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Grand Slam a Grand Snore for ABs


“Peter de Villiers is the biggest
coaching joke in international sport . . .”

This column should be about the glories of another impending, triumphant, all-conquering, heroic and historical Grand Slam march by the mighty men in black but … well, let’s just say the feeling’s gone.

Chris Rattue, NZ Herald

England, snooooooooooze, Scotland, zzzzzzzzzzz, Ireland, yaaaaaaawn, Wales, zzzzzzzzz …

Trudging off to the northern plains to fight these second-rate cart horses every year isn’t floating the boat any more.

South Africa’s travails against Scotland have restored a bit of lustre to the All Blacks’ achievements. And you can’t blame the All Blacks for winning so easily all the time.

But let’s face it – we only keep going there year after year for the money and because there’s nowhere else to go.

This year’s final test opponents, Wales, haven’t beaten the All Blacks since the days when you had to warm the wireless up before listening to a footy match.

Who are Wales kidding, holding a team crisis meeting after last weekend’s draw with Fiji? Fiji should hold the crisis talks.

Grand Slam. Yeah right. Ireland are loveable losers. Can anyone actually name anyone in the Scottish team? And England are celebrating after losses these days whereas we once laughed at them for celebrating a draw.

The All Blacks have trundled past that lot in third gear.

The rugby mob might be able to sell this to the masses now and then, but Northern Hemisphere tours of some shape or form take place every season. The only games that really stir the blood are against France.

If this concept had any chance of taking hold, I’d suggest the Lions break with tradition and play at home in a three-test series against the All Blacks every now and then. The Lions are terrific for the sport, usually play excellent rugby and would certainly be good enough to beat the All Blacks – or give them a run for their money. This just ain’t going to happen, though.

The current tours are increasingly lifeless. Another 20 years of this and they’ll be stone cold in the ground.

The coaches bang on about the significance of the Grand Slam. Fair enough – from the inside these are undoubtedly stirring achievements, unless you are Daniel Braid or one of the other bag carriers and training ground specialists (a new rugby skill of which we’ve only just been made aware).

But honestly, from this side of the world these tours mean diddly squat because by about the time the early morning cuppa tea has gone lukewarm, so have the Irish or the Scots.

Every time.

You can’t keep squashing inept opponents year after year and also promote them as a meaningful foe.

I did happen upon one very animated discussion about the current tour last Saturday night – on the eve of the glorious battle against the Irish – which centred entirely on the riveting subject of Sonny Bill William’s hand size, a debate sparked by the Herald’s groundbreaking decision to print a lifesize drawing of the Williams mitt.

That’s about the state of play – haka controversies, Sonny Bill’s hand size, record test appearances, Dan Carter’s points record … etc, etc.

Graham Henry is probably right. Wales will come out with all guns blazing on Sunday morning. Maybe.

But blazing guns should be par for the course for any self-respecting test team. Sustained, meaningful success at this level relies on the quality of players and strategies, both immediate and in the overall organisation of the sport.

You could say that Wales have a terrific halfback in the lanky Mike Phillips, and beyond that the stocks are mainly fairly hairy.

And rivalries depend on both teams having a chance of victory at least some of the time. So, with what remains of any enthusiasm – all together now, come on Wales, try to make a game of it. Please.


You would think that a loss to Scotland, under any circumstances, would force South Africa to have a rethink about Peter de Villiers continuing as the Springboks’ coach.

Going into this season, the Boks looked well positioned to set up a mighty dynasty. Instead, they have crumbled.

De Villiers is a political appointment in the tricky and sometimes depressing world of post-apartheid South Africa. That aside, he is the biggest coaching joke in international sport, having brought a mighty machine to a grinding halt.

And yet, come a big day in the World Cup, you still wouldn’t write off the old enemy.


There is a trend with continuing criticisms over scrum problems in rugby. Coaches always blame the props from the other team. Only props from the other team are sneaky. Referees are never right. If an Italian frontrower does well, he cheated. Journalists very rarely – or never – suggest that props from other countries get a bad deal.

When it comes to dealing with scrum shenanigans, there isn’t much Phil Vickery-type honesty about.

Leave a comment


  1. Wait a second…

    Is this the same Rattue who called the AB coaches a bunch of morons 12 months ago?

    Who wanted the bunch fired because of the embarrassment they cause AB rugby calling the AB’s and their coaching the worst in the professional era?

    The same Rattue who asked that Nonu’s career be ended because he is useless?

    Can’t be.

  2. At least their coaches are delivering… ANd who can argue with the facts: The AB’s achieve regular grand slams as if they are just additional training games! Even the AB C team will fark our circus act!

  3. I could care less who wins the RWC now (other than Eng)… just as long as it’s not the AB’s!

  4. Rattue is an idiot (even the Kiwis think so) with a chip on his shoulder when it comes to South Africa.

    There can be no doubt that NZ rugby works well – they have no political interference and their players are contracted to NZ Rugby and not the provinces/clubs which means that there is no conflict when national duty calls. Henry has the final say when it comes to selecting players either at national or provincial/club level.

    To back up what Bryce says – There is nothing I’d like to see more than the ABs not win this RWC. Insufferable Kiwi ****s.

  5. Rugby is a funny old game where strange things can happen.

    Watch hoe gee die Fraanse hierdie cocksure wankers hulle op hul swart moere volgende jaar in NZ.

    2006 het hulle nie net 1 goeie span gehad nie, hulle het 3 gehad wat enige span innie wereld kon pak gee.

    2007 = 4 more years
    2011 = 4 more years (ek lag my gat af)

  6. I just hope it’s not us that knocks them out

    Have a look at history

    The only time the team that knocked out the AB’s out went on to win the RWC was in 1992 when Australia did it.

    1992 = Aus was knocked out in the quarters of 1995 RWC
    1995 = SA didn’t get to the 1999 RWC’s final losing to Aus in heartbreak semi
    1999 = France lost in final getting a PK from Aus
    2003 = Aus lost to England in final
    2007 = France got PK from Argentina in quarters

  7. But I bet Paddy NoBrain has made doubly tripply sure the AB’s will not play France in any game ever again in an RWC tournament…

    But I would like for them to suffer at the hands of their most hated foe…

    Losing to England or Australia would be my best best best … especiallyif said say England then takes a 40 point snotting from the Boks in the final…

    Nothing would please me more than a no NZ RWC final…. in New Zealand

  8. Reply to DavidS @ 11:47 am:

    NZ have consistently shown that when they are @ the height of their game, their hiding is close, and it’s normally France, Aus or us that have given it to them. All 3 of those have also been able to beat them in NZ.

    The boks for that matter are the same, and have proven that when they are hurting, that’s when they are most dangerous.

    Fine examples: winning 3N in 2004 after painful 2003 WC, winning 2007 WC after disastrous season of 2006, winning 2009 3N after disastrous 2008.

    I am optimistic that we’ll be back next year with plenty of interest, and we’ll be fine with the new laws as well, with or without our current coaching staff.

    This is a fine team, arguably the best team of boks we’ve had in the professional era.

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