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Fez's 2022/23 rugby union season thread

Trying something different this year in my attempt to make TSR care about rugby union! :lol:

I'm going to do a sort of diary of the rugby I watch through the 2022/23 season (it feels so scary to type those years out somehow!), talking about what I've been watching and my thoughts on it. You are also invited to join in the conversation and give your thoughts on what's been going on in the world of rugby.

Personally, as the username gives away, I'll be hoping Saracens can go one better in the Premiership this season and win the title for the first time since 2019, and that we can give a good showing and go deep into the knockout stages on our return to the Champions Cup. I hope that our women's team, with the star signing of Jess Breach, will retain the Premier 15s title, despite a very busy season in the women's game.

We've also got the women's Rugby World Cup in New Zealand this autumn, for which England are very heavy favourites, while in the men's game everyone will be keeping a close eye on international form as Rugby World Cup 2023 draws closer! And of course we all want to know how long it'll take for the All Blacks to win a Test match again! :tongue:

So strap in, because it'll doubtless be a great season again!
Two games this weekend (Sat 6th Aug) as the Rugby Championship has got underway having been away yesterday I've caught up today.

South Africa 26-10 New Zealand
New Zealand are just so bad at the moment it wasn't the greatest quality game, though I liked Kurt-Lee Arendse's try at the start, but South Africa were absolutely all over the All Blacks and looked highly likely to win the match at all stages. Can't believe Ian Foster still has a job, because the All Blacks are just bad at the moment that's 3 losses in a row now and 5 losses in their last 6 matches.

Argentina 26-41 Australia
A decent comeback win for Australia in the end, and with a bonus point, but really I was so distracted by how bad the commentary was that I struggled to concentrate on the game. For context, usually in games between two non-UK/Ireland nations, the commentary of the host broadcaster for the home team is heard in the UK, and if the home team isn't an English-speaking nation then the away team broadcast is used so we'd have expected the Australian commentary in Argentina here. Instead we got two Argentinians trying to do commentary in English, their second language, and it just didn't work. Then the referee tried to speak broken Spanish (which at times was actually French) and the commentators started making fun of him, and honestly this game will be remembered for that and not the rugby.

Next weekend we go again with the second games on these 'mini-tours' (not a fan personally make it a proper round robin again):

Sat 13th Aug 2022
South Africa v New Zealand (16:05, Sky Sports)
Argentina v Australia (20:05, Sky Sports)
I have two big questions for you as a non rugby-union fan.

1. Why are there 13 teams in the Premiership this season rather than 12?

2. Do you have any updates on Marland Yarde ? He’s vanished.
Original post by Driving_Mad
I have two big questions for you as a non rugby-union fan.

1. Why are there 13 teams in the Premiership this season rather than 12?

2. Do you have any updates on Marland Yarde ? He’s vanished.

So...

1) Basically there are 13 teams that are at a suitable level to compete in the Premiership (all of whom are shareholders in the Premiership and have been for a number of years), so for about the last decade English rugby has been (a couple of unexpected London Welsh promotions aside) operating a system where one team was relegated each year and then promoted straight away the next year. They've now decided that they'd rather have all 13 in the Premiership, and the aim this season was to have a 14th team, just the Championship winners, Ealing Trailfinders, don't have a Premiership-standard stadium and so were refused promotion.

2) Funny you should ask that... https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/rugby-union/59967847
Same two Rugby Championship fixtures this weekend, as the competition experiments with these so-called 'mini tours'. I still think they unbalance the competition and each team should play each other team home and away; we shouldn't have match-ups like SA v NZ where both games in a year are played in SA.

Anyway, we had what we had and they were two great games!

South Africa 23-35 New Zealand
They live!! The score really doesn't show how close this one was, with the All Blacks getting off to a flying start and the the Springboks edging their way back and eventually taking the lead. Despite having one of the best players in the world in Lukhanyo Am playing one of his best games, and out of position on the wing at that, the Boks just couldn't close out the game, and leaked a try for New Zealand to take the lead, with them adding one more at the death to make the margin look far bigger than it should be and deny South Africa the losing bonus point.

Argentina 48-17 Australia
Under the old round-robin schedule, this game always used to be played very late at night on the final round of the Rugby Champ, almost always after NZ or maybe SA had sealed the title earlier in the day. I'm so used to it being a dead rubber that it's been hard to remember that it's early on and still all to play for. :lol: And what a result! It was a bit of a batshit game that blew open the competition, with Argentina managing seven tries as well in a rout, with Australia pushing them close on a couple of occasions but never really managing to keep the Pumas at bay. And ESPN/Sky/Stan managed to sort out the commentary so we had the Australian commentators this week!

I also saw a little bit of South Africa 44-5 Spain in a women's friendly in Johannesburg as the curtain-raiser for the men's game. It feels like a result that is quite unsurprising if you're used to the hierarchy in the men's game, but the women's Springboks' record against Northern Hemisphere teams is not good, and Spain are a decent women's side as well.

No men's matches next weekend (though I believe there's an NZ v Australia women's match that I might try to track down ion Saturday morning). Otherwise it's on to the next round of the Rugby Championship in a fortnight:

Sat 27th Aug 2022
Australia v South Africa (06:30 :sleep:, Sky Sports)
New Zealand v Australia (08:45, Sky Sports)
(edited 1 year ago)
Forgot to do this with the excitement of the weekend so playing catch-up before the main Northern Hemisphere season has even started! :lol:

It was a very early start for the rugby on Saturday and boy way I feeling it by the afternoon!

Australia 25-17 South Africa
Now I know that Australia are a genuinely decent team, and that sometimes South Africa just don't turn up, but this one was pretty comprehensive! 14 of the 17 Springbok points came from a couple of late consolation tries, with the Wallabies leading 25-3 at one stage and being totally dominant. Was it worth getting up at 6am for? Well it had flashes of brilliance but otherwise was a bit dull.

New Zealand 18-25 Argentina
What happened?! This was actually a funny one because my mindset going in was that it was barely worth watching: NZ v Argentina always goes the same way, it looks close at half time and then New Zealand run away in the second half. So when it was close at half time it felt like business as usual. And then NZ failed to run away with it. And Argentina got a bit of a lead. And still the All Blacks failed to take the lead from them. And then full time came. An absolutely historic first ever away win against the All Blacks for Argentina, taking them top of the Rugby Championship halfway through the tournament! And yet somehow it didn't feel like one of the great games?

Next weekend the second set of mini-tours continue, and the other big game is England women's first World Cup warmup game later in the day:

Sat 3rd Sep 2022
New Zealand v Argentina (08:05, Sky Sports)
Australia v South Africa (10:35, Sky Sports)
England v USA Women (15:00, ITV4)
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