With the Lions Tour behind us we have to confess to having been lulled into some summer laziness as the barbecue, beach and deck have taken up more of our time than rugby since the end of the Lions series last month. However, with the Rugby Championship just around the corner it is time to shake ourselves out of our summer stupor and get back to business. We also feel that it is high time that the women’s game gets some attention from this site, and having watched some of the opening rounds of the Women’s World Cup in Ireland today we’ve been highly impressed with what was on display in terms of quality rugby – so we’re in for a penny in for a pound as they say! To also make up for our laziness over the last few weeks we’ll leave you with some of the best of YouTube on our glorious sport in a Lions retrospective and a look at the Women’s World Cup of three years ago.
There was controversy aplenty on this Lions Tour but let’s also be honest it still drew the crowds in their thousands. Despite accusations of it being no longer relevant, try explaining that to the players donning the coveted Lions jersey or those in an All Black, Springbok or Wallaby jersey who go up against them. Playing as or against a Lion is still considered by many players as one of the highlights and pinnacles of their Test careers.
This Lions tour became increasingly intense with each match leading to the epic finale and ultimate draw in the third Test. It seemed inevitable that it was going to be a series whitewash for the All Blacks after the first Test and very few of us imagined we would actually have anything more to write about come the final whistle in the second Test. How wrong we were! Sure the side with only fourteen men is always going to struggle to emerge the victor in Tests of this intensity and calibre, and had New Zealand been playing with 15 men the results of the second Test might have been different. However, there is also no denying that the Lions ultimately still had that second match under control, albeit by the slimmest of margins, but their determination to claw out a victory and hang onto it was there for all to see. In the end it was a thoroughly deserved victory that set the series alight and set the stage for a potential cliffhanger ending.
Once more a controversial decision ensured that the series would end a draw, though there is no guarantee that even without the decision from referee Romaine Poite that awarded the All Blacks a scrum instead a shot at the posts, New Zealand would have slotted the penalty and won the match and with it the series. However, you can understand the frustrations of All Black supporters over the vagaries of refereeing at times, but they are not the first and certainly won’t be the last team to be feeling hard done by in terms of inconsistency in interpretations of the laws by officials. However, all that being said both teams played a Test match of epic proportions in terms of both physicality and intensity and it was certainly one of the most nail biting Tests we can remember watching for a long time and as a result a real rugby spectacle.
Consequently, now the dust has settled and despite the controversies and the hype – was it a series we will remember as one of the greats? In short absolutely. It had drama, tension and an intensity that we simply don’t get on a regular basis at Test level. There is no question that a Lions Tour brings out something special in the Lions players and in the opposition they are up against. The desire and what it means to beat a Lions touring party is clear to see in any All Black, Springbok or Wallaby player. It’s something special, steeped in history and has an allure second only to the World Cup. Therefore in our opinion it is still a very relevant and important event every four years. Just ask any of the 20,000 travelling fans who have often saved their whole lives to take a month following their English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish heroes around a distant Antipodean land. Australians, Kiwis and South Africans will ensure that there are no spare seats in any of their stadiums well before the Lions have even stepped off the plane. It’s classic bums on seats rugby spectacle and we can’t see it changing any time soon. Bring on South Africa in 2021!
Here are some video recaps of a thrilling month from the best of YouTube. A special shout out to The 1014 whose coverage and analysis of the series we thoroughly enjoyed and are really looking forward to their thoughts on the upcoming Rugby Championship, so subscribe to their YouTube channel to help keep more of their excellent work coming.
Women’s Rugby World Cup
Women’s Rugby has come a very long way in the last five years. The last World Cup in France in 2014 was a thriller, and from a Canadian perspective definitely something to shout about. The quality of the rugby was outstanding and the women’s game lacks nothing in terms of intensity, physicality and sheer skill. Just watch the highlights of the last tournament and the evidence is there for all to see. Women’s rugby has clearly made its mark on the Test stage and after watching the opening rounds today, the 2017 tournament should provide even more spills and thrills than the 2014 edition.
For Canada, the women are so far ahead of the men’s game in terms of skill and ability that it is almost as if there are two completely different governing bodies for rugby in this country. The men’s team which is wallowing in the depths of obscurity could learn an enormous amount from Canada’s women in the next few weeks; especially in terms of what it means to have composure, focus and the ability to execute under pressure. If the men’s team had even half the passion, focus and intensity of the Canadian women they would be in a very different place than their current woeful position of 23 in the world rankings.
Canadian winger Magali Harvey has already shown that the magic she possessed in the 2014 tournament, that resulted in one of the IRB’s top ten tries of 2014 in both the women and men’s game, is still there aplenty as she tore Hong Kong to pieces in Canada’s opener today. However, looking at the ability and sheer ball carrying ability of Canada’s pack across the park today made us feel incredibly optimistic about their chances of lifting the trophy. This is going to be a very hard group of ladies to beat! We will be glued to our TV sets and cheering as hard as we can for you over the coming weeks. To the entire Canadian women’s team and management – we salute you and all the very best of luck!