Speaker by Various Artists

10

Georgia on My Mind

by Foreign Field 2

The last time that I found myself thinking about Georgia was in a Russian Politics class at university, when I struggled to remember how to spell Eduard Shevardnadze and tried to show off by remembering Stalin’s Georgian name and got it completely wrong.

The Lelos are the toast of the cup and hopefully have put to rest the twaddle about the problem of minnows. The forward play of the Georgians was as good as anyones at the cup. I am pretty sure I would tire of watching the Georgians after a few games. They were playing 15 man rugby- its just the 15 all played in the forwards. However they executed their game plan brilliantly. The fact was they lacked a bit of composure at the end of the game, but that is not unexpected when you are only playing at this level once every four years.

Perhaps it it should not be a surprise that Georgia are doing well as apparently they invented rugby (and then forgot about it for a few hundred years or so). Only having eight rugby fields and 300 players is a bit of a limitation but their performances at the Cup can only do the game good.

Ireland on the other hand are in awful trouble and will need a total turn-around to beat either Argentina or France. We await with interest Paul O’ Connell’s tour dairy entry because apparently Namibia was as low as it gets. Mind you the Northern Hemisphere participation in the latter stages of the cup is looking decidedly dodgy. The English papers have laid in, and are now predicting doom and gloom against Samoa. After last night it could be that they have as much to worry about from Tonga.

As for the All Blacks, I find it hard to say a team who scored 108 points were scratchy, but they were, and Graham Henry is spinning like a top to say they achieved their aim of improving things from the game against Italy. They did play well in patches, but it was clearly a difficult game for the All Blacks to know how to approach.

They were disjointed from the moment they aimlessly wandered on to the field. By comparison the Portuguese were equal parts pride, fear and passion. It appeared at least half the team was about to spontaneously combust during the national anthem. (which begs the question has Byron Kelleher got some Portuguese blood?) They passed the tikanga test by facing up to the haka and set about staying alive, as their coach put it. The ploy of bringing Ric Salizzo on as a replacement prop worked well, and the sought-after try was scored.

Once again the weekend showed the French turning out in fantastic numbers for all the games. They do seem to be embracing the cup. Tracey over at haka found Lyon to be doing just that, if struggling a bit to get around the city. If only I had been there. My high school French class used a book on Lyon as our text. A few years ago I was there and I stood by the town hall, willing someone to ask me how to get to the railway station, “prenez la troisieme rue a gauche.” It never happened.

Anyway, for the All Blacks it is away from the charms of Lyon to the Scotland -- and the injury toll seems to be limited to a minor hamstring tear (can you have ‘minor’ tears) and a more serious hit out against the Scots beckons.

It is hard to take anything much away from this weekend for the All Blacks, except, perhaps, that it is possible to lift Carl Hayman in a lineout. Now, don’t do it again.

Grant Robertson

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