Friday, March 30, 2007

International Test match season again!

May 31, 2006

The Super 14 season is over, and the southern hemisphere moves into its winter international season. There is going to be a pantload of international rugby in the next few weeks, struggling for attention at the same time as the soccer World Cup. It's going to be crazy!

Thankfully, Rugby Planet has provided an international test fixture list to help us keep it organized. Bookmark it!

I've got my tickets for the England-Canada match at the Churchill Cup (go to that website for regular updates, count me impressed!) in a couple Saturday's.

Of course, the England squad playing in Canada -- the England Saxons -- formerly England "A" -- won't be the first XV England test team. The "real" England test team will be on a two-test tour to Australia.

And equally of course, the NZ Maori side participating at the Churchill Cup will be minus the best Maoris in Graham Henry's 39-man All Black side(s).

The All Blacks schedule the next couple weeks looks particularly weird. Read this story about the ABs lock conundrum to get an idea the difficulty of the logistics of selection. They host a very tough Ireland for a two-test series a week out from playing Argentina. Graham Henry has selected his teams so that ALL of the ABs from the Super 14 Final (Crusaders and Hurricanes) will be rested for then first Ireland test, and hardman Jerry Collins has surprisingly been selected as test captain for the AB team that travels to Argentina. In other words, you're looking at three very different AB test teams for three separate tests. Ireland may very well claim their first ever victory over the All Blacks in over 100 years, and Argentina will be no pushovers. It'll be a huge challenge for all sides fronting up.

Impacting news -- Argentina will front:

Pumas drop strike threat - will play All Blacks

UPDATED 11.40am Wednesday May 31, 2006

BUENOS AIRES - The Pumas have dropped their strike action against the Argentine Rugby Union (UAR) and will play their test matches against Wales and New Zealand, local media reported today.

Argentina meet Wales in two tests, in the Patagonian city of Puerto Madryn on June 11 and Buenos Aires six days later.

They host the All Blacks on June 24.

The Pumas threatened last week not to play the tests in a conflict with the UAR over the structure of national team training, medical cover, expenses and bonuses.

They sparked a week-long crisis when the UAR, close to bankruptcy after losing a court case brought by a player left quadriplegic in a game, announced they would not pay expenses for the June tests.

Rugby correspondent Frankie Deges says it appears the players have only agreed to a temporary ceasefire, with their grievances unresolved.

He said hostilities will no doubt resume in July, after the Pumas have faced the All Blacks and Wales.


Last word: The Churchill Cup organizers did a great promotional job getting out their 8-page supplement to daily newspapers last week, but unfortunately that supplement did a lousy job highlighting the participants -- the teams and legacies. They'll get it sorted out for next time, I guess. Right now, marketing rugby in Canada means repeatedly trying to explain the Rules of the Game in print, since the game isn't shown on TV. No matter, I'm there. If you're in the Toronto / southern Ontario area that weekend (June 10) join in the fun. Go Canada Go!


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