• Cougar


  • Lions


  • Snowalker


  • Howling


  • Sunbathing






Latest Updates

Buy Super Rugby Tips Newsletters Now

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The All Blacks 2014 Review - Report Card - Pass or Fail?

The All Blacks had a relatively average 2014 by their high standards.  They played 13 test matches and won 11 with one loss and a draw, was their 2014 a pass or fail?

Here is my take on the All Blacks 2014;

The All Blacks definitely passed in 2014, but they lost their edge on the field, with the gap closing between them and the chasing pack.  The All Blacks lost their clinical edge in 2014 with more basic dropped balls, missed goalkicks and botched lineouts than I can remember in an All Blacks team in a long time.  The amazing thing is that they still managed to go through the year nearly completely unbeaten.

This team has an unquestionable belief that they can win every game, and if it wasn't for an unlucky penalty conceded against South Africa at Ellis Park, they would have been unbeaten.  This is even more remarkable given the poor first half they had in that game. Sure, they didn't win by the comfortable margins of earlier All Blacks teams in Richie McCaw's era, but at least they are still winning games.

People are getting worried that the All Blacks aren't beating their main rivals by 50 points anymore.  Personally I don't have a problem with this.  as I think that they still have areas to work on like handling, lineouts and goalkicking and they are still getting across the line, even though it takes them until the final quarter most of the time.

We must also remember that apart from the USA, the All Blacks had 12 top opponents in their test calendar, with England bringing a good team in June, while the other matches were against Australia (3), South Africa, Argentina, both twice, Scotland, Wales and England again. 

We are quick to forget 2003 when the All Blacks thrashed South Africa and Australia by massive margins, only to come unstuck when it really matters, in the Rugby World Cup semi-final against the Wallabies.

The fact of the matter is that the Rugby World Cup 2015 played in damp conditions in Europe will be won in tight slugfests and the All Blacks are getting used to this now.  Most games won't be won in games of touch footy like Super Rugby, they will be ground out in the finals, much like the All Blacks have had to do in 2014.  

We have to give the competition some credit with the Springboks, Wallabies, England, Ireland, Wales, Argentina, France and even Scotland looking like they improving and changing their styles of play to push the All Blacks.  There was a time in more recent times when even other top eight nations would be cannonfodder for the All Blacks, and that wasn't healthy heading into Rugby World Cups.  These tournaments aren't won by scoring tries, they are about kicking goals and winning the strategic battle.  

The All Blacks have the most experienced team in the world, so they are well placed to capitalise next year, although they have at least been bringing through some young talent like Malakai Fekitoa, Beauden Barrett and Charles Piutau and the rebirth of Colin Slade to keep the old heads on their toes.  
Hopefully the All Blacks management has the knowledge and insight to select the right players for the Rugby World Cup 2015.  For this reason it is going to be interesting to see what happens in 2015, with selectors having to go with one of their first choice first five eighths, and this player must improve at their goalkicking.  I also want to see another quality hooker emerge in 2015 and hopefully we can fix our lineout and handling errors.  Sometimes our backline seemed to lack cohesion, which is needed heading into Rugby World Cup year.  

In summary, the All Blacks definitely passed in 2014, even though they didn't necessarily play that well.  They managed to grind out wins in most matches which is what is required to win Rugby World Cups.  They only had one easy match in 2014 and still only lost one game.  There is still plenty to work on with handling errors, poor goalkicking and lineouts, areas to work on moving forward.  Credit must also be paid to their opponents who have pushed them more than in the recent past.

How did you rate the All Blacks 2014?

The November Autumn Internationals Round 4 Review - Report Card

The November Autumn Internationals are over for most teams, with only two matches next weekend allowing tipsters to make ground in their tipping conference.

Here is the report card for teams involved in the November Internationals based on the expectations before the tours and the results.  There are only a few matches left.

Round 4 showed us just how difficult it is going to be to win the Rugby World Cup with the Springboks, All Blacks and Wallabies all struggling against Northern Hemisphere opponents.  The conditions and inspired opposition caused some anxious moments for the Southern Hemisphere teams on these tours.  It is difficult to know if the Northern Hemisphere teams are improving or the Southern Hemisphere teams are in decline, but there have been some really close matches this series.  A win, is a win, so there were some teams who only just won matches which they were expected to win by more, but it still counted as a win.

The margins probably threw a few tipsters off, while wins for Romania over Canada and Argentina over France stumped 80 percent and 95 percent of tipsters respectively.


The All Blacks went unbeaten despite some anxious moments and some uncharacteristically poor performances at times, but eventually the cream rose to the top.  New Zealand's winning margins were lower than anticipated.

Ireland won three from three including wins over the Springboks and Wallabies.  Joe Schmidt is one of the kiwi coaches bringing out the best in his European team.  They must be hot favourites to win the Six Nations now.

Scotland posted healthy wins over Tonga and Argentina and pushed the All Blacks.  Vern Cotter has installed something special in his team who will go into the Six Nations with some confidence.

South Africa lost to Ireland, but posted wins over England and Italy as expected.  There were some worrying signs though with the End of Year jitters affecting the team.

Argentina.  The Pumas started poorly with a loss to Scotland which in hindsight wasn't a bad result given how well the Scots have been playing.  The Pumas then won some close games against Italy and France.

France showed what they are capable of with wins over Fiji and Australia, before losing to Argentina.  This shows what everyone knows, France is too inconsistent to win enough games in a row to win a Rugby World Cup.

Tonga won a few games, including beating USA and Georgia, but lost to Scotland by quite a big margin in the end.  

Fiji expectedly lost to France and pushed Wales, but they did beat the USA.

Italy beat Samoa first up, before losing to Argentina and South Africa.

USA beat Romania away and that was their only win, but was probably better than they expected.

Romania were playing at home and saved face with a win over Canada to break their duck after losing to USA and Japan.

Georgia who are considered the next best European team outside the Six Nations, didn't really fire a shot this season, although I am writing this before they play Japan.  There was talk of them being included in a Six Nations type competition, but without a few of their stars, they struggled.  The did beat Japan though to move up from disappointing to warm.


Japan were on a roll going into the November Autumn Internationals.  They were thumped first up by the NZ Maori All Blacks, before only just losing the second match.  They then beat Romania, but only just, before losing to Georgia.  I expected more from them given how well they have gone in 2014.

Australia did beat the Barbarians and Wales, but lost to Ireland and France.  A win over England is crucial for their confidence.

Call me harsh, but England has been a tad disappointing.  They had narrow losses to New Zealand and South Africa, and beat Samoa, but it was more their style of play which moved away from their exciting brand of rugby which they played earlier this year which disappointed me.  A win over Australia would see them get a pass mark.

Samoa has been a threat at Rugby World Cups, often making the Quarter Finals, but they were a bit disappointing this summer.  Maybe the off the field drama affected their play, but they lost a winnable game to Italy and only put Canada away by 10 points.  I thought given the names in their team, that they may do better.  They lost to England too.

I don't want to be too harsh on Canada, but I expected more from them this tour.  They only just beat Namibia, while losing to Samoa and Romania.  I expected them to beat Romania.

Do you agree with the Autumn November Internationals Report Card?

Watch Autumn International Rugby Video Highlights here


November Internationals Rugby Round 4 Results
Fiji 20 - 14 USA
Italy 6 - 22 South Africa
Scotland 37 - 12 Tonga
Romania 18 - 9 Canada
Ireland 26 - 23 Australia
Wales 16 - 34 New Zealand
England 28 - 9 Samoa
France 13 - 18 Argentina
Georgia 35 - 24 Japan

The Autumn November Rugby Internationals Video Highlights

Autumn November Internationals Video Highlights - Fiji vs USA

Autumn November Internationals Video Highlights - Wales vs New Zealand All Blacks

Autumn November Internationals Video Highlights - Italy vs South Africa Springboks

Autumn November Internationals Video Highlights - Scotland vs Tonga

Autumn November Internationals Video Highlights - France vs Argentina

All Blacks Win Three IRB / World Rugby Awards

The All Blacks have won three IRB / World Rugby Awards for 2014.  Brodie Retallick won the Player of the Year Award, while Steve Hansen won the Coach of the Year Award and the All Blacks were named the Team of the Year.

Retallick defeated Julian Savea, Duane Vermeulen, Willie Le Roux and Jonathon Sexton for the award.

It is great to see a tight forward getting the honour after a massive season when sometimes tight forwards are defeated by players who score the tries or kick the goals.

The All Blacks didn't thrash teams like they have in previous years, but lost once and drew once for an impressive record.  They became the masters of the late comeback victories.

Do you agree with Brodie Retallick winning the IRB / World Rugby Player of the Year Award 2014?


Friday, November 21, 2014

Should Richie McCaw Appear on $NZ100 Banknotes?

The Reserve Bank will release new New Zealand banknotes which are more colourful and more secure than the old banknotes we use at the moment.  Should Richie McCaw appear on the $100 note after being the All Blacks rugby captain for 100 test matches?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

November Autumns Internationals Round 4 Preview 2014 - Thoughts?

There are nine games in the November Internationals  2014 Round 4 and if you get through this round with a one hundred percent record then you will be well on your way towards glory, although the margins are very important.  The November Internationals are in full swing with teams with a range of abilities playing each other.  

Most of these games should be close with teams’ fine tuning their skills before the Rugby World Cup 2015.  Some matches are at neutral venues which make them hard to pick, while some teams aren’t at full strength which could cause problems for tipsters.  Also, with some teams playing at home likely to gain a significant home advantage in their own conditions.  This will probably help the likes of England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, France, Romania and Italy this weekend, so expect some tight score lines.  It is also worth checking the teams named before making your picks. 

There are some mouth-watering fixtures with Ireland vs Australia probably the toughest to pick, along with Romania vs Canada, and Georgia vs Japan. 

The other games are probably a little easier to pick this week with the New Zealand All Blacks, England, Scotland, Fiji, South Africa and France likely to win.

It is interesting to see how team go according to their World Rugby rankings with teams like South Africa, England, New Zealand and Fiji expected to win easily, but the recent trend with the November Autumn Internationals is for closer than expected games.

England vs Samoa
England has never lost to Samoa, and given the recent turmoil with the Samoan players and administrators, we will be lucky to see a game take place.  This Samoan team is useful, featuring a team of mainly New Zealand developed players most of whom are plying their trade overseas now.  England has reverted back to their traditional ways with their rolling maul their most dangerous weapon and Owen Farrell will play in the midfield.  This is in many ways a backwards step for them, although the conditions have hardly been conducive to free flowing rugby.  Expect the big England forwards to blunt the Samoans.

Ireland vs Australia
Australia won last time these two teams met in Ireland, but a lot has changed since then with Ireland’s kiwi connection, Joe Schmidt, turning this team into genuine contenders for the Rugby World Cup 2015.  This team dismantled the impressive Springboks two weeks ago and Georgia last week.  Ireland are up to third in the rankings and look like the biggest threat to Southern Hemisphere dominance at the Rugby World Cup 2015.  With Jonny Sexton running the cutter for this impressive team, it will be a hard match for the Wallabies.  The Wallabies themselves have some excitement with new winger Henry Speight likely to debut for the Wallabies and along with his Fijian counterpart Tevita Kuridrani, they could cause problems for the Ireland defence. 

Expect this game to be close.  The Wallabies have had a narrow win and a loss on this tour.  Ireland has only won 5 from 17 at home against the Wallabies and lost comfortably the most recent time two years ago, but they are a different team now. 

Wales vs New Zealand
This game is special for the All Blacks and expect the most polished performance of their Autumn International tour this week against Wales.  Wales has struggled against the All Blacks recently, not beating them since 1953 and this is the All Blacks final test of the season which doubles as national hero Richie McCaw’s 100th test as captain, which is a world record.  It is interesting to note that McCaw first captained the All Blacks ten years ago (almost to the day) in his first test as captain back in 2004, against Wales.  On that day, New Zealand won by a solitary point 26-25.

Wales welcomes back Jonathan Davies into the midfield, while both teams have huge changes from last week when they rotated their squads against Fiji and Scotland respectively.

New Zealand could be showing their cards before the Rugby World Cup 2015, with Beauden Barrett and Charles Piutau adding some youth to their experienced team. 

France vs Argentina
France is two from two in the November Autumn Internationals and should be too strong for Argentina.  The Pumas lost to Scotland first up and only just beat Italy last week, so they might struggle against France.  While you never know with the French, surely they will be too strong for Argentina, who have been disappointing.

France holds a 34-12 advantage overall head to head with Argentina, but since 2000, Argentina leads 8-5.  France has won the last two games between these teams comfortably.  Expect France to win at home.

Italy vs Springboks
The Springboks have resisted the urge to make too many changes to their team for their match against Italy.  Italy have dropped to 14th in the World Rugby rankings, but the main talking point for the Springboks is seeing how Johan Goosen goes at fullback.  Otherwise, there have been limited changes compared to what the likes of Ireland and New Zealand did last week.

Fiji vs USA
Fiji looks strong and should beat USA comfortably.  They almost stunned Wales last week, while the USA were easily beaten by Tonga.  Expect a comfortable win for Fiji. 

Romania vs Canada
For me, this is the toughest game of the round to pick.  Romania has lost both games at home to the USA and Japan, while Canada lost to Samoa last week.  These sides are evenly ranked in the World Rugby rankings.  I am picking Canada, just.

Scotland vs Tonga
Scotland and Tonga have been two of the form teams of the November Autumn Internationals.  That makes this match difficult to pick with such a contrast of styles.  Scotland needs to win this match if they are to build for the Six Nations. 

Tonga won the last match between these two teams, but expect Vern Cotter to coach his troops to victory over Tonga, but only just.

Georgia vs Japan
Georgia has been disappointing with comfortable losses to Tonga and Ireland.  This game will be another contrast of styles.  Japan struggled to put Romania away, and expect a similar challenge and scoreline when Georgia and Japan meet.

Round 4
Fiji v USA
22 Nov 07:00 (your time) 21 Nov 19:00 (local)
Pick: Fiji
England v Samoa
23 Nov 08:00 (your time) 22 Nov 19:00 (local)
Pick: England
Scotland v Tonga
23 Nov 03:30 (your time) 22 Nov 14:30 (local)
Pick: Scotland
Romania v Canada
23 Nov 05:30 (your time) 22 Nov 18:30 (local)
Pick: Canada
Italy v South Africa
23 Nov 03:00 (your time) 22 Nov 15:00 (local)
Pick: South Africa
Ireland v Australia
23 Nov 05:30 (your time) 22 Nov 16:30 (local)
Pick: Ireland
Wales v New Zealand
23 Nov 06:30 (your time) 22 Nov 17:30 (local)
Pick: New Zealand
France v Argentina
23 Nov 09:00 (your time) 22 Nov 21:00 (local)
Pick: France
Georgia v Japan
24 Nov 04:00 (your time) 23 Nov 17:00 (local)
Pick: Japan

Who are you picking to win the November Internationals Round 4?
View More Posts


Best Post