does refraining from sex have anything to do with the team winning? You could understand the players getting a ban – but the whole country? Is this a subtle but not very effective teenage pregnancy decoy – or was there a massive baby boom 27 years ago that they dont wish to repeat in the current economic climate.

It’ll make the post Try celebrations a little more interesting, the ABs pile on top of one another like footballers, this could be considered a bit of dry humping and surely lead to a ban?! Perhaps all the opposition need to do is bring in some hot, nubile ladies (and sheep for the front row) to distract the under-sexed ABs?!

Rocky Elsom already seems to have got in on the act as he has given up the captaincy of the Wallabies (or had it stripped from him) – which seems staggering given how close the start of the tournament is, and does not bode well for their camp.

Meanwhile, whilst BlackKitGate cools down, the Kiwis are now focusing their shirt wearing wrath at Addidas as a price war has broken out over the cost of replica All Black shirts.

Its probably cheaper to buy the England or Wales away kit instead!

Let slip the dogs of war…

Standard

With what seems like a blink of the eye, the new season has swung round already and Saturday will see the first outing for me to see battle joined for 2011/12.

Training has intensified, but it still feels less like Rocky Balboa and more like too many Rocky Roads in the off season! The key focus for me this season will be to improve my lineout work – which I discovered I clearly have an issue with at the end of the season when we were all asked to submit a review of our seasons assessments. How I had not picked up that lineouts were my Achilles heel is beyond me – but at least I know I can fix it.

My first two fixtures are National League sides – my first are playing a National League touring side from Scotland. Both should prove to be stern tests and provide the right warm up ahead of a hard schedule for the opening two months of the season – which includes five exchanges in the first six weeks!

Its an exciting start to the season too, as shortly after the first whistles are blown the Rugby World Cup will start in earnest in New Zealand. The All Blacks continued to underline their favourite tags with a significant thrashing of the Springboks in a bizarrely half empty stadium in Wellington.

They also unveiled their new look kit – including their new away kit. Which is all white. This after some huffing and puffing from Jonah Lomu about Englands new all black kit! This also followed on from Eddie Jones’ odd outburst about England’s chances at the World Cup (still bitter after 2003 perhaps?!) or perhaps just a lack of recent press/needs a job – this surely means David Campese will be next to come up with some utter bollocks. Given the current up and down form of the Aussies, and the fact we thumped them last time we played them, you think they’d wind their convict necks in!

For now I need to focus on the task in hand and hope I can get through my first match on Saturday.

The Blackness is coming…

Standard

Following the Kangeroo beaters bashing of the Boks in Sydney, the Meat Eaters head down to the ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’ to face the Men in Black, to try and get their teeth into some Kiwi Kai at the Cake Tin.

South Africa v New Zealand in Wellington’s Westpac (Cake Tin) stadium will provide a clearer assessment of the All Blacks progress and preparation for the World Cup, now just 43 days away.

The Kiwi’s looked laboured in their 60-14 thumping of Fiji – who were missing several key players after being shown more red than a Spanish bull in their Japanese ‘seppuku’ during the recent Pacific Nations clash.

Despite resting a number of key players themselves, New Zealand will want to be more clinical against South Africa, who, like the Aussies a week before, will be hurting from the result and desperate to come back strong.

How the Boks bounce back will also be critical. The Aussies smashed them in every facet of the game and led 39-6 with only 20min left on the clock, although they wont be happy at taking their foot of the gas and allowing the South Africans to score a couple of soft tries to leave a more respectable 39-20 scoreline.

So, get ready and set your alarm clocks for some early morning drinking, and log on to listen to the humble rugby master Jed ‘Jedi’ Thian on www.arcrugby.co.nz

Big in Brazil

Standard

There’s a new buzzword in the rugby fraternity of late, and that word is ‘Brazil’! From the land of endless sand, sea and sun comes a new boundless optimism that makes the Energiser Bunny look lame.

The Brazilian rugby team recently wowed the Twickenham crowds at the Middlesex Sevens, providing a flavour of what is to come in the next few years. The demonstrated that their footballing skills are just as sharp on a rugby pitch as they are on football pitch, scoring some outstanding tries that dazzled players and spectators alike.

But their national statistics fail to tell the real story. They are currently 28th in the World Rankings, nestled between Hong Kong and Moldova, but rising slowly and surely. Considering there are only 230 registered clubs and just over 10,000 players (out of a population of over 190 million) that’s pretty good going. They have a 100% record so far against their biggest rivals Argentina and Chile; although there is no doubt that one day they will finally win to dent this unbeaten streak.

But they have a secret weapon on their side. The 2016 Olympics, and more importantly, the inclusion of Rugby 7’s as an Olympic sport for the first time and they see this as an important stepping stone to developing this sport in the country and climbing the IRB ladder in the process.

They are a shrewd lot the Brazilians and they know it’s going to be extremely tough and that some of the disappointing results within the 15-a-side game recently speak for themselves. But I doubt that will stop them…

The Seven Ages of Rugby

Standard

In 1599 Shakespeare quilled As you like it and its indelible ink has stained our consciousnesses ever thus. However, on closer inspection I think the Bard could have been describing the Seven Ages of Rugby:

All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players, They have their exits and entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages.
Translation: All the world is one great big rugby pitch and we are all players. You can be substituted or sent off! There are seven stages of evolution (except for the Welsh!).

At first the infant, Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
Translation: Mini rugby first – with parents wailing like banshees: “snot him Jonny” they scream!

Then, the whining schoolboy with his satchel, And shining morning face, creeping like snail, Unwillingly to school.
Translation: Learning rugby at school, with the disenchanted, the dangerous and the smelly kid that needs to be disinfected.

And then the lover, Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad, Made to his mistress’ eyebrow.
Translation: Got pissed on first rugby tour, caught something dodgy, burns like a furnace when you pee, need to see the nurse.

Then a soldier, Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard, Jealous in honour, sudden, and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation, Even in the cannon’s mouth.

Translation: The little Jack Russell of a Scrum-Half, too slow, too fat, too lazy. Keen to fight the world, and curse and yell. Too many punches to the head have taken their toll and he can no longer see straight. Or put in straight.

And then the justice, In fair round belly, with good capon lin’d, With eyes severe, and beard of formal cut, Full of wise saws, and modern instances, And so he plays his part.

Translation: Wisdom comes late. The “darkside” whispers in your ear and draws you close. You think you know it all. You become a Referee!

The sixth age shifts, Into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon, With spectacles on nose, and pouch on side, His youthful hose well sav’d, a world too wide, For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice, Turning again towards childish treble, pipes, And whistles in his sound.
Translation: Age begins to catch up with you. Your trousers come up to your nipples. Pipe smoke and a pint of Old Mild. The whistle is hung up. You are now a Referee’s Coach .

Last scene of all, That ends this strange eventful history, Is second childishness and mere oblivion, Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
Translation: Dementia kicks in like an abused Blackpool donkey. You become clueless, brainless and downright dangerous. You think cognition is onomatopoeia for the sound your car makes when you start the engine, rather than the sound the hamster wheel makes in your head . You are now the Referee Assessor.

It puts Macbeth into a new light – the first Coach of Scotland!