The first sportreview.net.nz cartoon in quite some time, be gentle.
This is an intriguing point of the tour – the Lions sent to a tough venue to play a tough team a week out from the first Test. Which will be tough. You get the idea.
The misty, niggly rain that turned up a few hours from kick off, which had the Lions’ big pack licking their lips like they were being offered vinegar on their fish and chips and hurt the Māori ABs’ backline chances for razzle or dazzle.
Frankly, the home team were flat when the occasion called for a bit more. The bright spots of a stirring haka and home town hero Liam Messam’s try came early but there was little else to cheer about, despite some big hits going in late.
The Lions had all the control and their big strong runners and big long kickers won the territory battle comfortably. Their first job is making sure they’re tough to beat and it’ll be the same next week. Can’t wait.
Off-field it was fantastic grass roots stuff, Rotorua’s big banks were often more entertaining than the game, with several punters forced to regret their choice of non-grip footwear. I bet we had more fun than all those Lions fans in the end-on segregated seating.
With 18 days of summer’s big cricket tour still scheduled, I won’t be getting interested in rugby until week 37 of that comp just FYI.
— Dad Tweets (@richirvine) February 23, 2017
NEWSDESK: Eye gouging, refereeing criticism and boot throwing – you can now add a surreptitious pre-match steamer to the list.
Under-fire Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has been accused of defecating and creating an offensive odour in the All Black dressing room before his team’s 29-9 defeat at Westpac Stadium on Saturday night.
Closed circuit TV confirms the Wallabies coach entered the opposition shed carrying that morning’s Dominion Post sport section under one arm, shortly before the cave painting was discovered.
Head coach Steve Hansen is playing the incident down. “The smell was worse than a dead possum in the boot, but we train for this kind of thing. The boys stuck to their processes and still got the result.
“We like to invite the opposition in for a beer after the match, but a spray and wipe like this certainly crosses a line. When Michael looks back at his decision making around dropping the kids off at the pool he’ll be disappointed.”
The IRB issued a statement expressing its disappointment in the inter-changing room floater, and reminded member countries to obey the usual home and away ablution protocols. The incident was being referred to the newly formed Bodily Function Sub-Committee, whose report is due mid-2019.
The incident is the first trans-Tasman turd since Michael Brial shat in Frank Bunce’s shoe at a 1996 Bledisloe post-match function.
There are a few layers of disappointment in this week’s Chiefs situation.
It seems likely some of the team are dicks. Going from reports, the disrespect shown would be crap from a first XV, let alone a professional group. There weren’t many Chiefs calling out bad behaviour among themselves, according to reports, etc.
It turns out the organisation isn’t as well-led as we thought. Where were team management when this mad Monday (always a bad idea) was going on? At the very top, CEO Andrew Flexman hasn’t taken a lot of responsibility – it’s fair to wait until after the investigation before handing out final judgement, but where are the messages that intimidating anyone is unacceptable for his team? The nit picking half apologies, wagon circling and complete lack of empathy for the victims are unacceptable to me as a fan.
Now we’re questioning if this team, with our magical coach and lead by fine men like Liam Messam, Hika Elliott and the rest is smoke and mirrors. From the outside, it seemed our team culture was one of the strongest around, and the last few days have me questioning everything.
How does this get put right? It’d be fantastic to see some strong leadership from here on out, genuine contriteness and steps put in place to address what’s transpired with those affected.
Up until Tuesday, the Chiefs were a wonderful and entertaining team I was proud to support and take my entire family along to enjoy. I’d really like to be able to wholeheartedly support my team again please.
2015 was all about heroes, wasn’t it. The cricket! The rugby! Bloody hell we are spoiled. Kiss my arse 2007, here’s sportreview.net.nz’s year in review.
At half time in the final, I caught myself thinking ‘so this is what it’s like to feel comfortable in a RWC final. That was obviously a total amateur move as Australia roared back at us, as they were always going to do, but it worked out OK. It only took about three weeks before I got Grant Nisbett screaming ‘BEAUDEN BARRETT’ out of my head.
After the slow start, the tournament was an absolute ripper, with France (casual, stylish demolition), South Africa (three-weeks-on-an-all-burrito-diet-level-squeaky-bum-time) and Australia (DAN CARTER REDEMPTION) beaten and now becoming one warm memory of nerves, early starts and triumph. New Zealand was great, generally with everyone good-naturedly panicking together in our lounges, the pubs and on Twitter.
With all those greats retiring there’s a lot of holes to fill, and next year’s Super Rugby will be loads of fun as Twitter attempts to find replacements. Of course all this year’s feel-goodery will be gone pretty much 15 minutes into a scratchy start against Wales, but that’s all part of the fun innit.
Elsewhere, the Highlanders took the Super Rugby title in style, denying the poor old Hurricanes a title – this was as brilliant for the southerners as it was devastating for the ‘canes fans, who must take a fair amount of gut wrenching anguish with their razzle dazzle.
And we lost Jonah and Jerry and Norm. While not technically immortal, All Blacks are meant to live to ripe old ages in this country, so this didn’t seem possible, or indeed fair.
Like Sanjay said on Twitter the other day, most days this year I’ve been dreaming of Grant Elliott hitting that six and berserk-ing his bat around so violently I was afraid Dan Vettori would be injured before the final.
The achievement is no less remarkable a few months later. I mean shit, we had:
- A double century in a quarter final
- The top wicket taker in the tournament, a guy who everyone thought was too Test-orientated to be picked a few months out
- The best captain, who broke the world’s scariest bowler in the semi final
- A bowling spell of 7 wickets that dismantled the game’s inventors and had everyone annoyed we even had to have a tea break
- Nerves of steel at crunch time, against Australia and South Africa in particular
This was the year when 400 became the new 300 and while we lost the series to England, I don’t think ODI cricket is ever going to be the same. Stephen Fleming used to talk about advancing a Test, we have just advanced the sport. And done it without being dicks.
OK, so we missed the chance to win at Lord’s this year and went down to Australia in the long anticipated series, showing how hard it is to keep getting results in international cricket, especially away from home. The consistent thing is the tremendous fight and ability to claw ourselves back into games we showed against India last year and Sri Lanka earlier this year, as we fought back into the Australian series. Of course we’re going to have to do it without B Mac from next year, but all the pieces are in place to succeed – we’ve given ourselves every chance to keep doing things no other NZ team has done before.
I liked the pink ball Test, but there’s a few things to fix, the main one being the lolly hour in the last session where a side slogging in the field all day suddenly gets a rocket up their bum and wickets start tumbling. In the big bat era, anything that gives the bowlers a boost is welcome, but it needs to be available throughout the day/s, not just the last hour.
Still, the big crowds and TV audiences will be what counts most for those making the decisions, so expect pink balls on show at Seddon Park or Hagley sometime soon.
Hug it out
You can draw many parallels between the BLACKCAPS and the All Blacks’ cultures. Basically, the winning formula seems to be:
- A derring-do captain that people listen to when they speak
- A coach who lets players get on with it and backs players with extended runs in the team. But can be steely when required. And top support staff
- A desire to win, and in style
- Team culture that’s a open, supportive and even a little bit new age-y, for New Zealand
You can do a lot if you’re free to do what you do best. This game, when Luke Ronchi and Grant Elliott came together at 93-5 and walked off with a total of 360 sticks in the mind – you’d expect a limp to 170 from there, but instead we got a punishing, giddy counter attack. Same for That Cardiff Quarterfinal, history be damned, we wasted them.
The potential common thread here is the High Performance Sport NZ accelerator coaching course Mike Hesson and Steve Hansen took together in 2009 – this is some super work from HPSNZ, hopefully fellow course attendee Janine Southby can work the same trick.
I am a cricket player again, for the first time in roughly twelve years. Our team, Mairangi Vice, is not troubling the upper reaches of the Bays Big Bash but geez it’s a lot of fun. It’s fair to say the spirit is more willing than the flesh with more injuries than Darren Anderton among the team, but that old feeling of the ball coming out of the middle or getting one to shape away is familiar, welcome and hard to beat. The body will get a good rest over the break (ahem) and we’ll be back into it next year.
Buying all the gear was fun too.
Tottenham fans are in that ‘can we actually get excited now?’ phase – yes we have a manager with vision, all these young players looking right at home and we’re getting results, but we’ve been burned before. Personally I wouldn’t be too upset about a Europa League exit to give us a decent run at the champions league spots / the league. The Internet came up with the too-clever insult ‘Spursy’ this year, which I found kind of devastating. Let’s hope we’re not Spursy for once.
sportreview most read posts
- Welcome to worry week, brought to you by France
- Rugby’s coming home and potentially leaving again quite quickly
- Who ruled the world?
- FIFA scandal who’s who
- The summer ODIs went bat shit
This year I enjoyed spending more family time, had a career change and didn’t write on this blog very much. Ahem. The book I enjoyed the most was The Goldfinch, and I’m astonished by the quality and quantity coming from Duncan’s The Spinoff. The songs I listened to the most were (Dad rock alert!) Steely Dan’s Dirty Work and Reelin’ In The Years (the solo!) and Over And Over by Fleetwood Mac, whose concert was ace.
Promise to write more next year team, hope you enjoyed what there was and thanks for reading. Hope you get a nice break and all your eating, drinking and doing feck-all needs are well fulfilled.
Having Jonah Lomu and Christian Cullen in one sevens team seems slightly unfair, but that’s what we put on the field in Hong Kong in 1994 .
This clip crams more jaw-dropping moments into its one minute and twenty one seconds than spending three weeks in a Led Zep private jet. Here’s three things you’ll never be able to do, ever.
One – 00’14”
Under (admittedly English) pressure on the sideline, Lomu spots Cullen unmarked about 40 metres away – and picks him out with a gridiron-style overarm pass. My good-for-nothing-but-working-a-mouse hands can’t even hold a rugby ball like that. Cullen scores.
Two – 00’38”
In the middle of flying down the wing, Lomu screeches to a complete halt – then two steps later is back up to full tilt. Would-be English tacklers are not just physically unable to compete, they’re also very confused. Campese’s goose step is, immediately consigned to the wheelie bin of history. Cullen scores.
Three – 01’01”
Lomu runs around two hapless Irish tackers and goes to swerve inside another. Peskily, he doesn’t go away, so he gets that stooping, dump truck fend Mike Catt’s so familiar with. Cullen’s there, but Lomu scores.
Anyway. We’ve heard the old stories a lot the last couple of days. After Hong Kong he became the youngest All Black ever, then came 1995 and South Africa and becoming the biggest name in the game at 20.
Despite Jonah’s record, there was always someone willing to argue he shouldn’t be in the team after that initial 1995 run died down. That was stupid. He could do things other people couldn’t – if he wasn’t in a position to swerve around you or step you, he had simply running over you up his sleeve.
To me, he seemed most at home in cosmopolitan Wellington, playing in that outrageous Lomu / Cullen / Umunga / erm, O’Halloran backline in front of all those crazy fans, when the cake tin was still a novelty. They should have won a title.
You never imagine brick shithouses need much looking after, but seeing him crying on the Homes show and having a succession of people around him with questionable motives, you always felt a bit protective of Jonah. Despite his all consuming love for competing, it was a relief to see the end of the rugby and boxing comeback attempts, for the worry of what he might do to himself in the process.
On one level it seems a shame his last few weeks were spent on sponsors duties, but he had his family with him, and getting out and meeting people was something he seemed to love doing. And who are we to judge? Everyone that had the pleasure talked about his genuine, open manner, and there are untold stories of his generosity.
We were lucky to have him, and that mid-career tall-poppy carry on is well and truly in the past. We won’t know how he’d have played fully fit, nor what he’d have gone on to do with his immense mana the world over as a rugby or UNICEF figurehead, or a dad. What ever he did, it would have been big and hard to stop, I’m sure.
Do you ever really enjoy an All Blacks RWC cup semi final? In fairness, alone in the dark of night is no way to enjoy a match of this magnitude. “What did you do at half-time?” asked partner-of-sportreview, when daylight emerged. “Just sat there and worried.”
The match had a touch of the 2011 final about it, with pleading ‘this isn’t how it’s supposed to end’ thoughts hard up against the reality of a one or two point cushion.
Twitter didn’t help. Basically everyone that was up was having a meltdown of one form or another on their phones, the little kicks in behind mystifying armchair Steve Hansens up and down the land.
All Blacks are all ‘screw you Twitter, we’re going to keep kicking it’
— Richard Irvine (@richirvine) October 24, 2015
I watched it again when the family got up. Second time around was much, much more enjoyable, without the furious brainstorming about all the ways we’d lose. There was no nice-guy-Heyneke about the Boks’ tactics and they showed less enthusiasm for playing actual rugby than a house cat, but still pushed us right to the brink. It would have been a bloody travesty if they’d won it, but.
Those crazy Aussies
Anyway. Here we are in Big Week, lining up against the jandal lickers. They got a black mark from the neutrals by making Argentina’s magnificent coach Daniel Hourcade shed tears all over his fetching knitwear at full time. Us taking on the Aussies at Twickenham is a dream final, with the added bonus of offering an Antipodean up-yours to the Brit establishment, the rugby equivalent of Crowded House doing a jug skull at a Buckingham Palace cocktail function.
So, what have they got? Not many Australians would make the All Blacks’ run-on side, and the AB bench would probably make an actual bench of the Ocker’s substitutes without even having to duck into Bunnings. But – they’re the last ones to beat us, and they’ll cost New Zealand a lot of sleep this week.
Michael Cheika is being talked up as a combination of a chess grand master and Bobby Heenan. This year’s Sydney defeat and the Eden Park wasting have been analysed to death, with mind games and conspiracy theories dominating talk back like a Grant Dalton interview. But it will be David Pocock with his Popeye biceps and willingness to put his head where it will be kicked off that’s the big worry. All the talk is of taking him out of the breakdown, but no-one’s talking up the sportreview method of sneaking a vodka into his Guinness when he’s in the bogs. Leave no stone un-turned fellas.
It’s like this – we should beat them. Ex-players and pundits alike are lining up to award us the cup already, but knockout rugby, kind of like inviting the First XV over to your parents place for a few quiets, never turns out how you expect.
All Black fan panic levels
Pretty bad. This isn’t a white-light-France-level panic, but a more nuanced panic, one you can savour like a Wellington craft beer fan taking on a steak and kidney and coriander stout. Superstitions and deals with the devil are being consummated around the land. We may have the Greatest Team Of All Time on our hands here, but no-one’s allowed to say it, lest Pocock and Cheika come storming up the Waitemata Harbour on the back of a winged Peter FitzSimons to break New Zealand hearts.
At least the build up will be over soon – the nature of a rugby tournament means there’s a whole lot of time to fill between the big matches. Craig Dowd, who broke the sacred ex-player fawning code to predict an Australian win. Let’s hope that goes as well as Zinzan’s prediction. Much has been made of the Australians’ apparent refusal to mention the words ‘All Blacks’, while our policy of referring to the Wallabies only as ‘those fuckwits’ got nothing.
Roll on 7am Sunday morning, when we might actually start to enjoy this tournament.
Now we have an angst main to go with a selection of angsty sides for the table. If the All Blacks’ form being shakier than Clive Woodward’s grasp on reality wasn’t bad enough, now we’ve got you-know-who, you-know-where in the first knockout.
New Zealanders are jittery enough during rugby world cups without this kind of shit. Otherwise fully functional adults, many with gainful employment in the news media, cranked into talk of ‘omens’ and ‘Utu’ even before Ireland and France actually played each other. As if we needed more excuses to go on and on about our 2007 tournament exit, the action replay will send the not-getting-over-it into over-aroused overdrive with no-one likely to emerge from this week’s build up with much credit.
Meanwhile, France will sleep like babies. They know that someone has to play the villain, and will spend the week twirling their mustaches, shrugging and listening to Daft Punk. Probably. They’re happy for all the pressure to be with us, while masterminding putting us through torture for 80 minutes.
All Black mood board
We appear to have the talent and experience to win it, but the question is, do we have the form? Take the BLACKCAPS, who didn’t have the strongest squad in CWC15, but had everyone firing before the tournament and through the pool matches. Painful as it is, remember who took that trophy home, the experienced old Aussies.
We have to hope this is a similar scenario, all those centurions and the coaching panel dream team have the know-how to get themselves through. I don’t buy the ‘holding back’ thingo, I reckon the chips just aren’t down yet. It’s inexplicable that this great team has simply forgotten how to play between wasting the Aussies at Eden Park and this tournament. Gregor Paul reckons we should just chill, and I largely agree.
Anyway team, Sunday morning, it won’t matter who kept the faith, who wrote who off, who pointed out you can never tell which French team will turn up on the day the most or who said ‘bring it on!’ in the most chipper manner. We’ll either be still in the tournament, or impatiently waiting to get through to Tony Veitch to demand Robbie Deans gets the top job.
Fuck. Fuck! I can’t handle it already.
Your sportreview.net.nz quarter final predictions, bearing in mind sportreview.net.nz is a notoriously poor tipster
South Africa v Wales – South Africa. They’ve sorted themselves out from being on the receiving end of a Japanese fairy tale to be among the favourites, while Wales are being forced to play Charlotte Church in the front row.
Ireland v Argentina – Argentina. Too big and too strong for the Irish, who have similar injury issues to Wales along with a long history of world cup quarter final heartbreak.
Australia v Scotland – Scotland. Just jokes! Australia’s challenge will be maintaining their momentum. There’s the odd chink, like their discipline, and their coach, who is overdue to do something flaky.
New Zealand v France – Us. I think we’re going to waste them.
Enduring images of the World Cup thus far
Teams desperately defending their lines. Australia did it for about three quarters of an hour against Wales, while the All Blacks did well to repel Tonga on a St James surface that was parting like the Red Sea. There’s been bugger all free-flowing back play to speak of.
Reporters haranguing fans outside stadiums. My favourite was the really, really shitfaced young New Zealander struggling manfully to articulate all the ways his national team had disappointed him by beating Namibia by only 44 points. People with cameras thrust in their faces are unlikely to offer much in the way of useable insight or even joined up sentences, so instead we get ‘colour’ by way of yelling, outlandish wigs and borderline xenophobic banter. It’s rubbish and I would like to see less of it please.
The royal bloody family. You can’t turn on the telly without seeing Wills looking smug, Harry looking sick as a parrot and the Queen having everyone over for a pimms and a backslap when the national team should be in a Cardiff hotel room shitting their pants.
RWC15 is a mass of contradictions so far – we passed a law allowing the nation to chop piss in front of the rugby, then everyone went to the pub to drink flat whites. Man Of Few Words Steve Hansen is suddenly lighting up a press conferences with more one-liners than a night out with Stevie Nicks in the ’70s. The hosts have rolled out the welcome mat, then rolled over.
The early weeks of a world cup are like a Monkees album. There’s some classics all right, but plenty of filler too. Before it gets better, here’s what’s happened in the first fortnight:
Best game I
Wales v England. This was a six nations epic that had blood, guts, seventeen half backs on the field, and it will actually affect the outcome of the tournament. The hosts are as tentative as an Englishman trying to get a French waiters’ attention and have been about as successful. Wales had Gaelic fire and brimstone up their backsides and got the lollies – they will do well to repeat the trick with all their injuries, but having taken down their nemesis, they probably won’t care.
Best game II
Japan v South Africa, obviously. Eddie Jones is as popular in South Africa as Braai made of toejam, and his team’s late winner is one of the world cup’s greatest moments ever, obviously. The cherry blossoms performed a pretty credible Brumbies-circa-2004 impression to get home while South Africa, who looked as organised as Alan Donald running a quick single. They need to de-shambles themselves and fast.
Japan are proof that the top tier isn’t impregnable, and any country with massive corporations willing to chuck shedloads of wonga at a coach, foreign player dominated professional league and a world cup hosting gig coming up can play with the big boys. Those Pacific islands should get into that.
Pool of Death update
England have a distinct whiff of dead meat about them, but I would keep an eye on Australia. They come into their big games looking as competent as Kevin Rudd, but have the chance to knock England out this weekend, promoting all those entertaining ‘who do you least like’ debates up and down NZ. Here’s a quick guide:
England – would be pretty funny if the hosts went out, their fans are unbearable, they’re tough at home so could hurt the All Blacks chances later in the tournament
Australia – they’re Australian
Wales are top, but Warren Gatland’s squad is so bare he’s is sizing up getting out the ear tape and running on himself, if he ever gets over his voice back after his post-England karaoke bender. With all the Big Clashes to come, there’s more late drama than an Earthquake Recovery minister trying to make a flight and a bigger fall out to come, team.
All Black panic level
Ooooooookay. So far. Beating Argentina comfortably in a tight-ish, physical world cup opener was a great result, but measured against our propensity to PANIC whenever we don’t WASTE TEAMS BY FIFTY POINTS, it was an utter failure.
When you play against minnows Namibia with a team with 13 changes in it, you shouldn’t read too much into it. So of course we all read too much into it. With talk of injuries in the camp, the nation is lovingly running their finger all around the panic button, but hasn’t *quite* pushed it. Yet.
There’s some bright points – Sonny Bill is all of a sudden our form back, and Waisake Naholo is down to play Georgia, and could provide some much-needed X factor, among a back three that’s worryingly quiet. Even that’s OK, as long as they can start catching high balls at knockout time.
Richie and Dan, who we’ve put a lot of chips on, look the goods so far and our strength in depth looks, erm, deeper than most as long as everyone gets and stays fit. Playing this weird group with Argentina and not a lot else makes it harder to gauge where we’re at than plugging in a phone charger in the dark.
Can we win it, though? Shit yes. Even if NZ isn’t relaxed, the All Blacks seem to be. We should learn from those guys.