West Ghana – U!S!A! U!S!A! U!S!A! Happy Belated Independence Day, We had me a great day watching the fireworks and also belatedly celebrating the birthday of fellow RWU contributor Matt McCarthy. Now back to work…
The Summer Tours are over for the Northern Hemisphere visiting the Southern Hemisphere. With that, we’ll look at how the visitors (Six Nations + Georgia) fared. Next week, we’ll talk about the hosts.
Wales: The reigning 6N champs went 0-3 in the land of Oz. They lost all three games by a combined total of 6 points, so that was encouraging. It is obvious they can compete but they need to tighten things up and show the killer instinct at the finish. They showed that they don’t need Jamie Roberts to be good, however, there was a clear inability to be clutch and closeout a match. Frankly, it is less about talent and more about mental approach and… getting a good bounce here and there. Hopefully when Coach Wayne Gatland comes back, he can sort that out. But Coach Rob Howley did show he is a capable head coach.
England: England managed to go 0-2-1 against South Africa. The overall performance was encouraging if you were an England fan. They never quite dominated but they did look competitive. It was impressive how after the inability to threaten in attack in the first match, Coach Lancaster was willing to ring in changes to create a threat. Some key players were unavailable for the second and third test but he didn’t back down from the more expansive approach.
France: France finished their tour of Argentina 1-1. The first game was surprisingly close penalty-kick battle (23 – 20) that was won on a try-scoring kick and chase by the Pumas. France looked sluggish in the shocking defeat. It all the more shocking because it was a come from behind victory for an Argentine side with only 1 player of national team experience. Apparently Les Bleus woke up – they thumped the Pumas 49-10 in the second match. But while the French seem like they will forever have a problem with consistency, they did manage to get their younger players more game time. They also showed the right anger and aggression following a bad loss.
Ireland: Ugly and winless (0-3). They lost the first test by 25 points but came out fired-up the second – which they nearly tied, if not for a few questionable scrum decisions by referee Nigel Owens and a great Dan Carter drop goal. Instead of more of the same in the third test, they were completely shutdown 60-0. Unacceptable, but we all know the IRFU is not overflowing with funds so they will let Coach Declan Kidney finish his contract in 2013 then bring in a new coach. I hope it is a Kiwi or saffa, they would be most familiar with the intense provincialism that permeates Irish rugby.
Scotland: The only visitors with a successful tour, they went undefeated going 4-0. The managed to beat a depleted Australia side in a windy & rainy game that looked more like it was in Scotland than Australia. They also played Fiji once and Samoa twice, which is rarely done by a 6N nations team – and should be done more often. They managed to easily dispose of Fiji easily despite searing heat, while Samoa put up a sterner fight. The right bounces of the ball went Scotland’s way, though, and made the difference. Scotland also got younger players in and capped the big Dutch wing Tim Visser, so there is plenty to build on with the right backs coach.
Italy: Despite sending a younger side, somewhat of an A+ side, they went undefeated (3-0) in their tour of Argentina, Canada and the USA, using their strength in the forwards to win each. While it’s great that some of their forwards are good at the core abilities that make Italy excel, the Azzuri backline still leaves lots to be desired.
Georgia: Competitive but winless (0-2) in the USA and Canada. But as they were sending their A+ side, not too much should be read into this other than they really don’t have the depth. They do have depth in the forwards but their backline leaves much to be desired. They do have more youth involvement and seem to be getting better judging from their U-20 performances. They just have some work to do.
That’s our two cents on the visiting squads. As we said up top, we’ll talk about the Southern Hemisphere hosts next time.
You can find me on the Rugby Wrap Up Facebook page or on Twitter @JunoirBlaber and @RugbyWrapUp, respectively. And as always, stay low and keep pumping those legs.