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International Rugby Review - June/July 1999
International Rugby Review - June/July 1999
(Bring it On!!)
08 Jul 1999
[INTL]

As we count down to Rugby World Cup in Oct I thought it would be interesting to just reflect on some of the very interesting (and often very surprising!) Test match results we have seen in the last couple of months.

PacRim

Firstly, the Pacific Rim tournament. This was started in 1996 as a home and away tournament for some of the emerging rugby nations. Initially featuring Canada, the USA, Hong Kong and Japan, it has always been an interesting tournament but it picked up some serious credibility this year when Hong Kong was dropped in favour of south pacific powerhouses Manu Samoa, Fiji, and Tonga.

Here is the final points table.

Team

Played

Won

Drew

Lost

Scored

Allowed

Points

Japan

5

4

0

1

160

119

19

Manu Samoa

5

3

1

1

111

91

17

United States

5

3

0

2

124

115

14

Fiji

5

3

0

2

124

127

14

Tonga

5

1

1

3

88

129

8

Canada

5

0

0

5

90

116

4

Look it over for a sec. Makes for some interesting reading, especially when you consider that Canada won it the first 3 years in a row. Don't look quite so hot now do they? They lost all 5 of their games, and were the only team not to win at home.

One of the main reasons that this competition was particularly interesting this year was the performance of many NZ based, or ex NZ players. For instance Japan team includes some notable import players (incl. ex-All Blacks Graham Bachop and Jamie Joseph) and the Samoan and Fijian teams included many notable rugby and ex-rugby league stars (incl. another ex-All Black Inga 'the Winger', John Shuster and Super 12 finals stars Afato So'oala and Brian Lima).

If there is one thing you can take out of this competition it's that the emerging nations are rapidly shaking that emerging status. I think we can expect too see many of these Pac-Rim teams pushing some of the established nations hard in this years RWC, and I for one will be cheering them on!

South Africa

In other results we have the rather erratic performances of the Springboks, firstly they thump a supposedly competitive Italy (well the current 5 nations teams obviously think they are, or are they just looking for a whipping boy?) fifteen shades of purple in their two match series in Sth Africa (175-3 was the combined score for the two matches!) and then lose to a fiesty Welsh side 29-19 in Cardiff.

Australia

Unlike the Boks the Wallabies have come through their early international season unbeaten but they have been anything but convincing. After comfortably winning the first match of their two match home series against Ireland 46-10 they struggled to win the second one 32-26 after being down at half time.

Next they faced the cocky England side, who outplayed the stunned 'Ockers in the first half with some uncharacteristically attractive running rugby before falling back into their old habits and ultimately let the Aussies take control and the game 22-15.

Not a totally convincing performance, but you can be sure they are happy with the results, especially given the number of injuries to first choice players that they are facing this season.

New Zealand

Any All Black supporter who had followed the super 12 closely would have to be happy with the All Black squad that was selected in late May by our favourite selector and coach, John Hart. (Yeah we have given him so serious stick in the past but we have to admit on the whole he lived up to his word and selected on form rather than past performance, good job Potatohead!)

The All Blacks have played 3 matches in June. Firstly they beat a spirited NZ A side (that has gone on to beat the French, the Brumbies and on Saturday night the Aussie Barbarian team!!) in the trial that was billed as a test 22-11. They then totally demoralised a very strong Samoan team (on paper at least, this result really surprised me!) 71-13 and followed it up with a record 54-7 score against the mecurial (and highly unpredictable) French touring side.

The thing that gives me the most heart about these results so far is the hunger and passion that this years AB squad have shown on the field (of course it's easy to look like you're having fun when you are up 71-13 isn't it!) and the great depth we have in some key positions. In almost every position I would be pretty happy to have the reserve player starting instead if it was required. Particularly falling into this category are the lock, loose forward, first five, half-back and wing/fullback positions. Having to bring Jonah off the bench is a wonderful problem to have at this stage in the year!

Wrap-up

Having said all that I don't think we can take much out of these early (international) season performances, you can be sure that NZ, SA and Aussie will be using the upcoming tri-nations as the yard stick by which to measure their chances going into the World Cup. As reigning champs SA have to hold the favourites tag but that could change completely by the end of the tri-nations series.

Bring it on I say!

by jules

Let us know what you think!

A fair summary of the season so far, although I don't know quite what the Poms have to be cocky about (but they always are), makes it all the sweeter when they lose I must say!

Supposedly this article has been viewed 1544 times since we bothered to start counting*.
(Although it could have just been jules on the Reload button doing some serious ego padding!)