What may go down in Australia as Bloody Sunday proved to be a Marvellous Monday for South Africans when they opened their papers this morning. I experienced Déjà vu yesterday as we were slumping to yet another defeat at the hand of the yellow foe, only to be bailed out in dramatic fashion by the batting of the bowlers. There was even a carrot top in the equation, a la Shaun Pollock!
It is quite a challenge to find something new to say about the weekend’s RWC drama. While Saturday’s match was spine-chilling, yesterday’s game between the number 1 and 2 sides in the world (on paper that is) was almost boring.
Wales v France: If any good comes from the most infamous red card in RWC ever, it would be that the role of technology can no longer be discarded (no pun intended). Whilst I endorse the revision of a decision of this nature, I am concerned about the competence of particularly the current incumbents in the TV umpire chair. For the most, they are there because of the inability to make the right decision under pressure on the field, but are able to apply their knowledge with the help of technology and hindsight. Perhaps the experience of the match referee could be applied in this situation. He is normally a vastly experienced referee, possibly just not able to keep up with the pace of the modern game anymore. But then again, we could come up against a recent retiree like Stuart Dickheadson.
All Blacks v Australia: While not taking anything away from the demolition job done so clinically by the All Blacks, one suspects that the Aussies had not fully recovered from their draining encounter with the ‘Boks a week earlier. I am still of the opinion that a seasoned playmaker like Matt Giteau would have been able to find a counter to the way the All Blacks neutralised the Aussie backline. “Quaint” Cooper suddenly appeared one-dimensional, as he did in the last encounter in NZ between these two sides. Two factors stood out for me in the All Black side: Aaron Cruden at flyhalf showed that there is life after Dan Carter after all, and their defence went up more than several notches as the tournament progressed. An interesting point made by a commentator yesterday was how the changes on the wings have worked for the All Blacks. No longer the brutal Sitiveni Sivivatu who can force his way over the tryline, but rather the subtle player who is not suspect under the high ball, yet can also beat the opposition on attack.
If there is one person who could be forgiven for being very nervous before Sunday’s match, it is Craig Joubert. If he was edgy, he hid it well. His composure, firmness and communication was the perfect example of how player 31 should conduct himself. His reward is the biggest match in the rugby world, and justly deserved.
Ou Manie is bietjie bekommerd oor my voorstel oor die gebruik van ons eie Derde Oog skeidsregter. Die ou se Engels is nie te waffers nie, en ou Maans voorsien die volgende:
“Bruce” Lawrence: “Shaun, I wonder if you can guide me on this one? Did you see that as a spear tackle, tip tackle or merely dangerous?”
Shaun: “You may award the try.”
In Thursday’s Moonstone Monitor we discuss the RWC final. Many already regard it as an anti-climax; I do not share this view.