Field Theory by Hadyn Green

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Field Theory: Worst. Game. Ever.

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  • Hadyn Green,

    Oh and I apologise for any typos etc, this was pretty much written and submitted via my phone ( O what age we live in! )

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2090 posts Report

  • ScottY,

    Here's my 10 cents worth. Nothing that astonishing in my list:

    - get Dan Carter back. He's got time for a couple more warmup games for Canterbury. Then select him.

    - dump Rococoko. He's woefully out of form.

    - dump Weepu. As per Rococoko.

    - why is Eaton in the squad? What has he done this year? He's gone too.

    - lineouts: they're a mess. Find a hooker who can throw properly and who doesn't throw to the back of the lineout on our own line.

    - lineouts (II): if the current coaches can't fix the mess, get someone in who can. I simply cannot believe we don't have anyone in this country incapable of working out how to operate a functional lineout

    - skills: if they can't catch or throw a ball without fumbling or f***ing up, don't throw the ball around. Work more on ball skills (why they should have to at this level is beyond me though), and until they improve play a simpler gameplan. For example, the Sth African gameplan was simple, brutal and effective.

    - the front row aren't performing. Give them a rocket, or wield the axe.

    - refuse to play any game that has a Welsh or Irish ref involved (okay, that one might be more tricky...)

    West • Since Feb 2009 • 794 posts Report

  • Richard Llewellyn,

    I guess it was some kind of positive to play that bad and still be in with a shout of beating the Boks on their home turf with a few minutes to play, but jeez that was painful to watch.

    Possibly the worst AB performance for some years, and I guess what seemed to be most frustrating - cos I certainly don't think there was a lack of effort - was the game plan. Playing the Boks in our own 22, throwing loads of 50/50 passes with a bunch of offside intercept specialists lurking, and constantly short-kicking possession back to them just seemed wrong.

    By contrast the Bok game plan was simplicity itself, pressure, pressure and more pressure. Hasn't really changed for awhile but they are awfully good at it.

    Also think that we are - no offence to the team intended - lacking a bit of starch and aggression. Bakkies Botha - a helluva player - was pretty much given free rein to bully us. We are lacking, for want of a better word, some quintessential Jerry-ness in the collisions and in the attitude around the breakdown. Poor old Richie seemed to be lone ranger at times.

    Mt Albert • Since Nov 2006 • 399 posts Report

  • Edward Siddle,

    Hmm. I can recall a few games of a similar nature.

    11-3 to the Boks at Athletic Park in 1998 (and maybe one or two of the other tests that year also).
    15-9 to England in 1993. Referee hated us that day too.
    Maybe first test v France 1994 - don't remember it well, except that it was terrible and we looked unfit and outclassed.
    WC Final 1995 - I guess at least we were in it because they weren't trying very much in the way of attack so the score was close.
    2nd Lions test 1993.
    In fact much of the Mains era was characterised by cluelessness until the players found the recipe themselves in the second half of the one-off Bledisloe in 94 (albeit in a lost match).
    The ABs playing without brains and poorly isn't that uncommon.

    My mate in England says exactly what you did Hayden, that we're cheating b'stards. It's a very common perception.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2008 • 54 posts Report

  • Tom Semmens,

    I am astonished at how the All Black coaches have failed to anticipate and adapt to the ending of the ELV experiment. That they are persisting with obsolete tactics raises worrying questions about a possible bankruptcy of ideas in the coaching panel. I was always mildly pro-Henry, but I also thought they would review his tenure at the end of this tri-nations and before this end-of-season money making trip to the Northern Hemisphere. Looking at the selections and tactics, the present coaching panel may have reached the end of their shelf life this season and we are risking repeating the Wylie/Hart fiasco of a coaches and players two or three years past their best going to a world cup.

    Having said that, the poor performances are also the result of some very ordinary play. Many of the All Black stars are appalling this season, and that is after a very average Super14 by the New Zealand teams. In terms of player performance and injuries I think we are seeing the consequences of both to much and to little rugby.

    To much because there is no doubt in my mind that the All Blacks played to much international rugby last year and a lot of them came into the 2009 Super rugby season still mentally tired, flat and/or carrying injuries. The trouble is, they are going to play even more international rugby this season. The NZRFU is killing it's golden goose. If they had any guts, they would not take a swag of the current squad to Europe at the end of this year and instead send them on holiday after the end of the Air New Zealand Cup in early November.

    Not enough rugby because I think many of the players would re-discover their passion and enthusiasm getting out of the over-managed, artificial atmosphere of the All Blacks and playing for their provinces in the ANZC. The first round of the ANZC has already shown that many of the provincial coaches have adapted to the end of the ELV's faster than Henry and co, and are playing a more traditional, structured common sense game that would benefit the players ahead of Europe more than the demoralising nonsense they are trying to play in the All Blacks.

    Sending the All Blacks back to Air NZ Cup as soon as possible will effectively provide a huge set of trials for players old and new to stake their claim for the end of year tour, and we need to seriously consider taking an experimental squad up there.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report

  • Richard Llewellyn,

    My mate in England says exactly what you did Hayden, that we're cheating b'stards. It's a very common perception.

    Probably true, but I think a perception enthusiastically fed by a bunch of hypocritical british rugby hacks (you know who et al) who have had years of AB beatings to stain their soul.

    The sort of guys who lionise british players for their heroic losses, who forgive the Martin Johnsons for their transgressions while calling the colonial's thugs or poachers, and who will continue to let the ghosts of long-forgotten wins forever haunt their current teams.

    Mind you, I've seen how AB fans - and media (Chris Rattue anyone) can frequently be less than *gracious* winners, so the accusations of cheating can make that terrible feeling of loss to the smart just a little less.

    Mt Albert • Since Nov 2006 • 399 posts Report

  • Paul Williams,

    15-9 to England in 1993. Referee hated us that day too.

    I vividly remember that game. Wasn't Wilson handed kicking duties? My wife, prior to us meeting, was at the game... not a fan, just an ex-pat going with mates... I don't think she enjoyed it either.

    Oh and gidday Ed, I'm assuming your the same chap I shared an office, of sorts, with circa 1996?

    I'm not convinced that this team or that performance was quite as bad as others' say. The lineouts were apalling, the scrums excellent. Kicks in play weren't good, nor was our ability to deal with the high ball, but our defence was superb. Were it not for some of the errors, some of the penalties, the teams wouldn't have been so far apart.

    Perhaps it's also my concern that we not be the best team in the world two years out from a RWC... how many fucking times has that happened...

    I sadly agree with some of Kyle prescription too. Weepu's not played well this tournament, Joe's not nearly the player he was, So'oialo too.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2273 posts Report

  • Angus Robertson,

    Good news - we are troughing at the right time. Lets use this opportunity to get our senior players out of the All Blacks and over to Europe on mega buck contracts. Then come 2011 we'll be able to field a team of some new blood mixed with whoever of the Dan Carter/Richie McCaw/Andrew Hore/Ma'a Nonu lot is performing best over there. We'll have the best of both worlds - depth in all positions and senior players who actually know how to play under northern hemisphere refs.

    Auckland • Since May 2007 • 984 posts Report

  • mark taslov,

    I reckon best hope we have of winning the world cup is changing these overseas eligibility laws either just on those years, or solely for those tournaments. There's gotta come a time soon, when the all blacks is once again the best new zealand has to offer. Hayman, Kelleher and Jack seem pretty sorely missed right now.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report

  • Richard Irvine,

    Is the All Blacks' game plan of running it from anywhere and throwing passes even the Warriors would call 'unlikely' a symptom of the NZ Rugby public's demands for entertaining Rugby?

    Watching the Boks, it reminded me of us in the Grant Fox era, or - hard as fuck forward pack and a goal kicker. That's it. It's bloody boring to watch, but gets you the wins. If WE'D played like that everyone would be moaning about ten man Rugby.

    Listening to our coaches after the match, they weren't too bothered about the tactics, just the execution, so I'm not expecting much that's new in the next coupla matches.

    Obviously everyone wants 1. Winning and 2. Entertaining and heaps of both, please. We had it in the 2005 Lions Tour, no problem, but it seems to be hard to sustain.

    @marktaslov - careful what you wish for re: overseas players.

    Auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 242 posts Report

  • Kyle Matthews,

    You'd have to say, if there was a place to develop a tactic of run the ball from your own 22, and kick short out of your own half, it wouldn't be South Africa.

    It's a country where rugby players and physics make any penalty within about 60 metres 3 points. Surely it's the essential place to play a territorial game.

    Looking at the selections and tactics, the present coaching panel may have reached the end of their shelf life this season

    I don't buy that coaches have an automatic shelf life. There's nothing about being five years older that prevents Henry being a great coach. Good coaches take young talent and make it great, they mould individuals into teams and they develop strategies to overcome the opposition.

    It's a position that requires constant development and learning and change to adapt.

    Take Wayne Bennett for example. 18 years in charge of the Broncos and no signs of a shelf life. Switches to the Dragons and they're doing OK.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report

  • Tom Semmens,

    I don't buy that coaches have an automatic shelf life.

    But surely Wayne Bennett and his like are the exceptions to the rule?
    But in a general sense, as I alluded to above, the coaches and the All Blacks are showing the signs of a more systemic organisational failure.

    After the battle of Jutland in 1916, in which three British battlecruisers were blown up by German gunfire, the BCF commander Admiral Beatty made a famous quote - "There is something wrong with our bloody ships today" but it is what he said next that was more important - "And there is something wrong with our system." In other words, he recognised the ships lost were the consequence of a deeper corporate failure in the Royal Navy.

    like Beatty, it isn't our battlecruisers blowing up on the big occassion that bothers me most. It is that our system is wrong.

    Like the Victorian public who worshipped the Royal Navy, we've allowed ourselves to be captured by a semi-mystical belief about the abilities of the All Blacks that doesn't stand up to best foreign practice.

    We still persist in an arrogant and unwarranted belief that we can somehow play a style of rugby that other lesser mortals cannot aspire to. To famously quote Graheme Henry, we would rather lose than win by a drop goal - which curiously echoes the sentiment another British Admiral of the Victorian era, who described submarines as "underhand, underwater and damned un-English".

    We really do need to get back to basics - recognising that our players are men not Gods, playing simple, basic rugby based on posession and field position, and taking points whatever way we can get them. But I think that change in attitude in our corporate culture may require an absolute clean out at the NZRFU that the current monoply structures would not allow.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report

  • ScottY,

    I like your post, Tom.

    I salute anyone who can make the Battle of Jutland relevant to a blogpost.

    I also think you're right. Give me an ugly underhand cheating win any day. Winners are grinners. The loser never gets the girl.

    West • Since Feb 2009 • 794 posts Report

  • 3410,

    Give me an ugly underhand cheating win any day. Winners are grinners.

    You wouldn't be a lawyer, by any chance?

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report

  • Kyle Matthews,

    But surely Wayne Bennett and his like are the exceptions to the rule?

    Exceptions have learnt something that the others haven't.

    Maybe Graham Henry (if he needs to learn something extra) can't, in which case you're correct.

    But I'm dubious about anyone being put out to pasture on the basis of two losses in South Africa. Everyone loses in South Africa most of the time. The country had largely swung behind the coaches at the end of last season, now we're swinging back again and they're 'past it'.

    If we were to step outside New Zealand, we'd note that everyone that comes to New Zealand loses overall. They might get an occasional victory here and there, but overall, All Blacks reign supreme at home. Does that mean that every other coach around the world is past it?

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report

  • Jimmy Southgate,

    In a way, I actually approve of Graham Henry's approach - rugby is afterall a game meant to be played by 15 men, not 10. The unfortunate thing is that those with control over the game aren't about to make any changes that might make it more possible to play a 15 man game.

    Its also worth remembering that in this game there was some pretty ordinary officiating, both from the man with the whistle and the assistants on the sideline - who despite their promotion from touch judges really aren't doing a whole hell of a lot. They're certainly not policing the offside line well. I don't think Isaac Ross's binning was the correct call as the ball was out, and I also think it was pretty dubious as to whether the ball came out of the scrum, or du Preez pulled it out.

    Despite that, and despite some pretty appalling play at times, the ABs still were in touch for much of the game so its not all doom and gloom.

    Still, personnel changes are in order:

    Rokocoko needs to go back to AirNZ Cup and learn the basics of rugby, he should be replaced by Corey Jane as we need an extra kicked. Sivivatu should be given some training as well but was the most dangerous of the back three on attack so keep him. With Jane on the wing, Mils needs to stay, though he too could do with a game or two with Waikato.

    Donald does not look worth persisting with, but Dan Carter shouldn't be rushed back so the reins should be handed to Luke McAllister and left there until the end of year tour.

    Weepu should be given a chance to get right by starting, Cowan looked lost in the weekend and Leonard needs to put the ball in straight.

    With Mealamu's injury we're kinda stuck at hooker, and I think the rest of the front row are the right players, they just need to get stuck in a bit more.

    Also happy with the locks as well, until Ali gets better anyway.

    Loose forwards are tricky. I am starting to wonder whether McCaw can keep playing openside for us. I think Heinrich Brussow has shown what the new breed of 7 is going to be like, and McCaw strikes me as too tall - how often is he getting tipped over & penalised for being all over the ball in rucks now? We need him as captain, but is he big enough, with the right amount of mongrel to play 6? And are there any good 7s coming through? (I really like the look of Karl Lowe).

    I'd maybe consider swapping Keiran for Rodney who hasn't looked his usual self; but perhaps the better option for now is to stick Kaino at 8, and bring in Thomson to give McCaw a hand at the breakdown.

    As to why we're in this state here, I think you can look at the Rugby being played in the middle of winter here for one thing - actually you can't because there's just a handful of ABs games and that's it. Its absurd that the AirNZ Cup starts in August, instead of a few weeks after the Super season ends. Club rugby should be played during the last 10-12 weeks of Super instead of this daft window its currently got.

    I also think we should start paying more attention to the AirNZ Cup than Super rugby - after all, its working pretty well for South Africa with their Currie Cup.

    Wellingtown • Since Nov 2006 • 103 posts Report

  • Stewart,

    It might be worth taking small heed of something reported elsewhere, but not much mentioned within NZ, and that is the fact that despite the farcical handling errors and general error-rate the All Blacks were still in the game until the last 10 minutes or so.

    To lose to the current world champions by only 12 points when making that many simple errors (and given that SA kick most any penalty from their own 10m line) is no mean feat.

    Sure, the "run it at all costs, even from the in-goal" is a failed policy in SA but things are not as suicidally bad as some reporters are making out. (Who put the Rat in Chris Rattue?)

    Te Ika A Maui - Whakatane… • Since Oct 2008 • 577 posts Report

  • st ephen,

    Who put the Rat in Chris Rattue?

    Stephen Jones. The theory is that if you repeat the same one-note hyperbole for long enough you'll become some sort of Rugby Guru, reaping the windfall of syndicated columns and after-dinner speaking engagements.
    The reality is that Jones had some sort of talent to begin with.

    dunedin • Since Jul 2008 • 254 posts Report

  • Hadyn Green,

    It's a country where rugby players and physics make any penalty within about 60 metres 3 points

    Was any else incredibly impressed by Luke McAllister's long range kick near the end of the game?

    To famously quote Graheme Henry, we would rather lose than win by a drop goal

    'Fraid I might need a citation on that one. I just can't imagine any head coach in this modern era of "say nothing interesting ever" saying a line like that. Well maybe Peter d Villiers.

    It should also be noted that the crowd booed the Steyn's dropgoal attempts. No one wants to see the home side with momentum playing dull rugby. And, although nobody asked, I think that dropgoals at 3-points is ok, but if you try one and it misses then the opposition should be allowed a free kick, not a drop out.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2090 posts Report

  • Jimmy Southgate,

    if you try one and it misses then the opposition should be allowed a free kick, not a drop out.

    If you punt the ball over the dead ball line does it go to a scrum where you kicked it from? Think it would make sense to do the same for a drop-goal as getting a 22m restart rewards not being able to score a try with additional possession.

    Wellingtown • Since Nov 2006 • 103 posts Report

  • Mark Graham,

    Look. Every other intervening 3 years before a World Cup we cream the opposition. Then we fail when it counts. Now we're failing before the WC - could this finally be our year again?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 218 posts Report

  • Rachel Prosser,

    You wouldn't be a lawyer, by any chance?


    cheap shot.

    And also, utterly unfair. Not that I'm practising as a lawyer any more but "underhand cheating" was the last thing we did.

    Maybe it's the area I practiced, but there was considerable pressure to always play by the rules - letter and spirit, and we spent most of our time advising others of the rules they had to play by too.

    In addition, anything you did was subject to review, and risk-taking was discouraged.

    Christchurch • Since Mar 2008 • 228 posts Report

  • 3410,

    I apologise and withdraw the suggestion that Scott Yorke is a lawyer.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report

  • giovanni tiso,

    Now we're failing before the WC

    I know a guy you can see about that.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report

  • Paul Williams,

    Now we're failing before the WC

    I know a guy you can see about that.

    Boom tish.

    I apologise and withdraw the suggestion that Scott Yorke is a lawyer.

    But not from a real law school or anything... (now Scott, you know I can make the joke right?)

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2273 posts Report

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