Well, there have been some important development’s in rugby recently, which I thought I’d comment on.
PUMAS ENLIVEN RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP
Argentina are really making their mark in the new Rugby Championship. After putting in a tough performance against South Africa in their first game (they lost 21-5), they came back and managed to draw with the ‘Springbok’s’ a week later.
And today, they almost beat Australia, leading the match 19-6, with 20 minutes remaining. Unfortunately, the ‘Wallabies’ managed to rally back, and ended up winning the match, 23-19, scoring 17 unanswered points!
Despite losing the match, Argentina have showed tremendous resilience from the start of the tournament, and are improving with every performance, showing they’re not going to be overawed in the new competition.
To be honest, I thought it would take longer for Argentina to make their mark on the Rugby Championship, but they’ve sparkled from the get-go. Hopefully they can go one better, and beat the Wallabies next week.
New Zealand are top of the Rugby Championship table, beating South Africa today, 21-11. Along with their 2 win’s already against Australia, this victory puts them in a comfortable lead, looking likely winner’s of the tournament.
BIG GUN’S BACK FOR PROVINCES
A lot of the top Irish player’s have returned for their provinces over the weekend, with Leinster beating Treviso, in a close game, 19-18. Connacht lost to Scarlets, and Ulster overcame Munster, in a cracking game, winning by 20-19.
Brian O’Driscoll and Jonny Sexton helped Leinster win the game. O’Driscoll, especially, showed he still has plenty to offer. The side were captained by Jaimie Heaslip.
There were quite a few errors in the Ulster-Munster clash, but it was still a cracking game. Andrew Trimble and Stephen Ferris were in action for Ulster, while Conor Murray, Ronan O’Gara and Keith Earls were on the bench for Munster.
Tragically, the good performances were overshadowed by the shocking loss of Nevin Spence, who died in a horrific farming accident. Spence had starred for Ulster, and had also been called up to Ireland’s Six Nations training squad last year.
HEINEKEN IN MORE TURMOIL
The future of the Heineken Cup is in serious turmoil, with it looking likely that both French and English clubs might drop out of the competition, when the current TV deal comes up for renewal, in 2014.
It seems the problems both countries have, stem mainly from the feeling that the Celtic nations seem to have an easier time qualifying for the tournament, and competing in it.
The best Irish, Welsh and Scottish players can take time off from the Rabo12 to play in the Heineken games, while that same luxury isn’t afforded the Premiership and Top 14 teams.
I think the problem there lies with the Premiership/Top 14 rather than the Heineken. The club’s in France and England should put more emphasis on the Heineken, and give their top player’s a chance to shine in the Heineken.
Also, it seems a bit like sour grapes to. English teams haven’t had a great run recently. An English team hasn’t won the Heineken since 2007, for example, whereas Irish provinces have won 4 out of the last 5 tournaments.
I remember in the 90’s that England used to complain that they weren’t been challenged enough by the Celtic nations. Now they’re complaining that the competition is too tough!
Also, both France and England have more clubs that can compete in the Heineken, so it’s only fair that theses numbers are reduced for the competition
GATLAND MAKING HIS MARK FOR LION’S
Warren Gatland has been confirmed as the coach for the 2013 Lion’s tour to Australia, and he has already been making waves. Firstly, he had already mentioned that he might rule out any player’s that are playing in France.
The Top 14 tournament will still be going on when the Lion’s tour start’s Toulon. Have already confirmed that Welsh prop Gethin Jenkins will not be released for the start of the tour if the club are still playing matches by the start of the tour.
Jenkins would have almost certainly made the tour, if not the test side, so it would be quite a loss if he didn’t go. Toulon haven’t released any of their Argentinian player’s for the Rugby Championship, either.
Gatland has also shocked a few people with the Announcement that former English great, Jonny Wilkinson, is still in contention for a spot on the squad. Wilkinson has already retired from international rugby, but is playing in France.
I’m not sure I agree with this. Wilkinson was great in his day, but that seems long gone. Sure, he adds something to a team but I’d rather focus on the player’s who are currently playing for their countries. Wilkinson’s already had his go, let other’s shine.
Sexton and O’Gara of Ireland, Toby Flood and Owen Farrell of England, and Rhys Priestland and James Hook of Wales. Priestland is probably the top contender at the moment, though that may change.
As Gatland will be concentrating on the Lions, he won’t be able to coach Wales in next year’s 6 Nations. It would be ironic if the Welsh player’s fortunes suffered because Gatland wasn’t around to help them perform!