Sunday, July 19, 2009

Advantage: NZ

Tri Nations news . . .

All Blacks come from behind to beat the Wallabies 22-16 and keep one hand on the Bledisloe.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

IRB unveils new Americas tournament; October final in Toronto

[Updated below.]

IRB unveils new Americas tournament

15th July 2009

The ARC is a key component of the IRB's Strategic Investment Programme, which includes significant investment in USA, Canada and Argentina.

The new tournament features six teams, including four provincial sides from Canada joined by the Argentina Jaguars and USA 'A'.

The format unites Rugby in North and South America in a high performance sub-international structure for the first time.

"The Americas Rugby Championship is a huge step forward for elite Rugby in North and South America," said Mark Egan, IRB Head of Development and Performance.

"Canada, USA and Argentina are priority Unions for our High Performance investment programme and their domestic based players and coaches require a tournament format that exposes them to high level cross border competition on a more regular basis."

"The tournament is currently structured to primarily focus on our High Performance Unions in the Region, however, it is hoped that it will expand over time to include other countries such as Uruguay, Chile, Mexico and Brazil."

Canadian Regional teams Atlantic, Ontario, Prairies and British Columbia will re-ignite traditional rivalries in a round robin pool taking place in September. The top four will qualify for the semi-finals held on October 10, with the finals taking place on October 17 in Toronto.

"The ARC competition is key to developing the link between our domestic rugby structure and our national team program. The competition will provide our domestic based athletes with high performance structures and competition pathways that will be used to strengthen our domestic player base on a annualized basis," said Graham Brown, Rugby Canada Chief Executive Officer.

Nigel Melville, USA Rugby Chief Executive, said: "The ARC will provide Eagles head coach Eddie O'Sullivan and his coaches with an opportunity to observe and work with domestically based potential Eagles players prior to the important November international window. The introduction of Argentina and possible expansion to include other teams in the future is an exciting expansion of our cross border aspirations for the event."


I'm not sure how this impacts Argentina's long-rumoured foray into Sanzar competitions, but I've been urging the IRB to get North & South America into some sort of regular competition for the past decade.

Kinda weird how it's four teams from Canada and only one from each of the USA and Argentina, however. I would have believed the Argies were well in advance of Canada, and USA at a similar level to Canada. Will have to wait and see how it transpires.

I'm also puzzled about the calendar. A final in Toronto in the latter half of October is a nail biter. Snow typically doesn't come that way until late-November or December, but it's snowed in late October there before, and regardless will have a chill in the air. That's why Canada usually had it's international test program during the summer months of June to August.

It will be cool to see it expand to additional South American nations, as outlined.


The above report comes directly from the IRB, and it's piss-poor confusion. I've been seeking clarification, but none forthcoming so far. I am guessing that USA 'A" and Argie Jags get automatic berths into the final 4, and the four Canadian teams do a round-robin to determine their two qualifiers. I'm guessing the Americans and Jags contest one semi, to gurantee a Canadian finalist. If that's the case, then the Canadian finalist will have played four matches to qualify, and the other finalist possibly just a single game (?). I dunno, your guess is as good as mine.

2009 Tri-Nations Championship countdown . . .

This year's Tri-Nations tournament kicks off Saturday (wee hours of the morning up here) at Eden Park, where the upstart Australia Wallabies meet the defending champion hosts New Zealand All Blacks.

Bartman at The Silver Fern examines the history, and looks for portends:

Tri Nations train spotting

Tri Nations time, and it's been around for a while now, since 1996 in fact, so lets have a look at t a few of the fact and figures since its inception last century.
AS we all know, the All Blacks have been dominant over the 13 series so far. And we'll dwell on this fact for a while, as this season could be an aberration, and the trophy might get carried off to foreign shores... But we won't dwell on that too long, the foreign shores thing. Lets instead look at the 9 series wins from 13 starts for the All Blacks!!


So what do all these facts and figures tell us leading into the 2009 series? Basically, Didly squat! It does tell us though that during the reign of King Henry the All Blacks have been pretty hard to beat at Tri Nations time, Australia are always the bridesmaids, the the Boers, it's all or nothing!!

Read the whole thing!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Canada into All Blacks pool RWC 2011

Last Saturday, July 4th Independence Day, Canada fell to USA in World Cup qualifying, played in 100 degree heat in the welter of a humid South Carolina summer, by a score of 12-6.

That test was carried on ESPN until half-time, when the murder of ex-Titans quarterback Steve McNair broke and became their main priority, and the test match got bumped to ESPN2. TSN in Canada, carrying the qualifier for free, televised the whole test, their first rugby broadcast on that network in probably a decade.

The winner of the RWC Americas 1 qualifier would be comprised of a cumulative (or as the soccer folk say, "aggregate") score over a two-test home-and-away series.

The rubber match was yesterday in Edmonton, and Canada not only had to win, they had to win by at least six points to cover their defecit.

(Sadly, the ball got dropped, and neither ESPN or TSN, nor any other networks, picked up the return rubber-match played in Edmonton for broadcast. Some of us tried to view via a live stream of the match, but the audio-video quality was dodgy, to say the least.)

The uptick is that Canada pulled off the comeback, and has now qualified for RWC 2011, and will be slotted into Pool A, along with powerhouse France and the superpower tournament host New Zealand All Blacks.

Canadian coach Kieran Crowley will doubtlessly feel chuffed this morning. The former All Black played a test match for the inaugural RWC in 1987, also hosted in NZ,. and the All Blacks only RWC championship title. Crowley almost certainly wanted to bring his new team back home, and play against the host side. Hopefully it will also provide a Canadian media boost for the tournament.

The United States, meanwhile, need to ice their bruises and get ready for another elimination qualifier to secure the Americas 2 slot, and will face a torrid time from the improving Uruguay.

Canada make the World Cup

July 12, 2009

Canada has become the first nation to qualify for Rugby World Cup 2011 through the qualifying rounds, beating the USA 41-18 on Saturday.

The hosts had gone into the second leg in Edmonton needing to overturn a six-point deficit after losing the first encounter 12-6 in Charleston last weekend.

Canada's emphatic win at Ellerslie Rugby Park gave them an 47-30 aggregate victory and a place in Pool A with New Zealand, France and Tonga as well as the Asia 1 qualifier - likely to be Japan.

The USA are not yet out of thr running; they face Uruguay over two matches to see who will join Australia, Ireland Italy and another European qualifier in Pool C.

The Canadians, who have played at every Rugby World Cup to date, had moved ahead on aggregate by the 25th minute with James Pritchard, who had already kicked a penalty, crossing for the opening try after some good work by the impressive centre DTH van der Merwe.

With Canada leading 10-0 after Pritchard added the conversion, things got worse for USA within a minute when centre Paul Emerick was sent off by referee Alan Lewis. The hosts made the most of their man advantage with Adam Kleeberger and Justin Mensah-Coker crossing for tries to make it 24-0 at half time.

The Eagles needed to score first if they were to have any hopes of salvaging an unlikely victory against a Canadian outfit playing an attacking brand of rugby. Hercus did just that with a 51st minute penalty, but that was cancelled out by a try from the hosts' scrum-half Ed Fairhurst.

Wing Kevin Swiryn crossed for the Eagles' first try just before the hour mark, a score converted by Hercus, and the fly-half then kicked a penalty to cut the deficit to 31-13 on the day - 37-25 on aggregate - but there was to be no comeback with Canada crossing for a fifth try within minutes.

Van der Merwe had been exploiting the space created by Emerick's sending off and creating opportunities for Canada and was finally rewarded for his impressive display when the centre crossed for his side's fifth try of the afternoon in the 69th minute.

Canada increased their advantage when wing Matt Evans touched down, before USA captain Todd Clever scored a consolation try five minutes from time. It was the Canadians and an excitable crowd of around 5,000 who were celebrating come the final whistle.


Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The Lone Gunman

It defies belief, but the FFR is washing their hands and passing the buck on l'Affaire Bastareud with an obvious cover-up to protect conspirators and blame it on a single man.

I am sure Laurent Bénézech will have more to say about this obvious smoke-screen (see previous posts).

Google translation:

The development of Pierre Camou

In an interview published by Midi Olympique, the president of the Federation reaffirms its support for the staff of Blue and announced that the Disciplinary Committee should punish the player.

As the father of Mathieu Bastareaud has proclaimed his anger in the press last week - including denying having cancer while the information was issued by the player himself to the doctor of the team of France - Pierre Camou is also emerged from his silence. Questioned about this at the conference of the Federation in Strasbourg last weekend, the president of the FFR, whose silence became heavy, has finally delivered his opinion on this matter in an interview published by Midi Olympique on Monday .

Annoyed by some questions on this lie became an affair of state after the apologies of the Prime Ministers of New Zealand and french, the successor to Bernard Lapasset strongly reaffirmed the continued Jo Maso at his post. Some spoke of a possible dismissal of manager of the French team, but Pierre Camou said he "was never in danger." If it concedes the lack of relevance of a night out between two tests, it vigorously defended his staff: "I say, I repeat and I repeat: everyone has fulfilled its role, ensures there. I want to reiterate that the players are professionals (...) The players are adults. You can not put a guard in front of each room. It is their responsibility. "

"There will obviously a sanction"

Mathieu Bastareaud should be the only one to pay the mess in this case. "The Disciplinary Committee has received, it will be independent in its investigation and then, proposals for possible sanctions", said the president of the FFR, as that "there is obviously a penalty, if only in relation to the injury of a people, an entire nation, had to endure." There are still no date fixed for the consideration of case of player who, moreover, is always placed in a clinic in the Paris area to rest.

"What worries me most is the health of the player," says Pierre Camou. A health condition which returned Max Guazzini in the Sunday issue Stage 2, providing further reassurance. But the president of the french stage once again threw the trouble on this matter very opaque in stating that "if (Bastareaud, NDLR) not telling the truth, perhaps because it protects people ... "The investigation requested by the President of the FFR is supposed to shed light on this matter." ...

Total farce.

Continuing & complete coverage of L'Affaire Bastareaud, click here.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Bloodhound Bénézech tracks the conspirators

Ex-France international test prop Laurent Bénézech continues his superlative sleuthing, and advises the young Mathieu Basteaud to come clean, tell the whole truth, stop protecting the guilty and co-conspirators, for the good of French rugby and his own mental health.

Excerpt (Google translation):

Mathieu Bastareaud: Why must now tell the truth!

2 July 2009

Mathieu Bastareaud is not only involved in the case Bastareaud!

If one follows the course of the versions of events given to the press and that we proceed by elimination, one can conclude that the attack on the young French center stage took place within the hotel and can not come from a clash on the night table of his room since the New Zealand Police found no trace of blood on the furniture. It appears therefore more and more obvious that the player was struck that, as a former rugby player and without, of course, an expert with the courts, seems the most plausible. Taking into account the player's body, the size of the cuts and bruises on his face, it seems obvious that he was struck by someone stout and strong enough to reach such a result. In any case, anything that does not resemble the passivity of furniture, even solid oak! Indeed, evidence is emerging: Mathieu Bastareaud, its fanciful versions protects her abuser!

And this is where things do not seem consistent. What interest Mathieu Bastareaud lying? He claimed to have done to protect his international career. But why, then, Mathieu Bastareaud not telling the truth as it is not aggressive aggressor? The only person to have committed a mistake at this point is that (or that, but it is unlikely given the result of impact) that hit the player in the face. Panicked because he claims Max Guazzini, uh ..., Mathieu Bastareaud pardon himself. But panic over what? In fact he was injured? But then the story of the night table was, at that time, perfect to avoid any further criticism than the awkwardness and alcoholic especially since the staff of the French team had given permission to players out, so drink, to be clumsy in returning. This is where nothing I want and where more and more difficult to believe that Mathieu Bastareaud was not alone at the time to build a lie to explain his injury!

Mathieu Bastareaud has no choice now!

If the young French center stage to avoid paying for others, he must now speak. It must give the true version of events. He must explain what happened before between 5:22 and 5:47, and secondly and more importantly, what happened from the time it was recousu by Dr. Hager. What risk there more? It is already condemned by the Federation and the Prime Minister of France. And if a few good friends advice him promise that his silence is the best way to avoid too heavy a sentence, Mathieu Bastareaud should know that this is wrong!

The young French center stage is now designated as guilty only by what he is all alone to take the lie of the alleged assault outside the hotel by New Zealand nationals. But now it is proven to have been assaulted inside the hotel and clear as it was by a natural person and not a piece of furniture, Mathieu Bastareaud can no longer be accused of having been the only one lying. There are at least one other person who knows the truth, his assailant. Plus, maybe, if we are going to be assumed that the first version of the facts, which seems many arrange french camp, has been blown by Mathieu Bastareaud others.

Why do I pretend that the first version arrange many french camp? Simply because if the player was attacked inside the hotel, he could not have been, or by someone outside the French delegation, either by someone who is gone. If we accept the first option, why invent a version where the action took place outside the hotel when it happened in there? As against, if we accept the second option, this was a much more logical Mathieu Bastareaud was assaulted by a member of the French delegation, which gives an explanation for the clear starting to lie about the reasons for the injury to the face of the young Parisian.

The supervision of the French team in the secrecy of lies?

Obligatoirement, Mathieu Bastareaud and the assailant knew from the outset the facts! That is obvious. Them only? This is where I am taken to a huge doubt. I find it hard to believe that the aggressor, having placed his right (or left, once again I am not an expert with the courts) on the cheek of the player, has recouche as if nothing had happened . So I think it quickly sober by the consequences of his action, accompanied her partner to the room of Dr. Hager and thus, de facto, the now famous Dr. Jean-Philippe Hager knows the name of the abuser Mathieu Bastareaud And if Dr. Hager knows the name of the abuser from Mathieu Bastareaud, the same goes for the whole of the guidelines of the French team! So, logically, Mathieu Bastareaud could use the version of the attack outside the hotel with the blessing of the overall supervision of the French team. And when I say a blessing, I am compelled to ask whether it, as it would have us believe, Mathieu Bastareaud who is from the version or if, as is now possible, this version it was strongly suggested by promising that it would bury the case was not yet one.

When I say that I believe that the assailant with the victim, I have no certainty of course other than to think that whatever it is, the assailant had the presence of mind to worry the state of health of his partner to bring to the doctor's room. This is the normal behavior of a rugby player for one of our partners even if he is the cause of the injury. And that's what makes me think that Mathieu Bastareaud is only an instrument which has served a version of facts was to stifle what is supposed to be a case. The problem is that we came today to reverse the effect that the young French center stage must defend himself for not being the ideal sentenced to hide the huge gaps that this story reveals! MATHIEU, YOU MUST SAY THE TRUTH IS YOUR INTEREST ...

Continuing & complete coverage of L'Affaire Bastareaud, click here.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Tragique Bastareaud jumped in a river

The Times (UK) reports:

A France rugby international who sparked a diplomatic incident when he falsely claimed that he had been assaulted by New Zealand fans has been admitted to psychiatric care after reportedly throwing himself into the Seine.

Mathieu Bastareaud, 20, is said to have attempted suicide after telling friends he could not cope with the scandal that erupted when his lies were uncovered by police in New Zealand. The incident has become an embarrassment to French rugby authorities amid claims that they helped to cover up a hotel room fight between players and left Bastareaud to face the controversy on his own.

Bastareaud is a rare representative of France’s troubled suburban estates in a sport dominated by players from a white provincial background. This, his friends say, has exacerbated his mental fragility. “He sent me a text saying he couldn’t stand this harassment,” said Mathieu Blin, a team-mate at the club Stade Français. “Now he’s completely gone off the rails.”

French media reports said the rugby player told friends that he was suicidal after being sent home from France’s tour to New Zealand and Australia. LÉquipe, the sporting daily, said he jumped into the Seine at the weekend.

Complete coverage of L'Affaire Bastareaud, click here.

French PM writes letter of apology

Telegraph (UK) reports:

01 Jul 2009

Mathieu Bastareaud lie over assault prompts French Prime Minister to apologise

French Prime Minister Francois Fillon has written a letter of apology to his New Zealand equivalent, John Key, after France centre Mathieu Bastareaud admitted to lying about an assault in Wellington last month.


In his letter, Fillon told Key: "By his false statements, as a result of which you had to intervene publicly, he seriously tainted the image of your country and its people."

Fillon said that he "regretted this incident" and added: "Our two countries share the culture of rugby.

"This sport has always allowed us to meet and to share a mutual respect. I hope that these sentiments will continue after this regrettable affair."

Bastareaud meanwhile has been admitted to hospital with what has been reported as serious psychological problems after the worldwide interest into the incident affected his mental state.

The Stade Francais centre, who had been due to go on a family holiday to the Caribbean this week, is expected to stay in hospital for at least a fortnight under observation.

The 20-year-old, who made his debut for France last year, has been backed by the French players' union, Provale, who issued a statement saying: "We solemnly demand that the media storm which nurtures doubts and fantasies ends immediately. We want above all that his privacy be respected and we hope that he makes a return to the pitch as quickly as possible."

But French Rugby Federation (FRF) president Pierre Camou, was less forgiving and condemned Bastareaud's behaviour.

"To be an international carries with it responsibility as a representative of your country and your federation," a FRF statement read.

"The FRF is shocked that one of the French XV has lied. The New Zealand nation and the world of rugby can legitimately feel wounded by the player's initial statements which have also tarnished the image of French rugby."

Full coverage of L'Affaire Bastareaud, click here.