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All Blacks score late to deny Springboks in another Ellis Park classic

I wouldn't rule out any of England or Ireland, even Wales. The world cup knock-out games are one-offs, and strange things can happen. England's forwards can do a lot of damage, and Ireland may have the best flyhalf in world rugby. Can make all the difference in a one-off game.

4 Days, 2 Hours ago

All Blacks score late to deny Springboks in another Ellis Park classic

Did I say loose-heads? Derp, I meant tight-heads.

4 Days, 2 Hours ago

All Blacks score late to deny Springboks in another Ellis Park classic

The Habana theatrics are getting tiresome. Still a great player, but he's not winning fans.

On the NZ fly-half question, I always recall the last world cup when Steve Donald cut short a fishing trip and spent a week getting ready for the final. I'm sure that experience focused NZ's planning for this world cup! (On Sopoaga, a great example of a bloke that his club stuck with and developed. The Highlanders had some lean years, during which Sopoaga had some pretty average games, but they stayed with him, and this year they got their pay-off.)

I guess the pecking order now in NZ, with Cruden being injured, is Carter-Barrett-Sopoaga-Slade... though Slade covers several positions off the bench, so maybe is a better option for the WC squad.

4 Days, 2 Hours ago

All Blacks score late to deny Springboks in another Ellis Park classic

There's been some chat about - (a) McCaw's position at the start, (b) when McCaw started moving; and (c) if NZ lifted before the ball was thrown in.

As with most things in rugby, you can watch for 5 seconds and usually spot some technical rule-breach somewhere. But this passed the smell-test, any "breaches" were so marginal they made no difference.

People hung up on the legalities around this try need to get a life. It would have been an extremely harsh call not to have awarded it.

4 Days, 2 Hours ago

All Blacks score late to deny Springboks in another Ellis Park classic

That sucked. And not just the result, it was losing in a way that has become rather familiar. NZ scoring a late first-half try? Been there. NZ making a decisive score in the final 10 minutes? We've all been there.

The missed opportunities earlier in the game were costly, and through my biased eyes, I was pretty disappointed at the Lood de Jager no-try call. I thought he got about as much of the line as Kuridrani got last week.

The uncontested scrums were a big deal too - and very frustrating, because although technically both the loose-heads were off, Nyakane can play on both sides of the scrum. Plus SA had a man-advantage at the time, and were dominating the scrum...

Anyway, there's also a sense that the rugby gods might have wanted to intervene, and have McCaw score on his last visit to Ellis Park. There's no bigger legend in the game, so I don't begrudge him his latest role.

The wait now is on to see if our walking wounded are carrying some serious damage. Both loose-heads have injuries, and Jannie's knee could be really bad news; and Louw has a shoulder problem, which worst case could mean that none of Louw-Alberts-Vermuelen makes it to the world cup.

The emergence however of De Allende and Kriel has been fantastic - quite astonishing to me that the coaching staff at the Bulls never put Kriel at 13, he's looks world class there.

4 Days, 3 Hours ago

André Watson looks back on 1999 RWC final in Referee Perspective feature

That's so harsh and so accurate it might just be true...

1 Week, 3 Hours ago

André Watson looks back on 1999 RWC final in Referee Perspective feature

"Watson admits that the responsibility of taking charge of his first and only World Cup final..."

Not sure what you mean by this, Watson was in charge of the 2003 final as well.

1 Week, 4 Hours ago

Wallabies snatch dramatic victory after Springboks fail to run down the clock

The choice of centre is really not easy... I assume you meant to include Frans Steyn in that group, Jacque Fourie is also in the frame, and JP Pietersen, who is sure to be in the WC squad, is seen as able to cover 13. Fitness permitting, JDV and Serfontein will be in, who joins them is anyone's guess right now.

1 Week, 3 Days ago

Wallabies snatch dramatic victory after Springboks fail to run down the clock

I don't know the specifics, but he's been playing on the wing and not at 9 for a while now, in part because he was told he wasn't regarded as a viable 9 for the Boks.

It's also to do with WC squad composition I think, Fourie du Preez is first choice scrumhalf, and Ruan Pienaar the back-up, and they might not take another in the 31-man group. So Hougaard has tried to get in as a wing, and so far, no luck.

Should add it did come as a shock that he was dropped from the Bok training squad from which the WC squad will be chosen. But that's where we are.

1 Week, 3 Days ago

Wallabies snatch dramatic victory after Springboks fail to run down the clock

Serfontein is injured at the moment - he's sure to be in the WC squad though - Hougaard has been dropped.

About the latter, I'm a bit disappointed, I think he's one of the best guys to bring on from the bench. But now he no longer covers scrumhalf, the thinking is we don't need another wing (especially a small wing, we've got a lot of those). Anyway, I like him very much as a player, but I can also see how there isn't space for him in the WC squad.

1 Week, 3 Days ago