Today on Blogcritics
Home » Hands Across The Atlantic For Rugby

Hands Across The Atlantic For Rugby

Please Share...Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Facebook0Share on Google+0Share on LinkedIn0Pin on Pinterest0Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUpon0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone

In 1950, the United States of America's soccer team was responsible for one of the greatest upsets in the sport's history when they defeated that (rather self-appointed) giant of the game England, and now I'd like to extend the hand of Welsh sporting brotherhood to your rugby team.

Yes America – hold your minority sports heads up high once more because you nearly did it again at the Rugby World Cup which is currently flitting between France, Wales, and Scotland in one of those bizarre pieces of sporting politics that makes rugby such fun.

In fact, such was the gnashing of teeth, supping of hemlock, and foretelling of doom precipitated by the USA Eagles' opening fixture against reigning world champs England, it feels like the men in white lost, despite the 28 – 10 scoreline in their favour.

England captain Phil Vickery has subsequently been suspended for what looked like a pretty desperate, panic stricken trip on an Eagle and the English sporting press has launched into an orgy of catastrophe prediction ahead of the next fixture, a far tougher outing against the hugely physical and highly-fancied South Africans.

This is good news for me as a Wales fan – the phrase "As long as we beat the English" has even made it into a Stereophonics song — such is the dislike between the teams' supporters — and, it goes almost without saying that many of the rugby adoring Welsh public will be cheering on the Springboks against the old enemy.

It's important to remember just what a tiny country Wales is to realise what a world-class team means to the nation – it's a news cliché to refer to an "area the size of Wales" when reporting on denuded rainforests and the like.

It's unique in rugby (with apologies to the 1958 World Cup soccer team) that Wales can lay claim to that achievement, making the national game a matter of supreme controversy, and perhaps a little sadly these days emotion and nostalgia – I feel no shame when I can tell you dear Blogcritics readers that I shall be in tears at some point tomorrow: probably just after the national anthem.

Dislike between rugby supporters is a far more restrained matter than the running battles and bottle-hurling of the soccer hooligans; rivalry is generally expressed with good humour, partly because of the games' more middle-class fanbase.

It's a class divide that has helped fuel a long history of animosity between followers of Association Football (what we call football and you call soccer) and the oval ball game, although in Wales and parts of the English west country and the borders of Scotland rugby can claim to be the grass-roots sport.

To make matters more complicated there's even a schism within rugby. The USA Eagles play Union but in northern England rugby more often means rugby league, a tougher game with a stronger blue-collar following, a longer history of professionalism and a different set of rules – it is the closest relatives the British Isles has to NFL and to me, a fan of the 15 man game it's anathema.

To explain the rules of the game would take weeks, so I shan't bore you with my litany of line-outs, scrummages, knock-ons, the contact area, the difference between a ruck and a maul and just what a flanker, fly-half (or stand-off), lock or hooker does. But I would say watch and support your team and take a look at one of the world's great games – a game of speed, skill, courage, athleticism, fair play, respect for match officials and, on occasion, tremendous excitement.

Anyone for rugger then? You don't need to bend it like Beckham, you need to drop it like Jonny, or better still dance like Shane, do you see?

Powered by

About ColinRicketts

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    Rugby, rugby…rugby?

    I haven’t a clue. Is that the sport where you execute the dog that loses with an illegal handgun?

  • Dr Dreadful

    Now that Michael Vick’s NFL career is over maybe he can reinvent himself as a scrum-half in the English Premiership.

  • STM

    Well, Colin, here I am sitting in Sydney, wondering how the fu.k a Rugby World Cup that’s supposed to be in France has Wales playing a game against Australia at – wait for it – Cardiff Arms Park (or what’s left of it after it became Millennium Stadium).

    Hmm. Home game then. Land of our Fathers indeed.

    More like How’s yer father. However, I do agree with you … the Yanks should play more rugby. They looked OK the other night against the Poms.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Stan, the Millenium is actually a brand spanking new stadium, built in a different location from the Arms Park which was still hosting major sporting events while the new one was under construction.

    I imagine the old place has been bulldozed by now to make way for some new houses and a Tesco.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Actually I just double-checked my facts and my memory on the subject is apparently faulty. The Millennium Stadium is indeed on the same site as the Arms Park, but built on a different alignment.

    Immediately after I posted that last comment, the seeds of doubt were sown when one part of my brain told another part, “Didn’t Wales play their home internationals at Wembley while…?”

    So I Googled it, and sure enough…

    Oh well, we all make mistakes – as the hedgehog said climbing off the toilet brush.

  • bliffle

    I get Australian Rugby on the “Megahertz Worldview” network and it’s very enjoyable. And those players are really trim!

  • http://pleasestopstampingonmyhead.blogspot.com/ Colin Ricketts

    Stan, it’s weird isn’t it? I think Wales and Scotland offered to vote for France to host the tournament in return for being allowed home games… I think Wales get a quarter final in Cardiff too. Ahhhh, the feuds, the trading!
    The Old Arms Park (as in Cardiff’s club ground) still exists (I walked past it yesterday) in the shadow of the magnificent Milenium Stadium, still close by the River Taff.
    Wales didn’t really get into the game against the Wallabies until the second half, and then just made too many mistakes – hey ho, the Southern Hemisphere really are a class apart this time around. Still what South Africa did to England (or England did to themselves) on Friday night was something of a compensation.
    Thank you for the comments – I think I’ve done a pretty poor job of selling rugby so I may return to the subject at some point.
    Iechyd da bob Cymru!

  • STM

    Colin: good stuff.

    I’m not sure that northern and southern teams coming from different sides of the draw is great, though, especially for the southern hemisphere teams (perhaps we have to add Argentina to that list now after the touch-up they gave France). It always means that teams like Australia and New Zealand will likely end up playing each other in the semis.

    I do believe the Super 14 is the key here. It’s a very intense competition that pits the best of the three southern hemisphere nations against each other week after week in a club/franchise type arrangement, and gives them a lot of experience playing away games in very hostile environments. Nothing will put more steel and fire in the belly than playing against 15 lunatics who are being fired up by 50,000 baying Afrikaners at somewhere like Loftus Versfeld.

    It also means there is a great player base to draw from for the national sides, although Australia still has a small base as rugby is still the third game after Australian Football(souther/western states) and rugby league (eastern states) – both games abominations, BTW :)

    My tip: South Africa. They are awesome at the moment. The only NH side with half a chance is France, and even though they looked impressive against Ireland last night, I still don’t think they have the fire power.

    But you never know with the Frogs.

  • STM

    Doc, give yourself an upper cut for that one …

  • http://pleasestopstampingonmyhead.blogspot.com/ Colin Ricketts

    I think the draw is always (or at least in my memory) skewed that way to provide a North V South final, which is unfair, as the two best teams are from the South… I don’t like any kind of seeding in any draws to be honest – bring back random!
    England have picked up a bit and played some decent rugby against Samoa in front of a cracking crowd in Nantes – fellow Celts the Bretons, my mother, a native Welsh speaker, was able to converse with Breton speakers with comparitively few difficulties on a childhood holiday there.
    South Africa nearly lost to Tonga, but they were a second string side, which is a worry for the Boks if they suffer injuries or (No! Surely not) suspensions, citings and arrests.
    Admitting that Wales haven’t got a Schroedinger’s cat’s in hell chance of winning it, my next hope is of course that England don’t.
    I hope the All Blacks do it – they’ve been consistently in a different league for years, just never at the World Cup! And no-one wants the Aussies to win it again, do they Stan?
    I’ve never seen any of the Super tourneys but have read it’s very fast and skilfull rugby. Indeed London Wasps coach and former rugby league maestro Shaun Edwards has been writing that it’s the refereeing in the English Guiness Premiership which has stymied British sides, who no longer compete at the break down – reversing the situation in 2003.
    Most people over here reckoned Ireland had the best Northern Hemisphere chance this time but that don’t seem the case any more and their ‘golden generation’ are looking a bit creaky now.
    I’m glad to see Argentina doing so well, they, and Italy in the six nations, show that the game can expand globally.
    I don’t know if you remember it Stan, but one of my treasured sporting memories is of an annual game between Aussie Rules and Gaelic Football teams – once in either code – which had a brief run on terrestrial telly here when our Channel Four used to screen Gaelic and Aussie games – it was the most violent sporting spectacle I have ever seen… “It’s a pass – it’s a brawl!” Ad infinitum, lovely.

  • STM

    Lol. The “International Rules” series. Read: no fu.king rules at all. Australians love a bit of biff with their sport (which is probably why soccer has never really taken off in the Antipodes. So put them up against those other well-known lunatics, the Irish, in a game where you have carte-blanche to belt the sh.t out of your opponent and it’s on for young and old. Mind you, your mob aren’t backward in coming forward, either, are they. And Poms playing good rugby? Nah … Samoa just played badly.

    And in answer to your query, no, of course I would just hate to see Australia win a third world cup :)

  • http://pleasestopstampingonmyhead.blogspot.com/ Colin Ricketts

    Welsh players never cheat, surely that’s a given. Gareth Thomas got those scars extreme gardening!

  • Dr Dreadful

    Australians love a bit of biff with their sport (which is probably why soccer has never really taken off in the Antipodes…)

    Then you probably haven’t been watching the Women’s World Cup, specifically the USA-England game, which had elbows and studs flying everywhere. At least one broken nose on the English side and one ploughed scalp on the American.

    England did amazingly well against the technically far superior USA team. Even from my distant expat perspective it was easy to see why their World Cup campaign has created such interest and excitement back home. It was so refreshing to see an English team actually unafraid to attack, and moving the ball up with pace and purpose instead of what the men seem to always do, which is pass it around aimlessly as if they’re expecting the opposition to just politely get out of the way. Unfortunately, the girls do seem to have inherited their male counterparts’ lack of bite in the penalty area (“But… if I hit it… I might score! And then what would happen?!”).

    Still, for 45 minutes they actually looked better than the Americans – quite impressive for a team that plays for peanuts. They did the country proud and I hope their World Cup showing will encourage the FA to put a lot more money into the women’s game, because they certainly can compete against the best – they now need to start beating them.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Portugal were a bit unlucky today, it seems. That free coaching Stan gave them when he was over there seems to have paid off a bit! ;-)

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Women’s World Cup update… Just watched the USA-Brazil quarter-final on DVR. Most amazing thing I’ve seen in a long time.

    Brazil not only beat the US, they absolutely destroyed them. No small thanks to their striker Marta, who is the most gifted player, male or female, I’ve watched in recent years. She scored two goals and spent most of the evening ghosting past some of the world’s best defenders as if they weren’t there. She makes Ronaldinho look like my mate Andrew playing indoor soccer after an evening in the pub.

    Granted, America had a player sent off who emphatically shouldn’t have been, and their coach made the extremely questionable decision to switch out goalkeepers before the biggest match of the tournament, but that doesn’t take away from Brazil’s performance. And this against the best team in the world on a 52-game unbeaten run. Fantastic stuff. I’m really looking forward to the final against Germany.

    …Well, nothing much seems to be happening in the Rugby World Cup…

  • STM

    Semi, Doc, not quarter, give yourself another upper cut :)

    The result also goes to show just how good Australia is, having lost 3-2 in the final minutes on the QUARTER final :)

  • STM

    Australia having lost 3-2 to Brazil, that is – who are tipped to win the tournament.

    And now, Doc, it will soon be time for some quarter-finals action in the Rugby World Cup.

    Australia now almost certain to meet Poms, with revenge in mind for Cup final defeat that denied us a THIRD world cup four years agao coufrtesy of J.Wilkinson’s last-minute fucking field goal.

    USA vs Samoa the other night was pretty damn good, US lost, but it was a great game. Very willing, if that’s the world to use, as you might expect with the Pacific islanders.

  • Dr Dreadful

    D’oh! You’re right, Stan, it was the semi.

    My brain must be melted from trying to follow the Rugby WC, which appears, after about eight months of occasional games roughly in the same hemisphere as France, which is allegedly the host country, to have progressed as far as the opening stages of the extra-preliminary pre-qualifying round…

    I almost hope we lose to Tonga, if only to avoid the inevitable national embarrassment of conceding a hundred million points to a team of determined Aussies out for revenge. It promises to be as gruesome as the cricket was a few months ago.

    Back to the women: the Matildas did do great as well, although I didn’t record that game so am relying on the BBC website and the ESPN commentators referring back to the match. Sounded like a good game and unlucky on Oz… a bit like 2005, eh? ;-)

  • Dr Dreadful

    2003, I meant. Bugger.

  • Silver Surfer

    Yep, another upper cut there Doc old boy.

    On a serious note (honest), the real reason for the pool rounds dragging out is that rugby players get really physically smashed around; the recovery time is a fair bit longer than most non-contact sports. They can’t play on a Sunday then have another go round on the wednedsay night to speed up the process – it’s too bloody hard on the body.

    Ice baths (Ooh, geez, just the mention of that makes me go brass monkeys) can only do so much before the body starts to arc up from the continual battering.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Then maybe they should have gone with five pools of four teams instead of four pools of five, with the second-placed team with the worst record not qualifying for the quarters.

    What was the thinking behind the format they’re using? Give the minnows a guaranteed number of games and New Zealand some scoring practice?

  • Silver Surfer

    Pretty much. I think the idea is to showcase the game in the countries where it’s not strong (like England :)

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Well, I guess it’s game on, Stan. We managed to find a way round the human volcanoes of Tonga and will face the Wallabies in the quarters sometime around the year 2250. ;-)

  • STM

    Mate, I have to stay that England are very one-dimensional. They are good at the set-piece, as always, and will try to punch the ball up with their forwards through their pick-and-drive game, but in the backs, only Wilkinson at five-eighth (fly half up your way) has anything big to offer. He is at least trying to spark up a mediocre backline.

    And given the amount of time he’s been off the park, that he has been able to give England some new impetus these past few games shows what a class act he really is.

    Australia will be worried nevertheless, especially with his inclusion, and even more so because the Tongans have actually taken to playing rugby, rather than just belting people – which means the ice baths will have England fit and ready for the men in gold.

    I might be on a pension though by the time we get around to it.

    But it won’t be a walk-up start for the Wallabies.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Australia 10, England 12…

    Stan, I don’t know if you’ll get to read this but I do know that we Poms* just completely buggered up your holiday.

    I guess you were right about it not being a walkover for the Wallabies (or should that be a hopover?).

    Specifically, a certain Mr Wilkinson.

  • http://pleasestopstampingonmyhead.blogspot.com/ Colin

    A real old fashioned England grind Doc… Fairplay to em they kept turning the ball over but I hope France and the All Blacks turn on summat a bit more entertaining. Reading the papers this morning it was all a matter of by how many the Aussies would win, what happened to em?

  • STM

    A: They played like shit, and let the England forwards walk all oveer them (literally and figuratively).

    Good luck to ‘em, but I hope the japies put up some stiff opposition and at least try to run the ball around the park so the fans have some nice memories to take away from the final.

    That’s the thing with rugby – as a game, it has the capacity to be the most entertaining, exciting, spectacular and fastest game in the world. Sadly, depending on how it is played, it can also be the most boring.

    Still, if you’re out to win a world cup, pretty probably doesn’t (and shouldn’t, really) figure in the calculations. South Africa have plenty of flair out wide, but also good firepower up front.

    Case in point: Look at Australia, France and New Zealand – probably the three most entertaining and exciting rugby teams in the world and capable of beating most comers on their day.

    And they’re all going to be watching the final from the stands. I must support the japies, being the only tri-nations, southern hemisphere team left.

    But I fear they might be put to the sword by England and J.Wilkinson’s superboot.

  • http://thecastironshore.blogspot.com/ Colin

    Excuse my ignorance, but are the Jappies South Africa? I guess they must be, what’s the derivation of that crazy nickname though Stan? Boks is all I’ve heard before (along with gits, cheats etc :o))…
    The Jappies (I think) looked very good against Argentina and Habana is frightening, but in Jason Robinson (amazingly!) England have the best running back in the tournament, despite all their forward power… I quite enjoy forward rugby in a close game – I’m a Gloucester fan (yes, a Welsh one I’m very mongrel), who were for years famed for playing a 10 man game – at Kingsholm centres and wings were for decoration only.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Gloucester? No shame there – it’s the Marches, after all. They’ve always been practically Welsh anyway.

  • STM

    I am a big fan of Jason Robinson, but not of England’s style of play generally (no! really?), despite the fact that it’s highly effective.

    We have an ad on TV here for Duracell batteries, with a little bunny running forever on a pair of Duracell heavy duties.

    Jason reminds me of the Duracell bunny, with those little legs pumping away. He is a dangerman, tough, and has a heart twice the size of his body (and for a man so talented, AND a pom, has a surprising lack of ego).

    The game is worse off with his retirement.

    BTW, even though my money was on the Japies (Colin: as in Japie Mulder, Japie du Preez, etc), the Poms played pretty well and in the end, the result just came down to the bounce of the ball and the ref’s arm. There was nothing in it, and England can probably count themselves unlucky more than anything that the penalty count didn’t go their way, especially with South Africa just as notorious for illegal pilfering and slowing down the ball at the breakdown.

    You will hear much about Cueto’s disallowed try in coming days (weeks, months, years), but Stu Dickinson absolutely had to rule against it. Cueto’s foot was definitely in touch, just by a coat of paint I know, but in a world cup final, it has to be spot-on and laws are laws. A coat of paint is out, not in, despite how unfair that might seem. When Cueto grounded, the ball was in touch.

    Either way, it would have been a highly controversial decision and Dickinson was stuck between a rock and a hard place. In the end, he chose hard place.

  • http://www.buyingone.com Christopher Rose

    Stan, you wanker! You must be thrilled to bits that a bloody Aussie robbed England of a clearly legitimate try. Dickinson couldn’t stand the prospect of England retaining their title any more than you could. The rear view camera clearly showed the ball touching down. Cueto’s foot was as much in touch as your objectivity.Talk about an Austral conspiracy. We was robbed!

  • STM

    Lol. That’s just sour grapes Rosie, and enough of the wanker thanks very much. One thing I do know about is me rugby … Paddy O’Brien and your very own world-cup-winning Captain Johnno agreed with the decision … check out Johnno in London’s Telegraph. He saw the pix, you obviously haven’t.

    The stills pictures clearly show Cueto’s foot in touch, then back in the field of play BEFORE he touched down. O’Brien describes it as a brilliant decision, and despite the one-up patrician point of view of most Englishmen, since it probably cost England the game I’m inclined to agree.

    Seriously though, according to the laws of rugby, the ball was in touch when Cueto went over the line. Not buts or ifs about it, and you can moan like the rest of your mob for the next 40 years. It WASN’T a try, and it never will be. Check the scoreboard if you have any doubts.

    And as for an Aussie making the decision, I don’t consider Dicko to be a real Australian simply by dint of his occupation.

    Anyone who decides to be come a referee immediately becomes a Jobsworth by osmosis and therefore a walk-up start to apply for a position
    as a moaning, whining Englishman. In this case, though, he is to be congratulated.

    You lost fair and square. Get over it old boy :)

    Bloody pommies. Can’t cop a good thrashing, ever. The real reason England lost is that when they get behind, they are clueless in terms of how to add points – except by potting a few penalties or drop goals.

    And really, you’d think you’d be experts at losing by now (let’s lay out the histories here if you want to argue).

    PS, in complete contrast to your gloating and moaning, I never heard a word of complaint here about England beating Australia.

    You never do (contrary to the mistaken beliefs you seem to hold over there). Still, none of us here has forgotten that England fans almost to a person supported the French in the ’99 final against Australia.

    The bloody French, of all people. Mon dieu … how could you?

    Is blood not thicker than onion soup? Apparently not.

    The good thing about being Australian is that we know it’s just a game, and there’s always next time ;)

  • http://www.buyingone.com Christopher Rose

    You’re the one with the sour grapes, Stan, you’ve been whining on and on all over the site about how much you couldn’t stand it if England won!

    I don’t care what other people say, I saw the match and the endless replays of all the camera angles showed that was a perfectly legal try.

    Your endorsement of this blatant robbery is as bitter and twisted as your harping on about ’99 – but you’re not one to hold a grudge, oh no. Time to get over your post-colonial resentment!

    No wonder you try to characterise the straightforward presentation of my view as moaning and complaining, it would spare you the embarrassment of admitting we were the better team against SA, just as we were against your sad lot.

    As for the term wanker, that’s a perfectly normal way of addressing a bloke, as you full well know. I take your prickly objection as further evidence of the fact that in your heart of hearts you KNOW we were robbed but just can’t bring yourself to admit it.

  • Silver Surfer

    Lol. We wuz robbed, now, is it Rosie old boy?

    The scoreboard says Japies 15, Poms 6.

    One of them went home with the Webb Ellis Cup, the other didn’t.

    As you know Rosie, we only love to hate you; we don’t actually hate you (much).

    But you ARE “the auld enemy”, as we are yours … and your pain on the sporting field is our pleasure, and vice-versa.

    And you know the truth of this, and thus will it ever be.

    Tee hee. “Robbed, I tell ye … we wuz robbed, and 40 million poms say so.”

    Just another reason to hate us, eh Chris? We love it … :)

  • Silver Surfer

    Actually Rosie, I have been trying to tempt you out of the woodwork … doesn’t take much :) I think you blokes probably were robbed as it was a call that could have gone either way, but I don’t believe Dicko, a professional referee, would have taken sides. He is one of the IRB’s top refs, and he saw what he saw, and that’s that.

    And when he was making the decision, I thought: “If he rules in touch, the bloody Poms will blame us”. I was right. Every bastard in the office has been going on about it. I thought a bloke was going to hit me this morning. In the end though, truth is South Africa just played the better footy.

    I am a fan of English rugby, BTW, as in reality I really like watching good forwards grind it out.

    Aside from all this, and the disappointment of the final, did you at least not enjoy the feast of football?

    It was nice to have all those teams in the one place, and I thought Argentina were the revelation. They are now in third place on the IRB rankings, which means they have to be taken seriously. We’ll hear more no doubt in the comming months.

    Until the next one, there’s another four years to enjoy. I just hope Zedd doesn’t keep signing off with “we are the champions” until then.

  • http://www.buyingone.com Christopher Rose

    I’ll grant that South Africa looked the stronger team both on the day and throughout the tournament – and were easily the best of the Southern Hemisphere teams.

    However, the best team doesn’t always win and I reckon the tide would have gone our way if that try had stood. Still, it’s all done and dusted now and there’s nothing for it but to start working towards 2011.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    It was nice to have all those teams in the one place

    Except when they were in Cardiff, Edinburgh…

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    I thought Argentina were the revelation. They are now in third place on the IRB rankings, which means they have to be taken seriously. We’ll hear more no doubt in the comming [sic] months.

    What do you think should happen, Stan? It would seem to make more sense for Argentina to join the Tri-Nations because of the geography. They might have a hard time competing to begin with (remember that until the semi-final they didn’t play any of the big Southern Hemisphere nations), but based on their showing in France it wouldn’t take them long to adapt.

    Italy were pretty much just sacrificial lambs when they first joined the Six Nations, but are now starting to grind out a few results. I believe France had the same experience when they were admitted to the (then) Five Nations – now more often than not they’re the best team in it.

  • STM

    The big problem for Argentina joining the tri-natuions, which really would be a good thing for world rugby, is that most of their players are professionals playing in Britain, Ireland, France and Italy.

    Which would mean a hell of a lot of disruption to their lives and to the clubs that employ them if they were to come together for two months and play in the southern hemisphere. There is some suggestion that they should be supported in this endeavour by having one or two teams from Argentina join the Super 14 competition instead, which would allow those players to return home on good pay and play in the southern hemsisphere.

    That’s one way around it, but think of the travel: on a normal Super 14 tour it could be Johannesburg, Durban, Capetown, Perth, Sydney, Brisbane, Auckland, Dunedin. Imagine throwing Buenos Aires into that mix, and you are talking about teams literally near-traversing the globe. I believe there are now no direct flights to BA from here, and travel is via Santiago. Loistically, it becomes a nightmare.

    I reckon they should join the six nations competition and make it seven.

    However, the likely outcome, knowing the IRB’s track record, is that it will go into the too-hard basket and nothing will happen and the Argentines and Pacific Islanders (who should also have a combinde Super rugby franchise) will once again be left out in the cold.

    And Rosey, I know your red-and-white skewed view has England as the best team at the World Cup, I don’t agree. South Africa, despite having the much easier draw after beating England in the first pool game, were by far the stand-out team of the competition.

    England were good, but not quite good enough. The difference was in the backs, and although the Bok backs didn’t look like they did much in the final, they actually did plenty.

  • http://www.buyingone.com Christopher Rose

    Stan, your attitude to we Brits is as pre-programmed as Nalle’s to anybody who disagrees with his profound political and social insights!

    Just refer yourself as far back as #36, where I wrote “I’ll grant that South Africa looked the stronger team both on the day and throughout the tournament – and were easily the best of the Southern Hemisphere teams.”

    Assuming the TV monitor bloke is as biased as you are, it is no surprise he couldn’t bring himself to allow a perfectly good try.

    C’mon, admit it, you’re still stunned that Australia were beaten so easily! LOL

  • STM

    Wrong, Rosie. Most of it’s just a gee-up.

    However, some of it’s a reaction to the pompous and arrogant attitudes the rest of us have to put up with from too many of your countrymen.

    And headlines like this in The Daily Mail (well, what else would you expect from them): “England robbed by Aussie video ref”.

    I mean, come on. What a joke.

    The truth is, as I’ve said before, we don’t really care that much. Unlike the kiwis, when it comes to sport, we have the attitude that’s it just a game – especially with rugby, which has a very small playuer base to draw from here.

    And had Stirling Mortlock not missed his penalty against England in that quarter, the scoresheet would have read differently.

    Which is highly telling for a team that got driven off the ball at the breakdown and destroyed (yes, Australia were destroyed by England) at the set piece.

    What does it tell, you might ask?

    It tells that the Australian backs were still able to score the only try of a game in which they were narrowly beaten, and that when it comes to adding points, England are and will always be clueless except when it comes to booting a few penalties and a drop goal here and there. Another other team that had the foot on the throat like that would have won by a thrashing, not by two pissy points off Wilko’s magic boot. I mean, they scored the least number of points and tries of any side at the RWC. How is that entertainment? Truth is, they could just as easily have lost to Australia if Mortlock had been on target. That just says everything about this England team (although not the previous one, headed by Johnno the galloping moose, which was a ball tearer)

    Apart from that, old boy, your gloating won’t work on me. I’ve copped it for the past four years, although there is silence here today thankfully. And you’re still behind on the tally of how many world cups won :) It’s still two against one, in case you hadn’t looked it up.

    And for the record, in 2003, I was glad that England won the final. Australia didn’t deserve to, even though it was a mighty close thing – because I thought it was nice for a NH team to take the trophy home – yes, even The Poms.