The Terrific Tens!
The Terrific Tens!
The Terrific Tens!
Like a lot of people, I was a bit sceptical of the Global Tens in Brisbane.
Like many I thought it would be played differently.
And like a lot of people I’m sure, I was surprised as to how much I enjoyed it.
We expected it to be more like sevens than fifteens, but it was the opposite.
With five forwards there was a bit more going on at set piece, a lot more going on at the breakdown and a whole lot more going on in defence, where it got pretty intense.
Games were low scoring. And not the razzle dazzle try fests many thought they would be. Sure there were scrappy periods of play, and way more kicking than we thought - due in no small way to the soaring temperatures, but it was kind of fascinating to see how teams quickly adjusted their tactical approach.
Bearing all that in mind, it looked a bit more than just the pre-season hit and giggle some had anticipated.
There were enough big names to keep the promoters happy, but even more importantly, some young talent, guys like Sean Stevenson, George Bridge, Nathan Vella and Reed Prinsep grabbed the chance to shine and stake a claim for Super Rugby spots. The Aussies unveiled a couple of interesting new prospects as well.
It was a good weekend for the New Zealand teams, with only the Blues missing out on the playoffs and they probably would have made it had they not missed a conversion right in front in their drawn game with Queensland.
The Kiwi teams looked just that bit fitter and sharper than the rest, a promising sign going into the new season, and the coaches played it smarter with their use of the unlimited subs.
And, of course, the Chiefs came out on top to give the tournament a deeply meaningful outcome as they paid their tribute to fallen comrade Sione Lauaki. They did him proud, and Liam Messam’s tearful tributes will provide a lasting memory.
There were some downsides.
Obviously the injuries to Brad Weber, Mitchell Graham (who’d been playing outstandingly for the Chiefs) and Vaea Fifita are going to make a significant dent in their Super Rugby squads for a while, and the Crusaders will be a little worried about Tim Bateman, given that he looks set to play an important role in a reshaped backline this year.
Initial response from the coaches has been philosophical about the injuries, but they might have different feelings as they take stock once the buzz has died down.
Fitness trainers will be contemplating how to put back the kilos that were lost in the sweltering heat, and the Reds have lost internet sensation Taniela Tupou for the first week of Super Rugby after his headbutt-lite in the Chiefs clash. Tupou is a fascinating prospect, but was denied the impact many thought he might make in the abbreviated game, and is still having to make some big adjustments from his days of rampaging in the backline while others did the graft in college rugby.
Aside from Super Rugby regulars Rowan Hoffman and Brendan Pickerill, the refereeing was pretty average, and Samoa were downright shafted in their game against the home team.
And the crowds, even if, as we kept being told, hundreds were hiding in the shade, were nowhere near what they would have wanted, and may not ever get to where they need to be if the tournament’s going to be played in that heat.
But all in all, it was a lot more compelling than I’ll bet many of us thought, and despite the fact that the calendar continues to clog up, might well be worth continuing with.
I’ll lob one last thought out there.
Would Duco contemplate swapping over the Auckland Nines and the Global Tens?
It might be a naturally better fit.
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