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Aisle be Back: The Opener

By Falkland Islands correspondent Kevin McCarthy – waiting forlornly for a plane to the mainland to cover the Hurricanes v Jaguares on Sunday at 12.00pm (NZT).

We’ve all heard the joke by now. The last time we opened this season so badly, we won the title.

Which if it is true, will mean a second round loss to the Jaguares is coming this weekend?

Comforting I guess, in a very Hurricanes sort of way.

Without making excuses, this was always going to be brutal start for the side. Any South African side is tough and this one fielded a pretty decent pack, to put it mildly.

Add in all the rest that you are well familiar with. The lack of combination, the blooding of a new first-five, new coach,  blah blah blah.

Of course that all contributed. It’s not easy to achieve nil, while the other blokes rattle up 27.

Yet the thing is – we have seen this story before, have we not. It isn’t just 2016 redux.  There is something about the Hurricanes that leaves them always looking a bit undercooked – like they treat the first two games as a way to feel their way into the competition.

Honestly, that was my gut feeling before I bothered to actually look back at past results of the opening two rounds in Super Rugby for the Hurricanes.

    • 2015 – Two wins away in South Africa.
    • 2016 – Two losses away (Canberra, and Dunedin).
    • 2017 – Two thrashings of the opposition away (Japan, Melbourne)
    • 2018 – One loss (South Africa) one win (South America).
    • 2019 – One win away (Waratahs) one lost away (Crusaders).
    • So 10 matches played, and all away. 6 wins and 4 losses.

I don’t know how other teams fared in the same time period; you’d venture a guess that most are similar, barring maybe the Crusaders.

So I don’t think winning 60 per cent of your opening games – which are always away for the Canes – is actually too shabby.

It’s just that the mental image is that somehow the Hurricanes are late to the party.

Incidentally why is it the case, SANZAR, that the Canes are always opening away – not that it’s a bad thing, but will the Hurricanes region ever host the team’s opening match or matches? It used to happen.

There are clearly a myriad of things to fix against the Jaguares. Just the mind-numbing error rate would be a great place to start.

You’ve all helpfully contributed your feedback on the Hurricanes fan page on Facebook – which actually is quite a good place to judge the vibe of your good selves. It ends to veer between public lynchings and undying optimism. The truth if it exists might be somewhere in the middle.

But to conclude, the Hurricanes are not actually that rubbish at the start of the season. Granted, past performance is not a guarantee of future performance. However, we’d do well for our own sanity to just hold the breath and the judgements a bit longer – and trust the dunny has been well and truly flushed.

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Feeling down about that opener? Don’t worry, there’s always Eddie Jones and England to cheer you up!

Yes, I actually missed the English defeat in Paris (my excuse I was out viewing penguins in the Falkland Islands). In fact, I did not catch up until Monday morning, local time, on what had happened. Which I suspect is how the English felt during the game.

Watching those French backs seizing on English errors early on and decisively capitalising, with the immense roar of the home  crowd, really gave me flashbacks to 1999 and the World Cup.

As for England, you have to shake your head.  A team that humiliated the All Blacks, and got to the World Cup final has no excuse you would think for play so flatly first up.

Yet that is English rugby for you. Inexplicably inconsistent.

You have to think that Jones should have folded up his tent at the World Cup. Instead he may witness his own ritual disembowelling over the next couple of years.

Possibly he enjoys that sort of thing. It takes all kinds to make a rugby world.

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