Sunday, August 06, 2006
If the Boks thought losing 49-0 in their previous test against the Wallabies was galling, it was nothing compared with the insult of playing in a half-empty stadium last night.I was listening on the radio and after 30 minutes the commentators noted that there was an average of less than one pass per phase of play. And rugbyheads call league 5 tackle kick?! I did some research on the tri nations a few years ago and up to that point they averaged something like 4 passes for each kick in the match. That's not 4 passes per kick in a bad game. That's 4 passes per kick averaged across all matches in the Tri-Nations over it's first few seasons. And things sure as shit haven't got any better with the clueless, aimless kickign even when on attack that sides (including the All Blacks) dish out week after week.
... thousands of empty seats at Telstra Stadium which were a massive slap in the face for South Africa. Test tickets cost a bit and the Australian public just couldn't see that the Boks were going to deliver value for money.
Lethargy, disdain or an eerie sense of what was about to come, it doesn't matter - more people turned up to watch the Wallabies play Scotland in 2004.
That's not only a sad state of affairs for rugby, it's now a major worry. There were empty seats in both Christchurch and Wellington as well.
Sanzar can prattle on about more people watching the Tri Nations than ever before, but it's false economics. Of course the total audience is bigger - the competition is 50 per cent longer than in previous years.
The reality is - and Sanzar can ignore it at its peril - that expanding the Tri Nations has turned test football into elevator music. It's always on in the background without the ability to seriously engage an audience.
The last 20 minutes were dramatic, but the first 60 were like a buzzing fridge - a seriously irritating business without a single redeeming feature.
The ball was kicked 30 times in 30 minutes, although strangely only once between the uprights. The Boks could barely go more than three passes without dropping the ball or falling over.
The Wallabies weren't much better. Their scrum was, as usual, under massive pressure. Coach John Connolly reckons his front row will keep getting better. Maybe. But maybe he should bring back Matt Dunning. The drop-kicking butterball couldn't really be any worse than Rodzilla, whose about as effective as creme brule.
It surely came as no surprise to see the opening score of the game come from a Butch James cross-kick that almost travelled backwards.
If Lady Luck had been smiling on James, the ball would have spooned into the arms of Bryan Habana. No joy, though. It was Mark Gerrard who was the grateful recipient and he took off to dot down between the posts.
Anyone wanting a classic at North Harbour Stadium last night should have brought along a George Orwell novel.Yeehaaa!
The rugby never stood a chance of being anything other than a slog in the mud now the dreaded monsoon season is upon us.
It rained and rained. If Noah had still been around, he would have been on the blower to the builders and urging the animals to pair off.
With round two of the Air New Zealand Cup blighted by bad weather, and even worse rugby, it was left to Waikato and Southland to restore a bit of pride in the national game.Sounded riveting.
While hardly an epic, it was made to look outstanding compared to the fare served up at the corresponding hour the night before.
It looked as if things started to go wrong for Northland after the five-second mark - the time it took for the kick-off to go dead.Get out and watch the club rugby finals folks. At least it's supposed to be crap. Although being able to stand or sit wherever you like and calling the ref a fuckwit with him actually being able to hear it makes it twice as fun.
And so it went on, Canterbury dominating territory, running well in patches in spite of the weather. The conditions and stoic Northland defence robbed them of their legs a little - and Northland tried to profit from their errors.
Northland will take some comfort from not being spanked by the world's best provincial team, albeit rain-aided.