Tuesday, December 1, 2009

All Blacks...

I've had Kiwi and Aussie friends, on-and-off, for most of my life. Through those associations I've picked up an appreciation for rugby and Australian Rules Football. So I follow the All Blacks (which is why you see their Haka on my blog occasionally) as they tour the world:
NEW Zealand continued its unbeaten tour of the northern hemisphere with a comprehensive 39-12 win over France in Marseilles on Saturday thanks to its commitment to a running rugby.

The All Blacks, having already seen off Wales (19-12), Italy (20-6) and England (19-6) without really hitting second gear, showed a welcome willingness to spurn the aerial ping-pong that has marked many games of late.

In return, their sure-handedness in the offload and ability to turn the slightest mistake by the French into an attacking opportunity made for some often breath-taking rugby that resulted in five tries.

The visitors overcame a nervous opening 10 minutes to score five-pointers through Sitiveni Sivivatu, Mils Muliaina, Jerome Kaino, Cory Jane and Conrad Smith, with Dan Carter booting an additional 14 points.

France, who had sprung a 20-13 win over South Africa and posted a facile 43-5 victory over Samoa in their autumn internationals, responded with three Julien Dupuy penalties and a Francois Trinh-Duc drop-goal.

Carter, who was part of Perpignan's Top 14-winning side last season, enjoyed an impressive cameo for a full 10 minutes, giving a textbook demonstration on why many consider himself the world's best rugby player, mixing solid defence with deft handling touches and chips. Carter also converted as tempers frayed between a well-beaten home side and an All Blacks team that now play the Barbarians in London next week.
I don't exactly understand the nuances of those sports. But they're fun to watch.

They are, for me, more fun to watch than soccer, something I followed for decades (Manchester United). I think, perhaps, because they require much more team work. Soccer is too much like baseball, which is more of a series of individual tests than true team-work like you get in football, rugby, etc.

As for Manchester United, I know they've been a powerhouse over the past decades. But I'm not a band-waggoner, they were not the powerhouse when I watched them, they were average most of the time, but that's it. Now, of course, they're just coming off just over a decade of dominance (1993 - 2004) so if I started watching soccer again I'd feel like a band-wagon-hopping poser, just like so many Cowboy or Patriots fans. But when I watched them in the '70's and '80's, they were, for the most part, just plain average.

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