14 Oct

Here We Go Again – eyes down for the RWC
by Colin Johnston
14 Oct 2006

Well Tri-Nations is out the way, the Northern Hemisphere’s mini-tours to the South a distant memory and we now have the propspect of the Southern Hemisphere sides coming North for some Christmas shopping.

‘Quick aside, sitting watching the English Premiership this evening I think I can safely say that there will be many Christmas cards handed out, all yellow. One ref, Dave Pearson I think his name is, has justed binned 3 back rowers, all for minor misdemeanours but all within sight of the posts and thus, to his mind you go off. Can you imagine that in a test match? Course not, because someone with such a cavalier attitude to sin binning couldn’t possibly have a crack at being a test match ref. Er, not the case. The Wales v All Blacks match will be ref’d by this pillock. Something to look forward to.

Anyway, what are my predictions for the year ahead between now and France ’07?

Starting at the top, geographically, Scotland are looking a bit healthier than they have for many a year and there is a solid chance of three home wins in their 3 match Autumn series. Aussie will be the toughest one but they are there to be beaten. They look solid for the 6N and will lose gallantly in the last 8 of the World Cup.

England are looking hapless. Their coach is constantly undermined by the RFU, players past and present and the press. The players don’t play with any belief, selection policy is erratic and the Premiership’s obsession with signing tired old 3N players for a fortune, is starting to catch up with them. This is of course exacerbated by the fact that England still believe that the Vintage of ’03 is still the way to play the game. Can you believe that England were actually thinking of bringing Woodward back as overall supremo of all things rugby in England? Beggars belief but says it all. mediocre Autumn, and 6N, eventually becoming losing quarter finalists in RWC.

Of the others, Ireland arestanding still, Wales flatter to deceive and France remain the only credible threat to global supremacy from the North. France will have a solid Autumn, win the 6N and be in the RWC final. Can they win it? Only they can say.

For the tourists this Autumn, NZ will show us 3 of their 27 starting combination permutations. Constant tinkering could still backfire on them yet. Presumably the coaches actually have a strong suspicion of the starting line up, they just don’t like to give the rest of us a clue. Should make the final but they have self destructed time and again when it really mattered.

The Aussies? Well no one knows what there team is and I guess we wont find out until next September in France. Semi-finalists in France, maybe but if they don’t get their act together and get the dogged consistency they used to produce they could be a quarter final casualty.

South Africa? They look pretty poor, cynical, one dimensional and back to thuggery. I played golf with Kim Elgie last month, a 74 year old South African that played rugby for Scotland in the 50′s (played centre against Jardine’s touring ABs so he has seen classy backs up close), he couldn’t think of one redeeming feature of the Boks apart from the fact that they have a good skipper. Enough said. Losing quarter finalists.

This Autumn in the North starts the RWC countdown year, the rugby we see between now and the New Year will start to define what happens next year. Could be good, then again we could be snowed under with the yellow cards I mentioned above and wonder why we are bothering to pay for satellite TV to watch rugby at all. What a thought.

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