New Zealand Rugby

Rugby World Cup 2011: 10 Lessons Learnt, a Light-Hearted Review Thus Far

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 14: Students perform a Haka during an Australia IRB Rugby World Cup 2011 team visit to Wesley College on September 14, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. Sekope Kepu is a former student at the college and was a member of their championship winning first XV rugby team in 2004.  (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
Azzurri NZContributor IIISeptember 23, 2011

A New Zealand rugby fan shares what he's learnt at this year's rugby world cup.

(1) A lot of teams are good at scrummaging. Someone somewhere has made a bundle selling scrum machines to minnow nations.

(2) When it comes to rugby, Georgia are the masters—Russia the subservient.

(3) Ryan Nicholas and James Arlidge are alive and well, both playing rugby in Japan. Good to see you guys are safe. We can call back the Hercules planes.

(4) Sumo Stevenson and James McOnie are not the same guy. Sumo seems a lot more serious a fellow.

(5) Martin Johnson is not misguided when he says his team is composed of grown-up men. The lads, wearing the rose of 1066, are indeed very focused on the game. They’ve had no time to enjoy the perks New Zealand offers. Things like bungee jumping, road trips in newly bought cars, nights out, domestic barneys or going to the beach, have largely gone amiss.

(6) Will Carling, Zinzan Brooke, Rob Henderson and Scott Quinell have all put on a bit of beef. Check the Heineken This is the Game vids for confirmation. Although maybe the Welshman was always ‘stocky,’ or was that his brother?

(7) When it comes to selecting All Blacks there is great diversity of opinion amongst fans. Things like being mates, looks, a shared background has more bearing on who you'd select rather than form or ability.

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 09:  Sonny Bill Williams of the All Blacks changes his shirt during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool A match between New Zealand and Tonga at Eden Park on September 9, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand.  (Photo by Ryan Piers
Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

I mean how can the public forget the miserable performance SBW gave against the Springboks in Port Elisabeth? Any other player would have been banished after playing such a woeful game e.g. where’s Zac been since the Brisbane game (admittedly there may be other issues at play here).

That’s right the difference is SBW went shirtless whereas Zac Guildford got legless.

(8) Selectors are swayed by players being mates, looks, their background and/or marketability. After having played all his rugby at centre, SBW is now being judged as one of this country’s best wingers. This after a 20 minute performance against a second string Japan team.

Which (a) does not say much about the performance given by NZ wingers over the past four years, (b) suggests the selectors got it wrong (remember Hosea Gear at home with the kids), and (c) someone, somewhere must have told the selectors “put SBW is in the team, just find him a position.”

Has anyone seen that horse’s head I left lying around?

(9) Seemingly not satisfied on passing judgement on their own team, All Blacks fans are now casting a critical eye over their opponents' selections. Many are claiming the French team chosen for Saturday’s Eden Park cruncher is not good enough to play their beloved All Blacks.

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 20:  Marc Lievremont , coach of France, looks on during a France IRB Rugby World Cup 2011 training session at Onewa Domain on September 20, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand.  (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

We use to say it’s all gone Pete Tong. Now we can just say Marc Lievremont, as according to New Zealanders the French coach has got it all wrong. I mean how can the French not select a player like Serge Blanco. Regardless of his age, he’s far too good to be dropped. We know what we’re talking about here.

(10) The word consequence has been removed from the Australian dictionary. Quade Cooper is confused as to why he, his teammates and supporters are getting a poor reception. Yep, strange things happen when you knee someone in the head.

Bonus lesson (extra for experts):

(11) The Tongan flag is mainly red except for a red cross on white background insignia in the top left corner. I went for this one as it’s a lot easier to describe than the Samoan flag (which I can also now recognise).

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