As is customary for the winter, my social touch rugby mates have holed themselves up in their homes. But oddly enough I don’t really mind. Why? ‘Cos we usually play on Saturday afternoons and the last four Saturdays have been Tri-Nations Saturdays. Yes! The Tri-Nations is in full swing and I’m loving it. So I thought I’ll write a little post to say just how much I’m loving it. 🙂

The first match of TN2010 was All Blacks vs. Springboks. The Boks could not cross the try line for the whole of the match while the Blacks crossed 4 times showing just how dominant they are. The new rule saying the tackled player has to be allowed to place the ball meant that the Boks could no longer kick it really high and then go grab the receiver to milk a penalty. In the past, especially last year the Boks were able to get away with playing as little rugby as possible. But, not anymore. Now they are forced to actually keep the ball in hand or suffer and they opted for the latter. Furthermore, they are also missing François’ boot quite a bit.

The following week we saw the rematch go a little better for the Boks. They were able to score two tries but the Blacks still managed to score four. What was most impressive was how much the All Black line had improved. After Umaga left there was a gaping hole in the All Black line for several years. But now Nonu and Smith have really stepped up to the plate. In fact, the only position still missing a decent replacement is the fly-half. I’m still to see Cruden on the field for a decent amount of time – so no ideas about how good (or bad) he is. Why I bring this is up is that the ABs tend to lose their way whenever they are forced to play without Dan. Hence, it’s a good idea to have a fallback just in case. Luke McAlister is the man I’d like to see in the squad for this job.

Anyway, coming back to the Tri-Nations, after two hard games against the Kiwis, it was time for the Saffers to take on the Aussies. This match started off as horribly as the last two for the Boks. In each of the games poor discipline had resulted in a booking in the first few minutes for them. Both teams scored a couple of tries each. However, the Wallabies were 17 points ahead at the close of the match. They had six penalty goals to a solitary by Steyn. So, clearly it was indiscipline that cost the match for the Boks. They also had some trouble with their lineouts this year. But when it worked, it was mesmeric to watch and they had such a moment in this match. Check out the move at 6:35 in this video.

Then yesterday, the Blacks lined up against the Wallabies. In a high scoring game the Kiwis managed to run in seven tries while the Aussies managed to cross the line thrice. It was a very good game of rugby with both sides keeping the ball in hand and playing top notch rugby. It looks like the battle for the cup will be between the two neighbors this year.

So up till now TN2010 has lived to its expectations and delivered some exceptional matches. Here’s hoping it keeps going the same way for the rest of the series.