“… how is a team of higher caliber players with a smattering of Springboks playing against a lesser division side a fair match?”
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA – Lots of great rugby to report on. Grab a coffee or pour yourself a nice scotch from our friends LoveScotch.com and let’s get to our Weekend Rugby Wrap-Up of the Bledisloe Cup, Heineken Cup, Americas Rugby Championship, and Amlin, Currie, & ITM Cupaction.
The 2012 Bledisloe III: The All Blacks winning streak has been stopped! But… They are still undefeated. In a match that most experts (present company included) saw as a landslide, the Australians valiantly fought to a draw. Indeed, people saw this as big a win for the Wallabies, a loss for the All Blacks and a fair result. But there are those, including members of our RWU Team, that hate the concept of ties, especially in Bledisloe Cup finales. To that point, the New Zealand were denied a chance to surpass the longest win streak in Tier 1 rugby, having to settle instead for a 16-game undefeated streak. And don’t think the streak didn’t mean something to them. Captain Richie McCaw called for a scrum after the final whistle and they drove down the field, only to have Dan Carter’s winning kick attempt sail wide. That the match was a dead rubber may have had a hand in Kiwi pack’s performance and uncharacteristic handling errors but we’d rather credit a tenacious Aussie defense that gave the All Blacks nothing… Final score: 18-18
Heineken Cup: Round 2 of the Heineken Cup had some great rugby and interesting results. Ulster struggled a bit in the wind and rain but still managed a victory against Edinburgh in Scotland. Champions Leinster once again flattered to deceive with their victory. One wonders when they will get on track.
Meanwhile the French contingent sent a clear statement that this year’s winner could well emerge from the Top 14 again. Clermont dismantled an Exter side that Leinster struggled with. Toulouse woke up after spotting Treviso an 18-9 half-time lead to take the game… Toulon had to find an extra gear to get by Cardiff… Also looking strong were Saracens – featuring Chris Wyles of TEAM USA. The Sarries took down Racing Metro 92… Harlequins, led again by fly-half Ben Botica – son of RWU Friend Frano – went to Connacht and got a win. That’s something they failed to do last year… More tomorrow with the results from our Expert Panel’s Heineken Cup Picks.
Here are all the scores :
Pool 4 Castres 21 – 16 Northampton
Pool 4 Glasgow 8 – 19 Ulster
Pool 2 Saracens 30 – 13 Racing Metro 92
Pool 2 Benetton Treviso 21 – 33 Toulouse
Pool 3 Connacht 22 – 30 Harlequins
Pool 3 Biarritz 38 – 17 Zebre
Pool 5 Scarlets 13 – 20 Leinster
Pool 5 Exeter 12 – 46 Clermont Auvergne
Pool 1 Munster 33 – 0 Edinburgh
Pool 2 Leicester 39 – 22 Ospreys
Pool 6 Cardiff Blues 14 – 22 Toulon
Pool 6 Montpellier 33 – 18 Sale
The ITM Cup: The finals for the two-tiered competition is set. Just to be clear the winner of the Championship is promoted to the Premiership (no promotion/relegation match). The annual play-off, big-match choke by Wellington occurred again… you can set your watch to it. Wellington blew a second half lead to Auckland as the Blue & Whites picked up steam late, to get the victory… Canterbury found more in the well than Taranaki, as the match went into extra-time after being a draw in regulation time. Three Canterbury tries in extra time saw them through. This ensures that the Premiership winner will come from one of the two teams that have won all the ITM Cups since 2000, other than 2004… In the Championship, Counties Manakau romped over Southland and Otago beat Tasman in a thriller. The finals will be extra intense, as each province has had the All Blacks cleared to return for those matches.
The Americas Rugby Championship: The USA Select XV had a disappointing tournament in the 2012 ARC. They lost top prospect and team captain Cam Dolan and young Eagle’s backrow star Taylor Mokate to injury. This was before they lost their final match against Uruguay. Meanwhile, Argentina dominated the competition from start to finish. The Yaguaretés took on a very strong Canada “A” but came away with the win…For those that don’t know, the ARC is a developmental tournament with participating nations sending their second teams, comprised primarily of domestic players. No player can hold more than three caps.
The Currie Cup playoff matches were played this weekend along with 1st of the Promotion/Relegation home and home series. The Sharks looked dominant in their match-up against the Blue Bulls and qualified for their third successive Currie Cup Premier Division Final. Western Province took on the defending champion Lions and emerged victorious in a tight battle. The regular season last place province the Free State Cheetahs took on the 1st Division champions the Eastern Province Kings. As expected, it looks like Naka Drotske‘s Cheetahs will be in the Premier Division again next year after they “Snokklapped” the Kings in the first match of the series. Pardon our soapbox sermon but this Promotion/Regulation game is a farce! In the amateur days it may have been fair, but how is a team of higher caliber players with a smattering of Springboks playing against a lesser division side a fair match? Why even have a 1st division final? The Kings have been either 1st or 2nd in the 1st Division for the last 4 seasons; they should be automatically promoted like every other country does it. If it is so clear a gulf in class, then why have the Leopards and Pumas failed to finish above 4th place in the 1st division, since the Premier division was condensed two years ago? The SARFU continue to make decisions that support the old boys network as opposed to developing the game.
Amlin Challenge Cup: RWU favorites London Welsh earned their first win in European Rugby! And it was the tightest match of the round – against Cavalieri… Stade Francias took care of their fellow Frenchmen Grenoble. As per usual, there were some massively lopsided victories, but there were quality match-ups too.
Here are the scores:
Thu – 18th Oct 12
Pool 1 Gloucester 25 – 13 Bordeaux-Begles
Pool 4 Agen 22 – 27 Bath
Sat – 20th Oct 12
Pool 1 London Irish 69 – 26 Mont de Marsan
Pool 2 Worcester 90 – 3 Rovigo
Pool 2 Perpignan 90 – 12 Bizkaia Gernika RT
Pool 3 Newport-Gwent D’gons 19 – 22 Bayonne
Pool 4 Bucuresti 42 – 27 Calvisano
Pool 5 Cavalieri Prato 31 – 32 London Welsh
Pool 5 Stade Francais 28 – 25 Grenoble
Sun – 21st Oct 12
Pool 3 Mogliano Rugby 12 – 59 Wasps
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That is it for me for now. Please feel free to comment below, look for and “Like” our Facebook Rugby Wrap Up Page and follow us on Twitter @RugbyWrapUp, @JunoirBlaber, @Declan Yeats and @Mathew Drew Turner, respectively.
And as always, stay low and keep pumping those legs.