Saint-Andre’s About Winning, Not Rebuilding

Oui, c'est vrai

France look set to emerge as the pre-eminent force in Europe under Philippe Saint-Andre. While The Mole had an awful lot of time for Marc Lievremont as a person, there were always huge question-marks over his selection policy, how he dealt with his players and fellow coaches … in fact, there were question marks over pretty much every aspect of his management during his time at the helm. Continue reading

Precog: The Analysts’ Role In The Ireland vs Wales Game

Now that we have reached the point where the general public are being fed rugby stories every day as the third biggest world sports tournament reaches its climax, does the dedicated rugby follower have the expert answers for his or her work colleagues as the questions and comments are thrown? Continue reading

Australia v USA Preview

Get used to that feeling, Kurtley

Australia re-enter the fray after the Ireland upset with Will Genia as captain. Dingo Deans has chosen to give game time to a number of players returning from injury, notably Slipper, Mitchell and a slimmed down Cliffie Palu. Polota-Nau could be thrown into that category except he started against Ireland. Scott Higginbotham starts at blindside and has a chance to stake a claim for the 6 jumper. Pocock was unlikely to start this game due to rotation policy but the diggers must have concerns over his fitness. Continue reading

What Is To Be Done With This Paul O’Connell And His Carries?

So who's going to be the one to tell him? Not in goals.

It’s time somebody said it out loud: Paul O’Connell’s looks are becoming a problem. No, that’s not right. Paul O’Connell’s carrying continues to be a problem. Continue reading

First Round Thoughts

Fly my pretties, fly. Just don't try to maul it.

Fly my pretties, fly. Just don't try to maul it.

A few things have stood out for the Mole after the first round of matches:

Firstly, the Rugby World Cup is a Good Thing. Yes, it overshadows traditional tournaments, disrupts the season, the politics of who gets the tournament is not transparent and hoteliers gouge fans but the atmosphere, sense of occasion and opportunity to see rugby cultures collide in competitive test matches is great. Continue reading

France v Japan Preview

Japan has a vibrant domestic league and was the main contender to New Zealand to host RWC 11. The decision to give the cup to the smaller country was made six years ago and the Mole thinks it was an opportunity missed. Japan is 10th most populous country in the world, with a staggering 127m people and 3rd largest economy in the world. Japan will host the 2019 tournament, by which time rugby, or the Sevens variation, will be an Olympic sport. Instead of introducing another Australian franchise to the Super 15, Mole believes that Tokyo should have got one team and Hong Kong another to make a sixteen team tournament. Teams could have been populated by a mix of Islanders, Argentinians, other imports and local talent. This would give the game massive exposure in two huge economies and introduce more crowds, sponsorship and interest. Continue reading

New Zealand v Tonga

The Tongan gameplan

New Zealand and Tonga kick off the 2011 World Cup. It’s customary for NZ to pummel the other teams in their group and this match shouldn’t be much different. Tonga will be out to level a few big names – I’m looking at you Sunny Bull – and Tonga’uiha is a giant who destroyed some big names during the Northern Hemisphere season. Continue reading