The Wrap: Lions draw series, is rugby’s power shift north on?

Geoff Parkes Columnist

By Geoff Parkes, Geoff Parkes is a Roar Expert

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    Anyone who follows rugby knows that commercial power in the game is held in the northern hemisphere and that, historically, the on-field strength resides in the south.

    While the drawn series between the All Blacks and the Lions was just another three games of rugby – damn fine ones at that – in time it may come to be seen as an indicator of an on-field power shift as well.

    Consider the following. At the 2015 World Cup, SANZAAR provided all four semi-finalists. But in 2016 Australia won only six Tests from 15 and South Africa just four from 12, in a wretched season that included losses to Ireland at home, Italy (for the first time ever) and a record 57-15 home defeat to New Zealand.

    Argentina clearly regressed last year and SANZAAR’S flagship competition, Super Rugby, is in a state of chaos.

    It is only New Zealand that has stood strong, a loss to an excellent Irish side in Chicago nothing out of the ordinary for a side operating at a 90 per cent win ratio in the Steve Hansen era.

    Coming into this Lions series, those with a close eye on rugby in the UK knew that the visitors had enough talent to trouble the All Blacks if they could keep their squad tight and together for the final weeks of a punishingly long season. But even so, there were very few predicting that the speed and ruthless nature of the All Blacks’ game would ensure anything other than a home victory.

    As it happened, coach Warren Gatland’s first choice selections stayed largely intact throughout the whole tour, the attrition rate remarkably low. And potential internal problems with team spirit, prevalent on the 2001 tour to Australia and the 2005 tour of New Zealand, were well anticipated and avoided this time around.

    There was the usual inflammatory rubbish from a minority of ill-informed local press, aimed at achieving I’m not exactly sure what, but key for Gatland was his ability to keep the UK press onside with his mission. Touring players care nothing for a local New Zealand paper dressing their coach as a clown, but potential insecurities are easily bought to the surface when their own press turns on the playing group.

    Warren Gatland British and Irish Lions Rugby Union 2017

    (AAP Image/David Rowland)

    That they never did was due to two things. Gatland got most of his selections right, so there was very little room for dissent among commentators with a different agenda to push. The other reason was that his ‘Saturday’ team performed right from the get-go, the win against the Crusaders crucially establishing a demarcation line where criticism could be made of the lesser performing midweek side without it impacting on the Test side.

    Also pivotal was Sean O’Brien’s try in the first Test. Despite the 30-15 loss, the Lions gave themselves and their supporters belief by scoring one of the great Test tries; one that most fans would have expected to have come from the All Blacks.

    In the wake of Saturday’s 15-15 result, one telling statistic emerged. Across the three Tests, for 240 minutes of rugby, the Lions led for only three of those minutes. That they were dominated for long periods but were able to escape with a drawn series speaks to a combination of their tenacity, off-key execution by the All Blacks (not totally unrelated to the first point), and some good fortune.

    Restricting the All Blacks to five tries across the series was key for the Lions. The All Blacks were tactically innovative in the first Test, too conservative in the second (even with the loss of Sonny Bill Williams) and typically creative in the third. Opportunities came, but they were all hard won, and the Lions’ defence in the secondary field, in particular, was exemplary. This was a team with a heady blend of spirit, desire and sound technique.

    Note how superbly the Lions scrambled back when, during a pulsating opening quarter, their own attack was killed dead by a Beauden Barrett intercept. Against any other side, this would have resulted in an All Black try. And when Barrett and Aaron Smith pulled the same move, flat off a scrum, that bought a try in Dublin, this time Conor Murray was in position to shut it down.

    The All Blacks will be bitterly disappointed with their lack of clinical precision under pressure when the game was there to be won. Opting to play at the gain line creates pressure in itself, but it is something they welcome, happy to trade-off the risk of some spilt ball against splitting the defence open for tries like the beauty scored by Jordie Barrett.

    But there was added pressure in this match. The atmosphere in the stadium resembled the Colosseum, and when the game tensed up it the second half – even more so when Jerome Kaino was sin-binned – the match took on the feel of the knee-trembling 2011 World Cup final.

    Some will point to the missed try-scoring opportunities in the first half, with Julian Savea’s early fumble a crucial error. But even so, the All Blacks went to halftime well in control, and it was their inability to convert second-half field position through a series of handling mistakes that cruelled their momentum and kept the Lions in the contest.

    All Blacks British and Irish Lions Romain Poite Rugby Union 2017

    (AAP Image/ David Rowland)

    In that context, missed opportunities from Wellington also take on heavier importance. How must Beauden Barrett want his second-half grubber kick back again. A touch softer or straighter and Kieran Read scores, and the series is already won.

    That outcome would, of course, have denied us the theatre and occasion of a deciding Test, which is everything the brilliant travelling fans, and the Lions concept, deserved. Make no mistake, when the euphoria dies down and the grind of the Premiership starts up again, there will be more agitating against the Lions from clubs who neither see nor care for rugby’s bigger picture.

    Ignore also those claiming that this series is somehow diminished by there not being a winner. When two noble sides slug it out to the death, a draw is an entirely valid result, and the images of Read and Sam Warburton holding the trophy together do far more for the enhancement of the highest values of sport than any contrived deciding mechanism could ever do.

    That said, the question of whether the match should have ended in a draw cannot be avoided. Like a slow-motion car crash moment, there was a sense of inevitability that the match, and series would hinge on a controversial refereeing call.

    Romain Poite, in my view, made two critical errors. In the first, he essentially had to decide between three options – penalty against Read for interference in the air, penalty against Ken Owens for playing the ball in an offside position, or a scrum against Owens for doing so accidentally.

    Having ruled the contest in the air fair, Poite somehow chose the third option, when there appeared to be far stronger cases for either of the first two. Owens catching and dropping the ball like a hot potato was no more accidental than any player immediately putting his hand up to acknowledge an unintentional reflex high tackle; it’s still a high tackle and still penalizable. Owens’ catch was instinctive, not accidental.

    Poite’s other mistake, one with more important overtones, was to allow an on-field negotiation to take place and to be talked into a review, instead of trusting his instinct as an experienced referee. It was as if he knew how high the stakes were, with only two minutes left to play, but it makes no sense to treat a decision in the 78th minute differently from one in the eighth.

    From here, it is a very short and slippery slope into cricket’s world of player challenges, and umpires bottling tough decisions and allowing matches to be determined by video.

    As for Poite watching the video and confirming to TMO George Ayoub that he was staying with his original decision of a penalty against Owens, but then, in walking across to the mark, somehow deciding to award a scrum instead? Well, perhaps something was lost somewhere in translation.

    Discussion about the ruling in no way assumes that Barrett would have made the kick anyway. I know I wouldn’t have bet my house on it.

    It is wrong to consider a drawn series against this Lions side a definite marker of decline in New Zealand rugby. The Wallabies are about to find out how much firepower this side still has in its kit bag. But the world rugby paradigm is shifting and any All Blacks fans who choose to ignore this are simply denying the inevitable.

    New Zealand has enjoyed a golden age that, hopefully, still has some time to run yet. But important indicators are stacking up against them. Demographics, economics, the historical development of other professional sports such as football, and the decline of its southern hemisphere allies all point to more difficult days ahead for New Zealand rugby.

    If Saturday night’s result feels like a loss for New Zealand it at least should help ensure that the Lions are still around to tour in another twelve years’ time. But don’t be surprised if a drawn series in 2029, in a rugby world dominated by the north, this time feels like a win for New Zealand.

    As if to illustrate the point about the fading light of southern hemisphere rugby, Super Rugby in Australia continued its year from hell, with three contrasting matches doing nothing to cheer local fans.

    If SANZAAR can change the number of teams mid-stream, surely they can also change the qualifying conditions for the finals. On the evidence of their showing in Brisbane, the Brumbies have no hope of progressing and are wholly underserving of a home final.

    It is hard to imagine a worse game of rugby, so deficient of skill, than what the Reds and Brumbies dished up on Friday night. The heavy fog that settled over the match was a telling metaphor for Australian rugby, and I’m sure I wasn’t alone in wishing for it to block out the game altogether.

    Scott Fardy Brumbies Rugby Union Super Rugby 2017

    (AAP Image/Paul Miller)

    Over in Perth the Force and Rebels played like two sides angry with themselves, each other and their situation. That the Force were that bit nigglier and their sledging that bit trashier was enough to win them the battle, but perhaps not the war.

    Injured Force skipper Matt Hodgson bought the teams together on the field after the match ended in a nice moment of solidarity. Players who had been tearing each other’s headgear off and questioning their respective mother’s morals were suddenly united in sharing an ‘up yours’ to the ARU.

    Spurning the opportunity for at least one Australian side to do something positive, the Waratahs could only scrape the bottom of an already sorry barrel, losing 40-27 to the Jaguares who, for a period in the middle of the match, only had 13 players on the field.

    When the knives are sharpened for Michael Cheika, as they inevitably will be at some point during the Rugby Championships, critics will do well to look back at this round of matches and consider the raw material he has to work with.

    Get in touch with a Daikin dealer today so you don’t sit and suffer through another cold winter while watching the rugby this year. Trusted by many and suitable for the Australian lifestyle, Daikin really is The Best Air Anywhere.

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    The Crowd Says (260)

    • July 10th 2017 @ 6:33am
      MH01 said | July 10th 2017 @ 6:33am | ! Report

      What a great series. Thank you to the lions and ABs

      The talk this week is on the one penalty, I could not find footage that showed Reid onside at the kick-off and as noted, it was far from a given BB would have kicked it.

      More interesting for me was what followed the scrum, the Lions were fantastic in defence all game and the ABs were intent on scoring a try or get a penalty along the way. They had perfect field position to Setup a winning field goal…..why go for a try ? On a day where they lions were epic in defence.

      Post 2015 RWC – SA, Oz and Argentina have made the ABs look far far better than they were. Hence the ambush in Chicago.

      I think one major problem the ABs had, was not playing England recently, it’s all about the money etc, though that game would have prepared them for the lions . Instead they had an easy European tour, followed by a SR season where thier closest opponents , oz SR teams are god awful.

      So my question is, did the ABs climb a new summit in rugby as predicted before the lions series or did the other teams go backwards…? Smashing SA and Oz recently has done them no favours to be honest.

      It’s gonna be another painful RC, hoping SA deliver, and let’s see England v NZ, rugby needs more great games like the lions series.

      Anyway, thanks lions and AB fans, it’s been entertaining !!!! Especially on these forums , from humble to oz level of whining :p ha ha ha. Yeah yeah cricket score coming up vrs wallabies this year…. though we oz fans are so broken, not sure we will worry too much 😉

      • Columnist

        July 10th 2017 @ 8:26am
        Geoff Parkes said | July 10th 2017 @ 8:26am | ! Report

        Hi MH01,

        There’s been a bit of commentary around about the AB’s not attempting a drop goal.

        I think they were too far out. Remember the final scrum was near halfway. Fekitoa made some ground on the left but that was still too far back for Cruden as were the next midfield recycles. Then Jordie Barrett made ground on the right, Perenare was forced to pick the ball up to protect it, but more great defence drove him over the touchline.

        If they had kept it in perhaps the AB’s may have worked some more phases back towards the posts, but I expect they would have still been trying to score a try; perhaps only resorting to a dg at last resort.

        Since the RWC 2007 failure, they have taken the drop goal option when needed (v Ireland in Chch, 2015 RWC final) but it’s the NZ way to try to score first and I think that’s fair enough.

        • July 10th 2017 @ 12:24pm
          ajg said | July 10th 2017 @ 12:24pm | ! Report

          About them being too far out for a drop goal: have you seen the footage of barrett junior hitting a 50m drop goal after the half time whistle?

          http://www.rugbyrampage.co.nz/blog/jordie-barrett-kick-50m-dropgoal-at-halftime-because-hes-a-freak

          the barrett brothers are freaks

          [great article btw]

          • Columnist

            July 10th 2017 @ 1:13pm
            Geoff Parkes said | July 10th 2017 @ 1:13pm | ! Report

            Cheers ajg

            I actually saw that live at the time and made a note of it, but it didn’t fit into the theme of the article (which was already too long)

            It wasn’t even that the kick went over, it’s what it says about his attitude and temperament. In his 2nd test match, the biggest game of rugby outside of a world cup final, he’s just been manhandled over the sideline, the ref blows for halftime and… he’s just like a kid having fun at the local park, having potshots at goal. Brilliant.

          • July 11th 2017 @ 5:58am
            Jaydos said | July 11th 2017 @ 5:58am | ! Report

            Was it a drop goal or a drop punt? When i saw it live i thought drop punt aussie rules style, saw it go straight threw from 50! Hurricanes backline now better than most international teams!!

      • July 10th 2017 @ 10:04am
        Bakkies said | July 10th 2017 @ 10:04am | ! Report

        ‘ Instead they had an easy European tour, ‘

        Apart from the two Irish matches, the ABs made hard work of beating a headless French team

        • Roar Guru

          July 10th 2017 @ 12:05pm
          WEST said | July 10th 2017 @ 12:05pm | ! Report

          You should wait until after the Springboks play France at Stade de France before judging.

          • July 11th 2017 @ 7:03am
            Bakkies said | July 11th 2017 @ 7:03am | ! Report

            What are you on about?

      • July 10th 2017 @ 3:20pm
        ClarkeG said | July 10th 2017 @ 3:20pm | ! Report

        Boy are you making an issue about Read not being shown as being onside. You think he may have been offside so you are going to keep saying it are you.

        You speak of setting up and executing a field goal as if it is a given.

        • July 10th 2017 @ 3:46pm
          MH01 said | July 10th 2017 @ 3:46pm | ! Report

          It’s wrong to ask the question? What is wrong with actually looking at facts? Seem many here want to ignore facts and drive agendas. I mean in 2017, digital age, how sad is it when a viewer is asking to see another angle ……

          Invonvienent question that does not suit your agenda???

          Geez , with most carrying on that it was a given BB was going to kick it, using that logic a field goal was a given also…..

          The point if you bother t think about it, they only needed 1 point.

          • Roar Rookie

            July 10th 2017 @ 3:52pm
            piru said | July 10th 2017 @ 3:52pm | ! Report

            It’s wrong to ask the question? What is wrong with actually looking at facts? Seem many here want to ignore facts and drive agendas.

            Isn’t that what you’re doing with this insistence Read must have been offside because no one can prove he wasn’t?

            It’s the trailing TJ’s job to judge offside at the kick off and he saw no reason to call anyone offside.

            Is that not good enough?

          • July 10th 2017 @ 7:43pm
            ClarkeG said | July 10th 2017 @ 7:43pm | ! Report

            Nothing wrong with asking a question and nothing wrong with me pointing out that you seem to be making an issue of it…because you are.

            Facts? what facts…you have not provided any.

            Driving agendas? …it is you driving the agenda. I never said he was not offside just that you seem to be making an issue of him possibly being offside.

            I never said anything about Barrett kicking or not kicking a penalty. All I said was that you implied more or less that a field goal was given. Well they just don’t happen do they. Did the Lions succeed with their attempt against the Hurricanes….no.

            You’ve got some weird logic going on there. Because some say that Barrett would likely kick a penalty goal then it must also be a given that the ABs could score a field goal?

          • July 11th 2017 @ 7:47am
            Uncle Eric said | July 11th 2017 @ 7:47am | ! Report

            While you’re looking at the offside from the restart, offside in the defensive line and look also at line outs and scrum feeds which are not straight and penalty takers cribbing an extra two or three metres each time. These are occurring constantly and the powers that be seem to have no intent to prevent these infractions. These are simple issues which could be controlled, largely by having the touch judges paying more attention.

        • July 11th 2017 @ 5:56am
          JimmyKip said | July 11th 2017 @ 5:56am | ! Report

          Ahaha, nevermind the fact that if Read was offside & they called it, that’d be one of only a handful of times they bothered to police the off-side line the entire tour.

          I contend that a major reason the Lions were able to compete as well as they did was because their defence was extremely effective. But, from what I could see a lot of that effectiveness could be put down to being half a yard or more offside 3-4 players out from the ruck at most breakdowns.

          Now, they sure as heck looked offside a hell of a lot, but given the referee rarely blew them up for it, you can only conclude that like Read they were actually onside.

          • July 11th 2017 @ 6:45am
            Neil Back said | July 11th 2017 @ 6:45am | ! Report

            “… from what I could see a lot of that effectiveness could be put down to being half a yard or more offside 3-4 players out from the ruck at most breakdowns.”

            Three or four players. At most breakdowns. Half a yard. Or more.

            Do you have any idea how rediculous you sound?

            • July 11th 2017 @ 7:30am
              JimmyKip said | July 11th 2017 @ 7:30am | ! Report

              You misunderstand, i’m talking about a defender (or two) 3-4 players out from the ruck in the defensive line.

              And yes, at most breakdowns & yes half a yard or more.

          • July 11th 2017 @ 5:13pm
            FunBus said | July 11th 2017 @ 5:13pm | ! Report

            ‘But, from what I could see a lot of that effectiveness could be put down to being half a yard or more offside 3-4 players out from the ruck at most breakdowns.’

            Whereas the AB defence, which was also very effective, can now doubt be explained solely by the transcendental brilliance of the players.

            • July 11th 2017 @ 9:10pm
              adastra32 said | July 11th 2017 @ 9:10pm | ! Report

              LOL – it is amazing how everybody turns into Cyclops when things don’t go the way they wanted…..

            • July 12th 2017 @ 8:03am
              JimmyKip said | July 12th 2017 @ 8:03am | ! Report

              If you’d asked me about my opinion on the ABs defensive lines placement maybe you could put those words in my mouth. I may have said it elsewhere, but just to address your presumptions i’ll repeat that the referee’s policing of the offside line was appalling all tour.

              Note there’s no mention of teams, players or jersey colours in that statement.

              However, i’ll also state that being offside is more beneficial to a rush defence which is trying to prevent the ball from going wide than it is to the the style of defence that the ABs employ. The ABs were able to get up quick & drop the Lions big ball runners behind the gain line, but all the Lions had to do to counter that was pass the ball.

      • July 10th 2017 @ 7:07pm
        Jeffrey said | July 10th 2017 @ 7:07pm | ! Report

        MH01,

        Let’s move away from the series result for a second and just analyse the play. I am unashamedly biased but I feel the ABs were a 10 point better team than the Lions.

        The first test they dominated, the 2nd test was shaded by the Lions but they were up against 14, and the third test the ABs really were more impressive while missing the finishing touches. Add in the fact that they were missing Coles and Smith who are two of the best players in the world, along with their first choice centres and wingers and I think the ABs are pretty much at the level many thought they would be which is still at no 1 but not as far ahead of their opposition as they were in 2015.

        England and Ireland have stepped up enormously while the other NH teams have stayed about the same as they were at the world cup. SA are looking really good, scarily good actually, but will hold off on judging them until after the RCs.

        I think we need to wait till the end of this year to get a better and truer gauge as to where the teams are at.

        • July 11th 2017 @ 9:12pm
          adastra32 said | July 11th 2017 @ 9:12pm | ! Report

          First, if the ABs were 10 points better than the Lions then they should have delivered on this. They did not so they weren’t.

          Second, every team can claim injuries and absentees as significant factors: there were significant candidates on both sides. And come RWC 2019, this will not be a sufficient excuse for any team playing.

          Finally, I think we will be waiting till the end of 2018 before there is real perspective i.e. when No 1 and No 2 have played each other.

        • July 12th 2017 @ 1:54am
          David said | July 12th 2017 @ 1:54am | ! Report

          “England and Ireland have stepped up enormously while the other NH teams have stayed about the same as they were at the world cup”

          Scotland have vastly improved, while I personally think Wales have gone backwards. If anyone’s stayed the same, I’d point to Ireland- beat New Zealand, lose to Scotland and Wales, then beat England. Can beat the very best on their day, but as inconsistent as ever as well.
          Scotland have been on a upwards curve since the World Cup and with the talent in their squad I expect this to continue. Wales recently came second bottom in the 6 Nations- only beating Ireland and Italy- and were the only side not to get a bonus point against Italy and lose a home game. Maybe they’ll improve with Gatland back, but for now they’ve gone backwards.

    • Roar Guru

      July 10th 2017 @ 6:51am
      Harry Jones said | July 10th 2017 @ 6:51am | ! Report

      Enjoyed your clear discussion about Poite’s agonizing (“think long, think wrong”). I also noted that AL-B had a good look at a try or close to it, from the loose ball from which Poite disallowed advantage, so it probably was double-gutting for AB fans.

      On the balance of rugby power shifting to the North, perhaps, I would caution along these lines:

      – 2016 may have been the nadir of Bok misfortune (or just a false bottom); but 2017 seems promising
      – There are more than 250 Saffas earning Northern bucks; don’t know NZ-OZ-Pacific Island/ARG numbers, but high
      – Northern record against SA still pretty dreary; let’s see EOYT this year
      – NZ is number one in part because SA/OZ are perennially good (not sure we can write them off yet)

      • July 10th 2017 @ 7:26am
        Canetragic said | July 10th 2017 @ 7:26am | ! Report

        Ahh Harry you’ve nailed my preferred option from all those that might have happened “play on advantage!”

        Geoff – nice wrap and thanks for all the thoughtful pieces. Couple of points – maybe it’s a new dawn for the North, time will tell but these things can be tricky to predict, which brings me to my second point. The cattle tat Cheika has available aren’t that much different to those that performed so well in 2015. So what’s changed? As for the Lions – a great team drawn from 4 countries. Once in a generation combination (cf 1971) or new world order? Let’s see……

        • Columnist

          July 10th 2017 @ 8:41am
          Geoff Parkes said | July 10th 2017 @ 8:41am | ! Report

          Hi Canetragic

          That’s a tough question re Cheika.
          The SR teams falling so far off the pace in 2016 and 2017 must have an impact on the Wallabies.

          • July 10th 2017 @ 8:56am
            Bring Back...? said | July 10th 2017 @ 8:56am | ! Report

            Of course it does Geoff. Agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment expressed in your final paragraph.

      • Columnist

        July 10th 2017 @ 8:35am
        Geoff Parkes said | July 10th 2017 @ 8:35am | ! Report

        Hi Harry

        I think the number of SA overseas registered players is closer to 350.

        Of those, wait for this… 65 are current or ex Springboks

        People are quick to criticise the quality of some of the SR teams, and the Boks last year, but that’s a massive amount of quality and experience missing.

        SA and New Zealand have a strong base to their rugby and entrenched rugby cultures. SA is also, as you say, tapping into a black population which has never played the game before in huge numbers. So yes they aren’t going anywhere in a hurry. But as new stars are developed, they too will potentially get picked off.

        If there is a decline it won’t be a sharp linear drop. More like a gradual happening with ups and downs along the way, but where sometime in the future we stop and think, ‘how did we get here?’

        • Columnist

          July 10th 2017 @ 8:59am
          Geoff Parkes said | July 10th 2017 @ 8:59am | ! Report

          “as you say”

          apologies that should be “as Electronic Swagman says”

      • July 11th 2017 @ 7:25am
        Bakkies said | July 11th 2017 @ 7:25am | ! Report

        ‘Enjoyed your clear discussion about Poite’s agonizing (“think long, think wrong”). I also noted that AL-B had a good look at a try or close to it, from the loose ball from which Poite disallowed advantage, so it probably was double-gutting for AB fans.’

        The ref asked the TMO if Williams was challenged fairly by Read so he couldn’t let play go on.

        ‘– Northern record against SA still pretty dreary; let’s see EOYT this year’

        Are you serious Harry? The Boks lost to Ireland, England, Italy and Wales last year. In 2014 there were losses against Ireland and Wales.

        • July 11th 2017 @ 11:29am
          Kane said | July 11th 2017 @ 11:29am | ! Report

          He could have let play carry on until next stoppage and then look at it.

          And besides that’s not why he stopped play. He stopped play to award a penalty and then was talked into referring the TMO

      • July 11th 2017 @ 11:29am
        single malt said | July 11th 2017 @ 11:29am | ! Report

        The Boks sure did look good in their wins over France and I am looking forward to the upcoming Boks/ABs games. The pace of the Boks’ backs was impressive – so many players with real gas. The skill levels across the team looked impressive too. The Boks had a poor year last year but they have been rebuilding so let’s hope they are back. As an ABs fan I am very aware that we need all our SH playmates to be strong.

      • Roar Rookie

        July 11th 2017 @ 6:57pm
        Kirky said | July 11th 2017 @ 6:57pm | ! Report

        Harry ~ Your last sentence says it all, ~ just because the Lions got away with being cleaned out in the First Test. won by a dubious penalty against 14 men in the second Test, then scunged home for a draw that wasn’t in the last Test, ~ they seem to think the All Blacks are doomed and they’re on the cusp of being the guns in World rugby!! ~ Dream on!!

    • Roar Guru

      July 10th 2017 @ 7:02am
      Carlos the Argie said | July 10th 2017 @ 7:02am | ! Report

      Hello Geoff, (and the usual thanks for a great review)

      I must admit, sadly, that I have paid less attention to his tour than what I should. My wife realized too late that she wanted to attend the matches and instead had purchased tickets to the Track&Field World Championship in London later this month. This, plus the Dolomites bike riding to hell tour, meant that less time has been spent in from of the TV. She did promise to go to SA next BIL tour…

      I also watched the games with a mixed feeling. Two different ways of playing rugby. Brute force, physicality and gamesmanship against “naivete” by the Kiwis. I would have never expected this. Were they cocky thinking or believing that 3-0 would be the result? I personally thought so too watching 6N and SH games.

      However, it seems that some football FIFA gamesmanship is invading rugby. Suspensions or lack of them have a scent of preference. Calls during the games also had some degree of “familiarity” that I did not appreciate. But as I said to my wife when she asked me what I thought of the games, I paraphrased the Kiwis that say you should score enough that you take away the influence of the referee. And here, the ABs failed. They also got unlucky with injuries, but overall they failed. Even BBBB was less influential than expected. He was no Dan Carter in 2005. The ABs were well shut down, by brilliant defense and by sly gamesmanship. I abhor this delay to line-outs or yelling to cover up the calls. This is not “soccer”, to quote the Welsh philosopher Owens. I don’t want rugby to become soccer.

      And this brings me to the last point I will make and it relates to Pablo Matera. His diving that resulted in a YC for the Waratah player was disgusting and deplorable. If I was the referee, I would have YC him for unsporstmanslike behavior. When I was a kid, if I stayed on the ground after some “pain” I would definitely hear the voices from my relatives and team mates from the sideline to get up. It was totally unconceivable that you would dive to provoke a penalty. This is way too common nowadays and the Jaguares, especially Nico Sanchez, have been doing this too much. Shame, shame, shame.

      Back to the BIL, they got a draw. Many years ago, the English got a draw with the ABs in Wembley or Old Trafford, can’t recall now, and they celebrated it. To believe that you can celebrate by drawing a test series speaks of insufficient goals. That having players from the 4 nations and still only expect a draw as a victory is lame.

      Anyway, I still want to the Kiwis to do well, the Aussies, the Saffas and even the Argies, of course. Land of birth calls. But in today’s rugby, the kiwis are still the best in my eyes, and hopefully the Boks are growing to provide proper competition.

      Finally, I am looking forwards to watching the BILs inSA in 4 years time.

      • July 10th 2017 @ 7:24am
        Daveski said | July 10th 2017 @ 7:24am | ! Report

        Good comments Carlos agree with all of them ( and jealous of your holidays ). That Pablo Matera is a beast of a physical specimen made it all the more ludicrous to see him flopping and diving about clutching a part of his face nowhere near the contact point.

        Geoff, wholeheartedly enjoyed that wrap of the 3rd test and yes I thought the spirit that Davies and Watson showed chasing down Laumape ( and Williams who initially pulled down the ABs fastest player Barrett) really epitomised the essence of this Lions team.

        And yep, three of the Aus teams served up big fat zeroes on the weekend. The Force were good ( enough ) and plenty passionate. The Rebels scored two nice tries but it was sort of the Mafi, Korobeite and Faingaa show with not a lot doing elsewhere.

      • July 10th 2017 @ 8:11am
        Peter D said | July 10th 2017 @ 8:11am | ! Report

        Don’t forget Carlos this is a team that only came together 6 weeks ago! I think you are being a little unfair on saying they have low standards by celebrating a drawn series. After all most predicted a 3 nil win for the All Blacks! All modern test sides employ cynical tactics at times so it’s slightly one eyed to call out the Lions on this!

        • July 11th 2017 @ 5:59am
          JimmyKip said | July 11th 2017 @ 5:59am | ! Report

          I’ve heard that excuse about only coming together just before the tour a lot. Well, the ABs had similar or less preparation time for the series – and Gatland was given a hell of a lot of time off from his actual job to compensate so I kinda don’t buy it.

          • July 11th 2017 @ 7:38am
            Bakkies said | July 11th 2017 @ 7:38am | ! Report

            The Lions had players in the squad that only joined the team the day before the squad was to fly out from LHR.

        • Roar Rookie

          July 11th 2017 @ 8:07pm
          Kirky said | July 11th 2017 @ 8:07pm | ! Report

          Peter, whether Carlos is right or wrong, the proof is in the pudding mate, he is correct!

          After all some of the Lions are going around saying that it appears there’s a “massive shift up North” judging on their magnificent drawn series!

          All the British luck to them!

      • July 10th 2017 @ 8:20am
        Riccardo said | July 10th 2017 @ 8:20am | ! Report

        “And this brings me to the last point I will make and it relates to Pablo Matera. His diving that resulted in a YC for the Waratah player was disgusting and deplorable.”

        You didn’t have to wait for that example of simulation Carlos. Liam Williams did the same thing to try and milk a penalty from Poite during Penaltygate. Well, either that or the curare from the poisined dart worked really quickly.

        • Roar Guru

          July 10th 2017 @ 8:24am
          Carlos the Argie said | July 10th 2017 @ 8:24am | ! Report

          I know, it is shameful in all circumstances.

          As I said, I don’t want rugby t become like soccer.

        • July 10th 2017 @ 5:40pm
          FunBus said | July 10th 2017 @ 5:40pm | ! Report

          ‘You didn’t have to wait for that example of simulation Carlos. Liam Williams did the same thing to try and milk a penalty from Poite during Penaltygate.’

          ……..and Barrett went down twice like he’d been shot in Test 2, despite replays showing not much contact. The second time he had 3 minutes of ‘treatment’ – after he’d looked up to make sure the ref was watching.

          • July 10th 2017 @ 7:30pm
            rebel said | July 10th 2017 @ 7:30pm | ! Report

            There were two Barrett and two Williams, all checked and one card.

          • July 10th 2017 @ 7:49pm
            ClarkeG said | July 10th 2017 @ 7:49pm | ! Report

            you do have a vivid imagination.

          • July 11th 2017 @ 6:53am
            Riccardo said | July 11th 2017 @ 6:53am | ! Report

            Barrett was already down when Vunipola dived on him with a forearm to the head.

            Liam however did the soccer dive from the merest of contact. Shame as while that wasn’t his best Test I rate him.

            None of that changes the result. And none of that changes the fact the All Blacks weren’t good enough.

            Anyway, back to your agenda…

      • Columnist

        July 10th 2017 @ 8:45am
        Geoff Parkes said | July 10th 2017 @ 8:45am | ! Report

        Hi Carlos

        Look forward to hearing more about the riding trip!

        Matera was a disgrace. Hannigan did hit him high and deserved his YC, but….

        Matera is as hard and compromising as any loose forward going around. It’s hard to reconcile that with this kind of playacting. And obviously, he isn’t on his own in that team. There’s something in the psyche of those guys that is very difficult to understand.

      • July 10th 2017 @ 11:44am
        JimmyB said | July 10th 2017 @ 11:44am | ! Report

        Carlos, a couple of points.
        FYI, there was plenty of ‘Brute force, physicality and gamesmanship from the ABs throughout the series just as there was plenty of ‘naivete’ from the Lions too.
        In terms of the Lions celebrating a draw, there was precious little celebrating going on after the match, both sets of players looked thoroughly dissatisfied, however the Lions deserve huge credit for drawing a series against a team and country who have dominated the game for as long as we can all care to remember, but kudos to you for being petty and trying to belittle their achievements and them as players and a team.
        Finally and for seemingly no other reason but to have a pop at the English (it’s the Roar after all and it helps to know your audience I guess), you refer to a game from about 20 years ago involving England and the ABs. You admit to not recalling the details the same as you admit to not really watching this series but you’ve repeated the oft quoted by many Kiwis that England ‘celebrated’ that draw. They did not. What they did do was go around to the Old Trafford crowd and thank them for their support given that the Old Trafford crowd would have been largely made up of non traditional rugby fans ie Football and League fans.
        Perhaps it’s best if you comment on what you actually see and what you actually know…just a thought…although it is the Roar after all, so as you were.

        • July 10th 2017 @ 1:42pm
          Carlos the Argie said | July 10th 2017 @ 1:42pm | ! Report

          Thank you for your insightful and generous comment. I am sure you have more to add. I am waiting.

        • July 10th 2017 @ 3:48pm
          ClarkeG said | July 10th 2017 @ 3:48pm | ! Report

          The game at Old Trafford was won by the ABs was it not.

          The draw occurred at Twickenham a couple of weeks later.

          • Roar Guru

            July 10th 2017 @ 5:22pm
            taylorman said | July 10th 2017 @ 5:22pm | ! Report

            Oops really, can’t remember the ground myself… pays to get your facts right when lecturing someone else I guess😀

            • July 10th 2017 @ 5:50pm
              FunBus said | July 10th 2017 @ 5:50pm | ! Report

              But the basic point stands. One of the many myths that continually nourishes and fuels Kiwi self-righteousness is the ‘poms celebrated a draw’ nonsense. The ‘lap of honour’, (which was no such thing of course) was indeed after a defeat at Old Trafford, and as JimmyB states it was to thank an Old Trafford crowd that would have contained many, many non-traditional rugby supporters for coming out. Because a large number of Kiwis don’t seem interested in finding out the different sporting cultures of places before pontificating ‘authoritatively’ on events we have to put up with 20 years and counting of ignorant drivel.

              • Roar Guru

                July 11th 2017 @ 2:33am
                Carlos the Argie said | July 11th 2017 @ 2:33am | ! Report

                First of all, I don’t know if you saw my avatar and my name. I am not a kiwi.

                Second, at the time, my big client was this English company and the contact was a rugby fan. It was him who told me about the perception of celebration by drawing. He was just repeating what many (press) and fans in England were perceiving. If I recall correctly the press at the time, they were stating it as celebration, not me.

                I was then puzzled as I am puzzled now that many in the BI consider a draw a victory.

                It is a draw.

                So, maybe it was football hooligans celebrating as the proper English rugby fans would have been chanting an American spiritual with innuendo of onanism instead.

              • July 13th 2017 @ 2:02am
                Kp said | July 13th 2017 @ 2:02am | ! Report

                Carlos, can you explain who from the lions is celebrating the draw as a victory? I’ve spent a lot of time recently with the travelling lions fans (who were awesome company btw) and watched all the games and didn’t see or hear any evidence of them seeing a draw as a victory. Not sure that many kiwis will share your (slightly xenophobic) take on the BILs and supporters.

              • Roar Guru

                July 11th 2017 @ 8:33am
                Ralph said | July 11th 2017 @ 8:33am | ! Report

                Look Carlos, I’ll have a word with the PM and see what I can do about giving you an Honorary “Kiwi-ship”. 😀

              • Roar Rookie

                July 11th 2017 @ 8:21pm
                Kirky said | July 11th 2017 @ 8:21pm | ! Report

                BusBoy!! Yeah but the All Blacks have the points on the board to justify the 20 years and counting of pontificational authoritative ignorant drivel mate, ~ more than your boys ever did or ever will! Respect mate where it’s due!

          • Roar Guru

            July 10th 2017 @ 7:28pm
            Rugby Fan said | July 10th 2017 @ 7:28pm | ! Report

            Jimmy is right and wrong.

            The New Zealand telling is that England did a lap of honour in Old Trafford. Since the story doesn’t make sense after a loss, the two Tests got merged in the memory, so you now still hear, 20 years later, how England celebrated a draw with the All Blacks by doing a lap of honour.

            Utter rubbish of course.

            England didn’t do a lap of honour (receiving applause for a great performance). They went to thank the Old Trafford crowd for turning out for a rugby match in a Football and League heartland. The NZ commentators embarrassed themselves, although the penny began to drop.:

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=67EMgElvSp0

            If the roles were reversed, and the English made similarly ignorant remarks about their opponents, you can guarantee we’d be accused of lacking respect.

          • July 10th 2017 @ 7:56pm
            ClarkeG said | July 10th 2017 @ 7:56pm | ! Report

            All I was doing was making a correction about the results and venues.

            I didn’t say anything about anything else.

            • Roar Guru

              July 11th 2017 @ 2:07am
              Rugby Fan said | July 11th 2017 @ 2:07am | ! Report

              Not really a relevant correction, though, Clarke.

              Jimmy was disputing Carlo’s repeat of the regular Kiwi refrain that England once celebrated a draw with NZ. To me, that claim clearly doesn’t stand up but happy to hear from you if you think it does.

              • July 11th 2017 @ 4:49pm
                ClarkeG said | July 11th 2017 @ 4:49pm | ! Report

                Rugby Fan…pay very careful attention. I will repeat what I said.

                “All I was doing was making a correction about the results and venues”

                I did not offer any comment about anything else that Carlos or Jimmy said. So unless the information I provided is not accurate then kindly leave me out of it thanks.

              • Roar Guru

                July 12th 2017 @ 4:54am
                Rugby Fan said | July 12th 2017 @ 4:54am | ! Report

                If you want to be left out, then I suggest you don’t join in the conversation.

              • July 17th 2017 @ 3:28pm
                ClarkeG said | July 17th 2017 @ 3:28pm | ! Report

                Rugby Fan …I asked that you pay careful attention. You should have tried a lot harder because apparently you fell well short.

      • July 11th 2017 @ 6:57am
        Neil Back said | July 11th 2017 @ 6:57am | ! Report

        Carlos, please don’t join the ranks of the misinformed and perpetuate the Old Trafford celebration myth. The players did a lap for the fans in the North of England as this was one of the extremely rare occasions a Test of that sort was played outside of Twickenham. Nothing else to it.

    • Roar Guru

      July 10th 2017 @ 7:05am
      biltongbek said | July 10th 2017 @ 7:05am | ! Report

      I see this non penalty is getting more airtime than Bismarcks red card at the time.

      I don’t think there is an on field powershift, or should I say evidence of an onfield powershift.

      I think there is a (hopefully) temporary crisis of sorts in Australia, South Africa and Argentina. Each for their own reasons.

      I agree the qualifying for finals should be relooked at, do we yet have any idea of what the new format will be?

      • July 10th 2017 @ 8:18am
        Peter D said | July 10th 2017 @ 8:18am | ! Report

        I think there is a power shift or more of a rebalancing of power in that outside of the All Blacks all the other teams seem to be pretty much on a par with perhaps maybe England being a little ahead also. The main reason is in the junior ranks. The Northern hemisphere is generally doing much better than the Southern hemisphere overall in the younger age groups. The knock on effect of this is already starting to be seen in the Senior National sides in the last 18 months.

        • Columnist

          July 10th 2017 @ 8:51am
          Geoff Parkes said | July 10th 2017 @ 8:51am | ! Report

          Just to be clear on the premise of the article. I’m not trying to draw a direct line between the Lions drawing this series and any immediate power shift on the field from south to north. There will always be examples of good/bad from the south/north – despite England’s strength in youth numbers, look at how the NZU20’s demolished England last month in the final.

          But I do think that the off-field imbalances will continue to make life harder in the south, and inevitably this will be reflected on the field. And not always in test rugby, but certainly at the next level down.

          • July 10th 2017 @ 5:54pm
            FunBus said | July 10th 2017 @ 5:54pm | ! Report

            ‘There will always be examples of good/bad from the south/north – despite England’s strength in youth numbers, look at how the NZU20’s demolished England last month in the final.’

            A strange example, Geoff, as the direction of Under-20s rugby actually strengthens your argument. England had won 3 of the previous 4 U20 RWCs and in the last one were missing 15 first choice players. Five players who went on the senior tour of Argentina were eligible to play in the U20s tournament.

            • Columnist

              July 10th 2017 @ 7:44pm
              Geoff Parkes said | July 10th 2017 @ 7:44pm | ! Report

              Perhaps I haven’t made myself clear FunBus…

              I’m not talking about who beats who in the 2019 world cup or the 2023 world cup

              I’m talking about the underlying structure and health of the game over 10, 20 and 30 years. If you like, the 2nd generation of professionalism and beyond.

              NZ had a great U20 team this year and probably still will for a long time yet as the structures in school rugby are very strong.

              But if rugby continues to evolve the way it looks like it might – where ALL the best players are playing in EPL type competitions in England and France – then I’d suggest that is something that NZ and Aust fans should at least be prepared to consider.

              • July 11th 2017 @ 3:29am
                FunBus said | July 11th 2017 @ 3:29am | ! Report

                Yes, I get the wider point Geoff, but perhaps the biggest shift in rugby in England ever has been in the way they’ve finally, after years of shambles, got their development structures sorted out. For 5 or 6 years a steady stream of U20s have moved seamlessly into the senior side.
                What this means is that England will consistently produce high quality squads in future instead of mediocrity.
                Who knows whether England will be good enough to best the ABs in 2019, but they’ll be better than they are now and might even be as good as the 2003 side.

              • July 11th 2017 @ 8:13am
                Neil Back said | July 11th 2017 @ 8:13am | ! Report

                Very fair points FB

              • Roar Rookie

                July 11th 2017 @ 8:53pm
                Kirky said | July 11th 2017 @ 8:53pm | ! Report

                Geoff! True words, if the game in the Northern climes is progressing in the fashion you mention, they are surely on the right track, you know that’s the very direction that needs to be taken and good on them because with the player population they must surely have, in a few years or sooner they will be knocking on the door of something good and that’s important as we all know!

                I just can’t imagine as to what the Australian rugby scene for the future is going to be, I find it difficult to work out what those that matter will do in the necessary rebuilding and how they intend to attack it. ~ It’s blatantly obvious that there’s very hard yards ahead of International rugby in Australia.

                Argentinian, South African and Asian rugby are also in a ‘who knows’ situation.

                Liked your piece about schoolboy rugby being strong in New Zealand as I can remember reasonably vividly in 1943 at my first Sports day at School being told to go “over there” with the rest of the boys are playing rugby!! 5 years old!

                Your last paragraph is surely the common sense approach and I think particularly for the health of Australian rugby that it would be the logical or similar type format!

                Who knows, it’s all about the correct structure.

      • July 10th 2017 @ 3:51pm
        ClarkeG said | July 10th 2017 @ 3:51pm | ! Report

        Bismarck’s red card got plenty of air time.

      • Roar Rookie

        July 11th 2017 @ 8:26pm
        Kirky said | July 11th 2017 @ 8:26pm | ! Report

        Biltong! Getting to be beyond funny, ~ at least your guys know what the hell’s happening!

        Sad and ridiculous affair here in OZ Mate!

    • July 10th 2017 @ 7:22am
      Bluesfan said | July 10th 2017 @ 7:22am | ! Report

      Whilst the AB’s are still No. 1 in the world and I would expect them to win the Rugby Championship I do worry that slowly but surely what is occurring/occurred with SA/Oz is also happening to NZ.

      Namely that whilst the top 20-25 players in NZ are WC, beneath that the drop is substantial and I think evidenced when you consider the following:

      1. Crusaders – Unbeaten in Super this year but when coming up against seasoned internationals like the Lions, you suddenly looked at the Crusaders Back Line and apart from Dagg (Crotty out injured) the number of young 20-22 year old players on the field e.g. Goodhue, Bridges, Mounaga etc. In years gone by they would have being learning their trade via the bench.

      2. AB’s themselves – Whilst Ioane, J Barrett, Goodhue are all brilliant players and could be greats in the years to come – these guys have literally played 1/2 seasons of Super rugby, are only aged 20ish and could have played at the U20 Rugby Cup this year. With the loss of that middle tier player who are aged 24-28 etc, the AB’s are getting younger and more inexperienced – as these players are having to be fast tracked into the system due to the loss of that middle tier.

      3. Continued drain of players – Faumania and Cruden, both of whom celebrated 50 tests on Saturday have both played their last test for the AB’s.

      Players now have the ability to achieve as AB’s and then make the $$ to set them up for life in Europe – and good on them for doing so – but unless the AB’s change to a Giteau type rule the average age of an AB is only going to go in one direction and that’s down.

      What can be done about this – not much really. Essentially Rugby is a global sports and bigger markets e.g. Europe, due to size etc will always ensure that you will be much better remunerated if you play in France/UK. So whilst it’s great to enjoy the Lions etc, I think it’s unrealistic to expect that the AB’s will be able to continue to dominate Rugby as they have done in the last 10 years.

      • Columnist

        July 10th 2017 @ 8:52am
        Geoff Parkes said | July 10th 2017 @ 8:52am | ! Report

        Some excellent points there Bluesfan.

        • July 10th 2017 @ 10:37am
          Council said | July 10th 2017 @ 10:37am | ! Report

          Yeah, it’s a chilling and damning result to see the Crusaders go down to a team of frontline, 1st 15 international players.

          And the fact that we were in a position to win the second test after playing majority of the match at 14 men, then with such a changed and youthful backline in the third, after a card, is just not good enough…

          I agree with your points Bluesfan but on the positive side of things. The Lions defied expectations before the series and came out with the big guns and hammered the ABs. We hung on and the Lions held the lead for a grand total of three minutes for the entire series.

          Things are looking good for the Blacks and Bokke, hopefully the Wallabies step up too

      • July 10th 2017 @ 11:49am
        JimmyB said | July 10th 2017 @ 11:49am | ! Report

        Blues fan, I genuinely don’t think that NZ or the ABs have much to worry about, they are still very much the top team and nation, others improving shouldn’t be anything to worry about. The Lions, Ireland and England are simply filling the void vacated by Australia and South Africa. NZ are still the team to beat and will be favourites for a 3peat in Japan.

        • July 10th 2017 @ 12:06pm
          Bluesfan said | July 10th 2017 @ 12:06pm | ! Report

          It’s not the end of the world and it is a credit to the AB’s coaching staff and the NZ systems that 20 years are ready to step up to that level and perform so well.

          My concern however is the longer term trend for Sth Hemisphere rugby and where the 3 rugby countries will be in say 10 years time in regards domestic and international teams.

          As a comparison below is the 2005 team vs Lions and compare to current AB side – decent amount of difference in regards experience even if at only Super level etc:

          15 Leon MacDonald, 14 Doug Howlett, 13 Tana Umaga (captain), 12 Aaron Mauger, 11 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Justin Marshall, 8 Rodney So’oialo, 7 Richie McCaw, 6 Jerry Collins, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Chris Jack, 3 Carl Hayman, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock.

          • July 10th 2017 @ 6:41pm
            double agent said | July 10th 2017 @ 6:41pm | ! Report

            Some of the young guys you mention were only there because of injuries.

          • July 11th 2017 @ 6:03am
            JimmyKip said | July 11th 2017 @ 6:03am | ! Report

            Yeah and the nucleus of that team was the one that got bombed in the quarter-final 2 years later.

            • Roar Rookie

              July 11th 2017 @ 9:41pm
              Kirky said | July 11th 2017 @ 9:41pm | ! Report

              Jimmy Kip! I doubt it would be wise to go there mate as we all know the story of that quarter final loss!

              All conjecture now but in normal circumstances I’m sure the All Blacks would’ve and should’ve won that game and the Springboks were up to play the All Blacks next game if the Kiwis had prevailed and the Boks up to that stage were floundering along and I doubt they’d have got past the All Blacks who were building up perfectly, ~ But they Jake balled the World Cup with 21 points via the boot!

              One of the best Stirrers/Journalists Jonathon Kaplan who spruiks every thing negative about the All Blacks in particular, was the Touch Judge running right alongside Freddie Michalack when he threw that three metre forward pass to the guy who scored the try that sealed the game for the French, (can’t remember his name) and he, Kaplan never alerted Barnes of the fact and Barnes also conveniently didn’t whistle it either, ~ That is the very type of ”imponderable” happening that can mean the Number 1 team goes out through bad judgement or incompetence, meaning any old team at all can win the World Cup. and that’s exactly what happened in 2007.

              Interesting also is the Referee Wayne Barnes who Refereed that game between the French and Kiwis was stood down for quite a period of time, certainly from International rugby because of the shocking display he put on!

              • July 12th 2017 @ 8:07am
                JimmyKip said | July 12th 2017 @ 8:07am | ! Report

                Ahahah, yeah – im one of the few people that have re-watched that game after time to calm down & view dispassionately. I’ve also read some very interesting statistical breakdowns of the game so I have a very strong opinion of what I consider the truth of what happened during that game. Suffice to stay that re-instating Henry, Hanson & Smith was, I consider, the only just option the NZRU had.

        • Roar Guru

          July 10th 2017 @ 5:51pm
          taylorman said | July 10th 2017 @ 5:51pm | ! Report

          Yes good point JimmyB, that’s what Ive been leaning towards lately but as the music dies down this years been a refreshing one, the Lions here have been great for rugby, as was last years English sides improvement, and the Irish win in Chicago.

          Everything seems have turned on its ear in the last twelve months. Unfortunately part of the NH sides ‘replacing’ the Oz and SA sides is the fact that they’ve bought up dozens of theirvplayers, making it more and more difficult to backfill.

          But other than that the shift in rugby climate has been if anything refreshing in a sense and we await the return of oz and SA back to the stage, something that will happen earlier with SA it seems.

      • Roar Guru

        July 10th 2017 @ 1:11pm
        Ralph said | July 10th 2017 @ 1:11pm | ! Report

        Financially, the move to professionalism was always going to be David vs Goliath. I think we knew that going into it, but at the time it was change or die so it is not as if anyone made a mistake back then.

        In the country with the population of a city we will keep striving to reinvent ourselves and to build what ramparts we can against the tide. No one can say how long we will be successful in holding back the cancerous effects of money on the game.

        But rather than mope about odds lets celebrate the now and each one to his section of rampart!

        • Columnist

          July 10th 2017 @ 3:27pm
          Geoff Parkes said | July 10th 2017 @ 3:27pm | ! Report

          Well said Ralph.

          After taking some time to figure it out, NZ has handled the advent of professionalism better than anybody.

          But rugby is in the process of figuring out what professionalism really means – power to those who have the most money and who can generate more of it – and NZ is potentially going to learn that professionalism is about a whole lot more than what happens in a test series.

          It’s not the end of the world, but I think it will almost certainly bring change that many won’t like.

    • July 10th 2017 @ 7:48am
      Riccardo said | July 10th 2017 @ 7:48am | ! Report

      Morning Allanthus.

      Great read as usual. Your and Digger’s dissertations are becoming compulsory.

      All this focus on the penalty really only has one valuable outcome; Hansen has been calling for a change to the convoluted Law Book for some time and we all know he’s right. We need to remove or diminish the varying interpretations for the betterment of the game, so it can flow.

      I still have an issue with Garces’ and Poite’s schoolboy handling of the issue but now the “fueled” fire has gone from mine eyes I fall back on the other glaring truth I knew early on. We created in this Test but couldn’t hold onto the pill. A lack of patience saw opportunities go begging; at least three of them.

      Combine that with the return of the jitters for Barrett off the tee and a monumental effort in defense from the Lions and this could have been worse than the draw, especially with our largely dominant scrum being penalised.

      This might be a valuable wake-up call for the All Blacks actually. We looked under-done at times. Sure we were missing some 1st class personnel, most notably Ben Smith, but at times we looked clueless against that rush defense, something opponents like Cheika will have noted.

      On the positive side of the ledger Jordie Barrett was outstanding I thought and looks to be Smith’s heir apparent already. Laumape had some great moments too. Nothing’s broke in the engine room but we need more out of our halves axis.

      It’s a blessing for the game that strides are being made in the North. And hopefully a result like this will see the appetitie for the best tradition in Rugby continue.

      • Columnist

        July 10th 2017 @ 8:58am
        Geoff Parkes said | July 10th 2017 @ 8:58am | ! Report

        Hi Riccardo

        The thing about the halves, I think A Smith had a great series. I was expecting him to be targeted and rattled by the Lions forwards but he kept his composure throughout, and the quality of his passing and kicking was excellent in all three matches.

        Barrett also had a good 3rd test. With one exception he didn’t transfer pressure to his outside backs and took contact himself. And there was some excellent kicking to maintain the field position dominance – it wasn’t his fault his teammates kept dropping it!

        Great final comment.

      • July 11th 2017 @ 6:05am
        JimmyKip said | July 11th 2017 @ 6:05am | ! Report

        I’ll continue to argue that if the off-side line had been policed, and if the referee’s had stopped the Lions (often Vunipola) sitting down for a break every couple of minutes before a scrum or line-out that the rush defence would not be so effective.

        • July 11th 2017 @ 7:00am
          Riccardo said | July 11th 2017 @ 7:00am | ! Report

          I actually thought Vunipola had an excellent game in that third Test Jimmy.

          And there may be some merit in your argument but I thought Itoje, Jones and Farrell would be the likely culprits if there were any.

          Anyhow, it’s done and dusted and the Lions are to be congratulated on their steady improvement on Tour, not least of which was that defense as masterminded by Farrell Senior.

          The reality is that the All Blacks had their opportunities and couldn’t convert and that is something they will loom hard at, irrespective of personnel.

        • Roar Rookie

          July 11th 2017 @ 9:53pm
          Kirky said | July 11th 2017 @ 9:53pm | ! Report

          JimmyKip! Exactly mate the Lions spent a great deal of time offside with that rush defence with Itoje the principle culprit, ~ it seemed to me that the Ref’ wasn’t overly concerned about the offside play as it was rarely whistled and at times the ‘offsiders’ were two or three metres offside and got away with it!

          Vunipola, Liam Williams, Sexton, all milked it for a spell as did a few others which really bugs the All Blacks because their preferred method is to play it with pace, also that childish screaming in the lineouts, is that allowed? as I don’t think it was ever called by the Ref;!

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