Friday, 11 October 2013 03:14
The Rugby Championship has come to an end. However the discussions still linger on with regard to the final game between the Boks and the All Blacks and many have hailed the game as the game of the year.
Whilst it was a high pressure game, and there was plenty of good rugby, whether one could call it the game of the year warrants further discussion and debate. The question that is oft asked is what constitutes a good game? Is it the number of tries scored, the winning margin, the battle for territory, the battle for possession, converting possession and territory into points, execution of a game plan, capitalising on the opponents weaknesses, tight defence, attacking flair and the list goes on.
The game in question had a large number of the above and aided by the fact that the referee let the game flow, made it an enjoyable game. But was it the game of the year, I would not agree.
As one reviews the strength of the four teams that took part in the competition it is clear that the All Blacks were far superior when compared man to man as well as a cohesive unit. The All Blacks’ third row was awesome as they were quick across the park and were able to win good turnover ball at crucial stages in the game. They are pretty good ball carriers and when given a break made valuable ground.
I thought that the Pumas were a better scrummaging unit and at times gave the other three sides a run for their money. The halves combination of the All Blacks always ensure that they retained possession and when they kicked, the same was with purpose and executed to near perfection. Their game was not predictable, but bore the hallmarks of consistency in their style of play and adherence to basics.
McCaw is one of the best leaders if not the best and his reading of the game is something to behold. Kieran Read was a super No. 8 and stand-in skipper. Without doubt the All Blacks and the Boks are currently the two top sides in the world and watching them battle it out will be the ultimate joy of a rugby purist.
On the local front we see a change in the National skipper, with Namal taking over the reins in the absence Yoshitha. The Serendib tournament is just around the corner and after the Carlton Sevens it gives the opportunity for us to showcase a spanking new Race Course stadium. The playing surface looks to be in pristine condition and what is now left is for the Lankan lads to give a good account of themselves and rally round the new skipper.
The local club season is close at hand and many of the clubs are busy tying up sponsorship deals and fine tuning on their overseas recruits. A vast number of the expatriate players will be sourced from Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, PNG and NZ. The influx of the expat players has definitely taken the level of the local game up a notch or two.
However whether the local clubs will be able to afford such payments in the long run is debatable. With sponsorship deals becoming scarce it is a mad scramble to attract the few corporate sponsors that are available. The Rugby Union must also play a definitive role in this aspect by controlling player movements and potential pole-vaulters.
Player loyalties to clubs are not what it used to be in the past. A few extra rupees and certain players are willing to switch camps. After all pole vaulting has become a national sport these days with many crossing the political divide with scant respect for principles. As they say in politics there are no permanent friends or enemies.
(The writer can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org)