October 24th - The Curtain Has Finally Fallen
France; you turned up, you were magnificent, you were VERY unlucky; vive la France.
A New Zealand state of national mourning was avoided by the preverbial skin of the teeth last night. The All Blacks were a shadow of the side seen in earlier rounds, the French, like a Pheonix, had risen from the ashes.
I don't know what it looked like on TV but I guess it was probably not sparkling viewing. Being there was electric however. I know that 80 minutes is just that; 80 minutes, but it passed in the blink of an eye. The All Blacks dominance at the start soon faded, and for long periods the Black support were biting their nails to the knuckle joints.
Dusautoir was immense.
McCaw wasn't. I wait to see if anything is done about his 'attack' on Parra. I doubt the lily-livered IRB will bother. After all he is not Samoan or called Sam.
It was probably coincidence but when Dusautoir went over for his try the police came out of their bunkers to line the pitch. Perhaps they foresaw a disaster of epic proportions.
The bottom line is the best team in the tournament won. Good news
The 2nd best team in the tournament came 4th.
French rugby is not yet dead.
English rugby is a mess.
The tournament from this side of the world was wonderfully well managed. The country is fantatsic, the people warm and friendly. The trip of a lifetime. To New Zealand and her people we say; 'THANK YOU!'
As Bugs Bunny says; 'That's all folks'October 23rd - Auckland - Final Day
Just read Ian Geering's note about yesterday's results. Just fantastic - well done all. A special mention to Tom Nichol for his debut and try scoring debut at that.
The atmosphere builds throughout the city, in fact across the whole country. All the pundits say All Blacks, and by a distance. Most people continue to ask; 'how on earth did a side as poor as France make it to the final?'
Additional fan zones are being erected around the city, roads are being closed, flags the size of football fields flown and space in the NZRFU trophy cabinet being found. I hope the (over) optimism of the locals is not misplaced.
For the sake of the integrity of the tournament I hope France get a hammering. To bring the locals back down to earth I hope for a shock French win. Most of all I hope for a good game.
I know I have laboured the point but I am shocked by how England, even now, continues to be vilified for their performance on and off the field. Wales on the other hand continue to win many new friends.
The tournament organisation, the New Zealander hospitality and many of the games have been superb. Naturally we have had a trip of a lifetime. I have a tear in my eye as I write. It has been just BRILLIANT.
The tour company have sprung a surprise by giving us free hospitality pre and post match tonight plus transfers to and from the game. Needless to say I will be front and centre making the very most of what is available.
Tomorrow is our last day in New Zealand and my last blog. I will reflect on the game and the tournament as a whole.
On Wednesday I will turn my full attention to CRFC and will do my upmost to be a great Chairman and Commercial Director.
For the last time......................... KEEP WATCHING THIS SPACE
October 21st - Auckland
Just got back from Eden Park so......................
...............let me cut straight to the chase; the best side won on the night. Australia were disciplined, took their chances when they were presented to them. Wales didn't.
Yet again goal kicking let the Welsh down. They defended well in most areas of the game, the lineout was much better but the scrum was still shaky without Adam Jones. Some of the key players in previous games; Faletau, Roberts, North and Phillips, stuttered and there was some poor decision making at crucial times.
There remain many, many positive aspects for Wales in that it is young side playing attractive rugby, they are extremely fit and with Lloyd Williams, North, Faletau, Scott Williams and Jonathan Davies looking world class it augurs well for the future. I also think the Welsh team have conducted themselves with humility and professionalism, unlike a certain team who play in white.
It was a privilege to see Nathan Sharp get his 100th cap and truly upsetting to see Quaid Cooper having to leave the field with a serious injury. Although Berwick Barnes was voted man of the match I thought Will Genia was superb.
Not a classic but still a good game. An excellent atmosphere, generally good humoured. I have some gripes though................................
the Mexican wave.................................. it should be banned
booing kicks ........................ disgraceful
people who turn up late and then can't find their seat ................ muppets
people who insist on blaming the referee for everything, including their own team's incompetence
finally the ridiculous 90 second advertising break before kick off. STOP IT!!!!!!!!
Wayne Barnes had a reasonable game. He made a mess of a couple of scrum calls, and missed a few offsides. He got no help from his assistants for two forward passes. Wales benefitted from one that was missed. Australia were penalised when a pass was called forward when it probably wasn't.
Wales have to look at themselves and NOT be satisfied with 4th place. They should be asking themselves how can they be more ruthless and be more clinical in their finishing.Well done Australia.
October 20th - Fiji
Just a short missive today as the rugby only gets going again tomorrow. Before the rugby I have to say Fiji is just sensational. The weather has been fantastic and the people are warm and friendly.
Yesterday we travelled on a 83m schooner around several of the Fijian islands, some appropriately named Bounty Island and Treasure Island. We anchored at Modriki Island, this is where the Tom Hanks film Castaway was shot, and snorkelled amongst the coral reef. The fish and coral were truly breath-taking.The trip was without question paradise on earth and the beer and wine non stop. Mmmmmm!!! Here is the recurring theme again.
Anyway I see nothing has changed in the world of rugby; Lievremont is hacked off with his players and his players are hacked off with Lievremont. I see Cueto has been defending England's performance; 'it is better to play ugly and win than to play pretty and lose'. I don't disagree with you Mark but honestly playing ugly against 2nd tier sides and scraping a win and playing ugly against a woeful French side and losing. Come on!!!!!!!!!!!
I am surprised, but delighted to see both Wales and Australia have selected almost full strength sides for the (meaningless) 3rd and 4th play-off. This is testament to how both sides have approached the tournament to date. I would assume that if England were playing they would have played Pippa Middleton at Hooker, Samantha Cameron at 10 and Ed Milliband out on the left wing.
The New Zealanders have started to get the trophy polish out already. Not a bad call because if they don't beat this French side, and beat them by a big margin then something is dramatically wrong.
The All Blacks to win comfortably - perhaps by as many as 20 points
Wales to beat Australia by less then 5.Only few days left so please stay with us until the end of this epic adventure.................