Monday, October 24, 2011

RWC Notes

Ten RWC Things I Think
1.    I think that if only one or two of the 50/50 refereeing decisions had gone their way, France could have easily won that Final.
2.    I think that Wales were inspired. They played with flair and the unconcerned air of youth. But in bald statistics it was played 7, won 4, lost 3. The only ‘top’ level team beaten was Ireland. You simply can’t miss as many kicks as Wales did.
3.    I think I was surprised at how bad England and Fiji were.
4.    I think that despite Romania going backwards, the Georgian and Russian teams showed that the gap will continue to narrow. The Georgian pack was immense.
5.    I think that the draw won’t open up in future like it did in 2011. When Ireland beat Australia all of the southern hemisphere teams landed in one half of the draw. Without that I don’t think a Six Nations team would have been in the final.
6.    I think Scotland will wonder what if. Almost, almost, almost.
7.    I think that, despite being 13th in line to the throne (perhaps not for much longer), Mike Tindall’s days in an England shirt are over. Likewise Johnny Wilkinson.
8.    I think that Martin Johnson’s days in charge of England are limited. His “rugby players drink beer shock” press conference was cringe-worthy. Sir Clive Woodward - Shaun Edwards dream team, anyone?
9.    I think the eligibility rules have to be sorted out. It just feels wrong that two brothers can play for two different countries.
Manu and Alesana Tuilagi played for England and Samoa respectively.
Salesi and Campese Ma’afu both propped, for Australia and Fiji.
Sailosi and Michael Tagicakibau played against each other for Samoa and Fiji.
10. I think I’m amazed at how poor some drop goal attempts have been. Shane Williams’ Arthur Emyr-esque effort was a shocker. Seriously, do players practice or just have a go when panic sets in? He, Stephen Jones and Dan Parks need to get some rehab at the convalescent home for shell-shocked drop-kickers.

My RWC team of the tournament (for what it’s worth)

15 Israel Dagg (NZ) – Brilliant in attack, solid in defence. Went from the margins of the squad to centre stage in just 2 games. It was a shame that Aussie fullback Kurtley Beale was injured early in the tournament
14 Digby Ioane (Aus) – When on song, the Aussie backline were unstoppable. Ireland of course found a way to stop them.
13 Conrad Smith (NZ) – Awesome tackler and quick thinker. Brain O’Driscoll (Ireland), as always, got serious consideration here.
12 Jamie Roberts (Wales) – Close to being man of the tournament. Just immense. Felipi Contepomi (Arg) deserves mention for playing despite having (a technical term this) a shirtful of lack ribs.
11 George North (Wales) – 19. Imagine how good he will be when he grows up.
10 Quade Cooper (Aus) – Showed glimpses of what he could do, but carried the weight of the nation on his shoulders. The NZ faithful booed him even has he was carried off with a serious knee injury. Rhys Preistland (Wales) rose from nowhere to be a serious contender here.
9 Mike Phillips (Wales) – Superb return to form and scored the try of the tournament. Nobody else got even close.

1 Gethin Jenkins (Wales) – Did his job in the set piece and was everywhere in the loose.
2 Mario Ledesma (Arg) – Frankly the whole Argentina front row were in contention for this list.
3 Adam Jones (Wales) – The difference was obvious after he went off in the semi-final.
4 Paul O’Connell (Ireland) – Worth his place for the effort against Australia alone.
5 Victor Matfield (SA) – Towering lineout presence and intimidating across the field.
6 Thierry Dusautoir (France) – The IRB player of the year was immense in the Final against NZ, and completely outplayed Jerome Kaino (NZ), most people’s pick at blindside.
8 Imanol Harinoriquy (France) – Cup final man of the match. Sergio Parisse (Italy) was exceptional again, and Toby Faletau (Wales, by way of Tonga) was a wonderful revelation.
7 David Pocock (Aus) – Sorely missed in their key loss to Ireland. If he was fully fit Ritchie McCaw (NZ) would have run him very close.

Coach Warren Gatland (Wales) – There will be a tempting offer from the NZRFU arriving any day now.

No comments: