Tragic tales from Christchurch put it all in perspective
IRELAND arrived in Christchurch yesterday and almost immediately headed for the cordoned off Central Business District, to the Red Zone area devastated by last year's earthquake.
The players and management were genuinely affected by what they witnessed and by accounts of the tragedy as well as meeting some Irish exiles involved in the clear-up. It was particularly poignant for scrum coach Greg Feek, who spent a large part of his career in the city while he was playing for the Crusaders and whose wife, Jess, lost a close friend.
"Initially, for the Irish boys, it was just another bus ride but we were just coming down the street there and it got pretty quiet. I was in my own little world on the bus," said Feek.
"Even just being here is quite humbling, it's quite emotional."
Ireland coach Declan Kidney said the experience put last weekend's 42-10 loss to the All Blacks in perspective. "That was just a game, this is real life," said Kidney. "Anybody who knows a rugby team knows what it takes to keep a bus quiet, that's the best way that I can sum it up."
Kiwis 'sold short' by poor Irish visitors
LEGENDARY former All Blacks second-row Andy Haden is the latest to get stuck into Ireland.
"One of the reasons the Irish haven't beaten the All Blacks in 107 years is because they don't actually believe they can," said Haden on a popular sports panel show yesterday. "We are sold short with these sort of teams turning up here, it's not good enough."
"We need to have good contests down here and the reason why Eden Park was not sold out is because the opposition is not rated. We don't figure that they (the Irish) are up to it."
Here's a quick fix -- just speed scrum up
THE IRB are, belatedly, poised to speed up the scrum engagement farce that's been blighting the game, trialling a new "crouch, touch, set" sequence next season to replace the ridiculously elongated "crouch, touch, pause, engage".
"The scrum is a complex, dynamic area and it was very clear from advice and expertise evaluated by the Scrum Steering Group there is no quick and easy fix," said IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset. Well, quick is a good place to start.
NUMBER OF THE DAY
1-- The number of Ireland victories over a side ranked above them in their last 15 matches (Australia at the World Cup).