The IRB probably owe a wintry debt of gratitude to a New Zealand journalist ahead of the final round of games in the â00autumnâ00 international series. Up until the time Chris Rattue launched his extraordinary attack on â00the village idiots of rugby unionâ00 aka Wales according to the New Zealand scribe, in general nobody in fact gave a rat(tueâ00)s ass about this dead rubber round of matches.
The weekend kicked off with the awesomely attractive clash of Italy and Canada and ends with a game in Lansdowne Road where people will have to be press-ganged to attend.
In between there were the clashes between Scotland and an Australian side who just cant wait to get home, an Aussie side who will return in the summer of next year a totally different furry animal altogether. There was the game between a couldn't really-careless aging France and Argentina while the interest in the outcome of the England South Africa game centres around which of the respective coaches will resign/be shafted first.
And then there was the Wales v New Zealand game. And it was meandering towards itâ00s logical conclusion, the Welsh talking new era stuff after beating the Pacific Islands and drawing with the Waltzing Matildas â00 heady stuff indeed. But seriously, outside the valleys, no-one was listening.
Before Rattue turned on his laptop most honest Welsh folk would have thought â00don't let them do what they did to the Poms and weâ00ll be happyâ00. From a New Zedder point of view ? Get it on. Get it over. Letâ00s go home.
And so it came to pass, despite the impassioned tones of the likes of Shane Williams who told us that , â00Playing for Wales at the moment is almost like being in a brotherhood. And this band of brothers wants to come out on top against New Zealand. Bless him. Makes the hair stand on the back of yer chest.
Incidentally, this is much the same band of brothers who won the Grand Slam last season but along the way lost their lead singer, coach Mike Ruddock.
But enough of that and in fairness to Mister Rattue, since Shane Williams was born, and before Saturdayâ00s encounter, Wales had played New Zealand thirteen times and never won. Now there have been two one-point defeats, in 1978 and 2004 both times in Cardiff but against that the Blicks have scored 50+ points against the Welsh on four occasions. Add in a couple of 40+ victories and the 41-3 win this time last year in Cardiff and, while you might have wished heâ00d tempered his comments, you can kinda see where Rattue is coming from, albeit in a Kiwi sorta way.
Who seriously cared what happened in Edinburgh, London, Paris, Dublin and wherever the Italians and Canucks played. The game of the weekend was the one in Cardiff thanks to Mr Rattue principally and also to an extent to the noises the Welsh were making. Not that the outcome was ever going to be any different
The honest truth is that the only side capable of beating the Blicks this side of the world will be taking on three specific islands. Or more specifically The Pacific Islands. They could just have easily been called SamTonFij. No matter what theyâ00re called you have to wonder what the hell theyâ00re doing here. They wont compete in next summerâ00s World Cup but the sum of their parts will.
And no matter how Ireland management and players talk them up, they will have lost the game and probably their interest in same long before the finish. Keeping the best till last ? No I don't think so. But wouldn't a game against New Zealand have been a great way to say farewell to the Lansdowne Road we have known for so long.