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Being first past the post a ‘minor’ matter in the final analysis

Quick quiz: What do Manchester City (EPL), Melbourne Storm (NRL), Collingwood (AFL), the Stormers (Super Rugby) and Central Coast Mariners (A-League) all have in common?

OK smarties, you’re right – they all topped the regular-season table in the most recent (completed) edition of their respective competitions.

And who are the only ones still revelling in the afterglow?

Yep, Manchester City – because, as first past the post, they were declared “champions” while the others, to all intents and purposes, were condemned — given the quirky nature of finals football — to being remembered (rather, forgotten) as “also rans”.

No, don’t worry, I’m not trying to mount a campaign to have finals systems scrapped (fat chance, anyway, in this increasingly TV/dollar-driven age).

These are merely the musings of a long-time sports lover who grew up with the “first past the post” system (in New Zealand) before it gradually gave way to finals – and who happens to think it’s a shame “minor premiers” often get such scant, fleeting recognition.

*                              *                           *

You’ve got to feel something for Quade Cooper and Robbie Deans as the Wobblies prepare to face the All Blacks blowtorch at Eden Park on Saturday night.

Given Deans’s obvious reluctance to play Cooper – not least after the mercurial playmaker’s inglorious World Cup campaign in New Zealand last year – I can’t help but feel it’s been fuelled by a recurring nightmare that can be traced back to the 2003 World Cup in Australia.

Deans, as some will recall, was the All Blacks’ backs coach, under John Mitchell, when Eddie Jones’s Wallabies ambushed the Cup favourites in the semi-finals in Sydney.

Remember Stirling Mortlock’s stunning, game-breaking intercept try? Remember the All Black flyhalf who threw the intercept pass?

Yes, Carlos Spencer, one of Kiwi Quade’s boyhood heroes – another outrageous talent who, as Deans and his Kiwi compatriots were so rudely reminded that night in Sydney, could also be serious heart attack material.

No pressure guys.

— Peter Thomson




10 Responses to Being first past the post a ‘minor’ matter in the final analysis

  • John Wagner says:

    No argument Peter.
    This has got to be one of the best, if not THE best, All Black teams ever. Conversely, Australia just does not have the cattle, nor the depth, to even come close, so this must be the worst Aust. team of the professional era. I really fear for the long-term future of the game in Australia, esp. after the recent TV deal won by Rugby League. “Mad Quade” often gets away with his “style” of Rugby in Super Rugby, but not in Test matches.
    Final Comment: One cannot blame ANY coach when his team can’t tackle, can’t pass, nor do any of the “basics” that would be expected of a school-boy team! How can Deans be expected to perform miracles when what should be the heart of Aust. Rugby, the Horrortahs, performs so shockingly? And while Hansen sits back ever so smugly, making his snide comments at Deans’ expense, I wonder what the score would have been if he and Deans had exchanged roles???

    • Admin says:

      I’d prefer to make an assessment when we’ve seen them firing on ALL cylinders, Wag. How scary’s that?

    • Admin says:

      Wag, if your last comment is an acknowledgement that these All Blacks could make ANY coach look like a world-beater, I’d suggest the same logic should have been applied when the ARU was assessing Deans’s true value given the cattle he (or ANY coach) had/has at his disposal at the Crusaders.

  • Leo says:

    Yes, Pete, it seems that Robbie Deans has been suffering, and continues to suffer from a little lack of self-confidence.
    He didn’t have the self-confidence to drop Genia and, particularly, Cooper at the World Cup. And now it seems that, having found the confidence to drop Cooper, he hasn’t got enough to carry on with it in the face of some loud noises calling for the re-instatement of Cooper.
    Cooper is certainly a liability at first five-eighths, very much like Spencer. He, like Genia, might make a great wing three-quarters. But it seems that Deans is too easily swayed by the critics.
    I can’t see the Wallabies getting back to their former glory while Genia and Cooper remain as the halves.

  • Admin says:

    Nuff said on Cooper, I think, Leo. But Genia? He’ll do it tough if his forwards don’t man up (as any halfback would) but if he was behind this All Black pack? Genius!!

    • Leo says:

      Pete, I just can’t ignore Genia’s slow clearance and his abject kicking game.
      Put him on the wing.

      • Admin says:

        Leo, I suspect your “slow clearance” reference relates more to Genia’s dithering behind a ruck, rather than at set pieces. This is becoming a blight on the game (Weepu another major offender) where we could probably make a cup of tea (or, if still inclined, roll a smoke) while we wait for a halfback to decide “what next?”

        • Admin says:

          Sorry Leo, on refIection, I simply can’t resist the temptation to ask how it is you can expect your Genia views to be “current” and taken seriously when, by your own previous admission, you didn’t even watch last week’s match?

  • Leo says:

    Now, Pete, you know I’ve seen plenty of Genia; and you know I wouldn’t bag him on just one game.
    And, of course, I did see last night’s fiasco.

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