Female rugby players up 30%

April 6th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

For 6-year-old Maddy Hales bringing down opposition players on the rugby pitch is simple.

“You have to take out their legs and use your shoulders to tackle.”


The rugby mad Maddy, even though still too young for tackle rugby, loves that part of the the game so much she practices her tackling at home

Along with big sister Briar, 8, the pair are two of 19,792 female players around the country to step onto the rugby pitch last year.

That number increased by thirty per cent between 2012 and 2015, making women’s rugby the highest area of player growth in the sport.

Great to see.

Dean Hales coaches his daughters’ teams at the Clive Rugby Club in Hawke’s Bay.

He was initially surprised when Briar came home from school as a five-year-old asking to play rugby.

But he said the sport was good for girls, who trained hard and listened well.

This year was the second season for Maddy, who said scoring tries was her favourite part of the game.

There’s something magical about a try. I love seeing a cricket ball go over the boundary and a football go into the net but nothing quite beats the thrill of seeing a rugby player cross the try line and touch down.

No ratepayers should not sponsor a rugby team

December 2nd, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Wellington City Council has been asked to sponsor the Wellington Lions, however any deal could come with conditions to play more games in the community.

The Wellington Rugby Union pitched a proposal to council’s community, sport and recreation committee last week.

No, no, no. Stop finding ways to tax ratepayers more and focus on roads, rates, libraries, parks etc.

Leave sponsorship to corporates.

Bad enough they have just lost $300,000 in corporate welfare elsewhere:

Members of a small Wellington City Council panel who agreed to loan $300,000 to a call centre are keeping quiet after the business went into liquidation.

The decision to loan $300,000 of ratepayer money to Wellington business CallActive, now in liquidation, was made by a panel of only three councillors and the chief executive.

One of those on the panel was Mayor Celia Wade-Brown, who refused to comment on the loan approval, but said decisions were made “with considerable debate, and taking into account the recommendation of officers”.

“That’s all I’m going to say. Goodbye.”

Well that is accountability!

20,000 female rugby players

November 24th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The NZ Herald reports:

• 150,727 players – small increase of 163 from 2014
• 80,978 Small Blacks (5-12 years) – increase of 549 (1 percent) compared to 2014
• 42,072 teenagers (13-20 years) – decrease of 242 (0.5 percent) compared to 2014
• 27,677 players aged 21 and over – decrease of 144 (0.5 percent) compared to 2014
• 19,792 female players – increase of 1967 (11 percent) compared to 2014
• 12,109 coaches – increase of 396 (3 percent) compared to 2014
• 1851 referees – decrease of 33 (2 percent) compared to 2014

Almost 20,000 female rugby players is cool – around one in seven players are female.

When I was a kid, 90% to 95% of rugby spectators were men. Now at big matches I reckon close to half the audience are women. Rugby has gone from just being a male sport.

Anyway those stats got me wondering what the gender breakdown is in other sports in NZ? How many netball players are men? How many cricket players are women?

Anyone got data on other sports?

McCaw retires

November 19th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Richie McCaw has today confirmed he is hanging up his boots and retiring from professional rugby.

The 34-year-old All Blacks captain and most capped All Black of all time has drawn the curtain on his stunning international career which started in Dublin 14 years ago, almost to the day, and ended in London last month when he hoisted the Webb Ellis Cup aloft for the second time.

Not just the most capped All Black of all time, but the most capped rugby player ever.

“I am heavily involved in the Christchurch Helicopters company, they are great people and I’m excited about the opportunities there. Aviation is something I’m passionate about, I’m going to carry on flying and work towards getting my commercial pilot licence.

Great to do what you love.

McCaw said he’d love to be involved in the game in the future. He never considered taking up a professional contract overseas after his international days were over.

Riche would be a great referee! 🙂

Some McCaw stats:

  • 131 victories for the All Blacks (32% of their total victories since 1903)
  • Won 131 out of 148 tests
  • Scored 27 tries
  • 10 Bledisloe Cups
  • Four tri-Nation titles
  • Three Rugby Championships
  • Two World Cups
  • Win 59 out of 61 tests in NZ
  • World Rugby Player of the Year three times

14 years of test rugby is an incredible effort, especially as a flanker.

Richie’s records

November 2nd, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Some Richie McCaw stats:

  • Only four other players in history have played as many international tests as Richie McCaw has international victories
  • 132 All Blacks have debuted for NZ since McCaw did in 2001
  • Only three of the 15 games McCaw has lost for the All Blacks were by double digit margin
  • NZ Player of the Year  – 2003, 2006, 2009, 2012
  • IRB Player of the Year – 2006, 2009, 2010
  • NZ Sportsman of the Year – 2010, 2011
  • 10 Bledisloe Cups
  • 10 Tri Nations or Rugby Championships Cups
  • Two World Cups

His playing record for the All Blacks:

  • Argentina 10/10
  • Australia 29/36
  • British Lions 2/2
  • Canada 2/2
  • England 12/14
  • Fiji 2/2
  • France 12/13
  • Georgia 1/1
  • Ireland 14/14
  • Italy 3/3
  • Japan 1/1
  • Namibia 1/1
  • Romania 1/1
  • Scotland 7/7
  • Samoa 1/1
  • South Africa 20/26
  • Tonga 2/2
  • Wales 11/11

Overall has won 131 of 148 test matches for a 89.2% success rate.

It is near impossible to declare someone the best rugby player of all time – how do you compare McCaw and Meads, when the game now is so different to the game then. Both are legends. But I think I can safely conclude he is at least the best player in my lifetime.

Sonny Bill is all class

November 1st, 2015 at 4:30 pm by David Farrar

This is beyond cool. The kid gets tackled by security for running onto the ground, and ends up with Sonny Bill giving him his World Cup Medal. Have you ever seen a bigger grin on a kid?

It’s ours!

November 1st, 2015 at 6:50 am by David Farrar

I thought it was Dan Carter’s last two kicks that won us the World Cup but that awesome last minute try was the icing on the cake.

What an awesome game and worthy World Cup Final.

The 34-17 score doesn’t reflect how very close it was in that second half until the very end. I got very nervous after the second Wallaby try.

Kudos to the Wallabies for an great match, but well done the All Blacks for retaining the World Cup led by the greatest rugby player of them all – Richie McCaw.

A nation celebrates.

An amazing Richie stat

October 30th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Of the All Blacks’ 412 victories since 1903, McCaw has been on the field for 32 percent of them. 140 wins in black to be exact.

That’s an incredible stat. Hopefully he’ll make it 141.

They made it!

October 25th, 2015 at 5:42 pm by David Farrar

I was at Twickenham for the NZ semi-final and for most of the match it reminded me of the 2011 final against France – terrified we would lose.

It wasn’t the best game in the world to watch. I grew to hate the referee as he dished out nine penalties almost non-stop to the All Blacks in the first half.

The Springboks never got ahead by more than seven points, so was always optimistic NZ would come through, but the South African defence and tackling was very impressive first half – so much so NZ started kicking as they couldn’t break through most of the time.

Dan Carter’s conversion seemed the turning point. To only be two points behind had us within striking, and then the second try. But it was only around minute 78 when the Springboks were nowhere near the halfway line, that the All Black supporters in the crowd started to relax. The nightmare of scoring two tries to zero but losing against six penalties and a possible drop goal receded. And much celebrating and just relief at half time.

The All Blacks performance didn’t seem that impressive at the time, as the scoreline dominates your thinking, but looking at the match stats does indicate that it was a strong, even if undisciplined, performance:

  • 387 metres vs 149 metres
  • 20 defenders beaten vs three
  • Only three missed tackles vs 20
  • 96% rucks won vs 90%
  • 100% lineouts won vs 77%
  • However 14 penalties vs six

Did I mention how much I disliked the referee again?

Great to see the All Blacks make the final – the first time since 1995 away from home.. In fact we have never won the Rugby World Cup away from NZ, so this is NZ’s chance to do so. I’m hoping Argentina beats Australia of course. In a NZ vs Argentina final we’ll have the entire English crowd cheering for us 🙂

So was great to see an All Black victory, but also to see them play at Twickenham. They have moved the entry gates to include the area next to the stadium so there was great pre-game hospitality with tents and entertainment.

Impressed with the overall organisation. Getting to the game was a tube to Richmond, then shuttle to a few hundred metres from the stadium. Hundreds of volunteers to guide you. Did get soaked after the game, but by then didn’t care. And the tube trip back into London saw great conversations between All Blacks and Springbok supporters – no sore feelings, lots of congratulating both teams, and lots of hatred for the referee from both lots of supporters!

Can’t wait for the final!

Scotland were robbed

October 20th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Rugby World Cup bosses have officially confirmed South African referee Craig Joubert blundered in awarding Australia a penalty that handed them victory over Scotland. …

World Rugby said in a statement said they had conducted a full review of match officials’ performance and clarified Joubert’s decision, finding he had made a mistake and should have awarded a scrum to Australia for an initial knock-on.

They said Joubert had incorrectly applied law 11.7 penalising Scotland’s Jon Welsh, who had played the ball following a knock-on by a team-mate, resulting in an offside.

“On review of all available angles, it is clear that after the knock-on, the ball was touched by Australia’s Nick Phipps and law 11.3(c) states that a player can be put on-side by an opponent who intentionally plays the ball. 

“In this case, law 11.3(c) should have been applied, putting Welsh onside. The appropriate decision, therefore, should have been a scrum to Australia for the original knock-on.
Scotland have every reason to feel sore. They were robbed by a bad call.

An all Southern hemisphere semi-finals

October 19th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Few people mourned England getting knocked out early, but it was a shame to see Wales, Ireland and Scotland all exit the World Cup as they put up spirited performances.

South Africa only scraped home 23 to 19 against Wales

Ireland were competitive with Argentina for a while but Argentina then piled it on win 43 to 20.

And a thriller of a match as Australia only won with a final minute penalty to beat Scotland 35 to 34. Scotland played an amazing games.

I’m actually looking forward to Argentina playing Australia in the 2nd semi-final. If both teams played like they did today, Argentina could win.

NZ’s chances are looking quite reasonable at this stage. We were the only semifinalist to easily win our quarter, and smashed France. If we play the next two games as we did against France, we should win.

But if we play below our best, and Australia, Argentina or South Africa recover some form then it can be all over in 80 minutes.

Current betfair odds are:

  • NZ 1.64
  • Australia 4.4
  • South Africa 8.8
  • Argentina 18

All Blacks 62 France 13

October 18th, 2015 at 10:25 am by David Farrar

The 2007 demons are dead, buried, beatified, and resting peacefully in heaven!

A stunning performance from the All Blacks who scored more points against France in a quarter-final than they did against Argentina, Namibia, Georgia or Tonga in the pool play.

Nine tries is an all time record for a RWC quarter-final.

South Africa’s narrow victory over Wales will have them very nervous for their semi-final against the All Blacks. But we’re in sudden death territory now, so one can only hope for another performance like today.

This match, and the recent Eden Park match against Australia have both seen the All Blacks at near their best. Their best is simply hard to beat. The challenge is to keep the intensity up.

Julian Savea was simply amazing. Three great tries.

It’s NZ vs France

October 12th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

A good victory to Ireland at 24 to 9, which means NZ will face France in our quarter-final.

The pools are not even, but still interesting to look at the net points scored by each team. The are:

  1. New Zealand +125
  2. South Africa +120
  3. Argentina +109
  4. Australia +106
  5. Ireland +99
  6. England +58
  7. France +57
  8. Wales +49
  9. Scotland +43
  10. Japan -12
  11. Italy -14
  12. Fiji -17
  13. Samoa -55
  14. Tonga -60
  15. Romania -69
  16. Georgia -70
  17. Canada -73
  18. USA -96
  19. Namibia -104
  20. Uruguay -196

All eyes on France vs Ireland

October 11th, 2015 at 7:30 am by David Farrar

We now know the eight semi-finalists, but don’t yet know whether we play France or Ireland.

Another day of lower rated countries playing incredibly well, but not quite making it. Wales did great to hold the Wallabies to 15 points, and Samoa played a blinder to be only three points behind Scotland.

So the quarter-finals are:

  1. South Africa vs Wales
  2. NZ vs France or Ireland
  3. France or Ireland vs Argentina
  4. Australia vs Scotland

Meanwhile tickets for England’s last game are now on sale for two and a half pounds 🙂

I think (hope) the first semi-final will be NZ vs South Africa.

The second one should be Australia vs either France or Ireland.

And hopefully a NZ vs Australia final. I’d take NZ vs Ireland also, but please not NZ vs France again!

NZ 47 Tonga 9

October 10th, 2015 at 9:57 am by David Farrar

Now that was a great game.

Before it began I said I wanted All Blacks to get four tries, and not concede any.

They scored seven.

And Tonga played really well – best performance I have seen from them. The first 50 minutes saw them very competitive and they came damn close to scoring.

This is just what we needed. A performance that showed our quarter final opponents how formidable we could be, and no injuries (well maybe one). A bit undisciplined at times, but overall a very good performance.

Now all eyes on France vs Ireland to see who we play in the quarter-final. I hope it is France as I’d rather face them earlier on.

Why Kiwis so celebrate England’s exit from the Rugby World Cup

October 5th, 2015 at 6:59 am by kiwi in america

You’d think after our own ignominious exits from various Rugby World Cups, that we’d spare a thought for the Poms; ejected unceremoniously from their very own RWC. Yeah nah. Not happening.

I was born in England and came to NZ as a young child. I have family there and a deep respect for English culture and history. Then there’s that famous aphorism seen on T shirts in NZ “I cheer for the All Blacks and any team playing Australia”. Whilst it was exciting to see England fight back in the second half and make a contest of it (if only for a portion of the game), I can’t hide the fact that I was rooting for Australia AND thrilled to see the Poms beaten. For most kiwis, this is a no brainer but when you have residual ties to England and I normally am quite pleased when anyone beats the arrogant Aussies, there is a special package of reasons why I personally was so pleased to see England out.

The English players, coaches, selectors and media went into a frenzy when England beat the All Blacks so comprehensively at the end of the Northern Hemisphere tour in December 2012. Steve Hansen gave the hysteria more legs when he opined that England were 2015 RWC title contenders. Since then, the inevitability of England hoisting the Webb Ellis trophy has been the arrogant assumption of English rugby at every level. By the time the tournament started, we were all sick of the smug arrogance of Lancaster and his players who talked about their chances at Fortress Twickenham and of their 2012 victory over New Zealand as if they’d beaten us 5 times in a row!

But it goes deeper than that. Australia rugby writers love the Wallabies and Aussie TV commentary is suitably and typically one eyed – but amongst those who commentate knowledgeably on rugby in Australia, there is a deep and abiding respect for the All Blacks. Not so with the Pommy media scribes. Not only is there far less respect but there is the persistent drum beat of vituperative attacks on key All Blacks the most obvious being the oft repeated claims by English rugby writers that Richie McCaw is a cheat.

As I analysed my glee at seeing what was effectively my own countrymen going down, I reflected on the boorish English crowds. I was at the fateful semi final game in Sydney for the 2003 RWC. I had an All Blacks shirt on so I was fair game for the mostly Australian spectators as I left. There was virtually no taunting or mocking – elation for sure that Australia was in the final, but belying this attitude was the respect Australian rugby fans have for the ABs. Not so English crowds. I’ve never been to Twickers but a good mate now resident in London goes there often to watch internationals and he says the crowds are awful to visiting teams and most especially to New Zealand.

Part of my ambivalence to English rugby is borne of the stultifying, sluggish forwards dominated style of rugby that prevails in England courtesy of their sodden muddy fields which has given us decades of ugly English rugby. But it goes further – it’s the whistle happy pedantic refereeing style that emanates from England and, via England’s historical dominance of the IRB, spills over to almost all the northern hemisphere referees. I’ve come up hard against that as a referee here in the US where English style whistle happy pedantry is the cultural norm among the US raised referees.

Finally, at a gut almost visceral level, we in New Zealand love to see our former colonial masters, the mother country who brought us our national game and who still arrogantly influence the governance of the game internationally, finally not just beaten but utterly humiliated. Roll on a great Australia New Zealand final!!

Likely quarter-finalists

October 5th, 2015 at 6:05 am by David Farrar

Pool A

Australia and Wales both on 13 points with a game to go. Have to favour Australia in their head to head.

Pool B

South Africa 11, Scotland 10 and Japan 8 all with a game to go.

South Africa should get bonus point vs USA and finish top.

Scotland should beat Samoa so likely 2nd.

Pool C

NZ 14 and Argentina 10 with a game to go each.

Pool D

France 14 and Ireland 10 but Ireland has two games to go. They are currently just ahead vs Italy though!

Assume France beats Ireland and Ireland beats Italy.

So the four QFs still look like:

  1. South Africa vs Wales
  2. NZ vs Ireland
  3. France vs Argentina
  4. Australia vs Scotland

NZ 43 Georgia 10

October 3rd, 2015 at 2:50 pm by David Farrar

Well thank goodness we’re not in the pool of death, or we may be dead.

Three games down, and all pretty scratchy. One against a mid-level country, and two against minnows. And they all scored tries against us, and we never looked dominant.

Credit to Georgia for playing so well. I do love how the World Cup inspires the less ranked countries to put in their best performances.

Tonga could push us quite hard next weekend.

The pools are looking interesting.

Pool A – Australia probably to top and Wales may come second unless England beat them. The two bonus points for England should see them through if they do.

Pool B – South Africa should still top followed by Scotland

Pool C -All Blacks and probably Argentina

Pool D – France followed by Ireland

So quarter-finals may be:

  1. South Africa vs Wales
  2. NZ vs Ireland
  3. France vs Argentina
  4. Australia vs Scotland

Possible semis are:

  1. South Africa vs NZ
  2. France vs Australia

Not even going to predict the final!

Wales at its finest

September 27th, 2015 at 11:42 am by David Farrar

Incredible. Wales beat England 28 to 25. This has been such an unpredictable World Cup.

If England lose to Australia the host nation may not even make the semi-final!

26 to 16

September 21st, 2015 at 6:03 am by David Farrar

That was a bit close!

Not good at half time down 12-13 with two All Blacks sin binned.  The score is really Argentina 14 Dan Carter 12. Second half starts badly as it goes 16 to 12 after a few minutes.

Only halfway through the 2nd half did we get the lead back with a converted try. But at 19 to 16 one penalty can tie the game and one try can lose it.

But yes a few minutes later a second converted try gets us 26 to 16 and beyond the danger zone.

Damn good playing from Argentina, and not great playing from the All Blacks. They’re lucky this was a pool game and against a middle power, not a top power.

Japan 34 South Africa 32

September 20th, 2015 at 7:06 am by David Farrar

What an incredible game. Japan, one of the minions minnows of the game, has topped mighty South Africa. They are calling it the biggest upset in world cup rugby. It might be the biggest upset in international rugby ever.

I can recall the early days of Japan playing the All Blacks, and the only tension was whether the All Blacks could score 100 points before the final whistle. They have improved a lot since then but up until this match South Africa has won 25 out of 29 World Cup matches, and Japan had won exactly once – against Zimbabwe in 1991.

But despite being around 40 to 1 underdogs in the betting odds, in the first ever test match between the two countries, Japan prevailed. I doubt (none South African) Kiwis watching the game cheered any less for Japan than they do for the All Blacks.

Again to put this in perspective the odds of South Africa winning the Rugby World Cup are 13/2 and Japan is 5000/1.

By coincidence I was on Radio NZ on Friday and asked about the Rugby World Cup. I said that relatively speaking I wasn’t so worried about South Africa and Australia, but England and France. I commented South Africa had not had a great run lately – however never would have picked them to lose to Japan.

Also of note is Georgia beating Tonga 17 to 10. It’s great to see the game becoming more even.

Should tries be five or six points?

September 4th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The trial of six point tries in Welsh rugby has the backing of rugby greats Buck Shelford and Stu Wilson, but both former All Black captains say even bigger overhauls are needed to improve the game.

The Welsh Rugby Union has given the go ahead for trialling the new point system, which also includes reducing penalties and drop goals from three points to two.

Their aim is to make the game more open and attacking.

I can remember when tries were worth only four points!

I think an increase to six is a good idea. People watch rugby to see tries scored, not to see penalties kicked. You need penalties to be worth enough to discourage illegal play, but a ratio of 3:5 is too high. They are proposing 2:6.

You can of course award a penalty try for certain illegal behaviour, and they are also proposing a penalty try be worth eight points – an automatic conversion.

Shelford agreed World Rugby should give the trial the green light, but said more changes were needed to achieve the Wales Rugby Union’s goal of creating a more open and attacking game.

“We’ve got to have more incentive on the tries … and so the kicking in the game goes to drop kicks, so there’s no place kicking,” he said.

“I reckon we should actually have a five point try, a four point try and a three point try.”
Shelford said zones past the try line should be made where the further the ball was carried, the more the try would be worth.

That could be interesting.

He also said he would take Welsh proposal to lower the points for penalties and drop goals further, reducing them to one point each.

“We should have one point conversion and one point penalty and everything else is free kicks.

“There’s far too much kicking [and] too many penalties at goal. The only penalty should be for foul play,” he said.

“I’d rather use the bin a lot more or send somebody off.”

Got a point, but I think one point is not enough.

Standard author says All Blacks are a drain on rugby and not supported by working class

August 31st, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Working class lawyer Micky Savage writes at The Standard:

Back then Rugby was king in New Zealand.  All Blacks were deities and were instantly recognisable.  Test matches were waited with anticipation for weeks in advance.  The whole country used to shut down while test matches were being played.  And provincial and club rugby was watched by huge numbers.

Now things are different.  More kids play soccer than Rugby.  The game is highly professionalised and commercialised and the All Blacks suck huge resources out of the game.

They suck resources? I’d suggest it is the money the All Blacks and Super teams make that allows the NZRFU to fund other levels of the game. But I’m sure Mr Savage knows best.

Club rugby, once the backbone of the game, is now nothing more than a talent spotting opportunity.  Provincial rugby is nothing more than Sky TV filler.  And All Black games can only be seen if you have large amounts of money to buy a ticket or can afford a Sky TV subscription.  Watching the All Blacks is no longer a working class pursuit and is more entertainment for the wealthy.

Thanks to ACT and other like minded MPs, working class fans of the All Blacks can watch the games at their local pubs.

Things have also changed for National.  Instead of keeping politics out of sport they are now happy to politicise the All Blacks on every possible occasion.  Yesterday’s announcement of the All Black team for this year’s world cup is a classic example.  Parliament was opened up at the request of the Rugby Union.  Ministers were there en masse seeking every opportunity to take selfies with All Blacks.  And John Key was obviously in his element.

Mr Savage overlooks that Labour MPs were there also, and in fact Andrew Little was invited to speak.

John Key’s treatment of the All Blacks is as cynical and calculating as Rob Muldoon’s treatment of the All Blacks in 1981.

Yes turning up to rugby games and events is much the same as the Springbok Tour.

And we live in a nation where urgent legislation can be passed so that at 5 am in the morning people can drink beer in pubs while watching rugby.  And pubs could be open continuously for 69 hours.

A law backed by all but six Labour MPs. And good on them for doing so.

A strong team

August 31st, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

It meant players of the quality of Charles Piutau, Israel Dagg and Cory Jane all missed out, with Piutau the unluckiest of the lot after some compelling All Blacks form this year.

It says something about the strength of NZ Rugby when Cory Jane and Israel Dagg can’t make the top 30.


Hookers: Dane Coles (Hurricanes/Wellington), Keven Mealamu (Blues/Auckland), Codie Taylor (Crusaders/Canterbury).

Props: Wyatt Crockett (Crusaders/Canterbury), Charlie Faumuina (Blues/Auckland), Ben Franks (Hurricanes/Hawke’s Bay), Owen Franks (Crusaders/Canterbury), Tony Woodcock (Blues/North Harbour).

Locks: Brodie Retallick (Chiefs/Bay of Plenty), Luke Romano (Crusaders/Canterbury), Samuel Whitelock (Crusaders/Canterbury).

Loose forwards: Sam Cane (Chiefs/Bay of Plenty), Jerome Kaino (Blues/Auckland), Richie McCaw – captain (Crusaders/Canterbury), Liam Messam (Chiefs/Waikato), Kieran Read (Crusaders/Canterbury), Victor Vito (Hurricanes/Wellington).

Halfbacks: Tawera Kerr-Barlow (Chiefs/Waikato), TJ Perenara (Hurricanes/Wellington), Aaron Smith (Highlanders/Manawatu).

First five-eighths: Beauden Barrett (Hurricanes/Taranaki), Daniel Carter (Crusaders/Canterbury), Colin Slade (Crusaders/Canterbury).

Midfielders: Malakai Fekitoa (Highlanders/Auckland), Ma’a Nonu (Hurricanes/Wellington), Conrad Smith (Hurricanes/Wellington), Sonny Bill Williams (Chiefs/Counties Manukau).

Outside backs: Nehe Milner-Skudder (Hurricanes/Manawatu), Julian Savea (Hurricanes/Wellington), Ben Smith (Highlanders/Otago), Waisake Naholo (Highlanders/Taranaki).

Just a few weeks to go!

A formidable All Black display

August 16th, 2015 at 7:14 am by David Farrar

It’s a good display from the All Blacks when they score five tries against any of the top tier teams. To do it against Australia was a formidable display of power, pressure and aggression. One of their best matches, which kept the Bledisloe in New Zealand for the 12th time in a row (and 13 consecutive wins)

It was also the last time Richie McCaw would play on Eden Park, and a great game to farewell him, but also celebrate his becoming the most capped player in the history of international rugby.

McCaw is to rugby today, what Colin Meads was to the generation before me.

Amazingly it has been 21 years since the All Blacks lost at Eden Park.

I can recall the late 1990s when Australia beat NZ in the Bledisloe for five years in a row. We started to wonder if we’d ever win it back.

The Herald has some comments on McCaw becoming the most capped player in history:

“Without a doubt he is the greatest All Black of all time. I am convinced that in my lifetime there will not be another player who will captain New Zealand for as many tests, or play as many tests for the All Blacks. He is a remarkable athlete, an outstanding leader and a truly great New Zealander.
John Key, Prime Minister

“I have seen for myself how part of his charm is the way he interacts with the fans and his connectivity with the community is immense. He is a legend. There is even a very small part of me that would like to see Richie and the All Blacks defend their World Cup in the final.”
Nick Farr-Jones, World Cup-winning former Wallaby captain

“As an All Black and Crusaders rugby fan, I feel like I’ve spent half my life cheering on Richie McCaw. He hasn’t quite been around that long, but there’s no denying his stature in the game. For my money he is the greatest All Black we’ve ever had, and therefore the greatest player the world’s ever had!”
Mike McRoberts, TV3 News presenter

“He is so courageous, yet so humble and is a man who is always looking to improve. He is first out the shed and last on the bus. He made others come up to his standards. This has been immensely important to the All Blacks.”
Ian Jones, former All Black

“To me he’s simply the greatest All Black. The toughest, fittest and hardest. 142 brutal and physical full test matches. He’s been to war for his country. At times fighting with one functioning foot.”
Duncan Garner, radio host

“I think all the kids up here just see Richie as theirs. He is Kurow’s most famous kid.”
Deidre Senior, Waitaki Valley School principal

“A leader that others want to follow. Richie is uncompromising and pushes the boundaries to the nth degree. Fair but tough. Winners want the ball and they want to charge forward when others are crippled by fear … In the heat of competition, when his teammates are looking for someone to grab the game by the scruff of the neck — up steps Richie.”
Jenny-May Coffin, broadcaster and former Silver Fern

Can’t wait for the Rugby World Cup to begin!