Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Monday, May 20, 2013
News that former Blues Super Rugby coach Pat Lam has signed promising New Zealand Under 20 star Jake Heenan for his Irish club Connacht has set my alarm bells ringing. New Zealand is a limited sized country and while it is one thing to let past their expiry date All Blacks go overseas at the end of their careers, it is sad to see New Zealand robbed of some young talent. All this means that New Zealand is missing a tier of top quality players who would add depth to our Super Rugby squads. Unfortunately the New Zealand market is so small that we can't pay our players much money to play for New Zealand teams.
Here is my "Overseas Based All Blacks Team" formed by players who are no longer playing in New Zealand. It is difficult to remember all the players who have left these shores. This team is based on these players not playing Super Rugby for New Zealand teams in 2013 and therefore not being eligible for the All Blacks.
There would be no shortage of New Zealand based overseas coaches eligible to coach this team with British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland the ideal candidate.
Points to note about this team
There weren't many hookers or locks that spring to mind. If you can think of anyone else who would gain selection in this team, then let me know! I had to use John Afoa as reserve hooker and one of the spare loose forwards can cover lock. I put Jerry Collins on the bench ahead of locks Jay Williams and Cam Jowitt.
There are so many foreign players in overseas leagues, especially Japan, France and the UK.
The average age of this team is probably around the 30 years old mark.
There are so many All Blacks playing overseas.
There are heaps of New Zealand born players who have been playing overseas for years and these players often play for overseas countries. Players like Dylan Hartley and Michael Leitch are thrown into the spotlight at Rugby World Cups. In the Rugby World Cup 2011, 34 New Zealand born players were in non-New Zealand teams at the tournament.
There are some quality players who missed out like Mike Delaney, Sione Lauaki, Kevin Senio, Scott Hamilton and Stephen Brett, but if these guys returned to New Zealand, they would make Super Rugby teams, especially the way that the current Super Rugby squads are struggling for depth because of the length of the competition.
Only Toby Lynn and Colin Bourke haven't played for the All Blacks.
See my "Overseas Based All Blacks Team" below, do you think they could beat the current All Blacks squad in a match?
Jake Heenan in action
Here is my Overseas Based All Blacks Team
15 Mils Muliaina (NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes)
14 Joe Rokocoko (Bayonne)
13 Sonny Bill Williams (Roosters)
12 Luke McAlister (Toulouse)
11 Sitiveni Sivivatu (Clermont)
10 Nick Evans (Harlequins)
9 Jimmy Cowan (Gloucester)
8 Jerome Kaino (Toyota)
7 Chris Masoe (Toulon)
6 Adam Thomson (Canon Eagles)
5 Isaac Ross (NTT Shining Arcs)
4 Toby Lynn (Western Force)
3 Carl Hayman (Toulon)
2 Aled de Malmanche (Stade Francais)
1 John Afoa (Ulster)
23 Rudi Wulf (Toulon)
22 Stephen Donald (Mitsubishi Dynaboars)
21 Alby Matthewson (Force)
20 Colin Bourke (Ricoh Black Rams)
19 Jerry Collins (Yamaha Júbilo)
18 Neemia Tialata (Bayonne)
17 Saimone Taumopeau (Castres Olympique)
16 John Schwalger (Agen)
Come join my Lions Tour prediction game on SuperBru! It's free and loads of fun. Just click here:
Pool name: Super Rugby Tips
Pool code: rodeswop
It is interesting to see how Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph still seems to be highly respected despite taking the most talented Highlanders squad in recent history to their worst performance in years, yet no one seems to think he should be dumped. It is difficult to know how much of the onfield performance of any team can be attributed to the coach, when the players are the ones who need to stand up and be counted at the end of the day! Ma'a Nonu seems to be getting more blame. I personally think Jamie Joseph should either move on or become deputy coach to a more well performing coach.
Remember last season when the Blues had a worse start to the Super Rugby season than the Highlanders are this season, yet their coach Pat Lam was sacked after heavy criticism.
Is it because the Highlanders have lower standards than the Blues? I think this might be the case, but I would much rather see the Highlanders battle away with a team of journeymen for a top 10 finish, than finish last with a team of stars. I actually wonder if Jamie Joseph has been any good for the Highlanders.
It is interesting, because the New Zealand Warriors coach Matthew Elliott seems to be getting blamed despite his teams constant straying from coaching instructions as part of their terrible season in the NRL 2013. Ironically they were thrashed by Penrith on Saturday, a team coached by Ivan Cleary who was no longer wanted by the NZ Warriors in the past. Why is it with the Warriors, that the coach gets the blame? Their players just don't seem up to it or capable of implementing game plans, yet it is this the coaches fault?
Robbie Deans comes under constant criticism, even though the Wallabies are third in the latest IRB world rankings.
Why is it that some teams and coaches are constantly under criticism, yet others like Jamie Joseph are like teflon, nothing sticks!
Sunday, May 19, 2013
Andries Bekker wins another lineout!
Super Rugby Round 14 Team of the Round features plenty of talking points, with the inclusion of massive Stormers lock Andries Bekker as the www.testrugby.com Player of Super Rugby Round 14. Three locks made the Top Five points scorers overall, meaning that Rebels try scoring genius Hugh Pyle edged out young Stormers star Eben Etzebeth for the second locking position in the Super Rugby Round 14 Team of the Round.
Amazingly there were three players from the disappointing Hurricanes side in the team, even though they lost to the Chiefs without really firing a shot. There are some bargain players this week with Ash Dixon, Piet van Zyl and Peter Betham unlikely to both break the bank and get back into the Team of the Round in a hurry!
South African players dominated the Super Rugby Team of Round 14 with five players, compared with four New Zealand and three Australian players.
Super Rugby Team of Round 14
Rank Player Name Pos Team Games Total Avg Price
1 Adriaan Strauss FR CHE 1 335 335 $1,360,000
2 Ash Dixon FR HUR 1 310 310 $537,500
1 Andries Bekker LK STM 1 520 520 $1,262,500
2 Hugh Pyle LK REB 1 380 380 $1,037,500
1 Keegan Daniel LF SHK 1 340 340 $1,062,500
2 Micheal Hooper LF WAR 1 320 320 $1,167,500
1 Piet van Zyl HV CHE 1 460 460 $727,500
2 Beauden Barrett HV HUR 1 335 335 $1,060,000
1 Alapati Leiua CT HUR 1 320 320 $1,030,000
2 Tamati Ellison CT HGH 1 310 310 $1,057,500
1 Riaan Viljoen OB SHK 1 355 355 $1,012,500
2 Peter Betham OB WAR 1 320 320 $840,000
Who impressed you in Super Rugby Round 14?
See the controversial penalty try incident in the Rebels vs Stormers match.
The Reds must be spewing after having four tries disallowed by the TMO.
The Highlanders lost again, although even the commentators and opposition were surprised that the Ndungane try was allowed.
Round 14 Super 15 Rugby 2013 was difficult to predict with home upset wins to the Rebels and Waratahs fooled most SuperBru punters. The TMOs continue to create controversy with their decisions or lack thereof, when you get home commentators suggesting their team shouldn't be awarded a try, then surely there needs to be something done about their decision making! The Reds were the worst affected, with four tries disallowed, thereby disproving the theory that Australian teams get treated better than other teams.
There were some crucial matches this weekend, with the Chiefs and Crusaders securing hard fought, victories to move ahead of the Blues and Hurricanes respectively. The Bulls thrashed the Highlanders to remain top of the South African conference, while the Waratahs and Cheetahs also picked up home wins to improve their chances of making the Top Six. The Sharks and Rebels saved face in Australia. Interestingly, unlike Round 13 where only one match had a margin bigger than seven points, Round 14 saw only two matches with less than seven points between the two teams.
Before TMOs (television match officials) and so many television replays, there was less scrutiny of referees as there were less camera angles and media focus on their performances. There was also nothing called social media to give people an avenue to complain and raise awareness. There are so many rules and interpretations of rugby that it is easy to find the odd mistake when you get so much coverage from every angle! Am I being too harsh on TMOs?
The role of the TMO is confusing, with some referees asking different questions of the TMO and sometimes there are also restrictions on how far back a TMO can go. One example might explain how the penalty try was awarded to the Rebels against the Stormers when it looked like they lost the ball a few times in the lead up. Rugby rules are very complicated where it looked like the ball was lost forward at the ruck before Scott Higginbotham appears to have hit the ball forward out of the hands of one of the Stormers players (although this is often not called a knock on).
Often the definition of forward pass and knock on has been called into question and needs to be simplified. Some of the time it has come down to the definition of knock on or forward pass or the TMO jurasdiction or amount the TMO can be used, but other times even with the definition, the wrong call has been made in my opinion. The referees now seem to lack the confidence to make the decision that they go upstairs to the TMO often.
In Super Rugby Round 14,
Rod Davies try from a kick against the Cheetahs for the Reds,
Quade Cooper's pass which was called forward.
Ndungane try from a knock on against the Highlanders
Some examples from previous rounds
Rebels two tries vs Chiefs from forward passes
Chiefs try disallowed vs Rebels.
Hosea Gear try for Highlanders vs Brumbies this was similar to the Davies try though.
The extended use of the TMO has added about 10 minutes to most games, but it seems that even though they are called upon, they aren't always making the correct call, unless I am missing something. I think they at times are victims of the rules or guidelines that they must stick to.
Will have neutral TMOs solve the problem? Do they need to follow rugby league's stance and have a former player in the box with the TMO? Should they simply get rid of the TMO?
In SuperBru, johan has taken the lead in the Super Rugby Tips conference. ROYEE is in second place, while Chanti-Belle is in third. MDS took the golden cap and not for the first time!
I thought that the Crusaders were the most impressive team of the round, especially since they beat the Blues by 20 points.
Which team impressed you the most in Super Rugby Round 14? What did you think of the TMO decisions? Are the rules too difficult, or are the referees and TMOs not up to it?
Saturday, May 18, 2013
Watch highlights of the Rebels vs Stormers Super Rugby match TMO decision.
The controversial penalty try awarded to the Rebels which gave them victory over the Stormers was considered harsh by most rugby spectators. Here is the official take on the ruling from SA Referees. It ends up that because a try wasn't scored, the TMO had limited capacity to officiate. Usually it is two rucks worth of video footage, but that is only when a try is scored. Here is the explanation. It ends up it is the TMO rulings which were designed so that that we wouldn't be waiting around all day for TMOs to rule on every single thing, is the reason that the TMOs footage was limited.
Do you think the Rebels should have been awarded a penalty try and a Stormers player sent to the sinbin?
(ii) Penalty tryhttp://www.sareferees.com/News/law-discussion-10-rebel-points/2829906/
The ball is bouncing all over the place. It seems to go forward from Luke Jones but the referee says it went backwards.
Nick Phipps of the Rebels gets the ball and passes it to Higginbotham on his right. Higginbotham kicks low with his left foot. It strikes the foot of Deon Fourie of the Stormers and bounces back towards Higginbotham. The ball strikes Higginbotham's foot and rebounds forward. Martin Bezuidenhout gathers the ball. Higginbotham tackles Bezuidenhout, his left hand and arm going round Bezuidenhout's front. Bezuidenhout drops the ball as he is tackled by Scott Higginbotham. Phipps foots the ball through towards the Stormers' in-goal. Phipps goes to chase it as Bezuidenhout tries to hold him back, pulling on Phipps's jersey.
The ball goes into the Stormers' in-goal where three players dive for it - Bryan Habana, Gary van Aswegen and Nick Phipps. Habana seems marginally ahead.
The referee consults the TMO saying: 'Please advise try, no try. And just go back to the last passage.'
The TMO examines the incident and says: 'I've got confirmed foul play on a pull-back. Otherwise a try would probably have been scored.'
The referee repeats the information and then says that in other words the TMO was recommending a penalty try and a yellow card for Bezuidenhout - which is what happened.
Bezuidenhout's foul play - is clear and obvious.
Law 10 deals with various forms of foul play.
Law 10.4 (e) Playing a player without the ball is dangerous play.
Law 22.4 OTHER WAYS TO SCORE A TRY
(h) Penalty try. A penalty try is awarded if a try would probably have been scored but for foul play by the defending team.
The TMO used the word probably. That was his judgement and it has the probability of being right. After all Habana just beat Phipps to the ball even though Phipps had been held back. It seems probable that he would have beaten Habana to the ball and so scored a try.
Accept all of that but what about the possible knock-ons by Jones and Higginbotham. The TMO appeared not to have examined them.
He was right not to have examined them.
The expanded TMO functionality includes identifying foul play, and clear and obvious infringements in the last two phases before a try is scored. All officials (the referee, assistant referees and TMO) are allowed to initiate a referral and make recommendations.
This would include a possible knock-on but applies only to a case where a try is scored. In this case the try was not scored. Then, according to the IRB's protocol, the possibility of a knock-on could not be considered. Ands so the experienced TMO did not consider the possibility of a knock-on.
It may be a pity that the protocol did not allow for a case such as this but the IRB decided it had to draw the line somewhere other wise the number of referrals to the TMO would escalate.
If the referee missed a knock-on in Higginbotham's tackle, it is understandable. It would not be easy to see where his left hand made contact with Bezuidenhout - the forearm, the hand, the ball. At east he did not guess.
In the case of the penalty try there is no infraction of law. One can only then discuss judgement and there is no evidence that it was faulty.
The protocol says this of dealing with an infringement other than foul play. Foul play my be examined anywhere on the field and at any time during play. It is not limited the way the examination of infringements is. Please, note again that it may not be used if a 'try' has not been scored.
Friday, May 17, 2013
Watch this video footage from Southland rugby in the 1990s. This is epic! It is amazing how things have changed. This video is from the days around when rugby first went professional in New Zealand. Those were the days when you got big crowds, All Blacks playing in the New Zealand NPC 2nd Division as well as the 1st Division and because most players had other jobs, you had people with fulltime jobs during the week, playing on the weekends and so players weren't as big or fast. I also noticed some rather liberal refereeing too, although given the limited graphics and television coverage, the technology definitely wasn't around for television match officials to exist. Rugby was free to air in those days!
It was interesting to see some of the players from back then. All Blacks, Paul Henderson and Simon Culhane were the stars, but that win over Hawkes Bay in 1994 was a huge upset and so it was worrying that Southland wouldn't be competitive in the NPC First Division in 1995, so they bought in heaps of imports. The best one of these was Samoan international To'o Vaega, although against Canterbury, Englishman Damian Hopley scored. The Southland forwards were largely unchanged with the Henderson brothers, Paul and Dave Henderson quality players and provincial stalwarts like Stu Harvey and Mark Tinnock simply rolled up their sleeves and got on with things. Ironically Norm Hewitt the Hawkes Bay hooker in the 1994 final ended up playing for Southland the following year, while George Konia must have got sick of being in the Second Division with Hawkes Bay, so also played for Southland.
Some other things to note in those videos were because Super Rugby didn't exist, you had Jeff Wilson, Stu Forster and John Leslie playing ITM Cup, even though they all went on to become international test players, Wilson and Forster with the All Blacks and John Leslie with Scotland. In that Northland game, the two Norms, Norm Maxwell and Norm Berryman who both played for the All Blacks and David Holwell who was still playing up until recently for Northland, Wellington and the Hurricanes were the players to note. It was great seeing Eion Crossan making a tackle back then, given how dangerous Norm Berryman was. Crossan almost made the All Blacks as a fullback before following other top New Zealand backs John Gallagher, Darryl Halligan, Gavin Hill, Frano Botica, Craig Innes, Matthew Ridge, John Shuster, Mark Ellis, John Kirwan and Mark Carter in going to rugby league.
Finally, it was great to see the emotion shown by the players and fans and the fact that it meant so much back then. Rugby was all about the passion back in the 1990s with the crowd spilling onto the field after the game. You don't really see the passion, crowds or people running onto the field these days. That is because there is too much rugby these days.
Do you have any other great footage from the New Zealand National Provincial Championship?
Here is the latest Tui Billboard - Arise, Prince Byron Kelleher - Yeah Right.
This is based on the latest rumours that the former All Blacks rugby halfback is romantically involved with Princess Charlene of Monaco. She is the wife of Prince Albert 2 of Monaco.
Nick Phipps was held back against the Stormers and awarded a match winning penalty try against the Stormers.
The Rebels were awarded two tries from what looked like forward passes, while the Chiefs had one try disallowed.
Is it my imagination or do the Australian teams get better TMO decisions?
Tonight, I saw the Rebels awarded a penalty try after the Rebels looked like they lost the ball forward at a ruck and then captain Scott Higginbotham looked to hit the ball forward out of the hands of a Stormers player before reserve halfback Nick Phipps was held back and they were awarded the winning penalty try, whilst the Stormers hooker was given a yellow card. It is hard to know for sure if a try would have been scored. I felt bad for the Stormers!
A knock-on occurs when a player loses possession of the ball and it goes forward, or when a player hits the ball forward with the hand or arm, or when the ball hits the hand or arm and goes forward, and the ball touches the ground or another player before the original player can catch it.
‘Forward’ means towards the opposing team’s dead ball line.
There have also been other times this season when Australian teams have received generous decisions. The video at the top of this post shows how the Rebels were gifted two tries from forward passes, while the Chiefs had a try disallowed which was eventually overturned by referees boss Lyndon Bray four days later, but that was a bit too late!
Hosea Gear for the Highlanders had what looked like a try just before halftime disallowed against the Brumbies, while Luke Romano had two tries disallowed when the mighty Crusaders lost to the Force.
See this Francis Saili try for the Blues against the Rebels, it happens about one minute into this video.
This Francis Saili try against the Rebels was an interesting one, because Saili lost the Rene Ranger pass forward but kicked it before it touched the ground. I know traditionally this is considered a knock-on, but according to the law above there is no mention of kicking the ball after losing it forward, before it touches the ground.
These decisions are changing the results of many Super Rugby matches and I think they should have neutral referees. There seem to be too many important TMO decisions conveniently made by a TMO from the same country as the attacking team.
Do Australian teams get better TMO decisions or does it just seem like it?