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Welcome to another season of the Rugby Roundtable Podcast! Since 2006; when New Zealand still hadn’t heard the word Podcast, the Rugby Roundtable has been spreading the word of Rugby to the online audience, and now 164 episodes and 4 years later it’s time to kick things off again.
This year there some interesting changes have been made, the first is that the show is now being released in three segments across the week. These segments will allow me to talk in greater depth about Rugby in different regions of the world and so easier for those of you who would like to hear more about Rugby closer, rather than sit through 30-40 minutes of stuff that you are not so into.
This change breaks away from the single show that is standard amongst Podcasts and I hope each segment will develop into it’s own very entertaining entity, it may seem a little weird at first but I think it is a innovative approach that will work out well for you the listener as it keeps the Rugby Roundtable sounding fresh and different from the rest of the productions in the genre.
Because you are a subscriber you won’t pay any more than you already have, it just means that there will be three updates a week.
Segments will be broken into Southern Hemisphere; featuring Super Rugby, NZ NPC, Currie Cup and Tri-Nations, Northern Hemisphere; covering Celtic League, Top 14, English Premiership and 6 Nations, while International will deal with rest of the world giving focus to Asia, Canada and the United States.
Over the following weeks the shows will pick up tempo and audience favourites, such as Emails From Around The World, Music Time and Rugby Roundtable News will return plus I hope to crank out a few more features where possible.
The only thing left for me to add is that I need your help to grow the show so please invite as many people as you to can to subscribe, as you know this is fully independent production, it is not sanctioned by any governing body and advertisers are still wondering if advertising online works… go figure.
So click here and begin your journey in 2010: The Rugby Roundtable Podcast
Piki Mai, Kake Mai, Nau Mai, Haere Mai – Welcome to the new season… Kai Ora!
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Is ready to roll thanks to the fine people at Superbru.
Simply enter the Pool Code ‘cainzeal’ here
Plus we’ve got some prizes for you this year as I didn’t manage to get Santa’s Sack ’09 out, there’s a good stash of kit to send out to the eventual winner, plus this year you could end up on the show so stay tuned.
Join up and take on former international Stephen Bachop and myself as we get ready for 16 great big weeks of Super 14 action, the last season before Melbourne joins in next year.
Click – Click – BOOM!
What a week it has been – I’ve spent the last seven days living the life of a rugby journalist and I haven’t even got a back page byline or a massive hangover to show for it.
A few years have passed since I’ve been a full-time participant in the art (?) of “serious” journalism, but in the lead up to last night’s Wallabies v Springboks test at Suncorp Stadium, I’ve been involved in all the media action.
My exaulted position as observer of all things criminal in the rugby universe (Australians, for the uninitiated) for the Rugby Roundtable earned me the right to full media accreditation and everything that comes with it. So I dusted off the notepad and the voice recorder, packed up the laptop and hit the track, sniffing out leads, stories, controversy or even just Peter de Villiers saying something stupid.
As I said, it’s been a while since I performed any “serious” journalism (I believe nothing should be taken too seriously, least of all journalists) and I think the last proper article I had published was a feature on pornography usage amongst generation X, so jumping in to cover a Tri-Nations test was a distinct change in the program, despite the fact that both subject matters involve a lot of groaning and shame.
The build up during the week involved attending press conferences, training sessions (purely watching, although many journos could probably represent their countries if drinking was an Olympic sport) and other media opportunities, and it was all fairly sedate. Media kits with all the facts and figures are supplied, players and coaches are readily available, team media co-ordinators are all-too-willing to help and there’s plenty of ingredients provided with which to cook up a good story.
I managed to get a few interviews, and listeners to the podcast would have heard some excerpts of those, despite the fact it has become blatantly obvious that I need a new digital voice recorder.
Also blatantly obvious is that despite their reputation on the field, when they’re off the pitch the Springboks are the nicest, most polite and gentle chaps you could ever hope to meet at the local Parish prayer group.
At the Thursday press conference, Victor Matfield even bore a slight resemblance to the picture book illustrations of Jesus I remember from my youth. As I watched him gently lean towards the microphones and softly heap praise upon the Wallabies, I had to picture him concussing Byron Kelleher with a dodgy late forearm back in 2005, to stop myself from offering him a scone and a cuppa, or at least trying to buy a copy of The Big Issue from him.
Despite all these soft assignments proving to be both cushy and enjoyable, the real fun started last night, as kick off drew close and with it, the anticipation of everyone with a job to do, be it on the field or off it.
I decided to use my free public transport pass and catch one of the buses that left from the city to get to the ground. A great idea and very convenient, but the downside was that I was trapped in a confined space with 50 Australians. Needless to say, I kept a very close hold of my laptop and other valuables.
I had an ipod to block out the inane chatter of the Wallaby hordes, but the one sense I couldn’t turn off was that of sight. The Wallaby jersey has undergone numerous changes over the last decade, none for the better, and the various shades of orange, mustard yellow and off-green were disturbing. A large group of people in Wallabies attire gives the overall visual effect of a laundry truck exploding, and showering everyone with dirty nappies.
I took my place in the press box about 45 minutes before kick off and immediately made the most of the free coffee and food. I also had a look for the Fox Sports commentary team, without any luck. It was probably for the best, because If I had caught up with them, the resulting outburst would surely have seen me removed from the premises. I know Aussies aren’t used to black people, but I can’t forgive them for using only one name for both All Blacks wingers a couple of weeks ago – Joe Rokocoko got through a lot of work that night while Siti Sivivatu didn’t even seem to be on the field…
As I drank my third cup of coffee and watched the final warm ups, two things interested me – the first being that Tatafu Polota-Nau was apparently still unable to throw straight and Frans Steyn was the only player from either team that was practicing place kicks from anywhere other than right in front.
As it turned out, neither issue mattered, as the Wallabies didn’t have one crooked throw to the lineout all night, and Morne Steyn did all the placekicking and didn’t miss one either.
As the players took the field, everyone rose for the national anthems, even in the press box. I was surprised and a bit annoyed, because space was at a premium and negotiating a laptop, match programme, media kit and coffee cup around South African journalists as big as the Springboks themselves was no mean feat. Then I dropped my notepad down the back of the chair in front of me. In the end I only stood up because the two French journalists next to me did, so it was all in the interests of impartiality I assumed.
I was proved to be wrong though, as journalists from both sides cheered their respective teams heartily throughout the match. I did get excited when Jaque Fourie nearly scored, but that was only because I had money on him. Ultimately, my impartiality was borne of my natural Kiwi dislike of the Wallabies, balanced by the need to see the Boks lose for the All Blacks to stay alive in the tournament. I’m sad to say the the French journalists were cheering for the Wallabies. Treachorous bastards, it was like the Rainbow Warrior all over again.
As the game kicked off, it quickly became apparent that we were in for a show. All the pre-match predictions of a boring game or Springbok walkover were squashed like Stephen Moore’s nose as the Wallabies span and ran the ball at every opportunity, aided by the addition of an outstanding halfback, with Will Genia’s service allowing Matt Giteau and Berrick Barnes to express themselves and really get the game moving.
To make this brief, the match highlights for me were
- Sitting next to the South African SuperSport TV commentary team. Bobby Skinstad’s enthusiastic and educated commentary was a pleasant change from the biased and ill-informed screaming and bad jokes from Fox Sports
- Will Genia’s disallowed try. It probably was a try, and the little fella certainly deserved one, but the overwhelming crowd chant of “bullshit” after the decision was one of the loudest I’ve ever heard, and something I will cherish forever
- The mass exodus of South African journalists from the press box after James O’Connor scored five minutes from fulltime. Who says you have to watch the whole game if your team is losing?
- Pek Cowan’s introduction with 90 seconds to go. Blokes used to only leave the field if they had broken limbs, and sometimes not even then…
- Frans Steyn attempting to boot the writing off the ball, but slipping and falling flat on his arse. I’ve got nothing against the guy, but 48,000 people laughing simultaneously can’t fail to provide a feel-good atmosphere.
- The All Blacks still have a shot at the title.
Afterwards, we all heaped on down to the media room in the bowels of the Stadium. Robber Deans was very happy, openly admitting that the Wallabies had planned to “take the Boks out of their comfort zone” by forcing them to play “a style of rugby that they haven’t been made to play yet”. The unspoken message was clear – the Boks are good, but not as good as they been allowed to appear.
The Boks were subdued but predictably polite, and Peter de Villiers made no sense, but sadly didn’t say anything ridiculous or inflammatory. The large graze on John Smit’s face probably didn’t hurt as much as his pride, which had been crumpled like the Bok scrum was on a couple of occasions, with Smit bearing the brunt of it. He hinted at some dissatisfaction with referee Wayne Barnes, saying that he must have been tired in the last 20 minutes, and allowed the Wallabies to take liberites at scrum time.
In the end, both teams wanted to get away from the press and the ground, and a mini-scramble ensued over whose players were going to be brought out for one-on-one interviews first. The Boks pushed in by simply walking their players into the room, then the Wallabies decided to do the same.
Faced with jostling for space with 20 other journos, to get time with 10 different players who really didn’t feel like talking, for interviews I didn’t even need, in a room the size of a modest public toilet, I took the only real option and left.
Good coffee though.
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Kia Ora all.
Here I am in the press box of Suncorp stadium in lovely Brisbane. The wallabies, or mossy rotting pumpkins as I call them – look at the uniform – have just done the unthinkable and turned over the world champion Springboks and sent the criminal crowd here into orbit. Honestly, they’ve completely lost their shit. This must be like conjugal visit day.
Got to head to the press conference now. More reports to follow.
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I guess the lesson to be learnt here is that if you want to cheat, for gods’ sake don’t use a Winger. Dean Richards now has a few years to remember that one. Secondly don’t take Cocaine and then prance around in public baths, there seems to be a substance abuse problem with the Bath players – they are lacking substance by the look of things. I know its condemning them as poor role models, but let’s not forget that they are Rugby players, MPs are still getting paid plenty and then promoting their shining moral character so don’t get blinded in the forrest by the trees.
Life as a Kiwi just got a little blacker this week as the Diamond Dan and Quadzilla return to the starting Blackness against the Criminal Element this weekend. The Crooks will be smarting after the pumping they copped at Newlands and sure to provide a challenge to an Black XV that by normal standards has been operating below par. I know it seems tough on the All Blacks to say that, but if I can’t be honest then I may as well work for mainstream media.
As for the game? Read in for Rodney says that he’s clearly the player that is covering more ground at Number 8, the Aussie game plan does a lot of pressure on 8, 10, 15 and 7 as a group and it seeks to deconstruct the All Blacks by running up the fatigue meter on these individual players. One way out of the ‘negative gain’ trap is to repeat what the Royal Green did and simply kick more accurately, but with the selection of the two Fijians can expect to see sideline to sideline attack? Or will it be bombs away with the two of them tearing up the field create pressure?
One thing seems certain for the Blacks now however. McCaw is no longer the biggest threat in world Rugby on the ground, Brussow has taken over as the premier fetcher in the world, some will say Williams from Wales but it depends from set piece where you are thinking about hitting the defensive line and for the Almighty Blackness it appears to be well and truly outside Second Five-Eighth, where McCaw still dominates all in the chase game. Inside that mark now The King needs to deal with the little bruiser who is a more compact version of Josh Kronfeld, he’s a grappler and his superior sense of spacial awareness has seen him hit the ball carrier, the ground and then his feet in fluid succession, while he’s been able to get those arms around the ball and contest possession.
He looks like he’s been trained by the Gracie family, on the ground he is deadly and it will take some special play to counter his advantage, the upshot of it all has been a resurgent South Africa who are playing the counter-ruck game with incredible intensity. In the first match of the Tri-Nations this year it came down to a destructive ten minute period after the half time break by the All Blacks to pressure the Crooks and finally win some of the collisions, to that point they were firmly in the game.
So now this weekend Black people the world over wonder if we can set up the win through the forwards. With the knowledge that Carter and Quadzilla are back in the set up, but relatively green considering where they have been individually the pack will need to really turn up the heat at breakdown and set piece time to give their jewels the time and space to dominate the element.
On the other side Rocky Elsom returns for the Criminals and that might be all they need to spark a much needed revival so late in the piece. Robbie needs a win, the Crooked nation demands a win, but the biggest winners of a Crooked win will be the FoxSports Commentary team…
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You know one of the most saticfying things about being a gig online is the advice you receive, check this out from Mark Forsyth the CEO of http://www.yourbigears.com, it typifies the uncharted good will amongst the audience while we here at RRT get into this business proper.