Monday, June 25, 2007

The last time we played at the MCG...

...was almost ten years ago in 1998 and we we lost 24 - 16; Matt Burke scored 22 points himself (but he's in Newcastle now). Quite possibly, as many as four players from that game may take the paddock next Saturday - Oliver for the ABs and Gregan, Larkham and possibly Finegan for the Wallabies. Tells you something that...

The MCG holds a massive 100,000 people - I've been there twice, once on a tour and the second time for last year's Commonwealth Games. Nothing will compare with next Saturday. Next Saturday I expect the All Blacks will win; they'll be tired, combinations will be a little loose and form still building plus the Wallabies will be buoyed by a close loss to the Africans. Nevertheless, across all fifteen players, there's only a couple of Wallabies that can hope to match their opposite (Giteau, Larkham and maybe Sharpe) meaning that if the ABs play to their potential, they should win. I'm tipping at 10 - 15 point victory...

But how many times have Kiwi supporters felt this confident over the last twenty years? Phil Kearns has said that if there was a rugby world cup every year for the next thousand years, the All Blacks would be favourites... Is this year any different? I was pretty bloody certain we'd win in 2003 even after Tana's injury, even after the wobbles against the Welsh... but there I was, surrounded by Aussies, mostly as surprised as I was actually, watching Gregan lauding it over the defeated AB pack - "four more years boys, four more years..."

So this weekend, as confident and vocal as I'll be, somewhere slightly above the pit of my stomach, me and thousands of other All Black supporters will be wishing for a big win, huge win, massive thrashing of epic proportions... 'cause that's a really good predictor of what'll happen in the Cup right?

Friday, June 15, 2007


I was up in the north-end last week for a few days, one day longer than intended thanks to my inability to read an itinerary (a 24-hour one), and had a chance to visit the parliament and learn about the bombing in WW II.

I was somewhat surprised to see a frigate patrolling the inner-harbour but it could easily have been for exercises rather than for duty. I've also been reading Peter FitzSimon's book on the Kakoda Track recently, which I'd recommend, which includes mention of the bombing of Darwin which claimed 243 lives. Check out the shrapnel...

I took a photo of the 1962 Remonstance; effectively a petition of Territorian representatives to the Australian Government for more independence (the Australian Constitution provides Territories the ability to self-govern but it is contingent upon Commonwealth law not the Constitution which means the power can be revoked).

It's an interesting place, small - very small in fact, only just over 110,000 people living in just a few population centres (Darwin, Alice Springs and Katherine) and quite different from any of the other capital cities I've visited (all but Perth) not least of all because of the large urban Aboriginal population. I'm only sorry that I didn't get more time to look around...


Good to see that the ANZAC bridge in Sydney, which flies both flags, will soon have statues of both Australian and NZ soldiers. I regularly drive over the bridge and have often wondered why there's no NZ soldier alongside the statue of the digger.

This will soon be fixed as Clark's visit with Morris Iemma included an announcement that a new statue has been commissioned from the sculptor who crafted the existing statue.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Where will it end...

The Stellenbosch trial is designed to speed up the game of rugby. The new rules strip away the complexity and encourage an attacking, open style of play. Many of rugby's pointy-heads agree; too many rules, inconsistent interpretation = confusion and defensiveness. Certainly, I don't like the prospect of a return to penalties as the deciding factor in any test match but neither do would I like to see Test matches become extended 7's tournaments.

Planet-rugby reports the Australian coach, John Connelly, as saying the new rules favour NZ because they encourage non-stop rugby with few set pieces (Connelly isn't quoted saying this however). Again, I hope not as I thoroughly enjoy close matches where scrums and lineouts are attacking opportunities. Besides which, with Carl Hayman in the side, the NZ scrum is as intimidating as Dan Carter with the ball in hand.

Then again, last night's wins by the All Blacks and Wallabies were simultaneously enjoyable and frustrating. Yes there were lots of exciting open play, but neither the Welsh nor the French were competitive. This was, however, primarily a function of the farcical mid-year tours, a point made by Sean Fitzpatrick but I found myself switching to the Swans v Essendon game... which was anything but one-sided. AFL is generally competitive not least of all because of the draft system that means the lowest ranked team has the first pick of the new crop of talent. This ensures no one team dominates over a long period of time.

Would I want this in international rugby, hell no! I don't care if NZ win each and every World Cup game by two penalties to one... so long as we win.