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Dancing on the Pedals

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Rugby...for those who like odd shaped balls
« on: December 03, 2012, 15:29 »
With the 2015 World Cup draw just having been announced, and the Autumn Internationals finishing last weekend, seems like a good idea to start this thread. 

Pools for the World Cup:
A: Australia, England, Wales, Oceania 1, Play Off winner
B: South Africa, Samoa, Scotland, Asia 1, Americas 2
C: New Zealand, Argentina, Tonga, Europe 1, Africa 1
D: France, Ireland, Italy, Americas 1, Europe 2

As a Scotland fan, I fear we're going home very early.  Not sure Wales fans will be too excited about the draw either after the last few weeks...

From the AI's, it's clear the Southern Hemisphere are still a good way ahead of the North, and that they are far better at closing out games, and finding a way to win 'ugly'.  Argentina, after a couple more years of Super Rugby are going to be a real force to be reckoned with and Samoa have improved hugely.  Ireland have a lot of promising youngsters coming through and I am looking forward to seeing what they can do in the Six Nations - Gilroy looks particularly dangerous.  Wales and Scotland have gone backwards, but in contrast, England look as if they are making real progress.  The challenge for them now will be too build on their stunning win and back it up in February.  Can't come quickly enough!
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    lancasterke

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    Re: Rugby...for those who like odd shaped balls
    « Reply #1 on: December 03, 2012, 15:36 »
    maybe i's the buzz from being at twickenham on saturday but bring it on.
    england can win that group and there's a good chance wales finish 4th in that group. with fiji the likely other quali.

    really looking forward to the 6N

    i think scotland have a pretty soft group, should go through.

    the france/ireland/italy is quite tough but also a bit unfortunate as those fixtures happen every year.
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  • Dancing on the Pedals

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    Re: Rugby...for those who like odd shaped balls
    « Reply #2 on: December 03, 2012, 15:59 »
    maybe I'm stillin a post-Tonga defeat malaise, but don't unless we improve our physicality dramatically, we will get beaten again by South Africa and if Samoa play like they have done this Autumn...  Presumably Asia 1 will be Japan, who are always reasonably competitive, so not easy at all  :(

    Worth remembering with Australia - and looking ahead to the Lions as well - that about 3/4 of their first choice team is injured at the moment, so I think next time we see them play they will be vastly improved.  Add Cooper, O'Connor and Genia to any back line and the improvement will be huge.
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  • ram

    Re: Rugby...for those who like odd shaped balls
    « Reply #3 on: December 03, 2012, 16:01 »
    My worry for the Argentinians is, will they have Lobbe in 2015?

    And the Aussies have to get out of being perma crocks. Pretty much their whole first squad was injured through the four nations. Horwill and Pocock inclusive.
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  • The Hitch

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    Re: Rugby...for those who like odd shaped balls
    « Reply #4 on: December 03, 2012, 16:52 »
    So argentina vs France/ Ireland for quarters. Probably best they could hope for.

    Why are these being announced so early though. 3 years is a hell of a long time.
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    cj2002

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    Re: Rugby...for those who like odd shaped balls
    « Reply #5 on: December 03, 2012, 17:01 »
    Well I do love an odd-shaped ball...

    As for home nation performances this Autumn... Wales are in a blip. Gatland has been missing, but the quality is there and come the Six Nations they'll be back on form I'm sure. I don't think Scotland have gone backwards... they scored 3 tries against the All Blacks - that's only 1 fewer than they scored in the whole of this year's 6 Nations!

    As for my dear England... the South Africa tour showed promise, but it was always going to be this series before we started to see the impact of the Lancaster regime. We were unlucky against SA and Australia, and we were simply magnificent against the All Blacks. We now have the backbone of a really strong squad for the next few years. I'm a happy fan!

    The draw is fascinating... England/Aus/Wales will be very close indeed. So too France/Ireland/Italy. Scotland should be able to muster enough to get past Samoa. The qualification structure is ridiculous. I've been looking through it to try and get a feel for who might fill the spots. This is the best I can come up with so far:

    A: Australia, England, Wales, Fiji (Oceania 1), Play Off winner[1]
    B: South Africa, Samoa, Scotland, Japan (Asia 1), USA/Uruguay (Americas 2)
    C: New Zealand, Argentina, Tonga, Georgia (Europe 1), Zimbabwe[2] (Africa 1)
    D: France, Ireland, Italy, Canada (Americas 1), Romania (Europe 2)

    The qualifiers shouldn't pose too much of a problem for the top teams, but that said - Rugby is a growing sport and the quality of these teams is increasing. Fiji and Canada particularly could be a banana skin to anyone who underestimates them.

    --

    Hitch - the reason the draw is made so early is to do with the ridiculous qualifying structure. All the continents have a multiple-tier system of small leagues, with the top ranked team at the end of 2014 taking the place. But, theoretically somebody in the 3rd tier in the 2012 competition could win that tier, then win the 2nd tier in 2013 and then win the top tier in 2014. So technically the qualification has begun. At least, that's the only reason I can figure!
     1. Likely to be one of the following: South Korea, USA, Uruguay, Uganda, Spain, Portugal
     2. Zimbabwe are the current "Africa Cup" champions, and as such would qualify directly for the World Cup were it being held in 2013... the 2014 winner will take the 'Africa 1' slot in 2015.
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    froome19

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    Re: Rugby...for those who like odd shaped balls
    « Reply #6 on: December 03, 2012, 18:22 »
    Will be interesting to see whether Wales can pick themselves up and become the quality side they are, that group could be very pr*ckly. But getting Australia was lucky as all the other alternatives (France?) were worse tbh. The England team is developing well imo but there needs to develop a stable core to the side by 2015 a core which is made up of truly talented players who can win the world cup. Currently the talent is there though...

    3 years is a long time..
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    ram

    Re: Rugby...for those who like odd shaped balls
    « Reply #7 on: December 03, 2012, 18:28 »
    Why are Australia better? A fully fit Australia is still well better than most other teams.

    This was their infirmary list during the 4 nations
    Drew Mitchell, Lachie Turner, Rob Horne, Christian Lealiifano, Tomane, James O'Connor, Will Genia, Wycliff Palu, David Pocock, Ben McCalman, James Horwill, Sitaleki Timani, Palmer or Salesi Ma'afu, Stephen Moore, Sekope Kepu.

    Horwill, Pocock, Genia and O'Connor are automatic picks to that team. That's a quality team, and they need Beale and Quade Cooper to flip off from the Aussie scene for the next few years.
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  • froome19

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    Re: Rugby...for those who like odd shaped balls
    « Reply #8 on: December 03, 2012, 18:38 »
    Why are Australia better? A fully fit Australia is still well better than most other teams.

    This was their infirmary list during the 4 nations
    Drew Mitchell, Lachie Turner, Rob Horne, Christian Lealiifano, Tomane, James O'Connor, Will Genia, Wycliff Palu, David Pocock, Ben McCalman, James Horwill, Sitaleki Timani, Palmer or Salesi Ma'afu, Stephen Moore, Sekope Kepu.

    Horwill, Pocock, Genia and O'Connor are automatic picks to that team. That's a quality team, and they need Beale and Quade Cooper to flip off from the Aussie scene for the next few years.
    New Zealand hands down the best, South Africa not far behind, dont think you could consider Aussies to be better.. French, well you could make a case. But avoiding South Africa and New Zealand was pretty vital, though you seem to never know with this England team..
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  • ram

    Re: Rugby...for those who like odd shaped balls
    « Reply #9 on: December 03, 2012, 18:44 »
    No question that the Sheep are on another level. I doubt a fully fit, and a properly selected (not depending on Morne Steyn), South Africa is as good as a fully fit Australia sans Beale and Quade Cooper. South Africa, Australia, they're very different in style but I don't see missing the boks as being more important than missing Australia.
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  • Dancing on the Pedals

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    Re: Rugby...for those who like odd shaped balls
    « Reply #10 on: December 03, 2012, 21:44 »
    The England team is developing well imo but there needs to develop a stable core to the side by 2015 a core which is made up of truly talented players who can win the world cup. Currently the talent is there though...

    3 years is a long time..

    They say that an outstanding team needs its spine to be strong - i.e. 2, 8, 9, 10, 15.  England at the moment have Youngs x2, Morgan, Farrell and Goode in those positions.  None of them are stellar (at the moment) but the promise is undoubtedly there.  Morgan and Goode I really like, and thought Farrell had one of his best games for England - I would love to see Freddie Burns get a look in though...  The rest of the back row were outstanding, and when you throw the likes of Tom Croft and Steffon Armitage into consideration as well, England's options there are plentiful.  The pack in general is very strong - Cole is outstanding, Corbisiero is improving fast, and I like Youngs in the front row - particularly his dynamic ball carrying, but it's early days for him yet.  Parling has had, in a very understated manner, an outstanding Autumn, and Launchbury is a real find imho.  I see him in the engine room for many years to come. 
    I accept that I am looking at this through very rose tinted spectacles in the warm fuzzy afterglow of Saturday, but the signs are there that this England side can continue to progress and develop.  Tuiliagi had his best game in a white shirt - now he needs to match that consistently, Barritt also.  I think 9 and the wing positions are still problematic, but the building blocks are definitely there.
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  • Capt_Cavman

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    Re: Rugby...for those who like odd shaped balls
    « Reply #11 on: December 04, 2012, 15:51 »
    Trouble is, I think that the game has moved on since it was about 8, 9 & 10. 7 is now the most important position, key to whether you secure your own ball at the ruck and disrupt/turnover the opposition's. In the old days openside was just about disrupting and scavenging, now it's about having the speed to get to the ball and the strength to secure it and also the handling skills and pace to link with the backs and the power to carry the ball securely in heavy traffic.

    Since Michael Jones set the benchmark for what a world class Open-side should deliver, NZ have had a few world-class 7s, Australia have had them in spades and the rest of the world? Warburton maybe is on the right track, but the closest England got was Neil Back who wasn't really good enough in any area to be considered alongside McCaw, Smith, Kronfeld, Waugh, Pocock etc.
    SA don't even number their loose forwards correctly and do what England tend to, just pick the biggest, most mobile lumps available and distribute them across the back row.

    So where does that leave the home nations?

    England have the greatest depth of the four and with home advantage must be fancied to get to the semis. But if they could produce a world class flanker from nowhere...

    Wales have a great 1st 15 and were unlucky not to contest the last final. Their problem is depth up front, there doesn't seem to be a particularly long list of front 5 players knocking on the door right now.

    Ireland have a chance but like Wales, they seem really short of depth in key positions like the front row, centres, scrum half.

    Scotland need to find about 13 players to even be competitive. Even when they do produce a jewel, the lustre soon fades for some reason.

    The good news is that Australia appear to be going backwards under Deans, playing a more conservative game than suits their talents. let's hope he stays on as coach. New Zealand didn't look as awesome as they did before the World Cup, even before England beat them. South Africa? Well you know what you're going to get so it's not too difficult to prepare for, just difficult to stop.

    France? Might as well try and predict something very unpredictable.

    The rest? Will continue to struggle until they can get clubs to release their players as and when they need them.
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  • ram

    Re: Rugby...for those who like odd shaped balls
    « Reply #12 on: December 05, 2012, 11:37 »
    Cheers Captain.

    Don't really follow northern hemisphere rugger, it's not on the telly round these part.

    I thought the Sheep in the 4 nations were as good as any time I've seen them.  Cruden's been tops for them whenever Dan Carter's crocked (and that's quite often). Can't fault their back row either, but the forwards and scrums are their weakness. Also, SH is something they'll need to address, though Aaron Smith seems a decent one.
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  • cj2002

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    Re: Rugby...for those who like odd shaped balls
    « Reply #13 on: December 05, 2012, 11:41 »
    7 is now the most important position, key to whether you secure your own ball at the ruck and disrupt/turnover the opposition's.

    More than that, Capt, I reckon "modern" rugby is more about versitility... look at the difference between an old-school prop like Jason Leonard and the new breed like Joe Marler. Marler looks more like a flanker than a prop! Everyone in the XV needs to be able to play at the breakdown and in the loose, play fast with ball in hand and defend hard.

    NZ's 7 is just the most significant player for them because he cheats the most is such a strong leader  ;D
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  • Dancing on the Pedals

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    Re: Rugby...for those who like odd shaped balls
    « Reply #14 on: December 05, 2012, 14:10 »
    I know this view is wrong, but it's only cheating if it's caught.  Several years ago, in the Heineken Cup final - Leicester vs Munster, there was a scrum late on, and Neil Back stuck his hand in to get the ball back, deny Munster the final chance a t a drop goal and the chance to win (was very close iirc).  Blatant cheating, but not seen by the ref, got away with it, and was praised to the heavens (by Leicester fans...).  McCaw is the same, he  gets away with it, how I have no idea, but is heralded as the world's best player.  However, opposition teams know exactly what he is going to do, so why not just nail him at the breakdown - forget the ball, just smash him out the way.  Moore said much the same on commentary in the Wales vs Australia game about Pocock.  If he's lying on the floor/on the wrong side, use the boot on him, and don't be too squeamish. 
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  • cj2002

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    Re: Rugby...for those who like odd shaped balls
    « Reply #15 on: December 05, 2012, 14:18 »
    It's a fine semantic line, DotP, but I know what you mean.

    You could say the same about what Thierry Henry did in the Euro 2012[1] play-off against Ireland, controlling the ball with his hand to keep it in play and set up the winning goal. He got away with it and denied the Irish an appearance at a major tournament final.

    In other news, Brian Moore is brilliant. He just gets so sarcky about the refereeing sometimes, I love it.
     1. It might have been the 2010 World Cup, I can't remember now...
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  • ram

    Re: Rugby...for those who like odd shaped balls
    « Reply #16 on: December 05, 2012, 15:01 »
    Soft northern hemisphere refs.
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  • cj2002

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    Re: Rugby...for those who like odd shaped balls
    « Reply #17 on: December 05, 2012, 15:24 »
    Soft northern hemisphere refs.

    Does Wayne Barnes really look soft to you...



    Oh...  :fp
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  • ram

    Re: Rugby...for those who like odd shaped balls
    « Reply #18 on: December 05, 2012, 15:27 »
    Alain Rolland is
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  • Dancing on the Pedals

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    In other news, Brian Moore is brilliant. He just gets so sarcky about the refereeing sometimes, I love it.

    On the subject of Moore and referee's...

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  • froome19

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    This is afar my favourite rugby article  ;D ;D
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/rugby-union/17431022

    Quote
    The game was refereed by Michael Tutty until just before the mid-point of the second half when he came off injured and was replaced by Richard Kelly. Ian DaviesCornish Pirates forwards coach
    "Mike Tutty's fairly clueless at the scrummage, but unfortunately Richard Kelly had even less clue.

    Quote
    Ian Davies
    Cornish Pirates forwards coach
    Davies was particularly unhappy with the second half where referee Michael Tutty awarded penalties for infringements in the scrum.
    "We pride ourselves on the set piece and the scrum, a couple in the first half I had not got a problem with, Paul Andrew got penalised quite rightly.
    "Second half it seemed to be a mystery, but it was more the breakdown and his communication at the breakdown that was confusing for both sides.
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  • Dancing on the Pedals

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    Blair retires from international duty: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/rugby-union/20932145

    Stoddart retires from all rugby - hasn't recovered fully from his broken leg:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/rugby-union/20935237

    As a Scotland fan, sad to see him retire, but he's been a great servant over the years and an immense player for the team.  Credit to him for taking the decision himself, and it's a position that we're fortunate to have a bit of depth in.  Hopefully Cusiter will make a speedy recovery, or Pyrgos can continue from his fine start i nthe Autumn Internationals.  As for Stoddart, it's never nice to see injury end a player's career (and only days after Hendre Fourie had to do the same), but wish him all the best for the future.  Another victim of the physicality of the modern game.
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  • Dancing on the Pedals

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    Seems the oldies are still the goodies! 

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-20990965
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  • kabloemski

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    Hey, Bart! Your epidermis is showing!

    Dancing on the Pedals

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    Right, six nations kicks off this weekend, let's get excited!  Stumbled across this earlier and seems to be a wonderful idea (for anyone watching on the BBC...)  Who's keen?

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  • froome19

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    I sure wouldn't bet against that.

    I was talking to a rugby following friend today about who he fancies will win and he fancies England. As a true patriot I subsequently went about convincing him that England was a rather less sensible choice to hedge his bets on. In all honesty though England have a shot but I do not think we are good enough to bring consistency to win all our big matches. Then again Wales have been looking dodgy so that is a bit boost. According to him Ireland will be the biggest challengers and though the French are always lurking I am inclined to agree.
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  • Dancing on the Pedals

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    I think it will be close.  The challenge for England obviously is to show that the New Zealand wan't a one off.  They do have 3 home games in their favour, including France, but they have trips to Cardiff and Dublin which won't be easy.  My tip is Ireland - both England and France come to visit, and provided they can get off to a winning start against Wales, I think they'll take it.

    My main hope however, is that Scotland somehow improve on their performance against Tonga and don't get the wooded spoon.  Is that too much to ask?!  2 victories please boys!
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  • sublimit

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    England missing Tuilagi which is a massive blow considering he's arguably the best in that position in the World, And I see Jim Telfer has started slagging England as arrogant and condescending.  :winker

    Its a yearly ritual that we've heard before and very lame and disrespectful IMO.
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  • froome19

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    I would bet on Italy for the wooden spoon. Tuilagi is missing just for the first game isn't he? So it should not be all too bad. Hoping for a Barrit - Farrell combination in the middle that has worked well in the past. Tuilagi missed the start of the last 6 nations though and those were the games we won so hopefully we should survive this time round as well.
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  • ram

    Re: Rugby...for those who like odd shaped balls
    « Reply #29 on: February 02, 2013, 15:24 »
    Wales, crap in the first half. Terribly crap. Too many penalties, too sloppy. Second half, mental. Leigh Halfpenny's mint. Maybe not Israel Dagg mint, but still pretty bloody good.

    Ireland's defence has been tops too. The number of phases Wales had in some of their attacks.

    Zebo's touch for Cian Healy's  try. Sensational

    Bad news for the All Blacks, Corey Jane's ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament. Out for the whole year. Wonder who'll replace him for the Hurricanes, who're pretty inexperienced.

    Post Merge: February 02, 2013, 17:11
    Alain Rolland, what a rubbish and soft referee.
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  • « Last Edit: February 02, 2013, 17:12 by ram »

     

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