Congratulations New Zealand

The Rugby World Cup trophy - the William Webb ...

The Kiwis were worthy champs. Nobody can argue with that. Image via Wikipedia

Well done All Blacks. They were the best team in the Rugby World Cup by a long, long way and deserved the Webb Ellis trophy.  Some may argue about the quality of the refereeing in this tournament, but it has been pretty clear from the start that the Kiwis were the best team in the tournament and it stayed that way throughout.

France put on a massive performance this weekend to make the final so close – most of us had written them off completely (again) and were worried that the final would be a washout. But France stepped up big time and made the All Blacks sweat for their glory.  Had France got that final kick over, they would have been 10-8 up with just a few minutes to play and all the pressure would have been on the All Blacks.  For a side that was in complete disarray after the Tonga loss it was immense to play that well in the final.

You have to wonder though, if France had won, what would that say about coaching and strategy in general?

What could other coaches and teams looking to emulate the French do?  Go on massive booze-ups during the tournament? Rebel against the coach mid-tournament? Spend more time fashioning your ‘staches and sideburns than working on your set pieces? Sack the coach before the tournament starts but keep him on anyway, knowing as a lame duck he has no authority to enforce discipline?

New Zealand almost boggled this one.  One intercept or one penalty deep in their own half and the schadenfreude could have been cut with a knife . But it was not to be.  Well done Kiwis, worthy winners and all that.

Maybe it was the fact that the final was between two teams that I don’t mind winning the cup, maybe it is getting older, but somehow when my team got knocked out I wasn’t all that gutted. Life carries on.  Maybe all the rugby that is played these days devalues rugby overall or maybe it is just that you don’t stay fifteen forever.

If your team didn’t win the World Cup, the best thing about waking up the morning after the final is the thought that it is time to start a new era. It’s time to get rid of the dead wood. For the Springboks the theory that experience is everything can be put to rest and hopefully they can focus on putting the best team available on the park.  For the Wallabies, they have an exciting squad but need to focus on building up a tight five that can hold their own against other top nations. Wales look like they have a team to build on for the future, while Ireland are staring down the gun barrel of some pretty important retirement.

On Monday, the rugby world will look a little different. Old story lines have come to ending, some neatly tied up, some left unanswered.  But the chapter is closed on those tales.   And that’s not a bad thing.  The show must go on…

New Zealand vs France: Final Preview: Au revoir Marc!

Regardless of what you think of the French teams’ displays at this World Cup you’d be lying if you said Lievremonts’ presence didn’t add a little “joie de vivre” to the whole affair.

From a pure entertainment level we’re happy to give Marc a solid 8/10 for his efforts. In fact, for a coach who was informed that he would be out of a job before the tournament even began, we here at Big Daddy Rugby reckon that Marc has acted with considerable restraint and shown great courage in what must have been a rather testing time for him.

Bravo Monsieur! Bravo indeed!

With regards to a preview for “Le Big Game”, well I have it on good authority that Marc will be dressing appropriately for the occasion.

Here’s an exclusive sneak peak of his look for Sunday…

Marc Lievremont: ne regarde mes fesses grand en cela?

ALLEZ LES BLEUS!!!

Wales vs France Semi Final Preview

I really want Wales to win the whole damn thing now…but ever since Lievremont started sporting his fabulous ‘tache I’m finding myself rather confused…and now he’s gone and shaved his head! Merde Marc, merde!

I shudder to think what he’s got in store for us if France reach the final…

Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?

 Wales by 10.

Replacing love with hate: finding a reason to stay passionate about the World Cup

Many of us are licking in wounds after our team was knocked out the World Cup either in the group stages (poor Scotland) or last weekend in the quarters.  At times like this, it can be tough to stay motivated to get up and drink beer at 7 am in South Africa / go to the local pub in London and have to put up with the ex-pats still in the tournament / face Joseph the Saint’s surly demeanor and blood puddings in Greenwich Village’s Red Lion because it is the only place in New York City with a great vibe showing the game.  Here’s a tip I learned early on in kindergarten when you need to stay motivated:

If you can’t find something to love, find something to hate.

Hate is a pretty good substitute for love.  And it will keep you interested in the World Cup.  So instead of finding reasons to try and support a team that is still in the World Cup, I say, screw ’em.  Let’s find a team to hate and have our rugby viewing fueled by an intense irrational hatred for a country you’ve never been to.  Who will be your team to hate?  Do you need a few good reasons for each team?

New Zealand:

Damn, I hate them. They’re so good.  So damn good.  Why does my wife seem strangely aroused every time Dan Carter is on screen?   (Him and that werewolf guy from Twilight). What’s up with that little biscuit Weepu leading the haka?  Are they trying to turn the haka into a comedy routine?  Because it really isn’t scary when Weepu leads it.  Damn, did I mention they’re too good for my liking?  Also, it would be pretty sweet to see an Aussie run up to Richie McCaw at the full time whistle, middle fingers extended, shouting “four more years, fellas, four more years”.  One more thing Graham Henry is a sour, sour man who reminds me of my high school physics teacher.  I didn’t like that guy.

France:

You know you hate them, because they just get your hopes up. They’re everything you want to them to be one week, and then the next they’re cold and woeful, leaving you feeling like you just got a lap-dance from a stripper who was crying.  You feel ashamed for believing in their promise.  And just when you’ve fully given up on them – they totally redeem themselves with a bit of magic in the backline.  The kind of magic you used to dream about when you were running barefoot in the back garden, rugby ball tucked under your little shoulder, picturing yourself covered in glory on a rugby field somewhere, someday.  Then they spit you out into the gutter.

Wales:

Yeah, yeah, they’re the plucky underdogs who’ve never made it to a final.  Still.  I don’t like them.  They’re too arrogant for a side that hasn’t done anything since the 1970s.   That’s forty years since you did anything of substance. You’ve beaten the Boks once in over a hundred years.  Once!  Wipe that smug smile off your face, Welsh rugby team.

Australia:

Quade Cooper. Enough said.  Also, teams with crap scrums should never win World Cups.  That’s just wrong.

The team at Big Daddy Rugby were very careful to padlock and secure their laptops for the Quade Cooper interview.

Why it’s always safe to write off France: England v France QF preview

Marc Lièvremont

No one to share a beer with... Lievremont picked up an expensive tab this weekend. Image via Wikipedia

The French rugby team is in complete disarray ahead of their quarterfinal showdown with the English.  “That’s so French…” we can all say to ourselves as we pour over the latest accounts of squad mutinies, broken down relationships and absurdist outbursts – but nothing quite sums it up the state of titsupness in the French camp like hearing the coach Marc Lievremont tear into his own players after their loss to Tonga:

“I thought I had experienced everything in terms of shame. But this time round, it’s been an extremely violent feeling again. Each missed pass, each missed tackle, I took them as a deep personal failure.”

“We live in a society where image matters,” Lievremont said. “I saw players with their agent on the eve and after the game instead of regrouping as a team”.

“I believe in the men, in a group who hopefully know how to pick themselves up,” he said. “I have got experienced and talented players. But maybe not as talented as I thought.

Nice one.  That’s classy Marc.  About as classy as a South African government employee handling a visa application from the Dalai Lama.  Yip, and further confirming Lièvremont status as a first class plank, he managed to channel his inner Rudolf Straueli when he suggested his solution for getting his team back on track to win the World Cup.  His idea? For the players to have a piss up, presumably followed by some sort of intimate bonding at a cross-dressing Japanese karaoke bar (because that’s how those kinds of evenings usually end):

“I’ve never been against sharing a few beers together, in order to get things out in the open, and that’s a possible option for us.”

Unfortunately for Lièvremont his hoped for post match bonding session didn’t materialise – it turns out his own players don’t like him much. The players took their beers and simply buggered off:

“I would have preferred it if we had shared a glass, spoken about it and just agreed that it is still a fine adventure,” he said.

Oh well. So much for that theory.  I would have loved to have seen CCTV footage of Lièvremont signing the credit card slip at the end of the night – having to pay for all the booze and no-one around to share the moment with him.

Speaking of CCTV footage, the English preparation is not a heck of a lot better.  Between dwarf-tossing, sexually harrassing waitresses and switching rugby balls (in other words a typical on week on tour with the English squad) there is much talk of the wheels coming off of English rugby.

The match is lining up to a clash of playing styles.  Wilkinson’s boot and versus French flair.  The English forwards rumble versus the French backs unpredictability.

So where should you be putting your money this weekend?  Well… if there is one thing I have learned from watching years of World Cup Rugby it is that you can safely and reliably write the French off.  If they have absolutely noooo chance of winning – you can bank on that.  In fact, I’d go so far to say that the French are so predictable, you can put your money down against them, not even bother to watch the game and head straight to your local bookie to collect your winnings.

France have neeeeeverrrrrrrrr surprised anybody…