This week sees a lull in local rugby after last week’s final league games. There is a certain degree of doubt as to whether the knock out games will go ahead given the reservations expressed in respect of Kandy. Even if one were to discount the so called disputed points Kandy would still be winners and I cannot fathom the need for the controlling bodies to dilly dally on a final decision.
Hopefully sanity will prevail and Kandy will be awarded the cup. Despite one’ s loyalties to various clubs, you cannot take away the fact Kandy was the far superior team this year as done for the eleventh consecutive time. Instead of bickering, it’s time to look at the Kandy model and build on that expertise if one is to seriously challenge their ascendency to the pinnacle of local rugby.
Last week it was pathetic to see that Kandy after winning the league in grand style was not awarded the trophy. However there was a trophy on hand given by the team sponsors and the rapturous cheers of the Kandy fans and the fireworks thereafter was a sight to behold. The knock outs are slated to commence from 2nd September and conclude within 15 days.
Overseas we were greeted with the news of the axing of Rocky Elsom as the Wallabies skipper. The guts of the ARB must be admired in that just three weeks before the World Cup they are able to take such a decision. Certain local boards can definitely take a leaf out of this book and ensure that only those that are currently in form and performing are chosen to represent the country. Whether such a day will dawn is up for conjecture at this point in time. The other omission was that of Matt Giteau who obviously fell out of favour of the selectors after the shock loss to Samoa. The fact that Matt can play anywhere, including halfback and is considered a left-foot option has not held him in good stead.
Berrick Barnes gets a nod into the squad and it would be interesting to see if he will play ahead of Quade Cooper. The successful pairing of Cooper and Genia maybe broken as there is a school of thought that the defense of Cooper is suspect. However one must not forget that it this pair that brought the Reds the title.
The new Aussie skipper is from the Reds and I am sure that Genia and company will enjoy their game better.
On the international games, South Africa will meet New Zealand as part of the Tri Nations championship / freedom cup whilst the others will be general warm up games. Wales are on a high after beating England last week and will be out to prove a point this week against Argentina. Flamboyant France will be meeting Ireland at Lansdowne road and their form will be closely watched by the rugby enthusiasts. At Murrayfield, Scotland will host Italy, and notwithstanding the financial woes, Italy will have their hands full if they are to contain Scotland.