Postcard from Yokohama - The semis - Green and Gold Rugby
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Postcard from Yokohama – The semis

Postcard from Yokohama – The semis

Welcome to the second week of the finals and our second typhoon. Or at least the remnants of one. Teams are lucky that neither of the games was scheduled for  Friday as it was teaming down on our bus ride from Odawara to Tokyo. Even the bus driver was concerned.

I feel for those poor buggers who are still recovering from Typhoon Hagabis. More rain was not what they needed. It has been good to see the moments silence being observed at the last few matches.

So, to the games. What happened to the Wallabies? Oh, that’s right they went home. Should we discuss the state of affairs in RA? Maybe not….. or later.

Semi-final 1 – England v New Zealand

In the lead up to this game, I was so conflicted. I so dearly wanted the All Blacks beaten just to wipe some smirks off some Kiwi faces, but…… ANYONE BUT ENGLAND! Oh well, let’s just enjoy some good rugby. And what a game it was.

The crowd seemed evenly split.  There were large groups of English and large groups of darkness. Some of the Aussies had turned black overnight but equal numbers were sporting the underdog’s colours. And I don’t care what you all say, the English were the underdogs. Honestly, who would have thought a week ago that the All Blacks would be, could be beaten?

You knew it was going to be on when the All Blacks formed up for the haka, and the English team spread out in a V. The refs tried in vain to get some of the forwards back behind the half-way line,  and Owen Farrell had the smirk to end all smirks. Something was definitely afoot…..

Boys, get back. Get back. Ah bugger it....

Boys, get back. Get back. Ah, bugger it…

While we are on the subject. Why are opposition teams not allowed over the halfway line when the haka is being performed? My understanding of the haka is that it is a challenge, so why can’t you challenge it?

It took less than a minute for the All Black chant to start in the crowd. It took less than two for England to score their first try. In my notes from the game I have:

  •  ABs a bit out of sorts for the first ten minutes.
  • Check that – 18 minutes.  They seem very flat and not very cohesive.
  • Or at least weren’t expecting England to come at them like they did.
  • So who exactly was spying on who?

No, really, Eddie made a big thing about their training being filmed, but looking at what was happening in this game,  the film was certainly not shown to the All Blacks. Whatever the hell was happening, something had spooked the New Zealanders and I was starting to feel a bit sorry for them……. A little bit. For a short minute.

You would have thought that the speed of the game would have played right into the All Blacks hands,  but they just weren’t themselves.  There was one passage of play in the second half that went something like this – turnover, counter turnover, counter counter turnover, kick, return kick, intercept, counter intercept, turnover, penalty. I am sure Nigel just blew the penalty so that he knew who had the ball.  (I am sure that is not true, but I appreciated not having to keep up for a minute or two.)

But let’s face it, it was a great game. Be disappointed if you like, if your side lost, but appreciate a great game of rugby played with intent by both sides. There have been a few games this RWC that we can look back on with joy for just being able to watch them.

Semi-final 2 – South Africa v Wales

I didn’t make it to attend this game in person. (Migraines are bastards of things, followed closely by the drugs you have to take.) From all reports, the atmosphere in the stadium was just as boring as the game. That was really interesting to hear as I have always liked watching the rugby in the presences of the Welsh supporters.

So, from the safety of my hotel room (and the angels on the bathroom walls, see above reference to drugs), my random thoughts -:

Oh. A french ref. *This is going to be fun. (*Engage sarcasm font.) I could not understand the debate when the Welsh back caught the ball and landed outside the field of play. It hadn’t crossed the plane of touch before he caught it, so he took it out. Can anyone who could hear the refs or had English commentary fill me in? Seemed pretty obvious to me.

Let the kicking duel commence. I am not sure which side was trying to avoid playing rugby the most, but it took 56 minutes before a try was scored. The longer the game went on the longer it seemed to take for the Welsh to sort out what they were doing.  This seemed to play right into the hands of the Saffas as they had the time to reset their defence at every ruck.

I don’t like the yellow stripe down the back of the Springbok jerseys. Just seems to lend itself to some snide remarks about their bravery. Not that you would ever say that about Faf. I had a bit of a giggle at him taking on Ball, who had to lift him up to give him a partial Liverpool kiss. Bloody scrum-halves! (Codicil – Having recently seen Faf in the flesh, he ain’t that small…)

So brings the Semi-finals of RWC 2019 to an end. Next week we have the Bronze final (New Zealand v Wales) on Friday and the bug dace on Saturday, England v South Africa. Let’s see if England revise their plan from the game against the ABs and actually bring some excitement into the final.

More atmosphere than a Springbok Wales game...

More atmosphere than a Springbok Wales game…

Oh. And as for the state of affairs in RA. I heard of the “disagreement” between Coach and CEO a couple of weeks ago. This is just a symptom of what I think has been plaguing Australian rugby for many many years. Egos and self interest are governing decisions that are meant to in the best long term interest of the game.

Another disappointing thing about this episode is that reportedly it was left to a past player, with no official role within RA, to get the protagonists to move the discussion out of earshot of sponsors and guests. Surely there were other members of the board present that should have stepped in earlier. Did they not see or hear, or are they playing a game for their own benefit?

I have banged on for a long time that, in my humble opinion, the problems that Australian rugby is facing are all of a direct result of poor decisions made in the administration of the code as a whole. And that these poor decisions are compounded at lower levels because proper direction, support and guidance is lacking. If board members are happy to stand and watch other senior figures in the organisation tear each other apart in public, then it does not bode well for where the organisation is headed.

 

  • formerflanker

    Enjoying your work. Keep it up (except for the migraine/drug interlude).

  • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

    Interesting that despite the failure jn 2018 of playing two tests in half empty stadia in Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast two weeks apart that RA will repeat the experiment in 2020. Any reasonable intelligent person would thought that as RA is strapped for cash and the 2019 Bledisloe test was such a huge commercial success – it not only sold out in Perth, the first time since 2006 that a test sold out, but the WA government paid RA $5million just to host it, that RA would like to build on that success…. and at least schedule a test in Perth in 2020. However, nO-one can accuse those at the helm of RA to be reasonable, intelligent or competent. The behaviour of leaders of the organisation in Japan is not the exception- that is the rule!

    • juswal

      Wrong topic to talk about Perth and RA, Hannes. This is about the RWC in Yokohama.

      • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

        Yes, I also getting tired of how incompetent RA is. Wouldn’t it be great if we could just make good business decisions to the benefit of the rugby public e.g. make decisions to maximise the commercial value from tests matches instead of doing special deals for mates? Media reports stated that the deal to fund the Rebels included several Bledisloe tests and a Lions test awarded to Melbourne at no hosting fee. This means that RA have given up hosting fees and if these tests are also played in half empty stadia the money spinners of Australian rugby will become the money losers – which means everyone in Australia rugby loose out. The true cost of the Rebels funding deal is hidden behind confidentiality deals and Cameron Clyne is doing his best to keep it hidden. The axing of the Force is the tip of the iceberg of an organisation that not only undermines the WA rugby community but rugby across Australia and nothing changed with the new CEO as we can see from awarding two tests in 2020 to a market that could not attract supporters. The long term impact of the mistakes RA are making under the leadership of te current Chairman is playing out in front of our eyes – all I do and will continue to do is to connect the dots.

  • juswal

    Commiserations on the migraine, SFR. Horrible at any time, even worse on a holiday.

    You asked ‘Honestly, who would have thought a week ago that the All Blacks would be, could be beaten?’ and for what it”s worth, the answer is ‘me, for one’.

    Over the last two years, lots teams have been able to stick it to NZ and control them for 50 minutes. That’s not enough to win, of course. Ireland showed what happens if you can keep the pressure on for 80 minutes, and others learnt the lesson.

    Coming in to the RWC it seemed pretty clear to me that Ireland, Wales and England were all a good chance to knock over NZ with full-pressure tactics, especially if they lined up in successive knock-outs. Ireland and Wales came off the boil at the wrong time but England built up to it perfectly.

  • donktec

    isn’t Codocil a migraine drug? ;-) Hope the trp is going well (side from that), fair points about the games administration :/

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Rugby fetishist. Reds & Wallabies supporter. Have been known to watch all grades & levels. Warning - gets fired up! And yes I am a GIRL..........

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