Welcome to our post test match/pre Super Rugby return edition of the Tuesday Top 5. This week we look at the good, bad and ugly from the weekend, check out the world rankings, dive head first into some stats, have highlights of the various test matches over the weekend and look at the parenting habits of rugby players.
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Good – Say what you want about the series, but it was definitely entertaining. Three tight games and if you look at the aggregate scores of all three games, it comes out at 55 apiece. See, tight. It was really good to see the Wallabies being competitive again, after a few years of fairly dire matches, they threw it all at the Irishmen and pushed them about as far as they could. So much for the 3-0 series many were predicting.
Bad – It may have been meant as a light-hearted jab or a joke, but there are times when people just need to know when to stop talking. Phil Kearns had one of those moments on Saturday night. He should have well and truly kept his mouth shut, but he just couldn’t help himself. During a stoppage in play he was complaining about the Irish wasting time (one of many complaints he had that night) when this came out of his mouth … “Fiddle-a-dee, Fiddle-a-dee, Fiddle-a-dee, potato…out the back there having their own little chat.” Some are calling it racist, lots are calling it unprofessional. Whatever it is, is it really something we need to be hearing in the commentary box? Kearns should keep “commentary” like that for the pub.
Ugly – And once again reffing issues raised their ugly head. I’m not going to go into the Wallabies match, I’m sure that’s been talked about to death. But one particular call (or non-call as the case may be) in the NZ v France game has caused a meltdown amongst rugby fans. Damien McKenzie was awarded a try when the defender, Baptiste Serin was clearly impeded by the referee. He had no chance to tackle McKenzie because the referee was directly in between the two. The referee, John Lacey, checked the replay before quickly awarding the try claiming no interference, to the surprise of nearly everyone, including the commentary team. The problem is, Lacey was technically correct in awarding the try. The laws don’t account for the defender running into the referee, only the attacker or the ball. It is the defenders’ responsibility to be in a better position. So he did not have to take any action other than award the try. Other referees in similar situations have played the common-sense card and stopped play, giving the attacking team a scrum, but Lacey simply awarded the try. And he had every right to do so. And that right there is the ugly. The laws of the game are completely lacking in common sense in so many areas, and it is why there have been so many issues with refereeing over the past three weeks. And we wonder why so many people are turning away from the game.
The Rankings Roundabout
With the June tests over and done with for another year, lets see how they impacted on the World Rankings. Some unexpected results (I’m looking at you South Africa and England) saw some big climbers and some slip, while other teams had a bit of a roller coaster of up and down.
|Monday 4th June||Monday 11th June||Monday 18th June||Monday 25th June|
|1||New Zealand||New Zealand||New Zealand||New Zealand|
|7||South Africa||South Africa||Scotland||Scotland|
It is interesting to see the effect that 3 weeks’ worth of games has on the rankings. The big winners? Well Wales started 5th and ended 3rd which was the biggest change. South Africa looked like they would be the biggest climbers, but the final loss to England halted their climb and saw them drop from 5th back to 6th. Australia held 3rd for a week before falling to 5th after two losses to Ireland.
New Zealand v France
After the French were very competitive in game 2 then copped a thrashing in game 3, let’s see what the numbers tell us about the whole series. Any patterns? Any surprises?
I think the numbers here show the dominance of the All Blacks. They looked under pressure in the second test, but easily got the better of the French in the other two matches. Interestingly, the All Blacks, despite having close to the same amount of possession as the French in the third test, made significantly more tackles. The French were really throwing everything at them in attack.
South Africa v England
After two good wins over England, do the stats show us where it went wrong in the final match?
While the third test didn’t give the Springboks the clean sweep many were hoping for, it showed how important discipline is. One try each with the Boks making more run metres and breaking more tackles, yet a 15 point winning margin to the English. The 14 penalties the Springboks gave away would have played a big part, handing the English points. Looking at the numbers though, these were two pretty evenly matched teams, scoring the same number of tries (including the penalty try) across all three games.
Australia v Ireland
Probably the closest series the Wallabies have played in a while, is this reflected in the stats?
It was definitely close in the third test. The big question for me is with so much territory and possession in the second half, how did we not capitalise? The stats for these two are very close, with the same number of points being scored across all three games by both teams (55). We did score more tries than the Irish, but again it show how important penalties can be. Give away penalties in kickable positions and the good teams will make you pay. A real positive for the Wallabies to come out of this is the tackle percentages. Considering how poor we have been in Super Rugby at times, it was good to see that the Wallabies were making their tackles.
Back to past’s future
To help you forget the Wallabies and get back in to the groove we have put together a four-point plan to get you back on track.
Now, let’s recall where we let off with Super Rugby. Actually, does it matter? It’s been about a month and who knows where each teams form will be at after such a break. Now let’s get straight to it
Step 1: The Reds will open up Super Rugby on Friday at 5:35pm (EST) playing the Kiwi’s weakest link in Auckland. Its position 13 v 14 with a small margin separating both so it actually could be quite a tight game and definitely worth a look. Both teams should have close to full line up’s available so let’s see if the Reds can get us back on a “one game” winning streak (although I am thinking it will be a short streak of one day!) against the Kiwi teams. This one has no implications on the finals and is all about pride. Might not be a bad warm up in anticipation of the next game.
Step 2: Now this one will count and has implications. The Rebels are hosting the Tahs at 7:45pm (EST). Off the back of the Wallabies campaign there are injuries that could be influential. For the Rebels the loss of Genia is a real blow. Colemans absence will also add to the Rebels challenge. For the Tahs the Izzy “air-challenge” is yet to be decided (at the time of writing this) which has the potential to change up the game plan significantly if he is rubbed out. Adding to the Tahs headache is their much-maligned back row will be under more pressure minus Hooper. Will Miller stand up?! (Been waiting to write that one for ages!!!).
This game has some real implications on the finals. With one point separating them on the table a win will be advantageous going in the final two games. Both teams will be wary that the last two games are potential “banana skin” games and the Rebels have an added challenge of facing a Kiwi team. Both teams will be watching over their shoulders and keeping tabs on the South African conference as the last Wild Card spot is certainly not set in stone and both will know that 2 losses could see them miss out.
Step 3: This game is just to help you warm up and a bit of casual Saturday night “rugby porn”. It a Kiwi battle between the Landers and Chiefs. It’s important to them, not so much to us.
Step 4: To round out the Aussie games the Brumbies will attempt to play the Hurricanes. Now before you all groan and think predictable I will remind you that in their last 3 games prior to the break the Reds gave them a real scare getting within 4 points and they lost their last 2 games. Add to that Matt Proctor (centres starter) and Ardie Savea are out and Stuff.co.az are reporting “Bogan Beauden Barrett, Brad Shields and Vaea Fifita are at long, long odds to travel over” the Canes could be vulnerable. If the Brumbies turn up an upset is a real possibility. Pocock on the rampage, home track and a bit of luck; the stars could line up. Definitely worth a watch.
For those that haven’t had enough the Sharks v Lions is worth keeping an eye on but for the Mst’s the Jaguars resurgence has captured our interests so we will be checking out their game.
Bonus Tid Bit
Did you know that Matt Giteau and Campbell Magnay are co-parenting? Yep. The Suntory team-mates have shared care of a hedgehog named Sonic. Apparently, they take turns week about looking after the little mite, and he travels back and forth on the Tokyo Subway in a carrier backpack. It looks like Drew Mitchell was easily replaced, and by something a lot more adorable! Meanwhile the pet parenting status of fellow Suntory players ex Brumby Jordan Smiler and former Rebel Sean McMahon remains unknown.