Wednesday, 18 November 2015

12 key dates in Richie McCaw's career

It is the end of an era, not only in New Zealand but in world rugby and & JCBA reflects on 12 key moments in Richie McCaw's rugby career.
August 18, 2000

Debuted for Canterbury against North Harbour when coming off the bench for his only 18 minutes of first-class play that season. By the time he was included in the All Blacks' touring team at the end of 2001, he had played only 17 games for Canterbury. He would only ever make another 17 appearances for Canterbury, 34 in all, while playing 145 times for the Crusaders and 148 times for the All Blacks with one non-Test appearance for New Zealand which represents 328 first-class games.
November 17, 2001

Made his All Blacks debut at Lansdowne Road in Dublin against Ireland. New Zealand won 40-29 after being down 7-16 at halftime. Was named man of the match and played a key role in a vital try scored by Jonah Lomu. In the same year he was named the NPC Division One player of the year in the Steinlager awards.
August 10, 2002

In hindsight, this was possibly the first moment where it was identified that McCaw brought a little more to rugby than his openside flanker skills. Just after halftime a South African 'fan' decided he'd had enough of referee David McHugh and ran onto the pitch and assaulted the referee, pushing him to the ground which resulted in him suffering a dislocated shoulder. A couple of Springboks also helped contain the offender. McCaw said he wasn't too sure if he dealt with the matter appropriately but the two Springboks had dished out some on-the-pitch justice. It had already been a good year for McCaw as he claimed the first of his Super Rugby winners' medals earlier in the season when the Crusaders beat the Brumbies 31-13.
August 16, 2003

New Zealand regained the Bledisloe Cup for first time since 1997. Having won the first encounter against Australia three weeks earlier 50-21 in Sydney, the All Blacks secured the silverware, most importantly the Bledisloe Cup but also the Tri Nations with a 21-17 win which was a more impressive victory than the score suggests, Australia's losing margin being improved by a late try. However, in a World Cup year it was the Australians who would have the last laugh, beating the All Blacks in the semi-final to claim a final against England. New Zealand held the Bledisloe Cup for the remainder of McCaw's Test career. To cap it all it was the first year in which he was winner of the Kelvin Tremain Trophy for rugby player of the year at the Steinlager awards.
October 23, 2004

Captaincy was added to McCaw's CV when he took on the leadership of the Canterbury NPC side for the 2004 campaign. His ability in that role was soon evident and when captain Tana Umaga was rested on the end of season tour, McCaw led the All Blacks for the first time, against Wales. It was a close encounter as the All Blacks kept their winning record against Wales since 1953 alive with a 26-25 win.
May 28, 2005

With the added responsibility of captaining the Crusaders, McCaw's portfolio was widening and he led the side to the Super Rugby title when beating the Waratahs 35-25. To cap a great year the All Blacks beat the British and Irish Lions 3-0, the Tri Nations was sealed and at the end of the season a Grand Slam was achieved in the northern hemisphere via a 41-3 win over Wales, 45-7 over Ireland, 23-19 over England and 29-10 over Scotland
October 6, 2007

If there was a low point in McCaw's career this had to be it. A quarter-final exit at the hands of France in Cardiff, beaten 18-20. In the years since they had beaten France 45-6 in Paris in 2004 they had achieved a magnificent 47-3 win in Lyon, a 23-11 in Paris, both in 2006, a 42-11 win in Auckland and a 61-10 win in Wellington in 2007. Yet France got up and beat New Zealand, albeit controversially, at the World Cup. The fall out at home divided New Zealand almost until the 2011 Rugby World Cup. But it marked a lesson that would remain over the rest of McCaw's career.
August 16, 2008

So often McCaw's play has been encapsulated in the performance of his team. In 2008, after losses at home to South Africa (28-30) and away to Australia (19-34) when he didn't appear in either, he returned to inspire New Zealand a week later to reverse the score against Australia 39-10 and then another fortnight later he went one better when the All Blacks held South Africa scoreless 0-19 at Cape Town, the first time South Africa hadn't scored at in 105 years. Coach Graham Henry rated it as McCaw's best effort until that time. Having claimed the Tri Nations, there was time at the end of the year for another Grand Slam – 32-6 over Scotland, 22-3 over Ireland, 29-9 over Wales and 32-6 over England.
May 1, 2010

McCaw completed 100 Super Rugby games when playing the Stormers in Cape Town, unfortunately not able to celebrate with a win. But it proved a year of performance milestones as he and fullback/centre Mils Muliaina completed their 93rd Tests to become the most capped All Blacks and became New Zealand's most capped Test leader with 52 Tests, supplanting Sean Fitzpatrick's record. During the third Grand Slam tour he was involved in (England 26-16, Scotland 49-3, Ireland 38-18, and Wales 37-25), McCaw, and Muliaina, completed their 93rd Tests to be the most capped All Blacks and by leading the side for 52 Tests, the most capped All Blacks Test captain in history.
October 23, 2011

When McCaw, feeling no pain from a broken foot that threatened to derail his chances of playing the final, or the semi-final or the quarter-final, held the Webb Ellis Trophy aloft after an 8-7 win over France in the Rugby World Cup final, it was a signature moment in New Zealand's rugby history first and foremost, but for McCaw and those players who had been involved in Cardiff four years earlier, it was a weight-lifting exercise. Lifting the expectations of a nation from their shoulders after not having had the Cup in their trophy cabinet since 1987 – far too long for any self-respecting New Zealander.
August 15, 2015

The unprecedented scenes after about 62 minutes of the Bledisloe Cup decider against Australia at Eden Park, when New Zealand claimed a 41-13 victory will live long in the memory, longer even than the events of the Test match itself. What happened when McCaw was substituted from the field was a spontaneous outbreak of respect, affection and acknowledgement for one of the great contributions to not just the All Blacks but to New Zealand rugby. A standing ovation had never been seen before as McCaw left a rugby ground in his country for the last time.
November 1, 2015

History has its own way of acknowledging those who have had an impact on their area of specialty. That happened at Twickenham when McCaw, regarded as one of the finest to have played the game anywhere in the world, held the Webb Ellis Trophy aloft after beating Australia 34-17 in the 2015 Rugby World Cup final. It was the first time any player had led a side to two World Cup successes, let alone achieving the feat back-to-back. It was the first time any country had won the Cup for a third time and it signaled the end of a career that had featured in a world record 148 Test matches, 145 Super Rugby games, had won four Super Rugby titles, had been the most capped Test captain in rugby history, World Rugby's player of the year three times, New Zealand's player of the year four times and New Zealand sportsman of the year in 2011, the first player to win 100 Tests and also to captain his side for 111 Test matches.

Love him or hate (he is definitely hated more by the opposition supporters) you cannot deny is one' if not, the greatest to grace a rugby field. i'm just glad I had the privilege of seeing him in action.

Rugby will miss you but rugby will never forget the mark you made, who knows maybe the Queen will make a mark on his illustrious career, I saute you SIR. Come on Richie 'Say Yes to Knighthood'.

Jade Christopher Bentley Adams signing off
(@jcba & IG @jcba_official)

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Bledisloe III or RWC Final 2015?

The Rugby World Cup Final is but just another Bledisloe Cup Final and having each won one this season we are in for the biggest one of them all come Saturday at Twickenham.
What ever you call it, these two have been the form teams this World Cup, if not this year and are full value for their spots in the final two. It has all the makings for yet another classic encounter between the two giants.
A tough Pool and heavy knock out stage does leave some doubt as to whether or not the Australians will run out of steam against an arguably fresher All Blacks team who I might add had an extra day to recover from their Semi-Final too.
That by no means is a given and the All Blacks will know the tenacity of the Wallabies is second to none. A great example is them going down to 13 men against a strong Welsh outfit and keeping them out in another one of their tough Pool encounters.
New Zealand where also only really tested in the knock out stages and to a lesser extent by the French. So there is the train of thought that under pressure the Australian's have had practice, even though the All Blacks have played in a World Cup Final just four years ago.
Trevine of The ROAR website rightly wrote “Steve Hansen and Michael Cheika have had enough insight into each others strengths and weaknesses from their previous clashes in the Rugby Championship. But it will be the team that hold their nerve under the pressure of a World Cup final that will hold aloft rugby’s richest prize.”
The familiarity and the frequency that these two teams play each other does not leave you with a clear favourite. Yes the defending champions should edge it but on the day the only team that can upset the All Blacks stream-train is this Australian team.
Don't get me wrong the team setting the bench mark for rugby since the last Rugby World Cup has been the All Black's and that steam-train is'nt about to stop just yet.

New Zealand by 5 or more.

Jade Christopher Bentley Adams signing off
(@jcba & IG @jcba_official)

'Springboks ready to battle for 3rd place'

Written by Jean Smyth a day ago on

LONDON – Springbok assistant coach John McFarland says despite Heyneke Meyer’s emotional response on the weekend to not paying much attention to this Friday’s third place play-off at the Rugby World Cup, the squad is motivated to beat Argentina and win well.

The team for the clash will be announced at 7pm tonight, with the squad having being a number of days off following their 20-18 loss to the All Blacks in Saturday's semifinal.

The squad reassembled yesterday at the team hotel in Guildford following that loss as they prepare for Friday night’s Bronze Final against Argentina.

McFarland says that despite losing to Argentina in Durban this year, they take heart from the last time they met.

“It’s an important game for both teams. For us if we finished the year we move up to where we want to be, finish third in the ranking. If they beat us they finish third, so it’s an important game.”

McFarland says that he’s looking forward to Friday's clash.

“There’s a need for the players to be focused and there’s a need for the players to come and treat it like a normal test game. If you turn out against Argentina with wrong attitude they will punish, and for us it’s the last test of the year, I’m looking forward to it on Friday night.”

While flank Willem Alberts, who’s mainly played as a substitute this tournament, says that he’s excited for the game.

“It’s always important to finish strong, but I do think if we're looking at our last game, it wasn’t that we didn’t play that bad. It was quite a spectacle and we can take good things out of that game and continue into the next one, we’ll be ready for another great rugby match.”

While the general sentiment is that the Springboks were well-beaten by the All Blacks, McFarland has lamented the small margins between victory and defeat.

Tactically, the All Blacks were far superior in the game, but a Dan Carter drop-goal had a decisive impact, which on review could perhaps have seen New Zealand called back for a knock-on by Richie McCaw, as McFarland alludes to.

“The key turning point for me was maybe the drop-goal of Carter with 14 because that gave them hope, I’m not so sure of that line-out, how the ball came so quickly back into his hands.”

McFarland also suggested that they were outfoxed by the All Blacks who didn’t allow the Springboks to build-up a head of steam by simply infringing to break their momentum.

“We actually had six set pieces in their half, two scrums four line-out. The two scrums, we scrummed them backwards and they gave away penalties and the yellow card actually through. The two lineouts they gave penalties as well, so four out of six set pieces gave us points. We couldn’t build any pressure.”

McFarland says the All Blacks shrewd tactics worked a charm.

“And also within grey area around the halfway line we lost balls, so we never really into their half at all but when we did they gave us penalties, they gave us 12 points. They can only play what they give you.”

McFarland says that despite the result they did everyone proud.

“I thought players did us proud, I really did. They gave everything; they worked so hard in attacking and defending. You only have to see the disappointment on the faces at the end of the game on Saturday night. But they really gave everything.”

Jade Christopher Bentley Adams signing off
(@jcba & IG @jcba_official)

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Tough final week ahead

Supersport write-up by Tony Johnson
It’s a tough week for the four teams left at RWC, for sharply contrasting reasons.
Tough for the finalists to regather their strength and iron out as many of the bumps and bruises as possible for the decider, and, in a way, even tougher for those who must head to the Olympic Stadium, and find out if there is anything left in the tank for the match no-one really wants to play.
The All Blacks have the advantage of an extra day to prepare for the final, and they’ll need every minute of it after one of the tightest, most brutal matches in World Cup history.
On the surface the NZ-SA clash came down to a couple flashes of brilliance, and a couple of bad choices by individuals. 

This was a game on a knife edge from start to finish, and it really could have gone either way.

You could argue that New Zealand deserved to win because they scored two tries to nil, and carried out a tactically superior strategy. They got better impact from their bench, and controlled territory when it really mattered, in the rain sodden final ten minutes.

Before it got to that heart-palpitating finish, two bad choices on defence had been costly for the Springboks.
In the first half Bryan Habana flew in off his wing, and left poor Lood de Jager with a huge avenue to defend. Richie McCaw's pop pass to Jerome Kaino might have warranted further scrutiny from the TMO, but the officials seemed satisfied that it had not come forward from the hand, and De Jager was left scrambling. His tackle was too high to be at all effective and Kaino was in.

And then later in the game JP Pietersen showed a lack of faith in Damien de Allende to make his tackle on Ma’a Nonu, and was suckered into coming off his wing to help, leaving space for Beauden Barrett to cruise in for a killer try.

Habana was a real mix, taking two brilliant high balls on the chase in the first half, but then getting yellow carded at a crucial stage in the second….again, a bad decision.

The young Springbok midfield will go onto big things, but, without dissing either Kriel or De Allende, the Bok defence really missed the Jean de Villiers influence as an organiser and calm head.
Likewise with Handre Pollard. He can become a great player if nurtured well, but while his goal-kicking in this match was flawless, he just wasn’t hitting his clearing kicks with any conviction, which did not help relieve the pressure the All Blacks slowly built.
A few other smaller things stick in the mind.

Just an observation, maybe I’m reading too much into it, but the toss was interesting. The All Blacks wanted to kick off but when Fourie du Preez won the toss and indicated his intention to do that, Richie McCaw without hesitation signaled he would play “right to left”.
In calm conditions I don’t think it mattered which way either team played, but McCaw gave the impression that he was getting what he wanted all along.

And while Dan Carter was, for the most part, controlling the attack, dictating field position and coolly slotting two conversions and a peach of a dropped goal, was there any other moment in the game than when he stripped the ball from the grasp of Schalk Burger?

And perhaps a change of the guard in the realm of the lineout. For years Victor Matfield was the scourge of the All Blacks with his computer-like analysis, razor sharp anticipation and tremendous athleticism, but on Saturday, when it was all on the line, Sam Whitelock beat him to the punch, got in front of him and made a crucial steal. The end of a brilliant era.

Now South Africa must choose whether to allow Heyneke Meyer to rebuild with an excellent crop of emerging players, or change the guard.

A case of changing the light bulb, or sticking with the same light bulb and hope it changes.
Because a shift in game plan is needed.

The Boks are a fantastic physical entity, and defending them is no easy manner because of their great power and resolve, but as long as they continue to try and break down walls by bashing into them, they will find it hard to beat the very best, when teams know it is all really a matter of making their tackles, preferably behind the advantage line.

True, there was always a chance the Boks would steal it with an intercept, or by pouncing on an error, but it didn’t happen, and they hardly looked like creating a try of their own.
Now they have to take on Argentina in a match that is surely more about wringing that last few million out of the paying public than salvaging any pride.
As for the final, well you can’t argue that the two best teams have made it. Both unbeaten, both having survived the most taxing of semifinals, and both producing a mix of wonderful attack and resolute defence.

A game between the Trans Tasman neighbours makes for a long week, with all the nonsense that goes on in the media.

It is always amusing to see the Aussie press installing the All Blacks as firm favorites, and yet highlighting every perceived weakness, twisting every quote into a “war of words” and a “shot fired” and generally creating the impression that all the pressure is on one team.
The ridiculous illusion that Richie McCaw had deliberately elbowed Francois Louw was borne in England, but waded into Down Under, while the Richetty Grub analogy (a sportsman being referred to as a “Grub” is about as low a blow as an Aussie can strike) was the work of a journalist who really is better than that.

There’ll be plenty of it in the New Zealand media as well, and it’ll be a relief when the game kicks off.

Much will depend on who can put out the strongest roster and who has the best powers of recovery.
The Wallabies have come a long way in a short time under Michael Cheika, the volatile New South Welshman having struck a real bond with his men.

They are dangerous on attack, and have, in David Pocock, the most influential player in the world this year, but have breakable channels on defence and, while greatly improved, are still not the finished article at set piece.

They have done magnificently to come out of the toughest pool in World Cup history, but you do wonder what toll the cumulative effect of so many tough games has taken on them. They looked banged up after Sunday's match.

It won’t surprise anyone, but I’m tipping the All Blacks to take it in a tough one. I just think they have that extra edge that comes with having already played in World Cup final. They have too many great players who have ridden this train before and are determined to hit one more peak.
But it would not surprise me greatly if it went the other way.

It may all again come down to who makes the best decisions.

Jade Christopher Bentley Adams signing off
(@jcba & IG @jcba_official)

Friday, 23 October 2015

Wear-Tyne Derby

Who would want to be a Sunderland supporter this weekend? They are arguably there for the taking and it doesn’t help Newcastle United have found some goals.

Even new boss Sam Allardyce believes the pressure is on him in this massive derby. Granted the Magpies have only one win in the bag but that is one more than their hosts. Wins, not to mention big wins, boost confidence and Big Sam is shroud enough to know that.

Allardyce having lost his first match in charge last weekend and must be aware that none of the last 3 Sunderland bosses lost their first match against their arch rivals

Sky Reports: “Sunderland have won the last five encounters with Newcastle and Allardyce told the Sunderland Echo: “I've got to look after the reputation of Sunderland.
”The pressure's on me more than it's on Steve. We've won the last five, so I don't want to be the one who doesn't win it.
“But we'll wait and see on the players - only the players can make everyone smile next week. They just 'have to carry on what they have done five times before.
They have been struggling, but won the last five games against Newcastle. They don't need me to coach them this week! Let's hope for the same again.”

One thing is for sure this is a fixture I don't want to miss, the action, the passion and usually the goals leave nothing to the imagination.

Unfortunately for Big Sam the writing is on the wall, in my opinion that is and I would put money on it being by two goals. Newcastle fans would like that I'm sure.

Jade Christopher Bentley Adams signing off
(@jcba & IG @jcba_official)

Thursday, 22 October 2015

RWC Preview - All Blacks vs Springboks in numbers

London - Here are a few stats and facts I found online ahead of the Rugby World Cup semi-final clash between the Springboks and All Blacks at Twickenham.

  • South Africa and New Zealand have played three Tests in RWC tournaments. The first was in the memorable 1995 tournament when the Springboks won the World Cup in extra time at Ellis Park in Johannesburg. The final score 15-12.
  • Four years later in 1999, the two rivals met in Cardiff to contest the third place play-off after New Zealand lost to France in the semi-finals while Australia won the other semi-final in extra time against the Springboks. South Africa won the bronze medal in a close-fought battle 22-18.
  • The last time was in 2003 in Melbourne in the quarter-final when the All Blacks had a comfortable 29-9 win.
  • Saturday’s Test match will be the 91st between the two countries. South Africa’s record against New Zealand: P: 90; W: 35; L: 52; D: 3; PF: 1 412; PA: 1 745; Win%: 39%.
  • The total Test caps for the Springbok starting line-up is 701. There are 324 caps in the backline with 377 caps amongst the forwards. On the bench there are a further 461 caps.
  • Bryan Habana will extend his record as the most-capped Springbok wing, with 114 caps in this position. He is the most experienced Springbok backline player with 115 caps and only Victor Matfield (125) has played in more Test matches for South Africa.
  • If he scores a try, Bryan Habana will extend his record of 64 Test tries for South Africa. Currently he is joint second on the list for most Test tries. David Campese of Australia is the other player. First on the list is Daisuke Ohata of Japan on 69 career tries.
  • Bryan Habana is the new world record holder for most Test tries as a wing. He surpassed the previous record of Daisuke Ohata of Japan (62) during the pool match against the USA.

  • Bryan Habana is the joint record holder for most career tries (15) in RWC tournaments. He can become sole record holder by scoring just one try. Jonah Lomu of New Zealand is the other player with 15 career tries. Close on Bryan’s heels is Drew Mitchell of Australia with 14 RWC career tries.
  • Bryan Habana also holds the record for most career tries (seven) by a Springbok against New Zealand.
  • Bryan Habana and JP Pietersen will be playing in their record 43rd Test as a wing combination in the starting XV.
  • Handré Pollard needs three penalty goals to equal Percy Montgomery’s RWC record of 17 career penalty goals.
  • Schalk Burger will play in his 78th Test as a flank, South Africa’s most capped Springbok flank. Saturday’s Test will be his 19th RWC Test, the most by a Springbok in RWC tournaments. He is also the Springbok record holder for most tries as a flank (14) as well as a forward (16).
  • Bismarck du Plessis is the Springbok record holder for most tries (11) in Tests as a hooker.
  • Should Ruan Pienaar be used from the bench he will become South Africa’s most capped substitute. Currently, he shares the record with Ollie le Roux on 43 Test matches as a substitute.
  • Should Victor Matfield be used as a substitute he will extend his record as most capped Springbok as well as most capped Springbok against New Zealand - he has played in 26 career Tests against the All Blacks.

  • The referee is Jérôme Garcès of France. He debut as an international referee was in 2010 in a match between England and the Barbarians. He served as assistant referee in four Tests during the 2011 RWC. During this tournament he was referee in three Test matches, including the South Africa/Japan Test during the first week. It will be his seventh Test involving South Africa. Of the previous six Tests, South Africa won three and lost three.

  • Twickenham Stadium is the largest dedicated rugby union venue in the world, the second largest stadium in the United Kingdom and fourth largest in Europe. This is the venue for this first semi-final match of RWC 2015. Twickenham has a seating capacity of 81 605.
  • South Africa have played 21 Test matches at this stadium, winning 12 and losing nine. Nineteen matches were against England. The other two were against Australia in the 1999 RWC semi-final and against Wales last Saturday.

  •  It was a record breaking performance from Steve Hansen’s men, who won their 12th straight World Cup match, equalling the Wallabies’ record set between 1999-2003.
  • Midfielders Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith are yet to taste defeat in a World Cup match after 13 matches on the winning side.
  • Not only was the 62-13 win the most points ever scored in the knockout stage of a World Cup, but it was New Zealand’s biggest ever win against the French, and Les Bleus’ greatest Test defeat.
  • The nine-try demolition also saw New Zealand register their 300th try at a World Cup.
  • Only Australia come some what close with the 200th they scored in the quarters.
  • And in scoring a treble, New Zealand winger Julian Savea equalled Jonah Lomu and Bryan Habana’s record of eight tries in a single tournament.
  • In the process, Savea took his career total of tries to 38 in just 39 Tests — overtaking the legendary Lomu and moving into fourth on the all-time All Blacks charts


8 - Julian Savea (NZ)

5 - Bryan Habana (South Africa), Gareth Davies (Wales), Nehe Milner-Skudder (NZ)

4 - DTH Van Der Merwe (Canada), JP Pietersen (South Africa)

The springboks are more than capable of matching the All Blacks at the breakdown but they lack the creativity and imagination both up front and more importantly out wide. The AB's play an 85 min game and the Springboks are at their most lethal in the first 20 minutes and I do think that this contest will be decided in the last 20. That is about the time the AB's bring on a certain SBW.
I can't see this Springbok team lasting 80 min vs this AB's team let alone 85.

Jade Christopher Bentley Adams signing off
(@jcba & IG @jcba_official)