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Rugby World Cup splutters into life

Alastair Eykyn | 14:57 UK time, Friday, 9 September 2011

The excitement was there. The anticipation was there. Auckland was awash with the colours of every participating nation and the opening ceremony was impressive.

Yet the game that launched the 2011 Rugby World Cup had little, or no, competitive edge as New Zealand ran out 41-10 winners over Tonga.

The early offloading of New Zealand's Sonny Bill Williams was a joy to behold; the flicks and tricks of a magician at work.

The finishing of Israel Dagg and Richard Kahui was impressive as well - though too often the Tongans seemed to wave them through to the try line. It took the Islanders a full 40 minutes to shake off the stage fright.

When they did, we saw the All Blacks flustered, hassled and penalised. The immortals were mortal after all, and Tonga had taken too long to realise it.

They remembered their famed ability for knocking opponents back in the tackle, they harried at the breakdown, and they worked and worked with their pick-and-drive.

The dividends followed: a try for replacement prop Alisona Taumalolo, a score to treasure. The tireless New Zealand flanker Jerome Kaino, and centre Ma'a Nonu touched down either side of the Tongan, but the All Blacks' cape of invincibility had
slipped.

It had been torn from them in much the same way as Sonny Bill's shirt. The excited screams as the Kiwi revealed his honed torso to replace it, might have been the loudest of the night.

New Zealand were in fine form during the haka, but less impressive in the second half against Tonga. Photo: Getty

The shrieks told of a total lack of sporting tension around Eden Park but both teams deserve some credit.

In some respects, New Zealand were on a hiding to nothing. Only an immaculate 80 point hammering would've satisfied the critics. They came to play, and for the first half they were permanently menacing.

The forwards were dynamic, the back division dynamite. That they failed to close the game out with the same ruthless intensity will irritate and motivate them. They will be alarmed by the number of mistakes that crept into their game.

So the first of the contenders have revealed their hand. The New Zealanders' future
opponents will have taken careful notes.

Tonga were nowhere in the first half but their players are so unused to this rarefied stage that the way in which they froze at the start was entirely understandable.

More significant was the manner in which they responded. Their second half will show them the way for the rest of the tournament.

The question we need to ask is: why was this fixture chosen to open proceedings? It was always going to result in a comfortable win for the hosts. Perhaps that's the reason, right there.

But what about the need to set the pulses racing from the outset? Why not a firecracker opener like the one we saw between France and Argentina four years ago?

The tournament's organising committee had the chance to pit the All Blacks against France; a contest of guaranteed bite and drama. It would have provided the perfect launchpad for the competition.

Instead they bottled it, and in sharp contrast to the fizzing pre-match carnival in downtown Auckland, the World Cup of 2011 has merely spluttered into life.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Good blog, expected more from NZ of course but at no point were Tonga going to win.. None the less New Zealand still are the strongest side

  • Comment number 2.

    It was a bit of a damp squib, especially the second half but I don't think you can change the scheduling just to create a big match to start. It's better surely to have the top teams in the groups up to speed after a game or two so they can really perform to their best when they play? Not that New Zealand ever play their best against France in a World Cup!

    I did a little preview of their chances of winning, and looked at some of the stats against other teams in the WC. Also, look for the Jonah Lomu/Ronaldo comparison...

    http://samhopwood.blogspot.com/2011/09/all-black-world-cup.html

  • Comment number 3.

    after a spectacular opening ceremony, that game did nothing for the ABs. They looked disinterested and scrappy in the second half and why wont you when youre up 29-3 at half time. Its like they are saving themselves for the next game.

    I dont know whether its the IRBs decision in creating the fixtures but how hard is it to have 2 teams who are very competitive play each other in the opening game. This game should of been France/Nz. Its obvious.

    I dont know whats worse. NZ winning by 31 points or everyone expecting them to dish out a 50+ point hiding as they did in thier opening game in 2007.

    What good advertisement is that or the game?

  • Comment number 4.

    Interesting to hear your comments comparing the opening ceremony, as nobody in the UK saw the opening due to the dire ITV coverage

  • Comment number 5.

    Tend to agree, but I think you're looking back on France-Argentina in 2007 with the benefit of hindsight. Argentina were not expected to be much more of a challenge to France than Tonga were to the ABs.

    As a neutral it was a thoroughly unengaging game, with the exception of the incredible SBW.

  • Comment number 6.

    TBH theres no point watching until the quarter finals anyway. You might miss a good game but probably not. Anyway, NZ are going to win, nobody has any chance of beating them on their home soil, would be great to see England win it, but that's just a pipe dream. 1/4s max.

  • Comment number 7.

    opening ceremony is already up on you tube people

  • Comment number 8.

    To be honest, I'm glad we struggled. We usually start too fast and struggle to maintain the form for the full 6 weeks, so I'd rather see us slowly work our way into the tournament. I'd remind all you England fans of just how badly your team did in the pool stages of the last cup yet made the final, where-as the AB's ripped everyone to shreds in the pool and fell short in the quarters due to not having been put under pressure.

    It was the big mistake we made last time, we used the pool games to play festival rugby instead of practising our patterns of play for the tight games to come. So to see them working the patterns in the first half was good, and to see them having to defend under pressure was good as well, but I was disappointed that they lacked the discipline to continue the patterns in the second half and that's how it all fell apart.

  • Comment number 9.

    Oh, and ITV, minus marks for you for missing most of the opening ceremony, and having such a flat and dull commentary team who seemed to be distinctly lacking any enthusiasm. Why not use a local NZ commentary team who would know the players better, have a more emotional investment in the game, and have sideline guys keeping tabs on what's happening better?

  • Comment number 10.

    @odysseus

    Exactly. Sky uses the national commentaries for the Tri Nations. They all know the game, the teams and can also inject enthusiasm and add some banter while not constantly talking. No idea why ITV used this lot. Useless. NZ will get better. Disappointing game by Tonga, so many missed tackles. I expected it to be much closer, even if the score was not reflective of the competitiveness. Can't blame the organizing committee for Tonga not turning up.

  • Comment number 11.

    having your nose to the ground?

  • Comment number 12.

    Everyone is expecting New Zealand to win this thing. On TV I even saw an article on how great "NewZealand pies" were.
    I worried. If I eat a New Zealand pie is there a danger of choking?

  • Comment number 13.

    Opening ceremony was relatively simple and traditional - I just hope London 2012 takes that option, instead I think it will be a massive, complex and over-modern ceremony at the Olympics. As for this morning's match where was the ferocious Tongan tackling we have come to expect? Once the Tongans brought on their impact players they improved no end and made the ABs look beatable. However it is clear that the ABs have great quality of depth at centre, wing, full back, prop and second row, whcih must bode well for them as the tournament progresses.

  • Comment number 14.

    The art of world cup rugby is to expend as little energy as possible to get through the pool stage and put in the big performances in the knock out stage. In this respect, NZ played the perfect game. They wrapped the game up in the first half and then did just enough in the second.

  • Comment number 15.

    The all blacks are quite rightly the choice of every pundit, and a poor performance by their own standards still resulted in quite a beating for a physical Tongan side. They will progress easily into the semi-finals where it becomes anyones competition, and they will either rise to the great home expectation of victory 'invictus' style or they will buckle under the great weight of expectation.

    Personally i hope they become the team they promise to be, and thrill the crowds then lose in the final to England (We all have our dreams)

  • Comment number 16.

    Generally an NZ pie is something worth having... mind you probably not as much as the humble pie you might have to munch on Ricardo if Blighty don't get up against Argentina tomorrow.
    Thought the game was pretty good in patches. Tonga never gave up, it could have been a cricket score, but some excellent defence by Tonga in the second half kept it down.
    Though Richard Kahui looked the business, as did Dagg, Nonu and Kaino. McCaw was up with play more so than any of his recent test... just not quite as affective, but you get the feeling he is getting there.
    That Tongan scrum in the second period looked pretty tough... if France turn up with one of those can't be bothered days Tonga might just sneak it.
    Think NZ will gradually get better as this competition moves along. Still see them winning it. Probably against Australia.

  • Comment number 17.

    @16 Sorry about that, couldn't resist the wordplay.
    I agree the game was a reasonable start for NZ and I fully expect them to get better and stronger as the tournament progresses.
    Tonga weren't great and the French aren't as vulnerable to not turning up as once they were.
    I still see NZ winning the whole thing but am not convinced Aus will be in the final.

    PS Not and England supporter

  • Comment number 18.

    I thought that performance by New Zealand was the best I've seen. Their downfall in previous cups has been pushing too hard to be Namibia by 80+ points, but this was a well-measured, easy performance.

    One thing I can guarantee is booing from New Zealand natives over England's frankly stupid decision to wear black in NZ.

  • Comment number 19.

    Just the sort of 5/10 performance that was to be expected from the All Blacks. Any opponents gameplan should be simple, play at pace, pressure the breakdown and make the referee see how much Richie cheats...he'll lose his composure and leadership on the field goes to pot...Mark my words, France will beat them in the group stage and NZ will finish second in their group... check it out;

    http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/238689689503820/

  • Comment number 20.

    I agree, the opening ceremony was good because it was simple. And as for the game, not too worried either, it was more about getting the points and atmosphere. The first match in the football World Cup is also relatively low-key.

    However, what was the problem on the first day was the shocking organisation in Auckland, including complete failure of transportation. I have never seen such chaotic performance on the opening day of any tournament I've been to.

  • Comment number 21.

    What's more dull than watching a particularly dull game of a very dull sport?

    Reading a dull article written by a dull man about a dull game of a very dull sport.

    The opening ceremony will be the second best thing about the world cup, I'm already looking forward to the closing ceremony.

  • Comment number 22.

    Maybe rugby did play second fiddle to the opening ceremony, and yes New Zealand probably was a little bit self indulging, but for a Scotsman living in Auckland it was great to see the pride (of holding this tournament) on normal everyday Kiwi faces, and as for the local Tongan community, well they're something special.

    Rest assured rugby fans the big games are coming, and if you are not an All Black supporter be afraid, be very afraid! A Scotland v NZ final, I'll drink to that (In la la land)

  • Comment number 23.

    Ricardo Porrage believes anyone who says anything "against " anything NZ must be an English supporter. Chips on both shoulders

  • Comment number 24.

    21.At 21:25 9th Sep 2011, andstillundefeated wrote:
    What's more dull than watching a particularly dull game of a very dull sport?

    Reading a dull article written by a dull man about a dull game of a very dull sport.

    The opening ceremony will be the second best thing about the world cup, I'm already looking forward to the closing ceremony.

    I am wondering why you watch and read about Rugby if you dont like it
    have a good day and try and find some positives..they are there
    God Bless

  • Comment number 25.

    #21 Rugby league fan in calls union boring shocker...Please. I'm sure the 15man counterparts will give a better account of themselves than the League boys pitiful efforts.

  • Comment number 26.

    Totally agree, I think Tonga may have lost but they just blew this World Cup wide open.

    They made New Zealand look very human in the second half.

    That and the Kiwi pack is incredibly slim and potentially lightweight. I think every other Top 10 team will be licking their chops, and thinking that this could be the best time to play the All Blacks.

    The Kiwi crowd was surprisingly quiet but I'm guessing the stuffed shirts/ local dignitaries were out in force.

    Well done New Zealand and Tonga.

    I am very excited to see Scotland vs Romania, and England vs Argentina.

  • Comment number 27.

    I didn't appreciate the ITV commentator moaning about the repeated scrums.

    I thought it was fascinating that Tonga weren't willing to budge an inch from playing to their strengths and that they were able to humiliate the All Blacks front row by forcing them to pack down again and again to concede penalty after penalty. That will really haunt the players.

    A good commentator would have made much of this, not apologised for it.

  • Comment number 28.

    Quite worried that you've decided to generously donate a try to the tryless Isaia Toeava whose try was .... disallowed, and forget about the last try of the game which actually went to .... Ma'a Nonu.

  • Comment number 29.

    26

    Gosh really I need to watch the game again then. Watching last night, admittedly through a number of glasses the best of Otago, I though the ABs were lackluster in the 2nd half but had the game early and could have upped a gear should they have needed to.

  • Comment number 30.

    Wanaka XV, maybe you're right, and the All Blacks were looking to avoid injuries. I'm surprised to see them not going for the jugular though.

    Definitely agree that New Zealand vs France should have gone first. That would have been a treat and an exorcism of sorts.

  • Comment number 31.

    Yes France up first would have been a better start having said that it was a sell out! And the Tongan fans made it a festival game

    I still can't see the ABs not winning this I feel they have the best of the groups and who will they meet before the final France or England maybe Argentina or SA all of whom I think they will beat........... Then Ozzie

  • Comment number 32.

    It's good that Tonga aren't consistently being beaten by 70 points by the ABs at every World Cup. Isn't the World Cup about growing the game and seeing more teams emerge as credible opponents? What good is it if Tonga are beaten by cricket scores every time they play the ABs? Disappointed with the ABs performance in the 2nd half - more so by the fact that they still haven't got the grasp of finishing off the opportunities they create but that could really be down to Toeava's lack of game time and brain - but on the other hand, Tonga definitely got into the game and looked far better defensively. Hopefully this will lift Tonga's confidence ahead of their clash against France for a place in the quarters. Given Taumololo's form in the scrums last night, the French could be a bit nervous there.

  • Comment number 33.

    Dave

    Agree with the scoring thing however if we really want to grow the game, as much as it hurts me to say, Japan should have got this world cup not NZ:(

  • Comment number 34.

    Isn't it always the case that whenever a major championships is held outside england then the organisation must be criticized? Oh well. Never mind the ABs won, and I am sure they will get further than the AWs LOL

  • Comment number 35.

    Disappointing blog really. How long were you waiting to write that one? Who cares what the opening match is! It should be drawn randomly from the host country's pool to be fair. I guess by definition when it's in England next we can watch England play Argentina or whomever and kick the ball up and down the field for 80 minutes..

    btw - correction -it was Richard Kahui who touched down twice - not Isaia Toeava.

  • Comment number 36.

    It was always going to be a All Blacks win, thing we don't know is what was the AB's game plan, there was no point blowing Tonga out of the water by 50-60+, Henery have learnt alot from 07 and the've all been around the traps, this was not a warm up to the tri nations, the world cup is a totally different beast, maybe Alastair Eykyn has got a bit of All Black world cup syndrome (your certainly not the only one, bar far!), the All Blacks were in a dammed if they do and dammed if they don't predicament. Fair play to Tonga for not giving up and giving it a good crack and made the All Blacks work for what they got, more so in the second half, as I thought they would have struggled in the fitness department.

  • Comment number 37.

    well getting up early to watch the opening ceremony was a waste of time the first 15 minutes were not even shown and everything except the speeches were talked over by the host and pundits and itv wonder why 90% of people watched the football world cup final on the bbc. and do not even get me started on the ad breaks every 2 minutes.

  • Comment number 38.

    @6 mac_knife REALLY? No one else has a chance of winning? Then don't bothere watching it at all. Come the final, NZ v Aus, SA, France, or England, its anyones game. Its one game. One mistake or one moment of genious could decide it for anyone!

    @18 Can you explain to my why it is sooo bad England are going to be wearing black?

    Tonga looked lost in the first half, seemed to be trying to hard, and that made it too easy for NZ. So good bits of play. But far far to many missed tackles. Hence the too easy. Then come the second half they went back to what they do best. Shame they didnt start that way!

  • Comment number 39.

    @18

    Will my fellow Kiwis get off this black shirt thing you are making NZ look pathetic. Did the England fans moan about the white shirted ABs....NO. Doe the Nike shirt look like an AB shirt NO...does it matter a jot NO.

    @macc2 I think ABs France would have been the way to go for all of the reasons stated. Great opening ceremony really great and then not a great game of Rugby with a result that we all knew would be what it would be. We have one chance to show the world what we can do and that game was not a good choice in terms of entertainment.

  • Comment number 40.

    @ 34, Macca2
    The organisation wasn't bad - it was shocking. I have defended a number of tournaments and events I've been to, from F1 in Korea to a number of World Cups but that was two to three levels below of what I have witnessed anywhere.

    Just look at the local reports:
    http://www.3news.co.nz/Aucklands-RWC-train-service-disgraceful/tabid/423/articleID/225223/Default.aspx
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10750742

  • Comment number 41.

    @39 Glad to hear from a Kiwi on this matter. A shirt is a shirt. And England will never wear their black shirt v NZ. The obvious revers of a white shirt is black and vise versa!

    I am really looking forward to the NZ France game. Think NZ will edge it though!

    On a side note, dont watch Dan Carter play that much, but was that an off day with the boot? One conversion looked easy and he hit the post!

  • Comment number 42.

    18: PT8475 - England change shirt is.....black. AB's change shirt is.....white. Move on, old chap.

    21: andstillundefeated - Here's an idea: Don't watch the opening ceremony, don't watch the games and don't watch the closing ceremony. You won't get bored then. Unless you like to watch people flapping about on the grass like landed fish and hear the referee have to tell tacklers to get up after every single tackle. Oh and teach them to count. Time after time. See how easy it is to criticise? Not constructive, is it? Although a Union buff, I like to watch League and occasionally go to a super league game or two.

    As a spectacle, the first game wasn't up to much. It was never going to be tight. I don't think you can criticise the AB's for taking the foot off the gas. Perhaps the NZ press will, but if another weak team thinks they can put two halves of a match together like the Tongans second half, they'd better think again. It did show that, as powerful as the AB's are, get them rattled and all things are possible.

  • Comment number 43.

    re shirts: most new zealanders don't care about england or wales having black away shirts. the one or 2 former all blacks interviewed for british tv do not represent a nation, they only represent the british media organisations paying them for the interview... most of us don't really care. sure you'll find one or 2 opinionated idiots on the internet... but it's just a jersey, most of us don't care...

    re: choking against france... don't forget the all blacks beat france comprehensively for to win the cup in 1987. currently we sit at 2 wins each. we like to share our choking about... we've choked to the australians just as much as france.

    re: dan carter's boot... he's never been a 90% kicker... and this year has averaged more like 70% which is below usual.... in fact imo his kicking hasn't been up to scratch since his ankle surgery a couple of seasons back. but his general play more than makes up for it. we have better kickers... but his overall package is better in the big games.

    interestingly... all the 'in the know' book makers and betting predictors were suggesting a 30-40 point margin at the end (contrary to popular opinion). i think the all blacks will be happy the tongans found some spine in the second. we need hard games, not cakewalks.

  • Comment number 44.

    @43

    Agree totally with the DC comments. His kicking, one could argue, has never been Jonny in his pomp like. But his play around the field 95% of the time he is masterful in my opinion. Is he the best ever I am 50/50 on that I think it is very close between him and Jonny (maybe today DC just scrapes it, but only just)

    Not so sure about the Shirt debate. I have heard a lot of complaining about it down here...it saddens me. Just hope at the end of the day our mate in the NH .will remember RWC 2011 for the rugby and our welcome to all the fans wherever they come from.

  • Comment number 45.

    This whole shirt thing is getting on my nerves!! No offence to the new zealanders but you don't own the colour black!! if we want a black away shirt then why shouldn't we have one?! You wear white as your away strip. so whats the difference?!

    And tbh, our shirt isn't even black, its grey! I apologise to WanakaXV if he feels i am having a go at his nation but its just such a mindless ballache argument!

    On DC, i think he is a special talent. Has such a good eye for a pass, his vision is astonishing and he really is just a fantastic player. This is also helped by having a lot of other very good players around him! I guess we will just have to hope he keeps missing "easy" kicks.

  • Comment number 46.

    Liverpaul85

    Mate unfortunately I agree with you the shirt this is a pain in ass.....But as a countryman of mine has said he feels not too many of us really care....... I don't for all the reasons you state

  • Comment number 47.

    DC regardless of his kicking is an awesome player, and I would say is better than Johnny. But a boot like Johnnys is deffinately threatening, in a tight game it is what gets you through. But a strong back is vital too. As Vickery once said on the 2003 WC "Could we have won it with out Johnny? Maybe, I don't know. But he couldn't have won it without us."

  • Comment number 48.

    Oh and liverpaul85.........calm down!

  • Comment number 49.

    47

    Yes DC is no doubt....still 50/50 I think JWs defense was better but hey they are both great players and a joy to watch.

    I had not heard the Vickery comment very good.

  • Comment number 50.

    Vickery comment shows the untiy ethos of that team. And I am sure Wilko would agree.

    I would happily have DC or JW in my team!

  • Comment number 51.

    The AB's Tonga game would have been chosen as a celebration of South Pacific rugby....and rightly so.
    Added to that, the opening game was guaranteed to be a sell out no matter who the opponents of the AB's were. The same couldn't be said if this match had been the third pool match for instance.

  • Comment number 52.

    6

    So much for your understanding of RWC and rugby and what it can produce.

    wall to wall excitement this afternoon

  • Comment number 53.

    @48 daverichallen

    Are you seriously telling me to calm down when you, in this blog and others, have been shouting your mouth off qabout the very subject?! Fickle german!

  • Comment number 54.

    This whole world cup and it preperation has been about making money making more money and making sure the AB's win. As an Englishman who lives out here the feeling is that the AB's still fear what the french can do, so to have that as the first game would have caused riots when a "sure thing" win is the easy safe option. The funny thing was the NZ fans were dissappointed they didnt win by at least 20 more points. Nothing like putting pressure on themselves. COME on ENGLAND.

  • Comment number 55.

    mankyblue... I live out there also and have a totally different perspective than you. Yes the AB fans are weary of France. Why should the not be, but there is no conspiracy here.

  • Comment number 56.

    Thats obviously should have read wary of France.

  • Comment number 57.

    Fancy having a go at Rugby League, Robinson won England the world cup - he was a league player, Ashton will be Englands top try scorer - he was a league player, SBW is the most exciting player in Union - he was a league player.
    .

    If you didn't double league players earnings to bring some excitement to your "fatty run, skinny kick" sport it would be played 80 minutes of foot tennis.

  • Comment number 58.

    How disappointingly cynical. All Blacks v Tonga was the natural first choice from Pool A. NZ is a Pacific nation and Auckland is the biggest Polynesian city in the world. The match was the natural extension of the opening ceremony. It is a shame that Eykyn didn't grasp the significance.

  • Comment number 59.

    andstillundefeated

    Forgot your meds again mate??

  • Comment number 60.

    IF anyone thinks ENG have a chance in this WC, think again. I watched the match v Argentina and ENG were dismal. Golden Child JW couldn't find the posts, even when he was in front of them! 1 try in the whole match? A typical, boring NH kicking game. Argentina should have ran with the ball more, especially when they had an extra man on the field!
    This is NZ's WC to lose. Hopefully they do lose and it's to AUS but anything can happen in the knockout stages. Onwards and upwards

  • Comment number 61.

    Anything to have a pop at nz eh? i suppose the rubbish served up by argentina and england this morning is what rugby is all about. Nz did what they had to do and in style aswell especially in the 1st half, it was their 1st string team out there so why should they be going full out for the whole 80 against a team that was always on for a hiding? they showed what they can do in the 1st half and it was brilliant rugby. I expect i blog any second now praising this mornings game and explaining how england have really ignited the wc with a gritty win against the might of argentina......................

  • Comment number 62.

    Oh Dear, better book my early flight back. The ominous signs are all there. Not our year chaps, except it !!

  • Comment number 63.

    Let's get this straight. The overwhelming majority of rugby supporters couldn't care a moneky's about what England wears although it was highly amusing to see how their jerseys fell apart this morning. Great game by Argentina but once agin their lack of ambition let them down. Had they shown more initiaitive at times you felt that they could have nailed the match.

  • Comment number 64.

    England serving up a poor performance I can take I leave, having it shoved down in my face by the commentary team I cannot. Sick of ITV, why oh why do you not bid BBC? http://oneeyeonwales.blogspot.com/2011/09/hating-itv-at-rwc2011.html

  • Comment number 65.

    Sorry, that was typed in a rush, and came out as near gibberish. The performance I can take 'or' leave, and it is an issue with ITV shoving it, either in my face or down my throat. Sorry about the slack editing above!

  • Comment number 66.

    The France game is the third game so the AB's dont have their hardest game early and then end up being undercooked for the knock out stages like they were four years ago and it also gives them time to get players into form and recovered from injury before they get to the business end. As for the england black jersey thing, I personally don't know any of my countrymen who really care about it. We'll never play England or Wales wearing black so why would we care?

  • Comment number 67.

    Alaistair, I completely agree with your assessment of choosing pre-match ceremony over match substance for the opener. Maybe the organisers were hoping for the sort of face-off seen in 2003?

    Do you think Sonny Bill is the sort of player NZ need right now? He can create anything, but does sometimes randomly lob the ball about and he butchered a chance in the second half when he cut inside. I can just see him doing something like Billy Slater did in the RL World Cup final.

    Anyway I've already put down what I think about the games so far:-
    http://sporttalkwitharmi.blogspot.com/2011/09/and-rugby-world-cup-begins.html

  • Comment number 68.

    "The question we need to ask is: why was this fixture chosen to open proceedings?"

    Well if you had actually asked the question then you would have been that this game was chosen because while it's held in NZ we want our Pacific cuzzies to feel involved. After all, there are more Tongans in Auckland than in Tonga.

    As for the game, in light of the other games over the weekend it actually looks not that bad and not too different to most of our wins the last couple of years (go hard first 40, secure the win and shut up shop). And Toeava won't be involved in the big games. He left 15 pts on the pitch himself with poor handling, so the ABs could've won 62-10. Not a bad return.
    The last time we played Samoa and put 100 on them we got lambasted for being cruel (ran a penalty in the last minute to bring up the ton, but everyone said that just humiliated Samoa and we should have kicked it out for fulltime). Can't win with you Poms.

    Also, to claim we had to smash Tonga by 80 to get a pass mark is quite disgraceful. As the other games have shown there are no easy beats in this tournament and nobody has hit 50pts yet (Fiji got close).

    But the rubbish seems to be written by those far away. From what I've seen this has all been in the best spirit and will probably go down as the best RWc so far for sheer participation. Every kiwi has adopted a 2nd team (Russia for me!) and the small towns hosting teams are all done up in the visitors colours, not black. The Caketin was near sellout for SA v Wales late on a Sunday night! Granted it was a good game, but I think most expected an easy SA win so good to see everyone wanting to get involved.

 

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