U Mad Bro?

It’s only a matter of time before the word ‘embattled’ becomes synonymous with Irish coach Declan Kidney. He’s coming off the back of Ireland’s least successful Six Nations since the 2008 edition that caused Eddie O’Sullivan to hand in his resignation. Bringing an outgunned squad down to New Zealand for an end of season [well, end of the Northern Hemisphere season] three test tour against the world champion All Blacks is hard enough, but when you take into account the injury problems that are already mounting up – Paul O’Connell, Tommy Bowe, Stephen Ferris, Luke Fitzgerald, Tom Court and Isaac Boss are all out and would certainly have made the flight were they fit, and Munster’s Felix Jones would probably have travelled – then it looks like a ‘Tour From Hell’ scenario. Continue reading

NZ Training Squad: Young Guns and Old Guard

Steve Hansen, NZ head coach: he’s been around the set-up for a long time, and he has previous experience as an international head coach with Wales. With so much emphasis on the All Blacks winning their home World Cup, there was always going to be an odd honeymoon period afterwards once they took the William Webb Ellis trophy, but his first squad is a bit of a shake-up.

The New Zealand All Blacks have picked a 35-strong training squad to prepare for the forthcoming visit of Ireland for a three match test series in June, and it’s pretty interesting to see the turnover of personnel since their victorious World Cup. Continue reading

Report Card: The Inner Peace Gang [New Zealand]

The report card, and indeed the history books will show one thing: New Zealand won their second World Cup in 2011 and there won’t be an asterisk beside that fact. The rest of us will remember that New Zealand basically didn’t lose the World Cup, a World Cup that was theirs to win, played at home with a final where the referee lacked the bottle to spoil the party. Continue reading

Bastille Day Never falls in October

14 July 1979 – Bastille Day.

France triumphed over the All Blacks in Eden Park, Auckland by 19-24 for their first ever victory in New Zealand. Although they had played fixtures since 1906, France had never conquered the All Blacks on their turf until this auspicious day. Games against the All Blacks and South Africa were always referred to by French commentators as Fiasco aux Antipodes. Continue reading

Has Fate Already Decided?

Danny Blanchflower - loved a bit of fate with his greens and chips

The Mole was recently reminded by a friend who is a Spurs fan that for more than
60 years, every fan of Spurs – Tottenham Hotspur, the English football team – knew that no
matter how bad things were at White Hart Lane, it was only a question of waiting for the
year ending in the numeral 1 and things would be different. Continue reading

At Thixes and Thevens: Australia vs New Zealand

Last Week’s Legacy

If we were to draw conclusions from the quarter finals, its that “out-and-out groundhogs” playing at seven proved hugely important in getting the right result. This was due in part to the interpretation of the referees and in particular the games on the bottom half of the draw. Continue reading