FOR the northern hemisphere nations the autumn rugby union internationals seem to be turning into an exercise in ruination.
Every time a Six Nations team comes up against the touring All Blacks the phrase ‘it could be damage limitation’ seems to pass through some pundits lips. Well this autumn there just seems to be a load of damage – and not just at the hands of the All Blacks.
For the Welsh the wreckage of defeats by Argentina and, more surprisingly, Samoa was followed by a better showing, but still defeat by 33-10, against the All Blacks.
However, playing the All Blacks is really a thankless task. Such is their reputation that many commentators seem all too willing to exalt their pace and passing, while studiously ignoring the fact that the New Zealanders are masters at being cynical in defence and on how to bend the rules as far as they will go before breaking.
England have also faltered at Twickenham.
Team captain Chris Robshaw claims he makes decisions on the merits of the match he is playing in, while the evidence would suggest that his options are taken on what he mucked up the previous week.
Robshaw’s poor call on a late penalty last weekend which led to a 16-15 defeat at the hands of the South Africans at HQ prompted questions about his captaincy and Stuart Lancaster’s role as England coach on one radio debate and for a moment I thought one expert had suggested that his cat had more idea than the team manager – however it turned out he was discussing England attacking skills coach Mike Catt’s role in England’s decision-making process.
But the saddest moment last weekend was the plight of the Scots.
I am not referring to resignation of Andy Robinson as head coach after their 21-15 defeat by Tonga – and that job has got to be one of the worst roles you could take on in sport along side that of Scotland football manager – but the attitude of the fans at Pittodrie.
Playing 15-a-side games at football grounds always sees the usual etiquette of rugby thrown out of the window and so it was at the home of Aberdeen.
Scottish fans booed when Fangatapu Apikotoa lined up his kicks and then filed away at the end of the game rather than showing some sportsmanship in applauding the South Sea Islanders’ efforts in gaining an historic win.