I'm waiting for Tracey Nelson's stats to go up so I can start to do some trend analysis and player analysis. But until then here are my notes from the weekend (and in case you were wondering, yes, this is almost all about rugby). Oh and these are literally the notes I made during the game.
Ireland 3 – New Zealand 22
After writing on Friday about how I irrationally hate the New England Patriots and how I've started to hate Ireland, I was not surprised to see an Irish fan wearing a Patriots jersey.
Also during the anthem is not the best time to goof off if you're a player, because that's when the cameras will definitely be on you. It's ok not to sing, but don't look about and lean out to look down the line.
Canterbury of New Zealand you should be fucking ashamed of yourselves. Those Irish jerseys are disgusting. The font on the back is terrible. Were you trying to make them look like green androids from the future? Also the Canterbury logo seemed way too big, though I did like the text in the centre that read "Ireland v New Zealand 15/11/2008". But why did only a few players have it? (it's here, but not here).
How did you like that haka? The whole crowd roaring and drowning out the players. And the All Blacks busting out Kapa O Pango, with Ali Williams going nuts out in front. Mother Fucker, it's on like Donkey Kong! (I may have actually have yelled that out in my living room).
Speaking of the crowd, I was totally impressed. During the moment of silence for the murdered rugby player they slipped slightly by applauding but then you could've heard a pin drop. Later they used that deathly silence to great effect during the kicks, by keeping quiet and then getting loud just before foot met ball. Murray Mexted, in fine form, said at one point: "Listen to the silence".
This was not the case at the lineout where the crowd was drowning out the calls, causing me to wonder why they don't use hand signals. Surely they're just yelling codes anyway (and not: "Throw it to Rodney"). Which is why I call "bullshit" on the "respect shown by the crowd during the kicks" line that everyone seems to be throwing about. Lineouts are in some ways as important as kicks, so where was the respect then?
The crowd was also not shy about informing the referee if they were unhappy with a decision. There was quite a ruckus during the sin-binning of Tommy Bowe and penalty try combo. I felt ok when Tony Woodcock was sent off later, because at least he wasn't sent off for a wussy infringement.
And as for infringements, in the second half Ireland seemed to be playing far too angrily. They just seemed really grumpy and maybe frustrated. There was a lot of scrappy play at the breakdown and after the whistle (like kicking the ball away).
And weren't the scrums much better this week? I wonder how much is due to the packs being more experienced, the referee and the playing surface (there seemed to be fewer slip-ups in general this week). Though I did like the penalty against Jimmy Cowan for pushing his opposite number. Cowan looked like he was yelling "Fuck off! Fuck off!" Aren't you filled with pride?
While the All Blacks didn't exactly put up a cricket score, the Irish defence was fairly woeful. When Jimmy Cowan can fend a player to the ground you know that your team needs to do some more tackling drills.
Sometimes I wonder why Sky sends their commentary crew on such expensive trips overseas when they clearly aren't calling the same game I'm watching. Though Mexted was in one of his more lucid periods and late in the match there was a wonderful bit of schadenfreude from Mex. Tony Johnson had just quoted (without naming) Stephen Jones as saying Ronan O'Gara was a better first-five than Dan Carter. Mexted said: "I don't know who wrote that, but I'd say they didn't know much about rugby".
It was a fairly "average" performance but the commentators. O'Gara had been belting the ball up the field for most of the match and then knocked a clearing kick off the side of his boot that went maybe five metres. The call was naturally: "that was an average kick from O'Gara". Actually it was neither mean, median nor mode guys.