4 Jul

The Sins of Spin
by Colin Johnston
4 Jul 2005

A quick digression before my collected thoughts regarding Woodward, Campbell, truth, justice and the Lions way.

Firstly congratualtions must go to Messrs Kelleher and Carter for their joint brilliance. I have previously stated Kelleher wasn’t up to filling Marshall’s boots when Marshall heads for these shores in 10 days time. Having seen the performance Kelleher put in on Saturday, epitomised by the accuracy and speed of service that allowed Daniel Carter to do pretty much whatever he liked, when he liked, I shall not scribe such nonsense again. The fact is, over and above the Rolls Royce service, Kelleher made breaks and put in strong defense when he had to and generally would easily have been man of the match if Carter hadn’t put in the performance of the year!

Carter’s own performance was sublime. He ran, passed, tackled, kick, scored and generally played his way into the history. Thirty three points against the Lions in a series is good, in one Test match it is a phenomenal feat. His ascendency was in stark contrast to Wilco who made a poor showing. Jonny then got hurt again and probably should recognise that it is time to hang up his international aspirations and settle for 5 years of club rugby, make a few more quid then retire into sporting history. It isn’t because Wilco isn’t good enough, he is still a fine player, he is just too brittle having taken a pasting for 8 years on the International scene. Carter’s style of play is the future, Jonny’s game ended in 2003 with a drop goal.

So, well played to Carter and Kelleher plus all of the NZ squad for their great displays of rugby in the last two weeks. Series secure, job done and a fifty point drubbing looming in Auckland.

Okay, digression over. Onto Clive and the Sins of Spin. It sounds like a title for a kids book and frankly that is where it should reside in the library referenced “Fantasy”. Mad Emperor Nero fiddled whilst Rome burnt, mad coach Woodward spins sol called news stories. History will show that neither ploy was in any way succesful and neither individual will be fondly remembered. Rather than having the whole press corps of the rugby World constantly re-examining the footage of Umaga and Meallamu up ending BOD they should have been concentrating on the reason they are in NZ in the first place: to play rugby and win a Test series. Watch the rest of the video not just the first minute, pick up the opposition’s strengths, work hard on your own weaknesses and then go out and give it one hell of a shot.

Unfortunately for the Lions followers in NZ and throughout the World we have seen precious little of the playing rugby and the Lions have lost the Test series – irrespective of the way SCW talks it up. Alaistair and Clive are the new Derek and Clyde. They are the newest “alternative” comedy double act to take to the small screen. Answers such as “I don’t think we got a hammering” and “I don’t think the gulf between the teams is anything like the score line suggests..” are complete lunacy sound lke the deluded fantasy of a deranged megalomaniac. Interestingly, both answers included “I don’t think”. Perhaps that is the problem? Has Sir Clive stopped thinking now he has the arch puppeteer with him? No need to think, Clive, Alaistair will merely shove his hand up your backside and work your mouth whenever a few lines of utter nonsense are required.

It would be almost comprehensible if Campbell was an expert or even interested in rugby. He isn’t. He supports Burnley FC a mickey mouse soccer team from the arse-end of Lancashire. SCW has clearly taken leave of his senses and is now merely spewing up everything that Campbell says. I had severe doubts about the necessity, worth or wisdom of Campbell being on this tour. Having listened to the pish that has spouted forth since the first Test I am now convinced that taking Campbell is the second biggest blunder SCW has made. The biggest cock up to date still being the selection of the first Test team prior to April 2005.

Perhaps SCW was watching a different Test Series? Perhaps he is on medication or is merely so close to a breakdown that nobody dare remind him of the Emperor and his New Clothes. Well if that is the case let’s push him over the edge. Clive, you have failed, you have let the British Isles down. You are an embarrassment to rugby and have turned into parody of a sporting coach. The sooner you clear off to Southampton FC the better it will be for rugby.

Contrary to what Clive and Alaistair say here is how it was in Test 2: The Lions were out thought by Kelleher and Carter – fact. The All Blacks were quicker, slicker and more cohesive in everything thing they did – fact. The passing that was strung together for Umaga’s and Sivivatu’s tries was brilliant. The pace at which it was executed, astonishing. The back play in NZ is years ahead of what we have seen in the UK and frankly, the system that England played from 1999 to date, and unfortunately the Lions have tried to adopt on this tour, looks so old fashioned the games should be in black and white and run at x2 speed. All facts.

I have a feeling that this week we shall here about the one scrum the Lions took against the head. The positive side of learning from new cultures and new playing methods and how much it means to the plyers. Oh yes and of course making new friends (that’ll be Campbell again) and saying that the third test victory is within our grasp….

It is now time for SCW to pay for the Sins of Spin. Phone the looney bin, prepare the padded cell and send for the nice men with the sedatives, needles and strait jackets: Sir Clive Woodward is on his way!

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