While this weekend’s Bledisloe Cup match between New Zealand and Australia may be a foregone conclusion and as such a bit of a dead rubber, history is still there to be made. Currently on a 17 match winning streak New Zealand look set to become the first ever nation in history to make it 18 in a row. At home and on the sacred ground of Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand will be almost impossible to beat. Australia have improved over the course of the year but are still light years behind their Trans-Tasman rivals.
Also of interest this weekend are some mouth-watering match ups in the second round of Europe’s Rugby Champions Cup. After the tragic loss last weekend of their head Coach and Irish legend Anthony Foley, Munster take on Glasgow at Thomond Park. Emotions will be high for players and supporters alike as the team looks set to honor the great man’s memory with his funeral the day before painfully fresh in the minds of players and supporters alike.
New Zealand vs Australia
Saturday, October 22nd
The result is hardly in doubt as the All Black express gets ready to put Australia to the sword and make history with 18 consecutive wins. Australia will no doubt be aware of the sense of occasion and do their best to rise to the challenge. However as New Zealand, brimming with confidence and ability, run out in front of the Eden Park faithful on Saturday it is going to take an exceptional team to deny them their shot at rugby history and sadly Australia are just not that team. Consequently Australia are likely to hand the baton to Ireland as the next team to have the unenviable task of trying to derail the All Black steamroller in two weeks time in Chicago.
New Zealand remain pretty much unchanged from the squad that has been decimating their opposition all year, while Australia return Bernard Foley and impressive utility back Reece Hodge moves to centre with Quade Cooper dropping to the bench, which in our opinion is the better use of resources from a Wallaby point of view. Australia however resort to Nick Phipps back at scrum half after Will Genia who has been outstanding for Australia in the Rugby Championship has had to return to duty in France. Australia appear to be replacing one liability Quade Cooper with another in the shape of Phipps as we just don’t feel he has the discipline and emotional maturity for big games like this.
Australia’s discipline in general has been poor all year and in the cauldron of Eden Park we’re expecting few if any improvements. Couple that to a dominant All Black forward presence and an incredible back line of black jerseys and it should be New Zealand all the way on the road to history. A comfortable New Zealand win by at least 20 points!
The good folks at the Tight Five have put together a count down to potential victory number 18 for the All Blacks which showcases their remarkable skill and talent in getting there. Enjoy!
Rugby Champions Cup
Round Two of the pool stages kicks off this weekend, overshadowed by the tragic events surrounding the sudden loss of Munster’s head Coach Anthony Foley. With Foley’s funeral today, Munster have bravely elected to play their round two match tomorrow against the in form Glasgow Warriors. Emotions will be running high at Munster’s home ground of Thomond Park as the home team seeks to honor the memory of an Irish rugby legend, making the game one of our picks of the weekend. As a tribute to the man and to get a sense of what Munster will be playing for tomorrow we leave you with this video tribute to the man in question and which captures the emotion, pride and passion which is such a key component of our great sport!
Other matches worth catching this weekend in the Champions Cup are the match up between London Wasps and Toulouse and French giants Clermont Ferrand and the up and coming Bordeaux.