Best of the Weekend: It’s all New Zealand

Nearly every item that follows in this week’s Best of the Weekend relates to some sort of Kiwi dominance, whether it’s in Super Rugby or the U20 World Cup.

Sonny Bill WilliamsThe Crusaders beat the Sharks in a rematch of the game at Twickenham in March

Crusaders and Blues qualify for Super Rugby semis

The two premier New Zealand teams qualified for the Super Rugby semi-finals to set up two great potential matches next weekend. The Stormers will play the Crusaders in Cape Town whilst the Reds take on the Blues in Brisbane.

The 36-8 win over the Sharks was pretty emphatic on paper, and has installed the wandering Cantabrians as favourites for the title. But the main talking point from that fixture was the performance of referee Bryce Lawrence as nearly every penalty call went against the Sharks, and there were one or two ludicrous decisions.

The New Zealander has come under fire for his ‘red-tinted’ glasses, but few could argue that it really affected the outcome of the match. It’s an interesting debate this close to a Rugby World Cup, in which the All Blacks tend to get refereed much more strictly than they do in between them, and when Richie McCaw keeps getting pinged for offences he was getting away with previously, we could see another meltdown. Maybe it’s all part of the conspiracy against the All Blacks winning their own World Cup.

In the other match, the Blues overcame the Waratahs, reminding us all of the importance of home advantage in the playoffs. They’ll now travel to Queensland to take on the Reds, who topped the log in the regular season.

The Crusaders are slight favourites for the title, ahead of the Reds, so it looks like the bookies have already made their picks for the semi-finals next weekend. They should be two cracking matches, as the season reaches its climax.

Baby Blacks win U20 World Cup

The future of New Zealand rugby appears to be in good hands – as if we would ever have thought otherwise. The New Zealand U20 side continued their run in the competition by lifting the title yet again – they’ve won all four events since it began in 1998.

England U20s were written off before the match, particularly in light of the Baby Blacks’ annihilation of Wales earlier in the tournament, but they put up a valiant fight, going down 33-22. Fly-half Gareth Anscombe kicked everything and looks like a future star – have they found a Dan Carter replacement at last?

There are also encouraging signs from England’s youngsters, who enjoyed a fine tournament, seeing off Ireland, Scotland, South Africa and France along the way.

We need your help

We’re opening up the debate for the Try of the Weekend, Hero and Villain this week. I suspect I know who the villain might be, but share your thoughts and we’ll make a joint decision.

It’s all about the community after all. What do you think? And what were your other highlights of the weekend?

8 thoughts on “Best of the Weekend: It’s all New Zealand

  1. A note on the referees – why they don’t use neutral refs is beyond me. It wouldn’t be too hard to use a ref from the other nation that isn’t involved when it’s a match like this.

    I just can’t wait to see what happens in the Rugby World Cup when they definitely will have neutral referees that all want to get every decision right so that they can officiate the final stages.

  2. If I was from Durban I’d be a bit dirty on the ref – reminded me a bit of Australian cricket umps.

  3. I’m a Sharks fan and I thought the referee’ing was bad, but that didn’t cost us the match, the Saders where just far superior (like in London). The problem with SA rugby is we’re carrying too many ‘expierenxed’ players who are frankly too old to compete with likes of SBW and Co from NZ.

    I’m glad Ritchie hasn’t been getting his way of late, he really pushe te rules and too many ref are scared to blow (same with O’Driscol).

    NZ clearly favourites for the WC and you can see why by watching S15, but I’m worried about France… Just saying!

  4. Just watching the England – NZ game in the U20 world cup back now on Sky Plus as I was away. England could very easily have won that match, and can take a huge amount of positives away from the game as well as the tournament as a whole.

    Alex Gray is the dynamic, leader of an 8 that England fans have craved for so long; Elliot Daly provides the sort of pace and incisiveness in the centre that could decide matches; Christian Wade is an exceptional threat, both from deep and when finishing; Joe Launchbury is another Simon Shaw in the making.I could go on. And that’s not even going into the likes of George Ford and Owen Farrell who are arguably the most talented of the lot!

    New Zealand have obviously been fantastic in this tournament, as they are every year, but this match provided further proof that the academy system is bearing fruit. Perhaps Rob Andrew may even get some credit for this..

  5. Great stuff from the Eng U20s, bodes well that these are guys who can play in big matches even though they lost.

    Jared, don’t be worried about France. I’m sticking my neck out and saying I don’t think they’ll be a feature in this World Cup, losing in the quarters to England. Even if they win that, I don’t think they’ve got it in them to beat 2 of the top teams in consecutive weeks.

  6. eff u crusaders.

    just roll over and get creamed in the ass why don’t ya.
    The bulk of this team will be all blacks and i’m picking an nz/aus final where exactly the same will happen.

    No pride for the homeless cantabrians

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