Friday, October 26, 2007

The Radical Middle

I like these words from a friend of mine in Australia...I'm an accidental Wesleyan, but glad to have found the radical middle:

"I think people choose the Wesleyan Church because it’s theology places it at the "radical middle". The radical middle is a place where the movement of the Holy Spirit is emphasised but not at the expense of character change; a place where worship is emphasised but not to the exclusion of the Word; a place of evangelism and discipleship; of meeting and mission; of sanctification and service. "

Lex Akers
Sth Qld District Superintendent

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Hamster Antics

Running furiously inside the round spinning thing...

National Conference starts tomorrow night - memo to self:

1. Don't agree to preach at the opening when everyone points at you next time
2. Its sensible not to roack the boat and try new things - its generally less tiring
3. People will always disappoint you - they never see the importance of things quite as acutely as you do
4. Most people are more balanced than you are - maybe see if they have a point?

Anyways, its coming together!

Check over at Frank's blog for spot we did on Porn last Sunday @ cessioncommunity

Monday, October 22, 2007

Final Selection RWC XV

Watched most of the snorefest final. Missed the last bit while with Rhys at Thomas "Live on Stage" Tank Engine - definitely the more entertaining option. Guess the best way to win a world cup is to (a) create an impregnanble defensive shield (b) select boring limited players who can achieve this (c) get a good kicker...

As for any gloating South Africans - congratulations - but I'd feel cheated if I were you - after all who did you beat? Fiji - Argentina - England - with all due respect: no one - not your fault and you can only play who they put in front of you, but I'd be feeling a bit hollow...prepare for another Tri Nations hiding in 2008...

Now for the final World Cup XV, with comments:

1. Andrew Sheridan - the outstanding loosehead and most dominating individual performance
2. John Smit (c) - returns after a good final performance and as my captain
3. Carl Hayman - scrapes in ahead of Vickery and Jalil
4. Ali Williams - outstanding lock of the tournament - what was Nucifora thinking?
5. Victor Matfield - the money man
6. Yannick Nyanga - a storming game in a losing team - Serge who? Jerry who?
7. Richie McCaw - not at his best, but still the best
8. Sisa Koyamaibole - the dominating no 8 performance among many tradesmen
9. Fourie Du Preez - player of the tournament
10. Juan Martin Hernandez - a poor semi but played well in the playoff - the most complete 1st five on display
11. Brian Habana - some good competition for this position but he holds them out
12. Francois Steyn - made some good breaks and has some size about him - Contemponi close
13. Matthew Tait - the most promising in a world cup year that failed to inspire at centre
14. Takudzwa Ngwenya - still the try of the tournament, standing up Habana
15. Percy Montgomery - reliable in an average field - Mils is better but apparently he's a centre

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Not Bitter

So an average England defeat the French revealing that the Tricolours can't score tries unless:

(a) The opposition is reduced to 14 men

(b) Forward passes are permitted

Comment of the game: this referee is going to call forward passes
Irony of the game: this referee was a linesman for the AB's slaughter-final

C'est la vie.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

It has to be said

I was glad to see Jock Hobbs make an issue last night of the referee. Henry has only alluded to it very indirectly which is to his credit.

Look at it this way. Federer has a bad day at the office. Its 7-6, 6-7. 7-6, 6-7 and 6-6 in the final set. He has the serve but he's 30-40 down - he's on fault one - he goes for the ace and the umpire calls it out when its clearly in - has the umpire affected the outcome or not?

This fiction that teams lose games and not refs is not completely true. 4 observations:

1. The sin binning that wasn't - its a fact that this turned the game is it not?
2. The forward pass that led to the winning try - when you watch the reply you'll be surprised at how forward this was - its a fact that this was a forward pass right? Foward passes are how you get guys into gaps that otherwise they wouldn't make right?
3. The French hands in the ruck just before this try when we were hard on their line poised to score. Key moment that went unpenalised. Replays are pretty clear.

(See the clips @ Rugby Heaven

4. How do the French go a whole half wthout conceding a penalty? From where I stood there were multiple offsides and infringements at the breakdown. A 10-2 penalty count against the AB's seems harsh. But thats opinion, not fact.

Here's the way I see it. If the AB's played better they would have taken the ref out of the equation. Its true they didn't play up to scatch. There are questions to be asked about why they didn't play better. The French did play well defensively and with plenty of intensity. But the match stats show that they weren't in it. The half time score shows they weren't in it. All this talk of being beaten by a better team may be great sportmanship but its simply not true. The French were fired up but ordinary.

If the ref had got it right. The AB's would have won. I don't know what happened to the ref's performance in the second half. I prefer to think it was the occasion that got to him. Here was a ref with only 11 tests officiating a game between the Tri Nationa and 6 Nations camps. But it has cost us dearly. Might this have been the tough preparatory match that would have propelled this team to World Cup glory. Sadly, we'll never know.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Top 10 Plusses from the AB's Quarter Final Loss

10. It will give players time to recondition before the Super 14
9. Dan Carter's calf will be ready for his next game
8. Less people will be gambling their grocery money at the TAB
7. NZ tourists in Europe will have some extra time to visit historic and cultural attractions
6. Only one person lost $5million betting on the AB's
5. Drop goals will get practised more
4. People will get played out of position less
3. The Silver Jersey will never be seen again
2. Not hearing much from the Australians
1. Wayne Barnes will never have such a bad game as a referee again

Add your contenders for the top 10 if you desire...

RWC Team

The RWC goes on and with it my promise to pick a dream team every Monday. SO here it is:

1. Andrew Sheridan - awesomely assertive game
2. Anton Oliver - his best game as an AB? Lineout 100% + strong with the ball in hand
3. Carl Hayman - still undefeated
4. Ali Williams - an outstanding lineout performance and willing around the park
5. Victor Matfield - still the king and great ball to set up try
6. Jerry Collins - no one better at this World Cup @ 6
7. Richie McCaw - perhaps a little below his best but still the world's best
8. Sisa Koyamaibole - massive game getting across the advantage line
9. Fourie Du Preez - the outstanding halfback although Pinochet played well also
10. Johnny Wilkinson - sticks in my craw but HE kicked his team to a win
11. Vilamoni Delasau - electric - a game breaker who's been doing it for a few games now
12. Francois Steyn - the mid field back of the tournament
13. Matthew Tait - his team won and there's no one else
14. Takudzwa Ngwenya - the outstanding try of the tournament one on one against Habana
15. Percy Montgomery - consistent in a field of also rans - Mils had no chance to challenge

Key selection feature: no Frenchies. After all, not a world beater among them.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

On the Waugh-Path

For those of you with a Wesleyan flava, National Superintendent Richard Waugh has finally posted on his blog! Check it out here Make sure you comment!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The AB's Selection

Some surprises in the AB Quarterfinal selections...

Leon MacDonald
Joe Rokocoko
Mils Muliaina
Luke McAlister
Sitiveni Sivivatu
Daniel Carter
Byron Kelleher

Rodney So'oialo

Richie McCaw (c)
Jerry Collins
Ali Williams
Keith Robinson
Carl Hayman
Anton Oliver
Tony Woodcock

Keven Mealamu

Neemia Tialata
Chris Jack
Chris Masoe
Brendon Leonard
Nick Evans
Isaia Toeava

The big talking points are Muliaina at centre, no Doug Howlett, Oliver edging ahead of Mealamu and Robinson in at lock.

It would be easy to ask why in the world we'd head into our third world cup with a fullback at centre...but then Mils is widely regarded as the best centre in NZ - he's just also the best fullback in the world. The selectors do make sense on this one though - are Smith and Toeava at centre the equivalent of MacDonald at fullback? Answer: on current form , no. If MacDonald wasn't playing so well, this would be a risky selection. As it is, its probably for the best.

The absence of Doug Howlett is sad. This may be a horses for courses selection against a French side that is not exactly strong at wing. So the defensive qualities of Howlett are less needed. All 3 of the NZ wingers are in form, so its not something you can argue too strongly against. But my wingers would have been Joe and Dougie.

Oliver is clearly a horses for courses selection against a traditionally powerful French front row. I'd pick Mealmu to start against Aussie if we get that far (indeed if they get that far!)

Robinson makes sense. He needs the game time. He won't let anyone down. Jack is on the bench as cover. If they were all fully fit this would be my selection - I think Jack is below his best - still worthy of a spot, but it would have been interesting for him if Eaton and Ryan had been competing for world cup berths.

Overall a strong team and one that should deal to the French. The big question: will French desperation drive them to an above-expectation performance? Fortunately the game is in Cardiff, so the AB's might even go in as crowd favourites. Unthinkable that we lose this one - we have Argentina to thank for the opportunity! The French have not beaten the AB's in 7 years. While the '99 loss still hurts, it must be now true that the AB's are the French bogey team, rather than the other way round?

One can but hope.

Monday, October 01, 2007

The Prophet's Record

So a prophet should always be judged by his record which is why the Benny Hinn's of this world are fakes. But this prophet didn't quite get it right either - my May predictions for the quarter finals of the RWC were:

QF 1: Australia v England - OK so I got this right - too close to call - Aussie are not playing badly, but they underperformed against Canada - England are improving (the only way is up) and may just have too much firepower in the forwards

QF2: NZ v France - Argentina added some heat to the pool of death and Ireland wilted - we get our bogie team France instead - I say we just blow them off the park as a long overdue revenge for '99

QF 3: South Africa v Fiji - so the boys from the valleys went down in the final match to the Bula Boys - meaning SA will have a sterner test from Fiji than Wales would have given them

QF 4: Argentina v Scotland - by topping their pool the Argies get the easiest route to the semis...and the most likely ticket home after the semi against SA

So I picked 5 out of 8 teams which is another way of saying that I missed all 3 of the teams that were harder to pick given that NZ, SA, AUS, France and England were always going to go through.

Guess that means its time for me to start an international healing ministry...

World Cup - Pre Quarter Finals

A few changes in this week's World Cup dream XV. Some players keep their place simply because there were no commanding performances by players in equivalent positions. Its a new look midfield. First change on form is Matthew Tait who comes in for Stirling Mortlock. Tait was great on defence for England against Tonga and showed some nice touches on attack. I don't think we have seen any truly great centre play at this cup so far - even Mortlock who is in most people's estimation the best centre of display, is a journeyman compared to world cup greats of the past like Sella and Bunce. Francois Steyn also gets the nod ahead of Contemponi at second five (I know Contemponi only played one game at second five this tournament). I think Steyn and Giteau are now head to head for second five, unless McAlister can bring some consistency on defence and control on attack to his game. Lauaki edges out Leguizamon - again there are no amazing number 8's on display at this RWC - Lauaki impressed on attack and defence, although he needs to work on his scrum control. He edges out Soialo as well in my NZ team for the quarter finals this week.

And in the final surprise change - Brian Habana is out. Takudzwa Ngwenya is in (USA via Zimbabwe). In a head to head contest Ngwenya displayed an awesome in and out against Habana and then blitzed past him on the outside. He has all the skills and is clearly the quickest player in the tournament. In a losing side, he was a standout player.

1. Tony Woodcock
2. John Smit
3. Carl Hayman*
4. Ali Williams
5. Victor Matfield*
6. Jerry Collins
7. Richie McCaw*
8. Sione Lauaki
9. Fourie Du Preez*
10. Dan Carter*
11. Doug Howlett
12. Francois Steyn
13. Matthew Tait
14. Takudzwa Ngwenya
15. Chris Latham