Archives for posts with tag: Rugby

It’s been pretty quiet on the rugby scene since the mighty blackness took their rightful place. But that is about to change ‘cos the six nations is around the corner and I for one m very excited.

I’ve never paid close attention to the six nations and have been content with watching the tri nations until now. But while watching RWC2011 I realized that I don’t know much about the European teams. So, in order turn this around, I have decided to watch the six nations this time. Obviously not all the matches – but at least the good ones. Of course it goes without saying that the time difference also comes into play here.

Scrum.com (I still call it that even though ESPN renamed it) has brought back the fantasy league which was wildly successful during RWC2011. Here’s the link: http://espnscrum.fantasyleague.com/

Note: I will be creating a private league soon. When I do I will update this post with the name so that you can join in the fun.

All right, that’s it for now.

 

I know it has been a lot of Rugby related posts from me recently, but here is one more.

So, my predictions here and here were a bit off and of course there’s still the matter of the winner to be decided this weekend. So far, I got the Australia v Ireland match and Wales v Ireland match results wrong. Apart from that things have been pretty good. Personally, the betting hasn’t been very productive from me as yet. But, I’m keeping afloat thanks to some side bets I made with friends. But, I’ve decided not to do that anymore and keep my betting online as some people get very emotional when their team lose. Anyway, if the All Blacks deliver on Sunday I would come out with a bit of dough.

Moving along to the point of this post, the IRB announced its nominations for the player of the year award. The nominees are Thierry Dusautoir (France), Piri Weepu (NZ), Jerome Kaino (NZ), Ma’a Nonu (NZ), David Pocock (Aus) and Will Genia (Aus).

There a lot of class in this lot. Genia has been an instrumental playmaker for the Wallabies while Pocock has been their key man at the breakdown. Pocock was nominated last year as well and he is only 23 years of age. But he is not quite as good as McCaw, yet. So I don’t think it is his time yet. Genia is also around the same age, and if an Aussie is to win this, it would be him.

To be honest, I haven’t seen Dusautoir stand out too much. Yes, he is a good player. But not quite player of the year. He did have some very good outings tho, especially during the six nations.

Coming to the All Blacks, Weepu has been the first choice scrum half and backup kicker for Dan Carter. He has really brought up all the aspects of his game from a few years ago. Nicknamed ‘Mr. Fix it’, he is the man to turn to to get you out of a jam. Then there is Nonu – the dreaded hulk in mid field. His ability to break through the opposition defense along with his solid defense have guaranteed that Graham Henry picks him for any important outing. He is the closest thing to Tana Umaga in the All Black unit – and that certainly is saying a lot.

As good as these two have been, the man that has stood out for the Blackness is Jerome Kaino. He puts in a huge amount of work at the breakdowns, and come out with the ball on many an occasion. His tackling has been brilliant and has been consistent throughout the 80 minutes. He has been a stalwart in the All Blacks RWC campaign. The only person that I see capable of challenging Kaino is Genia. Come Sunday, if the All Blacks lift the Webb Ellis cup, it would be hard to imagine anyone but Kaino walking away with this award.

So my picks for the RWC2011 quarter finalists was right on the money. The only hiccup was that the trusty Wallabies lost to the Irish. So my previous predictions for the knockout stage of the tourney are all messed up.

I’m trying to save face and come up with some new winners. I’m gonna go for Ireland and France for the matches tomorrow. Then on Sunday we see the number 2 and 3 ranked teams face off. This is by far the hardest pick of the bunch. Both teams are victims of injuries but the Boks lost Frans which is almost as bad as the Blackness losing Carter. Therefore I think the Aussies have the edge in this match up. The Kiwis haven’t lost to the Pumas ever and there is no reason to start this weekend.

That sets up France vs Ireland and New Zealand vs Australia as the Semi-Finalists.

The grand final will be a pool A rematch which the hosts should win.

After getting all but one prediction right about the boring Cricket world cup earlier this year, there is some pressure on me to get things right about the Rugby World Cup. But, unlike easily predictable Cricket, Rugby is more variable and hence earns the title ‘exciting’. So, these predictions are going to be somewhat unreliable.

There’s not much doubt about pools A & C. The mighty blackness, France, Wallabies and Ireland will go through to the elimination stage from these two pools. The Saffers will take the top spot in Pool D, but there is some contention for the second spot between Wales and Samoa. Do the Samoans have enough to upset Wales? I’m gonna say no.

Now, pool B is wide open with 3 contenders: England, Scotland and Argentina. On paper, these teams are currently ranked by the IRB at 5, 7 and 9 respectively. I bring this up because the Scots were ranked 9 while the Argentinian Pumas were a spot above just 4 months ago. Moreover, the tussle between the Poms and the Pumas (13-9) showed that there is very little to choose between these teams. I’m going to bet on the Pumas to get the better of the Scots.

So, the quarter finals will be: Aus v Wales, Eng v Fra, SA v Ire and NZ v Arg.

The Wallabies, French, Springboks and All Blacks will go through to the next stage.

The grand final will see number 1 and 2 ranked teams face off at Eden Park: Wallabies vs. All Blacks. As the preview showed us, the All Blacks will bring home the Webb Ellis cup.

On a not-so-unrelated note, I will tweeting match updates and thoughts throughout the tourney (allowing for work commitments, baby duties etc.). You can follow them here: http://twitter.com/#!/mithpiya and/or look out for the hash tag: #RWC2011

This weekend will see the super heavy weights of the Rugby world meeting to compete for the Bledisloe Cup. The All Blacks are currently ranked at the top of world rugby, closely followed by the Wallabies. So, as usual their meeting will be nothing short of spectacular.

But, this match will be no ordinary Tri-Nations match. The setup is perfect. Both teams convincingly beat the touring Springboks in the prior weeks. It hasn’t been a month since the Reds were able to get the better of the Crusaders at the Super 15 finals. So the Blacks will be out for revenge. The only glitch for the Ausies was losing to Manu Samoa. But, I’m guessing that will only make them stronger and  going forward they won’t take any opposition to be ‘easy’. So, both sides have had ups and downs, and are at their very best going into this match.

To top it all off, this match will be played at Eden park, the venue for the World Cup finals. Could it get any better than this? The two teams that will be are most likely to be (I changed it to be politically correct) in the World cup final meeting beforehand to give us a preview. It is a must see match for any fan of Rugby. So don’t miss out and go to vipbox if you can’t get it on TV.

Last Saturday evening, the more enthusiastic Trinitians in Perth gathered to watch the second leg of the Bradby on big screen. Having done the same for the first leg a couple of weeks ago and having witnessed a poor show by the boys in the red, yellow and blue jerseys, the mood was somber at best. Trinity lost the first leg in a match riddled with mistakes and were 8 points behind. We all knew that coming back from an 8 point deficit was a mammoth task (pun intended) and something that’s never been achieved in the history of the Bradby shield. To top that off, in what looked like the final nail in the coffin, Trinity had lost to Isipathana on the weekend between the two Bradby matches. Royalists being unbeaten so far in the season and sitting comfortably on top of the league table didn’t help matter either.

It looked as if the writing was on the wall. As is customary when any team starts to lose matches, the critics were having a field day of it, some even going so far as calling the Braby first leg the worst Trinity outing this season. I thought the worst Trinity played was against the Anthonians in the season opener. But, Trinity won that exchange, so the critics must have forgotten about it. Despite repeating catch-phrases such as “keep hope alive”, I was also beginning to doubt if the Trinitians could dish out another tour de force performance like they did against (then table leaders) St. Peter’s.

Anyway, getting back to match day; failing to find an online stream for channel eye and realizing that theScore.lk was not showing this match, we settled to watch it on the thePapare.com. Watching the match on Papare was akin to watching porn from a scratched VCD. It was like a detective game where we tried to make out what is happening by looking a series of still pictures. The only redeeming factor about thePapare stream was that they had the score displayed, so at least we knew when one team scored.

For the first 10 minutes of the match we watched in apprehension. Then came a defining moment that I thought set the pace for the rest of the game. Trinity stand-off, Rehan W, booted the ball down the park and the Royal wing-three-quarter collected it. The Trinity open side winger made good ground and made a nice tackle just inside the 5m line; then he stood up and proceeded to drag the tackled player along with the ball to the touch line. This act alone showed that this was by no means the same team that played a couple of weeks ago at Bogambara. This team had a drive and a passion that you’d see from a top international team. They had only one goal – winning theBradby – and they were willing to leave everything in the middle to get it done.

Soon afterwards Trinity scored a penalty followed by a brilliant try off a three quarter move. We breathed a little easier seeing the 8 point advantage evaporate. During this period the star player, playmaker and place kicker for Royal, Jamaldeen, missed a couple of penalty opportunities – easy ones by his usual high standard. Had he scored these, especially the first one – in the fifth minute, it might have been a different story. It was evident that Royal had put all their hopes on their trusty (up till this match) forwards. But, they were driven back by some outstanding fringe defence by the lions and time and again failed to make the gain line.

Midway through the first half Royal were dealt a hefty blow when Jamaldeen was carried off due to injury. His counterpart, Rehan, on the otherhand was having the game of his life and was able to put over another penalty and then an outstanding drop goal. We were now starting to find our voices. The beer and the wine actually started to taste better. Before the half time break a three quarter move saw promising wing Sashan cross over for a try taking the score to 21-0, and we cheered like anything.

On resumption, the Royal pack attempted a comeback but again to no avail. Rehan had remembered to put on the right pair of boots for this leg (pun not intended) and was finding either touch or space at ease. A little into the half Sean Foster crashed over for a score. The TV replay showed that he dropped the ball in the last spilt second, but the ref didn’t pick it up. Luck was definetely on Trinity side. When the Trinity center, Kanil, crossed the line to make the score 33-0, we were over the moon.

For the next twenty minutes or so both sides made many a mistake trying to play a tad too fast. Once Trinity regained composure, Sashan got a chance to show just how good he is by running three quarters of the park virtualy untouched to take the score upto 40. 40! – the most points Trinity ever scored in a Bradby game. The Royalists were able to score a consolation try through captain Shehan in the dying minutes of the match – a well deserved try for all the consistent hard work he put in.

When the full time whistle blew the cheer was deafening. I’m sure the neighbours must have wondered what sort of spelling game we were playing by shouting out letters of the alphabet like lunatics. There was rush to take our pictures with the score as a backdrop and upload it to facebook! We were so thrilled that we sang the college song – maybe the first time it was sung here in Perth. Lucky for us our host had Sri Lankan channels available on a time-delay system. So, we sat down and actually watched the game this time!

The match video can be found at: http://www.thescore.lk/video.php?recordID=49

The inter-school rugby season is in full swing back in the land of the lions. Unlike in previous years, this time we get to watch all the matches live as they happen thanks to http://www.thescore.lk/. Yes, in the past we had a similar website – thePapare.com – but while Papare continues to broadcast only selected matches, theScore is broadcasting all of the div1 matches and does a much better job overall.

All right, that’s a sufficiently long plug. Now, to the point of this article. During, before and after the matches, a comment that is brought up too often is that a particular school consists of a ‘combined schools’ outfit. This ‘combined schools’ comment is bugging me a bit. No, it’s actually bugging me a lot – well at least enough for me to blog about it. Comments such as ‘playing with foreign (or imported) players’, ‘team members cannot even sing school song’, ‘Colombo united’ etc all stem from the fact that there are players in some teams who used to go to other schools. For some reason or other they have opted to switch schools and so now play for a different team. I for one think that such comments are lame – very lame. Why? I’ll tell (write ) you why…

First of all, players (schoolboys) should be allowed to go to whichever school they want to. Sometimes kids want to switch schools ‘cos their current school doesn’t offer some subject combinations for Advanced Level. Sometimes they want to switch ‘cos they want to play for a better team. Regardless of the reason switching should be allowed and the fans should just deal with it. It allows better players to practise more at a level that fits them. I mean come on, you don’t think that Daniel Carter would have gotten to where he is if he played for a team like Mid Canterbury?

The other and maybe more important point is that even if you select the 15 best rugby players out there and put them on the same team, it doesn’t mean they are going to win. The consistency with which the Baa-baas get beaten is testament enough.

We all like to see the our school succeed, but it’s important to take a step back and see the big picture. So, please get over it and away with the lame excuses.