Thuggish England get expunged from Test win record

Spiro Zavos Columnist

By Spiro Zavos, Spiro Zavos is a Roar Expert

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    Ireland 13–England 9. Oh dear.

    England’s pursuit of the Holy Grail of back-to-back Six Nation Grand Slams and a record 19 consecutive Tests victories against top-tier rugby nations was thwarted in Dublin by a fired-up, smart, relentless and skilful Ireland side.

    England played in their traditionally thuggish, arrogant, brain-dead, nasty manner. This bully boy approach to all things rugby, unfortunately, has been England’s legacy on and off the field for decades.

    If ever there was a defeat that was great for rugby worldwide this was it.

    Ireland played real rugby. England played bully boy rugby. Real rugby is the way forward for the future. The only way this can be stopped is if the England bully boys, on and off the field, get to dominate the management of the rugby code as they have in the past.

    Given its great number of players, about 500,000, and the great wealth within the rugby community, it is actually something of a marvel how unsuccessful England has been as a rugby nation.

    A lot of this lack of success is due to the arrogance of blazered brigade running the game in England for nearly 130 years. They have fostered a thuggish way of playing, brawn over brains, that has not served England well on the field.

    And the blazered brigade have been supported in their endeavours by elements of the rugby media. I need to point out here that rugby journalists like Chris Hewitt, Robert Kitson, and Mick Cleary are admirable rugby journalists and in no way should be connected some of their contemptible colleagues.

    The run of 17 successive Test wins by England, after yet another dire Rugby World Cup campaign in which they became the first host country not to make the finals, saw several of the self-proclaimed great and good of English rugby put the boot into all and sundry in the rugby world.

    We need some names here.

    First, we had the obnoxious Ian Ritchie, the head of the Rugby Football Union (England’s ludicrously-named governing body) telling the New Zealand Rugby Union that he would veto the All Blacks–Barbarians match in November at Twickenham if they (the All Blacks) refused the offer to play England instead.

    Ritchie, who is an isolationist opponent of a global world season, refuses to share the massive Twickenham gates created by southern hemisphere sides like the All Blacks and the Wallabies.

    “Build a bigger stadium if you want to increase your revenue growth,” he has told the southern hemisphere unions, refusing to acknowledge that touring England sides, with their unattractive style of playing rugby, rarely fill the venues in South Africa, New Zealand or Australia.

    Yet Ritchie believes that the New Zealand Rugby Union should generate massive amounts of money for the RFU by accepting a non-scheduled Test just because it suited the interests of the RFU. What arrogance!

    Ritchie presumed, like most of the England rugby establishment, that Ireland would buckle under the pressure of the England machine. Now that England has been exposed, once again, as a flat wicket bully type of side, one presumes that the Test at Twickenham against the All Blacks, a read deal team like Ireland, will no longer be so attractive for the RFU.

    Then we had the first of the two Jones, the smart-arse Eddie Jones the coach, scoffing at the praise of his team coming from the All Blacks coach, Steve Hansen: “It’s a bit like red riding hood and the wolf when the wolf comes dressed up as the grandmother… You always have to be careful when the All Blacks coaches compliment you.”

    Wrong, Eddie, once again. The All Blacks’ coaches and New Zealand rugby, in general, are passionate about creating strong rugby powers worldwide. There is a sort of missionary element in New Zealand rugby that has seen it take the cause of rugby to all the corners of the globe.

    It is a little-known fact, for instance, that the great Maori college Te Aute, an institution intended to create Maori leaders, was the first school boys team to tour to an overseas country.

    Te Aute came to Sydney in 1904. The skilful, expansive running game played by the Te Aute boys became the model that teams from St Joseph’s College Hunters Hill, the famous Joeys teams, emulated with great success for decades after this pioneering tour.

    New Zealand rugby relishes challenges. It acknowledges great rugby talents, in other teams and players. David Campese, for example, was always more admired in New Zealand than he was in Australia.

    The All Blacks played in Northern Ireland during the troubles of the 1970s when other British teams refused to go there, for instance.

    In the 1970s, too, they paid for outfitting the Wallabies on a tour of New Zealand. The motivation has been, as with accepting the first Test between Australia and New Zealand to be played in Sydney, to encourage a strong rugby code here.

    This motivation remains. And Steve Hansen and his coaching group are genuinely anticipating playing against Eddie Jones’ England side, whenever that Test is arranged.

    England rugby union coach Eddie Jones

    And now for the other Jones, the smart-arse Stephen Jones the rugby journalist, an overblown, overrated hater of southern hemisphere success, an invariably wrong pundit who is a multiple winner of Britain’s rugby writer of the year (what does this say about the judges?!)

    Here is Jones writing in the Sunday Times and making yet another botched prediction (we all make them, of course, but not as spectacularly wrong usually) on the probable outcome of the Ireland–England Test after England thrashed Scotland 61–21 at Twickenham two weeks ago:

    “England will go gliding into Dublin next week preparing for the presentation of the Six Nations trophy and if they win, they will make history with a world record run of 19 successive Test wins. And New Zealand, poor dears, will be expunged from the record books.”

    Note the arch nastiness of Jones attack on New Zealand rugby and the venom in the use of the word “expunged” in describing how England would take over the record-holder of consecutive Test wins.

    Jones can’t help himself with his vitriol against southern hemisphere rugby, unfortunately.

    The inference with the use of “expunged” is that the All Blacks record was somehow achieved by disgraceful means.

    In truth, the McCaw/Read All Blacks played some of the greatest matches in the history of rugby, bringing out terrific play from their opponents as well as dazzling play of their own. Nothing in England’s run of victories came remotely close to the sustained brilliance of the All Blacks’ play, even down to the wonderful fight back in their losing effort against Ireland at Chicago.


    I am concentrating a lot on Stephen Jones in this article because it is important to make the case that he is the voice of bully boy England rugby and that, in turn, if the blazer brigade running the RFU gets its way we could have a return to bully boy rugby England-style being enforced by law changes from an RFU-dominated World Rugby organisation.

    Every attempt to widen the appeal of rugby by bringing in a more skilful, more attractive, more athletic game through enlightened law changes has been opposed by the blazer brigade. And for 20 years or so, from his pulpit with a great newspaper the Sunday Times, Stephen Jones has endorsed the road blocks the blazer brigade have made to modernise rugby.

  • When lifting was introduced into the lineout, transforming it from a dockyard brawl into a chess-like contest for leaping pieces, Stephen Jones opined that this was the end of lineout steals!
  • When Rod Macqueen transformed the chaos of rugby with his continuity game, Jones opined that the running ensemble game was not real rugby. Passing rugby was boring rugby and real rugby, he claimed, was a 9-3 result played on a muddy field, in the wet.
  • As part of his continuity game, Rod Macqueen introduced, from rugby league, the two-lines attacking/passing system, one line flat and the other deeper and wider some metres behind it.
  • Jones opined when the Wallabies used this system successfully against England that it “cheating.” Yet the basis of whatever back line attack that England have used in their run of 18 consecutive Test victories is based on the two-lines attacking/passing system.
  • Jones has criticised David Pocock, George Smith and Richie McCaw, three of the greatest poachers of oppostion ball at the ruck, as “cheaters.”
  • Steve Stew, chief executive of the New Zealand Rugby Union, supported by his Australian counterpart John O’Neill, suggested that the business model of the World Cup tournament penalises New Zealand and Australian rugby by $30 million each cup year and that the model needed to be changed, Jones accused both executives of “barking up the wrong tree.”
  • Tew’s suggestion that the All Blacks might be withdrawn from Rugby World Cup 2015 unless something was done (which it was to a certain extent) was called by Jones “bullying” and “blackmail.”
  • And here is a prime example of the Jones arrogance and stupidity in full flourish. Spain could replace New Zealand if the All Blacks pulled out of Rugby World Cup 2015. Spain’s entry into Rugby World Cup 2015 would galvanise “European rugby at a stroke” by adding “new commercial potential and transforming the scene.”
  • This is possibly the most stupid proposition ever put forward by a senior rugby writer, anywhere and at any time.

    I seem to have missed something this week regarding this prediction made by Jones. Why didn’t Ian Ritchie try to sign up Spain to play England next November rather than the All Blacks?

    The Guardian’s Andy Bull has put the All Blacks versus England’s 18 Test-winning runs into a telling perspective. Here are the statistics he has worked out:

    In their run which included Tests against England, the All Blacks scored 751 points, with 104 tries, and conceded just 253 points.

    England, despite not playing the All Blacks, scored 621 points, with 72 tries, and conceded 300 points.

    On average, the All Blacks outscored England 41.7 to 34.5 points.

    They scored more tries per match, 5.7 to 4.

    The All Blacks played ten of their 18 games away from home, though seven were at neutral venues during the 2015 Rugby World Cup tournament.

    England played 11 of their 18 Tests at Twickenham, their home ground fortress.

    The All Blacks won eight Tests against teams who were ranked in the world’s top four at the time. The All Blacks won by 25 points or more in five of these Tests.

    England’s record run included five Tests against teams ranked in the top four. None of these teams were beaten by the sort of margins posted by the All Blacks.

    Andy Bull’s conclusion regarding these statistics make a great deal of sense, in my opinion: “Add it all up, and you arrive at the answer most people have come to without doing the work. New Zealand’s run was even better than England’s has been.”

    We come now to the Test at Dublin.

    The way England tried to take Jonny Sexton out of the Test with consistent late tackling was an insult to the spirit of rugby.

    Ireland went into the Test with a game plan of keeping the ball in hand and making the slow and ponderous in mind and body England pack tire in the slippery conditions. And this is what happened. With 15 minutes to play, and only behind by four points, England could hardly raise a gallop.

    Ireland allowed England only two lineouts in the first half of the Test, so successful was their handling and passing game.

    Ireland Rugby Union Six Nations 2017

    The tactic worked. England were run off their feet. Their very slow back row, which should have had a field day in the greasy conditions, ran out of gas, what little they had anyway, with 20 minutes of the Test left to play.

    In the last minute of play, England were unable to raise their game and their skills to score from inside 22 on their last series of plays.

    This was so unlike the All Blacks with their miraculous try and conversion minutes after full-time, with every player handling the ball, to snatch a victory from Ireland at Dublin a couple of years ago.

    Ireland ran for 319m. England ran for 214m.

    Ireland runners made 15 clean breaks. England made 9.

    Ireland made 157 passes. England made 89.

    Ireland conceded 12 turnovers. England conceded 11.

    Ireland made 108 tackles and missed 9. England made 153 tackles and missed 15.

    Ireland kicked 30 times. England kicked 34 times.

    Ireland won 113 rucks. England won 65.

    But what stood out more than anything or any statistic was the disgraceful and deliberate tactic of late-tackling Jonny Sexton.

    Mark Reason on Stuff reckons that this late tackling was “not attractive, although it was just about within the bounds.”

    I would disagree with the “within the bounds” qualification. It was not within the bounds.

    All the England loose forwards were clearly instructed to maim Sexton with James Haskell, Maro Itoje (twice) and Tom Wood, immediately after coming on to the field as replacement, smashing into the vulnerable Sexton seconds after he had passed the ball.

    This was the Bodyline rugby that Eddie Jones promised to deliver on the Wallabies last year if they were too competitive playing real rugby.

    Someone should have been sent from the field, probably with a red card so blatant was the tactic of illegally smashing Sexton.

    Rory Best, my pick for captain of the British and Irish Lions if Warren Gatland has any sense, made one of the great comments to the French referee Jerome Garces during a complaint about the Wood late-tackle.

    When Best challenged Garces over it, the referee somewhat defiantly replied in telling him to be quiet: “We are in charge!”

    He clearly wasn’t, nor were the TMO or the assistants on the sideline.

    Best’s response to these officials squibbing on their duty to red card at least one of the England transgressors should become a classic rugby quote: “I also have a responsibility to my team.”

    I don’t often agree with the New Zealand Herald’s Chris Rattue but, for once, he is spot on with his assessment titled Milky white England deservedly dunked by Irish cream.

    “Oh dear. Rugby revolution over. Back to square one for England, poor dears… Eddie Jones’ mob were back to their clunky habits in defeat against Ireland, their Six Nations campaign involving one mildly impressive scoreline against Scotland…

    “England – with one victory in the last 15 Tests against New Zealand – are light years from living it up to the hype. England aren’t even the second best team in the world… Ireland, under the astute coaching of Joe Schmidt, deserve that respect.”

    I will make a fearless prediction here. Eddie Jones reckons that this England squad will win the Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan.

    Eddie, you are dreaming.

    Spiro Zavos
    Spiro Zavos

    Spiro Zavos, a founding writer on The Roar, was long time editorial writer on the Sydney Morning Herald, where he started a rugby column that has run for nearly 30 years. Spiro has written 12 books: fiction, biography, politics and histories of Australian, New Zealand, British and South African rugby. He is regarded as one of the foremost writers on rugby throughout the world.

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    The Crowd Says (360)

    • March 20th 2017 @ 7:47am
      Ryan said | March 20th 2017 @ 7:47am | ! Report

      I and Whakaata posted many of these stats yesterday but were harranged and called churlish.

      I look forward to reading the responses to this article today.

      • March 20th 2017 @ 7:59am
        soapit said | March 20th 2017 @ 7:59am | ! Report

        its a fairly meaningless record (qualifications have had to be made just to take the record away from cyrpus) and so arguing about which is the better achievement is pretty pointless. from my memory that was the essence of the responses i saw.

        it seems some insecurities need to be constantly reassured that everyone remembers nz are the best team in rugby union. dont worry ryan and spiro, nobody’s forgotten even if they occasionally take time out from repeating it to note the achievements of other teams.

        • March 20th 2017 @ 8:55am
          Tiger said | March 20th 2017 @ 8:55am | ! Report

          Pretty good article in response to what we’ve been subjected to over the past week by the NH scribes. I think you’ve missed the point of Spiro’s piece completely.

          Your insecurities are there for all to see in your response.

          • March 20th 2017 @ 12:31pm
            soapit said | March 20th 2017 @ 12:31pm | ! Report

            cant speak for what youve been subjected to. i suspect you might just need thicker skin but thats just a guess from very little info. also quite possible ive missed spiros point.

            no interest about your thoughts on me personally.

            • March 20th 2017 @ 11:22pm
              Tiger said | March 20th 2017 @ 11:22pm | ! Report

              There it is again…

          • March 20th 2017 @ 12:41pm
            Cynical Play said | March 20th 2017 @ 12:41pm | ! Report

            I’m not sure if Soapit actually reads the articles.

            • March 20th 2017 @ 5:43pm
              soapit said | March 20th 2017 @ 5:43pm | ! Report

              make sure you let me know when youve nailed down your thoughts so i know what specifically not to give a toss about.

        • March 20th 2017 @ 11:40am
          ClarkeG said | March 20th 2017 @ 11:40am | ! Report

          Just a smallish point. Cyprus have not had a record taken away from them.

          Irrespective of what NZ and Eng have achieved, Cyprus is still the team that has achieved the most consecutive wins in international rugby.

          • March 20th 2017 @ 10:25pm
            Stephen C said | March 20th 2017 @ 10:25pm | ! Report

            I have been stating the same thing for some time, ClarkeG. This fallacy that Cyprus’ record doesn’t count because it was against Tier Two teams is akin to declaring that South Africa’s infamous loss to Japan in the 2015 World Cup be scrubbed from the record books.

            New Zealand’s and England’s magnificent winning streaks must be relished, after all, my Wallabies have never come close. But a great story shouldn’t get in the way of the facts…..

            ……until an international team notches 23 wins on the trot, there remains only one world record holder.

            • March 21st 2017 @ 10:56am
              ClarkeG said | March 21st 2017 @ 10:56am | ! Report

              And a wee correction Stephen – it is 24 on the trot.

        • March 20th 2017 @ 6:40pm
          Jackster said | March 20th 2017 @ 6:40pm | ! Report

          18 wins against the highest competition available is far from meaningless. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. As it is, only 2 sides have done it, in the history of the game. Think about that.

      • March 20th 2017 @ 8:24am
        TT said | March 20th 2017 @ 8:24am | ! Report

        Ever heard the expression “It’s not necessarily what you say, but how you say it?”

        As a Kiwi, I was embarrassed at you and Whakaata’s “my b@lls are bigger than your’s rubbish yesterday.

        Spiro echoing your rambling’s yesterday doesn’t make it right… And quite frankly, who cares? 18 wins is 18 wins regardless of opposition.

        To me, victory is all the sweeter when the AB’s do their talking on the field and hope like any Kiwi that the AB’s thump England when they next meet. Until then though, a little acknowledgment of what England have achieved under Eddie so far is not to be sniffed at….

        • Columnist

          March 20th 2017 @ 9:17am
          Geoff Parkes said | March 20th 2017 @ 9:17am | ! Report

          Very well said TT

        • March 20th 2017 @ 9:24am
          Rugby Tragic said | March 20th 2017 @ 9:24am | ! Report

          + 1

        • March 20th 2017 @ 9:30am
          Pilferer said | March 20th 2017 @ 9:30am | ! Report

          Yep spot on

        • March 20th 2017 @ 9:53am
          Whakaata said | March 20th 2017 @ 9:53am | ! Report

          Be embarrassed all you like its a blog site where I will say it exactly how I see it. I am not going to sugar coat anything to make you and your band of followers feel better about yourselves.

          • March 20th 2017 @ 1:46pm
            Jamez said | March 20th 2017 @ 1:46pm | ! Report

            +1 Kia Kaha

        • March 20th 2017 @ 9:55am
          Whakaata said | March 20th 2017 @ 9:55am | ! Report

          No one ever said it was something to be sniffed at that is you implying rubbish to give you and your followers some base to have a go at the way I posted and I do not apologise for that. However after all the chest thumping coming from the north in recent weeks about how great they are and expunging the All Blacks record. A few cold hard truths are proving very hard for some posters here at the roar to deal with.

        • March 20th 2017 @ 10:11am
          Rafun said | March 20th 2017 @ 10:11am | ! Report

          From what I read there was nothing wrong in what either Ryan or Whata wrote or how they wrote it. But as usual on this site there is a small group of posters who believe everyone should conform to how they want you to post.
          Spiro’s article in itself as pretty much a rehash of an article posted in the Herald and Guardian and the way all these writers confronted the issues was far more damning than how either of the aforementioned posters did.

          Some of you need to get off that self righteous pedestal and accept that people aren’t going to sugar coat their opinions to suit the sensitive feelings of some Roarers.

          Then again this forum is notorious for picking out one or two posters and a group of other contributors banding together to disprove what they are saying is wrong, or bitter as it doesn’t fit with their way of thinking.

        • March 20th 2017 @ 11:50am
          ClarkeG said | March 20th 2017 @ 11:50am | ! Report

          Two Tier 1 rugby nations have now achieved 18 consecutive wins which is the most consecutive wins ever for Tier 1 nations.

          That they will be compared is inevitable.

          In fact if they weren’t I would be asking why has someone not not done so.

          • March 20th 2017 @ 5:44pm
            soapit said | March 20th 2017 @ 5:44pm | ! Report

            “not necessarily what you say but how you say it”

            • March 20th 2017 @ 6:59pm
              ClarkeG said | March 20th 2017 @ 6:59pm | ! Report

              Yeah – got that bit. I do read the posts that I post replies to.

              My point still stands.

              Did you have anything further to add.

              • March 20th 2017 @ 7:44pm
                soapit said | March 20th 2017 @ 7:44pm | ! Report

                disagree. your post completely misses that key point of the original regardless of your claim that you did read it.

                in light of this i dont think me adding anything for you to digest will benefit

              • March 21st 2017 @ 11:57am
                ClarkeG said | March 21st 2017 @ 11:57am | ! Report

                Nooooo….I did not miss the point.

                I was simply making the point to TT that, irrespective of how embarrassed he might be regarding points made by two specific posters or his level of care ( “And quite frankly, who cares?”), the comparison between the winning streaks achieved by the ABs and England is inevitable.

                It’s sort of like two points coexisting.

                He may well be embarrassed but the two posters did provide some interesting information nevertheless.

                So I’m not sure what you disagree with exactly, surely not my point that this type of comparison is inevitable. At this point I’m not sure I care.

                So feel free to again not add anything further or alternatively you could do what you suggested to Cynical Play further up the page.

              • March 21st 2017 @ 12:26pm
                soapit said | March 21st 2017 @ 12:26pm | ! Report

                i disagree that your point stands as it completely misses the key part of the original.

                hope thats spelled out clearly

              • March 21st 2017 @ 12:57pm
                ClarkeG said | March 21st 2017 @ 12:57pm | ! Report

                You should have chosen the alternative option.

        • March 20th 2017 @ 2:43pm
          ajg said | March 20th 2017 @ 2:43pm | ! Report


        • March 22nd 2017 @ 2:55pm
          Ryan said | March 22nd 2017 @ 2:55pm | ! Report

          TT – disagree. A record can be superior to another based on the quality of opposition played to reach that milestone.

      • March 20th 2017 @ 10:01am
        Jokerman said | March 20th 2017 @ 10:01am | ! Report

        Nicely said, Spiro. Good of you to put the boot into Steven Jones as he voices his opinion from a place of contempt and misinformed egoic angst. He deserves the facts to be shown to him. He’s been lucky to be a rugby writer and in return he’s abused his position and written dribble and put-downs on the best of the world – poor form. He just wants a reaction similar to a troll.

        Yes rugby can be about inches. Finding something extra. England don’t understand humility and respect. They think it’s irrelevant, some probably think it’s a weakness. This in return stifles their request for brilliants. The All Blacks understand it. When they lift their game the humility, respect and core values has to lift also. I’m talking about realness here not talking it or giving an image. Real depth, real mana. That extra inch can make a huge difference as it connects to a deeper, mystic level free of the mind and can make exceptional results happen.

        Well done Ireland. A bit of kiwi ingenuity and understanding simplicity and look what happens.

        • March 20th 2017 @ 10:22am
          Boomeranga said | March 20th 2017 @ 10:22am | ! Report

          You post of not understanding humility while trying to make the Irish success about NZ. Wouldn’t humility require you let someone else raise the issue if NZ influence in the victory?

        • March 20th 2017 @ 2:46pm
          Bob said | March 20th 2017 @ 2:46pm | ! Report

          Spiro is a Stephen Jones of the South…He has never played rugby and understands nothing about the game, unless that is people are throwing the ball around like Basketball.

          Well played Ireland and well done to England for getting to 18 wins and beating us 4-0.. Spiro is unrelenting in comdeming the standard of the England and especially their backrow yet this is the same team that took our fit and skilful back row to the cleaners.

          Spiro is an ignorant rugby writer that only loves the game when it is played like rugby league. He fails to understand that what makes rugby great is the differnet styles around the world.

          If we and the ABs don’t want to play England in England due to money then lets don’t..
          Just for the record Spiro
          The last time we play NZ in Brisbane the crowd was just over 45000….The English brought in just shy of 49000

          • March 20th 2017 @ 5:08pm
            woodart said | March 20th 2017 @ 5:08pm | ! Report

            what rubbish, to compare spiro to jones is stupid.

            • March 20th 2017 @ 9:12pm
              Daire Thornton said | March 20th 2017 @ 9:12pm | ! Report

              Having read this article I think the comparison to Jones is fairly accurate. I thought it was satire at first. As an Ireland fan I like to take a swipe at England on occasion too but this article is bananas.

              • March 23rd 2017 @ 9:50pm
                SAVAGE said | March 23rd 2017 @ 9:50pm | ! Report

                Well said Spiro. These guys are not as good as their fans and press make them out to be. That was a melt down in Dublin, pure and simple.

          • March 21st 2017 @ 12:13pm
            Coconut said | March 21st 2017 @ 12:13pm | ! Report

            Well I for one think we need someone down under to counter the nasty diatribe from Stephen Jones. His blind sycophantic support of the policies and approach to the game by the ‘blazer brigade’ up there in the UK is what helps to hold the game back from evolving and improving. His continual dismissal of southern hemisphere rugby, and his particular disparagement of all things related to NZ rugby, helps perpetuate the myths and misconceptions up in the North and keeps rugby in the dark ages.
            So, I am truly glad we have Spiro there, setting the record straight and giving it right back to that red-headed walrus.

        • March 20th 2017 @ 6:46pm
          mzilikazi said | March 20th 2017 @ 6:46pm | ! Report

          “Good of you to put the boot into Steven Jones as he voices his opinion from a place of contempt and misinformed egoic angst. He deserves the facts to be shown to him.”

          Yes, the English press………abominable people……I actually feel sorry for players of all sports who represent the Red Rose nation….built up by the press, and then smacked off the pedestal, to be kicked on the ground by the very writers who put them up there. They sure do lack humility.

          Wonder if these guys shoot up to Iceland to watch a decent game of soccer ?

      • March 20th 2017 @ 9:01pm
        Jemain Okinga said | March 20th 2017 @ 9:01pm | ! Report

        Hey Ryan, look we all like Stats, but rugby is a game that can be played many different ways, the way the AB’s win games is probably not going to be the way England win games most of the time, does that make one way better than the other? maybe for some casual fans who fail to see that rugby is a wonderfully diverse game in many aspects, and its many differences allow us to have intriguing matches some times lop sided but also some close arm wrestles, high and low scores. So imho I don’t care what people think of stats the obvious thing to note is 18 wins in a row is an amazing accomplishment and as a kiwi I am both happy and sad in Irelands win firstly happy because I like having the knowledge that in rugby my beloved AB’s can be remembered for a great run of victories, very much the same way I presume the English will see there equally impressive run. And sad because as a rugby enthusiast firstly I love to see excellence and some may not think English played a great brand of rugby all the time but to me that doesn’t matter because the y for 18 tests in a row played the best kind of rugby, winning rugby. And regaurdless of what others say or don’t I am happy to have my team shair the record with another very good team and having more good teams in rugby is something all us kiwi’s should rejoice even if we lose a few records along the way.

    • March 20th 2017 @ 7:47am
      mania said | March 20th 2017 @ 7:47am | ! Report

      “David Campese, for example, was always more admired in New Zealand than he was in Australia. ” very true spiro and gregan

      • March 20th 2017 @ 9:06am
        Zero Gain said | March 20th 2017 @ 9:06am | ! Report

        Absolute rubbish. Like most of this article. Pro Kiwi rugby rot from a pro Kiwi rugby Kiwi.
        Jones said ‘if they win’. Not ‘when’ and his description ‘expunged’ was accurate. Jone’s words are mild compared to the constant put downs we read on here every single day.
        The vitriol aimed at English fans and media by supporters of a certain team on here yesterday was predictable and instructive.

        • March 20th 2017 @ 9:53am
          Mark said | March 20th 2017 @ 9:53am | ! Report

          What ever Zero Brain I thought Spiro made some excellent points , especially about Stephen Jones and his complete hatred of anything Southern , haters on this thread keep on hating but statistics and actions speak louder than words !!! Another thing keep an eye on Eddy Jones and his coaching now , this isn’t a speed hump he’s got the wobbles watch them unravel Eds a motivator usually good for a year 2 at a stretch it’s just history repeating

          • March 20th 2017 @ 9:54am
            Mark said | March 20th 2017 @ 9:54am | ! Report

            Sorry I meant Zero Gain

            • March 20th 2017 @ 11:08am
              Jibba Jabba said | March 20th 2017 @ 11:08am | ! Report

              Mark you were right the first time… be ready for more zero intelligence to come …..

            • March 20th 2017 @ 11:54am
              Mapu said | March 20th 2017 @ 11:54am | ! Report

              Lol no you didn’t and I agree you had it right the first time.

            • March 20th 2017 @ 12:02pm
              ClarkeG said | March 20th 2017 @ 12:02pm | ! Report

              Easy mistake to make Mark – the B key is close to the G.

              It is the sort of mistake any of us can make accidentally on purpose. 🙂

            • March 21st 2017 @ 9:03am
              JonnyH said | March 21st 2017 @ 9:03am | ! Report

              I see what you did there. Clever boy.

        • March 20th 2017 @ 12:20pm
          Markie362 said | March 20th 2017 @ 12:20pm | ! Report

          The difference against is that this is an opinion forum and Stephen jones is supposedly writing from a neutral point of view,or that’s what he’s paid for

      • March 20th 2017 @ 10:13am
        Rafun said | March 20th 2017 @ 10:13am | ! Report

        Gregan and Campese were fantastic players and two players Kiwis genuinely loved.
        I personally would put Pocock up there in the modern era as a Wallaby that a lot of Kiwi rugby fans admire.

        • March 20th 2017 @ 11:11am
          mania said | March 20th 2017 @ 11:11am | ! Report

          agree rafun

        • Roar Pro

          March 20th 2017 @ 12:22pm
          Danny said | March 20th 2017 @ 12:22pm | ! Report

          Gregan definitely mixed with Kiwis – he dined out on “that tackle” (as critical as it was), played 25 more tests than he should have (from his Brumbies “player power” base and to the detriment of Australian rugby) and his humility-free “four more years” call in 2003 set in train an ugly fan reaction on both sides of the Tasman that remains toxic even today.

          Campo and Pocock I agree with. But John Eales I suspect would be the guy universally admired across Australasia. Great player, great leader and great human being.

          • March 20th 2017 @ 1:49pm
            Jamez said | March 20th 2017 @ 1:49pm | ! Report

            I can only speak for myself (as a NZer), and your right, John Eales is one of my all time favorite sporting persons.

            • Roar Rookie

              March 20th 2017 @ 3:02pm
              Dwards said | March 20th 2017 @ 3:02pm | ! Report


            • March 20th 2017 @ 9:18pm
              In brief said | March 20th 2017 @ 9:18pm | ! Report

              Both Gregan and Eales were great players but really need some voice training..

        • March 20th 2017 @ 1:02pm
          Basil said | March 20th 2017 @ 1:02pm | ! Report

          I think that’s what we call fake news these days!

          No Ocker player is genuinely liked by Kiwis, faked liked perhaps.

          I recall watching a tv show here, think it was called sportscafe, and they referred to Gregan as George Grogan. Hilarious! As for campo, whenever he used to write or say something negative about the ABs the NZ media were knee-jerk all over him with abuse and insults. No respect for him at all. As for pocock, he is widely called a thug in these parts, in fact spiro has said as much in one of his articles in here! So to say kiwis liked them is propaganda!

          • Roar Guru

            March 20th 2017 @ 2:32pm
            Ralph said | March 20th 2017 @ 2:32pm | ! Report

            I am a kiwi and I have admired (at least);

            George Gregan – such a competitor
            Joe Roff – what a nose for the line, under rated IMHO
            John Eales – sheer class, through and through
            Stephen Larkham – how small a gap could that man ghost through?!?
            Owen Finegan – the essence of abrasive
            Chris Latham – something about the sox
            Adam Ashley-Cooper – is there any back line position he can’t play well?

            • Roar Rookie

              March 20th 2017 @ 5:52pm
              piru said | March 20th 2017 @ 5:52pm | ! Report

              Agree with all of those Ralph, and would also add the Evil Wizard Mortlock

              • March 21st 2017 @ 12:19pm
                Coconut said | March 21st 2017 @ 12:19pm | ! Report

                I really rated George Smith – at his best, I felt he was on par with the best of any AB no. 7 in terms of the core requirements of the position.
                Michael Lynagh was underrated too, and lets not forget the Ella bros.

          • March 20th 2017 @ 7:39pm
            Jacko said | March 20th 2017 @ 7:39pm | ! Report

            Its not about liking anyone……..Some opposition players EARN your respect….John Eales. Gregan, Linagh, Horan etc are guys who earnt respect of their ability and the way they conducted themselves..

            I dont KNOW any Aus players to know if I like them or not, but I do respect some ( mainly past players) Aus rugby players for their ability

          • March 21st 2017 @ 10:22pm
            Big Dog said | March 21st 2017 @ 10:22pm | ! Report

            I remember watching the same NZ sports program.

            As I recall, it was a female tv journalist who referred to Gregan as “George Grogan”, presumably looking for a cheap laugh.

            The All Black player who was the featured guest on that particular show (I can’t remember who it was; pretty sure it was either Richie McCaw or Justin Marshall) very quickly put her back in her box, defending Gregan as a player universally respected by the ABs and undeserving of the puerile disrespect showed him by the journalist.

            It was an impressive endorsement of Gregan.

        • March 20th 2017 @ 1:53pm
          Harry said | March 20th 2017 @ 1:53pm | ! Report

          George Smith. Now there is a rugby player, and a class act to boot.

          • March 20th 2017 @ 5:11pm
            woodart said | March 20th 2017 @ 5:11pm | ! Report

            steve price, genuinely admired here

        • Roar Rookie

          March 20th 2017 @ 3:57pm
          Phantom said | March 20th 2017 @ 3:57pm | ! Report

          And Bloody George Smith

        • March 20th 2017 @ 4:12pm
          Grant Thompson said | March 20th 2017 @ 4:12pm | ! Report

          + John Eales

          • March 20th 2017 @ 10:43pm
            Bakkies said | March 20th 2017 @ 10:43pm | ! Report

            Quade Cooper

            • March 20th 2017 @ 11:30pm
              riddler said | March 20th 2017 @ 11:30pm | ! Report

              comedy gold bakkies.. 😉

              the eales/herberts/horans et al.. were the best players but also understood the word humility..

              a lot of kiwis are exactly the same..

              i have zero problem with where some one comes from.. it has how they handle themselves..

              getting eales to talk about himself was harder than getting blood from a stone..

        • March 20th 2017 @ 10:21pm
          Ray1973 said | March 20th 2017 @ 10:21pm | ! Report

          John Eales and my personal favourite and a dynamic player Tim Horan .

      • March 21st 2017 @ 9:03am
        Rhys Bosley said | March 21st 2017 @ 9:03am | ! Report

        Campese was hated in New Zealand when he started out for the “Stu Who?” comment, even though he genuinely didn’t know who Stu Wilson was. I still remember my grandfather growling about “that Eytalian bastard” from his chair.

        Personally of the All Blacks players my favourite is Nonu, such a unique talent on the park but has sportsmanship off it.

        Also I think you Kiwis have all forgotten to mention Phil Kearns. We all know you secretly love the big stirrer :-).

        • March 21st 2017 @ 9:49am
          scottd said | March 21st 2017 @ 9:49am | ! Report

          and we all know Kearnsy loves Fitzy

    • March 20th 2017 @ 7:50am
      Jumbo said | March 20th 2017 @ 7:50am | ! Report


      • Roar Guru

        March 20th 2017 @ 8:04am
        Fionn said | March 20th 2017 @ 8:04am | ! Report


        • March 20th 2017 @ 10:30am
          David said | March 20th 2017 @ 10:30am | ! Report

          Aussies are scraping the bottom of the barrel if they have to use other teams scores against us to mock us. Come on, you used to be better than this!

          • Roar Guru

            March 20th 2017 @ 10:40am
            Fionn said | March 20th 2017 @ 10:40am | ! Report

            I’m Irish-Australian, mate.

    • March 20th 2017 @ 7:52am
      concerned supporter said | March 20th 2017 @ 7:52am | ! Report

      Wow, Spiro, powerful article which others would not be game to publish.
      Your expose on Rugby politics in the U.K.You describe prominent English Rugby heavies as,
      “Blazered Brigade”
      “Obnoxious Ian Ritchie”
      “Smart Arse Eddie Jones”
      “Smart Arse Stephen Jones”

    • Roar Guru

      March 20th 2017 @ 7:54am
      Who Needs Melon said | March 20th 2017 @ 7:54am | ! Report

      How do I insert the That Escalated Quickly meme?

      • Roar Guru

        March 20th 2017 @ 8:43am
        Diggercane said | March 20th 2017 @ 8:43am | ! Report

        ‘Smile and wave boys, smile and wave’

        This all makes Usain Bolt seem positively sluggish.

      • March 20th 2017 @ 10:04am
        Rhys Bosley said | March 20th 2017 @ 10:04am | ! Report

        Don’t do it, you might be expunged.

    • March 20th 2017 @ 7:58am
      richard said | March 20th 2017 @ 7:58am | ! Report

      Quite well written,but you stretch credibility when you refer to Mick Cleary as an ‘admirable” journalist.

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