Friday, December 14, 2018

Dear Santa

All I want for Christmas...

Dear Santa: All I want for Christmas is a June 2019 Test Series that looks like this:

New Zealand All Blacks v Ireland: As we all know, Ireland have beaten New Zealand now two times from their last three meetings, but you’d have to go back to before time began to identify a date when Ireland have topped New Zealand in New Zealand because they haven’t. So Santa, how about an Ireland tour to the Land of the Long White Cloud in June? Parents would sell their children to stand outside the stadiums for that triple. So that would be #s 1 v 2; regardless of what happens during SixNats, right…

Wales v South Africa: Now, Wales and England, currently numbers 3 & 4. They can’t play one another during June, nuh? But look just past number 4 and there’s South Africa sitting hale and hardy and of a mind to take on any and all, such is their spirit. And Springboks, though they hold better than an 80% winning ratio in matches played ‘twixt the two, have lost five from the last six and the Welsh haven’t visited Africa since 2014; that’ll be 3 v 5, thank you very much; miners be parting with their gold for the chance to go; so we ship Wales to Africa and the Cape, and England can go to Australia or Argentina, your pick;

England v Australia: Australia you say? Because England just toured Argentina last year? And the record betwixt and between England and Oz is damn all as they are on 25 wins, 24 losses and a draw in their half century of contests over the past hundred and some odd years; all righty then, Wallabies it is; Numbers 4 v 6, well done WR;

  Scotland v Fiji: Okay next Scotland, and they can go to Fiji and those Pacific Islands; #s 7 and 8; then the Scots are on to Tonga and Samoa, a true South Seas tour! You know for certain the Fijians would love to respond to the whatfor received last month at Murrayfield;

France v Fiji: Let’s send France to Canada and then, they too, travel on to the South Seas; Fiji, for a re-match of their fall classic, and Samoa, perchance?
USA v Japan, Italy and Tonga: As you well know, USA Eagles have achieved their highest position on the chart ever and are improving at a good clip with the professional league in the States providing a valid demonstration station and an impressive number of Americans earning their daily bread in the overseas leagues. USA v Japan... hein? Yeah, let’s do that! That’s 11 v 12; and then v Italy, who can then go to Canada; and then we’ll wind up v Georgia to prove that we really deserve our rank.

Canada v France and Italy, then Georgia, Japan or Tonga: they of the True North have some work to do prior to their dates in Japan come September; this series would be a good gauge ; 
*     That’ll set everyone up well for MMXIX RWC, don’t you think?
So whattaya say, World Rugby, errh, I mean Santa?
hugo e Richard, Esq. – “ever plumbing the depths of  a vapidly changing reality”

Sunday, December 9, 2018

EPCR - Champions Cup Round 3 - By the Numbers

European Professional Club Rugby – Champions Cup: Round 3, BtN

Road victories are hard to come by in Europe. However half the matches in Round 3 were won by travelers, which will figure huge into the playoffs when pool play finishes. Ulster, Gloucester, Leinster, Glasgow and Toulouse all topped their hosts with Ulster and Warriors, the two second-placed clubs in their respective pools, getting the bonus points.

16           for Toulon 10, Adrienne Belleau, on 2-and-4 from his toe and got the right side of a 38-28 result over Montpellier at the Felix Mayol; hattrick in the losing effort for flyer, Timoci Nagusa; Cruden’s hurt and out for a month so he did not list on the matchday roster for the travelers;

0             match points for homeboys at the Ricoh as Wasps fell to eight-point defeat to a bossy Toulouse; Hornets were ahead by a deuce at midpoint, 13-11, yet could not maintain that advantage as a try by travelers 15, Sofi Guitone, its conversion by 10, Tommy Ramos, and a further brace of sticksplitters by the visiting flyhalf made for 24-16 road joy:

7             the measure of separation between Bath and Leinster as the Irish got the crucial road victory at The Rec, 17-10, that margin obtained by a 48th minute try by flying Jordy Lamour, its conversion by 10, Johnny Sexton, and a          sticksplitter by Sexton relief, Ross Byrne;

3             trys for each XV, but Gloucester converted all theirs and added a brace of penalties, denying Exeter, their hosts, a losing bonus point at Sandy Park with 27-19 joy on the trot;

17           for standoff, Adam Hastings, on 4 conversions and 3 penalties, backed by a brace of groundings by 8man, Adam Ashe, and road Warriors trounced Lyon at the Matmut on Saturday, 42-22;

5             table points for Edinburgh after 31-13, bonus-point victory over the former high-flying Falcons at Murrayfield; the Scots now hold first place in their pool;

2             trys by Scarlets flyer Steffan Evans not enough to overcome their guests count and Redmen dropped a 24-25 pippage to Ulster at Parc y Scarlets;

24           second stanza points for home joy as Munster topped Castres at Thomond Park, 30-5;

5             adrift at the half, 13-18, Saracens returned for the 51-25, bonus-point win over Cardiff at Barnet Copthall; braces of scores for Sarries relief 8man, Ben Earl, and flyer, Sean Maitland;

4             trys for Racing in the first 40 and 5 the table points haul for 92 at La Defénse Arena in the 36-19 win over Leicester Tigers;

Upcomes Round 4: 12.14-16.2018

Friday, December 14:
               Gloucester (8) v (3) Exeter Chiefs at Kingsholm: home team looks to keep their topspot in the pool, while visitors 2018-2019 EPCR campaign depends of this result; hot-hot-hot!              
               Ulster (9) v (2) Scarlets in Kingspan at Ravenhill: this result could see the travelers EPCR campaign flush;

Saturday, December 15:
               Glasgow (10) v (0) Lyon at Scotstoun: travelers unraveling, while Warriors look to consolidate at minimum a runnersup playoff berth;
               Leinster (10) v (5) Bath at the RDS: do or die for the visitors; homeys chasing Toulouse now through roiling waters in the Pool of Death;
               Toulouse (12) v (3) Wasps at Ernest Wallon: might very well be where the travelers EPCR season goes away;
               Cardiff (4) v (14) Saracens at the Arms Park: Blues can only hope to spoil their guests run;

Sunday, December 16:
               Montpellier (6) v (6) Toulon at the Altrad:  both chasing a playoffs slot, yet only one at best will get; M-o-W;
               Newcastle (8) v (11) Edinburgh  at Kingston Park: Falcons would like to turn last week’s record right around and reclaim the pool lead; other M-oW;

               Leicester (5) v (14) Racing 92 at Welford Road: Tigers response to their loss last outing will define their season;

Thursday, December 6, 2018

November Tests... who's number 1?

Examination Indicators – Autumn Tests

What was learned from the latest Test Competitions during the annual November season of international competitions? New Zealand All Blacks, though arguably the XV everyman and his best 14 dogs will yet take heed of in the coming ten-months leading to 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, may not be the best side on the planet. Just ask a Celt, or better yet a subsect of that tribe, an Irisher or even a Welshie. For Ireland have beaten the Kiwis two times running now, and though Wales did not get opportunity to test them what hail from the Land of the Long White Cloud, Wayne Gatland’s boys showed tough in their four autumn victories over the remaining Quad Nations plus Scotland and may not have reached the top of their expressive arc quite yet; they’ll be staging for Six Nations, and the June Test Series with a mind towards a significant demonstration of our game come RWC MMXIX.

Springboks were pipped by England in their opening November encounter at Twickers, then rolled out two close wins over Scotland and France, before being well-beaten by Wales to close their November account as their hosts made better work of opportunities at Millennium. South Africa are the only other nation to have beaten the All Blacks in the last wee bit of forever.

Australia went 1-and-2, beating Italy handily, but that victory was bracketed by a drubbing from England and a lackluster performance against Wales. Wallabies gotta figure out their standoff issue among others.

Argentina were defeated thrice by: Ireland, Scotland and France in November before topping Barbarians in a thrilling and highly entertaining match on December 1.

England, you have to love England... oh wait a minute, no you don’t. End of the day, the Home of Rugby pipped South Africa to open their Autumn account, then were pipped by New Zealand before winning out well against Japan and Australia; The Oz fixture albeit without one of the best, if not the best three-quarters in the world, and yes, Chris Ashton gets that nod.

Ireland will have to beat New Zealand on the road, evidently, before World Rugby gives them their well-deserved due and pops them into the topspot on the third planet from the sun. With John Sexton come fully into his own and probably the best flyhalf on the paddock these days, a midfield packed with vitality and volatility, and the finest pair of three-quarters around in cagey veteran Keith Earls and young “Stockie Jockie,” Jacob Stockdale, who could come to the attention of the game warden as he displays an uncanny ability to put himself in spaces to disrupt opponent’s forward flow and make payment cruelly harsh with a poach then. Any event, Ireland hammered USA and Italy, and beat the best and also Argentina for straight “A+s” this examination time. Ireland have not lost a rugby match since a desultory 2017 SixNats campaign.

Scotland were within a converted try of Springboks, yet at Murrayfield, and lost to Wales on the trot in their initial November Test; and the Scots beat Fiji and Argentina for a l-w-l-w exam record. Good news is Scotland have a fine crop of blooded youngsters in their camp now with legacy Adam Hastings – there are those around who took the pitch with his father, Gavin, and uncle, Scott, the summer they played at Vail RFC– and Blair Kinghorn earning caps, Kinghorn in the famous defeat of England at Murrayfield last spring and Hastings v Canada during the June Test window. 

France have not had a good 2018. They beat Argentina and lost an eminently observable test to Fiji at the close of the window, but were beaten thrice in New Zealand in June and their SixNats performance was ordinary, though they did take down England. And 2017 could be kindly phrased a disaster with only one drawn game against Japan. Les Blues head coach Jacques Brunel favored Baptiste Serin and Camille Lopez at 9 and 10 respectively this fall over the summer’s Morgan Parra-Adrienne Belleau halves, but their pack, which in the past has been fearsome, has maybe displayed some fear and will be expected to intensifier ou commencer  regards individual expression come SixNats in the spring. France will be the dark runner come MMXIX Rugby World Cup.

Fiji had a successful northern hemisphere campaign this year, defeating France famously at and hammering of Uruguay where a brace had hattricks: Peceli Yato, 8man in the style of Edinburgh’s Vil Mata who’s at T14 frontrunner Clermont just now, and Eroni “The Sledgehammer” Sau, a flyer who plies his trade at Perpignan currently.

At 12, USA Eagles have achieved their highest IRB Ranking to date after joy in Bucharest and a nail-biter in Spain v Samoa bracketed by losses to New Zealand Maori in Chicago and a wake-up call against a weakened-but-not-weak Irish XV. Still, whether your flavor be Apostles or donuts, 12 is a good number. Now it is incumbent upon the Eagles to repeat as ARC champions next spring and have clever and decisive results during 2019 June Tests, and USA will be in good condition heading in the 2019 RWC.

Friday, November 23, 2018

November Exam results, predictions

Test Action: Saturdays, November 17 & 24, 2018

Ireland appear to have New Zealand’s number in every way but one. Last brace of meetings, Ireland topped the All Blacks, in 2017 at Chicago, USA and last weekend at the RDS in Dublin. Yet the 16-9 victory was insufficient for Ireland to unseat New Zealand from the top of the chart if the convoluted and mystifying manner in which the IRB determines rankings is to be believed.* End of the day, Ireland bested the World’s Best on that day and their just reward will be an encounter with our Eagles on the upcomer, while the Kiwis will seek a modicum of redress on the boot, Saturday.

Rectangle: Rounded Corners: Have you ever checked out World Rugby’s “explanation” of how a nation’s numerical placement on the global table is determined? In an evident attempt at transparency is laughable: for example, the phrase, “relative strength of each team” is thrown out, but one doesn’t really know how that strength is determined or even if it has to do with the cumulative total of players’ cousins expected at the match. And if one seeks clarification from World Rugby, good luck. They’ve an abysmal record of response to queries; though they invite them, they don’t respond, which leads one to hazard that perhaps the person(s) who came up with the algorithm has gone to their great reward without transferring that number sentence to a living soul. 
There’s a fair amount of entitled inveteracy in the high level backrooms of our game, but as all such circumstance, Archimedes’ lever and fulcrum don’t affect those plants.

Georgia Lelos host Tonga ‘Ikale Tahi, the result of which could favorably impact our Eagles. For the US have jumped 2 places into 13th, and with Tonga, who are in 12th and one ahead of the Eagles,  on the road at Georgia who have fallen to 15, a fair showing by USA in Dublin this weekend and we’ll close on 12. Tough ask as Ireland is the new planet boss, nevermind what World Rugby conjures using octonians, voodoo rabbits and a flask of gin. Tonga are, like, 0.18, World Rugby Richter Scale points in front of the Eagles, so should Tonga lose to Georgia on Saturday in Tbilisi, and US lose respectably, Eagles would be in rarefied air indeed, Rugby World rankings calculation notwithstanding.
Australia would dearly like the win at Twickers on Saturday, as the Wallaby November Tour has been lackluster thus far. England, for their part, will look to make definitive victory on their cousins from Oz.

Wales v South Africa at the Millennium Stadium will not be for the faint of heart. Wales are blistering hot right now with every man contributing. Springboks, however, will be seeking a winning record this tour and won’t do it with a loss here; Match of Weekend.

Les Blues, also want a winning record this month and will only accomplish that by topping Fiji at Stade de France.

Ditto Scotland at Murrayfield v Argentina. Homeboys need victory for a winning November while their Argentine tourists surely desire a single joy from their Northern Hemisphere, and they’ll not get it without a win in Edinburgh tomorrow.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Test Predictions: 11.17.18

Upper Deck today from the Wellington Neighborhood

The most important examinations of the autumn take place tomorrow, Saturday, November 17, 2018. Herewith are the Primate's Forecasts:

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Mid-Term Exams and the November Tests: 11.14.18

Last Saturday’s matches, By the Numbers:

2             groundings by USA Eagles 8, Cam Dolan, 1 by 2, Joe Taufete’e, and a 4th by 6, Hanco Germishuys, plus 2-and-2 from the toe of 10, Will Hooley, and USA pipped Samoa on the Bay of Biscay, 30-29, on Hooley’s 80th minute 3-pointed magic;

15           fast for England by minute 25, though the remaining points all for New Zealand, and sufficient for the result, 16-15, at Twickenham; Ashton and Hartley for 5s and 10, Owen Farrell, got 5 with a conversion and a dropped goal; All Blacks got a sizzler from 15, Damian McKenzie, and 11 more from 10, Beau Barrett, on 1 conversion, 1 d-g, and 2 penalties; New Zealand had drawn within 5 by the half, 10-15, and it was Barrett’s 60th-minute sticksplitter that made the record;

2             threes for every manjack in the Millennium Stadium at the Welsh stultifier before reliever, Dan Biggar, who’d come on at ’74, slotted the prize winner at ’77 and 9-6 the sublime joy for homeys v Australia in the error-ridden basher;

4             only the margin ‘twixt Scotland and Fiji at 21-17 after 40 for the hosts at Murrayfield; all points for home team, however, in the second stanza and 54-17 the result at the end of the day; hat-trick of groundings for Scotland 14, Tommy Seymour; 1st Fiji try by 8man, Vil Mata, who plays at Edinburgh;

2             , too, the measure of separation of Argentina and Ireland heading toward the hour mark at 17-15 Pumas; then homeboys 10, Johnny Sexton, switched the lead with a sticksplitter at ’57, and 10 more for Ireland subsequent made for a final of 28-17 to Ireland at the RDS;

3             lead changes and 3 points the ultimate difference as South Africa topped France in the Stade de France, 29-26; 17 struck from the foot of Springbok 10, Handre Pollard on 2-and-5, while Les Blues 9, Baptiste Serin counted 13 on 2-and-3 off-boot; a try by relief 2, Bongi Mbonambi, way late in extra-extra time, made for South African joy, Pollard’s plus-2 sealing the deal for the Boks;

Upcomers, Saturday, November 27, 2018:

               USA v Romania in Bucharest: it’ll be a profound American statement either way; a win and the top half of the second tier hoves into view; a loss and it’s back to the drawing board;
               England v Japan at Twickers: this may hurt a little bit, Brave Blossoms;
               Italy v Australia at Stadio Euganeo, Padua: ditto Azzurri;
               Scotland v South Africa at Murrayfield: hands-down Match of the Weekend if not for...
               France v Argentina at Stade de France: who’ll start at 9(er)? and, of course…
               Ireland v New Zealand at Royal Dublin Society on Lansdowne Road: boy-yoy-yoing!

Thursday, November 8, 2018

2018 Colorado Girls High School Championship Finals

Rugby Colorado Girls High School 7s Championships take place on the upcoming Saturday, November 10. Garry Barry Stadium , in Colorado Springs, will be rockin' real fast rugby from 11am on through the title match around 5:30pm, the grail being 2018 Championship Trophy.

Monday, November 5, 2018

EuroPros - 11.4.18

Ponderful Wonderings and Wonderful Ponderings

This is the time of the year when things get confusing in the Northern Hemisphere. For the three professional competitions - Aviva Premiership, Guinness Pro14 and Top 14 - those leagues that have already halted for a fortnight as European Professional Club Rugby Tournaments (Challenge and Champions Cups) got underway, now observe a respite (or not) as the November Tests are undereway.

Now there are competitions ongoing whilst the test window is raised, but one must figure if one's nation is doing battle on the day, and one's club has players of sufficient and expressed talent that they be selected for national duty, well then that reorientation of effort, so to speak, would diminish one's club's ability to compete.

And it doesn't stop after the November Series. There are two further fortnights, one in December and one in January, where league play halts for the EPCR gigs and it's not over then... Six Nation in February/March.

In 2017 there was talk of "One Season" from World Rugby. They forgot a couple word... shoulda been, "One long and discontinuous Season"
Any case, here's the link to the dope -