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Uriah Heep

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We used to get replays and extended hilight packages which were almost always from the English league. However from time to time there were games from other places – including the occasional Santos or Brazil game.
The 1970 World Cup was a bit different. There was a bit more available – including stuff in cinemas.
Pele was still stunning but, as you say, players like Rivellino and Jairzhino and Carlos Alberto were hardly shabby.

The GOAT: Who really is the greatest athlete of our generation?

Who Pele ? – only on TV. Some games from the late 1960s til early 1970s (this includes the 1970 World Cup) – plus some retrospectives (mainly older world cup games).

The GOAT: Who really is the greatest athlete of our generation?

I think one Edson Arantes do Nascimento was marginally better (certainly more athletic IMO).
I never saw Ferenc Puskás play but many who did rate him up there as well.

The GOAT: Who really is the greatest athlete of our generation?

Kick the goals. I’ve seen this very thing nearly tip over much better teams twice and a number of times inferior Crusaders’ teams over come better super opposition in the early years.

The best example of it was in 2003 when Auckland came down to Christchurch. Mehrts was playing for Canterbury after being not wanted for the WC.
Auckland scored a hat full of tries and he kept Canterbury in the game by kicking penalties (and a droppie IIRC) and putting them in the correct parts of the ground and manipulating the opposition in front of him. Eventually Canterbury scored a try and it was one score away from snatching a game they otherwise shouldn’t have been close to.
People often say that player X won the game for a team but I’ve never seen (before or since) such a tactical, technical, cerebral example of where an individual was that influential over a collective.
Taking the points and applying scoreboard pressure and subsequent possession and field pressure does funny things to the oppo.
BTW the second example was a NZ Schools final between CBHS and one of the big Northern high schools. Same deal the team hang tough and the 5/8 kicked goals and put them round the field til they scored a try and really put the wind up their bigger and more fancied rivals.

A ‘take the three points’ model for the Wallabies is available

If it wasn’t for the switch-off bit I’d have thought his athleticism was better suited for 6 – I guess that’s the 5.5 thing.
He strikes me as being a bit like Beudan Barrett. Can play a number of positions proficiently at the highest level and a talent you want on the paddock – but doesn’t do his role consistently excellently enough over 80 minutes to be genuinely a world beater in any specific position (at least not yet).

How masterful was Itoje's masterpiece? The semi-final win over New Zealand

The main boys’ schools of every main town in NZ are all state schools but have aspects of the British public school system. Particularity they are the breeding grounds (along with a few private schools) of the sports and academic talent.
McCaw boarded at OBHS (a generator of All Blacks and NZ Cricketers) but schools like Auckland Grammar (51) and Christchurch Boys High (47) produce more All Blacks than others. CBHS, in particular, has produced an array of 5/8s – Carter, Merhtens, Mauger, Slade – and super rugby 5/8s McKay, Banks, and Arnold. Quite apart from Retallick, the Franks continuum, Lenart-Brown, Romano, Adam Thompson.
I suspect Auckland’s St Kentigern’s (private school of Scots-Presbyterian background) has probably done better in recent years – largely as a consequence of scholarships to pasifika talent (Kaino, Afoa, Luatua, Papalii etc.)

How masterful was Itoje's masterpiece? The semi-final win over New Zealand

Brad Shields is a difficult one. He was a British citizen by the virtue that both his parents were born in England. Where the law of the country allows his citizenship under it’s provisions then I don’t see there’s any precedent or acceptability that a sports organisation can supersede that.

Other than that your other points are valid IMO.

Nationalisation of foreign-born rugby players vs the selection of Irish players overseas

Laulala and Tu’ungafasi are both foreign born. They each played in one of the last 2 AB tests. Tu’ungafasi came with his family over half his lifetime ago so I don’t see that as an issue.

Yes SA have always had Zim/Rhodesian and Namibian players and occasionally those from further afield in Africa. They were even trying to jam Fijians under the quota system at one stage – although none played for the Bok ultimately.

The Scots would be completely stuffed without the ancestry rule along with the arcane “served in a Scottish regiment rule”. Italy would struggle (further) as well.

Nationalisation of foreign-born rugby players vs the selection of Irish players overseas

You’re probably right but (and no disrespect to Bakkies or your analysis) just about every time the Bok played it was Juan Smith that caught the eye. I rate him the best blind side flanker I’ve ever seen and someone that was genuinely worth 1-on-1 marking. I first saw him play against the Cru when he was very young and he stood out in a team that was solidly beaten (in fact without him the would have been thrashed) – I don’t think anyone that saw him had any doubt we’d be seeing him again (and soon) at test level.
As an aside to that aside. The fact that the Bok bench commonly had Danie Rossouw on it was a major factor in maintaining intensity at breakdowns and tight carry – he was a very fine player as well and top class in 3 or 4 positions IMO.

Bakkies Botha was a bad, bad man

I think the key point is that you need your big men to get off the ground and into the next contact point asap (even a wide contact point) – and Bakkies did that. He was better at it than most loose forwards including some that played for the Bok.
The best (IMO) modern tight forward in this regard is Whitelock – another massively under-rated player despite his longevity and accolades.

Bakkies Botha was a bad, bad man

I was at the WC final in 2007. It was a pretty dull game to watch and I don’t recall Bakkies’ standing out over some of the other Bok forwards.
I do remember him in the 2009 Lions series though – he was imperious IMO.
He was as under-rated (generally) though as Matfield was over-rated IMO but between them they formed the best test locking combination ever.

Bakkies Botha was a bad, bad man

Just not the best 5/8.
Actually I suspect Kolbe is the most dangerous back in rugby. And increasingly he’s not the most dangerous back in NZ either.

Beauden Barrett at No. 10 can make the All Blacks feared again

I agree Jacko. Whitelock was immense as he virtually always is (and very rarely noticed). His ability to get from tough tight stuff to be in the first 3 to the next wide breakdown for an entire 80 minutes is astonishing and something no other lock I know can live with (maybe Itoje could – perhaps).

What ails the All Blacks? Marginal pack decline

I don’t think there’s a role for the pure fetcher any longer – in fact it’s been receding for nearly 10 years. I do think an old style l/r flanker option might work although I’d rather see a tight style 6 who’s a bit nasty.
I’d like to see both Arika and Grace given a decent go at 6 and Sotutu some time off the bench at 8.

What ails the All Blacks? Marginal pack decline

One of my colleagues is keen rugby man from out Coles’ way. He described him as a DH before I even knew who he was.

Pumas beat All Blacks for the first time

Great lack of urgency by the All Blacks – mostly between the ears.

Pumas beat All Blacks for the first time

I think you badly underestimate capacity.

Rugby Championship draw changed to assist All Blacks

No they weren’t happy and neither were/are the fans. Nor the local businesses – in a time they could do with a bit of extra.
That was ball-drop by the NZ government. The NZRU were fuming – rightly so.

Rugby Championship draw changed to assist All Blacks

Laumape showed surprising gas.
McKay has wheels – I wouldn’t be surprised if he might be a bit quicker than BB from a static start to 30-40 meters

Richie Mo’unga: Fantastic flyhalf or Beauden Barrett imitation?

Mounga’s proved it quite often. I think even Ioane’s starting to prove it.
And I only mentioned 1 fault not “all these faults”. It is a significant one though.
One of the years he won the WRPoTY was 2016 – the only year I think he didn’t display his worst flaw. In fact he was well worth his gong that year.
2017 was one of those stupid years for the award – like 2015 or 2009 or 2008. There are plenty. The result was without merit IMO.

Richie Mo’unga: Fantastic flyhalf or Beauden Barrett imitation?

The most significant minus about Barrett is his tendency to get side on when passing and pop up gifts for the oppo- particularly left to right. It’s a weakness all good defensive sides have worked out and one that he literally gives tries away.
He didn’t have this in his game in 2016 when he was very clearly the best to take over from Carter – but he does again now.
Whatever his other strengths I don’t think you can start Barrett at 5/8 against sides like England or SA or, possibly, a revitilised France. He’s another of a long list of wonderful but asymmetric players that NZ have produced; great for the hilights package but a game loser as well.
IMO Mo’unga and Ioane are real 5/8s – you can see it in how they’ve crafted their game. Barrett isn’t.

Richie Mo’unga: Fantastic flyhalf or Beauden Barrett imitation?

Yes the NZ Government’s ball drop on this has put the whole dog and pony show into being.

Leaked document adds further tension to Australia-NZ rugby row

Something’s not right here.
“I’ve seen board minutes from September 17, where the six-week competition was signed off,” McLennan says.
There was no board meeting on September 17. The last one was August and there was no sign-off then. He should know that.
Looking increasingly to me that MacLennan is being slimy.

Leaked document adds further tension to Australia-NZ rugby row

No that isn’t a board meeting. And Marrinos has already said that there was no sign-off from NZRU.

Leaked document adds further tension to Australia-NZ rugby row

Marrinos was clear that the NZRU hadn’t signed them off. In fact they can only get ultimately signed off at the Board level and there hadn’t been a board meeting since August.

Leaked document adds further tension to Australia-NZ rugby row