The Buffalo edges out the giraffe in the second row for good reason
The recent trip to Africa got me thinking about the Animal XV, and so three years on from the original, we thought we’d revisit selection.
Plenty of thought went into to that team with several knowledgeable people consulted for their opinions, and a quick glance down the teamsheet tells you that it’s a great side.
However, with the passage of time, the evolution of the game and some new research, we can make a few tweaks to the lineup – so here is our Animal XV 2010.
Narrowly missed out originally, but widely tipped as the ideal front row option. Obvious strengths in the scrum, but with a surprising turn of speed when required. The rhino’s rarity will also prevent opposition analysts from performing much research, but rugby is a team game and so this animal must learn to mix with the others.
2. Silverback Gorilla
Retains the number 2 shirt, and should benefit further from the Rhino’s immovability at tighthead. Long arms will bind that front row together and sheer strength will ensure that it never takes a step backwards.
The bull edges in front of the Grizzly Bear in the latest selection, after new evidence came to light in Pamplona, where our scouts were able to testify as to the speed of this animal. Undoubted strength and a real asset in the tight and the loose.
Seeing the giraffe in action was what prompted the revision of this team. On paper the ideal candidate, but in reality, awkward, gangly and timid and takes 10 minutes just to stand up – not what you need at half time. The Buffalo on the other hand is surprisingly large and will bring more bulk and power to the second row.
Retains the number 5 shirt, but there are one or two areas of its game to develop. A more aggressive edge would help, and needs to work on speed off the mark.
6. Polar Bear (c)
The most aggressive bear remains our trusted captain. There is no evidence of a decline in the ‘lead-by-example’ style of captaincy, and there is yet to be an opponent that has faced the polar bear and come out on top.
On the suggestion of various scouts, the shark has pipped the Hyena in the latest side. Fast and dangerous and will be a constant threat to anyone nearby, whilst the Hyena offers a great bench option to make an impact against tired opposition.
The talismanic Number 8 remains as part of the spine of this team, and has been working on back row moves where he switches places with the Polar Bear in some attacking situations to put the fear of God into the opposition scrum-half.
9. Tazmanian Devil
Despite the rabbit and various apes snapping at the Devil’s heels, our Tazmanian friend retains the number 9 slot. Pace, quality of distribution and that arrogant edge will keep the opponents honest.
A crucial position and a tricky role to fill, but we’ve kept faith with the Chimp. Other options included the dolphin (poor hands) and the sheepdog (takes orders rather than gives them), but the Chimp has the intelligence and the skills to boss the game.
You can’t drop the fastest animal, but needs to work on sprint endurance – 60 seconds of sprinting requires a few hours’ rest, and that simply doesn’t cut it at this level.
Despite question marks over the dolphin’s passing ability, we’re looking for a ball-carrying 12 and with so much Jonny Wilkinson-esque practice in that department, the dolphin stays and with some work on the offload, it could fix a couple of defenders and put the Tiger in space.
Another of the trusted backline to maintain its position, and for good reason. Fast and deadly, and with the intelligence to avoid contact where necessary.
The greyhound usurps the gazelle on the wing, which seems to be too skittish and timid to be a real force on the wing. The greyhound has sheer pace and a will to win that ought to stand it in good stead.
The Kangaroo was tipped for full-back and would provide another kicking option, but the racehorse is maintained for its speed, strength and more elusive running lines.
There remains some room for improvement, and work must continue on encouraging teamwork and cooperation, drumming the selfish behaviour out of players such as the Tazmanian Devil and the Rhino.
Any suggestions are welcome as always.