One To Watch: Joe Tuineau [Tonga]

Joe Tuineau, All-American ... eh, All-Fijian? Sorry, All-Tongan

Keep an eye out for Tongan second-row Big Joe Tuineau in the World Cup opener. His backstory is pretty unique. Continue reading

One To Watch: Israel Dagg [New Zealand]

Israel and Mils in happier times

Thank you, Graham Henry. The charismatic Kiwi funny-man [que?] made the Mole’s mind up for him, dropping 98-cap Kiwi legend Mils Muliaina from the starting line-up of the New Zealand team that faces Tonga in the opening match of RWC11. Continue reading

One To Watch: Conor Murray [Ireland]

All the potential to be the best Irish scrum-half of the last thirty years

The Mole leapt on to the Conor Murray bandwagon with impromptu haste. The young Garryowen scrum-half was introduced at half-time to replace hotly-tipped team-mate Duncan Williams in a Leinster A vs Munster A encounter in Donnybrook last August, and all of a sudden there was a huge increase in tempo every time Munster were on the attack. Continue reading

Crystal Ball Gazing #1

Pool A: NZ, France, Tonga, Japan, Canada

Pool A hosts the opening game of the World Cup so look forward to discussion about the merits of warm up games ending and the real stuff beginning.

The first Rugby World Cup opened with New Zealand annihilating Italy and winning by massive margins in the pool stages has become a New Zealand tradition. New Zealand and France will qualify from this pool, in that order. None of the other teams really have a chance of upsetting the top two, who could pick any selection from their squads and win the three games required. Of more interest will be the composition of Henry and Lievremont’s first choice XVs. Who will Graham Henry allow into his prefect’s club? His rotation of the starting halfbacks could be the rock upon which this World Cup tilt perishes. There’s a nagging suspicion that Lievremont picks his team blindfolded, after a few glasses of red wine. France have the personnel to go far in the competition but rarely set the pool stages alight and often make heavy work of less talented opposition. Continue reading

One To Watch: Pat McCabe [Australia]

What does this guy actually do?

In considering who to look out for in the Aussie team, it’s tempting to look beyond the obvious and think about Pat McCabe in the No12 jersey, the Warwick Taylor-esque straightman to the glittering talents that surround him. Continue reading

One To Watch: Martín Rodríguez Gurruchaga [Argentina]

Latest In The Line of Puma And Stade Fullbacks

Martín Rodríguez Gurruchaga was an amateur fullback playing for Atlético del Rosario and Pumas Sevens Rugby when he was called into the Argentine squad for the November 2009 tour of Britain. His call-up was intended to serve as cover for a severely understrength midfield short an injured trio of experienced Pumas in Marcelo Bosch, Felipe Contepomi and Juan Martín Hernández. Continue reading

He’s No Diego Dominguez: Italy Squad Review

'Hey Salvatori! Why you-a no sing-a wid-a yo accent no more?"

Just as is the case with Ireland, group opponents Italy aren’t firing on all cylinders in the run-up to RWC11. Grand, we’ve lost four in a row, but sneaking a home win over Japan? Is that really any better? Continue reading