IVORY COAST – After 4 rounds of The Rugby Championship, a few story lines are developing. Most significantly, adding Argentina to what was formerly known as the Tri-Nations, has been to the benefit of all the participating nations… and rugby fans globally. That said, let’s look at the leader-board for The Rugby Championship and break down the situation for each team:
The Rugby Championship Leader Board after 4 Rounds:
New Zealand: Yes, they have won 4 of 4. However, some of their wins have been less than impressive. The last victory had more to do with the Springboks losing than the All Blacks winning. There is clearly a RWC hangover. Key players have left, retired and left for pension money overseas, while some are in poor form. “The Zoo” – the management team led by Steve Hansen – seem to be unable to decide who are part of their first choice 15. By the way, Graham Henry’s staff was called “The Cartel.” Granted, some of this player juggling is meant to keep them sharp, but some of it is because of player inconsistency. I have a bad feeling about the trip to South Africa and they may be lucky just to escape Argentina with their lives.
Australia: You would think winning two consecutive games would buy Robbie Deans more time and credibility as their coach. It really has not, though, despite the injury list being shoulder to fingertips in length. Fans know the Wallabies are thin and were fortunate to grab two comeback wins especially the one against Argentina, that has David Blaine scratching his head. However, now they are traveling to South Africa and Argentina and that changes things. Our bookie is offering ridiculous points to pick Australia to win either of those two, especially the Los Pumas match. That should tell you something. All things considered, if the Wallabies can split and go 3-3 in the tourney, it will keep Deans from the guillotine until the end of his contract next year.
South Africa: I don’t know Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer well, but judging from his walkie-talkie tendencies, I suggest he not read the local paper.
See the following walk-talkie activity by Meyer.
Meyer’s dream to coach South Africa has quickly become a nightmare. He has detractors from all corners regarding his alleged provincial bias – a charge all Springbok head coaches deal with. The fact is that Meyer coached the Super 15 Bulls so the number of Bulls he selects is always an issue. Next, as Mathew Drew Turner believes, his game plan, substitutions and press-box demeanor are open to question. His supporters are pleading for calm and patience, but a 3-2-2 record after 7 is the lowest win % for a Bok coach in quite some time. Meyer may not last past the End of the Year Tours.
Argentina: Los Pumas have shown they can compete and challenge. Unfortunately for head coach Santiago Phelan, his team have yet to show the killer instinct of their mascot. They have had South Africa on the ropes at home and their feet on Australia’s throat in Oz, but could not seal the deal. Their next two games at home will present some of the best atmosphere in rugby history. The bookies say they will scalp the Aussies and give the Kiwis all they can handle.
That is it for for now. We’ll check back on Monday, but the Leader Board will look the same…
And as always, stay low and keep pumping those legs.