So we finished the "Grand Slam". We knocked off, in varying fashions, two poor teams, one mediocre team and one good team (I'll let you decide which was which). Where to from here?
First of all a two-finger salute and a raspberry to Chris Rattue and all of the other Robbie Deans fan club members.
Second we reflect on the wins and ask so who was the best of our Mighty All Blacks? Duncan Johnstone at Stuff did an "analysis" of the players and came up with Ali Williams and Ma'a Nonu as the players of the tour. I was dubious. What about Richie or Mils or Sivi? What variables did Johnstone analyse to come up with this?
Like most New Zealand rugby analysts it was a qualitative analysis done on "what I reckon". Hence the perception of the commentators during the England game that Jimmy Cowan was one of the "best players on the tour" didn't gel with me, my friends or Johnstone.
Qualitative analysis is a real skill, and to do it properly is more than just making some observations. You can argue that an experienced sportswriter should be able to make inferences and judgements that others can't. But I'm also dubious of the bias that they can apply to their analysis. Think of the amount of times that New Zealand commentators notice that the All Blacks are infringing compared to the amount of times English commentators might.
So that's why I found this graphic (pdf) of the game from the Times to be extremely informative including the very good pie charts at the bottom showing exactly how the All Blacks dominated. (Also interesting is that Delon Armitage was wearing Adidas boots with his Nike uniform). And then there was this graphic (jpg) showing that (during this tour) New Zealand were the best Tri-Nations team in carrying the ball, second best in lineout percentage and a woeful 68% in goal kicking.
These are real numbers and should be reveled in, they're not a "I think Conrad Smith is better than Richard Kahui" style of analysis. Though to be fair on our rugby analysts, the NZRU does not collect statistics for overseas games so they may not have much to go on.
You may think passion is hard to quantify. It is not. Just look at the results and the 18% [Six Nations victories over Tri-Nations since 2003]. There is a burning intensity in the All Blacks and the Springboks that is light years ahead.
And that came from Stephen Jones. He also wrote:
The south are better because they want it more. In Europe, our players think they are passionate, they hang their heads when they lose, they sing their anthems lustily and know when the camera is on them as they are doing so.
Goodness gracious Stephen!
Oh and the 2011 World Cup pools have been announced. There doesn't look to be any Pool of Death this time around, which is a little dull.
Well it's a long hot summer ahead of us now and we can all kick back and look forward to the cricket season. The Windies heading into a rather awkward marketing campaign in Dunedin, further losses to the Aussies, and maybe some even uglier uniforms (why did the Black Caps play a test match in t-shirts with bibs on them?) At least until February when the rugby starts again.
ps. I apologise to anyone who heard me on bFM on Sunday morning. It was far from being my best performance. When asked to list the best sporting moments of 2008 I completely had a brain freeze and forgot everything. From the Olympics to the Rugby League World Cup to the U17 Women's Football Cup. I even forgot who won the Super 14! My excuses include the following: half asleep; car towed due to stupid Santa parade; racing to the airport to catch a flight.