The Bugged Meeting Room

On Saturday morning it was reported that the All Blacks had discovered they’d been bugged. But the real story started well before then.

As it stands right now – the matter has been referred on to NSW Police.

It’s clear that this had been done well before the media ran the story, but the media likely knew of the situation well before Saturday when the story broke.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said that information wasn’t passed onto police until Steve Tew, NZ Rugby CEO, had arrived in Sydney.

Since then there has been a whole lot of speculation as to who planted the device, and what the motive behind it was. We may never know the answer to this. The most likely scenario was that the device was planted on behalf of a sports betting agency. Continue reading The Bugged Meeting Room

Gareth Anscombe selected for Welsh clash against Australia

Former Chiefs and Blues back Gareth Anscombe will start for the Welsh in their crunch clash against Australia this weekend.

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Anscombe was initially ruled out of the Welsh squad for the RWC due to a slight ankle injury. Due to the number of casualties Warren Gatland’s side has suffered throughout the tournament, Anscombe reappeared in training camps last week and has now been named in the run on side, slotting into fullback.

Anscombe played for both the Blues and Chiefs in Super Rugby prior to leaving New Zealand at the end of last season to focus on representing Wales at the World Cup.

Remarkably, Anscombe now gets his time to shine.

The winner of the match will proceed to the quarter finals as the top seed from Pool A.

England’s humiliating RWC exit

England has crashed out of their RWC, and heads will no doubt be about to roll. Chris Robshaw and Stuart Lancaster may not survive this one.

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Australia humiliated the tournament hosts, thrashing England 33-13 in London on Saturday night in front of an expectant crowd, including members of the royal family.

England will now reflect on where it all went wrong in a short-lived tournament stint that never got off the ground, but they need not look any further than themselves after being blown off the park in a surprisingly poor performance.

English coach Stuart Lancaster apologised to the public in the post match press conference, but his words will do little to help heal the wounds to the heart of his players that will have to live with the reality of the next few weeks.

England will not get their hands on the RWC this time round, and it is a terrific shame for the tournament.

TV commentators said prior to the game that if England lost; fans would leave Twickenham and tear up their expensive tickets in disgust. One can’t help if at least a handful of the 82,000 strong crowd made largely of English fans did just that following the fulltime siren.

Crashing out of the tournament is one thing, but for England to do so on their home soil is humiliating. Not only is it the darkest day in the history of English rugby, Stuart Lancaster and his men now become the first host national to be eliminated from a RWC before the quarterfinals.

Given the amount of talent in this English side; this reality is staggering.

England were expected to do well at this World Cup, perhaps even go all the way, but on the night of Saturday October 3rd it was Australia who solidified their place as new tournament favourites.

Australia put on the most dominant performance seen at the RWC yet, their superiority at the breakdown kept England’s usually formidable forward pack contained and unable to contain the ball, but it was Bernard Foley’s impressive ability to step past the English defense that set Australia well ahead going into halftime.

Ultimately, England never recovered and the nail was put into the coffin when Owen Farrell was sent to the sin bin with ten minutes left on the clock.

In fact, Farrell’s opportunities were limited on goal in this match.

Sam Burgess’s big arrival on the rugby union stage came to an abrupt end; the midfielder had no impact off the bench in a theme that was familiar to both sides in the match. Australia’s bench threatened to undo all the good work, but England was simply left with not enough time left and too great a deficit.

All Blacks demolish Wallabies to secure Bledisloe

The All Blacks have all but silenced their critics after comprehensively beating a poor Wallabies side 41-13 at Eden Park.

(Photo credit: Fox Sports via Google Images)

Looking shaky early, the All Blacks managed to sort out their handling of the ball to quickly answer an early Wallabies penalty.

Daniel Carter sidestepped a lone Wallabies defender to set himself into space, but it was Dane Coles who brought the crowd to their feet, catching the pass and sprinting over halfway as he raced away for one of the best tries in All Black history.

Poor in all areas of the game, the Wallabies fell apart after the Coles try, and began leaking points at a quick rate through penalties and some soft defense.

When Quade Cooper was sent to the sin bin for a high tackle on Aaron Smith, the All Blacks were awarded a penalty try, and the game was lost for the Wallabies.

The All Blacks scored twice while Cooper was in the bin.

The All Blacks ran in five tries including a double for Ma’a Nonu, and Daniel Carter finished with 16-points from the boot.

Order has been restored in New Zealand, and the Wallabies will head back to Australia severely deflated.

Loss in Sydney an important lesson for All Blacks

The Wallabies outplayed the All Blacks on the park, but as it did back in 2011, the loss will be an important lesson for the All Blacks ahead of the World Cup.

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It was almost a case of history repeating itself; the final away game prior to a Rugby World Cup saw an All Black side that never quite fronted up on the night.

The All Blacks went down to a superior Wallabies 27-19 in Sydney.

The impressive debut from Nehe Milner-Skudder, who scored two tries on the night, has to be the one big positive the All Blacks can take away from the loss.

Milner-Skudder now has a serious claim to grab a ticket to the World Cup, the young winger showed all the brilliance of his opening year in Super Rugby for the All Blacks on debut, and as expected looked untouchable with ball in hand.

But that was really the only positive that an unusually average All Black side can take away from the loss.

The Wallabies didn’t just win in Sydney last night, they were impressive across the park, and the key players that had been highlighted all week made their individual impacts on the game.

The try to Adam Ashley-Cooper in the corner that put the Wallabies in front was a good sign of how approaches to scoring situations have changed under the coaching of Michael Cheika. Matt Toomua didn’t panic, he read the play, and slotted a nicely weighted kick for Ashley-Cooper to run on to.

In previous games, the Wallabies would have gotten into a panic and blown the opportunity to score at such a crucial moment.

That play in particular highlighted that the Wallabies can also carry on after missed opportunities in the same game, because in the first half, the Wallabies were all but certain to score until one of the forwards dropped the ball after a sloppy pass from the halfback.

The try to Nic White that sealed the game was just the icing on the cake.

Despite the win, there are still problems for the Wallabies however, the lineout was a shambles and must be addressed before Eden Park.

It isn’t often that the All Blacks let opposition off the hook as much as they did last night, the Wallabies were barely punished for any of their mistakes, and how effective the Wallabies kicking game was came as a big surprise. The Wallabies backs looked comfortable under the high ball and should take a lot of confidence that they were able to defuse one of the All Blacks key game plans.

Daniel Carter’s goal kicking wasn’t good enough, and granted many of his kicks were from out wide, but crucial points were left to go begging. Julian Savea barely made an impact on the game, and how much better the Wallabies were at both the breakdown and the scrum is a big point of concern for the All Blacks.

This loss will hurt the All Blacks, but is has come at the best time, and both teams have a lot to play for the next time round.

Ball containment key for Wallabies in Sydney

The All Blacks should expect their biggest pre-world cup test away from home tonight in Sydney.

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To cause an upset, the Wallabies will have to adopt a physical and brave approach. Kicking possession away will cost points, the New Zealand back three of Ben Smith, debutant Milner-Skudder, and the powerful Julian Savea will be potent with just an inch of open space available.

The Wallabies have a good attacking game, a good passing game, and a reasonably stable set piece, but Quade Cooper’s kicking accuracy is a real concern. Isreal Folou has typically been great in the Wallabies uniform against other sides, but when the winger comes up against the All Blacks, he tends to crumble.

Holding possession and limiting the All Blacks to shots on goal will be key, and likely, the only way for the Wallabies to end the losing drought.

Michael Hooper’s presence in the breakdown will be a major factor; the Wallabies must match Richie McCaw in physicality and keep the turnover numbers low.

For the All Blacks, this will be the last ‘big game’ stage away from home prior to the RWC – and this makes the result very important. The environment will be hostile and a good taste of what will be in store come the finals of the RWC in England.

Daniel Carter will need to kick well to keep himself in the selectors minds as the starter moving forward, and time is quickly running out for Sonny Bill Williams to show his worth upon his return to rugby; there will be no better place to do it than his old stomping grounds at ANZ Stadium.

Tonight’s winner will secure both the Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship.

Wallabies situation a shambles of immaturity and half truths

It is high time that the Wallabies became a team that is talked about for issues that actually happen on the field.

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Head coach Ewen McKenzie may or may not lose his job after this weekend.

But Di Patston, the woman at the centre of this firestorm, has been revealed to be not so clean after histories of past work and previous lawsuits surfaced after Fairfax media’s investigations.

Texts revealed this week show that the issues between Beale and Patston began when the Wallabies playmaker began circulating images of naked overweight women with comments attached directed to Patston.

One comment was “Di who wants a go f**cking this?” sent by Beale in a text message.

During the fallout, much speculation has also surrounded Ewen McKenzie’s personal relationship with Patston, a former ARU staff member. McKenzie missed training when he personally drove Patston to the airport, but strongly refuted speculation that the relationship had any intimate history.

Patston recently quit the ARU sighting stress.

But to be honest, the discussion of an affair between McKenzie and Patston was started by the media, and continued the media. Driving a distressed work partner to the airport isn’t grounds to assume a relationship.

It is time some in the media started writing about the facts, and if no facts or said qoutes point to any possibility of an intimate relationship between two people, don’t then speculate otherwise.

Questions have been raised of Patston’s qualifications for the role with the ARU in the first place, and it was revealed today by the Sydney Morning Herald that Patston had been involved in a spider bite lawsuit years ago, where she tried to sue her employers for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Can it be said that Patston shouldn’t be blamed for any of this situation involving Beale?

Potentially so. But reports do state that her employment history isn’t exactly glowing either.

Wether McKenzie leaves his role as Wallabies coach is really a pointless discussion at this stage, as is talk about if Kurtley Beale should be exiled from the team or not.

The fact is, this is just another off field incident which has again involved a player with a previous track record of getting into trouble. Who knows why these issues are happening. Beale’s claims in the text messages of being sorry for his actions towards Patston are clearly false, as the two became exchanged in a verbal altercation mid flight weeks after those texts were sent.

Is the team environment toxic?

Again this week, a respected Wallabies rugby personal (in during this controversy) stated that the team environment in the Wallabies was actually better under Robbie Deans than it currently is under Ewen McKenzie.

God only knows that happens next.

Alcohol not directly related to Beale flight incident with woman

Yet another off field incident drama has hit the Wallabies, and again it is Kurtley Beale under the spotlight.

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Reports indicate that the Beale was involved in a verbal slanging match with a member of the Wallabies team management, business manager Di Patston, during a flight to Brazil as the side prepare for this weekends clash in the final round of the Rugby Championship.

Patston has since left the tour following her incident with Beale.

It is understood that alcohol wasn’t a direct reason for the altercation, but Wallabies spokespeople have confirmed that the team were drinking the night before following the loss to the Springboks in Cape Town.

Wallabies coach Ewan McKenzie has said that the situation between Kurtley Beale and Di Patston was “complicated” and wouldn’t comment any further.

Beale is still available for selection ahead of this weekends matchup against Argentina.

Opinion: Hansen needs to stop trash talking and get on with coaching

Steve Hansen has fired up the Australian media after making some insinuating comments about a Wallabies selection.

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If there is one thing that leaps forward when you think about Steve Hansen, it’s that he isn’t afraid to do some trash talking in the media days before a test match against the Wallabies. 

Today it was reported that Hansen made a comment which hinted that the Wallabies selection of Kurtley Beale was politicly motivated. Wether the media took Hansen’s comments in a different direction than the All Black coach intended is not the point here. The point is, questioning a selection in the Australian side using political reasoning, or making a comment which has that sort of effect to journalists based on unsupported rumor, is completely unreasonable and a little below the belt from the All Black coach.

As memory serves, Beale performed well in the recent Waratahs victory over the Crusaders.

Suggesting that Ewen McKenzie selected Beale in the Wallabies squad due to pressure from the ARU because of reports that the NRL are looking to bring the talented play maker over to Rugby League is not only unsupported, but a really laughable cheap shot at the Wallabies by the All Black coach.

It is time Steve Hansen focused less on scoring cheap verbal points against the Wallabies in the week of these Bledisloe Cup test matches.