Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Australia v New Zealand...Pick 'Em?

New Zealand should do a job on Australia at the weekend but things are rarely that simple. Cheika is an excellent coach and he possibly has the 'men of the tournament' in Hooper and Pocock - those two at least can match the All Black for intensity. Australia have had the tougher games though - and that could count against them. You also feel that the Kiwis are peaking at the right time..

It is the relentless intensity that basically makes the All Blacks who they are - virtually invincible. They are everything that England and some of the other home nations are not at present, sadly.

Why are the All Blacks so successful? They are true to their roots. If you were given the basic rules of rugby and then told to go out on to a field and play - with no coaches or refs, what would you do? You'd run like hell, pass, catch and try to dodge tackles. Sod the set pieces, the kicking and defence concerns. That's how they teach the game to kids in New Zealand. Add to that the fact that every primary school in the country has a playing field...and you begin to see how the opportunity for youngsters is there.

Growing up playing rugby is all about handling the ball (having fun). I don't believe that in New Zealand they bother with 15-a-side until they get to eleven or twelve years old. Even then, penalties aren't kicked - the ball is handed back to the other side to run with it again..

Add to the mix a few strong, fast 'islanders' and a picture of dominance begins to appear.

New Zealand is a small country with a small population and one of the only ways to measure themselves against the rest of the world is through Rugby - they don't measure up badly.

So it's simple really:

1. Have fun.
2. Run, pass, catch.
3. Have some pride.

I don't know how we teach rugby over here these days but the overriding images I have of e.g. my son - was him standing out on the wing in mid winter, hands freezing, on a full size pitch, with twenty-nine other kids and never touching the ball once - because the skill level wasn't there for the ball to travel down the line. What a joke. Not surprisingly he gave up to play football instead.

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