Sunday, 28 June 2009

2009 Tri-Nations Tipping and Betting Guide

The Tri-Nations may be a tired old format in need of a massive overhaul but it's our tired old format and for that reason it's worth betting on. So with nothing else to watch on TV over winter, The Rolling Maul presents its 2009 Tri-Nations Tipping and Betting Guide:

Australia

Easy wins over Six Nations also-rans Italy and France means that the Wallabies enter the Tri-Nations with no form whatsoever. Last year's tour of the Northern Hemisphere was so long ago as to be meaningless and the Super 14 was a different game with different rules so is also no help.

But in a three-horse race anything could happen. It has before and will again. That's not to say you should flog a dead horse. It's dead. Maybe a bit smelly. And are there moving things in there? Gross.

Anyway, clearly the Rolling Maul is totally clueless, but if the betting agencies have Australia as the least likely to win then that's where you should put your money. What would they know anyway? Their odds don't reflect reality but just who they want you to bet on. They're profit making organisations after all. Not charities.

Player to watch out for: FIRST DRAFT Lote Tuquiri - Because he's playing club Rugby for West Harbour and has bright red boots so looking out for him will take no effort whatsoever.

SECOND DRAFT Lote Tuquiri - Because if you know where he is then you're more of an investigative journelist that any investigative journalist in this town, none of whom have had the guts to say what really went on.
Current odds: $3.25 - Put the house on them. Well maybe not your house, but a house.
Prediction: 3rd

New Zealand

The All Blacks haven't just limped to a couple of ugly wins and one very ugly loss but they've been on crutches. Indeed no Rugby team has played this ugly yet come out almost on top but ultimately nowhere since this year's Waratahs.

And if that wasn't bad enough now the Kiwi media are criticising the Blacks for not singing the national anthem with enough gusto. No wonder all their best players are retiring to more lucrative cash cows in Japan or Europe. A one-team town is bad enough but a one sport nation is a nightmare.

Lay off them. If The Rolling Maul supported a team that had a haka it wouldn't give a stuff about the anthem. Play the Bananas in Pyjamas theme as an anthem if you want something that's

a) sung in one language that the entire nation knows;

b) is easy to remember; and

c) doesn't lend itself to an ethical dilemma for atheists contemplating being pressured to sing a song that mentions god.

Player to watch out for: Dan Carter - Carter has spent the season on an entirely overpaid injury Tour de South of France when he could have been hardening himself up playing Super 14. He's supposed to be back for the All Blacks by the start of the Tri-Nations but with no form, no training, and a wallet the weight of a sheep caught in a South Island thunderstorm weighing him down then even if he does come back expect him to be slow, soft and flabby.
Current odds: $2.65 - You'd be mad.
Prediction: 3rd

South Africa

It's never really made of lot of sense to The Rolling Maul the whole concept of a Lions Tour. They tour once ever four years alternately to South Africa, Australia and New Zealand where they play three tests and a host of mid week games that give the locals the chance to belt a poor Brit (and Irishman) just trying to enjoy a holiday down under.

They haven't won a test series for 12 years yet they supposedly showcase the best of a whole bunch of players who can't stand each other and particularly can't stand the English (so at least some of the players are united).

So South Africa have just beaten a disjointed ununified hotchpotch of Northern European strugglers who are lucky not to lose to provincial teams every Wednesday. Woop dee doo. Relevance to Tri-Nations - nil.

Player to watch out for: Bryan Habana - He's just very fast and wears a skivvy under his jersey. Think of him as the Wiggle that was adopted out because he wouldn't shut up and the other kids wouldn't talk to him and now he's come looking for his parents but they're trying to pretend that they never actually adopted him out in the first place.
Current odds: $2.35 - The favourite never wins the Tri-Nations. Or maybe it's the other way round. Either way it's not worth the effort.
Predicition: 3rd.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Poor Refereeing? It Could be Worse. It Could be Rugby League

The spotlight has rightly been turned onto refereeing this season in both the Rugby codes. For too long now both games have been turning into soccer where the impact of the man in the middle with the whistle (or in the case of Rugby League the two men in the middle wearing pink and looking strangely emasculated) has become immense and can actually influence the result of the game. But in League it's errors that are causing the angst while in Rugby it's interpretations and rule changes that lead to headaches. The Rolling Maul investigates.

In Rugby League, especially in recent weeks, a series of on and off-field refereeing mistakes, usually at the expense of the Bulldogs (must be fate) and the Rolling Maul's work tips, have seen much navel gazing at NRL headquarters and from the media. Rugby Union has been strangely immune from such introspection. The big picture - ELVs, interpretations and entertainment value - have the been the mantra for season 2009.

So what is Rugby Union doing right (or perhaps more accurately - different)? The answer lies in the rules and the nature of the games.

Rugby Union is a complex game, more a black art than a join the dots. The mysteries of the scrum, ruck, maul and line out are known only to a few. The rules are written by quill in tiny script in 32 dusty 5 inch thick volumes kept in a vault with foot thick steel and time delay locks at IRB headquarters which are rumoured to be in the Middle East or on a secret volcanic island in the middle of the Pacific frequented only by petrels and James Bond arch-villains. The rules themselves are released one at a time every five years in a secret ceremony that involves the slaying of a virgin winger (because they're easy to find).

It's why on the field the referee is free to interpret the ancient scrolls and fill in the gaps in their knowledge as best they see fit. No one is any the wiser. You can't argue against a point you don't know.

When a Rugby referee has a bad game it's because he allows too much kicking or is pedantic about 'hands in the ruck' or 'lying on the ball' or some other meaningless phrase which has been invented to let referees feel self-important when they say it. Rarely does a Rugby referee make a bad decision because no one knows what the decision was.

Rugby League on the other hand is a simple game. Five tackles and kick is all you need to know. Of course league-types like to pretend that their game is full of subtle nuances and delicate interplay between tough and skillful proponents. The reality is that the 13 thugs of each team need to keep things basic. As a result, any imposition of complexity on the tiny minds that don't understand anything more complex than "run, get up, run again, kick" is bound to lead to chaos. When a Rugby League referee makes a decision, as opposed to babysitting the naughty kiddies, everyone starts bawling their eyes out and wants to take their ball home. Rugby League is the sport that refuses to grow up.

Don't expect any changes soon. The ELVs haven't been introduced into Rugby Union to simplify the rules, just make more of them. And for as long as Neanderthals are free to roam the Earth then Rugby League will continue to be their outlet for their aggression and sexual tension. The more the rules of Rugby League stop these men being men the more that aggression and sexual tension will be released off the field. Rugby League referees need to heed this warning.

All Hail the Chiefs? That's Bulls----

Actually, the Rolling Maul has nothing to say on the matter of the Super 14 final of 2009 apart from loving the title of this post which no sub-editor dared to print. Must have been due to the fact that the wrong team won.