Gudday Cobbers and fellow self-appointed doyens (and doyennes) of the Aussie rugby frustratedari to the 36th publication of the Chewsday Chew,
Once again I put fingers to keys and hope this missive finds you well enough and that you have all taken a moment to pause, shuffle in your seat, burp, fart and perhaps even take a wee walk about your backyard or lounge room to settle the stomach after the weekend’s degustation. Because if that weekend just passed was not a rugby feast of biblical proportions, then I don’t know what is.
Briefly, if you watch nothing else from the weekend, go get it on with our new best mate Stan and watch the England and All Blacks match. In one of the more bizarre matches I can recall watching for a long time, the Nearly All Blacks got off to a typically dominant, flying start and appeared to have both the match and Eddie Jones’ subsequent resignation well in hand going to oranges with a 17-3 lead despite a Rieko Ioane disallowed try. And business as scheduled appeared to resume straight after oranges as Ioane poodled some 70 odd metres down the wing to make good on the previous lost opportunity. So, at 25-6 up in the 70th minute, the Nearlies could be excused for putting the cue in the rack. However rugby’s a funny game and in the space of about nine minutes the game then spun on its head with Beaudy Barrett firstly getting served a deserved cheese for his shot on Will Stuart. And that seemed to spark something in the Butchers and they roared back to life with a rapid-fire, three try McFlurry. The English stunned everyone, including themselves, to drag back to level pegging with the international touring MiB with scarcely two minutes remaining. And then, inexplicably, Marcus Smith… well, I’ll leave it to you to watch. But it sure was a head-scratcher.
Anyway, while also scratching about in my scrapbook of ideas to find something that may be worthy of inclusion on this brave, front runner of a site this week (well actually they aren’t developed ideas as such, they’re closer to chicken scratching of half-formed semi-conscious musings and they aren’t even in a book for that matter) I confess to otherwise being a bit ‘meh’ about our whole Wobbly northern tour scenario. I mean, as Charlie so eloquently pointed out on Monday, yes we are losing by only a clutch of points to the best teams on the planet in France and Ireland, and so maybe things aren’t as dire as we complain they are. But, we are nonetheless losing. And, for that matter, we’re losing games we really should’ve/could’ve/would’ve won if we would only:
- curb our own foolishness as it manifests into self-inflicted cards and penalties, and
- be just a tad more confident in our play so as to ADAPT to what’s presented in front of us from an opponent, and
- be able to keep some 23 odd guys fit and on the park for something slightly longer than the average life expectancy of a Qatari beer.
But really, I’m just sick of talking about the Wobblies woes. I mean I’m really sick of talking about it. Enough has been both written and said. It’s time for RA to either fix it or bugger off and let someone else have a go. So I’m going to stop talking about it. Now.
Instead, I’m going to pull on the string provided by the England v Nearlies result and talk a little about how fickle rugby results are around the world right now. I mean, compared to what used to be oh-so-predictable in terms of the tectonic structuring of World Rugby, and the positioning of certain teams around it, the score lines of recent times indicate some significant shifts in the once accepted land masses. Let’s have a look at a few (besides bloody Italy beating the Wobblies);
- England drawing with the Nearlies (as discussed already)? Really?
- Georgia beating Wales 13-12 in an upset that’ll leave the Georgians with the princely sum of zero fears regarding their next meeting with Wales in the pools of the upcoming Bill in France and most surely has Welsh coach Wayne Pivac odds- n to lose his job if the Boyos fail to beat the wobbling Wobblies next weekend. It goes without saying that the win ranks as Georgia’s greatest in their rugby history.
- Portugal drawing with the USA 16-16 to progress to the World Cup. For sheer guts and will, leaving nothing on the park or in the tank, this was the match of the weekend. Sure, it lacked the polish of the grander sides, but if you want to watch two teams fairly pulverise each other to a complete standstill and yet still keep the atmosphere thrilling, then this is the one from the weekend to watch. With Portugal ahead of the Yanks on points differential, it all came down to Portugal’s scrumhalf Samuel Marques to slot his penalty shot after the final buzzer to draw the match and so send his comrades to France while the Septics fell about despairingly. In a match that had it all – tries, missed goals, cards, brainless penalties (sounds familiar) – it was the Eagles who managed to accomplish missing only their second world cup (the other being 1995) while the Portuguese (chickens?) are set to reacquaint themselves with the world’s third largest sporting event after a bit of an absence.
That then got me thinking of some of the other great upsets I’ve witnessed in years gone past.
Surely we all recall the efforts of the mighty Japanese Blossoms in defeating South Africa 34-32 in 2015 and both Ireland and Scotland in 2019.
But a few more obscure results are worthy of a mention such as:
- 1999 and Samoa beating Wales 38-31 when, despite coach Graham Henry having the Boyos on an 11 match winning streak, the Samoans put on a veritable masterclass of running rugby and scoring 5 tries and a memorable win in a match that was supposed to be about Neil Jenkins going past Michael Lynagh’s world-leading points tally.
- 2000 and Italy defeating Scotland 34-20. In their inaugural match of their inaugural year of Six Nations inclusion not much was expected of the Azzurri. But they shocked the pants off everyone, including themselves, as Stade Francais maestro Diego Dominguez slotted 29 points from the boot and Gianpiero de Carli grabbed a solitary try while Scotland’s Kenny Logan missed 4 off the tee.
- 2011 and Tonga defeating France 19-14 to claim their first major world cup pool win. Sukanaivalu Hufanga scored a try while Kurth Morath converted and added four penalties more for the Islanders against the surrender monkeys try and 3 penalties. However it was perhaps the coup de poing the Frogs needed as they then nearly went all the way but for a single solitary point in the game that counted most.
As such, when considering those sorts of fluctuating results, while I confess to being sick to the pit of my stomach with the self-inflicted inconsistency of the Wobblies in recent times, it’s actually that same consistent inconsistency in terms of the more traditionally anticipated results that leads me to think the upcoming world cup will be something to behold. I get the feeling we’re seeing a seismic shift in the continental plates as we once knew them. And in terms of the “Once Were Minnows” Brigade increasingly grabbing unforeseen victories, we may start seeing a lot more of them than we previously were accustomed to. Therefore, I think a new dawn is upon us and in all seriousness, anyone who thinks they have a handle on where this is going to land in terms of world cup results is either a fool or trying to sell you something.
And frankly, that sort of excites me. And I’m pleased to have the distraction and inspiration.
So, what of it friends? Who’s your tip as the dark horse in the upcoming Battle for Bill? Or alternatively, what’s the bizarre result you recall the most?