How mean­ing­ful were those sum­mer tours?

The Rugby Paper - - Letters | Views - COLIN BOAG

Now that the sum­mer tours have ground to an end, what’s the ver­dict on how the north­ern coun­tries fared? At best you’d have to say their for­tunes were mixed.

It’s hard to draw any firm con­clu­sions from how the French per­formed against the All Blacks. The his­tory books will show a three-nil drub­bing, but that tells only half the story. In the first two Tests the French were very com­pet­i­tive, but ref­er­ee­ing blun­ders ru­ined them as con­tests. In the fi­nal Test it looked as though Les Bleus had ‘gone’, worn down by a long hard sea­son, 24 hours on a plane, and the feel­ing that things were against them.

The prob­lem is that France didn’t look any­thing spe­cial in the Six Na­tions, and the All Blacks were un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally slip­shod, mak­ing plenty of han­dling er­rors. Have the French im­proved dra­mat­i­cally in the past three months, have the All Blacks got prob­lems or were they just ring rusty? The New Zealand Press seem to be­lieve that things aren’t as good as they should be, and the pres­sure is re­ally on as they head into the Rugby Cham­pi­onship in seven weeks’ time.

The Ir­ish flew back home cel­e­brat­ing de­feat­ing the Wal­la­bies two Tests to one on the back of their Six Na­tions’ Grand Slam.

Win­ning Down Un­der was a fan­tas­tic achieve­ment, al­though it was a very close-run thing, but re­ally good teams find a way to come through tight matches, and there’s no doubt­ing the qual­ity of this Ir­ish side.

They also have in Joe Sch­midt a coach who is ar­guably the best in the world. My one doubt is whether they can im­prove fur­ther in the run-up to the RWC – of course, they may not need to, but a year be­fore the tour­na­ment is not the ideal time to peak.

The Welsh cel­e­brated their wins over South Africa and Ar­gentina, but in truth there was noth­ing to write home about.

The vic­tory over a scratch Saf­fer team in the joke match in Washington DC was mean­ing­less and then the wins against Ar­gentina were put into stark con­trast when the Scots ham­mered them hav­ing pre­vi­ously lost to Ja­pan!

That brings us to Eng­land, and to all of the drama sur­round­ing their se­ries de­feat against South Africa. To read some of the Press cov­er­age you’d think the roof had fallen in on Eng­land, but that re­ally isn’t the case.

I’m not a fan of these sum­mer tours – I know they’re nec­es­sary as the quid pro quo for the SANZAAR na­tions com­ing north for the Novem­ber money-spin­ners, but they’re rarely mean­ing­ful.

The Eng­land squad was a cob­bled-to­gether one, with plenty of play­ers miss­ing, and some who shouldn’t have toured. They were also asked to play two Tests at al­ti­tude, with pre­cious lit­tle time for ac­cli­ma­ti­sa­tion.

It would have been great had Eng­land done bet­ter, but I reckon the Spring­boks looked to have im­proved in re­cent months, and were al­ways go­ing to be for­mi­da­ble up front.

All this talk of Ed­die Jones get­ting the boot be­fore RWC2019 is surely ut­ter tosh? Sack­ing him would be an act of mad­ness, al­though that’s not to say the RFU couldn’t do it!

I’ve felt like a lone voice in the wilder­ness as I’ve made the case for wider use of the TMO, and for them to be more force­ful in sav­ing ref­er­ees from mak­ing fools of them­selves.

Now the shenani­gans in the New Zealand v France se­ries seems to have wo­ken peo­ple up.

Com­ments from All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen and the NZRU chief ex­ec­u­tive, Steve Tew, sup­port the need for World Rugby to take a hard look at some of its ad­vice to ref­er­ees.

It’s time for other Unions and their coaches to join in and put pres­sure on World Rugby to show some lead­er­ship. How about some of the top ref­er­ees do­ing a stint as TMO, and be­ing proac­tive in helping the on-field ref to avoid howlers, call­ing is­sues to his at­ten­tion, and hav­ing the guts to tell him to look again be­cause his de­ci­sion was ques­tion­able?

The Laws say that ‘the ref­eree is the sole judge of fact and of law dur­ing a match’ – all I’m say­ing is let him or her de­cide on the facts, after re­ceiv­ing the best pos­si­ble ad­vice.

Worn down: France had ev­ery­thing against them in New Zealand

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.