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Barney

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If England wins, this would be some World Cup triumph to beat all 4 Rugby Championship countries.

Never been done before and probably highly unlikely ever again.

Respect.

England to have the edge over box-happy Boks

If England wins, this would be some World Cup triumph to beat all 4 Rugby Championship countries.

Never been done before and probably highly unlikely ever again.

Rugby World Cup final expert tips: mad Boks and Englishmen

It seems like most agree on two things.
Namely the utmost concern for player health and that 14 vs 15 is basically mission impossible in the modern game.
So the obvious question must be is there a way to punish dangerous play (whether careless or borderline malicious) yet still allow a 15 vs 15 contest?
How about left field ideas.
The player at fault still gets sent off but they get replaced. And the opposing team gets to nominate another player to be given a yellow so the infringing team will still be down to 14 but for 10 min.
After that it’s 15 on 15 again.
And to further emphasise safety concerns for the future, the sent off player should face further disciplinary action after the match if warranted.
Of course there could be variations of the above.
Apologies if someone already suggested anything similar!

World Rugby and the refs are killing the game

I m going to agree with many here about context as it was a very poor Pumas performance and also comment from personal impressions.
Many errors from the Pumas were random and committed by almost every player in the team.
The scrum was predicted to be the weakness so that was half expected.
But the line out was surprisingly also no certainty.
Players who played with ball security just the week before against the ABs were now losing them in many ways.
The final play summed it up where Moyano who couldn’t even catch a ball with 1? Wallaby in front and 3? unmarked team mates on outside with a likely unopposed run to the try line.
The real point is that had the Pumas won, it would still have been a poor performance.
And had the Wallabies lost, ditto for them.
It was just a poor game from both and one side had to win.
Of course this could depend on definitions of quality and what constitutes improvement.
But on that performance, a positive could be a very close WC as there could really be nothing between most of the teams and down who was due a great display.

Seven talking points from Wallabies vs Argentina

SR is such a complexly structured competition that it is difficult to explain to sports fans familiar with rugby and virtually impossible to anyone new and uninitiated.

A round robin system would be a be a satisfying change but as detailed in the article, most ideal modifications are prevented by political, economic and each country’s utilitarian goals.

Is there any other rugby or sports competition that has any similarities to SR in setup?
The Heineken Cup is multi nation and each seems to have their own selection policies?
But recent evidence appears that they don’t seem to be dominated by one country?

American sports run on franchises but often has the conference system.
However the have a draft system to prevent dynasties?

Would a limited draft system work in SR so that the talent could be spread out a bit?
I say limited as I imagine each country still wants their SR teams to still be majority local?

Just wondering if anyone with expertise of other sports competitions’ structures could suggest features which could help?
Or is SR so unique that solutions have not been invented yet?

The Wrap: SANZAAR perfects the art of the Rumba when it needs to Tango

Well done Crusaders for being one of the greatest club sides in the world in any sport.
Bad luck to Jaguares but it could be like that old cliche, you lose one to win one.
For better or worse for SR, most get the feeling it will be same two again in the final next season too.
Now out of all the suggestions to reduce what seems to be quite an insurmountable home team advantage (Crusaders or any other team), the ones that addresses preparations yet minimises other unique SR issues make the most sense.
So the most practical solution would be to increase the time between semis and the final?
At least a week and possibly two? Even make it a midweek match if the calendar is too inflexible?
I wonder if anyone knows the stats for away wins this year or in general (not counting domestic derbies) ie what proportion was from the second matches and beyond during a teams’ mini tours?

Six talking points from the Super Rugby final

Yes the Lions one from 2017? Is one that springs obviously to mind but due to numerous format changes throughout SR history, it is easy to lose track so I wondered if there were any others.
I suspect not?

Super Rugby history worth celebrating. Or I’d have thought so…

Actually, I observed the slight opposite.
Their style on entering was very cavalier almost reckless as if overnight they wanted to change the perception of the stereotypical Argentinian set piece based game of yesteryears.
Their set piece in that meantime, especially the scrum, could almost be said to have regressed.
The other major weakness was their indiscipline where they used to play more often than not one man short.
So now the ill discipline is gone.
They have become all round, organised, efficient, clever and clinical.
There don’t seem to be many out and out superstars although Matera definitely qualifies but there are definitely no glaring weaknesses.
They are now probably more similar in ways to those dominant Australian teams of the late 90s who just maximised every ounce of ability they had.

Super Rugby history worth celebrating. Or I’d have thought so…

How many finals have there been where the two teams were meeting for the first time that season?

Super Rugby history worth celebrating. Or I’d have thought so…

While it shows complete disrespect for the fans and the spirit of the game, sadly he is being the ultimate professional.
This usually means there is a clear fault with the rules or the format?
What if 3 points were awarded for a win?

England end India's unbeaten run in CWC

I was making an ironic point that that would be one way to quieten down the increasing noise that could become unbearable to endure for a whole season next year?
Of course there is also the theory that every organisation is only as strong as its weakest link.

Lastly, I also prefer a victory for the Jaguares and the Crusaders are probably the one team they could beat and all the talk will be about the rugby!

Have a safe flight and may the better team win!

Five talking points from the Super Rugby semi-finals

As a generally neutral casual observer of Super Rugby (although i have found the Jaguares an interesting experiment to follow), i can just about see both sides of the argument on their situation.
But this discussion always seems to get bogged down on the narrow details justifying one side or the other.
Surely the real questions to ask are of the big picture existential kind.
What is Super Rugby really all about?
How successful does it want to be?
What are the spectators’ perception of the product?
How best to align the three?
Etc
Is SR meant to purely be a developmental vehicle for each country’s national team?
Or is it meant to showcase the best rugby talent in the SH?
How much is commercial success a driver?
Or?
It is well known that to the average fan, it is a very confusing product and the structure probably so unique there is nothing like it globally?
That the conference system is opaque and beyond explaining to the uninitiated is obvious.
Then we have the fact that each ‘franchise’ is restricted to choosing from their country’s talent pool. There must be a dozen assumptions that need to be true for this to work.
Then there is the insane amount of travel especially when considering for one match.
And on and on.
So what’s all this to do with the Jaguares? Possibly everything.
If the complaints about them are loud enough now, could you imagine if they beat the Crusaders?
Or what would happen if the Pumas had a very successful WC and then the bulk went on to form next season’s Jaguares?
They could plausibly have a Crusaders like almost unstoppable season and then the contrary voices would be going through the roof?
Even die hard Jaguares fans must admit it cannot be great for SR if you have two virtually unbeatable teams ( with the Crusaders)?
It is true that SR looks likely to be reorganised in 2021 but there is still next season when the Australian franchises do not look like getting any stronger and probably the South Africans could be weaker still.
Do we want to endure a whole season discussing the perceived or not injustices of the Jaguares/ Pumas?
Of course in a sad way, maybe it’s better for the Jaguares if they didn’t win the final and then that the Pumas don’t do so well in the WC…

Five talking points from the Super Rugby semi-finals

It’s very simple what’s happened with the Australian teams.
While their performances clearly do not justify the playing staff, in any sport there is no substitute for competition and pressure.
There were no easy games in the SA conference and they have all had to play at finals intensity for weeks now.
In the NZ conference, the worst team, the Blues were probably still in finals contention until a week ago.
Both those conferences were genuine 5 team competitions while the Australian one was possibly just a relatively relaxing 2 team one.
The Sunwolves, if they were staying in, was just the wrong team for the conference.
The Hurricanes and the Brumbies should be very wary, the SA teams are battle hardened.
Next year will be worse as cannot see the trend reversing.

Seven talking points from Super Rugby Round 18

Except there is nothing wrong with the bottom with the SA and NZ conferences.
It’s only the Aus conference that is about half the strength of the aforementioned two.
Is there a similarly structured conference system for any other sport in the world?

Hurricanes, rest and members do not mix

It’s the conference system.
Concentrating all the weakest teams including the permanent irrelevance Sunwolves in one conference was just the most stupid idea.
It doesn’t matter what happened years ago or how much real talent there is as logically over the years, the downward trend was always very likely.
Next year it will be another write off until whatever the new format is in 2021.

Better with 3? Former Wallaby thinks Australia has too many rugby teams

What’s happened to Bertranou?
Wasn’t he one of the finds of last season and although Cubelli has been solid, he would have developed even more this season?
Is he injured for the year so out of the World Cup too?

Super Rugby Round 18: For the clubhouse lead

That’s interesting and wins by the Waratahs and the Chiefs would not exactly be that unlikely?
If it then came down to the calculator on Saturday, there could be some surprising late scoring between the SA teams?

Top four sorted, next four might not change either

Is there a scenario where all 5 SA conference teams make the finals?
The Jaguares are obviously already there.
How likely would it be that teams finish equal on points but one missing out?
Given that the SA teams play last therefore will know the final arithmetic beforehand, could we see some strategic results?
In a way, the 4 SA teams almost all equally deserve a finals spot given there’s hardly anything between them.

Top four sorted, next four might not change either

That final would feature a lot of intrigue and contrasts.
Best attack versus best defence, at least from the second half of the season.
Best teams from the two best conferences.
Probably the two deepest squads.
Two teams who shall be certain finals favourites again in upcoming years.
Lastly, the strange situation that it would be their first meeting this season.

Actually, how often has it happen that teams meet for the first time in the finals, let alone the final?

The Wrap: The Super Rugby cream rises to the top

I don’t think there is anything inherently difficult about clay unless you mean purely from a familiarity perspective for Americans.
For example, relatively European clay specialists such as Thiem probably find fast hard courts difficult adjustments too.
However, the evidence is that there has been greater harmonisation of the court surfaces towards the slower end during the last two decades.
This means tennis is now more rewarding for physically stronger athletes and ones with greater point constructing abilities.
These two qualities tend to be more associated with clay counters although as Federer proves by still dominating at a geriatric age, aggression, initiative and variety are still very useful.
What does this mean for Americans?
They need to be a lot stronger physically for starters.
Long gone are the days when gifted audacious skinny 20 year olds can bluff their way to a slam victory.
By the way the above only applies to men’s tennis as women’s can be considered almost a different sport due to many unique aspects.

R.I.P. American tennis

Soccer’s global dominance is really based on two reasons.

Firstly, it is a simple game. Simple in rules and easily accessible to virtually all. This makes it easy to sell to the masses but less interesting to the middle classes.

Secondly, due to the more mainstream take up of soccer, it often becomes an extension of political or nationalistic rivalries therefore further cementing it in the national consciousness.

Of course there are cultural and climatic factors.
These might explain why cricket, although a relatively complex sport, is a sport for the masses in some countries.

Remembering 1999, Australia's golden sporting year

It is somewhat interesting, bemusing and even amusing seeing the contrast between the Jaguares and the Sunwolves.

The Jaguares are effectively the national team model while the Sunwolves the extreme franchise model with just two Japanese in the starting team this week?

It’s almost the equivalent of a battle between two polar opposite political systems 🙂

What 'provincial' actually means

Coin tossing again:

Bulls, Waratahs, Sunwolves, Crusaders, Reds, Hurricanes, Stormers

As an aside, I just noticed the Sunwolves are down to just two starting players who are indigenous Japanese…is this the lowest yet?
Could they soon have a full starting team made up of expats?

Super Rugby Round 16: We’re catching Nobes!

What about a short term solution to allow a limited number of Argentineans to play for Australian teams?
This maintains the global development and also the competitiveness of SR as conceivably, the immediate future, if not starting next year, could just be a two horse race between Crusaders and Jaguares…

The Wrap: It’s all about the rugby FFS

Those facts definitely put the debate into perspective and while it seems many here think Kearns is a little alarmist, I think there are nevertheless numerous interesting points that this topic raises.
Firstly if the number of SR teams roughly reflects the relative strengths of the RC countries, are we to conclude that Australia are four times better than Argentina?
As stated above, Argentina could easily be 2-0 from last year.
So either 4 Australian teams are too many or 1 Argentinian is not few.
Of course, many have stated this has only become topical due to the success of Jaguares but looking at the trend above, surely this was not a surprise?
And if the trend continued (especially with Quesada at the helm), they could be near unbeatable next year?
The question was never if the Jaguares could become a success but how quickly so this question was always bound to come up.
As for short term fixes since a second team could be a bit premature, how about redistributing some of the Argentinean talent to Australian teams? After all, Cubelli spent a season or 2 at the Brumbies? This solves two birds?
Probably every Jaguares squad player are talented enough to get into of the 4 Australian ones.
Or even though it’s too late now, they could have been used to revitalise the fifth team and the Force would never have been cut.
Of course, this is temporary until a second team comes to fruition and as long there is some quota, the Australian teams must reap some short term benefits too.
Lastly and most interestingly, it would be curious to see how this translates to success for the Pumas at the RC and subsquently the WC?
Although this happened to a lesser extent last year, if the bulk of the team were again to be composed of the Jaguares, could they have advantages over full strength international teams?
So could a champion team battle hardened, full of cohesion and understanding honed from a full season together defeat international teams full of champions?

Phil Kearns reckons the Jaguares should not be in Super Rugby