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Aisle be Back: All Blacks v South Africa 2.0 the aftermath

  • By Kevin McCarthy

What a fantastic effort by the Crusaders to go to Ellis Park and pull off the wonderful win at the weekend. Someone got the kit order wrong at the laundry, and they had to play in some all-black coloured jerseys, but that still didn’t stop them. That’s how good they are.

I thought some of the best efforts came from Cantabrian born and bred Ardie Savea (who suckered in four Bok defenders to free up David Havili), staunch Ashburton lad, Reiko Ioane, and Rangiora’s finest, Jordie Barrett.

Let’s remember to mention Scott Robertson, who couldn’t be in Joburg but did email over instructions for the management team. To coach that sort of effort and not even be there, speaks volumes.

I am of course, not mad (well, not on good days) but am lampooning the red and black conspiracy theory that (ironically) the last 10 minutes of the test was won by the actions of Crusader players.

Not surprisingly they were involved heavily – but the theory rather uncomfortably had to paint out any other non-Crusader players as much as possible. If they are there, it’s to admire the handiwork of the southerners.

Lovely theory.  I wonder why the Boks, with a man advantage, could not close out the deal when you’d wager most times that they would. Could it have anything to do with the earlier 70 minutes of play by New Zealand’s players. Could tries in the first half by two non-Crusaders have had any impact.  Were the Boks basically running on empty, having had to resort very early to subbing their front row – and some unfortunate starting selections.

Hard to fathom, but I guess some substantial slice of the population was actually mourning the result on Sunday morning, as of course Ian Foster would not have survived a loss.

Instead, he has survived by a whisker. But southerners need to put on the big boy pants, accept that Razor’s time is coming (but not yet) and get behind the All Blacks, which is New Zealand’s team. The Crusaders are a fantastic side, Jason Ryan is clearly a huge asset at a national level, and much of the spine of the team will be red and black.  It seems that is not enough for diehards – but they might want to revisit the infamous Cantablacks experiment of the early 2000s.

Inexplicably, the team finally adopted the strategy and tactics advocated by 90 per cent of fans for the past year or two, and was successful. That these changes were largely fairly obvious does get me, in one’s armchair humility, wondering if its actually quite difficult to execute these strategies in real life.

Now that Team Fozzie is back on the tracks, after what I am sure you will admit has been some of the best drama of the past two decades, we’ve got eight more test matches to look forward to this year. Statistically, the All Blacks will lose one, so take your pick, but you can’t pick England.

So, what do the All Blacks want out of those games? Well, I’d say consistency, combinations, getting the younger boys out on the track properly, innovating, and saving the big rigs too many miles.

By far, it should be a less challenging end of year than 2021. And then we’ll be in 2023. Fantastic!


They didn’t quite ask for a Give A Little page, but there was a plea this week for everyone to think kindly of rugby administrators. I don’t think anyone is listening, and not worth a try.

NZR should spare the self-pity and get some expertise on board to guide its governance and public image (Silverlake anyone?).  There have been some very odd missteps in the past year, telescoping into the weirdness of early morning zoom calls to announce nothing.

If its good enough for the team to have gone through an ordeal of fire this year, it’s good enough for the board and administrators to do the same.


Fresh from the Big Apple, it’s not Stephen Colbert. It’s Nehe Milner-Skudder! It’s taken him a while to recognise he actually want to be a Wellington Lions player, but great to see the Scud back in town, or most accurately, Porirua this weekend.

Having been skinned, predictably in Christchurch, the Lions face Northland, and needing to win. They’re already languishing sixth in the oddly named Odds conference.

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