bbc.co.uk Navigation

Ben Dirs

Northern exposure leaves Dirsy depressed (79)

To lose one Six Nations side before the quarter-finals of a World Cup is unfortunate. To lose three just goes to show how stagnant and outmoded northern hemisphere rugby has become.

Some claim this tournament has proved that rugby runs stronger and deeper than ever before, with Fiji’s stunning victory over Wales and Georgia’s near upset of Ireland cited as prime examples.

I don’t go for that. After all, the All Blacks and Australia have been gubbing the minnows at this World Cup just as they always have done.

I hesitate to pick on the Scots – at least they managed to scrape through their group - but it was our misfortune to witness their clash with Italy which was the rugby equivalent of a wet weekend in Prestatyn with only a stack of David Essex LPs for company.

One Scottish fan explained that the up-and-under was the weapon of choice because of the squally weather up in St Etienne.

But I can guarantee you 100% that you will never hear the following words falling from the lips of a southern hemisphere coach:

“Listen lads, I’ve had a look outside and it’s a bit greasy. So just give it to the number 10, let him hoof it for 80 minutes and let’s see what happens.”

Watch our latest video here

At times over the last four weeks, the lack of basic skills exhibited by Six Nations sides has been jaw-dropping, as has the lack of guile, lack of ambition and, especially in the case of Wales, tactical naivety.

We witnessed the Welsh go down on a big screen in Place Jean Juares in St Etienne, which had been transformed for the weekend into a disorientating mix of kilted Scotsmen, local smackheads and flummoxed French tourists.

map_rwc_011007.gif

Tommy, as you can see on our latest video, almost had a rumble with one young reveller. I was behind the camera at the time, and, as they say darling, you have to keep it rolling, even when your mate looks like he's about to get stabbed with a hypodermic needle.

St Etienne, I am choked to report, was actually pretty accurately described by our Lonely Planet guidebook.

It couldn’t do much about the rain that rodded down for much of our visit, but it’s a little bit scraggy and lacking the class of its near neighbour and gastronomic hotbed Lyon.

Aaah, Lyon, home to the andouillette, or exploding sausage. What Tommy thought of me wolfing down a nine-inch shaft of pig's intestine is anyone’s guess. But then this is a man who thinks handfuls of muesli are what God put him on earth to eat.

Lyon also rewarded us with the sight of an extremely rubbered Scotsman having his hair pulled and being punched by his long-suffering old dear as punishment for swearing.

I found it particularly amusing as most of his bile had been directed at the England team during their match against Tonga.

England gave a decent display and there can be no doubt they are improving as the tournament goes on. But I still think they’ve got about as much cutting edge as a balloon and will get shredded behind the scrum by the Aussies.

We have now swapped an industrial estate in St Etienne for a rat-infested car park in Marseille, but at least down here the vermin have suntans.

On Sunday we saw the hosts in action for the first time in the tournament against Georgia and the Stade Velodrome was fairly buzzing.

It is therefore a shame that Les Bleus are going to get their backsides handed to them on a platter by the All Blacks next weekend.

Bad news on The Bloggernaut, which now resembles some kind of ancient prison ship and is lacking in such staples as bread, water and pickled onion Monster Munch.

Indeed, I’d wager even our neighbouring rats would have a look around, run their claws over a few surfaces before deciding against moving in.

Tommy and I haven’t quite reached the stage where we are eating the weevils off biscuits, but I have been trying to raise spirits by cultivating a George Chuter memorial beard and laughing occasionally in the manner of a pirate.

Strangely, Tommy doesn’t reciprocate, but rather mumbles something about being forced to drive 3000 miles over the course of the last four weeks.

The beard, however, will have to go, as it’s incredibly itchy and will no doubt open up a whole new vein of horrendous lookie-likies.

ben416.jpg

France is truly a remarkable place. Back home, you're lumbered with Jim Rosenthal fronting the World Cup coverage. Over here, the lady above does the honours. Mary Patrux, we salute you.

PS. Someone suggested last week that our next video should focus on Scotsmen who look like Jesus. That’s the last time I ask the public for any advice about anything.

Ben Dirs is a BBC Sport journalist travelling around France in a camper van with Tom Fordyce. Click here to search for all of Tom and Ben's blog videos.


Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 12:37 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • Jenny A wrote:

Oh, how I agree with the rather dismal display by Scotland. We've just returned from St Etienne, and it's the weirdest night I've ever experienced after a Scottish win - deflated. We were lucky. Very lucky. Still, even if St Etienne lacked some of the niceties, the people were so friendly and welcoming, and the town had tried hard with the big screens, etc. I think there were some very confused elderly ladies, who had no idea why there were suddenly thousands of fools in kilts roaming the town.....

  • 2.
  • At 12:43 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • Marcos wrote:

You have learned that Argentina exist.

  • 3.
  • At 12:51 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • fergi wrote:

ireland, wales and scotland have been devoid of any structure. ireland beat austrailia last autumn by going through 20 phases before scoring a try. i thick they maybe managed 5 in a row vs namibia.
relying on a "garryowen" from your own possesion is a sign of lack of ideas. kicking a big up and under when your 30 metres out, and you want to put the fear of god into an opposing full back isn't a bad ploy for maybe 2 or 3 goes. doing it continually from your own 22, landing it in midfield for a bit of a juggle, before an opposition lock lands on it, is called something else - giving the ball away.

  • 4.
  • At 12:52 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • ilyas wrote:

Re: the latest video, you should have awarded the bottle of whisky to the scotsman with the lowest score. That way you could have scorced twice, first by getting the unpatriotic twit to sing Englands praises and then for him to see the mighty error of his way by handing over the bottle to the patriotc scot. But you guys played it straighter than geoffrey boycotts bat.

Re: St Etienne, thanks for the warning.

  • 5.
  • At 12:52 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • Leslie Shields wrote:

Your names not really Benders is it?

  • 6.
  • At 12:58 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • Sam wrote:

Don't agree with Dirsy's comments on french coverage. I live here and out of 40 group games, only 12 were on tv, the rest being on satellite. Along with Mary Patrux... Scandalous if you ask me

  • 7.
  • At 12:58 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • Gordon Brownlee wrote:

I can't disagree with this; all the home nations have performed poorly compared to our Southern Hemisphere opponents. Our handling skills are woeful and we are tactically inept. We seem to panic and force the play as soon as we get near the try line. Watch the All Blacks to see their confidence, thoughtfuil play and a game plan that they seem to stick to - throughout the game.

  • 8.
  • At 01:06 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • Mog wrote:

Ben, Sorry to hear you're running out of basic foodstuffs. Have you tried visiting a supermarket?

  • 9.
  • At 01:13 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • Michael wrote:

Dirsy, I agree with you about the up-and unders, but it seems to work! Whilst not wishing to take anything away from Argentina, their whole WC has been built around lumping the ball in the air and tackling like lunatics. Just what you and Tommy haven't been doing with the laydeez. Losers. Keep up the good work.

  • 10.
  • At 01:14 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • tomthepom wrote:

“Listen lads, I’ve had a look outside and it’s a bit greasy. So just give it to the number 10, let him hoof it for 80 minutes and let’s see what happens.”

the above would never be said by a ssouthern hemisphere coach would it?

i'd say that could well be exactly the team talk that loffreda gave the argentinians yesterday. not that it was any good ireland complaining about this, the argies earned all 4 of their wins...

  • 11.
  • At 01:15 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • alasdair blackwood wrote:

I too was very disappointed by Scotland's up and under limitations. I think Hadden must have been watching England the night before and decided that this new innovative technique was the way forward !!!!

Now all he needs now is a pair of centres who can't tackle for peanuts and we'll be England in blue rugby strips !!!

  • 12.
  • At 01:15 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • anysparechange wrote:

sorry to hear about the rogue scotsman. we're not all like that, unless Brian Moore is involved!

yeah our game wasn't pretty but we look to have the best chance of a semi final spot, so maybe Hadden was right to rest our 1st XV.

shame to hear you have run out of pickled onion Monster Munch. that is tough. oh and the picture of Mary Patrux or you isn't working. dunno who it's supposed to be of.

  • 13.
  • At 01:17 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • David wrote:

Hi

Yet another penalty kicking game secures Scotland a semi final berth. Is anybody else disappointed that some teams just seem to rely on this tactic? Often the points tally from the play-safe penalty approach beats a team that are at least trying to win with tries! Isn't it time union adopted the league approach of having a single point for drop goals etc - this would provide more motivation to score tries?

  • 14.
  • At 01:18 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • Chief Chimpa wrote:

I seem to recall the Argentinian's reliance on the high ball in the victories against France and Ireland. Last time I looked they were in the southern hemisphere.

Come on BBC, if you are going to send someone around France on a jolly at least find someone who's knowledge of rugby can't be written on the back of a postage stamp.

  • 15.
  • At 01:19 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • Neil wrote:

The real tournament is ahead of us. How many times in the past have we seen the dominant SH sides underperform as soon as real pressure is applied. As for the home nations Wales were too cocky, too keen to show the World what a great rugby nation they would like to be. Ireland are just too old and lacked a decent fly half, Scotland solid but no adventure, Italy dropped down a few peggs from last year and then theres England.

Its makes me laugh all this hate England stuff. For a start it only strengthens Every Englishmans resolve to succeed. Secondly do these people therefore think that Wales, Ireland and Scotland are all universally loved.

No comment, but having lived overseas for many years, most people see them as cute but insignificant parts of England. No offence, just what i hear.

Yes NZ are awesome as are the BOKs this year. Is there some thing wrong with NH Rugby, hell no, its alive and kicking with a huge interest from young to old and long may it last.

  • 16.
  • At 01:19 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • Mike wrote:

Ben, even it was chucking it down with rain... scotland v Italy would have been a 10 man game. Both teams struggle to play any other type of game and it was not a 'dour' as you make out. As a welsh-Argentinian in Edinburgh, most who I watched the game with found it very compelling and absorbing. Not all rugby has to be played with width and flair! Anyway, NZ look disjointed and France could easily turn them over. SA/Aus/Arg/Fra semis!

  • 17.
  • At 01:35 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • Bruce wrote:

Rugby, like football, is one of those sports where England might win a World Cup once (in a blue moon), but really need to combine with Scotland and Wales to do so more often.

Whereas Scotland and Wales would need to combine with each other and England to win it at all.

Only when the land (island) and the people are as one "British", can there be a lion rampant for every Cup.

PS What Ireland's excuse is, I have no idea. But then they were vanquished by teams, France and Argentina, that could both be semi-finalists.

  • 18.
  • At 01:46 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • Bruce wrote:

I perhaps should have used the word "could" rather then "would" (with due respect to Welsh of the 70's and Scotland - close to a final in 1991) in my earlier post.

No.

Penalties are awarded when the opposition breaks the rules to try to stop you scoring.

If we did as you suggest there would be less tries scored, not more, as teams infringed in rucks and mauls with very little consequence.

Unless you want to abolish the ruck and maul at the same time, of course. In which case...

.. go and watch League.

  • 20.
  • At 01:52 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • WaveyDavey wrote:

Great cutting edge wit and clarity - indeed the NH and SH seem to be getting further apart not closer.

The minnows are getting closer to the 6 Nations teams but not the SH teams.

As sad is this is to admit to my head says I think we will be seeing SF's as - Aus v NZ and S.A. v Arg

BUT - I did bet money on England so I have money where my heart really is!!

IF we should beat AUS then let's hope to hell we get the French next or we might as well save some players their dignity and fitness (Jonny might get to play for his club again!) and just forfeit !!

I would not like to be Welsh today. Funny = they are all 'missing' from the smoking 'shelter' at work today - plenty of happy Scots were vocally noticeable !!

I think as an England fan over the next 5 days I will follow the usual Scots/Irish position and will be on my knees praying for rain for next Saturday.

  • 21.
  • At 01:53 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • Rory wrote:

Liking the video fellas! I take it those burly Scots didn't find either of you again after they'd hoovered that bottle of whiskey?? Rather a quick exit and straight to bed for our 'heroes'. Alas it seems the same fate awaits the World Champions...

  • 22.
  • At 01:56 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • George wrote:

Oh if only it were that simple David. If you decrease the value of the try, you do encourage teams to score tries, but you also encourage foul play as teams will become far more willing to concede penalties.

Sin binning would need to become harsher to counteract this, maybe 15 minutes?

  • 23.
  • At 01:56 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • spencer wrote:

Re. Post 1?

Semi final berth? Have they already beaten Argentina in the quarters then?

Italy trying to score tries? Don't make me laugh. Ramiro Pez is less likely to pass the ball than I am likely to pass my brain surgery exams.

The only thing Union needs to learn from League is not to buy their players when they are old and knackered, just steal the young good ones.

Italy were poor and deserved to lose to a slightly less poor Scottish side.

  • 24.
  • At 01:57 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • Huw Roberts wrote:

Bit upset by the "Prestatyn" jibe. Upset because it reminds me of the (mercifully few) times I've been there. Makes Hull look nice.

Huw Roberts
A Welshman.
Who wishes Fiji well...

  • 25.
  • At 01:58 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • Iggystan wrote:

Comment No.1

Absolute load of rubbish. If you reduce the points for kicking, you'll just get more penalties as teams will be happier to offend and give a penalty than concede a try (it happens now at 3pts).
Also, Scotland have only reached the QF, not the SF.


  • 26.
  • At 02:01 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • Charlie wrote:

I totally agree with David - England have based entire decades of rugby on winning by kicking, and it's been miserable stuff. Let's face it, for England to beat the Aussies, old Jonny is going to have to kick at least 20 points as there's zero chance for tries.

As for Scotland, hopefully the team reaches it's potential on Sunday. As for England, let's hope the Aussies don't reach their peak, or it will get very messy.

  • 27.
  • At 02:03 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • Jordan wrote:

"Yet another penalty kicking game secures Scotland a semi final berth"

Thats a little bit presumptuous, don't you think?

  • 28.
  • At 02:25 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • Martin Byrne wrote:

...every time I view another video diary....I ask myself the same question, "how can this possibly be a justifiable way to spend the licence payers hard earned cash?"

...I want answers and I want them now....but seriously that that bloke without any teeth that made his screen debut, isn’t he the real Ben Dirs?? The other bloke that looks like a cross between Alan Sugar/ Mike McCormac (some bloke I went to college with) and Yoda…isn't he really just some sound man from the BBC…trvelling along in the Bloggernaut.

  • 29.
  • At 02:43 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • Iggystan wrote:

Comment no1 now seems to be comment no12, so apologies to Marcos - Argentina existe!

  • 30.
  • At 02:48 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • Bill McJock wrote:

Dirsy,

Sadly you legged it to Marseille all too quickly as I think you have a been a bit harsh in your assessment of St Etienne.
The post match festivities were top notch and top work by all the Scotland squad for mingling with the fans back in Place Jean Jaures for a good few hours after the game and sharing a few bevvies!!!
The game whilst rather one dimensional was nonetheless tense for all involved and if you have the best kicker in the world - why not put yourself in kickable positions??
Nobody grumbled when Wilkinson was knocking them over after a 40m rolling maul that went on for 5 minutes - Now it's the balls fault he keeps missing!!
18-16 Job Done - bring on the Pumas!!

  • 31.
  • At 03:18 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • Ben Dirs wrote:

Jenny - Aplogies, I should have added that St Etienne's council, or whatever you call them in France, did pull out all the stops in terms of big screens etc. and made everyone extremely welcome.

Leslie Shields - No, it's Ben Dirs

anysparechange - Perhaps I should have made it clear, but it wasn't a rogue Scotsman, but a rogue local!

Chief Chimpa - I have to disagree with you. To say Argentina 'rely' on the up-and-under is debatable to say the least. For starters, I saw them against Georgia and they did what Ireland were incapable of doing, slinging it wide and busting holes in the opposition defence. They also managed to find a way through the Ireland defence on many occasions.

Mike - Scotland-Italy absorbing? They managed to render tens of thousands of excited fans at the Stade Geoffroy Guichard almost mute. But if 80 minutes of hoofing is what you want out of a game of rugby, fill your boots.

  • 32.
  • At 03:47 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • Nick wrote:

Semi final for the scots??

Hahahahahaha!!


The Argentinians will if they play like thay have against France and Ireland put Scotland to the sword without breaking a sweat. You only have to look at them during their anthem to know how badly they want to win.

It will be a semi final line up of the four SH teams unless England absolutely starve the Aussie backs of the ball and JW kicks 100% or if France mug the Kiwi's like they did in 99 semi (but the game being in the Paris suburb of Cardiff makes that even more remote).

This world cup has shown the NH to be arrogant and behind the times with too much money and not enough planning or forward thinking. The only positives have been the passion and desire shown by the likes of Fiji, Argentina and Georgia.

Lets hope for better in the k.o. stages!

Semi for the Scots.....still laughing at that one.

  • 33.
  • At 04:43 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • kieran wrote:

Please, there's nothing less appealing than Saxon sour grapes and just because you've been taking a pasting for every 'performance' you've put on since boring your way to the last world cup doesn't mean you should try to push pass the criticism to the Scotland team. The same goes for the even more embarrassed Irish and Welsh commentators.

  • 34.
  • At 04:46 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • Nick wrote:

Semi final for the scots??

Hahahahahaha!!


The Argentinians will if they play like thay have against France and Ireland put Scotland to the sword without breaking a sweat. You only have to look at them during their anthem to know how badly they want to win.

It will be a semi final line up of the four SH teams unless England absolutely starve the Aussie backs of the ball and JW kicks 100% or if France mug the Kiwi's like they did in 99 semi (but the game being in the Paris suburb of Cardiff makes that even more remote).

This world cup has shown the NH to be arrogant and behind the times with too much money and not enough planning or forward thinking. The only positives have been the passion and desire shown by the likes of Fiji, Argentina and Georgia.

Lets hope for better in the k.o. stages!

Semi for the Scots.....still laughing at that one.

  • 35.
  • At 05:13 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • Doug wrote:

"32. At 03:47 PM on 01 Oct 2007, Nick wrote:
Semi final for the scots??

Hahahahahaha!!"

Keep laughing mate - written off and underdogs is just the way we like it.

You seem to foget that nobody outside of Scotland said we'd get this far but the whole squad knew we could. The last Celtic country standing.

We can beat Argentina on our day (I'd much rather play them in Paris than France) and do you know what, we can also beat South Africa on our day (we beat them in 2002 and have been darn close to beating them in 2003 and 2005 out in SA)Aside from 3 daft tries in 6 minutes at Murrayfield it was a pretty even game between us and SA in August 2007 - if there is one SH team we always seem to not do too badly against it is South Africa.

Scotland for the final where we might let the All Blacks play our First XV this time :-)!

  • 36.
  • At 05:19 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • Doug wrote:

"32. At 03:47 PM on 01 Oct 2007, Nick wrote:
Semi final for the scots??

Hahahahahaha!!"

Keep laughing mate - written off and underdogs is just the way we like it.

You seem to foget that nobody outside of Scotland said we'd get this far but the whole squad knew we could. The last Celtic country standing.

We can beat Argentina on our day (I'd much rather play them in Paris than France) and do you know what, we can also beat South Africa on our day (we beat them in 2002 and have been darn close to beating them in 2003 and 2005 out in SA)Aside from 3 daft tries in 6 minutes at Murrayfield it was a pretty even game between us and SA in August 2007 - if there is one SH team we always seem to not do too badly against it is South Africa.

Scotland for the final where we might let the All Blacks play our First XV this time :-)!

  • 37.
  • At 05:22 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • Sarah, Bucks wrote:

It's probably still not as depressing as watching England play cricket though is it?!

  • 38.
  • At 05:24 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • Grogs wrote:

St Etienne certainly did embrace the tournament with its welcome. Not sure if its cabbies should get quite so caught up in the World Cup spirit mind you. The fella who drove me back to my humble lodgings at the end of the night had clearly been drinking as long as the tartan hordes.

  • 39.
  • At 05:33 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • Grogs wrote:

Have to agree St Etienne did embrace the tournament with their welcome.
The cities cabbies maybe shouldn't get so caught up in the spirit of the event mind you. The fella who drove us back to our compound style accommodation in the early hours of Sunday was clearly pickled. Jumping out at a red light for an impromptu celebratory jig chanting "Ecosse Ecosse" is not the sort of thing you'd see Charlie Slater off 'Enders doing.

  • 40.
  • At 05:37 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • mike wrote:

Ben,

Saturday was a classic example of why territory is so important in rugby. Italy, even though they had a lot of possession, struggled really to threaten offensively, and break the gainline, why don't they use Mirco B, to maximum effect?) and indiscipline ultimately cost them the game. The margin of error was so small, any try in the second half would have won the game. Argentina play a similar game to Italy but have the players who can cause real damage and that was Italy's weakness. That was old school rugby at its finest (as all the old boys were telling me). And it whilst it was never going to be a try-fest like Fiji-Wales, it was still equally as good.

  • 41.
  • At 05:37 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • Grogs wrote:

Have to agree St Etienne did embrace the tournament with their welcome.
The cities cabbies maybe shouldn't get so caught up in the spirit of the event mind you. The fella who drove us back to our compound style accommodation in the early hours of Sunday was clearly pickled. Jumping out at a red light for an impromptu celebratory jig chanting "Ecosse Ecosse" is not the sort of thing you'd see Charlie Slater off 'Enders doing.

  • 42.
  • At 05:43 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • Jenny A wrote:

I'm comment No 1, and don't say anything as presumptious as thinking we (Scotland) will get to the semi final - that's a very big wish/hope!

Oh, and there was something lacking in the main square - toilets.... well, ones which didn't block every 5 minutes!! nice.....

  • 43.
  • At 05:47 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • Grogs wrote:

Have to agree St Etienne did embrace the tournament with their welcome.
The cities cabbies maybe shouldn't get so caught up in the spirit of the event mind you. The fella who drove us back to our compound style accommodation in the early hours of Sunday was clearly pickled. Jumping out at a red light for an impromptu celebratory jig chanting "Ecosse Ecosse" is not the sort of thing you'd see Charlie Slater off 'Enders doing.

  • 44.
  • At 05:53 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • mike wrote:

Ben,

Saturday was a classic example of why territory is so important in rugby. Italy, even though they had a lot of possession, struggled really to threaten offensively, and break the gainline, why don't they use Mirco B, to maximum effect?) and indiscipline ultimately cost them the game. The margin of error was so small, any try in the second half would have won the game. Argentina play a similar game to Italy but have the players who can cause real damage and that was Italy's weakness. That was old school rugby at its finest (as all the old boys were telling me). And it whilst it was never going to be a try-fest like Fiji-Wales, it was still equally as good.

  • 45.
  • At 06:19 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • ElWeb wrote:

Comment 25.
"Also, Scotland have only reached the QF, not the SF"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1991_Rugby_World_Cup

So, has 1991 been erased from the history books or something???

  • 46.
  • At 06:39 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • Alex Schuster wrote:

There's a special tournament - called Six Nations 2008 - which has been especially designed for Northern Hemisphere teams knocked out at the Group (Wales, Italy and Ireland) and quarter-final (England, France and Scotland)stages of the Rugby World Cup.

  • 47.
  • At 06:57 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • Marc Finch wrote:

This world cup has been a revelation. We've seen tears in national anthems from the incredibly worthy qualifiers of Portugal (they scored a try against the All Blacks - something Scotland failed to do!), upsets in Fiji and Argentina reaching the last eight and, as I'm sure anyone who has been to a match with testify, a raucous atmosphere at every game (eg Argentina v Georgia 41,000 at Stade de Gerland!) Yes, some of the northern hemisphere teams have been disappointing, but Scotland will have a chance against Argentina, you can never discount the French... and me, I'll be in Marseille next Saturday supporting England - with a fit Jason Robinson, an on-form Jonny Wilkinson and the lightning quick Paul Sackey, England may have a three quarter line that can break through the Aussie defence.

  • 48.
  • At 07:01 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • Marc wrote:

This world cup has been a revelation. We've seen tears in national anthems from the incredibly worthy qualifiers of Portugal (they scored a try against the All Blacks - something Scotland failed to do!), upsets in Fiji and Argentina reaching the last eight and, as I'm sure anyone who has been to a match with testify, a raucous atmosphere at every game (eg Argentina v Georgia 41,000 at Stade de Gerland!) Yes, some of the northern hemisphere teams have been disappointing, but Scotland will have a chance against Argentina, you can never discount the French... and me, I'll be in Marseille next Saturday supporting England - with a fit Jason Robinson, an on-form Jonny Wilkinson and the lightning quick Paul Sackey, England may have a three quarter line that can break through the Aussie defence.

PS I live in Lyon and as a result of the reputation St Etienne enjoys, have not visited a city which is just half an hour away!

  • 49.
  • At 07:19 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • Marc Finch wrote:

This world cup has been a revelation. We've seen tears in national anthems from the incredibly worthy qualifiers of Portugal (they scored a try against the All Blacks - something Scotland failed to do!), upsets in Fiji and Argentina reaching the last eight and, as I'm sure anyone who has been to a match with testify, a raucous atmosphere at every game (eg Argentina v Georgia 41,000 at Stade de Gerland!) Yes, some of the northern hemisphere teams have been disappointing, but Scotland will have a chance against Argentina, you can never discount the French... and me, I'll be in Marseille next Saturday supporting England - with a fit Jason Robinson, an on-form Jonny Wilkinson and the lightning quick Paul Sackey, England may have a three quarter line that can break through the Aussie defence.

PS I live in Lyon and as a result of the reputation St Etienne enjoys, have not visited a city which is just half an hour away!

  • 50.
  • At 07:29 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • Sarah, Bucks wrote:

I figured this damn blog was broken when my oh so amusing (alright, it wasn't!) comment refused to post.

  • 51.
  • At 07:46 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • jamie feg wrote:

this guy 33. Nick above who posted his comment twice. Are you either Irish or Welsh and jealous of us making the quarters or are you English. If you are the latter do you believe you will make the semi's?? I bet deep down you see your team pulling it up!!are we laughing at you?? no... ... not yet anway

  • 52.
  • At 08:28 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • Pauline wrote:

A wet weekend anywhere would be BLISS with just DAVID ESSEX LPs for company!
What a massive talent he STILL is!

  • 53.
  • At 08:34 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • Bobby H wrote:

For god sake Martin Byrne get a life about the bloody licence fee....its 37 p per day or £11.29 per month - I've spilled more than that in beer on a good night.

If you want to think for a few seconds before you complain you may be in a position to make some incisive comment -

Ben - ignore the licence fee moaners - dont tell my missus but I am paying three times that much for the crap that Sky put on - that pains me because I hate the footballing jessies so much who get the bulk of the money - ben do a blog on licence fees please - lets go with ...."the best thing I ever bought with 37p"

  • 54.
  • At 08:52 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • Ewen wrote:

Nick

You could well be right. Scotland getting to the semis might well be a joke, but I wish I couuld look oyu in the eye and wager the price of a pint as to which, if any, will get there, Scotland or England.

You see, this is like every world cup (rugby, football or cricket). England go there expecting to win it and come home very disappointed (OK 2003 is the exception that proves the rule).

We Scots go for a party and if we do reasonably well, that's fine. We usually come home with Mission Accomplished - on the party front at least.

  • 55.
  • At 08:59 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • Ewen wrote:

Nick

You could well be right. Scotland getting to the semis might well be a joke, but I wish I couuld look oyu in the eye and wager the price of a pint as to which, if any, will get there, Scotland or England.

You see, this is like every world cup (rugby, football or cricket). England go there expecting to win it and come home very disappointed (OK 2003 is the exception that proves the rule).

We Scots go for a party and if we do reasonably well, that's fine. We usually come home with Mission Accomplished - on the party front at least.

  • 56.
  • At 09:00 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • Patdartagnan wrote:

St-Etienne and Lyon are the death before the time. Aix and Marseille are better even if now it's not summertime, I grow up near Aix, and even if all is not perfect, you can have a good time, and go hunt the 35 years old "galinettes" and come on try to speak french, and then some frenchwomen would be less shamed to slaughter english language, there are plenty of alone secretary women and others but please make an effort in your dress, it's generally more important for french girls than english girls
P.S. Trash girls style don't really exist in France at least in surface, Hypocrisy and incompetence are the french way of life :)
P.S.2 Mary Patrux is very beautiful, I confirm it

  • 57.
  • At 09:08 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • Craig Paaka wrote:

I have just come back from France and am going back to watch the final and I have to say that wherever the games were, the local support has been amazing. France can well and truely take a bow. As far as the quality of rugby is concerned, the so called minnows have been the ones to provide the excitement and passion that the bigger teams have forgotten to provide. The difference betwen the NH and SH has quite frankly, been expected and does not surprise those of us who have seen the dour boring performances from this part of th world for the last few seasons....The All Blacks will get as far as their talents deserve to take them. The Aussies have been quietly gathering pace and the Saffy's are building like a storm! Congratulations to the Argentinians on a fantastic tournament and Fiji have shown us what you can do with heart and passion. The NH teams have shown us what a boring lacklustre set up they have. People in the pub were hugging each other with tears in their eyes when England scored...against Tonga???!!! Oh how far they fall! Still, it will be a Sothern Hemisphere whitewash into the semi's, and as long as clubs take precedence over country, it will remain so - you would think someone would take the blinkers off and see how the countries that win consistantly are set up, but, when you think it's easier to buy the best players than to create them you get what you deserve.

  • 58.
  • At 09:10 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • kieran wrote:

Please, there's nothing less appealing than Saxon sour grapes and just because you've been taking a pasting for every 'performance' you've put on since boring your way to the last world cup doesn't mean you should try to push pass the criticism to the Scotland team. The same goes for the even more embarrassed comments escaping from despondent Irish and Welsh commentators. Here is some objective realism from an informed and impartial Kiwi:
Scottish rugby in terms of depth is undoubtedly weak, duh.
However the Scotland first xv is surprisingly strong and importantly Frank Hadden is a very good coach e.g. not being a fool about our game with them. This has somehow been missed or ignored by four other northern hemisphere teams more concerned with their own declining quality, partly because at no point in the last few years have Scotland had more than half of all their best players available (even though they have recorded a victory over every one of the other 5 nations in the last two years), that is until now ...so who am I talking about because it seems clear none of you know:
Scotland have severely beefed up right across the pack and possess a world class player, captain and leader in Jason White, supported manfully by the likes of the talented Ally Hogg, Nathan Hines and the highly impressive specimen that is Jim Hamilton. Questions do remain over the front three.
They have the best scrum half of the home nations in Mike Blair, with Chris Cusiter an excellent back up.
Dan Parks at fly, a player we know all about, can field kick to a coin; his traditional weaknesses have been his decision making and size, yet in recent years he has progressed more than anyone in these departments and sure enough imposed himself in both ways in difficult conditions in the Italy game – in play, the best player on the day.
Then we come to Rob Dewey – a quick and straight runner, a thundering giant of a battering ram, all the time improving in terms of technique.
Now whilst Scotland may not have forced the expansive game against Italy, in the conditions and given the nature of the match they were ABSOLUTELY CORRECT to do so: this was a game played in appalling weather at St. Et. where Scotland always perform poorly, it was a game Italy had worked towards for two years (just look at their press coverage, just look at their faces during the game and the final whistle, witness just how dirty/clever they started to get when things were going wrong), refereed by man who has shown again and again that he truly dislikes Scotland - to be careful in this game that was always going to be a battle, to avoid handling errors and play territory was essential (that’s not to take anything away from any team that can take the Italians on up front and win). HOWEVER in Simon Webster, Sean Lamont, Chris Paterson and Rory Lamont - they have four world class strike runners, that's at least three more than England (the one in best form, fullback R.L., was unfortunately injured at the beginning of the Italy game but has recovered for Argentina); moreover each one of them can seriously tackle. Factor in Patterson's surgical place kicking and you get a team with an enormous amount of potential.
Quite frankly in Argentina v Scotland you have the two most underrated sides in world rugby going head to head.
What then of the opponents waiting in the semis? South Africa - a very very good side and yet on their showings thus far eminently beatable. Indeed, Scotland in only their second warm up game of the season (after beating Ireland) caused problems and scored points against this S.A. side - already reaching the top of their fitness curve; more interestingly their defence was strong and untroubled apart from a bizarre self-inflicted show of nerves in a seven minute period towards the beginning of the game - and therein lies the crux of the matter for Scotland. Truth is that that side of the draw is wide open BUT ultimately the All Blacks will enjoy thrashing one of those three sides in the final, everything's relative after all................................. P.S. apart from England of course, who remain, despite their inspired performance against Tonga, complete and utter turd. I wishe it were otherwise but I give them zero chance against Australia, they simply have nothing to offer on any part of the pitch. If I were British I'd be getting behind Scotland because like it or not they're all you've got!

  • 59.
  • At 09:38 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • scott wrote:

RE: the last video, THIS is the reason most scottish people cant stand the english, smug idiots

  • 60.
  • At 09:59 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • spooner wrote:

One out of left field here - why not make penalties within your own 22 5-pointers? Maybe "spoiling" and not "technical" penalties that is. Tough one to police and not so sure it'll never happen but it could just change defenders' attitudes. Getting themselves out of a period of concerted pressure with just 3 points given away is an easy option at the moment, the refs can't dish out as many yellows as they would like to or we'd end up with a game of 7s. NH teams would be really knackered then!

  • 61.
  • At 10:18 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • P for Prop wrote:

nothing like a bit of Jock baiting....and i wonder why we get upset sometimes :P

I saw Georgia (16th in world ranking) play Argentina and yes, Argentina did not rely on "up and unders" so much...I saw Scotland play Portugal (22nd) and Romania (14th) and watched Scotland play a bit of rugby too....

  • 62.
  • At 10:29 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • Johnny wrote:

"Also, Scotland have only reached the QF, not the SF." re comment no.25 by Iggystan ....
Cast your mind to 1991 when Gav Hastings missed a sitter in front of the posts to put Scotland within touching distance of a World Final. Basic info.
Granted, Scotland are heavy underdogs but since when do we like to be favourites?? Just where we like to be - a favourable result unlikely but certainly possible...if we can shift the ball wide and use the Lamont brothers more and get in amongst their lineout better than the Irish did then who knows???Please let it be exciting!!!

  • 63.
  • At 01:30 AM on 02 Oct 2007,
  • Cameron wrote:

I'm getting a bit fed up with all the whinging about the quality of the rugby. As a scotland and fan I was on the edge of my seat for most of what was a very close and excitig game. So what if it wasn't pretty. Rugby's not a pretty game. Go and watch ballet if you want pretty. It was a hard fought contest between 2 very committed and teams and as a player I appreciate the energy and effort that was put in by both teams. Watching them slog it out was fascinating. Southern Hemisphere rugby will become a lot less pretty when they play start playing teams equal to them (ie each other). SA v Aussie in the pouring rain and the prospect of going home if they lose?They'll be slogging it out as well.

  • 64.
  • At 06:30 AM on 02 Oct 2007,
  • kiltedkiwi wrote:

#25, Iggystan.

If Scotland have never reached the semi final of the world cup before, can you please tell me what game I was at at Murrayfield in 1991 that very nearly made me cry (OK, I did cry!)?

Clue .... Scotland got beaten 9-6 by Engerland in the 1991 semi. Big Gav missed a sitter of a penalty at 6 each.

PS I agree that ponts for penalties should not be reduced ........ drop kicks mibbe, but not penalties.

PPS GO ON SCOTLAND. We are clearly second favourites, but we still have a chance.

  • 65.
  • At 08:58 AM on 02 Oct 2007,
  • Glyn from the Alps wrote:

What sort of dumb organization gives the French a quarter-final game against the Blacks in Cardiff ??!! How embarrassing. But maybe they don't want to lose on home soil.

  • 66.
  • At 08:59 AM on 02 Oct 2007,
  • legin wrote:

I think your comments on NH rugby are SPOT ON !
Too many players who think they're better than they actually are. Who whine when the press have a go a them. Too much hair gel and white boots! And don't mention the money they are on!
The NH coaches need to see/feel the pressure the SH coaches are under. Then they'll know what press criticism AND high expectations are.

  • 67.
  • At 09:41 AM on 02 Oct 2007,
  • Polemic wrote:

I've just had the most extraordinary thought (true, my flash of insight has come after supping several pints of, 'Granpa's Old Peculiar') what happens if England beats Australia?
Will our Celtic brothers have to start eating 'Desperate Dan' portions of humble pie?
There's a place in Somerset which makes it by the bucket load; another, North of Watford Gap.
I wonder if some kind soul could point them in the right direction.

Having read many of the comments on the various WRC sites I get the impression that should any of our Celtic brothers bite their tongues, they would be in danger of poisoning themselves. Just as well humble pie has efficacious properties concerning poisons.

Me?...Should Australia beat England then I have a ready made excuse for my aberration. I have played in the tight-five for many a long year and am therefore entitled to be tuppence short of a shilling.

Barman!...Another pint of 'Grandpa's Old Peculiar', please.
Come on you England.



  • 68.
  • At 09:44 AM on 02 Oct 2007,
  • Janet wrote:

I don't expect you to print this but I just want to say how disgusted I am with your comment about David Essex. David is a brilliant singer/songwriter/composer/producer/actor who is still entertaining people after 30 years in the business, something I doubt you will still be doing, if you can call it 'entertaining' even now. I call it just resorting to insulting people that you probably know nothing about to try to get a cheap laugh. A weekend anywhere with David Essex LPs would be my idea of heaven, leave him alone and stick to talking to things you know something about!

  • 69.
  • At 10:59 AM on 02 Oct 2007,
  • roland rat wrote:

Ben
Your sausage link does not tell it as it is !
For the true story replace with the one below

http://mcmuffin.co.uk/mr_and_mrs_mcmuffin/2005/10/andouillette.html

Regards
Rattie
(unfortunate enough to have sampled the above on a cold charcuterie )

  • 70.
  • At 11:04 AM on 02 Oct 2007,
  • Stoo wrote:

"But I can guarantee you 100% that you will never hear the following words falling from the lips of a southern hemisphere coach"

Oh really - new to rugby are you?

There is this tedious myth that the SH team never kick, only running in beautiful tries where the ball has passed through 20 pairs of hands and wouldn't be seen dead taking a drop goal.

Maybe the BBC should have sent a couple of hacks who knew something about rugby rather than a pair of CBBC journos.

  • 71.
  • At 12:15 PM on 02 Oct 2007,
  • Dan wrote:

Northern Hemisphere rugby is as bad as a David Essex LP. The situation is really that depressing now.

  • 72.
  • At 01:30 PM on 02 Oct 2007,
  • Keith wrote:

Glyn

'Allegedly' France (or rather FFR) are the victims of buying the necessary votes to ensure they got the tournament by giving games to the welsh, scots and the irish (until they realised they didn't have a ground coz Lansdowne Road is being redeveloped), and then assuming they'd win their group to play at Stade de France. It is very funny, but also a bit sad, as in my experience over two weekends and three games in Nantes and Paris, the French people have completely embraced the whole tournament.

  • 73.
  • At 02:16 PM on 02 Oct 2007,
  • Ollie wrote:

Let me guess...all this griping and whining about the Scots (written by an Englishman) is brought on my sour grapes, due to...

1 - Scotland having scored more points than England

2 - Scotland having a vastly superior points difference

3 - Scotland having the number one goal kicker in the world (not to mention the fact that Paterson can actually play rugby, unlike a certain over hyped Mr Wilkinson who can only look pretty before getting injured)

  • 74.
  • At 02:39 PM on 02 Oct 2007,
  • Ben Dirs wrote:

kieran - Sour Grapes? You obviously missed the line about England having the cutting edge of a balloon.

mike - "And whilst [Scotland-Italy] was never going to be a try-fest like Fiji-Wales, it was still equally as good." Erm, no it wasn't. If you were a neutral, it was really, really dull.

Janet - I am truly sorry. Still think David Essex is rubbish though.

Stoo - Back on the steroids? You are an angry man. You think northern hemisphere rugby is as attacking as southern hemisphere rugby? And you think I know nothing about the game? With people like you in charge, we're guaranteed to win one World Cup every 16 years.

  • 75.
  • At 04:41 PM on 02 Oct 2007,
  • Ollie wrote:

For all this talk of SH rugby being thrilling, scintillating stuff...do you remember the 1995 RWC final between SA and NZ?

Of course you don't, as you were put to sleep after about 5 minutes by the endless tedium of the kicking.

With regards to the Scotland-Italy game, I suspect that had it been England playing, Mr Dirs would be raving endlessly about the "wonderful gutsy grit" of the English players. As it is, he's merely just raving endlessly.

Stick to the cricket texts Ben.

  • 76.
  • At 07:35 PM on 02 Oct 2007,
  • Sue Carberry wrote:

Well, Ben, there are some of us who would consider a weekend with nothing to do but listen to David Essex as absolute bliss!

It's true to say he's more to a woman's taste but, hey, don't knock it till you've tried it!

Oh, and leave our David alone, why pick on him!!!

  • 77.
  • At 11:28 PM on 02 Oct 2007,
  • wendy wrote:

WELL FRANKLY MATE YOU OVIBSLY NO NOTHING ABOUT DAVID ESSEX, WHY? BECAUSE YOU WOULD KNOW FOR A START THAT DAVID HAS NOT STOP MAKING RECORDS SINCE HE BEGAIN IN THE 70S SO THERE BE A HELL OF A STACK OFF THEM. ALSO THERES A LOT OF LOYAL FANS OUT THERE THAT WOULD LOVE TO BE IN THE RAIN WITH DAVID INCLUDING ME!! SO WATCH WHAT YOUR SAYING ASPECIALY SOMETHING YOU NO NOTHING ABOUT.

  • 78.
  • At 11:34 PM on 02 Oct 2007,
  • wendy wrote:

WELL FRANKLY MATE YOU OVIBSLY NO NOTHING ABOUT DAVID ESSEX, WHY? BECAUSE YOU WOULD KNOW FOR A START THAT DAVID HAS NOT STOP MAKING RECORDS SINCE HE BEGAIN IN THE 70S SO THERE BE A HELL OF A STACK OFF THEM. ALSO THERES A LOT OF LOYAL FANS OUT THERE THAT WOULD LOVE TO BE IN THE RAIN WITH DAVID INCLUDING ME!! SO WATCH WHAT YOUR SAYING ASPECIALY SOMETHING YOU NO NOTHING ABOUT.

  • 79.
  • At 02:07 AM on 03 Oct 2007,
  • Ingrid wrote:

The wrong thing you did was insult David Essex..the right thing you did was to link people to his site so they can see for themselves how talented he really is!! Thank you.
Ingrid Daniels Co manager of the David Essex Girls Club.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites