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Copehead's RWC thread NOW IN ITS 14TH GREAT YEAR
Posted: 03 Sep 2003, 00:43
With the rugby world cup just around the corner I have created this site to keep the rugby chat off Yakety Yak and thus not drive the rest of you to distraction.
Posted: 03 Sep 2003, 01:16
Thank you very much.
Cymru am byth!
Pip pip, look you!
Posted: 03 Sep 2003, 02:41
Not at all, it was a pleasure.
The way I see it the quarter finals will be
England vs France and NZ vs Australia.
That would be perfect, best of the North against best of the south in the final.
I think NZ shoud beat Oz even with their home advantage. The backs are formidable, but the forwards are tame by modern standards, although the loosies are good ( Smith and Waugh ), But loosing Kefu is a big blow.
England France is looking too close to call. If England thump the French spares at the weekend I will edge towards England, but the trouble with the Frogs is you never know.
Dark horses will be Ireland, South Africa and Argentina, which is bad news for Australia who have two of them in their group and may struggle to progress ( their backs will have to see them through ).
Ireland have the look of a team that have peaked, although they shouldn't be written off.
Argentina are a team on the way up, now with a set of backs to compliment that awesome pack, but how well do they travel? After beating France at home twice shouldn't they have spanked the Bok.
South Africa, what can you say disorganised, rancourous, leaving a shadow springbok side out ( Fleck and the like ). I would suggest they will get a Mullering from England and go out to Australia, but it is hard to write off a country with that sort of pride and tradition, but it is easy to write off a side who give Scotland close games. Since then they have beaten the Walls by utilising and England game plan, offensive defense. We shall see.
As for game plans for the big three,
England play a very controlling game, they try to keep possesion and be patient nknowing the chances will come and if they don't wilko will kick the resulting penalties, when they get a good chance the backs go for it, they also score alot from first phase possesion straight up the middle.
New Zealand play a much more open game due to a lack of experience playing it tight up front ( rolling mauls, what are they ? ). They have the best outside backs in the business, centers OK, flyhalf inventive but flaky especially when place kicking ( Our second team kicker has a better percentage ), scrum half so so. They thrive on turn over possesion. In the 2 3N where they cut loose many of there tries came from turn over ball. If you keep it tight and don't drop the pill they struggle ( as England showed ).
Australia will also play to their strengths, good backs and loose forwards, by playing an open game and slinging it wide.
France play with a strong pack and dangerous backs so probably have the best all round style of play, they can control, they can cut loose. But they can also underperform.
Which is why I will stick my neck out and say Eng vs NZ final england to win by 5 after strangling the life out of the blacks.
But that is a dangerous strategy, if you are just 5 points clear in injury time you spill the pill and NZ run it back below the posts you have spunked up the cup.
I'm really looking forward to this.
Posted: 03 Sep 2003, 03:01
I can't disagree with much of what you say - except that you are significantly underestimating the NZ forwards. The kicking weakness might have been addressed by the inclusion of Ben Blair, who, while not yet in the Wilkinson class, is certainly several leagues better than Carlos "Wanker" Spencer. The northern hemisphere (or is that Daily Telegraph) view that England are favourites is based on narrowly beating a far from first choice NZ team, with the wanker kicking. You may rest assured that if push comes to shove next month, things will be different.
In the later stages, I can see France turning in their traditional fine semi-final performance and screwing England, only to lose in the final to NZ.
In my favourite parallel universe, Wales will get to the final, and in a dour but exciting final, narrowly lose to NZ.
Posted: 03 Sep 2003, 03:48
I think you are being a bit harsh on Carlos Spencer. His place kicking is his only substantial failing. His kicking from hand his good, his distribution is excellent and his ability to make breaks is also very good.
I can't say much about his defence as I have never really thought about it. I think Blair while he would give you a plus in the place kicking would give you several minus' vs Spencer elswhere.
As for over estimating England I can only go by what I have seen, and what I have sen is that they have spanked everybody in the world, most twice, in the last year, and looked good doing it. The only sides they havn't bullied were Oz in Twickers ( since when the walls have waltzed their Matilda all over, but currently are waltzing down a hole in the ground ) and NZ who they have beaten narrowly twice.
The fact that it was narrow on both occaisions suggests the NZ forwards are up there with Englands, but they are a rather different style of pack, run faster, jump higher etc, but I think England will beast them in the tight stuff.
That is why it is all so exciting, two teams, contrasting styles, both brilliant and fantastic to watch, that is why I am hoping for that final.
I think I may be biased coming from the northern Hemisphere and having seen my team an all comers up here beasted in the last year or two, but that is why I go with them in a tight final, I cannot see past them they dominate up here so much.
Posted: 03 Sep 2003, 05:50
copehead wrote: I think Blair while he would give you a plus in the place kicking would give you several minus' vs Spencer elswhere.
Blair's a full-back. Plays there for Canterbury at NPC and Super 12 (the latter because McDonald's been injured). Good defence, excellent attacking player, though perhaps not first choice on the latter basis. However, no team can expect to win the World Cup without a class goalkicker. Spencer isn't, Blair is.
Of course, being an adopted Cantabrian, I am still pretending to be shocked that they left Andrew Mehrtens out of the squad. Mehrts is returning to form in the NPC after a season dogged by injury, and he's a proven match winner at the highest level with ball and boot. He could have gone as cover, at least...
Posted: 03 Sep 2003, 06:27
I thought you had some absolute speed merchant to play at 15 name beginning with M?
I agree about Mehrtens. I have always thought that NZ have dispensed with people very early in the careers. Mehrtens isn't that old and he has been, and will be again for Munster or whereever he is going, acracking player.
I suppose NZ always seem to have such a plethora of fresh talent coming through that they can be cavelier with their riches.
Jason Leonard would have been retired for 6 years if he was a kiwi
Posted: 03 Sep 2003, 07:36
Sir Henry I also think you're being too harsh on Carlos. He's in the team because of what he can do and shouldn't be dropped because of what he can't. If we'd followed that reasoning in 1995 then Jonah Lomu would never have played because of his defensive lapses. I'd rather have a fully fit and mentally together Mehrtens at first five but it's not going to happen. The simple fact is that Spencer is the form No 10 and deserves his spot, if we play England and it comes down to goal kicks then we'll lose whoever we had as a kicker. It's unfair to blame the loss to England on Carlos, if Justin Marshall hadn't pulled up lame with tryline in sight, and if Caleb Ralph was an international winger's arsehole the result would have been different.
England are a solid, well drilled team and with Wilkinson they have a genuine world beater. If they can suck teams into playing their style of rugby than they'll clean up but I can't see that happening. On dry grounds and warm conditions they're not going to be able to foot in the backs and in the loose forwards. England ran in some good tries against Australia but have you noticed how strong the Blacks tackling has been this season with Collins, Jack and McCaw (and Reuben to a lesser extant). I seriously think that the Blacks are still peaking whereas England are too old, slow and overhyped to go all the way.
Australia and South Africa are in a bit of disaray but can't be written off either. France are the dark horses and on any given day they'll beat anyone but I'm picking a loss to the All Blacks in the final by a dozen with tries to Corey Flynn and Mils Muliana (two of my hometown heroes).
I'll look forward to popping in here to see what you, Copehead and anyone else thinks about the tournament. It really is a great fucking game isn't it?
Posted: 03 Sep 2003, 09:45
Lot's of people have been saying England are too old, too slow and have peaked too soon. I simply don't believe it. They have been peaking for 18 months now.
They have Players who are the best in world in their position ( Johnson, Hill, Dellaligio, Wilkinson, Greenwood ) and plent of others who are world class. They are also settled, Woodward doesn't have to be fiddling around come the world cup the side, bar a few positions, picks itself. Lots of teams still seem to be unsure what their best team is.
They are not too old, the oldies are probably fitter now than they were 5 years ago.
I think People from down south underestimate this England side because they don't see them in action that often. Up north we will never understimate a 3N side because we have a history of being put to the sword by them. We will even respect the bok though god knows it is difficult at the moment.
I truly believe, and by god it hurts to say this, that this England side are one of the great sides, one of the immortals. I fully expect them to win the world cup and i believe that only France or NZ could possibly beat them on the day. But seeing as they have to play both those sides there is still room for a hiccup.
This is going to be a fantastic autumn, god bless whoever invented the world cup.
Posted: 03 Sep 2003, 11:16
I didnt see any of the 3N games this year, so am not as up on them as I used to be.Any side that can afford to leave out Mehrtens must be damm good, but then I have had a soft spot for Spenser for a while.He does play "All Black" rugby, even if he cant kick.I have to say that England will be phenomenal, unless they lose concentration-the Irish or French could beat them at a stretch, but I dont see that happening in a World Cup.The Boks look distinctly second division, and could well find themselves severely hamstrung by disciplinary issues.Aussies can never be ruled out, but something is missing-arrogance maybe?
Scotland managed to lose to Wales at the weekend, so hopefully thats the "kick up the arse" department sorted out.Laney looks far too slow, both physically and mentally, and Townshend-I just dont know.I think I would play him.He plays fantastically every few games, but is equally shocking equally often.We need world class players badly, so I dont see how we can afford to leave him out.Also, we need to sort out our line out.Its the only area of our game where we are truly world class, but we have been to slack ,too long.If we are not careful, we 'll be lucky to make the semis.
Posted: 03 Sep 2003, 12:51
There are some excellent comments on this thread already, but I am far too pissed to respond. I've had to type this really slowly to avoid typos, etc, and rewrite several words already, but thanks for the good comments so far, esp those by Todd.
Posted: 03 Sep 2003, 13:20
If we are not careful, we 'll be lucky to make the semis.
That nearly made me choke on my apple! We'll be lucky to make the final whistle.
Posted: 03 Sep 2003, 16:53
As a Welshmun, the recent results and the prospect of humiliation in the RWC only have one silver lining - it should keep Max Boyce off the telly!
Posted: 03 Sep 2003, 22:27
kiwi_todd wrote:Sir Henry I also think you're being too harsh on Carlos. He's in the team because of what he can do and shouldn't be dropped because of what he can't.
You're misunderestimating me! I'm not advocating dropping Spencer. Mehrts - if he were fully fit and had played at the top of his form in the Super 12 and Tri Nations would be first choice fly half (can't get used to this first five business), but he isn't and didn't. They should have taken him to Aussie as cover, though.
No, I think they need a world class kicker in the side
, and Blair gives them that option. It would be tough on Mils Muliaina, though, but as I said before, Blair is a very good player in his own right, and I don't think the side would be measurably weakened by playing him as first choice full back.
And I can blame Spencer's kicking for the loss to England earlier this year. He missed some straightforward penalties. If they'd gone over, NZ would have won - simple as that. I remain worried that he might do the same in a crunch world cup match: the NZ backs are a great try scoring force, but we can't count on being able to score freely against either Australia or England. In those games, goal kicking will be absolutely crucial.
Posted: 03 Sep 2003, 22:36
My tips for upsets: Argentina over Australia in opening game and Sth Africa over England. I reckon Sth Africa have at least one big game left in them.
But after a period of intense worry over John Mitchells coaching style, I now firmly believe that the AB's will unleash a style of rugby, so fast and attack orientated that it will lift rugby to a new level and that they will crush everyone, including England, totally and humiliatingly. They kept an awful lot up their sleeves during the tri-nations.
Of course Im leaving myself wide open for a bit of humilation myself, but Im very optimistic.
Posted: 04 Sep 2003, 00:19
Joe Moody wrote:But after a period of intense worry over John Mitchells coaching style, I now firmly believe that the AB's will unleash a style of rugby, so fast and attack orientated that it will lift rugby to a new level and that they will crush everyone, including England, totally and humiliatingly. They kept an awful lot up their sleeves during the tri-nations.
Of course Im leaving myself wide open for a bit of humilation myself, but Im very optimistic.
Yeah I agree here. I know its trendy now to say you always trusted Mitchell but to be honest the more he clammed up and upset the likes of that tosser Martin Devlin on sport radio the more I grew to admire him - fuck the critics, fuck the mewling, whinging pea-brained wanker that is your average sport radio phone-in guest in New Zealand (I never actually phone up by the way - just listen in!). Let Mitchell get about his job.
And sorry BOSH - I just can't accept all these "if" arguments. If Spencer had done this, if Mitchell had done that. That is living in a dream world - Christ "if" Webb Ellis had never picked up the ball we wouldn't be having this discussion at all. If's have no bearing on reality. What the All Blacks have to do is deal with the reality on the day of beating whoever they meet - one game at a time. No ifs. No buts.
I can platinum-plated guarantee anybody that when the referee blows full time in the final he's not going to give the Cup to the team with less points on the board because "if" they'd done this or that they "might" have won.
Posted: 04 Sep 2003, 00:54
I bring bad news on the line out front, Scott Murray twisted his knee badly against Wales, carted off to Hossie. Let's hope he's back on his feet and soaring like a salmon( @Bill McClaren ) come the world cup.
Posted: 04 Sep 2003, 07:09
My appologies BOSH, I did rather misread your comments. I think Ben Blair does make a good addition to the squad but I wouldn't start him. He tends to get caught out on defence when the backline all have to move up together. Muliana is stronger, faster and he's played a lot with Howlett and Rockofoko. That said, you're right that the team as a whole wouldn't lose much whoever was playing fullback. I'm not convinved that goal kicking is going to be as important as everyone thinks, I'm picking a more 1995 style of tournament (hopefully without the poisoning).
Copehead you're probably right also, the "too old" thing does seem a bit like clutching straws. However, I do think that they are too one dimensional (although it's been a successful dimension so far). I'm very keen to see what happens when they play Samoa especially whether they play Wilkinson or bottle him up with cotton wool.
Posted: 04 Sep 2003, 07:55
Woodward has stated that there is no use protecting Wilkinson as it would be contrary to all the lad believes in. he likes to get out there get stuck in and put in the big hits. Good on him I say, He's playing him against the frogs on saturday and he will play him for the big games in the RWC and I would think that SA and Samoa would be the games he'd play him in the group round.
I don't think he needs protecting by the coach, I honestly think the refs are the ones who will wrap him in cotton wool. The first guy to clatter him late or straight arm him will be lucky to get a yellow and more likely be off. This isn't fair, it's just what I think will happen. Everyone knows how good he is and how important he is to England and woe betide the dozy lock who shoes him.
Perhaps we will witness Smaoa playing out a game with 12 men unless they rein in there natural, exhuberent, christian instinct to bosh everything in site regardless of where the ball is.
I must say I don't think England are 1 dimensional. They can do everything except cut loose in a joyous and free way as the french, kiwis the walls and even Wales can.
Even when they are running freely it still looks preplanned. They just don't have that natural flair. But then again they don't really need it, they are happy enough to throttle teams to death and personally I also enjoy that, it is just another way to play the game and not boring as long as you understand the skill that, for instance, a 50m rolling maul takes.
Players with that natural broken field flair don't keep it long ( Balshaw, Robinson, Healey ) and the only reasons I can think of are :
1) Over planning
2) Over emphasis of defensive duties
3) fear of error.
But I think the fact they make fewer mistakes than any other team while making them less interesting to watch will also ultimately win them the cup.
Posted: 04 Sep 2003, 21:02
Arthur Crud wrote:And sorry BOSH - I just can't accept all these "if" arguments. If Spencer had done this, if Mitchell had done that. That is living in a dream world - Christ "if" Webb Ellis had never picked up the ball we wouldn't be having this discussion at all. If's have no bearing on reality.
I take your point, Arturo, but "ifs" are at the heart of any sporting discussion. Players get judged by their performances, and Spencer's kicking in that game was poor. It hasn't been exactly ultra-reliable since, either. "If" his kicking was as good as Mehrtens or Blair's, we wouldn't be having this discussion...