Summer Tours 2012: Winners

With England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales now either in transit or back home, a long season that began last July with preparations for the Rugby World Cup has finally come to a close. With that in mind, here are the winners from the summer tours who will be headed for sandy beaches with a smile on their face, with the losers left kicking their heels set to be revealed later today:



Fellow Six Nations supporters will argue that Scotland’s tour was the easiest of all this summer, but by doing so they would appear to be devouring more than their fair share of sour grapes. For any team to battle through what initially looked to appear the apocalypse in Newcastle before seeing of both Fiji and then Samoa on their home turf deserves praise, especially when you’ve been torn to shreds by media and fans alike during the previous Six Nations.

The main positives have been the development of Greig Laidlaw at fly-half, Tim Visser grabbing a brace on debut and a brilliant defensive effort spearheaded by the back row of Strokosch, Rennie and Barclay. But arguably the most important factor has been that Scotland are a winning side again – their previous victory before defeating Australia was a 15-6 nightmare against Georgia at the Rugby World Cup – restoring their confidence in both Andy Robinson and themselves.

Leigh Halfpenny

Given that Leigh Halfpenny only first started a game at full back for Wales 8 months ago, he has developed into the role beautifully. The tour of Australia marked the confirmation of Halfpenny as a world class goal kicker, notching up 41/44 possible points over the three tests and taking every high ball that came his way brilliantly. To see him kick so well around Australia bodes well for the Lions next year, but the problem will be where to accommodate him dependent on the form of British & Irish wingers over next season, not to mention Ben Foden and Rob Kearney. When he kicks like he has this summer however, Halfpenny becomes essential.

Tom Johnson

Few players are handed an international debut aged 29 but Tom Johnson has been a revelation for England on their tour of South Africa. From the opening minutes of the 1st Test when he pounced on a turnover to the dynamism of his runs at the end of the 3rd game in Port Elizabeth, he instantly stood out, his red scrum cap making him impossible to miss. His selection, much in the same way as with Alex Goode and Joe Marler, is proof that good form in the Aviva Premiership will be rewarded by the current national coaching team. By becoming the first player from Exeter to be selected for England since 1964, he may have opened a floodgate for talent from the Devon club to be picked for international rugby. An exceptional tour, one to be proud of.

New Zealand

With the William Webb Ellis Cup safely tucked away at NZRU headquarters, you would imagine the pressure would be off the All Blacks shoulders. How wrong. With a new coaching regime in place and a crop of exciting youngsters impressing in Super Rugby, the New Zealand public naturally expected a series whitewash over an Irish side who have never beaten them, ever. The 1st Test was comfortable enough as the All Blacks blew off the cobwebs, but it was in the 2nd when they were driven all the way to the wire that New Zealand proved that despite some new faces, they still had what it took to close out a nervy game where they failed to play at their best.

How much the 3rd Test is worth looking into is up for debate but sides don’t score 9 tries just like that, let alone 9 quality tries. In the process of three Tests they brought international rugby back to a previously beleaguered Christchurch, blooded promising stars in Aaron Smith, Julian Savea and Sam Cane, and re-confirmed for any that were hoping for a dip in form why they are the world’s greatest side.

Berrick Barnes

June has been a busy month for the Waratahs and Wallaby pivot. Aside from finding some dearly absent form for the three Test series against Wales, Barnes also became a father for the first time in the week leading up the 2nd Test. In fact, it meant that Barnes had a frantic dash to Sydney and back from Melbourne, joining up with his team-mates just 90 minutes before kick-off. He promptly celebrated the birth of Archie Barnes by putting in a Man of the Match performance against the Welsh, excelling with the boot. He backed it up with another dominant display in the 3rd Test in Sydney with 15 points, including the winning penalty to cap a truly fine series. One that he certainly won’t forget.

Stay tuned later to find out who disappointed this summer…

by Ben Coles

20 thoughts on “Summer Tours 2012: Winners

  1. “Stay tuned later to find out who disappointed this summer”

    Ooh. I feel that one may melt these boards…

    Nothing much to add the above. Was sceptical about Halfpenny when he first came on the scene, but the guy is absolute quality (dammit).

    Just a cautionary note re Scotland. Take away the Austrailia result and this tour would have been as expected. The Austrailia match reminded me of their win over South Africa a few years ago. Caught them cold, horrendous conditions, no tries. Yet they were everyone’s dark horses for the following 6n and came last or second from last. Maybe this time is diffferent, but I’m just not convinced that Robinson cna bring the best out in his players.

    1. Yeah, I wouldn’t get into hyping up Scotland. Their juniors perform as bad as the senior team every 6 nations and even though this years JWC was the most competitive ever, Scotland weren’t anything to do with that. They played a B Australia side in awful conditions, and conceded far too many points against Samoa and Fiji, though to be fair they didn’t lose. I still don’t see them getting any higher than 5th. in next years 6 nations. They don’t have the players, and they don’t have the players coming through the ranks to compete with the top teams in the future.

      1. Don’t have the players, I’ve extracted this from another article

        The total of 46 capped players does not even include Alex Grove, who toured but hasn’t appeared in an international since 2010. Also waiting in the wings ready to make comebacks are the likes of Kelly Brown, Dave Denton, Nikki Walker, Rory Lamont, Rory Lawson, Lee Jones, Allan Jacobsen, Ben Cairns, and Jim Hamilton each of whom missed the Australasian sojourn either through injury, resting or suspension.

        Additionally, all the new caps in the past season – Denton, Jones, Tim Visser, Stuart Hogg, Ed Kalman, Matt Scott, Jon Welsh, Tom Ryder, Rob Harley, Ryan Grant, Duncan Weir, Tom Brown, and Jack Cuthbert – will be particularly desperate to add to their laurels. And don’t forget the new breed massing on the horizon.

        These as yet uncapped rookies include Stuart McInally and Alex Dunbar, flown out to the tour as cover without being required to play, along with the likes of Sale’s Fraser McKenzie and Glasgow hooker Pat McArthur, who is particularly highly-rated by former Lions captain Colin Deans while, further down the track, Jamie Farndale has just returned from the World Under-20 championships as the tournament’s top try scorer with six.

  2. Can’t argue with any of the above at all. Johnson was just superb in that final test, seemed to be absolutely everywhere!

  3. Johnson’s form leaves Lancaster with a bit of a dilemma once Croft and Wood are back.

    Robshaw seems to be improving at openside with every match he plays and is every inch the leader and captain. Hartly showed in the last test that he really isn’t captain material.

    So with everyone fit who do you play? Croft doesn’t do much of the dirty work and will not hit as many tackles, but he adds an element to both the lineout and running play. Wood is not a dissimilar player to Robshaw – massive engine and appeared to be improving with every international game.

    Choices, choices

    I would play Wood, Robshaw and Morgan (if his fitness has demonstrably improved) and stick Johnson on the bench to cover across the back row and be used as an impact player

    Croft for me is a luxury and we can little afford that at the moment

    (also forgot about Haskell – if someone can teach him how to do it, would love to see him challenging for 8)

    1. Wood, Robshaw and Morgan/TTTE would appear to be the best combination going ahead. I just hope England don’t rsik Robshaw by playing him with a fractured thumb again.

    2. Haskell was total quality week on week out for my highlanders. England don’t chose him at their peril. He just needs focussed discipline…..what a loose forward. Class.,

  4. I have to say, if you are a tight-head prop and you go to South Africa and play as well as Dan Cole has, particularly at scrum time, then you have to be acknowledged as world class.

  5. No Genia? Quiet in the second two tests but arguably gave the standout performance of all the summer tests in the first game against Wales. He was untouchable and I don’t think you can pin all of that on the lethargic Welsh defence.

    Where did this recurring idea that the third ABs test is questionable come from? Wales, Scotland and England all played three tests, none of them capitulated quite so spectacularly. Ireland were royally thumped – NZ deserve massive praise for their performance in that game and Ireland deserve the derision that any of the other NH teams would have been subjected to (and have been in the past) if they had lost without a single score.

  6. Benjit and Magneto123. I don’t think there’s too much over-hyping here re Scotland. As mentioned they had by far the easiest tour. However, after a torrid run this represents a wee bit of a lift for us Scottish fans, and on the face of it 3 out of 3 has to be taken as a positive. I think we have a number of good young players coming through, but time will tell. I don’t think anyone here in Scotland sees this as more than a first step hopefully on the road to improvement… Likewise I think folk are more than aware that a fair few more results are required to see us elevated above the bottom rung of the home nations. I for one am extremely nervous about the prospect of our first Autumn test against the ABs, and yes, 4th place in 6N 2013 would be a substantial improvement. However, relatively speaking this was a good tour for the Scottish rugby team.

  7. Yes, Scotland may have had the “easiest” tour (although 2 games in succession against Fiji and Samoa ain’t that easy), but surely kudos should be given to the team and the S(cottish)RU for travelling there in the first place? After all, 3 wins will do a hell of a lot for Scottish confidence.

    And by the way, I think they worked out that 15 of the Oz players who played v Scotland played in the 1st Test v Wales, and either 16 or 14 the second. Hardly second string.

    1. just their first test of the season. caught em napping. slayed in the autumn, and i’m a kjiwi.

      1. Caught em napping, no don’t think so Australia chose a team they thought would win but LIKE LAST TIME didn’t

  8. Scotland deserve quedos for being the only NH team to come home unbeaten. Beating Australia at home is no easy feat yet they did, so good on them.

    I thought Wales had a chance against the Aussies but fell short (not by much I might add) even so they can still hold their heads high as can England who also pushed SA to the limit. I don’t see this as being content with a close losses but rather a sure sign of improvement and a narrowing of the gap between NH and SH teams.

    Wish I could say the same for Ireland (being an Irish supporter) but I can’t. The Blacks are in a league of their own and Ireland copped it after pushing them close last week.

    But I doubt any team (Aust and SA incl) could have stopped them, and the frightening thing is that they’ve introduced a new batch of players into the frame, a whole troop of players that were part of their U20 teams (their U20’s have won the last 5 junior world cups – 2012 the exception where they came 2nd to SA) so there’s a vertiable production line of world champions coming through their ranks. A scary prospect with Autumn tours looming.

  9. A B’s will be hard pressed, not to take total rugby by storm. Having done the wc, maintain world rankin. And probably give them something new to strive for. Specially with a wc in sight. No better reward

  10. Something like that. Deans must forget he’s coaching aussie’s. Sour grapes, but thats how we are trans tasman buddies. Every team that has a 1st up test against them from now on, must be quietly confident.

Comments are closed.