After two months the game of cock-sizing between Hansen and Gatland (with Eddie Jones also butting in on a few occasions) has finally come to an end. And the result… A dead-heat if you will. I believe Gatland might have won on length but Hansen seems to have had the edge in terms of girth. By the way, am I the only one who noticed that Jones got quieter as the results started to go Gatland’s way?
With his red nose and all the bashful Welsh jester will be walking around chest puffed and crown jewels dangling knee long during the coming months. But this couch critic is less impressed than most. This was the very best that the entire British empire could gather from far and wide (yes here is looking at you Ben Te’o and MakoVunipola) to battle the little ex-colony in the south islands.
This was a champion Kiwi outfit, yes, but one still finding its feet in an era after McCaw, Carter, Nonu, Conrad Smith, Mealamu, etc. Add to this the fact that Hansen went into the decider facing the cream of the crop from England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland with an inside centre in his second test and fullback on debut. Lastly Warren’s chargers were only able to lead the All Blacks for less than five minutes out of the 240 played over the three tests. And this was of course with the New Zealanders down a man. Somehow I just don’t see this as chest-banging worthy. But take a bow old boy you were certainly able to pull a rabbit out of the hat as you managed a miraculous escape.
The final deciding factor putting me of the Brits – of course aside from their constant moaning throughout the series and most visibly with the Poiteshit show – was seen at the end of the third test as the Lions had to struggle to contain their absolute joy (at DRAWING!) whilst the All Blacks were clearly devastated. Celebrate if you want jester man but I wouldn’t crow too loudly after a Frenchman cocked up to hand you the draw.
To me the series showed that the skill level encountered across the entire New Zealand is a level (if not more than one) above anything offered from the Northern Hemisphere or even Australia or South Africa at present. Kiwi superiority is anything but declining with young, fresh talents like Jordie Barrett, NganiLaumape, Rieko Ioane and Scott Barrett all showing that the future is still very bright in the land of the long white cloud (in retrospect one must have expected the British to perform adequately in a place named after the fact that the sun doesn’t shine regularly).
The tough as nails, full scale battle between the All Blacks and British and Irish Lions was followed by the Waratahs and Jaguares match. Sure it isn’t fair to make a comparison but oh my goodness what a drop in quality from the one to the other. In my mind’s eye I liken it to the feeling a Boeing pilot must get when he has to fly a kite with his youngest son when he gets home.
The Tahs have been an absolute car wreck to watch in 2017. In patches they have shown their attacking ability but they have zero discipline and focus on defence. Clearly they just want this season to end. The Jags are only marginally better at this point with their discipline even worse than that of the Aussies but at least they play with plenty of passion.
Back in South Africa the Bulls went from flying high in April to shot down in May. After shocking the Sharks last week it seemed the Bulls jogged out at Loftus just looking to continue where they left off in terms of giving the ball air and having a run. Unfortunately on this occasion they started doing this without laying the platform upfront first. A few errors later the home side found themselves trailing by 22-3. There were some glimpses of the fearless Bulls team we saw in Durban but in the end the incredible opening effort from the Kings and some fantastic fortitude form the visitors to hang tough in the last ten earned them a much deserved victory.
Did I hear someone ask how and why the Kings are being given the boot when they notched up the fourth most log points of the SA teams and that whilst playing in the tougher Africa2 conference…
A young Stormers side were nowhere near their best but still put 50 points past the hapless Sunwolves in Cape Town. Much like watching the latest Baywatch movie there were some moments of excitement and some of entertainment but at the end of it all you won’t take much away from the experience.
There was also another Aussie derby between the Force and the Reds but quite frankly I would rather numb my brain by watching an absurd reality tv show than admitting I wasted near on two hours watching woeful Wallabies have at each other. As a friend of mine likes to say, it’s about as exciting as watching two tortoises race!
THE MONDAY MOAN
Since this column’s title is PMS I reckon I’m allowed a good Monday morning moan. Fifty inch HD televisions; my Explora decoder which allows me to pause, rewind and record my favourite sport; live score updates on your phone; and access to incredible player stats are all benefits of technology that I absolutely love. And in sport itself the DRS in cricket, the line referral in tennis and goal line technology in soccer are all great innovations. BUT the constant ill-advised interference in rugby is becoming one hell of a bugbear of mine. Gone are the days of jumping up in pure ecstasy (spilling your favourite beverage and felling the chips and billies to the floor) and setting off on your Imran Tahir-like lap of honour around the living room, garden or street – the size of the occasion determining which one of course –as you celebrate that moment where your team executes the match winning try or tackle.
Now you wait… You wait to hear whether the tackle was legitimate or not. Did the attacker jump and thus get tackled in the air. Did he duck and get hit high. Did the hit start low but end high? In the case of the try, was there a forward pass in the five minutes preceding the score (this has become a difficult one with hand movement, wind direction, gravity and the tide of the ocean all seemingly having to be considered). Did one of the other team mates use a dangerous shoulder or WWF like neck-roll in cleaning out an opponent somewhere in the run-up. Did a shoelace touch the chalk of the sideline before the ball was dotted down. Or did the player still have a nail’s worth of downward pressure on the ball? And lastly of course: What was the question from the on-field referee and how much advice will he be accepting from that voice upstairs??
I tell you, my nerves aren’t going to survive this new technology usage in rugby. Couch supporting is becoming way too taxing!
Who is Couch Critic?
Hein Diemont is the resident “Couch Critic” in the Goodforthegame Forum and he shares his weekly Super Rugby Blog the “Post Match Scuffle” or “PMS” with us.
In his blog Couch Critic channels his usual weekend swearing, ranting, cheering, whinging and bickering to the written word. Brutally honest opinions of how the Super Rugby action went down from his perspective – no punches pulled, it’s PMS time…
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