Sunday, 24 June 2012

Test games review

Spring test games are now over. For the past 3 weeks Home Nations were trying to get precious scalps on the Southern Hemisphere. The games were exciting. Fans had a chance to watch some interesting matches. Coaches gave young, promising players the chance to get the taste of international rugby. And now is the time to give a brief summary of the series.

photo:Getty Images
After winning the Six Nations Grand Slam, the Welsh team travelled to Australia hoping to sustain their winning run. Players and the coaching staff wanted to prove that they are not only the elite not only on the European soil but also worldwide. It looked like Warren Gatland’s team had had a chance to gain historic success and beat the Wallabies away for the first time since 1969. Despite good effort, and ambitious performance of the Welsh team, the hosts succeeded in all tests.  Australia won 27:19, 25:23 and 20:19.
photo:Getty Images
Ireland’s task couldn’t be more difficult. In all 24 games between New Zealand and Ireland, the Irish have never won. For the most experienced players such as Brian O’Driscoll it was probably the last chance to get the historic victory. Beating All Blacks on their own soil is not easy and the Irish were reminded of this fact at the very first clash losing 42:10. The second game was totally different. New Zealand narrowly won 22:19, sealing the victory in the last minutes. In the third game the champions proved that they are the best team in the world rugby. The knock-out 60:0 disillusioned the Irish team and left them with 27 defeats with All Blacks.      

photo:Getty Images
The English team faced South Africa in the test matches.  Stuart Lancaster’s team showed big fortitude, creating tough opposition for the Springboks. In the first two games England lost 22:17 and 36:27 the third one finished with a draw 14:14 (it was only the second draw in the history of games between these two teams). That is why England finished the series a bit more successful than Wales and Ireland. However at the end it was the Springboks who claimed test series victory.  

photo:Getty Images
The biggest surprise of the test games were undoubtedly the Scots. The team who took the Wooden Spoon in this year’s Six Nations was the only one to defend the honour of the Northern Hemisphere. In the first game accompanied by adverse weather conditions, Andy Robinson’s team defeated Australia 6:9. In the second game, the Scots won 25:37 with Fiji. In the final game they beat Samoa 16:17, which gave the Scottish team a clean sweep. The three victories with very demanding opponents will definitely boost the morale of the Scottish team. Congratulations!

The series of games were interesting tests for the teams from Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Once again, Europe remains second best. Despite the success of the Scottish team and a few close games, the Southern Hemisphere is the leader in the world rugby. That’s why I am even more impatient to see the upcoming Tri Nations tournament – this year in the extended version with Argentina and new brand “The Rugby Championship”.