Move aside Delta and Memphis Blues, make way for the Turd Polishing Blues

resurrectionResident BTL transplanted-Kiwi and certified Blues Tragic avsfan adds Turd Polishing Blues to the the musical lexicon as he indulges in some WCM™*:

turd-polish-copyDespite claims to the contrary, you can’t polish a turd. By their very nature, they lend themselves to smearing, staining and stinking, not being buffed to a hard, shiny finish.

There is a particularly big turd in New Zealand rugby at the moment called The Blues. Prod it with a stick, and, to the untrained eye, the franchise may resemble anything but a pile of colonic dumpage. Three titles since the inception of Super Rugby back in 1996 is hardly a record to be sniffed at after all.

Work the stick a little deeper, however, and a different aroma begins to emerge.

auckland

Auckland, 2013, after the stick was worked a little deeper

Rivalry between the three unions that comprise the Blues catchment – Northland, North Harbour and Auckland – has created a boardroom replete with suspicion and a waft of toxicity.

"Give me Oirish mud over Auckland poo any day" - Isa Nacewa

“Give me Oirish mud over Auckland poo any day” – Isa Nacewa

Over the years players as diverse and talented as Mils Muliaina, Sione Lauaki, Ron Cribb, Ben Botica, Dan Bowden, Jared O’Payne, Johnny O’Afoa and Isa Nacewa all moved on in search of greener, less effluent-laden pastures.

This year a would-be Turd Polisher has emerged. Few players are held so close to the collective Auckland rugby bosom as St John Kirwan. Plucked at 17 from the obscurity of third-grade club rugby by then Auckland coach John Hart in 1983, a year later the son of a Mangere butcher made his debut for the All Blacks and went on to establish himself as one of the true greats of NZ rugby.

aston-villa-laughing-stockAs if stints coaching Gli Azzurri and the Cherry Blossoms weren’t punishment enough, Kirwan returned home to tackle the job of restoring pride to a franchise that had become equal parts laughing stock and sympathy magnet.

He wasted no time stamping his authority on the team and its culture. He shed no tears when stars like Tony Woodcock and Ma’a Nonu announced they were heading south. He ruthlessly wielded the axe to long-time stalwarts like Daniel Braid and promising newcomers like Gareth Anscombe.

Experience counted for nothing.

St John leaves no stone unturned in his search for new outside-back talent

St John leaves no stone unturned in his search for new outside-back talent

He wanted players who took pride in the jersey, brought no baggage with them, and were prepared to give their all for the cause.

He felt that Blues rugby had lost its identity in an effort to emulate the Crusaders style.

To help inject some fun into proceedings he bought a Fiat Bambina, and the team votes on the Dick Of The Week, who then has to drive it to and from training every day.

Two

Multiple Dicks Of The Week celebrate their award

He made Ali Williams captain, went with two novice first-fives –

Rene Ranger atypically runs out of opposition players to pass to

Rene Ranger atypically runs out of opposition players to pass to

– and restored Rene “Bust Three Tackles, Draw Two More Defenders And Pass To The Opposing Fullback” Ranger to his favoured outside-centre position. In the forwards, he selected a pack featuring youth over experience.

To date, results have been mixed.

After the first two rounds yielded convincing victories away to the Hurricanes and a five-tries-to-nil spanking of the Powderpuff Crusaders –

scoreboard– long-suffering Blues fans began to dare the strange light approaching was the dawn of a new day rather than a train fast approaching head-on.

ahhhh

Health Warning: Do Not Discount The Possibility Of A Train Fast Approaching Head-On

However, as any Scottish rugby fan will attest, the despair you can live with, it is the hope that kills you. The subsequent three matches have seen a spanking at the hands of the Bulls, a snatch-defeat-from-the-jaws-of-victory loss to the Waratahs – of all teams! – and a game loss to the Chiefs.

xxx

Auckland, 2013, it was a train fast approaching head-on after all

The defeats exhibited many of the traits of Blues teams of yore – defensive lapses, poor discipline at key moments and lack of a killer instinct, mixed with moments of sublime play that few other teams could even contemplate let alone execute.

So what to expect of the season? Only the seriously deranged would expect a title. For this humble blow-fly, some consistency would be nice. Get beaten by the better team sure, but don’t gift any victories to the opposition through brain farts and profligacy of possession.

The lack of a consistent goal kicker and recognised 10 will come back to bite at some stage. New stars will emerge – already fullback Charles Piutau, second-five Francis Saili, blindside Steven Luatua and hooker-converted-to-loosehead Tom McCartney are making the most of their opportunities.

Personally, I believe in baby steps.

blues fanI look forward to the day when I can once again say in public “I am a Blues fan” and not be treated to looks of sympathy or hoots of derision.

* WCM™* = WORLD CLASS MASOCHISM™

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416 Responses to Move aside Delta and Memphis Blues, make way for the Turd Polishing Blues

  1. Wolfie says:

    Biarritz will struggle (without Balshaw) hehe!

  2. borgatron says:

    Having been to a few games where Saracens play Irish sides, on most occasions there are more away fans than sarries supporters

  3. yesiamclutz says:

    Evening all.

    Wondering if I dare say my 10p about scrums…

  4. killerline says:

    @Clutz

    let’s have it mate.

  5. Wolfie says:

    ….it’ll cost ya…………..

  6. yesiamclutz says:

    Ok, since killer asked.

    Why don’t the refs simply say to the scrums: “The ball is not going to be put in by the SH until the scrum is utterly static”

    Then hit and push early all you want, the ball isn’t going to be played until the scrum is immobile…

  7. tcod says:

    MVML – Sometimes when a stadium has its capacity increased, it loses its soul. I’m happy to say that when they rebuilt / developed the stands in Thomond park, this was not the case. The capacity increased from 12 – 14K to circa 26K. Honestly, HC games there, group or KO, are very special occasions.

  8. sagmog says:

    I got “introduced” to FanFiction today.
    (Other half’s friend in NY has got involved in something)
    Now, I thought it was just books and comics made by fans with the tolerance of the rights owners.
    Turns out, they make films, with actual money – for no profit.
    Like a tribute band that can’t charge at the door.
    Mental.

  9. @ Clutz
    Do it. Otherwise I have to go back to work because the Heineken cup is so far below the S15 in quality that discussion of it is more boring than working on my paper.*

    *Warning: Comment inserted for Killer’s benefit, does not reflect actual views of the person writing it.

  10. sagmog says:

    Why don’t the refs simply say to the scrums: “The ball is not going to be put in by the SH until the scrum is utterly static”

    ‘Cos scrummys do this already and the ref just goes for a reset?

  11. killerline says:

    @Clutz
    I have to admit that isn’t the game-changer you prepared us for, what else you got up your sleeve?

    @Sag
    Is there a rule against FD trolling me personally? Or is what he’s doing nice and legal?

  12. @ Clutz

    The scrum is already supposed to stationary and parallel to the goal line when the scrum half puts the ball in. I guess it’s a matter of enforcing it.

  13. yesiamclutz says:

    @sag

    Watching the last round of the 6N and the recent AP games it doesn’t happen though. The refs tell the SH to get the ball in, this happens in particular if the SHs scrum is going backwards at speed, cos of course if it’s going forward at speed the SH is happy to put it in.

    One thing no one mentioned about the Scrum programme (unless I missed it) was Nigel Owens contribution. He said two things that interested me. The first was that he re-watches games and sometimes cannot decide who was at fault for a scrum collapse, even after repeated viewings. The second was that the crooked feed was an issue, but it was so far down the checklist of issues to check at scrum time that it just got overlooked. This scrums overload the official in the latter case, and overly complex laws prevent fair play in the former, but the IRB rep (name escapes me) didn’t bring anything like this up. Frankly he was a bit of an idiot.

  14. sagmog says:

    Is there a rule against FD trolling me personally? Or is what he’s doing nice and legal?

    Legal I’m afraid.
    Otherwise Snoop and MVML would have bit the big one ages ago.

  15. Wolfie says:

    Clutz et al
    Wouldn’t insistence on a straight feed help focus front rows on the scrum and the chance of winning the ball against the head or even having to hook at all, unlike now?

  16. @ Wolfie

    Maybe. But increasing the probability that the side with the put in loses the ball at the scrum would also increase their payoff from bringing the scrum down.

  17. yesiamclutz says:

    Wolfie,

    I think the scrum needs to be static first, this would fix so many problems in the game I feel. Moore may harp on and on about it, but it doesn’t make him wrong. Fix this, then straighten up the feed. then let people push and try and strike against the feed.

    Fixing the scrum has one massive additional advantage. Make it a fair, game winning area of the pitch, and suddenly tight 5 forwards who play like flankers are gone, and backs have room to play again.

    But this has all already been said. IRB bunch of idiots, basically only conclusion left available to us.

  18. killerline says:

    sometimes cannot decide who was at fault for a scrum collapse, even after repeated viewings

    Because often to exert pressure on one side you relinquish it on the other side of your own front row.

    Depends which side the ref’s watching.

    Or if Wales are one of the sides scrummaging.

  19. Wolfie says:

    ………………………..whose bleedin’ idea was the scrum? – those tits at Rugby School??

  20. yesiamclutz says:

    Anyone want a really left field solution

    10 points penalties, you’re better off letting people push you over your own line than bringing down the scrum at that point.

  21. whose bleedin’ idea was the scrum? – those tits at Rugby School??

    It is the kind of invention that one imagines could only be thought up an English public school student.

  22. sagmog says:

    I think the scrum needs to be static first, this would fix so many problems in the game I feel.

    To do this you really need to lessen/get rid of the hit though.
    That’s the problem, the players coaches, administrators don’t seem to want to do that.

  23. Wolfie says:

    SAg
    Put aside the players and coaches – what’s in it for the administrators? If they lose credibility the game risks farce…………

  24. MichaelVaughanMyLord says:

    clutz – I do think that if a prop is on a final warning that a yellow card should still be issued even if a penalty try is scored. Same goes for cynical cheating on the 5m line when a try is scored with the advantage.

  25. sagmog says:

    what’s in it for the administrators?

    Not incurring the wrath of the players and coaches for a start.
    Maybe they think the hit is exciting – I do.
    They just need some fixes.

  26. flair99 says:

    Dermott,
    1. Serves you right for dropping a full bottle on your toe.
    Now I have done my fair share of stupid things in life but this is yet to happen. Empty bottles on the other hand…though I reckon they are far less dangerous for the toes.
    2. Why would you want to run anyway?
    If I had to draw a list of the things (or people for that matter) which I need to run away from…

  27. So from next year they will be trialling players binding at the touch call, right? Will that be sufficient to solve the problems with hit? The hit will still be there, but the frontrows will be closer and they will already have bound onto the body of their opposite man.

  28. MrPaulReestoyou says:

    @sagmog April 4, 2013 at 5:57 pm
    I got “introduced” to FanFiction today.

    You do realise that this is a fan fiction site.

  29. Wolfie says:

    SAg
    ….surely you’re not promoting a circular argument…..?

  30. killerline says:

    @MVML

    Yellow cards and penalty tries leave me cold as a spectator.

    Just means the next scrum we have to sub players to bring on front rows.
    Penalty tries can be a joke as I’ve bored you all in the past.

  31. killerline says:

    *Remembers people are watching*

    Right I’m off climbing people, speak later.

  32. sagmog says:

    You do realise that this is a fan fiction site.

    How dare you sir.

    @Wolfie
    More a Catch 22?

  33. yesiamclutz says:

    The other reason the scrum needs fixing at the top level, is to prevent the powers that be getting rid of it or changing it out of recognition/ I feel this is important because Rugby has a position for pretty much every body size and shape.

    Short and slow, prop
    Big and slow, lock
    Big and fast, flanker
    Unable to tackle, England right wing
    etc, etc

    A players strength, fitness, technique and speed will determine what level they end up playing, but there is always a slot for you on a rugby pitch, and the better you get, the higher you can go. I don’t want to see us end up with a basketball or simple rugby type situation where only certain body types, or a certified genius can make it to a high level in the game.

  34. yesiamclutz says:

    Also calling this site fan fiction is…. interesting. Not sure what it says about our relationship with the Hask though. I’m cool with it though, provided we stay away from /. Mighty James DOMINATING his way through the World Cup/6N/AP/HC/Whatever is too terrible to contemplate. (Unless it involves Sergio Par…. nah I’m not going to go there actually)

  35. yesiamclutz says:

    Thats really opaque. The / means slash fic.

  36. sagmog says:

    The other reason the scrum needs fixing at the top level, is to prevent the powers that be getting rid of it or changing it out of recognition

    Just keep the Aussies away from legislating it and it will be fine.
    Everybody else loves it.

  37. HairBearHero says:

    This site is satire. Fan fiction has a plot is supposed to have a plot.

    The only plot we’ve got is WAG’s fiendish plot to delay the development of several young English players, just to piss off Lancaster.

    Or something.

  38. HairBearHero says:

    Also, please let that be the actual Paul Rees.

    Nice of you to join us sir.

  39. MichaelVaughanMyLord says:

    Listening to the Brian Moore programme on the way home. Thoroughly recommend a listen.

  40. yesiamclutz says:

    @HBH

    Aren’t we ruder about Paul Rees than anyone other than Expro?

    How goes the bike hunting anyway?

  41. HairBearHero says:

    @Clutz

    Anybody with a moustache like Rees is OK by me.

    I’m also much more disparaging about Kitson, although I’m sure both are perfectly nice people.

    Bike hunt is not much a hunt so much as a guided amble, but the Bt’win Triban 3 is looking perfect for my purposes. Good reviews, all of them saying “this would make a great first-time road bike” and it’s only £300. Bargain!

  42. dermott says:

    Also, please let that be the actual Paul Rees.

    It’s not.

  43. sagmog says:

    I’m also much more disparaging about Kitson

    Kitson was nice about us.
    Shot up in my estimation.
    Rees has always been all right.
    Both talk a lot of shite sometimes though, not like us.

  44. elsnoopio says:

    @Sag

    Legal I’m afraid.
    Otherwise Snoop and MVML would have bit the big one ages ago.

    Libel!
    I’ve never personally trolled Killer.
    I always use my proxy, Mr Triangle.

  45. elsnoopio says:

    Heh.
    Looked up average stats for Saracens and found this –
    http://www.saracenssupporters.org/wordpress/2012/07/attendance-at-saracens-home-league-games/
    So.
    They’re back up to where they what they were getting 4 years ago then?
    Baldy? We need to discussed the great job they’re doing there….

    Model for the Welsh regions then?
    Lose 6 million a season, shed supporters then move to a new area. Sorted.

  46. yesiamclutz says:

    @sag

    Eh, when/where was Kitson nice about us?

  47. elsnoopio says:

    Ance Larmstrong banned from the swimming as well it seems.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2013/apr/04/lance-armstrong-return-blocked

    Presumably he’ll make himself feel better by going to his local pool and taking on some casual swimmers

  48. HairBearHero says:

    @snoop

    That steadily declining home attendance since 2008 is dead impressive. Clearly the strategy is working.

    Baldy-poking aside, what is actually dead impressive is the way they’ve hauled themselves up from fluctuating between 10th and 4th to consistently finishing in the top 4.

  49. yesiamclutz says:

    @snoop, HBH,

    I think Saracens should be in a better place going forward, because if nothing else they are actually back where they should be. From 99 to ’12 they were based in Watford,whereas now they are a hell of a lot closer to their original home actually in London.

    In fact there are now three top flight London Rugby clubs. Quins, Saracens and London Welsh, up from one (which was Quins)

  50. sagmog says:

    Eh, when/where was Kitson nice about us?

    On a Graun webchat, Tov asked him why the KGB had blocked us in Russia.
    (Tov gets locked out whenever me or Dermott or Cat go over the top with the naked rugby players ATL)
    He was nice and acknowledged our greatness.

  51. HairBearHero says:

    Think Aylwin said he’d been enjoying our content from afar as well, or was that Kitson?

    I reckon Eddie’s on here a lot, pretending to be DroptheClaw.

  52. elsnoopio says:

    @HBH and Clutz
    Saracens do seem to have got themselves into a good place – finally managed to get consistent finishes high in the table and moved to a specialist rugby ground closer to where they started.
    I suspect the move and consistent high finishes have done them far more good than all their attention grabbing that Baldy has been praising though and they’re far from an example for other clubs, as they’re the most reliant side (in the UK at least) on having a wealthy backer.

    London Welsh are Oxford based now though, I think they expressed an intention to stay there as well.

  53. Onlyonet says:

    You can’t judge Saracens support like Leicesters, Northampton or any if the Irish or French sides where they have generation after generation of local support passed on. A geographic physical place that they own and supporters can belong to.

    yes their marketing gimics might upset a few tradionalists, and their support is still relativly small, but they’re trying to build support in a place where Spurs and Arsenal are less than 5 miles away and another 20+ football clubs less than 30 minutes travel away.

    Less than 20 years ago average attendence at Saracens was under 100 and they were playing in a public park. Pretty good upward curve if you ask me..

  54. Onlyonet says:

    Oh and decline since 2008 I guess was based on price rises. I gave up my ST when it went up 200% from one season to the next… And Watford was a massive shithole of a stadium. Truly grim.

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