…..the 5th of November!
What a day for the Irish eh?
A first ever win over the All Blacks – but not just that – an All Black team on a record unbeaten run and reckoned to be the best All Black team of all time.
The win was magnificent and deserves a post all of its own – so scroll down to the next article for my ‘less than informed’ view of the events last night at Soldier Field.
First up yesterday by about half an hour was the match at the Principality Stadium, where the principle thing on offer was a mauling of Wales by a Wallaby team that has been coming in for more than its fair share of stick of late.
I said here throughout the Rugby Championship that Michael Chieka’s side were going to be a handful on this tour (you can check if you like) – it gives me some pleasure that my view was vindicated to some extent, yesterday.
I say to some extent because, to be frank, Wales were awful.
Australia cut them to pieces and with better execution would have hit 50 points. Twice the ball was dropped when it could have been walked in behind the posts and I thought Wales were lucky that a penalty try was not given when Dan Biggar pulled the receiver back.
Wales will no doubt claim, with some justification, that they were hampered by injuries – but then every international side has similar problems – it’s the nature of the physical demands of the game today.
The Welsh management blamed a slow start – presumably because they lost the second half by less that the first.
It is inevitable that Rob Howley will make changes for next week with some of the bench getting a start I think.
They will need to improve – it’s the Pumas next Saturday – a team that are vastly improved, thanks to their inclusion in Super rugby and their exposure to the altitude of the Rugby Championship.
The Wallabies move on to Murrayfield, where Scotland will have taken notice of their off- loading game and the massive size and contribution of the two locks.
At Wembley a Springbok side took on the Barbarians who had been tutored by Robbie Deans and Will Greenwood.
It ended in a 31-31 draw which probably didn’t suit either team. The Barbarians included many from Super Rugby and it showed in the manner that they tried to keep the ball alive at all costs – which is very much a Barbarians tradition.
In the context of the current South African tour it didn’t tell us much as less than half of the starting XV are likely to line up in the first XV next Saturday at Twickenham. They played with limited ambition but when Eban Etzebeth lines up alongside du Toit they will likely give England some problems at the lineout, and elsewhere. If I was Coetzee I would also start Rudy Paige and Pat Lambie.
Eddie Jones will not be fooled by this, or any other of their recent performances.
The Barbarians were, as always, exciting with their running game and offloading, but we are so used to this type of rugby now that it was less spectacular that games like the one in 1973 where Phil Bennett ran from his goal line and Gareth Edwards finished at the other end. Oh how Wales would like players of that quality now.
For the Barbarians Seta Tamanivalu, Melani Nanai and Naiyaravoro stood out amongst a host of stars that looked like they play together every week – not just one week.
But for all the great play at Wembley and in Cardiff nothing prepared us for Chicago!