Thursday, October 30, 2008

ATT'N: Setanta NA subscribers (re: NZ vs. OZ in HK)

Listen up North American Setanta subscribers, this blows chunks.

No historic All Blacks vs. Wallabies Bledisloe Cup test match action from Hong Kong for you!

A Setanta rep for USA & Canada just replied to me, quote, "Unfortunately, we aren't showing the NZ vs Aus match this weekend. The Bledisloe Cup was recently separated from the Tri-Nations competition, and we weren't able to budget in the extra match."

Solution: GO TO MEDIAZONE RUGBY CHANNEL. But don't be a slow poke -- if you haven't registered an account with them, that'll take maybe 10 minutes. Mediazone'll broadcast the game live onto your computer monitor, and the match will be available therafter for download. Cost is USD$9.99.

Haka and kick-off starts 3:30 AM Eastern Time (ET - ie. New York, Toronto), November 1st (ie. early Saturday morning ET), 2008.

Canada's NH Autumn Tour Internationals

Fast approaching November, which can mean only one thing -- northern hemisphere internationals!

Canada kicks off their annual Fall tour this Saturday in Lisbon, facing plucky RWC upstarts Portugal, before heading to Ireland and the United Kingdowm.

Setanta has picked up Canadian b'casting rights to all Canada's test matches, but they seem to be alternating between live on TV and/or PPV-only on broadband. Check their announcement and schedule here.

Canada's Fall SChedule

Saturday November 1, 2008
Canada vs Portugal
From Lisbon

Saturday November 8, 2008
Canada vs Ireland
From Dublin

Friday November 14, 2008
Canada vs Wales
From Cardiff

Saturday November 22, 2008
Canada vs Scotland
From Edinburgh

Meanwhile, Doug Crosse is reporting from Lisbon that recently-retired star Canadian scrumhalf Morgan Williams will be returning to the international stage this weekend:

With all the players now assembled in Lisbon, Portugal, the first meeting held by coach Kieran Crowley revealed to the team that due to the injury of Phil Mack last week, Morgan Williams would be coming out of retirement to fill the gap against Portugal. The move was neccessary as Ed Fairhurst is still with his club side Cornish Pirates and young Sean White - of the James Bay club - is possibly not ready for such a big first outing.

According to Crowley it was an easy decision to make.

"Absolutely," said the affable New Zealander. "He is still very fit and plays every weekend with his club James Bay and when you look at how he played at the World Cup last year it is a very easy decision to come to."


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Oy, my aching head!

The Cantabs pulled out another NPC title, downing the snakebitten Lions 7-6 to claim the Air New Zealand Cup in a dour game played in the drizzle at Westpac Stadium in Wellington.

*Sigh* At least the Lions still hold the Shield until next season.

Same day, the Sharks defeated the Blue Bulls by a score of 14-9 to win the Currie Cup and claim provincial supremacy in South Africa for the first time in a dozen years.

This morning the All Blacks named a 35-man touring squad for their November northern hemisphere tour and one-off test against the Wallabies in Hong Kong.

The All Blacks will play five tests in five weeks as well as a midweek match against the European champions Munster. The tour kicks off next Saturday when the All Blacks take on the Wallabies in the first-ever off-shore Bledisloe Cup match in Hong Kong. The team then heads to the United Kingdom and Ireland for matches against Scotland (8 November), Ireland (15 November), Munster (18 November), Wales (22 November) and England (29 November).

There are seven new All Blacks (bolded):

All Blacks tour squad

Backs: Mils Muliaina, Cory Jane, Joe Rokocoko, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Hosea Gear, Anthony Tuitavake, Richard Kahui, Conrad Smith, Isaia Toeava, Ma'a Nonu, Daniel Carter, Stephen Donald, Jimmy Cowan, Piri Weepu, Andy Ellis.

Forwards: Rodney So'oialo, Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (captain), Scott Waldrom, Liam Messam, Adam Thomson, Jerome Kaino, Ali Williams, Brad Thorn, Anthony Boric, Jason Eaton, Ross Filipo, Tony Woodcock, John Afoa, Neemia Tialata, Jamie Mackintosh, Ben Franks, Andrew Hore, Keven Mealamu, Corey Flynn.

Meanwhile, Richard Loe has had a gutsful of the different set of rules for international rugby:

IRB must sort out rules nonsense

It's time the International Rugby Board sorted out this new rules nonsense once and for all. The All Blacks on Saturday will be playing under one set of rules against the Wallabies in Hong Kong and then will head off to the UK where they will play under another set of rules. [...]

What is the point of the international game shooting itself in the foot like this? It's a joke. [...] The game has been jerked around with two different versions of the new rules for long enough. It's confusing and boring and ultimately damaging to the game.

The length of time it has taken to complete the transaction - and it still isn't completed, incredibly - is annoying people.

You wonder whether the IRB even realise what harm they are doing the game. First, they can't even agree on which set of rules they want to trial. One set down here, another up there. Good grief."


The rest.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Cantabs vs. Wellington in Air NZ Cup Final

Wellington booked a home Final for the Air New Zealand Cup, downing Southland 28-19. They will host the amazing Red 'n Blacks, who felled the Magpies 31-21 in the other semi. Will fortune favour the home side...?


Woeful history haunts Lions

Wellington will be out to break their finals hoodoo when they take on Canterbury in the capital on Saturday in a repeat of the 2004 national championship final.

For the nearly-men of provincial rugby, Saturday's match will be Wellington's fifth final in six years, with the previous four all ending in defeat.

Complete article here.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Stade Français turns to Warhol

Le troisième maillot du Stade Français version 2008/2009. Ce maillot reprend le visage de la Blanche de Castille façon Andy Warhol.

Is this rugby's worst ever jersey?

RugbyHeaven Wednesday, 08 October 2008

High art, or high farce? You be the judge as the always colourful Stade Français club in Paris launches its latest rugby jersey on the world.

The trendy Parisian club has come up with a garish new design, launched to coincide with the start of this year's Heineken Cup competition, that is either brilliantly chic, or downright sick, depending on your point of view.

This year's design depicts the face of Parisienne 13th-century heroine Blanche de Castille, the wife of Louis VIII, in a multi-coloured design described by club publicists as "in the fashion of Andy Warhol".

Well, they're certainly getting their 15 minutes of fame, and then some.

The shirts made their debut in the weekend's 34-16 victory over Montauban that took the Ewen McKenzie-coached Stade Français eight points clear of Toulouse at the top of the French Top 14.

As usual, the latest designs under the always colourful ownership of the eccentric Max Guazzini have created plenty of chatter.

Some critics have described it as the worst rugby jersey in the game's history. Others love it.

One thing you have to give the club credit for, though, is consistency. Having started the trend with a fluorescent pink jersey that has become their signature look, they have continued to defy critics and fashionistas alike.

Last season saw a light brown number with turquoise stripes and pink flowers and was described by one critic as "reminiscent of an Hawaiian shirt fashioned from some 1970s caravan curtains".

There was also a pink, green and blue effort with tie-dyed blurred lines that drew unflattering appraisals.

Still, the club gets full marks for originality, and, who knows, maybe their persistence will finally see other rugby clubs join the trend.


French TV video news report about the new Stade Français jersey, with action from their debut appearance in a 34-16 victory over Montauban, via youtube:

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Jamaica withdraws RWC bid

A record number of bids, yes, but sadly, there will not be a RWC in the Americas until at least 2023.

Record number of World Cup bids

A record number of countries are set to make official bids for hosting the 2015 or 2019 Rugby World Cup tournaments.

Eight nations - England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Italy, South Africa, Australia and Japan - have confirmed they will tender for the 2015 event.

And eight countries have also expressed interest in the 2019 tournament - Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Italy, South Africa, Australia, Japan and Russia.

Each union had six weeks to review in detail the Rugby World Cup tender document before formally expressing their intention to tender.

Only Jamaica has opted not to continue with a bid to host a World Cup tournament.

"This strong response is unprecedented, and truly reflects the global attraction of the Rugby World Cup," International Rugby Board chairman Bernard Lapasset said. "It also reflects the significant economic benefits that accompany the hosting of a tournament that has grown in stature and prominence as a global event.

"For the first time, the IRB will award two tournaments at the same time. This provides longer-term certainty for the hosts, Rugby World Cup Limited (RWCL) and the tournament's commercial partners.

"It also ensures that future development investment initiatives in the game worldwide can continue to be underwritten by the tournament and planned accordingly.

"The IRB Council will announce the RWC 2015 and 2019 host unions in July 2009, six years prior to the first tournament and 10 years prior to the 2019 event.

"This timetable reflects the scale and nature of the preparatory work in delivering this world-class tournament."