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five things we learned from the weekend

October 10th, 2011 by · No Comments · Features

Putting the balls in their place, Kiwi coaches, and why Peter de Villiers’s departure was perfectly timed but England’s was not

Hannah Johnston/Getty Images

The All Blacks may not be at their very best

The home team and tournament favourites eventually won with a 23-point margin over Argentina‘s bunch of warriors, but the margin only began to widen after Nigel Owens had contentiously sent Nicolas Vergallo to the sin-bin. New Zealand had their good points – principally the formidably direct and energetic combination of Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith in the centre – but they looked far from invincible, and the true state of Richie McCaw’s fitness awaits its real test.

The Gilbert ball is no Jabulani

With a single mighty swing of his right boot, the Argentinian centre Marcelo Bosch consigned all the speculation concerning the properties of the tournament ball to the rubbish bin. Bosch took aim from the halfway line in the opening minute of the second half against New Zealand, and sent the supposedly eccentric ball arrowing between the posts. This was his first and only kick of the match. Like the high success ratio of other kickers, it made you wonder about the effect of Dave Alred’s concerns on Jonny Wilkinson’s confidence.

De Villiers knew when to go

Peter de Villiers was an unashamedly political choice as the next man to coach South Africa after Jake White had taken them to victory in the 2007 tournament, and rightly so. The new man had no shortage of critics, their motivation varying from a lack of faith in his qualities as a coach through a dislike of his occasional unwise comments to thinly disguised racism, but he took a gifted squad to the Tri Nations championship and a series against the Lions, both in the same year. His resignation on Sunday, after losing a quarter-final to the Wallabies, was a graceful exit.

England outstayed their welcome

After falling to defeat against France, England should have made themselves scarce. Instead Manu Tuilagi was allowed to go on a ferry excursion with a few team-mates on Sunday night, and ended up jumping into the water as the boat approached its mooring in Auckland harbour. Cue another bunch of headlines emphasising what a graceless bunch Martin Johnson brought with him. The local media reported the incident with the sort of weary shrug you might give when discussing tiresome dinner guests.

New Zealand is the new Glasgow

There are seven Glaswegians among the 20 Premier League football managers, and three Kiwis – Graham Henry with New Zealand, Robbie Deans with Australia and Warren Gatland with Wales – among the four head coaches who will meet in the Rugby World Cup semi-finals next weekend, with France’s Marc Lièvremont the only exception. What magic ingredient do the trio have in common? Maybe Argentina’s captain, Felipe Contepomi, put his finger on it when he described the style of the All Blacks who had just eliminated his team on Sunday night: “They play a very simple game, but what they do is that they do it very well.” © 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & ConditionsMore Feeds

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