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Aisle be Back: The upcoming Bledisloe Cup and the SA-Lions series

  • By Kevin McCarthy 

Thank heavens things are back to normal. In the old old days, the single TV channel was not allowed to reveal whether it was going to televise an All Black test match ahead of time.

Of course, you could then go to your TV listings for the coming Saturday where at 2.30pm, there’d be a gnomic reference along the lines of To Be Advised.

You’d then turn on the TV and lo and behold, there was Bill McCarthy commentating on…the test match.  You felt you were winning before the game had even started.

Now in 2021, there’s the great mystery of where test matches will be played. There’s the aspirational list that comes out early, with teams crisscrossing mighty continents on even mightier jet planes. Then, closer to the time, there’s the Gladys List, courtesy of the New South Wales pandemic misery.

In this, there’s a frantic reshuffle of plans to accommodate bubbles, burst bubbles, and slowly deflating bubbles.  All we know for sure is that Bled I will be in Auckland (maybe Bled II). Bled II may be in Wellington still, possibly on a Sunday, the day after Beervana.

Of course, beer is important, but really, hipsters can comb their beards and drink beer literally anywhere.  Alternately if you have ever been to the Wellington Sevens that was essentially a low-quality beer fest with some rugby being played nearby. So why not hold the test and Beervana at the same time.

While we are getting creative, it’s obvious increasingly that tests may have to be played in clusters of a better sort i.e., all the Bledisloes in one year will be in Australia, the next in New Zealand.  Meaning teams can quarantine and then play in a country for a few consecutive weeks.

You could then slip in some midweek games. Then you could call it a tour (a word many of you may not be familiar with).

International teams could also travel by steam ship, thereby satisfying their quarantine requirements before arriving.

Other benefits include being able to farewell teams at dockside, while singing Now Is the Hour.

So, who said this pandemic stuff is all downside. I suggest you keep watching the schedules and be alert whenever To Bed Advised crops up.

+++++++

Being criticised by  Sir Clive Woodward is God’s way of telling a coach they should be doing the opposite of what Sir Clive says.

This is the only explanation for Rassie Erasmus – aka the Springbok water boy – posting a one-hour video rant about the refereeing in the first test loss to the Lions.

Since we all remember Sir Clive’s video horror show after the O’Driscoll spear tackle, Rassie presumably thinks that he will be safe from Clive’s wrath on that score.

As New Zealanders of course we are highly sympathetic to claims of dodgy refereeing on South African soil.

If Rassie is acting as a distraction for the Boks, you might suspect it is a deliberate ploy. While everyone is looking at the water boy, the team can trundle along on its vengeance plan.

It’s all very entertaining at a distance. Expect a cracking second test, and the Boks to come out narrowly on top. There will no doubt be something in the water bottle.

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