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Neil Back

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Joined March 2015

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So Nic. With the good fortune of two consecutive blow out Bleds to distract us, you are able to avoid talking about two consecutive below par performances from Wales against a (infuriatingly still) experimental England 😉

All Black to the future at Eden Park

So, the energy was down, luck was against them early, mistakes were made leading to the two first tries by NZ, and the fragility was exposed.

When you get done 36-zip, the word ‘luck’ must be banished from the lexicon when discussing the defeat. Just don’t do it. It isn’t a relevant factor and should never be allowed to be one.

Similarly, when playing for even a slim chance of winning back the Bled, energy simply cannot be down. Again, ban it from the lexicon and swap out anyone displaying it, or the coach that delivers it.

And if as a player you think you can take the field in a game of rugby without mistakes being made, and in doing so have your fragile confidence destroyed, hand your shirt to someone else.

Once again this Wallaby coach and team have hard realities to face. But instead it is once again explained away as just another hurdle on the way to ‘playing footy’ and a step further towards it.

Now the dust has settled, what really went wrong?

You know Riccardo, I’ve never bought the whole ‘got us to the RWC final and got coach of the year award’ or poisoned chalice thing.

His results up to that RWC showed the same 50% win rate his predecessor got the boot for (ignore the USA game), but reasonable to argue he hadn’t had sufficient time to shape his own team and brand. However, in my opinion, he totally lucked the RWC that followed: met an already undone (by Wales) and dysfunctional England, sneaked past a Welsh team the Australians always beat without a try being scored, then took a win against the Scots they really didn’t deserve, before meeting possibly the weakest semi finalist of any RWC in Argentina. I appreciate you can only beat what’s in front of you, but that has to be the softest coach of the year award ever. It’s a red herring.

Since then, he’s only taken the team and the brand backwards, despite nearly five years in the job. I’m getting tired of reading the opinion he ‘doesn’t need the job and does it for the love of coaching’. If he loved the Wallabies, I honestly believe he should have stepped aside long before now.

Is Michael Cheika a saint, sinner or something in between?

Ah. Agreement. You cannot boo him in that instance. Huzzah!

The booing of Steve Smith was disgusting

Not really. It seems you will continue to dislike Root for the crime of failing to seek out a good podiatrist. My pertinent question is, will you continue to at least dislike Smith for an act of base knavery towards his colleagues and cricket, while enjoying the highest playing honour a country can bestow? Or do vacant shoe inserts deserve greater longevity and scorn? Just asking.

The booing of Steve Smith was disgusting

Not really. I mean unless poor old Joe seeks inserts or a good podiatrist, it seems you will continue to dislike him, but I’m not sure if you are forgiving of real acts of complete cricketing and moral bastardry, or whether you will continue to dislike Smith for a similar period?

That’s my pertinent question.

The booing of Steve Smith was disgusting

Hear you Corne, but all my experience of sport tells me either playing in or against a better side, only ever raises your game – and that goes for your coaching team too. And rather than contempt, familiarity removes often negative preconceptions of yourself.

The All Blacks' dominance comes to an end

You’re right. That was very insensitive. My apologies and commiserations.

The All Blacks' dominance comes to an end

Yip, go with all of that. We might get our first clue as to how the Irish and English are travelling this weekend if the respective coaches put out their best or fittest. So hoping no one comes off that pitch injured.

The All Blacks' dominance comes to an end

Haven’t read that post but sounds like blows in the face of exchanges he and I have had on this very forum.

The All Blacks' dominance comes to an end

Nah Bluffboy, I’m right all the of the time, it’s just hard work convincing people!

Been down South a while now but still can’t bring myself to watch that water disappear. It’s unnerving.

The All Blacks' dominance comes to an end

No, I agree Corne. Coetzee was a national disaster (we’ve had a few of our own but on a lesser scale). It’s great to see SA rugby back on the rise and also facing the economic reality that you can and should pick your best players, regardless of where they play their club rugby.

The All Blacks' dominance comes to an end

Yeah, but you’re still missing several key points.

Playing higher ranked teams regularly invariably means you are more likely to nick a win. We see it all the time, be it a dead rubber or circumstances working in your favour etc. The latest Bled is a case in point, and that series of a win and then loss had the net result of improving Australia’s ranking points, which is exactly my point demonstrated. Top NH teams would absolutely love to be playing NZ on a regular basis, in a common season, without anyone travelling massive distances – but it can never happen. If it did, you can be sure the win/loss ratio would only improve for the NH teams.

Secondly, if you think a RWC held only every four years, in a knockout format where some top teams never even get to play each other, and when one team may get to play all their games at home and others are playing in a completely different hemisphere, is a ‘level playing field’, you’re on something. We never have such a thing. Which is why, as imperfect as it is, the world ranking system is at least closer to being a true aggregation of performances.

The All Blacks' dominance comes to an end

Wow. If all it takes is an awkward gait to dislike someone, how do you feel about someone else holding national captaincy who coerced a junior player to cheat for him and then form part of the cover up when discovered, throwing other team mates under the bus by inference? You must be furious?

The booing of Steve Smith was disgusting

Lots of things can slip you up in this comp, but I don’t think the weather will be that major.

Sure, some sides will find it warmer and definitely more humid than they’re used to, but this isn’t the same madness as trying to play a FIFA world cup final in Qatar where even sitting outside is pretty unbearable.

In order, the things that should worry teams most are;

1. Bad officiating
2. Injuries
3. Gastro & chicks called Suzy (if you’re a Kiwi)
4. Unguarded dwarfs (if you’re a Pom)

The All Blacks' dominance comes to an end

Yeah, but you can’t have your cake and eat it.

Teams like Australia & SA have generally benefited ranking wise, as until professionalism properly kicked in and other teams caught up, as they got to play NZ on a regular enough basis that they often snuck an occasional win to bolster their rankings, whilst suffering no real consequences from the losses. Similarly, NZ often got the same favour in return when beating these teams. It helped inflate all their rankings to a greater or lesser extent. Once Aus and SA dropped off, you all suffered. Swings and roundabouts.

And of course you can’t get a team disappearing off into the sunset like you describe, because then the rankings would no longer reflect (imperfectly granted) the current state of affairs. What you describe fundamentally misunderstands what the rankings are designed to show ….and it’s not ancient history, no matter how much some people still cling to that idea. The rankings are indeed imperfect, but designing one that means a team must go into ‘years of decline’ to be caught and passed, is clearly missing the whole point.

The All Blacks' dominance comes to an end

It’s a very good point, Wales are very good at home, but in their run they played and beat no one of real note away. If you were to compare Eddie’s time in charge alongside Gats, England have a slightly superior home win record at 87% but far superior away, where 63% plays 39%.

You do sometimes have to stand back from the stats, but even when you do, it’s difficult, even more so as an English fan, where through either a horrible injury list or occasionally baffling picks by Eddie, there really hasn’t been a steady side to judge.

The All Blacks' dominance comes to an end

It’s an interesting point – but i guess there’s always got to be a first time. I’m just hoping for a second!

The All Blacks' dominance comes to an end

No doubt you’d get the exact same answer from the Welsh.

The All Blacks' dominance comes to an end

Don’t know where this consensus site is Harry, but I’d have it ….

1. NZ
2. SA/ENG
3. Wales/ Ire
4. The rest

…. with small margins separating 1,2 & 3.

And I don’t see that changing an awful lot with the top 2. because it’s no coincidence, they have the best depth currently, with the teams in 3. not lagging far behind in that respect. Really cannot see a winner from ‘The rest’ this time around.

The All Blacks' dominance comes to an end

I’d suspect there were quite a few bars in Cardiff handing them out as the faithful celebrated last Saturday night – probably lost them by Sunday mornings hangover.

The All Blacks' dominance comes to an end

All true Riccardo, especially the Welsh injury list. Mr Bishop would have us believe the Welsh have great depth currently but with two influential players down already, they’re only a Wyn Jones away from potential collapse.

The All Blacks' dominance comes to an end

The bookies or the bokies?

The All Blacks' dominance comes to an end

Crikey, this is really not that hard, unless of course you start from a place of utter confusion. Which of course you did:
If you’re like me you might be wondering how do you win 36-0 against one of the best rugby teams in the world and lose top spot? Or a better question is how do you lose top spot to a team that last tasted victory over you in 1953?
First of all, NZ didn’t win 36 nil against one of the best rugby teams in the world (where have you been?) and to make things worse, they managed to get slaughtered by that team the week before (and lost a lot of their ranking lead), when Australia’s world ranking was far lower in terms of points than it was when they beat them the following week. I know, that was a bit tricky. But rest assured, any team smacking another a long way off them in the rankings, especially at home, gains no ranking credit – and nor should they.
Second, current rankings don’t care what happened in the 50’s. Nor the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s etc ….and nor should they.
Yes, the ranking system is imperfect (how could it not be) and yes, people tend to get most worked up about it when it doesn’t suit them (why would they not), but the truth is we all know it tells you very little about how the top teams may (or may not) perform at the RWC. It’s a knock out tournament at the pointy end, not a league.
It’s widely acknowledged this tournament looks to be the most open of all time – and guess what, the world rankings have never been turned on their head more than they have in recent years. So, you could easily argue the rankings are simply reflecting what we’re all acknowledging – so maybe they’re not totally irrelevant?

The All Blacks' dominance comes to an end

You mean pulling up someone else for their childish comments Peter?

The booing of Steve Smith was disgusting