Consistently brilliant: Celebrating rugby’s three greatest craftsmen

Phil Kearns Columnist

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    Brad Thorn - one of rugby's great craftsmen. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

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    Rugby union has had its fair share of great craftsmen; players who were so consistent, precise and accurate throughout their entire careers.

    Of course, not all the great players have been genuine craftsmen of the game. We’ve seen players like Kurtley Beale and David Campese, stars whose ability lies (or lay, in Campese’s case) in their unpredictability.

    In fact, Australia probably have more of these players in their ranks than the really consistent ones. Israel Folau, Beale, Marika Koroibete… they’re unpredictable. Bernard Foley is the closest we have to a real craftsman at the moment in that he’s reliable and is going to get it right most times.

    We often think of rugby’s craftsmen as players with precise skills like accurate goalkicking and perfect passing, so halves are going to be in the conversation more often than not.

    But while having an excellent nine and ten is crucial for any rugby team, if you don’t have a good two and three, you can forget about winning any games.

    So before we move onto the top three, one player worth mentioning is Ewen McKenzie. ‘Link’ was a superb tighthead prop – as good as any this country has ever seen – whose technique was exceptional, and certainly a real craftsman of tighthead play. Australia’s scrum was at its best when McKenzie was there.

    Coming up with a top three isn’t an easy task. Since professionalism came about, we’ve seen an increase in the number of players who can dedicate themselves to becoming real craftsmen of the sport. But that means it’s harder for modern players to stand out from the pack, so I’m going to name a trio of retired players as my top three.

    All three of these guys had similarities, but the one thing that jumps out to me is their determination. Each had their own individual style, but one thing that could be seen in all three was their determination to win.

    Michael Lynagh kicks

    (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

    Michael Lynagh
    The first name that comes to mind when talking about great rugby craftsmen is Michael Lynagh. You could see a real precision all through his game, particularly with his goalkicking and the way he would line up a conversion or penalty.

    He did the exact same thing every single time with every single kick; wiped his hands, wiped his brow at the end of his run-up, got his composure, then came in and kicked accurately. Well, mostly.

    ‘Noddy’ was a perfectionist – he had this desire to get everything absolutely right – but one thing that really set him apart was his composure. Under pressure, when the going was really tough, he was outstanding.

    Take the 1991 World Cup quarter-final against Ireland. We were down with two minutes to go and Michael, who was the captain that day, produced the perfect speech which kept us composed, he stayed composed, and we then went on to win that match with him scoring the winning try. That was a terrific case of him staying composed and leading from the front.

    Another indicator of how good Michael was is the 1984 Spring Tour Grand Slam. Michael was only 20 or 21 during that tour and was playing alongside the best player in the world – Mark Ella.

    That can’t have been easy for a 21-year-old kid to do, but Noddy looked completely comfortable.

    Martin Johnson
    Everyone remembers the 2003 World Cup final for Jonny Wilkinson’s field-goal, but Martin Johnson was the reason England won that match.

    Johnson was a great craftsman in the way he thought about the game. He had an uncompromising demand for quality and was able to put a strategy together on the field in the middle of a game when it was needed. That’s what we saw in 2003. England won the game through Wilkinson’s field-goal, but it was Johnson’s plan that got them to that position in the first place.

    England’s forwards punched it up through the middle until the time was right, and only then did they give the ball to Wilkinson for the field-goal. It was an example of how well Johnson knew the skills of his players, which was one of his great crafts.

    That leadership was evident early on in his career too. I faced him in the 1995 World Cup, when England knocked us out in the quarter-finals – funnily enough from a Rob Andrew field-goal – and you could see then he had what it took to understand how to play the game and how to get his team to play the game.

    There are some guys who come in and from a young age, you can see right away that they’re a leader. Johnson was one of them. His leadership ability and determination even at that young age was clear and, while he might not have been the formal leader of that pack, you could see he wasn’t far away.

    Martin Johnson holds World Cup trophy

    (Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images)

    Brad Thorn
    There’s no single game or moment that stands out from Brad Thorn’s career. That’s no criticism – it shows just how brilliantly consistent he was.

    Every time Thorn ran onto the field, whether he was playing rugby union or rugby league, you knew you were going to get the same thing. He was going to be aggressive, he was going to hit you really hard, and you were going to be hurting afterwards every single time.

    When we talk about the craftsmanship of great jewellery and liquor and anything else, we talk about the consistency of their quality. That’s what Brad Thorn was like. There was a consistency about every game he played and you just knew he was always going to be very good.

    Some of that comes back to his preparation and dedication off the field – Thorn worked incredibly hard to ensure his performances were right up there. The stories about how much time he would spend before and after training are legendary, and he was always prepared to make sacrifices to reach and maintain his quality.

    Thorn was so dedicated that I can hardly think of a player who was more consistent over their career. You could maybe put someone like Richie McCaw or Jonny Wilkinson up in that conversation, but Thorn was really on another level entirely.

    * * *

    So, Roarers, now it’s over to you: who do you think belongs in the list of rugby’s greatest ever craftsmen?

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    The Crowd Says (358)

    • Roar Guru

      December 14th 2017 @ 5:52am
      Harry Jones said | December 14th 2017 @ 5:52am | ! Report

      Thank you for your first essay on the Roar, Mr Kearns.

      From South Africa, as much I loathe praising a Bull, I would have to submit Victor Matfield’s name as a crafty craftsman who honed his craft: winning lineouts.

      As a former champion cricketer, Matfield brought more “scouting” and reading opposition lineouts than anyone up to that point. He had quick feet and a fast jump, but also paid attention to signals, posture, and space better than almost any jumper, then or now.

      He changed opponents’ tactics and rhythm; upset even the All Blacks’ set piece.

      He hung on too long, but in his prime, he was a master craftsman in the lineout.

      • December 14th 2017 @ 7:20am
        Riccardo said | December 14th 2017 @ 7:20am | ! Report

        Great call Harry.

        Victor was the benchmark for a long time and his talent extended to leadership at a difficult time.

        Didn’t know he was a good cricketer?

        Would have been able to extract significant bounce from that height.

        Would you class Danie Gerber as a craftsman? A talent obscured by tumultuous times but undeniable all the same.

        • Roar Guru

          December 14th 2017 @ 8:35am
          Harry Jones said | December 14th 2017 @ 8:35am | ! Report


          Matfield had to choose between the sports, in the end, like Ernie Els had to (golf vs tennis).

          You’d think he’d be a pace bowler, but he was a medium-pace all-rounder.

          But you could see he played rugby with serious coordination.

          Wasn’t super-physical for a Saffa lock; cerebral.

        • Roar Guru

          December 14th 2017 @ 8:36am
          Harry Jones said | December 14th 2017 @ 8:36am | ! Report

          Danie Gerber is, for mine, more of an explosive athlete who had power-edge over opponents. Didn’t out-think his midfielder opponents like Conrad Smith did. Didn’t have to!

      • Roar Guru

        December 14th 2017 @ 10:12am
        PeterK said | December 14th 2017 @ 10:12am | ! Report

        very good call on Matfield.

        I would also nominate Frik du Preez but perhaps he was exceptional in too many areas.

        • Roar Guru

          December 14th 2017 @ 12:01pm
          jeznez said | December 14th 2017 @ 12:01pm | ! Report

          Great shout on Matfield.

          The Bulls I immediately thought of were Fourie du Preez and Morne Steyn – all three of them massively accurate players.

          With Victor and Fourie able to take their game to greater heights.

          Harry, your description of Matfield’s study of opponents reminds me of articles I read about Dan Palmer as he was coming up. Apparently was the biggest user of the Tahs video suite while was still in the NSW academy. Filled notebooks with what the looseheads from other teams would do, both in their regular scrummaging and how they reacted to particular actions.

          Was a huge shame that injury ruled him out before we saw what he could have been capable of in rugby.

        • December 14th 2017 @ 12:24pm
          Clelo said | December 14th 2017 @ 12:24pm | ! Report

          Some of us are old enough to remember Frik. I was at Lancaster Park in NZ in 1965 and saw him against Colin Meads. Both were champions of our game and deserved to be saluted.

      • December 14th 2017 @ 12:25pm
        Wombat said | December 14th 2017 @ 12:25pm | ! Report

        Matfield clearly ahead of Thorn?
        Thorn spent many yrs in another code & no doubt about his ability though.
        Mayfield did the hard yards in SA rugby?

        • December 17th 2017 @ 9:11am
          Drongo said | December 17th 2017 @ 9:11am | ! Report

          Absolutely, much better. Thorn a tradesman, no where near a craftsman. His best claim is that he always left people hurting? No really something to be proud of, is it. He played in great sides.

          • December 25th 2017 @ 9:15pm
            double agent said | December 25th 2017 @ 9:15pm | ! Report

            Being able to hurt people – legally – in sports such as Rugby and Rugby League is definitely something to be proud of.

      • December 14th 2017 @ 6:04pm
        DavSA said | December 14th 2017 @ 6:04pm | ! Report

        While reading Phils article and seeing Martin Johnson featuring the name Victor Matfield immediately came to mind and everything I would have liked to say about him was already said by you Harry . I would also like to add the name Andre Joubert to my list . The Rolls Royce of fullbacks. Sheer class.

    • December 14th 2017 @ 6:00am
      Agh said | December 14th 2017 @ 6:00am | ! Report

      I stopped reading at Bernard Foley being close to a craftsman

      • December 14th 2017 @ 6:51am
        Dave_S said | December 14th 2017 @ 6:51am | ! Report

        Read down to the Brad Thorn part. I guess Foley qualifies if you apply the test of “there’s no single game or moment that stands out from [his] career.”

        • December 14th 2017 @ 3:16pm
          Mukhtar said | December 14th 2017 @ 3:16pm | ! Report

          Well, that’s cruel : )
          I know Foley has not been great recently, but…
          He did shine in the 2015 WC against England!
          Foley can improve further, and the Wallabies would be better for it.

          • December 14th 2017 @ 4:17pm
            JP said | December 14th 2017 @ 4:17pm | ! Report

            How long do we give Bernard Foley? It has been over 2 years since that great game he had at the 2015 RWC.He has regressed significantly since.

            • December 15th 2017 @ 7:47pm
              Sul said | December 15th 2017 @ 7:47pm | ! Report

              I think Foley is a victim of the game plan.

      • December 14th 2017 @ 7:18am
        MA said | December 14th 2017 @ 7:18am | ! Report

        So did I.

      • Roar Guru

        December 14th 2017 @ 10:16am
        PeterK said | December 14th 2017 @ 10:16am | ! Report

        The part I object to most was the line after

        at the moment in that he’s reliable and is going to get it right most times.

        This perpetuates the myth of the iceman.

        The reality is he makes a LOT of mistakes every game, more than QC on average, he is very unreliable.

        Yes he gets it right most of the time since 51% is technically most of the time. He gets it right (i.e right decision and executed precisely, accurately with skill) from 1/2 to 2/3.

      • December 14th 2017 @ 10:21am
        soapit said | December 14th 2017 @ 10:21am | ! Report

        its sure a bit of a worry for the game in this country when people in kearns position have impressions so far from reality

        • Roar Guru

          December 14th 2017 @ 10:28am
          PeterK said | December 14th 2017 @ 10:28am | ! Report

          FWIW – My picks for closest to the criteria laid out in the current Wallabies would be
          Coleman, Hooper and Hodge and the returning Pocock

          • December 15th 2017 @ 4:18pm
            MitchO said | December 15th 2017 @ 4:18pm | ! Report

            PK I think it was you who pointed out to me that Coleman’s drops lineout ball. He has the heart and size and physicality to take on the best but he is not an all round machine.

            Hooper and Pocock are machine like.

            I don’t know about Hodge but I like the way he can get the job done whatever is asked of him. EG limited as a 12. No high level experience. Still did a serviceable job against the best team in the world.

        • December 14th 2017 @ 12:46pm
          Phil said | December 14th 2017 @ 12:46pm | ! Report

          Kearns probably did that on purpose to get a reaction from the usual Roar Foley haters.Typical they would focus on that rather than the main thrust of the article,which was quite well done.
          Maybe he will learn in future not to praise any Tahs players in his articles.

          • December 14th 2017 @ 1:00pm
            soapit said | December 14th 2017 @ 1:00pm | ! Report

            ha yeah had considered that it was thrown in to get a comment boost.

            it undermines his credibility seriously but the article doesnt rely on his credibility and is a launch pad for a wider discussion so all good.

            for the record if he’d praised any nsw player for accurate reasons (including foley) theres no issue. stop jumping at shadows.

            • December 14th 2017 @ 3:05pm
              ethan said | December 14th 2017 @ 3:05pm | ! Report

              Actually, you’d think credibility would be a pretty high priority for a guy who played for the WBs, commentates regularly on matches and was recently considered one of the top two candidates for the ARU2 CEO position.

              How Foley’s name can be anywhere near the words ‘craftsmen’ and ‘reliable’ are absurd, and its concerning how such high profile guys like Kearns can be so out of touch – whether its done to push buttons or not. I know he loves his Tahs, and I would have happily accepted the names Hooper, Folau, and Kepu being listed – guys who have been at the top of their games for quite a few years now and deliver consistently – but Foley?? His glasses must be even more sky blue tinted than we thought.

              • December 14th 2017 @ 7:00pm
                In brief said | December 14th 2017 @ 7:00pm | ! Report

                Apart from missing place kicks he is hugely consistent and always seems to take the right option. Not a great player but seriously consistent in general play.

              • December 14th 2017 @ 7:06pm
                Charlie Turner said | December 14th 2017 @ 7:06pm | ! Report

                The Tahs are the Freemasons of Australian rugby.

          • December 14th 2017 @ 1:16pm
            soapit said | December 14th 2017 @ 1:16pm | ! Report

            poorly phrased. to be clear an ex australian captains credibility will not be close to exhausted by one poor assessment. tho certainly doesnt make us think the transition from top player to good analyst is automatic.

        • December 14th 2017 @ 2:27pm
          Charlie Turner said | December 14th 2017 @ 2:27pm | ! Report

          It’s a good yet curious article from an ex Wallaby captain, with all he’s seen and done, writing an essay promoting a general rugby discussion.

      • December 14th 2017 @ 10:54am
        Terry said | December 14th 2017 @ 10:54am | ! Report

        ^ Agh, Ditto

        • December 14th 2017 @ 11:47am
          eeds said | December 14th 2017 @ 11:47am | ! Report

          Cry me a river girls…
          Looking forward to foley’s year next year.

      • Roar Guru

        December 14th 2017 @ 12:03pm
        jeznez said | December 14th 2017 @ 12:03pm | ! Report

        Worth skipping that line and reading the rest which is a pretty good article (and didn’t need the Foley call out).

        • December 14th 2017 @ 12:40pm
          Cynical Play said | December 14th 2017 @ 12:40pm | ! Report

          Foley haters gonna hate.

          • December 14th 2017 @ 7:19pm
            Elder said | December 14th 2017 @ 7:19pm | ! Report

            Amazing to me that an article honouring fellas like Johnson and Thorn and Lynagh should attract a bunch of Foley trolling. Get a grip guys.
            Btw I’m going with Noddy. He gave us much, every time.

            • Roar Rookie

              December 15th 2017 @ 8:04am
              Dave_S said | December 15th 2017 @ 8:04am | ! Report

              Fifth sentence, you didn’t read it? Commenters are just supposed to ignore the things they don’t agree with?

              The suspicion it was put there to generate comments is not unfounded.

    • December 14th 2017 @ 6:03am
      Bob Wire said | December 14th 2017 @ 6:03am | ! Report

      Yes, three of rugby’s greats no doubt. I’ll add one name, Michael Jones, fantastic player who met the criteria of being consistently brilliant. The thing I remember most about Jones, was his total commitment to the game, his focus was intense and his skills were exceptional. Another mark of a brilliant player is his (or hers) influence on the game, I think many number 7’s aspired to play like Jones. By all accounts he was a good bloke off the field too.

    • December 14th 2017 @ 6:22am
      riddler said | December 14th 2017 @ 6:22am | ! Report

      cheers phil..

      hope it is the first of many you write…

      always enjoy reading articles/comments from those who have reached the top of their profession..

    • December 14th 2017 @ 6:48am
      richard said | December 14th 2017 @ 6:48am | ! Report

      Agreed on Lynagh – he was class.But for all his ability,I have no time for Johnson – nothing more than a thug.

      • December 14th 2017 @ 11:08am
        FunBus said | December 14th 2017 @ 11:08am | ! Report

        Given that Kiwi rugby fans glory in the deeds of Skinner and Meads; constantly wheel out Umaga’s ‘brilliant’ line about it ‘not being tiddlywinks’ after being lucky not to put an opponent in a wheelchair; had a giggle about Ali Williams stamping five consecutive times on the face of Josh Lewsey narrowly avoiding blinding him; and led JPR Williams to announce that he couldn’t risk playing the ABs again because it put his career as a surgeon at risk (after he was lucky not to be blinded by having his face tap-danced on), some might suggest that moral high horse is a little shaky, mate.

        • December 14th 2017 @ 11:25am
          rebel said | December 14th 2017 @ 11:25am | ! Report

          For someone who revels in winding up others you sure get wound up a lot.

        • December 14th 2017 @ 12:21pm
          aussikiwi said | December 14th 2017 @ 12:21pm | ! Report

          Ahhh the convenient stereotyping of kiwi fans again. Not just stereotyping but made up stereotypes, just because someone dares to criticise a pommie player. A Funbus special.

        • December 14th 2017 @ 12:33pm
          Clelo said | December 14th 2017 @ 12:33pm | ! Report

          I don’t excuse the actions of Ashworth at Bridgend on JPR. I was at that game and when we left the ground people attacked my wife due to her NZ scarf. There is no other term for him but ‘thug’. JPR was a great player and really nice man. However, Skinner was there for a reason, to counteract the dirty tactics of the South Africans and Colin Meads CV needs no explanation.

        • December 14th 2017 @ 1:44pm
          richard said | December 14th 2017 @ 1:44pm | ! Report

          aw did I hurt your sensibilities? 3 AB halfbacks – Graeme Bachop,Steve Devine and Justin Marshall were taken out by your hero.Punched out from behind Bachop in the nineties,Steve Devine later on – a man who still has migraines to this day as a result of Johnson’s handiwork.And Marshall,who in the words of Johnson – “I gave him a love tap,no big deal’.Which tells you all you need to know about his character.

          As for what certain AB’s have done,yeah,it happened.But this isn’t about them – it’s about Johnson,English national hero and serial thug.

          • December 14th 2017 @ 2:11pm
            FunBus said | December 14th 2017 @ 2:11pm | ! Report

            There’s been a historical pattern to Kiwi foul play. Generally it’s an attack from behind, or a player trapped at the bottom of a ruck, or blindsided, and often, perhaps more so than any other nation, a deliberate attempt to inflict serious injury.
            I would have thought it would be a subject you’d want to avoid.

            • December 14th 2017 @ 2:19pm
              richard said | December 14th 2017 @ 2:19pm | ! Report

              Sorry,did I leave out Dallaglio and Grewcock?Two right up there with MJ.And if you want to get historical,how about “Budge” Rogers blindsiding the black panther Waka Nathan and breaking his jaw back in the sixties.

              We can do this all day.A pom lecturing another country about thuggery.That’s a riot.

              • December 14th 2017 @ 2:45pm
                FunBus said | December 14th 2017 @ 2:45pm | ! Report

                OK, mate, then you’ll be able to list the names of the players injured by foul play playing against England, in the last 40 years. Off you go, bearing in mind we’ve just disproved your Devine ‘mistake’.

              • December 14th 2017 @ 3:13pm
                rebel said | December 14th 2017 @ 3:13pm | ! Report

                Do boat trips on the Thames count? Haskell should have got 10 weeks for that foul play.

              • December 14th 2017 @ 3:18pm
                richard said | December 14th 2017 @ 3:18pm | ! Report

                2004 Danny Grewcock stamping on the head of Dan Carter.Same test Simon Shaw kneeing Keith Robertson in a ruck’

                2008 James Haskell punching Rodney So’oialo in the face at a maul – unprovoked’IDanny Care shoulder charging Conrad Smith.And a stiff arm by Toby Flood on the AB halfback 9tbf that was a reflex action}.The highlight was seeing Johnson losing it in the stands.

                2010 Dylan Hartley sending a flying elbow to a prone Richie McCaw.

                Happy now.God knows what other teams have suffered over the years at the hands of the english thugs.

                As I said,don’t go lecturing other countries.We may have had our share of thugs,but we’re amateurs compared to your lot.

              • December 15th 2017 @ 6:32pm
                FunBus said | December 15th 2017 @ 6:32pm | ! Report

                That’s pretty desperate stuff, Richard, even for you. No-one with any sanity let alone objectivity could put the incidents you name (one of which is the coach getting angry in the box) and a number of the others barely penalties, against the AB thuggery I listed and call them even comparable. It’s laughable.

              • December 14th 2017 @ 4:25pm
                Jerry said | December 14th 2017 @ 4:25pm | ! Report

                “you’ll be able to list the names of the players injured by foul play playing against England”

                There aren’t any cause English players are massive wussies.

              • December 14th 2017 @ 10:32pm
                FunBus said | December 14th 2017 @ 10:32pm | ! Report

                Ah, right Jerry. Didn’t realize the definition of being a strong ‘man’ was to stamp on the face of a back trapped at the bottom of a ruck; get together with your mate to try and drive the head and neck of another into the turf; launch a king-hit from behind when the victim is concentrating on the next ruck etc etc etc. Now I understand the definition of ‘mana’. Apparently it’s to:
                ‘attempt to inflict serious injury, in a sly manner, usually against someone smaller, when their back is turned or they’re unable to defend themselves.’

              • December 14th 2017 @ 11:10pm
                rebel said | December 14th 2017 @ 11:10pm | ! Report

                Jerry’s just winding you up, successfully.

              • December 14th 2017 @ 11:41pm
                rebel said | December 14th 2017 @ 11:41pm | ! Report

                That list is hilarious. Williams was cleared of stamping and Umanga and Mealamu had no case to answer. Hore wasn’t even penalised. In the end you seemed to have been reduced to recording New Zealanders playing rugby – hysterical

              • December 15th 2017 @ 12:36pm
                Jordan c said | December 15th 2017 @ 12:36pm | ! Report

                Look mate, one thing I can’t stand more than a whinging Pom and that’s a winning whinging Pom.

                You however are 100% wrong on the umaga and mealamu incident that was horrific and blatant they shouldn’t have copped a long ban conveniences meant they didn’t.

                Coming from a Wallaby supporter who has watched the ship sink since 2003 and has no problem admitting the ABs are more skilled and provide a better culture.

              • December 14th 2017 @ 9:41pm
                Funbus said | December 14th 2017 @ 9:41pm | ! Report

                You can’t produce any evidence of the ludicrous claim that Devine’s problems were caused by Johnson. But, the pathetic clutching at straws shows the nature of your ‘arguments’.

              • December 14th 2017 @ 9:42pm
                Funbus said | December 14th 2017 @ 9:42pm | ! Report

                That list is hilarious. Shaw’s card was rescinded and in none of the others was their any injury. In the end you seemed to have been reduced to recording penalties given against England – hysterical.

              • December 14th 2017 @ 11:25pm
                rebel said | December 14th 2017 @ 11:25pm | ! Report

              • December 15th 2017 @ 1:47am
                Funbus said | December 15th 2017 @ 1:47am | ! Report

                ‘That list is hilarious. Williams was cleared of stamping and Umanga and Mealamu had no case to answer. Hore wasn’t even penalised. In the end you seemed to have been reduced to recording New Zealanders playing rugby – hysterical’

                Thanks for making my point for me, Rebel. You must inhabit some weird parallel universe to argue against those examples. Williams brought his foot down five consecutive times on the face of a player with the ball 2 metres away, causing 30 stitches and missing he eye by millimetres,and the SH citing panel declared case ‘not proven’ although how it could be inadvertent was not discussed. So laughable was the decision it made Woodward take a lawyer the next time he toured NZ.

                Umaga and Mealamu got away with one of the worst incidents on a modern rugby field because the definitive video evidence didn’t come to light until a month later; and Hore didn’t get penalised but received a five-match ban on the video evidence – a punishment the world outside NZ burst out laughing about as yet another example of ludicrous leniency for an AB.

              • December 15th 2017 @ 6:22am
                rebel said | December 15th 2017 @ 6:22am | ! Report

                So your point is ABs should be penalised for foul play and English players should be let off. Good stuff Jerry, and the ‘world’ outside NZ agrees.

              • December 15th 2017 @ 1:58am
                Funbus said | December 15th 2017 @ 1:58am | ! Report

                ‘That must be the rewritten lawbook. It’s not foul play unless you injure your opponent.’

                It’s not a difficult argument to follow, mate, even for you. The ABs have a long, undistinguished record of deliberately and often slyly trying to inflict serious injury on opponents. When I asked for a comparable list of similar actions by England players in internationals I got a list of ‘penalties’ back.

              • December 15th 2017 @ 6:32am
                rebel said | December 15th 2017 @ 6:32am | ! Report

                Agree its not difficult champ. I mean your list was of people playing rugby. At least the other list consisted players being penalised for foul play. So what we can deduce from the lists is that England has an undistinguished record of being a dirty side even with the illuminati trying to pin unwarranted accusations on innocent ABs.
                you are good at this making compelling points. Not selective at all.

              • December 15th 2017 @ 8:23am
                aussikiwi said | December 15th 2017 @ 8:23am | ! Report

                Ah Funless, there we have the truth. Here was me thinking all countries have a few dirty players, and even players not normally given to foul play may have brain snaps. Thank goodness the Alternative Facts about dirty kiwis have been exposed by you.

                Perhaps you could enlighten us further by advising:

                1. Over what period this sad history extends?

                2. How many instances of deliberately seeking to inflict serious injury do you say occurred during that period?

                3. In each case, how you have ascertained that the intent was to inflict SERIOUS injury?

                4. How many of said cases were also “sly”?

                5. Who has been paying off the judiciary so that this appalling history is not even reflected in cards and suspensions over said period?

              • December 15th 2017 @ 6:51pm
                FunBus said | December 15th 2017 @ 6:51pm | ! Report

                OK, AK, lets have a go at your questions.
                1. Over what period? Since the ABs started playing right up, almost to the day, that extra multiple cameras and a new TMO protocol was brought in. The Mealamu flying head butt at Twickenham and AB lock head stomp at Murrayfield tour was the cusp – showing how calculated it had always been.
                2. How many? Haven’t researched it. Only talking about some of those I’ve seen (haven’t mentioned the disgusting Jamie Joseph at Twickenham incident yet). So haven’t mentioned Loe at all because I didn’t see any of them (plural).
                3. How ascertained purpose was serious injury? Because no-one could believe that serious injury isn’t the likely consequence of stamping and raking someone’s face, with force and metal studs repeatedly; driving someone’s head and neck into the turf; king- hit from behind; stamping and twisting with studs on someone’s ankle against the grain etc etc.
                4. How many were sly? Pretty much all of them. None were spotted by the ref or touch judges at the time.
                5. No-one was paid off. Different citing and TMO protocols and a ‘you scratch my back and I’ll scratch tours’ Of SH citing systems at various times explains it mostly. The French have been nearly as bad, but usually heat of the moment stuff, which is why they were nearly always caught? The ABs – calculating, sly and cold, there’s a clear and obvious pattern.

              • December 15th 2017 @ 7:01pm
                aussikiwi said | December 15th 2017 @ 7:01pm | ! Report

                Thanks Funless. Paraphrasing your answer above:

                I, Funless, just make Alternative Facts up, the more fanciful the better, because someone was mean about Saint Martin, because I resent the ABs’ rugby supremacy, and because I’ve got nothing better to do .

              • December 15th 2017 @ 7:42am
                Jerry said | December 15th 2017 @ 7:42am | ! Report

                “Shaw’s card was rescinded”

                No it wasn’t, you just made that up.

                He didn’t get a suspension as the judiciary ruled the card was sufficient punishment.

                Danny Grewcock got suspended for 5 weeks for stamping on Dan Carter’s head in the same match, incidentally – but it’s ok cause he didn’t injure anyone. Cause he’s a massive wuss.

              • December 15th 2017 @ 6:23pm
                FunBus said | December 15th 2017 @ 6:23pm | ! Report

                Danny is a black belt in karate, Jerry. I think he could have caused some damage if he’d wanted to.

              • Roar Guru

                December 15th 2017 @ 8:38am
                PeterK said | December 15th 2017 @ 8:38am | ! Report

                aussikiwi – 5. Who has been paying off the judiciary so that this appalling history is not even reflected in cards and suspensions over said period?

                Not related to NZ only.

                A problem with looking at measuring it this way is that post game suspensions with video review is only a recent invention. Even later TMO’s.

                For most of the history of rugby players got away with a lot behind the ref’s back. If he didn’t see something there was little recourse for punishment of thuggish play.

              • December 15th 2017 @ 3:29pm
                aussikiwi said | December 15th 2017 @ 3:29pm | ! Report

                True PeterK, in earlier years rugby violence was more common and less detected on all sides and at all levels.

                But even for the period since tmos, replays and/or reviews were put in place, there is not a shred of evidence to support the Alternative Facts advanced so didactically by FB.

              • Roar Guru

                December 15th 2017 @ 1:45pm
                Rugby Fan said | December 15th 2017 @ 1:45pm | ! Report

                Actually Jerry, the disciplinary panel found Simon Shaw’s 2004 red card was awarded illegally. They couldn’t turn back time and out him back on the pitch, so all they could do was agree to take no further action against the player. He was available for selection straight away.

              • December 15th 2017 @ 2:27pm
                rebel said | December 15th 2017 @ 2:27pm | ! Report

                do you have a link. all I could find was no further action.

              • December 15th 2017 @ 2:59pm
                Jerry said | December 15th 2017 @ 2:59pm | ! Report

                Yeah, he was cleared cause the ref had used the TMO to identify him in breach of the protocols at the time. This had nothing to do with his infringement and indeed he may well have copped a suspension if Stu Dickenson had spotted a number and not needed the video to identify him.

              • December 15th 2017 @ 6:12pm
                rebel said | December 15th 2017 @ 6:12pm | ! Report

                But he wasn’t aiming to inflict injury Jerry, I don’t know what he was trying to do kneeing a player stuck in a ruck in the head, but inflicting injury apparently wasn’t it.

              • December 15th 2017 @ 6:21pm
                FunBus said | December 15th 2017 @ 6:21pm | ! Report

                Tell you what rebel, why don’t you watch it on YouTube? There was zero force exerted. The Kiwi prop didn’t even know it had happened. It was physically impossible for that action to cause injury, so – yes, it shows the difference beautifully.

              • Roar Guru

                December 15th 2017 @ 9:29pm
                Rugby Fan said | December 15th 2017 @ 9:29pm | ! Report

                Exactly, Jerry, So you were wrong to say the panel didn’t take any action because they deemed the card sufficient punishment.They ruled that the card should never have been awarded.

                I can only imagine the sound and fury we’d still be hearing today from New Zealand supporters if that had happened to one of their players.

              • December 15th 2017 @ 9:32pm
                Jerry said | December 15th 2017 @ 9:32pm | ! Report

                When you watch it on YouTube does Keith Robinson become a prop?

              • December 16th 2017 @ 7:55pm
                FunBus said | December 16th 2017 @ 7:55pm | ! Report

                You’ve got me there, Jerry. Went like a laser to the really important point.

              • December 15th 2017 @ 9:35pm
                Jerry said | December 15th 2017 @ 9:35pm | ! Report

                What a player who committed a red card offence being red carded? Dunno, we’ve had refs go outside the laws to deny tries and reverse possible series winning penalties, I imagine it’s something like that? What’s your point btw, it’s not thuggery cause the tmo protocols weren’t followed?

              • Roar Guru

                December 15th 2017 @ 9:40pm
                Rugby Fan said | December 15th 2017 @ 9:40pm | ! Report

                My point was that you were wrong to say the disciplinary panel deemed the red card sufficient punishment. That is not what happened.

              • December 16th 2017 @ 7:57pm
                FunBus said | December 16th 2017 @ 7:57pm | ! Report

                The main point is the one every Kiwi has been desperately trying to avoid. The AB examples are all attempts to inflict serious injury and the ‘comparable’ examples you hurl back weren’t.

              • December 15th 2017 @ 11:33pm
                ClarkeG said | December 15th 2017 @ 11:33pm | ! Report

                Is the Bus standing in for the Swedish guy today?

                Tell you what Bus…I have just watched it on You Tube. Here we have another example of people watching the same video but seeing completely different things.

                Zero force? – yeah right.

                Physically impossible for that action to cause injury? – ohh come on.

              • December 16th 2017 @ 7:58pm
                FunBus said | December 16th 2017 @ 7:58pm | ! Report

                If you believe that ClarkeG you must have a black shirt draped over your computer screen.

              • December 17th 2017 @ 5:27pm
                ClarkeG said | December 17th 2017 @ 5:27pm | ! Report

                Bus – I could just as easily say you must have a white shirt draped over your screen but that would just be as mindless as your retort. Try harder.

                You used the words “zero” and “impossible”.

                You are exaggerating.

              • December 18th 2017 @ 7:05am
                rebel said | December 18th 2017 @ 7:05am | ! Report

                Goodness, the Bus is still digging. Dig up chap, dig up.

              • December 18th 2017 @ 12:18pm
                Gary said | December 18th 2017 @ 12:18pm | ! Report

                Grewcock the hard man – I recall David Giffin flawing him with one punch to the chin during a lineout of push/shove . It was early in the match and Grewcock never even looked for a square up.

            • December 14th 2017 @ 2:20pm
              rebel said | December 14th 2017 @ 2:20pm | ! Report

              Insert any country for kiwi and that still reads true. But you’re just winding up, what a lad.

            • December 14th 2017 @ 6:26pm
              aussikiwi said | December 14th 2017 @ 6:26pm | ! Report

              Oh my goodness, Kiwis dirty players, English players pure as the driven snow. What a surprise coming from the Funless one.

              He even uses the royal ‘we’ to make his jaundiced opinion sound more authoritative. How quaint.

            • December 15th 2017 @ 6:12am
              Taylorman said | December 15th 2017 @ 6:12am | ! Report

              Thats all youve got in seventy years of All Black rugby? Angels in my book.

              At least they were mostly winning all that time.(which is really the readon you bother bringing it up)

            • December 15th 2017 @ 10:46am
              Northkiwi said | December 15th 2017 @ 10:46am | ! Report

              Classic funbus, there are none so blind as he who cannot see. Grewcock was certainly lily white wasn’t he? All of your comments on some AB’s players and incidents are true enough. But to say that is worse that what pommies etc have done is truly insane. You pommies go to levels lower than any AB’s player, when was any AB convicted of gouging or testicle grabbing, or kicking someone in the back? Oh yes, it is a world conspiracy to let the ABs’ get away with murder, thats right. All sides have had players who do this type of thing, at various times in their history. Can’t think of any side that could “cast the first stone” in the way you do all the time.

              • Roar Guru

                December 15th 2017 @ 12:33pm
                PeterK said | December 15th 2017 @ 12:33pm | ! Report

                Richard Loe banned for eye gouging

              • December 15th 2017 @ 1:13pm
                rebel said | December 15th 2017 @ 1:13pm | ! Report

                Doesn’t count against fellow countrymen. Thats just rough housing.

              • Roar Guru

                December 15th 2017 @ 3:39pm
                PeterK said | December 15th 2017 @ 3:39pm | ! Report

                always a reason it doesn’t count (or it gets diminished) if its an AB that does something bad

              • December 18th 2017 @ 7:06am
                rebel said | December 18th 2017 @ 7:06am | ! Report

                Yes PK, that comment was dead serious.

            • December 15th 2017 @ 12:43pm
              Muzzo said | December 15th 2017 @ 12:43pm | ! Report

              Historical Pattern???? Geez Pom, try looking at your patterns over the centuries where your country has committed atrocities & the genocide of millions. Even colonization, wasn’t a good time was it?

              • December 15th 2017 @ 12:52pm
                taylorman said | December 15th 2017 @ 12:52pm | ! Report

                ha ha… yes the ultimate in Hyp0-crisee?

              • December 15th 2017 @ 5:41pm
                FunBus said | December 15th 2017 @ 5:41pm | ! Report

                I’m going to take a wild guess and suggest you don’t earn a living as a historian, Muzzo.

              • December 15th 2017 @ 6:12pm
                Muzzo said | December 15th 2017 @ 6:12pm | ! Report

                And I’ll take an even wilder one Bus, that you are so full of it, that you would overflow a treatment plant!!!

              • December 15th 2017 @ 6:55pm
                FunBus said | December 15th 2017 @ 6:55pm | ! Report

                Or, of course, you could always produce some ‘facts’ rather than the usual hysterical Kiwi rugby fan man-child response.

              • December 16th 2017 @ 10:09am
                Muzzo said | December 16th 2017 @ 10:09am | ! Report

                Well funny little Pommy Bus, possibly you could do the same, instead of the constant verbal crap, you spout.

          • December 14th 2017 @ 2:22pm
            FunBus said | December 14th 2017 @ 2:22pm | ! Report

            Devine had to retire because of a series of concussions the last of which was in a 2003 SR game. Neither he nor anyone else (other than in your fevered imagination) has suggested Johnson was responsible. And the ‘slap’ on Marshall was precisely that, an open-handed slap at a mouthy scrum-half that couldn’t possibly have caused injury.
            We’re not talking cowardly king-hit from behind like Hore, here.

            • December 14th 2017 @ 2:42pm
              FunBus said | December 14th 2017 @ 2:42pm | ! Report

              Sorry, my mistake, I got that wrong. He retired in 2007 after, as he says, three really bad concussions in three weeks in 2006, followed by more ‘big shots’ in the 2007 season…..four years after Johnson retired.

            • December 14th 2017 @ 2:52pm
              richard said | December 14th 2017 @ 2:52pm | ! Report

              Wrong again.Devine’s problems can be traced back to that first king hit by Johnson.Without that ,anything subsequent is unlikely to have had the same effesct.

              As for Marshall,the reports clearly refer to a ‘punch’ by Johnson.No “slap” as you put it.John Hart chose not to cite him as England stood him down.Added to that,it was Johnson’s third such incident in 3 consecutive games.

              He had form,I’ll give him that. (Here’s a suggestion,google an article by Chris Hewett of the Independent dated 24/11/970).

              • December 14th 2017 @ 3:21pm
                richard said | December 14th 2017 @ 3:21pm | ! Report

                edit 1997.

              • December 14th 2017 @ 3:44pm
                richard said | December 14th 2017 @ 3:44pm | ! Report

                As an aside,Devine only played 10 tests.He had a bright career ahead of him until Johnno decided to shorten it.A better player than Marshall,IMO.He could have had a long and prosperous career.But then,he is probably not the first player to have his career shortened by MJ.

            • December 15th 2017 @ 6:15am
              Taylorman said | December 15th 2017 @ 6:15am | ! Report

              Hore? The guy simply didnt do his homework. If he wants to deliberately block him for ten meters continuously looking back to make sure he was doing so…it pays to know what youre buying into.

              Unfortunate…but also hilarious. Welcome to not tiddlywinks.

              • December 15th 2017 @ 11:11am
                JP said | December 15th 2017 @ 11:11am | ! Report

                Andrew Coward King Hit Hore. What an Oxygen Thief he was.

                Anyway , My personal favourite is the biggest thug of all time.The serial eyescraper himslef ” Richard Loe Act ”
                How many players eyes did he rip at.??

                As a teenager i will never forget the forearm smash he delt out to tiny 80 kilo Wallaby winger Squabba Paul Carozza after a he scored a try in 1992.What a deasdet scumbag.A prop smashing a winger and breaking his face.I think Loe act retired soon thereafter or was banned for more eyegouging of his fellow Un Zudders.

              • December 15th 2017 @ 1:54pm
                richard said | December 15th 2017 @ 1:54pm | ! Report

                Have no excuses for Loe’s actions.But,he’s a rarity re NZ players doing that sort of thing ( i.e eye gouging).Now,the French on the other hand…..

        • December 14th 2017 @ 3:58pm
          Jerry said | December 14th 2017 @ 3:58pm | ! Report

          Almost everything in that para was an exaggeration.

        • December 14th 2017 @ 4:04pm
          Muzzo said | December 14th 2017 @ 4:04pm | ! Report

          Typical of a Pom, that has no respect, for one’s that have recently passed!! As in Piney RIP. It really shows what sort of Pr..k you are. Even try to educate yourself on the Skinner episodes, as with your comment it shows you have no idea, or is it that you can’t handle at being constantly bettered by players that are better than what you will ever produce. Some excellent props, over the years, have come out of the Otago/ Southland environment, as, the likes of Skinner, Murdoch, the Hazlett Bros, Hayman, Meuws, etc, etc, etc.
          May the wheels fall off your chariot, or is it your bus!!!

          • December 14th 2017 @ 10:25pm
            FunBus said | December 14th 2017 @ 10:25pm | ! Report

            Probably best to lie down in a darkened room with a wet towel over your forehead, Muzzo.

            • December 15th 2017 @ 9:48am
              Muzzo said | December 15th 2017 @ 9:48am | ! Report

              Oh you Funny little Bus, for a Pom, you’re such a crack up, it’s a wonder they haven’t kicked your wheels off & thrown you on the scrap heap.

              • December 16th 2017 @ 11:47am
                Uncle Eric said | December 16th 2017 @ 11:47am | ! Report

                Muzzo, Muzzo, Muzzo, ‘you can’t argue with a sick mind’ (Joe Walsh).

              • December 16th 2017 @ 3:57pm
                Muzzo said | December 16th 2017 @ 3:57pm | ! Report

                Hahaha Uncle, you do have a point there!!! Lol.

    • Roar Guru

      December 14th 2017 @ 6:49am
      Sam Taulelei said | December 14th 2017 @ 6:49am | ! Report

      To be fair to Brad Thorn his consistency as a rugby player only eventuated in his return to the game in 1988.

      I wouldn’t agree with your assessment or comparison of his entire rugby career to Wilkinson or McCaw.

      • Roar Guru

        December 14th 2017 @ 12:04pm
        jeznez said | December 14th 2017 @ 12:04pm | ! Report

        100% Sam.

      • December 25th 2017 @ 9:46pm
        double agent said | December 25th 2017 @ 9:46pm | ! Report


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