What A Player.

Enters the Pantheon of the Rugby Greats

The Mole’s not big on putting numbers beside players’ names to signify how well they performed.

These numbers are supposed to signify a rating system, so what’s the basis of the scale? Is it how well the player played compared to his best ever performance, i.e. are you rating the player on his own personal abilities and performance judged against the best he has ever played? That means that if a player has an absolute blinder, he gets the recognition in his rating that his performance deserves.

Maybe the number beside his name rates his performance against his opposite number on the day? That’s what really counts, after all – whether you’re better than the man you’re up against.

On the other hand, maybe you’re rating him against the performances of the best player in his position in the world this year; that guy [whoever he is] is the standard by whom all other players have to judge themselves.

To take that a step further, maybe you’re rating a player against the best performance in his position you’ve ever witnessed – so Pocock’s recent game against South Africa would be rated against the Michael Jones of 1987 or the Josh Kronfeld of 1995. Does Kronfeld’s semi-final against England in RWC95 get a 10/10 then? Is he at the head of the scale in his position? Because that was very close to the best performance from an openside I can recall.

Does the rating system take into account the significance or standard of the match? Is an 8 in a Rabo Pro12 game ‘better’ than a 7 in a World Cup QF? Does it mean you played better in the league game?

Are you rating him beside a set of adjectives, so that 9 translates as ‘phenomenal’, 8 reads ‘excellent’, 7 means ‘exceptional’ etc.? If so, is 10 the ‘perfect game’? Nobody’s ever going to play 80 minutes of perfect rugby – you can always do better on an abstract scale – so in that case the rating system should run from 1 to 9.

Whatever. Saying that the number beside a player’s name is a rating of ‘how well he played’ is a nonsense if you haven’t outlined the basis of your rating system. What’s the point?

However, the Mole feels obliged to mention Thierry Dusautoir’s performance in dispatches this afternoon. What a performance. The phrase ‘a career night’ is an import from American sports, a shorthand for the best game – or perhaps most statistically successful game – of your career in sports.

Dusautoir has managed to break that phrase and somehow jam two career nights into the last four years. His game against New Zealand in the RWC07 QF has gone down in rugby lore, primarily for his stunning tackle count and contribution to a famous upset. He didn’t quite hit the same heights with his tackle count this morning, but he led a French team in poor form, riven with dissension and operating under a lame-duck coach into the fiercest lion’s den in world rugby and almost hauled them over the line with him.

He didn’t do it all on his own, but the players around him responded magnificently to his leadership. He didn’t have to carry that heavy burden in 2007 with the likes of Ibanez and Pelous around him – he could afford just to do what he did best, and play rugby. He did that here this morning as well, but he also put in one of the greatest captain’s outings in the history of this tournament. He was magnificent this morning, and it was truly one of the greatest personal performances on a rugby pitch the Mole has seen at any level.

Just like Eddie Futch said to Joe Frazier when he pulled him out of the fight before the last round of the Thrilla In Manilla, “No-one will ever forget what you did here tonight.”

4 thoughts on “What A Player.

  1. You have to put Imanol Harinordoquy up on the pedestal beside Dusautoir. How many All Blacks line outs did he steal. As the TF1 match commentator but it repeatedly across to the French nation this morning, “Harinordoquy, absolument impérial dans les airs!” Ranks up there with Waterloo as one of the great french tragedies…

  2. Well said his moleness and conor.
    Dusautoir 9.75
    Harinordiquay 9.74 (give or take .02)
    Fills a section in a paper.

    What’s yours?
    Diesel, what’s yours?
    Unleaded, what does that mean?

    Is there more glory in defeat than victory?

  3. Pingback: Play La Marseillaise; Play It! | Digging Like a Demented Mole

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