Monday, April 02, 2007

Fall tours kick-off this weekend!

November 11, 2006

The northern hemisphere Fall tours commence this weekend with a couple of (potentially) great test matches. The Australia Wallabies travel to Millenium Stadium to take on hosts Wales in the first test on Saturday. Wales look set playing at home. The Wallabies are a bit rusty. The big talking points coming into the test are the captaincy of Phil Waugh; George Smith is missing; and the Mat Rogers & Stephen Larkham switcheroo. I don't know if that experiment will work, but unlike Rugby Planet, I can't see the Ozzies losing.

Rugby Planet has a full preview and a head-to-head. Details from their preview:

Wales: 15 Kevin Morgan, 14 Gareth Thomas, 13 Tom Shanklin, 12 Gavin Henson, 11 Shane Williams, 10 Stephen Jones (captain), 9 Dwayne Peel, 8 Ryan Jones, 7 Martyn Williams, 6 Jonathan Thomas, 5 Ian Gough, 4 Ian Evans, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Matthew Rees, 1 Gethin Jenkins. Replacements: 16 Rhys Thomas, 17 Duncan Jones, 18 Gavin Thomas, 19 Alun Wyn Jones, 20 Mike Phillips, 21 James Hook, 22 Mark Jones.

Australia: 15 Chris Latham (vice-captain), 14 Clyde Rathbone, 13 Lote Tuqiri, 12 Stephen Larkham (vice-captain), 11 Cameron Shepherd, 10 Mat Rogers, 9 Matt Giteau, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Phil Waugh (captain), 6 Rocky Elsom, 5 Daniel Vickerman (vice-captain), 4 Nathan Sharpe, 3 Rodney Blake, 2 Tai McIsaac, 1 Al Baxter. Replacements: 16 Brendan Cannon, 17 Benn Robinson, 18 Mark Chisholm, 19 Stephen Hoiles, 20 Josh Valentine, 21 Mark Gerrard, 22 Adam Ashley-Cooper

Date: Saturday, 4 November 2006
Kick-off: 14.30 (09:30 am ET)
Venue: Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Expected weather conditions: Scattered clouds with a high of 10°C. But the roof may be closed anyway, so...
Referee: Steve Walsh (New Zealand)
Touch judges: Paul Honiss, Bryce Lawrence (both New Zealand)
Television match official: Kelvin Deaker (New Zealand)

Prediction: Wales by seven in a match that is lower scoring than anticipated.

  • Also -- Rugby Planet: Wales vs. Australia head-to-head.

  • Remember, remember, the Fifth of November.... The New Zealand All Blacks travel to Twickenham on Sunday (Guy Fawkes Day) for a big test against the current World Cup champion England. Rugby Planet sets up an escape clause before the match even starts, bemoaning all the injuries and unavailability of English internationals. New Zealand coach Graham Henry has pencilled in a very strong starting XV. The big talking points for the Kiwis going into the game are comments by a hooker who isn't even dresssing for the gamer, Anton Oliver talking about "English arrogance"; the return of Keith Robinson to the starting engine-room; mercurial Ma'a Nonu getting another chance; and original starting flyhalf Nick Evans failing a late fitness test and his replacement by 2005 IRB Player of the Year Dan Carter (the late scratch news is covered here by Wynne Gray.).

    Rugby Planet preview excerpt:

    England: 15 Iain Balshaw, 14 Paul Sackey, 13 Jamie Noon, 12 Anthony Allen, 11 Ben Cohen, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Shaun Perry, 8 Pat Sanderson, 7 Lewis Moody, 6 Martin Corry (captain), 5 Ben Kay, 4 Danny Grewcock, 3 Julian White, 2 George Chuter, 1 Andrew Sheridan. Replacements: 16 Lee Mears, 17 Stuart Turner, 18 Chris Jones, 19 Magnus Lund, 20 Peter Richards, 21 Andy Goode, 22 Mark Van Gisbergen.

    New Zealand: 15 Malili Muliaina, 14 Rico Gear, 13 Ma'a Nonu, 12 Aaron Mauger, 11 Joe Rokocoko, 10 Nick Evans Dan Carter, 9 Byron Kelleher, 8 Chris Masoe, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Reuben Thorne, 5 Keith Robinson, 4 Chris Jack, 3 Carl Hayman, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock. Replacements: 16 Andrew Hore, 17 John Afoa, 18 Clark Dermody, 19 Rodney So'oialo, 20 Andrew Ellis, 21 Dan Carter, 22 Sitiveni Sivivatu.

    Date: Sunday, 5 November
    Venue: Twickenham, England
    Kick-off: 15:30 (10:30 am ET)
    Conditions: Sunny, dry, moderate westerly winds - max 11°C, min 6°C
    Referee: Joël Jutge (France)
    Touch judges: Stuart Dickinson, Matt Goddard (both Australia)
    Television match official: Christophe Berdos (France)
    Assessors: Ian Scotney (Australia), Bob Francis (New Zealand)

    Prediction: New Zealand might be caught cold by a blood-and-guts start from the hosts, but the game will surely be beyond doubt by the sixty-minute mark. The tourists have too much talent across the board; the home side looks decidedly makeshift. All in all, a damp squib on Bonfire Night. New Zealand by 12 points. prediction: New Zealand by 15 points.

    I agree with the verdict, but points could be tighter. The ABs lineup look too strong here, but tiredness and a first-up hit-out could create a lot of forced & unforced errors. And that line-out still looks dodgy.

  • Rugby Planet: England vs. New Zealand head-to-head.

  • Ex-AB prop John Drake writes his preview.

  • Luigi at The Silver Fern says beating the All Blacks is "simple."

  • Chris Hewitt, chief rugby correspondent for The Independent (U.K.) itemizes England's slide since their famous World Cup victory three years ago:

  • England's decline

    The World Cup holders face a tough quartet of November internationals at Twickenham against New Zealand, Argentina and South Africa (twice).

    Their form going into the games and since they were crowned world champions three years ago is contrasted with that going into their 2003 World Cup run:

    * England have lost their last five matches - Australia (2), Ireland, France and Scotland. This is their worst run since 1984 when they also lost five - Australia, South Africa (2) Wales and France. They last lost six in a row in 1971/72 - Scotland (3), France, Ireland, Wales. England also lost to a President's XV during that streak and drew with France beforehand to make it eight games in all without victory.

    * Since winning the World Cup in November 2003 they have lost 15 of their 26 matches. Up to and including the 2003 final they won 21 of 22 with their only defeat coming when they fielded an experimental team against France in a Marseille World Cup warm-up.

    * Since the World Cup final they have won six of 21 games against the Tri-Nations teams and leading European teams (Six Nations minus Italy).

    * Against the Tri-Nations teams alone they have lost seven of nine. Up to and including the 2003 World Cup final they won 12 in a row against them.

    * In the past three Six Nations tournaments they have finished fourth, fourth and third, losing eight games. In the four Six Nations tournaments before the 2003 World Cup they finished first, second, first and first, losing three games.

    * Since the World Cup England have lost three out of three against Ireland - before then they won eight out of nine.

    * Since the World Cup England have lost three out of three against France - before then they won six out of eight.

    * Since the World Cup England have lost five of their 13 games at Twickenham. Before that they were unbeaten there for 22 games.

    * England began and ended the 2003 World Cup as the number-one-ranked team in the world. Their ranking is now sixth.


    Broadcast times and options in earlier thread (below).


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