I'm sorry to shock you like that.
I would say that luck was on my side, just like the disastrous Tri-Nations season 2 or 3 years ago, where I missed two of the hidings the ABs were handed out.
But do you really think that I need to see the entire game to have something to write about? (That's a rhetorical question - stop talking to your computer, people are looking!)
So what did I see: the 'highlights' on the One Network News on Saturday evening. And since then I have heard another topic to discuss, more anon.
So nice of the Rugby Gods to make the game as complete a parallel with last years final. They even managed to organise the same referee, Andre Watson - Aggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!
Damn I hate it when that happens.
Nil all, until the 20th minute, when Mr. Watson apparently ordered a penalty for some reason that the commentator (with 20 years experience - says he) couldn't fathom! Well, not much of a surprise there!
The Ref and TJ miss an obvious forward pass before one of the Ponies tries. Again, I talked about this last year: the Ref is so far behind the play that he can't see, the TJ is busy rushing around behind the line to see if the try is scored properly. Who is watching the game, I mean apart from yours truly (or not as may be). That's right... nobody. Except for the SANZA referee committee member, who makes a little red pen mark in his book, and sternly tells everybody off afterwards. And what happens? Sod all!!
Welcome to S12 - 2001, the game that time forgot!!!
Anon: The other worry of the weekend (apparently) is the new laws. "What bloody new laws?" I was saying on Sunday night. Some NZ forward / S12 captain, was telling us his tale of woe. "We just didn't cope with the new laws." Do you think that anyone would tell us what laws these might be?
Thankfully the deity that the Radio News did so by accident on Monday. The 'new' tackle ball rule. Yes that's right, the very rule that they changed last year and caused so much fun for so many people.
So now apparently you aren't allowed to go to ground, which I guess is a logical 'improvement' on last years 'only the tackler is allowed to play the ball, everyone else is entering a ruck and must play the ball as such'.
Now you aren't allowed to pile on top of the newly formed ruck, or turn a ground ball into a ruck. You know all those penalties that locks (Norm Maxwell a prime example) were earning at the end of last season, especially in the NPC.
Diving over the top is a fairly sloppy way of controlling the ball anyway, and it was heading the way of a professional foul last year. Well now it is.
And is it any surprise that most locks and many loose forwards are going to find that habit hard to break. The only people I think of who wouldn't have a problem with this new law are Josh Kronfeld and Mark Carter.
And not just for the reason that neither of them are playing anymore. Josh because he was so quick to pick up the ball, he was rarely on the ground. Mark Carter because he was a seagull, and was rarely in any conventional loose forward position - let alone on the ground (and it would have muddied up his uniform anyway)!
This must be some kind of viscious circle. Long ago, to be a flanker, you had to be a good scrummager and be fast to the tackle. Then you had to be able to run a good line off a offensive scrum, picking holes in the defense. Then you had to commit the cover defense, and retain the ball to allow for fast second phase ball for the backs to find extra gaps.
Then a 'freak of nature' (Michael Jones) upped the ante by being so fast to the ball as to regularly snuff out attacks and often effect a turnover.
Most of these advances were simple improvements of the game initiated by clever coaches and players.
Now the IRB have decided to add their own improvements in their own inimitable style. A style that seems to have more to do with another game that was invented in England, but one that is admittedly very fast and quite exciting.
No not League, I was thinking of Soccer!
This people, is what we call progress!