- The Final: Apologies to Stuart Dickinson - it appears that there is a single frame of the video which appears to show Mark Cueto's left little toenail possibly brushing the line for a nano-second. Technically therefore you are vindicated retrospectively - although you didn't have the benefit of freeze-framing and still couldn't possibly have made that call accurately with the evidence you had available to you. Oh well, I dare say that South Africa would have won anyway - certainly there's no way Victor Matfield could possibly deserve to end up on a losing side after a performance like that. The photo doesn't say much for Cueto's finishing technique either.
- The Final#2: Did anybody else think it entirely inappropriate that Gordon Brown and Thabo Mbeki were involved in the presentations ceremony? In Mbeki's case anyone would think he'd been an integral part of the Bok team the way he cynically celebrated with the squad.
- Argentina: How good were they in the 3rd/4th play off? Shame in many ways that they choked in the semi-final because I thought they were quite brilliant at times this tournament. No doubt they'll now be ignored again by the IRB until 2011. Ditto the Pacific Island teams. Samoa were disappointing, but Tonga and Fiji were inspired at times and certainly deserve greater recognition in the international calendar.
- Try of the tournament:- Some great tries but the Japan length of the field try against Wales was pretty special.
- Game of the tournament: Georgia nearly beating Ireland was superb to watch, as was Tonga's fightback against South Africa. However for me the only winner can be the England v Australia quarter final, simply because the England performance that day came not so much from out of the blue as from out of the indigo and the violet, taking everybody by surprise (including, I suspect, the England players and management - although there's no way they'll admit it).
- The Lazarus Award: England again, for somehow restoring credibility from a seemingly impossible position. So, well done to the players and the management but let's not forget just how bad it nearly was. In fact, in analysing where England go from here the motivating factor really should be the memories of the inept performances against the USA and South Africa in the first two pool matches (easily the worst displays from an English team in a World Cup since 1987) and it's good to see that the RFU aren't rushing into prematurely awarding new contracts to management.
- Player of the tournament: Sorry Mr Habana, but I thought Gus Pichot was the standout performer this RWC, a superb player and inspirational leader.
- Hair of the tournament: Finau Maka for a quite superb barnet - shame the killjoys at the IRB wouldn't let him dye it green. Sea Bass Chabal was obviously a contender but has to make do with Beard of the tournament, narrowly edging out George Chuter (Carl Hayman's lack of beard was undoubtedly a contributing factor to the All Blacks' demise).
- The Good Sportsmanship award - Now this is going to cause a few surprises, not least to myself as I've always thought him to be a bit of a sanctimonious git, but I read yesterday that Graham Henry went into the French dressing room after New Zealand's crushing quarter final defeat to congratulate the French and wish them well in the semi finals. Good on you Mr. Henry, you've conducted yourself with a dignity absent in a number of your country's journalists and supporters and have leapt up in my estimation (which no doubt you'd been losing sleep over!)
- And finally, the Total Flanker Dunderhead of the Tournament Award: Several candidates here, including several of the ITV commentary team, a few of the national coaches, one or two players and more than one match official (and, if I was a Kiwi, the award would be a done deal) but the award can only really go to the IRB for turning a blind eye the corrupt horse-trading which resulted in several matches, including a quarter-final, taking place on Welsh and Scottish soil. The self-interest of member unions must never again be allowed to prevail when deciding these matters - although given the proposal to reduce the 2011 RWC to 16 teams that is now under consideration, I won't be holding my breath on this one.
Wednesday, 24 October 2007
Less than 4 days since the conclusion of the 2007 Rugby World Cup and already it seems a lifetime ago. A few reflections: