The good, the bad and the ugly

2007-09-11 09:51

Tank Lanning

Okay, so a few observations on RWC 2007, then...

Have the Italians learnt absolutely nothing about rugby etiquette in their time in the Six Nations? Do they not know that not facing up to the All Black haka is sixty seven times worse than talking on your golf partner's backswing?

Well, if they did not know this on Saturday afternoon, I sure as hell hope they know now.

Their little huddle to discuss the pizza order for after the game while the world's number one side was laying down an age old challenge was rugby suicide, and the proof was in the pudding...

"I do not mean to sound patronising" was uttered on several occasions by the abject commentators during Ireland's stuttering win over the Namibians.

Well, not only were they inept as they struggled to call a second half that was dominated by the Southern Africans instead of their beloved Irish, but they were also horribly patronising.

Perhaps they could learn the names of both sides before a game, and accept that Ireland, while talked about a lot prior to the tournament as potential semi-finalists, are not actually a world superpower against which other sides are marked!

Speaking of commentators, where the hell are the sensational Antipodean commentators who make the Super 14 and Tri-Nations so much fun to take in?

Yes, they might be a little biased toward their own nations, but at least they know their rugby.

Oh, I forget, this is a tournament run by the IRB, who are based in the northern hemisphere and still think the winners of the Six Nations are the team to beat in world rugby.

They are seemingly also the people who cannot make a clock stop when the ref calls "time off" so spectators and players have no idea how much time is left in a game!

Bordered on fatal

Losing Jean de Villiers is a brutal hammer blow to the Boks.

Yes, the loss of either of the locks or Schalk Burger would have bordered on fatal, but adding De Villiers to the list headed by Pierre Spies will keep coach, Jake White, staring at ceilings instead of the back of his closed eyelids.

The reason being that the Boks lose not only the experience of De Villiers, but also the stability of an established centre pairing.

White is now seemingly going to play the precocious, but seriously green, Frans Steyn, at centre with Jacque Fourie, which means we have two players in the backline, as JP Pietersen is certainly in this mould, who have the ability to change games given their obvious talent, but are prone to silly mistakes, and actual meltdowns.

A more prudent approach might be to actually play the newly arrived Wayne Julies at centre and keep Steyn on the bench, thus enabling White to introduce him in whatever position he will make the most impact given the game situation?

One thing seems obvious, though, Wynand Olivier is off the Christmas card list and in Paris to hold tackle bags...

The Bok pack were simply awesome against the colossal and brutal humans that make up the Samoan side.

The islanders being living proof that scrumming is clearly not only about size, though.

In a seriously tough and uncompromising affair in which Bakkies Botha was the man the Samoans had in their sights - obviously trying to target the Bok hardman hoping that if he cracked, the Bok pack would crack - the Bok pack opened a serious can of whip-ass on the men in blue in all of the formal elements of the game.

In this tight five comprising Os du Randt, John Smit, CJ van der Linde, Victor Matfield, and Botha, the Boks have a group of men that need not stand back for any other side in world rugby.

It's an amazing platform on which to build a World Cup winning campaign.

Uninspiring start

And on the other end of the scale came the Poms, who creaked, groaned, buckled, and almost snapped in the face of a little American forward intimidation.

A seriously uninspiring start to the defence of their title, and quite frankly, a side looking like they do not even deserve to share the same playing field as the Boks.

It should be one-way traffic as prime South African beef steamrolls the wilting English rose - and anything less should be seen as failure.

One thing is for sure, though, come Friday night I expect those cooler boxes packed, the spit braai or Weber nicely primed, the couches cleared, and those returning from Newlands cricket ground not to have over indulged during the Aussies' pounding of the Poms in their Twenty20 match down there.

  • Tank Lanning is 24.com's sports editor and the author of the blog, Front Row Grunt.

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