Friday, 20 June 2014 00:00
We are into the final stages of school rugby and it was been a good season with certain schools outperforming their own expectations, whilst others have fallen by the way side. Pathana, despite their rather shocking result last week, are still at the top of the ladder and appear poised for glory. Thus this week’s game between Pathana and Kingswood will be a game to watch.
Pathana after last week’s game would have learnt the hard way that no team is to be taken lightly. Their disappointment with a draw was plain to see while Petes were celebrating as if they had won the league.
Similarly KCK slipped up last week when they lost to TCK. Thus both team meeting this week have been handed harsh lessons and will be richer for the experience. Pathana needs to play their normal swashbuckling style of rugby and keep the errors to a minimum.
In their three quarters and forwards they possess potential match winners and their # 8 has been mercurial this season. His ability to gain valuable metres with ball in hand, the fact that it takes more than one opponent to bring him down and his ability to recycle quick ball at the breakdown are highly sought after attributes. Pathana needs to be sensible in their decision making and opt for the safe haven of three points when possible as opposed to seeking mass scale glory.
KCK having to play in the heat and humidity of Colombo will need to adjust and they should be able to do so having trained and played at altitude for the best part of the season. What they may need to counter is the local crowd support for the green army who are generally noisy and at times overexcited. The referee on the day must be able to officiate with a cool head and not be swayed by the belligerent crowd and the various calls that they usually make. It will be a high pressure game and the team that handles it well should be able to reap the benefits.
The Petes on the contrary have to face up to TCK in the lion’s den. TCK has played quality rugby this season as indicated by their standing and the fact that they are in front of their adoring supporters is what the Petes will have to contend with. TCK will be buoyed by their own performance as they brought the high riding KCK down to earth with a creditable win.
The Petes will obviously draw consolation and comfort from their sterling performance last week, but as indicated before, resting on past laurels is a foolhardy exercise. The TCK / Petes game over the years has been hard fought with the Petes struggling to win for many years till the hoodoo was subsequently broken. Frank Hubert’s final kick hitting the cross bar against TCK with the match to be won is still fresh in the minds of many, as was the subsequent heartache.
In other games, Science will take on Royal and the Joes and the Thomians will battle it out to ensure that they don’t end up at the bottom of the heap. The Joes, Thomians and Science promised much at the start of the season but have delivered little and the Rugby think tank of these schools would need to be back at the drawing board to ascertain the reasons for such poor performances.
One of the key talking points this year has been the rising rugby budget and a number of stalwarts have begun to question as to whether it is money well spent or is a major portion of it being spent of the coaching staff as well as the band wagon of support staff.
The All Blacks and the Wallabies will be looking to make it a clean sweep against England and France respectively. Despite the wins by NZ, their aura of invincibility appears to have diminished. A number of veterans of the side will be hard pressed to retain their positions and nobody can take his place for granted. Without doubt they missed the services of Kieran Read in the first two tests and it will interesting to see how he plays in the third test after being left out on concussion issues.
England made a change by moving Manu Tuilagi to the wing in the second test, after a super performance as centre in the first test. That move backfired badly as he barely touched the ball in the new position. He is back at centre again and it will be a treat to watch him slice through the defence and his battle with Malakai Fekitoa making his first start at centre.
The Wallabies are on a winning streak after a lengthy period of time and their hard fought win over France last week was not very convincing. With some key games in the offing including the Bledisloe cup in August, they will be hard pressed to retain their winning streak leading up to the World Cup.
SA turned in a sterling performance against the Welsh and it would be nothing short of a miracle if the Welsh will see a different result this week. Victor Mattfield sets a new record for SA winning his 112th cap and that too at the age of 37, a testimony to his levels of fitness and brilliant line out work. The added responsibility of being the skipper has lifted his game to another level.
(The writer can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.)