Just wondering if Robbie Deans is experiencing schadenfreude and whether Wallabies fans want him back now?
My farmer has taken some of our staff and a few strays to a Beldisloe Cup test in Australia for several years.
When asked why I didn’t go too, I’ve always said we’d both enjoy it more if I didn’t.
But the idea of going to Argentina with the All Blacks was different.
We hosted an AFS student from there and his family is now ours. Our links to Argentina have been strengthened by the marriage of a nephew to a woman from Buenos Aires; we’d had six trips there and I was very keen on a seventh visit.
We joined the 300-strong Air New Zealand All Black entourage which left New Zealand a week before the Rugby Championship test against the Pumas.
The nine of us in our group were all country people and included four farmers and a stock agent. We could have stayed in Buenos Aires and gone to an All Black practice but the call of the country was stronger so we headed out of town for four days to catch up with friends and visit farms.
We returned to the city on Thursday in time to join the entourage’s evening with the Club Atlético Ferrocarril General San Martín, home of the San Martin Rugby Club where we were entertained by a three-part contest between former Pumas prop Serafin Dengra and former All Black Frank Bunce (Dengra won the haka, Bunce won the tango and I’m not sure who won the banner erection.)
The locals were very welcoming, forgiving of my rusty Spanish and treated us to a delicious meal featuring meat cooked on the asado.
Saturday’s test was in La Plata about 40 minutes from Buenos Aires. We arrived there mid-afternoon for a couple of hours of pre-game build-up which included talks by Olympic gold medalist Mahe Drysdale and Frank Bunce.
Our journey from there to the stadium was eased by a police escort which amused us and gained the attention of people we passed, most of whom gave us big smiles and friendly waves.
Estadio Unico, which is covered, seats 52,000 and had a capacity crowd.
It is alcohol-free which appeared to have no impact on the enthusiasm and enjoyment of the crowd.
All week advertisements had been encouraging people to hug each other while the All Blacks did the haka and most of those in the stadium did.
The noise from the crowd was deafening, especially when the Pumas scored first. They quietened down a bit as the All Blacks took control but continued to be good humoured and polite even though it was obvious the home side wasn’t going to win.
The only noise while the Puma’s player too a shot at goal was from New Zealanders which earned shocked looks from the locals. When thy were noisy while an All Black was taking a shot, the announcer asked them to show respect.
It was an amazing experience and while I still think my farmer and I would both enjoy the Australian excursions more if I didn’t go, my fears about what happens on rugby trips weren’t realised.
Air New Zealand looked after us well with good pre-tour communication, excellent communication and organisation in Argentina and their usual friendly but professional service. They finished by putting on a special flight from Auckland to Christchurch for southerners when a later departure than anticipated from Buenos Aires meant we’d miss the scheduled connection.
If they offer a similar trip in future I’d be very keen to go again.
The 54-15 score secured the All Blacks the Rugby Championship trophy but the Pumas didn’t give up and given the Wallabies’ injury woes could well beat them when they meet in Rosario this afternoon.
With Robbie Deans as coach my heart would usually back the Wallabies if they were playing anyone but the All Blacks. But with memories of the wonderful experience in La Plata so fresh, today I’m saying vamos Los Pumas.
Australia or Wales? Dragons or Wallabies?
They meet tonight to decide third and fourth place in the Rugby World Cup and it’s not easy to decide which team to support.
Both teams have New Zealand coaches but if I take them into account I’d opt for Robbie Deans who made such a wonderful contribution to Canterbury rugby – even if several of their wins were against Otago teams.
I know Wales deserved to win last week, and maybe the All Blacks would have a less daunting task on Sunday if they had, but if I have to pick a side, it will be the Wallabies.
It’s not personal, the Welsh are lovely people but most of them are on the other side of the world and Australia’s just next door so I’m opting for our neighbours.
Otago rugby teams have won a lot of first halves.
To the disappointment of fans they’ve not been as good at winning second halves.
When Robbie Deans was coaching Canterbury, it was very good at wining second halves, often in the final moments of a match.
Australia has always been good at doing that too, and did it again in last week’s semi final.
But not tonight, please Robbie.
For the sake of the nation’s blood pressure, tonight’s the night your team should play well but not too well and the All Blacks should win both halves.
I’m pleased for Robbie Deans that Australia managed to beat the Springboks – albeit just and against the run of play.
Matilda will waltz again in next week’s semi final.
Robbie Deans has written an inspirational message to the Volunteer Army;
To the Student Army,
One of the best pieces of encouragement I have been able to impart to sportsmen such as Andrew Mehrtens, Richie McCaw, Daniel Carter and more latterly to the likes of David Pocock and James O’Connor; is to strive to be the player that everyone else in the team can rely on, the individual everyone wants to play alongside.
To achieve that status in the sporting sphere requires dedication, a willingness to go beyond what is expected and, most importantly, a consideration of, and commitment to, your team-mates.
While the words ‘hero’ and ‘champion’ are used too freely in modern day society, without many of the users really boasting a proper appreciation as to the qualities required for such status; the players mentioned above; either have or are, in my judgement, well on the way to attaining that recognition.
The same qualities required to achieve this distinction in sport also hold true for life in general.
This is particularly so in time of crisis, which is why my admiration for you all is so strong.
Your tireless and totally selfless efforts since the calamity which struck Christchurch so suddenly on Tuesday February 22 have been an outstanding example, both to the rest of the country and the watching world.
It reflects magnificently on the people you represent: your families and the wider Christchurch and Canterbury community.
Most importantly, it reflects on you as individuals.
Be proud of your efforts, of the contribution you have made, and the support you have provided to the wider community at a time of great hardship.
As tragic as this last period has been, I’ve no doubt that the experiences you have had since the earthquake struck, the friendships you have made and the comfort you have offered, more often than not to strangers, will live with you forever.
As I have often said to the players I mentioned above, after a starring on-field performance, so I say to you all now – in a time of great challenge, you have, and continue to be, a key point of difference.
Keep up the good work and I hope to get an opportunity to work alongside you soon.
These young people and their recruits are doing a wonderful job.
Friends who joined the Farmy Army also tell me that while the farmers had the brawn and machines the students rang rings round them when it came to technology. The VA made much better use of computers to recruit helpers and co-ordinate activities and supplies.