Speaker by Various Artists

17

Silver is (not) the new black

by Foreign Field 3

I notice that Graham Henry favours the hardcover 2B8 exercise book for his note taking. Solid and sturdy, like the All Black front five. But I am sure there will be more than a few words written in CAPS after this morning’s stuttering error riddled effort. ACCURACY, FINISHING, COMPSURE and BALL SECURITY. This game was the very definition of frustration. Scotland never threatened to get off zero- they had no ball and no territory. Yes, they defended well, but the All Blacks coughed up ball and failed to execute in a way that makes me believe a number of the players are already singing the national anthem on October 20 in Paris rather than living in the here and now. That might not matter against Scotland B, but it will be a whole other thing against France in a quarterfinal. It certainly must be stressing out this punter.

It is easy to look at this as a team failure, but I think the crosses in Mr Henry’s detention book will be beside names like Rodney So’oialo who failed to control things at the back of the scrum, Chris Masoe who was guilty of a number of turnovers, and most of the backline who took critical wrong options, including Carter. In terms of the ‘top team’ I think Sitiveni Sivivatu is probably the only one who might have played his way out of contention, but it did feel like Aaron Mauger’s steadying influence could have been helpful.

Silver was definitely colour du jour in Edinburgh this morning. There was enough of it on the Scotland jersey to confuse my 3am eyes -- perhaps it did the same to the All Blacks. Not sure I want to see the silver jersey again. I always liked the white jersey as the alternate strip- it makes me think of the water polo test in 1975, and that fantastic image of Hamish McDonald aquaplaning across for a try.

Meanwhile, in the British press, debate rages over who how to view England’s victory over Samoa. In the Times, Stephen Jones lauds ‘Lazarus England', while Andy Bull over at the Guardian tells it like it is bemoaning the ‘arthritic baboons’ in the English forward pack.

I was wrong- Samoa did not beat England, but you can see why they might have. If they had won even half of their lineout ball they could have made a a real game of it. I still think England are rubbish, even if they did play a lot better. It is a real pity the Tongans did not play England before South Africa. I think they will have run out of puff by next weekend. The Aussies are building up nicely, and must be looking forward to burying the memories of 2003 in the quarter finals against the Poms.

The real revelation of the tournament for me is the Tongan team. Only three of the Samoan players who took the field on Saturday were not professional players, mostly plying their trade in the UK. The Tongans on the other hand have a smattering of NZ provincial players and very few on the international scene. They played some great rugby against South Africa, and only lost because of a 15 minute burst from the first string players on the bench. Time once again for NZ rugby administrators to do the right thing by the global game and find ways of developing test rugby in our own region.

The tragedy that is Ireland’s time at the cup is close to over. Paul O’Connell is blaming the ref, the team hotel, anything rather than face the face that they showed almost nothing. The Irish had a bad week. It will take a miracle for them to knock over they very well drilled Argentinians.

Having said that Argentina v Ireland is the most important game of the tournament for All Black supporters. There are various scenarios with bonus points, but if Argentina win, it will be France in the quarters. No doubt the 2B8 will be put to good use on October 1.

And finally, the gift for the All Black fan who has everything. Voodoo pins optional.

Grant Robertson

Some Foreign Field is sponsored by Whisky Galore.

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