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    No English, Welsh or Scots - All Blacks dominate my XV of the year





    Thomas Castaign├Ęde
    Monday December 18, 2006
    The Guardian



    My XV of 2006 reflects a sobering reality for northern hemisphere rugby: there is no Englishman there, not one Welsh-man, not one Scot and only one French-man. But as we enter World Cup year the All Blacks are setting the standard, Ireland and Argentina leading the rest of the world, and the rest have a good deal of catching up to do.


    I was discussing this recently with Will Greenwood, and he pointed out that when England went into their World Cup season four years ago, there was not a single player in any position that they would have swapped for any other in the world. That is how the All Blacks are now and that is why they make up the bulk of my XV.





    Loosehead prop Rodrigo Roncero
    Argentina


    Not seen this autumn because he was injured, but had a big summer and is a fine example of the modern prop. Ten years ago all the big men had to do was scrum down; now they have to run 5km during a match and put in 10 tackles.


    Hooker Raphael Ibanez
    France


    I have to put one Frenchman in, and Raph is here for the way he picked up France by the scruff of its collective neck this autumn, and the way he has relaunched his career with Wasps.


    Tighthead prop Carl Hayman
    New Zealand


    He doesn't seem the prototype of a prop: he's very tall and doesn't have much of a gut, but he's mobile and as for his scrummaging, think of the way France went backwards in Lyon.


    Lock Chris Jack
    New Zealand


    One of the most consistent of a very good All Blacks team, and when you see him running faster than many backs, it makes you very, very afraid.


    Lock Paul O'Connell Ireland



    A huge season, with a European title for Munster and a major role in Ireland's rise up the rankings. The speed of a back-row forward on those long legs - and, oh, does it hurt when he tackles you.


    Blindside flanker Jerry Collins
    New Zealand


    His medicinal studies are progressing well: the best anaesthetist in the world. If you brush him up the wrong way, you get stung.


    Openside flanker Ritchie McCaw



    New Zealand



    Apart from his almost peerless technical skills, what impresses is his consistency: never seems to have a drop in form, rarely injured. A tribute to the system under which he plays.


    No8 Rodney So'oialo
    New Zealand


    There are some positions at present where it is simply impossible to look outside the All Blacks. I've never seen a New Zealand No8 in trouble this season, but that's inevitable in a pack that only goes forward.


    Scrum-half Matt Giteau
    Australia


    For the way he has adapted to the position since moving from centre, a remarkable transition. Not there yet, and will have to reckon with George Gregan for the World Cup, but he can cover every position in the back-line.


    Fly-half Daniel Carter New Zealand



    Watching him you feel fly-half is an easy position to play; then you get on the field and remember how hard it is.


    Left-wing Sitiveni Sivivatu



    New Zealand



    Has added New Zealand discipline to Fijian flair to become a nightmare for any defence.


    Inside-centre Brian O'Driscoll Ireland



    In France we don't dwell on the distinct-ion between No12 and 13 so I'd put O'Driscoll in for his play-making ability, the way he destabilises defences. [B]


    Outside-centr

    #2
    Disagree with Ibanez being there.
    Simply because everytime he's come up against a top class lineout (like ours, for instance, or the Blacks) he's failed miserably@@@@SPAN style="font-weight: bold;">.
    @@@@/SPAN>

    Hibernicis natione, Mumhan per gratiam Dei

    Comment


      #3
      how can Matt Giteau be in there as SH. He was aaverage at best in the Autumn Interantionals. Dwayne Peel, stringer,kelleher,Pichot all had better Autumns.

      Comment


        #4
        Tiquiri in there is a nonsense too.

        Comment


          #5


          Caucau cant possibly be picked on form this year. Shane Horgan seems much more deserving of a wing spot

          Comment


            #6


            Originally posted by danthefan
            Tiquiri in there is a nonsense too.

            Your right. He should have given it to Nonu.


            My computer thinks I'm gay
            What's the difference anyway
            When all the people do all day
            Is stare into a phone

            Comment


              #7
              Interesting that an expert outsider like TC picks BOD at 12 rather than 13. I would love to see Eddie following suit with either Darcy or Trimble to 13 for Ireland. Then we'd be cooking!!!
              ____________________________________________
              Munster were great when they were Munster.

              alas they are just north munster now.......
              ____________________________________________

              Comment


                #8


                Originally posted by Daithi
                Interesting that an expert outsider like TC picks BOD at 12 rather than 13. I would love to see Eddie following suit with either Darcy or Trimble to 13 for Ireland. Then we'd be cooking!!!

                Actually &amp; I'd be one of those that were calling for BOD to play 12 prior to the A.I's. I completely bow to EOS's superior knowledge on this subject. he was right all along. D'Arcy at the moment is killing teams at 12. I'd have him at 12 on a world XV going on present form. He's actually playing better than BOD at the moment &amp; it's not as if BOD is off form either.
                Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again (like picking Gordon D'Arcy) and expecting different results.
                Albert Einstein

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by Mcork


                  Originally posted by Daithi
                  Interesting that an expert outsider like TC picks BOD at 12 rather than 13. I would love to see Eddie following suit with either Darcy or Trimble to 13 for Ireland. Then we'd be cooking!!!

                  Actually &amp; I'd be one of those that were calling for BOD to play 12 prior to the A.I's. I completely bow to EOS's superior knowledge on this subject. he was right all along. D'Arcy at the moment is killing teams at 12. I'd have him at 12 on a world XV going on present form. He's actually playing better than BOD at the moment &amp; it's not as if BOD is off form either. Agree


                  DoC at 4 and any/all of our b-rows are also deserving of a spot. Nice to know some of the lads are going well, lets hope it stays that way.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by Mcork


                    Actually &amp; I'd be one of those that were calling for BOD to play 12 prior to the A.I's. I completely bow to EOS's superior knowledge on this subject. he was right all along. D'Arcy at the moment is killing teams at 12. I'd have him at 12 on a world XV going on present form. He's actually playing better than BOD at the moment &amp; it's not as if BOD is off form either.


                    Ok so if you were to pick an alternative team to play this team you &amp; BOD was selected at 12 - are you telling me that you would expect Darcy to beat BOD over the course of a game???--- I don't think so. BOD would burn him overall, so while Darce is playing really well at the mo, BOD is still the classier player.
                    ____________________________________________
                    Munster were great when they were Munster.

                    alas they are just north munster now.......
                    ____________________________________________

                    Comment


                      #11
                      I'm saying that D'Arcy is probably a better option at 12 at this present time. I'm extremely impressed by D'Arcys ability to pump those legs in contact &amp; make those extra yards which is a primary function of a 12. He can also pass but O'Driscoll is undoubtdly a better passer &amp; also better at running in open space which would make him a better option at 13 IMO. So yes if I had to choose one at 12 I'd probably pick D'Arcy. BTW I'm a huge fan of BOD so this should not be construed as criticism of him. It's more in praise of D'Arcy.
                      Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again (like picking Gordon D'Arcy) and expecting different results.
                      Albert Einstein

                      Comment


                        #12





                        Kelleher and Du Preez are a better scrum halves than Giteau, as is Yachvilli.


                        For me, Nonu has poor hands for a centre.


                        Those who have only seen Cau-cau playing in the HEC this season aren't really in a good position to judge him on his overall 2006 performances.
                        New infraction avoidance policy: a post may be described as imbecilic, but its author should never be described as an imbecile.

                        Comment


                          #13


                          Originally posted by Mcork
                          I'm saying that D'Arcy is probably a better option at 12 at this present time. I'm extremely impressed by D'Arcys ability to pump those legs in contact &amp; make those extra yards which is a primary function of a 12. He can also pass but O'Driscoll is undoubtdly a better passer &amp; also better at running in open space which would make him a better option at 13 IMO. So yes if I had to choose one at 12 I'd probably pick D'Arcy. BTW I'm a huge fan of BOD so this should not be construed as criticism of him. It's more in praise of D'Arcy.

                          Yes, but it still does not answer why Ireland's midfield still don't look nearly as dangerous going forward as they did in 2004 when BOD was 12 and Darcy was 13. I think the reason this was so, is because as you say BOD is a better distributor, and he doesn't over run ball as much, hence there is more space outside. To put it simply, BOD creates more space for Darc than vice versa and hence Ireland looked more dangerous with that set-up IMO.


                          I'd like to see Ireland try it at least so that EOS could then make a call on the best formation on an apples versus apples approach.
                          ____________________________________________
                          Munster were great when they were Munster.

                          alas they are just north munster now.......
                          ____________________________________________

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Jez - I thought they looked very dangerous during the AI's. Remember in 2004, the opposition were taken by surprisewith the new combination after being used to a Maggs bang it up the middle. Perhaps you're right but anyway I think it's a case of they can switch positions during the match anyway so I think we can get a little carried away by what number a guy has on his back
                            Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again (like picking Gordon D'Arcy) and expecting different results.
                            Albert Einstein

                            Comment


                              #15

                              Originally posted by Daithi
                              Interesting that an expert outsider like TC picks BOD at 12 rather than 13. I would love to see Eddie following suit with either Darcy or Trimble to 13 for Ireland. Then we'd be cooking!!!
                              Calling him an expert after choosing that 15 is pushing the limits of reality

                              Comment

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