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All Blacks vs Tonga - What does it mean?
All Blacks vs Tonga - What does it mean?
(Great performance by the AB's but....)
18 Jun 2000
[RANT]
Well the new AB era has begun. And bloody impressive it was too!

I'm not gonna comment on the performance of the All Blacks as the score speaks for itself. Also its a little bit churlish to wax lyrically about beating an opponent who simply aren't in the top flight.

What the game further emphasised to me is the difference between the top 5 and the rest. In fact I'd say the top flight really is the Southern Hemisphere giants & France with England not too far behind.

Its great too see the comparative minnows like Wales, Scotland etc win the odd game & get success. But thats all unfortunately it is. Eight times outta ten the top teams will win. Thats not a critism of them of course, just a matter of playing resources.

How's this for an idea? What if the home nations go back to the "old days"?. England didn't tour NZ until 1973. Before then the home nations played as their own countries in the five nations, but toured mainly as the British Lions. Now the AB's/Bok's/Wallabies v's the British Lions is a different kettle of fish. Their record even though ordinary against the AB's is very impressive against the Bok's & the Wallabies. At least it allows the talented players the likes of Wales, Ireland & Scotland do have a chance to play in a team that will be competitive. It also gives the English team the hard underbelly they severly lack in the big games.

Thats not to say the AB's shouldn't play the likes of Tonga or the Boks Canada etc. The game won't develop if that doesn't happen. But wouldn't it be good to have the Lions touring more? I think it would. They used to tour NZ every 4-5 years and they're a great part of rugby history.

Of course it all has implications for the World Cup which is now the main focus in the rugby world. Thats kinda sad in a way as realistically there are only 5 nations who are ever gonna win it! Its not like the soccer world cup where a complete outsider like France can win the thing. The likes of Scotland if they don't tour every year will be even less competitive in the World Cup environment. I mean they first toured NZ in 1976! I think Wales first toured in 1969. Its a fairly recent phenomenon.

Maybe the way for the future is more use of NZ Maori & NZ 'A'. Maybe they should be playing the likes of Tonga in "tests" & being the warm up games for the AB's for the Tri-Nations? Even though it was great seeing the new attitude of the AB's, the wonderful skills etc. But what good really came out of Friday night's game? Even Wayne Smith has come out in the media & said that game did nothing for the Tongans.

I guess what its all about is being realistic about where the depth of world rugby lies.

You can draw parallels with the Super 12. South Africa and Australia want extra teams in the Super 12. But look at the facts; NZ has 5 teams. In any given year their are 3 teams that do well, 1 that does OK, and 1 badly. To me that means we have enough depth for 4 strong teams. Our worst performing team has been the Chiefs. Maybe they should go. Australia has 3 teams. Of them, 1 seemingly does well, 1 OK, and the other badly. To me that means they have enough depth for 2 strong teams. NSW has the same record as the Chiefs throughout the history of S12, so perhaps they should go. That'll never happen (or should happen) but its making a point! South Africa has 4 teams. They seem to have 1 team that does well, 1 OK, and 2 badly. Maybe they only have the depth for 3 strong teams? Northern Bulls would look dodgy in any reduction.

That makes 11 S12 teams from the SH giants. No.12 to make up the numbers could well be an Argentian team based in Bueno Aires OR a Pacific Islands Super Team possibly even based in Auckland/Suva/Apia?

It sounds extreme, but why not? By increasing the number of teams from the current nations playing the S12 all you are doing is stretching the talent further. By introducing entire new countries your expanding the player base greatly. Looking at the Argentine packs performance against the Wallabies, especially in the first half of the international last night, an Argentine team in the professional environment would do wonders for their rugby.

It would do more for Pacific Island rugby & Argentine rugby than one-sided encounters against professional athletes they face now. If the Lions toured more you'd see Celtic dominated sides winning against "us" more often as well. You only have to think back to the '97 Lions in South Africa to see that.

by DH

Let us know what you think!

You're sounding more and more like Keith Quinn every day DH! Although you make more sense (occasionally).
Supposedly this article has been viewed 2084 times since we bothered to start counting*.
(Although it could have just been DH on the Reload button doing some serious ego padding!)