It’s not quite the Rugby World Cup’s “night of nights” by any stretch, but I thought that it might be worth one last moment of levity before things start getting very, very serious this weekend in New Zealand.
The “Webbys” are of course named for young William Webb Ellis, as is the RWC trophy, and I figure this is appropriate since it seems that perhaps the whole “boy picks up football in schoolyard and runs” story perhaps can’t be taken as seriously as it once was.
So, without further ado.
Blokes who just sport garden-variety blue or black headgear could learn a lot here.
Initially, I thought Fijian flanker Akapusi Qera (photo above) had this well and truly sewn up, with his otherwise standard-issue headgear beautifully topped with a random array of colours that make his head pretty easy to recognise.
Of course, that could work against you when you’re a flanker, too.
However, when I saw the outstanding arrangement of flying United States winger, Takudzwa Ngwenya, I saw the error of my ways. Ngwenya’s superb showing of colour-coordination and sheer patriotism gets him the Webby on a countback.
Canadian flanker Adam Kleeberger. Not even a contest. Hope he doesn’t carry through with threats to get rid of it.
Best playing strip:
Argentina, by a good margin.
In this day and age of space-age, streamlined, figure-hugging, supposedly-performance-enhancing hi-tech “jerseys”, it’s good to see that all this can – occasionally – still be made to look like a proper, traditional rugby strip.
And, it’s a pleasant removal from the block colours of 18 other teams! Now sure, block colours can look smart, but not so much when everyone else does it too.
Argentina’s traditional sky-blue and white hoops are instantly recognisable (who’s that black team, who’s that white team?) and they’re a welcome sight in international rugby.
Highly commended: Japan, who had a bit each way on whether to stay with their traditional cherry red and white hoops, or go with the hi-tech mostly blocked-out number.
England, not for their possibly ill-thought black alternate strip, but for the pathetic way the electrical tape numbers started disintegrating well before half-time.
Best act of invisibility by an Australian journo:
The Sydney Morning Herald’s Chief Rugby Correspondent, Greg Growden, gets this gong for his outstanding attempt at an “I’m not looking at you so you can’t see me” face while standing well in-shot behind Robbie Deans at a Wallaby presser in Hamner Springs last week.
The 23 year-old Kenyan-born Dunedin local, dressed only in face paint, at the Argentina- England game at the new enclosed Otago Stadium in the first week of the tournament.
At the time, I opined to my diminutive Twitter following that he should be thankful the game wasn’t at the old, cold Carisbrook, but having reviewed the tape it appears that shrinkage probably isn’t something this guy had to worry about.
It gets better though, it seems the guy will escape conviction. Though originally charged under New Zealand’s new especially-minted Major Events Management Act, which says pitch invaders can incur up to three months in prison and a maximum fine of $5000, the man’s clean sheet may well see him let off, and instead making a donation to charity in lieu of the likely fine.
Most bizarre explanation to a post-try celebration:
Israel Dagg, after scoring in the New Zealand-France game last weekend, launched into some manor of hand and arm gestures that perhaps looked like a swan, but I’ve since heard described as being a “sock puppet”.
I wasn’t really fussed by the celebration itself, but then I read about his cryptic explanation in an All Blacks in the days that followed: “a dog meows” and “the laughing bear rides a motorcycle”.
Of course they do.
Explanations – I’ll even take smart-arsed guesses – are welcome.
Well, where do you start? It’s honestly impossible to try and rank particular tries in any order, and believe me, I tried all weekend.
So this might be where the Webbys become a collaborative thing, and I’ll welcome suggestions from this point.
To get the ball rolling, two tries from “minnows” still stick out for me, the first being Romania’s pushover scrum try against Scotland in the first week. I mentioned this one last week too, but it’s still hard to top.
No.8 Daniel Carpo picked it up from the back and barged over, but it all came down to the second shove led by hooker and captain, Marius Tincu.
The second try was from Russia, in their loss to Italy in Nelson. Though well beaten by this stage, the Russians got a good attacking scrum on the Italian line, and flyhalf Konstantin Rachkov threw a pass easily forty metres to an essentially unmarked inside centre Alexey Makovetskiy to go over virtually untouched.
The try itself was quite simple, I suppose, but the vision to see the opportunity, and then the skill to get the pass there, well that’s just worth remembering.
And with that, I’ll turn discussion over to you guys.
The pool stage is done and dusted, and has been thoroughly enjoyable for way more than just the rugby itself. There’s no limit on how many Webbys The Roar hands out (I’ve checked the budget), so share your favourite RWC moments before things go all life-and-death on us.