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The Wrap: All 2017’s highlights and lowlights

Geoff Parkes Columnist

By Geoff Parkes, Geoff Parkes is a Roar Expert


161 Have your say

    Here’s my list of the mad and the inspired for 2017. What moments stood out for you?

    Excuse me, can I have a word?
    Fox Sports’ Natalie Youannidis’ on-field ambush dressed up as an interview with Henry Speight, immediately after he had scored a try in Round 3 of Super Rugby. With apologies to Natalie – who was operating under instruction – a moment stunningly stupid in conception, also notable for Speights’ hilarious contribution to public oration.

    Best atmosphere
    Wales versus England, Principality Stadium, Cardiff, February. Also wins the category for ‘Best goat’.

    Best comment from a fan (from the same match)
    God bless the devastated Welsh lass seated in the row behind the media section who, after drinking and yelling herself hoarse all game, leaned over as I was packing up my computer at the end of the match and said, with the last remaining croaky remnant of voice she had left, “make sure you write in your story that the referee was a c***!”

    Best refereeing call
    Lions fans would likely choose Romain Poite’s change of mind at Eden Park, but it’s TJ Perenara using impeccable logic to school Angus Gardiner and talk him into changing his decision, Hurricanes versus Reds, Super Rugby Round 6.

    Don’t take your boots off, we might need you
    Wales prop Samson Lee receiving a yellow card in the 81st minute in the Six Nations international against France, serving his ten minutes, then still getting another nine minutes of action after that!

    Serious slap with a wet bus ticket
    World Rugby sending a letter of reprimand to France four months later in response to that same farcical match end, and cheating re a front row replacement.

    Try of the year
    Toni Pulu, Chiefs versus Stormers. More than just a way to get Damian McKenzie a mention, an example of pure positive intent and a relentless desire to back up. Just shades Sean O’Brien’s fantastic ensemble effort in the first Test, Lions versus All Blacks.

    Try assist of the year
    Dilyn Leyds to SP Marais, Stormers versus Chiefs. Watch for the seated reverse bullet-pass to appear in updated rugby manuals.

    Carlos Spencer trickery award
    Unseen by many, but see if you can find Lionel Cronje and Malcolm Jaer conjuring an audacious try, Kings versus Force.

    Yeah but… nah
    Rugby Australia’s unfortunate relationship with the west. But most particularly their curious reluctance to engage with the man with the deepest pockets in Australia. The Force is no longer, the coach and players have moved on, but will Western Australian rugby’s grassroots withstand the turmoil?

    Super Rugby player of the year
    Breakout years for the Crusaders’ David Havili and outstanding Rebels No. 8 Amanaki Mafi

    The most obvious All Black-in-waiting. Ever.
    Asafo Aumua. And everyone thought Dane Coles was good…

    Better than Campo
    Highlanders prop Siua Halunukonuka’s goose-step versus the Force (extra points for laughing while he did it). Rampaging Cheetahs prop Ox Nche was another front-rower who offered plenty with the ball in hand.

    Best match in a losing side
    Fiji lock Leone Nakarawa versus Australia in Melbourne. Offload central; high ones, low ones, around the back ones, plus a sterling shift in defence. Superb athlete.

    Which way did he go?
    Raymond Rhule’s remarkable nine individual missed tackles versus the All Blacks at Albany.

    I see it but I don’t believe it…
    Crusader Mitchell Hunt’s 83rd-minute drop goal from 45m to beat the Highlanders. Instinctive, unexpected, magical.

    Mitch Hunt Crusaders Super Rugby Union 2017

    (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

    I see it but I don’t believe it… (part 2)
    Michael Cheika clearly seeing Israel Folau not pulling Dilyn Leyds’ hair. Yeah right.

    Hurry it along, please
    Kurtley Beale waddling over to what he thought might be a lineout throw, while England’s Eliot Daly got on with the business of chasing hard and scoring.

    Ten-year anniversary
    Sam Whitelock completing a decade of first-class rugby wearing the same undies.

    Why bother?
    The Auckland Blues taking a Super Rugby match to Samoa then blowing all the goodwill by charging local fans the equivalent of five months’ wages for a seat.

    Fan of the year
    A tie between each of the 20,000 Lions fans who descended on New Zealand who, despite a brave attempt, just failed to drink the country dry. To single one out, how about Englishman Alex Edwards, who was taken in by Sandra Ioane and allowed to sleep on the floor at Reiko and Akira’s house?

    Light at the end of the tunnel?
    Queensland Country moving from the outhouse to the penthouse to win an excellent NRC final against Canberra. Now if only Rugby Australia and the state rugby unions could find a way to engage more people with the competition.

    Queensland Country NRC Grand FInal

    (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)

    Light at the end of the tunnel? (part 2)
    Are Scotland’s renaissance men engineering a shift into international rugby’s top echelon? More will be revealed in February.

    Nob of the Year
    It takes a huge effort to knock serial recidivist Argentine lock Tomas Lavanini off this perch but England prop Kyle Sinckler started a players tunnel melee at half-time in the second Lions Test, was arrested while out celebrating after the third Test, then copped seven weeks for making contact with an opponent’s eye in the English Premiership. Nice bloke.

    Fox Sports’ Xmas party hangover?
    Australian viewers tuning in yesterday for Montpellier versus Glasgow enjoyed a free-flowing second half, followed by… the first half! An interesting programming innovation that I suspect won’t be a long-term ratings winner.

    And a bouquet for Fox Sports too
    Cameron Shepherd’s segment on the Fiji Drua versus NSW Country match was a heart-warming reminder of all that is great about rugby.

    The ‘poor victim’ award
    The coaches box antics of Wallabies coach Michael Cheika and his mini-me Pat Molihan. Unprofessional, embarrassing and self-defeating.

    But she’s a kiwi and a girl…
    The haste with which many have written off new Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle is mind-boggling. Are Australian rugby administrators and fans capable of setting aside state biases and personal animosities to pull in the same direction?

    Raelene Castle at a Rugby Australia press conference

    (AAP Image/Daniel Munoz)

    And 2017’s final indulgences…

    Gig of the year
    Joe Pug, standing on a chair, fully acoustic, in the middle of a packed front bar of the ‘Labour in Vain’ Hotel, Fitzroy, re-defining the term ‘intimate’. Superb songwriting and great storytelling.

    Song of the year
    The always excellent Buddy Miller, contributing to a tribute album for his friend, Canadian singer-songwriter Mark Heard. Miller turns Heard’s song ‘Treasures of the Broken Land’ into an irresistible shuffle, laced with jangling guitar, smoothing French horn and heartfelt vocals.

    Thanks again for reading and contributing, enjoy the Xmas break, and here’s to an eventful and happy 2018!

    Oh, and by the way, if you’re stuck for something to read over the break I hear there’s a decent rugby book available at

    Geoff Parkes
    Geoff Parkes

    Geoff is a Melbourne-based sports fanatic and writer who started contributing to The Roar in 2012 under the pen name Allanthus. His first book, A World in Union Conflict; The Global Battle For Rugby Supremacy, was released in December 2017 to critical acclaim. For details on the book visit Meanwhile, his twin goals of achieving a single figure golf handicap and owning a fast racehorse remain tantalisingly out of reach.

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    The Crowd Says (161)

    • Roar Guru

      December 18th 2017 @ 7:38am
      Harry Jones said | December 18th 2017 @ 7:38am | ! Report

      Great shout on David Havili.

      The coolest moment not noted was the 10 crazy coach-defying extra minutes in the 1H of NZ v SA in Cape Town. Sport at its purest.

      • Roar Guru

        December 18th 2017 @ 7:53am
        Harry Jones said | December 18th 2017 @ 7:53am | ! Report


        Everyone must buy 3 copies or more of Geoff’s new book. It belongs in the Rugby Canon: a seminal text for any union-adherent. You’ll learn. You’ll laugh. Probably won’t cry. Get a few.

        • Roar Guru

          December 18th 2017 @ 10:35am
          Carlos the Argie said | December 18th 2017 @ 10:35am | ! Report

          How can I buy 3 electronic copies? Just got one for my iPad. I’ll read while visiting my in-laws for the Xmas break in North Carolina. Either read or Fox news. The choice is obvious.

          • Columnist

            December 18th 2017 @ 10:57am
            Geoff Parkes said | December 18th 2017 @ 10:57am | ! Report

            Hi Carlos

            For an electronic version, the best option is probably to go to my website and click on any of the links to the various eBook sites that suit your device/format, eg iBook store or Kindle store etc…

            • Roar Guru

              December 19th 2017 @ 3:53am
              Carlos the Argie said | December 19th 2017 @ 3:53am | ! Report

              Nope, I already have it. iBooks gladly sold it to me.

              And I should have said Merry Christmas and thanks for a great year of reviews and wraps. All the best to (most of) the Roarers.

      • Columnist

        December 18th 2017 @ 8:16am
        Geoff Parkes said | December 18th 2017 @ 8:16am | ! Report

        Cheers Harry, thanks for the shout out.

        Yes that was crazy/stupid rugby. Two sides ignoring everything their coaches told them, daring the other side to blink first.

        • Roar Guru

          December 18th 2017 @ 9:30pm
          Harry Jones said | December 18th 2017 @ 9:30pm | ! Report


          The best aspect of your excellent book was how certain obscure topics were so well-explained. You made “the elusive global season” and “player flight” and “concussion fears” and “club finance” eminently readable and clear, in your own inimical style. Good on you! More! The sequel!

      • December 18th 2017 @ 3:41pm
        cuw said | December 18th 2017 @ 3:41pm | ! Report

        @ Harry Jones

        and how great would it have been , if u guys had a proper coach and a proper team…

        they would have played the full 80 , eff the break 🙂

        • Roar Guru

          December 18th 2017 @ 3:46pm
          The Neutral View From Sweden said | December 18th 2017 @ 3:46pm | ! Report

          Say hello to Captain Obvious 🙂

          • December 18th 2017 @ 10:29pm
            Jacko said | December 18th 2017 @ 10:29pm | ! Report

            Clermont 24…Saracens 21…Not an AB in site

            • December 18th 2017 @ 10:38pm
              Jumbo said | December 18th 2017 @ 10:38pm | ! Report

              Who are they?

              • December 19th 2017 @ 12:16pm
                Jacko said | December 19th 2017 @ 12:16pm | ! Report

                Neutral knows

            • December 19th 2017 @ 5:38pm
              cuw said | December 19th 2017 @ 5:38pm | ! Report

              ” Clermont 24…Saracens 21…Not an AB in site ”

              Ice Toeava is an AB. Fritz Lee is from NZ.

              first time i saw Toeava at 10 tho 🙂

    • December 18th 2017 @ 7:42am
      Cynical Play said | December 18th 2017 @ 7:42am | ! Report

      ThankYOU Geoff for reminding me of the life and community in rugby. Wish I’d seen Joe Pug. For me, Ryan Adams small show in the Backroom at Byron Bay.

      • Columnist

        December 18th 2017 @ 8:23am
        Geoff Parkes said | December 18th 2017 @ 8:23am | ! Report

        Hi CP.

        What an enigma Ryan Adams is. I saw him years ago at the Forum and was bitterly disappointed. The band was far too loud and horribly mixed, he was surly, totally wasted and showed contempt for his audience. I vowed never to see him again.

        Yet I’ve continued to buy the albums, ‘Ashes and Fire’ is a favourite, and some of the clips I’ve seen of him in acoustic/intimate settings look fantastic. So I’m very envious of your gig!

        • December 18th 2017 @ 9:14am
          Cynical Play said | December 18th 2017 @ 9:14am | ! Report

          Yes I have seen Ryan like that. He is reported to have Aspergers Syndrome which might explain some of his people skills.

          But at this intimate gig on a late Winters night the sound was sublime and he was commanding and perfect.

          Merry XMAS GP

          • December 18th 2017 @ 3:00pm
            Dave_S said | December 18th 2017 @ 3:00pm | ! Report

            GP and CP, I was fortunate to see Adams rock out with the Cardinals at the Tivoli in Brisvegas maybe 10 years ago.

            For the weird and wonderful, check out his full cover of Taylor Swifts’s 1989 album, and his Live at Carnegie Hall.

            Geoff, pleased and not at all surprised you’re a Buddy Miller fan.

            Gig of the year for me: Ron S Peno and the Superstitions at the Bearded Lady, Brisbane. (And proud to say I helped crowd-fund the new album, got my signed LP playing as I write this)

            • Columnist

              December 18th 2017 @ 3:07pm
              Geoff Parkes said | December 18th 2017 @ 3:07pm | ! Report

              Hey Dave, we’re probably showing our age now but I certainly enjoyed a Died Pretty gig or two when I lived in Sydney!

              Although I suspect we’re straying into Machooka territory now…

    • December 18th 2017 @ 8:22am
      WQ said | December 18th 2017 @ 8:22am | ! Report

      Thanks Geoff.
      Just a quick question, does nob of the year have to be a player?
      I thought Michael Cheika might have been in the running for this one as well…

      • Columnist

        December 18th 2017 @ 9:01am
        Geoff Parkes said | December 18th 2017 @ 9:01am | ! Report

        I’d have a beer any day with Cheika WQ and I’m certain he’d be great company.

        Not so sure about Sinckler… had to laugh on the weekend when I caught a replay of Harlequins v Ulster, in Ulster, where the local crowd was giving it to him and he couldn’t help himself and turned to the terraces and gave them a gobful back!

        • December 18th 2017 @ 9:10am
          WQ said | December 18th 2017 @ 9:10am | ! Report

          Was just stirring Geoff, I’m sure he is a great bloke

          • Columnist

            December 18th 2017 @ 9:22am
            Geoff Parkes said | December 18th 2017 @ 9:22am | ! Report

            Got it mate 🙂

            That said, I really hope he does tone that stuff down next year. I don’t see what good it does having the behaviour of the coach as a major talking point after a match.

            And for the apologists who suggest he should be allowed to do and say whatever he likes without being scrutinised, that’s just a cop out I’m afraid. When you sign on for a senior leadership role you sign on to a set of behavioural standards in public. And has been debated many times on here, it’s not so much the language, but peddling the idea that Australia’s misfortunes are down to cheating officials that really grates.

            • December 18th 2017 @ 11:44am
              Noodles said | December 18th 2017 @ 11:44am | ! Report

              Agree Geoff. It’s a game and the rugby community respects people who remember that. Things go wrong. Players go wrong. Refs go wrong. Even coaches. In fact I’d be happier if we went back a step and left all the calls up to the person with the whistle. Cheika is not a dope though. He’s passionate. Just needs to remember that’s it’s not about perfection.

            • December 18th 2017 @ 11:49am
              WQ said | December 18th 2017 @ 11:49am | ! Report

              Agree 100%
              Let alone the message it sends to the playing group i.e. you don’t need to get better because we just keep getting robbed by the Referee!
              I’m sure when he does the analysis of every Test once the emotion has subsided he can see that they got as many poor decisions in their favor as they got go against them.
              If not then I suspect they will continue to struggle in the big games.
              If so then he should be working on managing his emotions.

              • Roar Guru

                December 18th 2017 @ 2:46pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | December 18th 2017 @ 2:46pm | ! Report

                I’m sure when he does the analysis of every Test once the emotion has subsided he can see that they got as many poor decisions in their favor as they got go against them.

                If this is true, how come Chieka seems so reluctant to learn from mistakes?

                For the record: I like Chieka. Both for rugby and entertainment reasons.

              • December 18th 2017 @ 6:31pm
                WQ said | December 18th 2017 @ 6:31pm | ! Report

                I’m sure he is learning just having difficulty controlling his emotions.
                As you say though he keeps doing it so one would have to ask, is he learning at all?

            • December 19th 2017 @ 12:26am
              Drongo said | December 19th 2017 @ 12:26am | ! Report

              Give it a rest. We know exactly what you think of Cheika. No need to repeat it 100 different ways.
              Merry Christmas.

              • December 19th 2017 @ 7:29am
                ClarkeG said | December 19th 2017 @ 7:29am | ! Report

                We need to keep repeating it until you get it. 🙂

        • Roar Guru

          December 18th 2017 @ 2:41pm
          The Neutral View From Sweden said | December 18th 2017 @ 2:41pm | ! Report

          Yeah, the Ulster crowd really gave it to Sinckler and the crowd won that game in stunning fashion. Excellent side story entertainment.
          Charles Piutau sure looks AB class. Stockdale looks like the next Irish star. Ulsters back three oozed with class for the full 80 minutes.

          • December 18th 2017 @ 10:36pm
            Jacko said | December 18th 2017 @ 10:36pm | ! Report

            Yeah keep peddling the ABs in europe line…I see Saracens got beaten….And not an AB in the Clermont side…

            • December 19th 2017 @ 2:53am
              Taylorman said | December 19th 2017 @ 2:53am | ! Report

              Toeava was there. Parra just kept punishing them with his six penalties. Seven straight. Thats now not just an injury issue, but a systemic problem within the setup.

              Vunipola and Itoje returning isnt going to magically right the ship to all wins again, but it could help them get over the line more in these close ones. Odd they only go to third? They must play a lot of pointless rounds.

              • Roar Guru

                December 19th 2017 @ 12:18pm
                Poth Ale said | December 19th 2017 @ 12:18pm | ! Report

                Who only go to third?

              • Roar Guru

                December 19th 2017 @ 3:00pm
                taylorman said | December 19th 2017 @ 3:00pm | ! Report

                Match report said Saracens drop to third. Amazing they are either second or first after 7 losses. Havent checked the table myself though but at no time is anyone anywhere near third after seven losses here.

              • December 19th 2017 @ 3:53pm
                cuw said | December 19th 2017 @ 3:53pm | ! Report

                @ Taylorman

                ” Match report said Saracens drop to third. Amazing they are either second or first after 7 losses. Havent checked the table myself though but at no time is anyone anywhere near third after seven losses here. ”

                they are 3rd in the 2017–18 European Rugby Champions Cup , pool 2. ( 20 teams – 5 pools of 4). Clearmont are leading that pool.

                7 losses are in all competitions Aviva , ERC , and AngloWelsh cup ( i think).

                BTW, Sarries are the defending European champions. 🙂

                interestingly , only Bath are still among the top 10 teams after 4 roundrobbin games. 5 pool toppers and the best 3 runners-up go onto the 1/4 final stage.

              • December 22nd 2017 @ 10:02am
                Taylorman said | December 22nd 2017 @ 10:02am | ! Report

                Well thats silly, the same team in four comps in the same year? …at the same time?

                Too fragmented, too inconsistent. Hard to believe Nicks comments that there are less easy beats than the expanded Super comp. The numbers dont add up. How many sides in all those comps would compete in the Super comp?

                Unless hes referring to just one comp, which kinda waters down that point.

      • December 18th 2017 @ 12:08pm
        Charlie said | December 18th 2017 @ 12:08pm | ! Report

        You know Cheika doesn’t accept a wage from the ARU and prefer to direct this to grass-roots rugby? May explain that he is actually a passionate bloke as opposed to an ‘a/hole’… his outbursts don’t help, but this may bring some balance to the equation.

        • Roar Rookie

          December 18th 2017 @ 3:22pm
          Don said | December 18th 2017 @ 3:22pm | ! Report

          Where does the news that Cheika coaches the Wallabies for nix come from?

          It was reported early in his tenure that he cost 20% more than the original offer put to him when he took the gig.

          He was also on additional incentives for tests won, series won and Rwc performance.
          Given he was re signed after the 2015 rwc I’d suggest he saw a further increase on his original contract.

          And I’ve seen nothing to suggest he coaches for purely altruistic reasons.

          He is on over $1m is what gets thrown around in Rugby chat.

        • December 18th 2017 @ 6:36pm
          WQ said | December 18th 2017 @ 6:36pm | ! Report

          G’Day Charlie,
          If that is the truth then what a wonderful contribution to Australian Rugby, any money saved at the top end of town that is spent at grass roots level is vital!
          My suspicions are as per Don’s however and I suspect this is a wonderful thought but not reality.

        • December 18th 2017 @ 10:39pm
          Jacko said | December 18th 2017 @ 10:39pm | ! Report

          Wont cost anything to cancel his contract then will it…Sorry he IS being paid…and its a lot of money

      • Roar Guru

        December 19th 2017 @ 7:18am
        Carlos the Argie said | December 19th 2017 @ 7:18am | ! Report

        I object to the nob of the year NOT being Lavanini. He has made extreme efforts to deserve this hands down.

        I am outraged at this unfair justice. Someone is a frigging cheat around here.

        Once more, the Pumas “wuz” robbed! But now it must be part of they Northern Hemisphere conspiracy!

    • December 18th 2017 @ 8:46am
      Rugby Tragic said | December 18th 2017 @ 8:46am | ! Report

      Thanks, Geoff, for your Wrap Series throughout 2017.

      Having witnessed first hand the effort and dedication that you go to in preparing these articles for “us tragic’s” each week, I think I can state without fear of contradiction that they are appreciated and enjoyed by many (postal address follows for sending cheque).

      Seriously, thank you GP on behalf of all.

      Some might not have relished the rugby events of 2017, but I for one enjoyed the season very much. There was, at least for me, many individual hi-lights and moments on the field to savour, including those you have listed, but I will nominate the highlight in the continuation and enjoyment among friends over several venues and countries throughout 2017 as being particularly memorable.

      I would also like to thank Machooka for the gracious manner in which he continues to lose his wagers with yours truly over the games between the mildly disappointing Blues and the misfiring Tahs, who like the Wallabies continue to train well. Long may that trend remain status quo! 🙂

      This opportunity is taken to wish all and sundry a great festive season, and an even better 2018. I hope Santa is good too all … Merry Christmas everyone.

      • Columnist

        December 18th 2017 @ 9:05am
        Geoff Parkes said | December 18th 2017 @ 9:05am | ! Report

        Always a pleasure RT, never a chore.
        Good luck with the Blues in Super rugby 2018!

        • December 18th 2017 @ 9:44am
          Riccardo said | December 18th 2017 @ 9:44am | ! Report

          “Good luck with the Blues in Super rugby 2018!”


          God knows we need it after falling so insipidly in Tokyo. Congrats to the Moondogs but that was a low-light…

          Rumours already circulating that Cooper may be sought.

          Your columns are a must Geoff.

          Thanks man…

          • Columnist

            December 18th 2017 @ 9:56am
            Geoff Parkes said | December 18th 2017 @ 9:56am | ! Report

            I think your boys got a bit of heatstroke that day Riccardo. Although as you say, nothing that the Moondogs didn’t deserve.

            Cooper for the Blues?? He’s too good a player to be thrown to the scrapheap just yet. On the other hand, the Blues need to be working hard under the radar – and there’s no ‘under the radar’ where Quade is concerned. I don’t see how a huge public debate and inevitable media circus will help them.

            • December 18th 2017 @ 5:46pm
              Ken Catchpole's Other Leg said | December 18th 2017 @ 5:46pm | ! Report

              Cooper for the Blues?!?!
              How would Aucklanders figure out who to boo??

              • Roar Guru

                December 19th 2017 @ 3:02pm
                taylorman said | December 19th 2017 @ 3:02pm | ! Report

                We’d boo Cooper when he stuffs up but probaly not when he knees another kiwi in the face again, well, not this time anyway?

            • December 18th 2017 @ 7:35pm
              Rugby Tragic said | December 18th 2017 @ 7:35pm | ! Report

              Cooper for the Blues?

              Geoff, not sure if you are referring to Mat Cooper or Greg Cooper,… Both of these guys have long retired mate, I think Greg is coaching overseas now.

              Or maybe you are referring to Colin Cooper the guy who will be Head Coach of the Chiefs next year, but then again, Tana has got his last year to run so doubt it would be him either…

              Cannot think of any other Cooper that the Blues would want

              • Columnist

                December 18th 2017 @ 8:08pm
                Geoff Parkes said | December 18th 2017 @ 8:08pm | ! Report

                Cooper Cronk RT… 🙂

              • December 19th 2017 @ 10:20am
                Rugby Tragic said | December 19th 2017 @ 10:20am | ! Report

                Nah, he is too used to playing ‘tunnel ball’

        • December 18th 2017 @ 9:48am
          Rugby Tragic said | December 18th 2017 @ 9:48am | ! Report

          Luck??? …. No luck required!

          What we need is …

          “Dear Santa .. all we want for Christmas is a prop to replace Big Charlie, a Back Rower to replace Luatua, Gibson as open side to have a season without injury, an on field skipper (not convinced Pulu is the right guy) and all our trust in Perofeta ..

          Surely that is not asking too much…”

          • Roar Guru

            December 18th 2017 @ 2:51pm
            The Neutral View From Sweden said | December 18th 2017 @ 2:51pm | ! Report

            So you are wishing for replacements that are on par with what you have had the last couple of years? Considering how the Blues have done, you are not gonna go down in Santas greedy book.

            Pulu as captain will be interesting, to say the least. Is he the man?

            Merry XMAS to you RT. Enjoy the wine and the spirit.

            • December 18th 2017 @ 6:18pm
              Rugby Tragic said | December 18th 2017 @ 6:18pm | ! Report

              Neutral, I’ve been happy with the quality of players, that the Blues have had short of 1st Five and captain over the past two years. Not so happy with the performance of some in the Blue jersey though. Something is not quite right but hard to put one’s finger on it. It is too easy just to blame the head coach solely, which would be a cop out, however Umaga being in charge has got accept the responsibility of that and 2018 is really the year he has to pull them together.

              Is Pulu ‘the right man for Captain?’ … he wouldn’t be my choice, but I’ll get behind the team regardless.

              Christmas cheers back to you too NV.

          • Roar Guru

            December 18th 2017 @ 3:00pm
            taylorman said | December 18th 2017 @ 3:00pm | ! Report

            Well I dont know about your chances RT, Santa is from the North Pole remember?

            • December 18th 2017 @ 6:28pm
              Rugby Tragic said | December 18th 2017 @ 6:28pm | ! Report

              Compliments of the season TM …

              You might be right about Santa, but sorry to say, I also don’t believe in the tooth fairy or Easter bunny either but have to put my faith in someone!

              They day the darkest hour is the one before dawn …. its been 6 years since we have played finals TM (never mind the 14 year drought for silverware) …. hopeful but realistically not confident about 2018. Tana’s coaching will come into close focus throughout 2018

              • December 18th 2017 @ 10:54pm
                Jacko said | December 18th 2017 @ 10:54pm | ! Report

                RT the Blues scored enough points to play finals this 2017 season. I think they finished 8th on a points table but the Brumbies got their spot due to the silly SR rules

                Blues 37 points Brumbies 34 points…Blues 9th…Brumbies 4th

              • December 18th 2017 @ 11:51pm
                Rugby Tragic said | December 18th 2017 @ 11:51pm | ! Report

                Jacko, yes mate, but the rules of the competition, right or wrong were known beforehand, no point us griping and complaining after the event, what the Blues needed to do was win a few games in the NZ Conference…

              • December 19th 2017 @ 2:56am
                Taylorman said | December 19th 2017 @ 2:56am | ! Report

                Yep true RT, and Merry Xmas to you al all as well. Get ready for a new Blues year, I see Alama has the Mitre 10 sde at years end so its possible 2019 could be a good mix as well.

              • December 19th 2017 @ 12:21pm
                Jacko said | December 19th 2017 @ 12:21pm | ! Report

                Correct RT but I was replying to the comment about the Blues not making the finals for so many years…Showing that its not necessarily the Blues fault but some strange rule setup which I find exasperating at best…

              • December 19th 2017 @ 1:09pm
                Rugby Tragic said | December 19th 2017 @ 1:09pm | ! Report

                You too are also correct Jacko, it was sort of frustrating but each franchise gives their best endeavour, but the Blues have been playing in the ‘lower sand pit’ for years. They had a few close ones against Kiwi opponents this year but have developed the habit of coming out of the games on the wrong side of the scoreboard.

                Even Auckland almost suffered the humiliation of being relegated this year…

                Well 2018 is around the corner .. I suppose more anguish to come… but hope springs eternal! … have a great festive season…

      • December 18th 2017 @ 11:06am
        Muzzo said | December 18th 2017 @ 11:06am | ! Report

        Merry Xmas RT, & have a good one. Cheers.

        • December 18th 2017 @ 6:32pm
          Rugby Tragic said | December 18th 2017 @ 6:32pm | ! Report

          Back ‘atcha Muz …have a good one yourself with your family

      • December 18th 2017 @ 12:34pm
        Phil said | December 18th 2017 @ 12:34pm | ! Report

        I can only concur with RT,thanks Geoff for your splendid,well balanced articles.Amazing that the Kiwis on here provide some of the most unbiased commentary.Along with Geoff,I include RT,Muzzo,Highlander and OB as the standouts.Sorry if I left any out!

        • Columnist

          December 18th 2017 @ 1:13pm
          Geoff Parkes said | December 18th 2017 @ 1:13pm | ! Report

          Cheers Phil.

          We do of course have more than our share of pot stirrers too, but it’s all good fun at the end of the day!

        • December 18th 2017 @ 6:31pm
          Rugby Tragic said | December 18th 2017 @ 6:31pm | ! Report

          Thanks Phil, all I want to do is enjoy my rugby or lose, nothing more, nothing less.. (must concede though, much better to win!)


    • December 18th 2017 @ 9:05am
      KiwiHaydn said | December 18th 2017 @ 9:05am | ! Report

      What about Vaea Fifita putting on the boosters vs Argentina – like a man playing against boys.

      Also the coming of age of women’s rugby, finalists in rugby player of the year and cleaning up at the NZ Rugby awards.

      • Columnist

        December 18th 2017 @ 9:06am
        Geoff Parkes said | December 18th 2017 @ 9:06am | ! Report

        Top call KH, that try certainly made the hairs on the back of the neck stand up!

        • Roar Guru

          December 18th 2017 @ 2:52pm
          The Neutral View From Sweden said | December 18th 2017 @ 2:52pm | ! Report

          Individual try of the year!

        • December 18th 2017 @ 3:57pm
          cuw said | December 18th 2017 @ 3:57pm | ! Report

          @ Geoff Parkes

          for me the best try is by Portia Woodman v USA in the women’s’ world cup. went thru 5 defenders from 45m out.

          and i think Wales also “played” with their front row in the match against Georgia – but there was no investigation or warning ….

          as for Nakarawa – u will have trouble calling him coz he plays every position from 4-8. this week he was 8 against Castres !!!

          Merry Christmas n a Happy Happy new Year to u and urs !!! CHEERS

          • Columnist

            December 18th 2017 @ 4:33pm
            Geoff Parkes said | December 18th 2017 @ 4:33pm | ! Report

            Hi CUW

            Thanks for all your input during the year too.

            The Wales v Georgia thing is interesting – on the surface it didn’t seem a lot different than what France did. But I’m sure it’s being looked at – the wheels of justice turn very slowly at World Rugby….

    • December 18th 2017 @ 9:29am
      Highlander said | December 18th 2017 @ 9:29am | ! Report

      Yeah yeah yeah Mitch Humt Mitch Hunt

      Thanks for the year Geoff – good fun

      • Columnist

        December 18th 2017 @ 9:51am
        Geoff Parkes said | December 18th 2017 @ 9:51am | ! Report

        Yeah I know that one hurt big time Highlander but… what a great kick it was! A career defining moment for the young man.

        I wonder where he ranks on the list of NZ flyhalves currently playing? Well down I would have thought. Yet if he lived on the other side of the ditch he’d be an international player. The lack of depth in this position in Australia remains a real eye opener.

        • Roar Guru

          December 18th 2017 @ 2:56pm
          The Neutral View From Sweden said | December 18th 2017 @ 2:56pm | ! Report

          Best drop goal I have ever seen. Yes, we have all seen droppies from further out, but the speed and skill Hunt had to use to execute was jaw-dropping stuff. The drop goal was not on, but Hunt found the space and had the skills.

        • December 18th 2017 @ 3:48pm
          cuw said | December 18th 2017 @ 3:48pm | ! Report

          @ Geoff Parkes

          ” I wonder where he ranks on the list of NZ flyhalves currently playing? ”

          wont be very high. that was one brilliant moment – the proverbial 15 minutes of fame.

          there are quite a few very good 10s in miter 10 but at super rugger level Barrett , Mounga , Sopoaga are the 3 best.

          i would think Bachop may be better than Hunt or Peroeta or even Dmac , who is supposed to play 10 for chiefs.

      • December 18th 2017 @ 10:20am
        Muzzo said | December 18th 2017 @ 10:20am | ! Report

        Hi Highlander, & all the time I’ve been referring to Hunt as Mike??? Oh, silly me!! Cheers.

        • Roar Guru

          December 18th 2017 @ 10:23am
          Machooka said | December 18th 2017 @ 10:23am | ! Report

          Merry Christmas old man of the hinterland!

          All the best Muzzo… to you and yours buddy 🙂

          • December 18th 2017 @ 11:03am
            Muzzo said | December 18th 2017 @ 11:03am | ! Report

            Hi Chook, mate. Along with seasons greetings to you & your whanau, Bro. Not quite in the hinterland mate, but pretty close, & matewhat’s this Kiwi type? lol. Of course we can type, as how do you think we can respond to you Bro? lol. Anyway, all the best. Cheers.

      • Roar Guru

        December 18th 2017 @ 11:10am
        Machooka said | December 18th 2017 @ 11:10am | ! Report

        Apologies H’lander… how rude of me

        Season’s greetings buddy! 🙂

        • December 18th 2017 @ 1:16pm
          Highlander said | December 18th 2017 @ 1:16pm | ! Report

          Have a good one chook