Monday, April 02, 2007

Monday Morning Black Sabbath

August 28, 2006

New Zealand's demolition job on the Springboks at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday is the big news of the weekend. The All Blacks started the game asleep, got a few players sent to hospital, gave a lineout horror show that has never looked worse, and were a class apart.

  • Peter Bills writes:

  • From there, the All Blacks reminded us of the basics required to play this game successfully.

    Paramount among them are speed and guile.

    New Zealand's players had such qualities in bucketloads behind the scrum, South Africa's looked as if they were playing with buckets over their heads, such was the crass lack of vision and invention, not to mention pace.

    The gap between these two great rugby-playing lands is at present more like a chasm.

    New Zealand could get away with a shocking start, yet still score five tries, miss several more and stroll away with victory. Trouble is, they won't necessarily find such indiscipline, charity or rank capitulation being offered by better opponents.

  • Current Tri-Nations Series Table

  • 26 August 2006

    Team P-W-L-D-BP. PTS.

    1. New Zealand 5-5-0-0-2. 22 PTS.
    2. Australia 5-2-3-0-3. 11 PTS.
    3. South Africa 4-0-4-0-1. 1 PT.

  • Via Rugby Planet, New Zealand coach Graham Henry deals with his sides' injuries:

  • Henry summons Afoa and Holah

    Win in Pretoria comes at a cost

    New Zealand coach Graham Henry has called up prop John Afoa and Waikato flanker Marty Holah for their second Test against South Africa at Rustenberg.

    Auckland prop Afoa replaces Greg Somerville who tore the Achilles tendon in his right leg during the 45-26 win over the Springboks in Pretoria on Saturday.

    Holah will cover for the absences of loose forwards Reuben Thorne (broken thumb) and Chris Masoe (sprained ankle).

    The three injured forwards face long spells out of the game, leaving each unlikely to make the New Zealand's end-of-year tour to European.

    Masoe is expected to be out for 4-6 weeks, Thorne for six weeks and Somerville for at least six months.

    Meanwhile, AB fullback Leon MacDonald's injury has ruled him out of the next game, and all four injured All Blacks are expected to return to New Zealand on Sunday.

  • Lucky thugs

  • Springbok captain John Smit and All Black lock Ali Williams have both escaped any punishment for foul play, following New Zealand's emphatic 45-26 Tri-Nations win over the Springboks at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria at the weekend.

    Williams and Smit were cited for alleged foul play during Saturday's ill-tempered clash - which was New Zealand's 15th successive win and South Africa's fifth successive defeat.

    Both players appeared before a SANZAR disciplinary committee, chaired by Australian Harold Shand, on Sunday morning, after the incidents went unpunished by Irish referee Alan Lewis during the match.

    Williams was found guilty for throwing a punch at Springboks lock Johann Muller in the 51st minute, but the committee let him off with a "stern caution" and he is free to play if selected in the return match between the two teams - at Rustenburg's Royal Bafokeng Stadium this coming Saturday.

    Williams was extremely fortunate. He deserved a yellow card. So too did Victor Matfield for a late swinging-forearm high on Dan Carter.

  • How good is the All Blacks 1st-five? John Drake wonders:

  • Carter started badly by his standards, but such is his mental toughness these days that 25 minutes into the match he had the game on a string.

    His kicking from hand and for goal, running and defence were all superb. Have we seen such a complete player in the modern era?

  • From the "Just Go Away, Already" department: Justin Marshall is dreaming.

  • Finally, one to keep your eye on -- Rupert vs. NZRU:

  • The ongoing row about the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) decision to rest 20-odd top All Blacks from the first half of the Super 14 competition next year escalated at the weekend when financial backer News Limited Corporation (or NewsCorp) said they would considered legal action if the NZRU goes ahead with the controversial plan.

    According to a report in the The Daily Telegraph, one of the newspapers in the NewsCorp stable, the NZRU will definitely be in its pocket (some sort of financial compensation) if it does not change its plan.

    And the broadcast rights holder, NewsCorp, also refused to accept the NZRU's reasoning that it is within its rights to stand down 22 players from the first seven weeks of the SANZAR championship - which the Kiwis want to do to keep them fresh for the World Cup in France in September.

    News corporate affairs director Greg Baxter told the newspaper the move would breach a five-year AU$420 million (US$318 million) broadcast agreement signed by the South African, New Zealand and Australian Rugby (SANZAR) alliance.

    Under the contract, all three unions have to make best endeavours to field their strongest teams for Super 14 and Test matches.


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