Sorry we’re late folks, there’s been too much rugby. So here we go…
England landed their second win of the autumn internationals with a 26-13 victory over Samoa at Twickenham on Saturday. The game might not have been up there in terms of the sheer excitement of the previous clash with Australia, but Johnno’s boys put up a (somewhat messy) fight in what was a fiercely physical eighty minutes and we can’t expect an Ashton moment in every game, can we? Manpilez favourites Matt Banahan and Tom Croft were England’s try scorers and were ably abetted by Toby Flood’s boot. Responses that I’ve seen to Banahan’s performance have been a bit luke warm; while his contribution has been noted, no one is really raving. I’m going to. I think he’s bloody great and was surprised that his inclusion in the squad came late. His try might not have been heartstopping or full of finesse, but his part in the set-up for Crofty’s was swift and without fanfare. Banas needs to be given more of a chance, because he knows how to make his mark.
Over to our cousins on the continent and Italy stood up to Australia on Saturday following their 22-16 defeat at the hands of Argentina. Although they put up a staunch defense, the Azzuri failed to shine and the Aussies had a 32-14 win to help ease their woes after the previous weekend’s Twickenham upset. The big news for Italy this week is that Mauro Bergamasco, who has yet to make an appearance in the autumn tests due to a recent injury, now faces shoulder surgery and a possible four month recovery period. Given that Italy are set to kick off their Six Nations bid in February, Nick Mallett will no doubt be biting his nails come the new year. Get well soon, Mauro!
So then, the Wales game. We very nearly didn’t write about it. We’ve spent the days since trying not to think about it to be perfectly honest but it would appear to have been quite an important event.
Eighty minutes of mediocrity stood between Wales and Fiji. In usual circumstances out home nations can be forgiven for taking their eyes off the ball against the Fijians when they’re the meat in the sandwich between Springboks and the All Blacks but in this case the whole of Wales was poised for a grudge match that never came.
Granted, our boys almost had them beat by a rather disappointing three points until one slip up by Captain Ryan Jones allowed Fiji the final kick… right between the posts. The game, much like the 2007 world cup game between the two was painful to watch but it’s the fall out that has been most interesting, and ultimately concerning.
Within minutes of the final, agonising whistle, Warren Gatland had snubbed the amassed media and publically stripped Ryan Jones of the Captaincy, passing the baton to Matthew Rees in the changing room.
Since then there have been clandestine meetings of the ‘senior’ members of the squad lead by Rees and reinstatements of players who last hit the headlines for their criticism of Gatland and more mud raking in the press than we really wanted to see.
Are we facing a player revolt of the kind that unseated Mike Ruddock? Will Gatland have to tear up that brand new contract before the ink has dried? The only thing that is for sure right now is that if Wales have any hopes at World cup or even Six Nations success we’re going to see a lot of changes over the next few months, and we might not like all of it…
To add insult to injury, Scotland bounced back from the utter drubbing by New Zealand to beat World Champions South Africa 21-17, wiping the smiles they’d been sporting after beating Wales the previous weeks right off their faces whilst also rubbing Gats’ nose in it. Thanks boys!
On a lighter note, the nominations have been revealed for this year’s IRB player of the Year. However, this year there is not a single brit named as Richie McCaw heads towards a somewhat controversial Hat trick against team mate Mils Muliana, Victor Matfield, Imanol Harinordoquy and Wallabies David Pocock and Kurtley Beale.
Player of the Week
this week is another Joint one, firstly for Matt Banahan for scoring one try and assisting another against Samoa and secondly to Ryan Jones. Because he’ll always be our captain.
And finally; a new feature…
What The Shit Is This?
James Haskell has an iPhone App.
We’re not even going to bother elaborating on that, we’re just going to let the information sink in for a while.
A whole App. Of James Haskell.
Words by Lauren and Anna