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Alastair Eykyn

Pedal power saves the day (48)

Jon Snow does it. Boris Johnson does it. And now we are doing it too.

Strike day on the Metro forced us onto two wheels across Paris today, and what a liberating experience it was.

A thwarted attempt to board the only line alleged to be running dictated a breathless half hour time-trial along the River Seine, to hear from the Springboks for the last time before the big kick-off.

For the princely sum of a single Euro each, we hired the kind of bicycle on which postmen used to wobble through leafy English villages, in days gone by.

Alastair's chosen mode of transport

On one handlebar, the sort of bell he might have rung to greet the vicar across the green and of course it sported a natty basket.

I felt remarkably badly equipped to deal with the notoriously aggressive and unpredictable Parisian traffic. But I was in safe hands.

Leading the way through the juggernauts, weaving between the scowling van drivers was BBC Television’s face of cycling Jill Douglas.

Shades on, blonde hair billowing, she hurtled into the fray with the kind of relish normally associated with Schalk Burger at a ruck full of Englishmen.

I pedalled furiously in her wake. Nothing would prevent us reaching Bercy and the South Africans’ adopted home.

Miraculously only five minutes late, we breezed into the reception at the team hotel, to hear the less than startling news that England’s opposition had named an unchanged team.

Happily the players were in talkative mood, and we learned that the SA captain John Smit was actually present at Ellis Park in 1995, watching the Boks beat New Zealand to send the country into collective delirium.

“If someone had said to me 12 years later I would be captaining my country in another World Cup final, I’d have just laughed at them” he said.

And incidentally, he can’t wait to meet Mark Regan again. After two encounters this summer, Smit said the Bristol hooker had spoken to him more in those matches than his wife had in 10 years. “I’m sure he’ll be full of chat on Saturday” he said with a smile.

Butch James has the task of conducting the South African orchestra in two days time. The fly-half will stand opposite the man who’s been there and done it, but he’s full of respect for Newcastle’s finest.

“Jonny’s awesome” he said. “It’s an honour to play against him, and you can learn so much”.

Drop-goals are not his bag though: “It’s not really my forte, but if need be, I’ll throw one in there… I might go and talk to Joel Stransky and pick his brains.”

Someone who’s already done just that is the precocious centre Francois Steyn, only 20, but brimming with the confidence of a man who’s spent a decade at the top.

He loves the long range shots at the posts - “it’s a natural thing” - and has given it a bit of thought. “I just hope whoever has the chance can snap it over” he said.

Maybe the Boks won’t need to deliver a final coup de grace. Maybe their pack and outstanding line-out will have roasted England up front. Maybe they won’t.

Maybe Bryan Habana will have ripped through the defence to break Jonah Lomu’s World Cup try record for a single World Cup - he is currently level with the All Blacks legend on eight.

Maybe Jason Robinson will finish his extraordinary career with another World Cup final score.

So many maybes. It’s gloriously unpredictable. Much like our bike ride home really.

Alastair Eykyn is a Radio 5 live reporter specialising in rugby union, tennis and hockey. He is covering Ireland at the World Cup and you can see 5 live's full broadcast schedule here.


Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 03:52 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Paul Hawkins wrote:

Why is everyone mentioning the Lomu record but never mentioning that there were less teams and therefore less games to be played when Lomu set the record? They are level after the same number of games.

  • 2.
  • At 03:58 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Peter Brooks wrote:

Why are the boks fans so different to their players? The players are quietly confident but have the utmost respect for our players especially johnny, the fans make it seem like the only possible result is another 36-0 thrashing or bigger on the cards.

England have a Fly-half all the other teams respect (though often not their fans) and Robinson a man who while not quite as quick as Habana still more than has the ability to rip through an opposing back line. Our backs overall may not have the flair of the boks but they have grit and determination and in Johnny Robbinson and Catt have players who know exactly what the occsion requires having produced. If Johnny finally gets to grip with this ball then it will be great, the effect of seeing him square up for a drop goal is immense and the effect of it is that it drives teams to rash mesasure to deny him ball wich gives penalties.....

  • 3.
  • At 04:23 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • tim c wrote:

ON your bike if Jill Douglas has a ticket as a jock should she give tom the ticket or should Tom borrow the burger
wig and go as JILL.???

  • 4.
  • At 04:23 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Charlie Caroe wrote:

Nice one Al!!

  • 5.
  • At 04:41 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Nick wrote:

'Why is everyone mentioning the Lomu record but never mentioning that there were less teams and therefore less games to be played when Lomu set the record?'

A world cup record is a world cup record no matter how many games have been played. The football world cup has a record for the most number of goals scored and that predates the move from 24 to 32 teams.

  • 6.
  • At 04:41 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Lincoln Dave wrote:

Speaking of world records, how many players have 2 rugby world cup winning medals? Think there will be half a dozen or so more come Sunday morning!

  • 7.
  • At 05:24 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • JDoug wrote:

to Poster number 2.

I am a bok fan and am in no way thinking that we will be thrashing the English on Saturday. Like the Springboks themselves I have the utmost respect for the English team and what they have achieved in this tournament.

I am tired of hearing the South Africans are arrogant, yet you only have to watch ITV and compare Francois Pienaar's humble and objective approach to the extremely biased approach by the other English pundits, Will Greenwood in particular!

I think it is going to be an extremely close match, everything that has happened in this tournament means nothing now, its down to who shows up for 80 mins on Saturday night.

I can't wait! Although I will most probably be watching it on mute to ensure I cannot hear the drivel that comes out of Mr Greenwoods mouth!

Good luck to everyone and come on the boks!

  • 8.
  • At 05:29 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • SpringboksAllTheWay wrote:

Peter brooks No.2

Not all Boks fans are that bad, I know some of my fellow supporters and myself too at times can be arrogant, but at the same time so too can the English and other countries. I normally get arrogant in response to a comment I have just read.

Appologies on behalf of the SA supporters for getting caught up in the moment.

Best of luck for the Final, and I hope its a good game.

Go Springboks!!

  • 9.
  • At 05:51 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • ian wrote:

To poster No 7

I would fully agree with your comments re Francois Pienaar's approach to punditry......although i would say there is an element of tongue in cheek from Mr Greenwood.......and I can't see how anyone could ever say that Martin Johnson is anything but honest and level headed in his assessments of games involving England. In fact those two have been by far the best "experts" on view.

Hopefully Saturday's game will be a classic.......obviously I want to see an England win.....but more importantly i want to see us perform to the best of our abilities.

If we end up losing to the better side after that then well done to SA!.....and hopefully there won't be any infantile points scoring from supporters of any sides

  • 10.
  • At 05:56 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Peter Brooks wrote:

Problem is that most of the nice boks fans don't bother to identify themselves until they're sccused of such things so online most of the ones I can identify as boks fans are the ones who are arrogant. I apologise to all those that I offended and glad that by drawing you out I've proved you exist.

You will always come across biased, I admit ours are among the worst, but its difficult to be tempered with a turnaround like this. Our players have genrally been respectful and quietly optimistic, not as respectful as your perhaps but still better than many would be.

The problem is that recently england fans haave been called arrogant for thinking we might shade this one while other countries have to claim epic victories to be called arrogant?

If we win ther will be a section of our faans who will be unbearable for the next few years but the rest of us will just sit there stunned that we mangaged to pull it off.

the boks have stumbled acouple of times but always kept on track, England in our group match vs you ended that match plumeting of the cliff next to the track and only by luck managed to climb back on.

  • 11.
  • At 05:58 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • chris phillips wrote:

Poster number 7.

english fan and i couldnt agree with you more about pienaar VS greenwood. Back from when he was a pundit in 2003 I really like pienaar he is as you say humble and objective and a really sound bloke, I think him and martin johnson are two really good guys in the studio...someway towards making up for shocking jim rosenthal.

Wil greenwood....well we all cringed slightly, but I guess he is a very recently retired england player commenting on a very highstake game and I think its fair enough that he got carried away, although for the neutrals it couldnt have been good to see...

All in all the majority of people who post have sound views, its just hte minority with the ridiculous extreme views who are more often than not the ones who take the most time to post their rubbish!! ie "it would be a black day for rugby if england win the world cup", when none other than stirling mortlock came out to praise and back up englands displays.

anyway,

heres to a good game on saturday,

come on england ....

  • 12.
  • At 06:34 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • tim c wrote:

To answer your maybe, as much idea as the man in the moon.To all the fans, England and SA good luck.That was the sensible bit.
No predictions ,wishes, hopes, fingers crossed prematch
rituals started lucky shirt [s] pressed and packed rabbits foot,
St John thaddaeus, patron saint of lost causes has been invoked.OFF TO PACK. blogless till sunday,withdrawal symptoms started already.
To all considered arrogant . Sticks and stones.!!!
Thanks for the blog been fun

  • 13.
  • At 07:12 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Lincoln Dave wrote:

All this talk of arrogance makes me think of the Ausies and the French! Is anyone more arrogant than they?..
No thought not, and look what happened to them!

  • 14.
  • At 07:35 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Taff wrote:

Lincoln Dave, you've obviously never met me! I'm incredibly arrogant!

Seriously though, the whole arrogance thing is over-done. No one people are more arrogant than another, although their supposed arrogance may be manifested in a different way. Unless we're talking about Kiwi fans of course ;-)

  • 15.
  • At 10:05 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Lincoln Dave wrote:

Responce to Taff 14.
You and me both mate and your dead right.
Arrogance is fine when tongues are firmly in cheeks!

  • 16.
  • At 10:39 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • rob c wrote:

I thought Will Greenwood was hilarious after the France game! It was obvious he had planned it because harked back to a foreign football commentator who did the same thing when England got beaten in a world cup match years ago.

Even though Will Greenwood can be a bit painful to listen to because he hasn't learnt the art of " strategic silence" it's good to see a bit of passion and some full on national pride- lets be like the crazy Latin American commentators and shout TTTTTTTTTTTRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!! when we score!rather than maintaining this semblance of objectivity and neutrality while most of the actual fans are screaming at the TV for England to win!

Anyway, we'll probably be shouting DDDDDRRRROOOOPPPP GGGGOOOOAAAALLLLL!!!! But who cares as long as we win!

  • 17.
  • At 10:54 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • steve wrote:

I'm make one prediction I'm certain of. Very confident I know which team will win the BBC Sport's Personality Team of the year event this time around. And I think that would be the case if the football team had continued its 3-0 sequence in Russia and then against Croatia, or if the Scots had/do make it through their qualifying group. [And will admit that if they did make it the latter would be a realistic rival whatever happens on Saturday].

On the main issue I agree both Pienaar and Johnson have been great and its a pity one of them will be disappointed on Saturday.

From what I have seen I would have to disagree with Lincoln Dave post #13. While they have had a reputation for being arrogant the French seem to have behaved magnificently in this tournament.

Steve

  • 18.
  • At 12:16 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Anonymous wrote:

Its not going to be pretty, but I try to explain to my Welsh friends, 7's and league are the Open games they want. 15 Years ago when the Pack had a few pints before the game, lay on the floor for a while have gone. Forwards are fast, defences are superb, and this will be a final of errors, not brilliance. England will keep it tight, keep the ball down the SA half and wait for the infringements.IF SA get behind, or not far enough ahead penalties will flow,and Jonny will punish. It will be a brave SA who goes for the interception, and leave the defence exposed. If SA are not clear by 14 points with 20 minutes to go, they will lose.If they are they will win.

  • 19.
  • At 01:01 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • BRYAN wrote:

There’s allot being said about changing the value of kicks at goal, as a Kiwi I don't think that they need to change what needs to change is the balance of the game. Its seems that defense is 75% of the game where attack is only 25% of the game. We need to bring this back to 50/50 then a good attacking team has just as much chance as a good defending
team. I played as a forward and loved rucking, mauling and would hate to see these go from the game. I can remember the 87 AB mauling up the field to then move it wide and see the fullback come into the back line and cut though the defense. Now that was total rugby. Good luck to both team in the weekend and hope rugby is the winner.
Ture Rugby Fan

  • 20.
  • At 01:35 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Al wrote:

To number 19, you are just spot on about the game, somehow they need to change the balance as it is getting boring just seeing up and unders over and over again.

As for the earlier comments Will Greenwood is just annoying on the mike, really dreadful.

  • 21.
  • At 05:25 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Graeme wrote:

To posters 19 & 20, I completely agree the game needs to regain that balance, but wouldn't lowering penalty & drop goals scores to 2 points help that effort? After all the penalty score and drop goal are essentially a lure to play purely forward play hoping either for a referee's call against the opposition or a chance to drop without again utilising the majority of the back line and given (as we have seen) games can be won that way there doesn't seem much to entice the cutting backs play that we all love as part of a balanced attack.

And as for the commentary, try watching from here in Australia! Once the Australians are out of the tournament the pay-channels stop showing the games and so we rely on terrestrial channels who have the irritating habit of cutting to an advert break every time there is a penalty, a line-out or any other short pause in the game. We quite easily see 10 to 15 advert breaks a half...!

  • 22.
  • At 07:19 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Cock of the North wrote:

Devaluation in terms of points scored may not be the answer consider this missed drop goal attempts that do not go dead result in a scrum back at the place the ball was kicked from defending side put in ..

  • 23.
  • At 07:39 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Bleechy wrote:

As an Aussie fan, it impresses me that the thought that goes into these posts far outshines the drivel that appears on similar blogs on the rugby heaven site via the Sydney Morning Herald.

The accusations of arrogance on the Oz side of the fence are quite irksome to me, as I generally find that most true fans here in Oz are of the same humble mold as Pienaar, Johnson and Mortlock. I believe that there are so many poms in Oz and vice versa, that the biggest idiots the furthest distance from home make the most ridiculous comments.

Winners are grinners and may the best team win this weekend. Let's hope rugby is the winner too and that both teams score some tries.

please can everyone in paris try and keep us posted with up-to-date transport info today? it sounds as if the strike's still quite bad.

also, i've struck a bet with a friend that 'invers' won't post on one of these blogs some time today. i reckon he's too busy trying to secure his bbc colleague a ticket...

  • 25.
  • At 08:35 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Terry Baynham wrote:

I don't believe the people who are criticising Will Greenwood on here. He is a pundit from ENGLAND yes ENGLAND. He is definitely tongue in cheek with his comments but I find it refreshing that someone has the confidence to shout our success from the rooftops (Or pitch side in his case). The Commentators seem slightly embarrassed by his exhuberence but they need to get over it. Let him cheer and applaud the England team. They ARE IN THE WORLD CUP FINAL!!! for Gods sake. Lets be happy...

  • 26.
  • At 08:49 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • The Jow wrote:

Has anyone got any Rugby Face Masks for Saturday... Looked on the BBC website, but they only have football, cricket and tennis... Guess the BBC were caught unawares by this England resurgence!

  • 27.
  • At 09:03 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Mutt wrote:

***what needs to change is the balance of the game***

What we need is somewhere between the way the game is currnetly played and the Wales/Fiji group game.

That was a game which appeared to be played as balls out attack with little or no thought to defence by either side!

While as a spectator it made for an enthralling and entertaining game, as a player it gets old very quickly. I've played in games (albeit at a MUCH MUCH MUCH MUCH lower level) where we have won 6 tries to 5 and games we have lost 7 tries to 4 and there's one thing I know as a forward and a player in general - win or lose no matter how many we score I HATE giving away tries!

A decent defence is still essential, it just can't be allowed to rule the game to the detriment of attacking play.

  • 28.
  • At 09:06 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Simon wrote:

I don't think that a reduction in points for penalties will help a fluid, open, 'exciting' game. In order for there to be a sufficient deterrent to teams killing the game (and thus detracting from this utopian game), there has to be an appropriate punishment.

Unless we're going to go down the route of sin binning any miscreants, I don't see how this will help.

Also, I'm not entirely convinced that few tries = no excitement.

  • 29.
  • At 09:21 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Gregor wrote:

To Poster #6 - Lincoln Dave

The only new player to have 2 winners medals is going to be Os du Randt - '95 and '07 :-) (well hopefully)

Only joking - lets hope for a great game of rugby and as has been said by many on here - may the best team on the day win.


ps - to Terry #24 - all fair and well your comment about Will Greenwood - but he is employed/commenting for ITV - not a solely English station - and when he was still going on about England during the SA vs Arg game it was out of place - commentators are supposed to be neutral (even though most are not)

  • 30.
  • At 09:23 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Vic McDoogle wrote:

This is probably the most sensible and balanced comment to a blog I've read in the past six weeks. Some of the comments on Telegraph and Guardian websites have been full of vitriol and very little good humour. Understandably, supporters spring to the defence of their own teams when criticised, but this seems to degenerate into the arguments: Eng are boring/NZ lost to the ref/Arg are boring/league is better etc.
It's nice to see supporters of both finalists, and also of teams knocked out in earlier rounds, all agreeing that yes, they may be proud of their teams, but a little good-natured crowing with a healthy dose of humility is exactly what makes rugby union so special as a game. Interesting to note that none of the players of these teams have been as critical once knocked out; Stirling Mortlock has been a prime example of good grace in defeat - not normally expected of an Aussie but extremely welcome none the less.
The finalists may be surprising (certainly in England's case) but they beat the teams in front of them; that is how you reach the next round and ultimately the final. I'm not going to criticise any of the teams that have been knocked out earlier, as most have taken their defeats with very good grace. Their needs to be an acceptance among the supporters that only two teams will get to the final, and only one will win it. Just taking into account the 6N and Tri-Nat, there will be supporters of at least one team who will not make it into the knock-out element, and a further six sets of supporters who will be disappointed after the semi-finals.
Tomorrow should be a massive occasion, remembered for all the right reasons including a great game of rugby between two sides who arguably are fortunate to be there (Eng probably more so, but SA could feasibly have been beaten by Tonga or Fiji with a little luck), but who have riddentheir luck and dogged it out when it mattered.
Good luck to both.

Just to add in my twopennorth on the subject of Will Greenwood: I think he is an embarassment as a summariser. Every game he has commentated on is liberally sprinkled with references to England. What they did or didn't do in their last game/what they need to do in their next. Mentions of England are fine when commentating on an Eng game, or possibly once in passing but I for one am now inclined to listen to the radio commentary while watching games. I'm personally not convinced that the Harrison/Barnes combination for all of the big games is money well spent either. I have never met anyone who has a good word to say about their Sky work, and I'd rather have John Taylor or Jon Champion. Even Murray Mexted is more entertaining and insightful when watching a game that doesn't involve the ABs.

  • 31.
  • At 09:28 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Morry wrote:

No, not all Bok supporters are expecting us to thrash the English. It's a final so it's likely to be tight.

Agree with the comments about Greenwood. During the Bok/Arg semi it was as if there were three teams on the pitch. The third being England. I expect some bias from home commentators, but this guy was commentating as a neutral!

I'm suprised at the hype around Wilkinson given his form. Monty has a better record in this cup hasn't he?

  • 32.
  • At 09:40 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Stuart wrote:

"I don't believe the people who are criticising Will Greenwood on here. He is a pundit from ENGLAND yes ENGLAND."

What utter rubbish! You just have to listen to M.Johnston & F.Pienaar, both passionate about their teams but maintain informed, restrained, consice commentary. Will Greenwood is a numpty, his vague and frankly useless insights hinder the enjoyment of the match...furthermore his gleeful childish outbursts dont belong in the commentary box. As a Scot I suffer this constantly, whether its Motty getting excited or even that fool James Allen...hopefully Stuart Barnes provides co-commentary for the final and Greenwood is locked up in some cupboard somewhere a million miles from any live mic.

  • 33.
  • At 09:42 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Samantha Baguley wrote:

Can't remember who said it would be a black day for rugby if England win - suspect it was one Brooke, Z. - but what on earth?! How is it bad for a sport to show that determination and guts triumphs over pure talent? Lesson for Life is what it is.
And the Will Greenwood thing - am sure you lot of English Gents find him not quite the thing, but I'm a girl, and we love PASSION!! Hence why Mr Greenwood is a World Cup medal winner, and you lot will be sat on a pub watching the match!

  • 34.
  • At 09:42 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • James wrote:

In reply to Lincoln Dave there are at least three players with two world cup winning medals John Eales, Tim Horan and Jason Little and their will be at least one more who ever wins as Os Du Randt has a medal from 1995 but could be as many as 8 from England

  • 35.
  • At 09:46 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • skippy wrote:

Brian Ashton and Jake White both die and enter the Pearly Gates. God takes Brian on a tour of heaven and ends up at a little two-bedroom bungalow with a faded English rugby banner hanging from the front porch. "This is your house, Brian," says God, "You're very lucky. Most people don't get their own houses up here, you know." Brian looks at the house, then turns around and looks at the huge mansion on top of the hill. A massive, multi-storey affair with white marble columns, balconies and attractive gardens, Springbok banners line both sides of the footpath and a huge South African flag hangs between the marble columns.
"Thanks for the house, God," says Brian "But let me ask you a question. How come I get this little two-bedroom bungalow and Jake White gets a huge mansion with all those marble columns and things." God looks at him seriously for a moment. "That's not Jakes house," God says "That's my house."

  • 36.
  • At 10:00 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Jon wrote:

No. 24 - here's the travel info as of 11 o'clock (go to ratp.fr for the latest.

Lignes 1, 4, 7bis 14 : Trafic normal
Ligne 7 : Trafic quasi normal
Lignes 6 et 11 : 3/4 of trains
Lignes 2 et 3: 2/3
Ligne 3 bis, 5, 9 : 1/3
Ligne 13 : 1 / 3 avec interruption La Fourche - Gabriel Péri
Ligne 8 : 1 / 4
Ligne 10 : 1 / 5
Ligne 12 : less than 1 in 6
Bus - a majority at 2/3, but quite a few worse than 1 in 6

I've not been out and about yet today, so couldn't say from 1st hand, but if the 1 & 4 are running then visitors should be able to get to most places.
Hope that helps - it all adds up to a stereotypical French experience.

  • 37.
  • At 10:07 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Ian Parley wrote:

I find all the comments about "attacking rugby" against "defensive rugby" slightly bewildering. It is as if the defences should be penalised to allow attackers to run in tries unhindered. I know I support England but I can't have been alone in loving the tap tackle from Worsley on Clerc or some of the big tackles from all sides in this World Cup. Good defence is excellent to watch as it produces turnovers, which are the most productive form of attack. The main problem is sterile aimless kicking from one end to the other and rule changes should look to discourage this. As far as reducing points for penalties is concerned, it would merely encourage sides to kill the ball when a try threatens. A better thought would be to introduce the prospect of a penalty try if a defending side infringes again during an advantage being played by a referee for an offence awarded in the 22. This would encourage teams to continue hammering away and not just accept the kick and the defences would be more careful.
Anyway, I for one, will be absolutely intrigued with the massive clash up front tomorrow. If tries follow, great, but you don't need loads of them to have a great game.

  • 38.
  • At 10:09 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Bobby H wrote:

arrogance; ar-ro-gance; noun ;
offensive display of superiority or self-importance; overbearing pride.

Don't all sports fans get a little arrogant at times - The biggest mistake most people make is believing national stereotypes. I've said for years that the French are great people and I get all sorts of comments - basically racist - from English people who just accept an age old stereotype. Individually most true rugby people of whatever nationality are the salt of the earth and you can have a great discussion about tactics and players etc. There are a few idiots though - and my guess is it is people who have never played the game except the odd school match- but real rugby people can see through them!

  • 39.
  • At 10:37 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Simon B wrote:

I can think of at least one man who wants to see a photo of Jill Douglas on a bike hurtling through Parisian traffic.

For one moment there, I had forgotten about rugby.

One down side to the coverage and the experts. Jim Rosenthal! He doesn't understand any sport never mind rugby and needs dropkicking out of Paris. Stuart Barnes a whinging Chartered Accountant who never made as an international!

  • 41.
  • At 11:56 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Jo Blogs wrote:

The game is almost here - I'm decked out in green and gold in support of my team who I am hoping beyond hope will come out and play some great rugby and at the end of 80 mins lift the cup. England will be worthy opponents but fortunately - even though we are the "favourites" - we are not the team trying to win 2 world cups in a row. The pressure will be on both teams so whoever can deal with that pressure will have the upper hand. Definitely no arrogance from this Bok supporter, everything that can be crossed IS crossed in the hope that our boys win tomorrow. Agree with a previous poster that the majority of Bok fans only get arrogant when faced with arrogance from other supporters - human nature I am sure.

What I am quite surprised to hear (well not that we would hear about it anyway) is that there has been no unhappiness and/or resentment within the English team members for the way the English media and fans (even the Queen) are implying that JW has won the games. It takes 15 players on the field to win a game of rugby and yet the way everyone is harping about JW you would think its 15 v 1. More than one player on his team would have had to have played well in order to get JW the penalty kick in the first place. I'm not sure I would be too happy to be reading all about JW if I, as an English player, had played my heart out to help get the team to where it is.

Anyway here's hoping its a clean game of rugby which will lead to a great game of rugby.

Here's also hoping the English fans show a bit more respect for the SA anthem than they showed for the French - I, for one, will be had up for assault if I hear an English fan boo during our anthem.

Good luck to both teams tomorrow, but hopefully the Boks will emerge victorious!

  • 42.
  • At 12:20 PM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Damon wrote:

For those commenting on the points reduction, I feel one point for a DG is suffiecent to seperate teams at the end of a tight match where they are tied. Maybe reduce Penatlies to two points to encourage more use of the ball in hand. I like running rugby, but also enjoy titanic battles up front...
Not sure about all the rule changing the IRB are doing, smells of to much Television influence and corporate sponser satisfaction. It's a game that's tough, physical and great to watch. May the best team win on the day and the Ref have no influence on the results.

  • 43.
  • At 01:18 PM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • dyrewolfe wrote:

As an Englishman, I'm hoping for an England win tomorrow, but I have a nasty feeling we'll come unstuck, a little like our football team did in Russia.

My Prediction:

South Africa 24 - 10 England

...I hope I'm wrong...

  • 44.
  • At 02:17 PM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Chris Kingham wrote:

I agree with most of the feedback on Will G - he certainly has not yet learned the art staying silent and let the images tell the story. I suspect it's because he was so quick to spot (and fill) a gap as a player, he feels he needs to do the same for any gaps in the commentary. During the Arg/SA semi-final I thought he was overly ebullient, and referenced England far too often (I'm English). I noticed he was gently admonished a few times by his co-commentator; and I'll bet the producers had a quiet word with him afterwards. He'll learn; Brian Moore used to be the same, but I think he's one of the best summarisers around now. (Cue bucketloads of posts arguing the contrary.)

On rule changes, I'd like to see two. Return to having both feet on the ground when marking the ball in your own 22. And outlawing the ball being held at the back of a maul. I love the maul, but it has become a place where the opposing side cannot compete for the ball. If the ball can only be held at the front, it would allow that competition. Once the ball moved behind the front players, it would have to be moved away from the maul. I would continue to penalise for collapsing.


Thoughts?

  • 45.
  • At 04:20 PM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • steve wrote:

Jo, post 41

I think the reason there's unlikely to be any dissatisfaction in the team about the media saying Jonny is doing it all is because their British. I.e. they know the value [lack of] of media comments.

Stevep

  • 46.
  • At 05:33 PM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

I think people are confusing true Bok fans with people who just want England to lose, from the few South Africans i have seen they seem to be humble confident but not arrogant and altogether just rather looking forward to a great occasion much as myself. The French/Scotts/Aussies/seemingly everyone else it seems who i know however are highly critical of England and foolish enough to predict 50-0 scorelines.

  • 47.
  • At 06:32 PM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Helen Lees wrote:

The Springboks were playing England, and after the half-time whistle blew
they found themselves ahead 50-0, Brian Habana getting eight tries. The rest of the team decided to head for the pub instead of playing the second half,leaving Habana to go out on his own.
"No worries," Habana told them, "I'll join you later and tell you what happened."
After the game Habana headed for the pub where he told his teammates the final score: 95-3.
"What!!!!" said a furious John Smit, "How did you let them get three
points??!
" Habana replied apologetically, "I was sent off with 20 minutes to go."

If the jokes in my inbox are anything to go by, the score will be 15-O to the Boks (thanks to my SA husband's family and friends) Does anyone out there know have some good pro-lions humour to even the score a bit???

  • 48.
  • At 06:39 PM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Paddy wigwam wrote:

Am Irish and reallly unsure who to support,have really enjoyed the english games and a big admirer of the spirit the english players have shown.I was also in Croke park this year (england got thumped) and found the English supporters to be very gracious,I have rarely ever come across an arrogant English rugby supporter.I have a lot of SA friends though and they're agreat bunch and mad about their rugby..am just not sure,...a bit rambling but sure,there you go

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