Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Rusty All Blacks beat England by 21

November 6, 2006

The big talking point from many England fans over yesterday's test loss to New Zealand was the disallowed try to Jamie Noon in the games' first ten minutes.

R.T. commentaria:

1. It looked like a fair try. I probably would have awarded it.

2. Having said that, the TMO video evidence was inconclusive. You did see Ma'a Nonu get his arm under Noon's body, and you never saw the ball grounded. Ergo, there was no conclusive proof. Again, although I felt the try should have been awarded, I understand the reason why it wasn't.

3. Again, the non-try came in the games' first ten minutes, not the last ten. Any England fan that thinks that TMO decision was the difference between the two sides is sadly deluded.

Simon Barnes, chief sports writer at The Times, asks what has happened to the defending world chumps:

THE World Cup can’t come soon enough for England. Just think of it. Some time next year, each member of the England team will be able to look at himself in the mirror and say: it’s all right. We are not world champions any more. Nothing more is expected of us, other than that we do our damnedest. Has any side in any sport ever worn the robe of champions with such lack of distinction, such plain straightforward embarrassment? For alas, the side that play in England shirts these days are simply not the world champions. Those were some other guys from way back. This is a new lot, doing their damnedest as usual, and alas their damnedest was not enough yesterday. That’s sport.

But the mute plea from England is: please let us forget that an England side, wearing very similar shirts to our own, won the World Cup three years back. Watching England reminds me of Lenny the Lion. Lenny the Lion was also from way back, a massively popular ventriloquist act.

Lenny was always introduced in outrageous terms: the greatest — the bravest — the amazing — the wonderful — Lenny — the — Lion! Cue Lenny: “Aww, don’t embawwas me!” The England rugby team have become the Lenny the Lion of world sport. It’s England — the great — the unbeatable — world champions ! Cue any present England player: “Aww, don’t embawwas me!” There was a long, long moment when it seemed that this entire match would be the most colossal embawwassment. The England defence suffered a collapse at the end of the first half and let New Zealand in for two marshmallow-soft tries. For a sustained and ugly period, it seemed as if England would end up with a Japan or Romania scoreline.

Source: The Times

James Lawton asks the same question at The Independent:

Shock and awe leave Robinson stunned

When Danny Grewcock bent down to pull the hair of All Black Andrew Ellis - and Daniel Carter promptly stepped up to plunder another three points so casually he might have been tossing a dart in his local bar back home in Christchurch - it was almost too painful to note the expression of the England head coach, Andy Robinson, and the man who now holds his fate in his hands, the director of rugby, Rob Andrew.

For one moment of absolute futility the future of English rugby was thrown into a nightmarish perspective. The question, a year before England are required to defend the title which might have been collected on another planet in another age rather than in Sydney three years ago, was inevitable as they slid to their sixth straight defeat: have world champions in any sport, in any circumstances, ever fallen quite so far quite so quickly?

Source: The Independent.

Mick Cleary at The Telegraph provides some telling stats:

England's record defeat at Twickenham tops the 29-11 loss to South Africa in 1997.

England have now lost six games in succession their worse sequence since 1972.

This was New Zealand's highest score and biggest margin of victory against England at Twickenham. Their previous best came in 1999 when they won a World Cup pool match 30-16.

New Zealand have now won 22 games out of 29 against England.

New Zealand have now won four games in succession against England. England's last win against All Blacks was in Wellington, June 2003.

Source: Telegraph.

An upper-class twit at The Times (UK) -- there is no byline, but from the noxious fumes and self-importance one can only presume it's Stephen Jones -- is taking credit for the All Blacks forward superiority:

The improvement in the New Zealand pack in the past 18 months has been little short of sensational. I am still waiting to hear from the New Zealand government, especially its awards division, for recognition of the part I played in that renaissance, although I am prepared to acknowledge some assistance from Graham Henry and one or two others. But after New Zealand finally realised that for 12 years their forwards had been as useless as I always said, they have reconstructed.

Source: The Times.

If you really get off reading screeds ripping knives into England's slumping national rugby team, there's more at, the BBC, Mick Cleary, Brian Moore and England's RWC-winning captain (now retired) Martin Johnson all in The Telegraph, David Hands at The Times, and Paul Rees at The Guardian. And Brendan Gallagher of The Telegraph thinks the AB win was all Dan Carter.

Final point #1: One of the reasons I love rugby union came near the end of Sunday’s first half. The clock had ticked past the 40-minute mark and the referee, at his discretion, allowed Dan Carter to re-start by a kick and end the half after that play. Nearly two minutes expired on a single play. Four possession changes and countless offloads later, All Black prop Carl Hayman dotted down the best try of the game (and Hayman’s first-ever international try!) in spectacular style. One of THE tries of the year. If the sport is anything but rugby, that half is whistled dead and the teams are in the changing sheds. The sequence was breathtaking and brought me out my seat punching the air. It was also a dagger to England's hopes.

Final point #2: Danny Grewcock is STILL an idiot. Why England continues to select this brain-dead liability is something only the RFU knows and every other international coach can only rub their hands in glee. Grewcock does more damage to his team and sport than any good he does. His deliberate hair-pulling of AB debutante scrumhalf Andrew Ellis is another incident in a long grocery list of Grewcock's moronic thug behaviour.

Final point #3: The greatest horse race in the world, the Melbourne Cup, goes tonight ET (Tuesday afternoon Australian time). It's a wide open field, but I'm taking this past weekends' VRC Derby winner EFFICIENT, kiwi raider MANDELA and Yankee invader TAWQEET in a box.


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