Planet Rugby

Loose Pass

01st July 2014 06:43

Share:

Nemani Nadolo Fiji v Cook Islands RWC qualifier 2014

Nemani Nadolo and Fiji ended the Cook Islands' RWC dreams

Welcome to Loose Pass, our weekly collection of tannic reds, over-alcoholic rosés and acidic whites.

This week we will mostly be cooking with World Cup qualifiers and bizarre choices of attire.

The IRB World Cup qualifying round has this time thrown up more rarities than most.

Germany looked like a side that might write a new name into Europe's sub-six Nations balance of power for a while. The Cook Islands were a game away, while Madagascar are hosting a tournament from which they could end up qualifying - at the very least a play-off against Russia is up for grabs. Hong Kong are up against Uruguay - the winners of that one are in with England, Wales, Australia and Fiji!.

The Cook Islands' story was perhaps the best. Only 500 registered players are in coach Barry George's local selection pool, and they travelled to Lautoka, via the northern half of New Zealand's South Island where they played a brace of warm-up games, with the campaign banner 'One Win, One Dream' spurring them on.

This followed on from a locally-produced documentary from director Scott Kelso entitled 'One More Win', documenting the campaign, the lack of funding, the sacrifices made... all typical cliches perhaps, but with giant countries, if not giant rugby cultures, making inroads into the sport, it was good to know that such fairy tales could exist.

And for 27 minutes, they held firm, took chances and were leading the Fijians, twice World Cup quarter-finalists, 6-5 on their own patch. One Dream was real.

Alas, it was not to be. The Fijians' largely professional class, led by one of the year's finds Nemani Nadolo, ensured that this particular Goliath was wearing safety goggles. Fiji ran in 13 tries in the second half, not even leaving the visitors the crumb of a consolation dot-down in the 108-6 victory.

But as I have heard from a couple of international 'minnow' coaches over the past year, the important thing is to be there, then be there again next time and even if you lose, you lose by a little less. One day you will get there.

Meanwhile in Madagascar, the rugby-nuts locals pitched up to the tune of some 25,000 people to see their side take on Zimbabwe in the capital Antananarivo.

Sadly for them, the bubble was burst by the opposition as well. Zimbabwe, who have not been at a World Cup since the 1991 tournament, raced into a 22-0 half-time lead and while the Malagasi mounted a spirited fightback to make it 22-15, that was as good as it got in the 57-22 defeat.

The other result in the second match of the four-team play-off was a bit more of a surprise with Kenya defeating Namibia 27-22. While the Namibians were short a couple of their more marquee players, the result - and the manner it was achieved in - was a definite benefit from Kenya's long-term investment in their Sevens game.

It will take a long time for the effects to trickle down completely, but there was never a more important moment for the game than the decision to include sevens in the Olympics.


Back to the realms of the professionals and their own choices and.... who in (insert deity here)'s name chose the kit for the Rebels to humiliate themselves in this weekend past?

Looking like a white canvas supplied to a group of four-year-olds in a Dulux factory, it was every bit as hideous as the first-half performance from the home side.

It was said to be in the name of the indigenous art of the cultures constituting the Rebels, but there are tasteful displays of art, and there was this jersey.

Is there no end to the sacrifice of identity in the name of a marketing ploy?

The jerseys are now on auction - supposedly they have been kept in playing condition for this (dear Deity, the stench!) - with the proceeds funding the Victoria U14 and U16 teams' tours of New Zealand later this season.

It's a noble cause, there's lots to laud about the concept. But goodness me, why that design? Is the regional representative team's regular colours not an honour enough?


Anyway, had there been any major talking points from the weekend past I might not have talked about it... after all the drama of the past month, did we really have a weekend of flawless officiating, no TMO controversy and plain good rugby? Excellent...

Loose Pass compiled by former Planet Rugby Editor Danny Stephens

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 19
Gloucester vs Exeter19:45
Saturday , September 20
Sale vs London Welsh14:00
London Irish vs Saracens15:00
Harlequins vs Wasps15:00
Bath vs Leicester15:15
Sunday , September 21
Newcastle vs Northampton14:00
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , September 19
Munster vs Zebre19:30
Cardiff Blues vs Ulster19:35
Connacht vs Leinster19:35
Saturday , September 20
Newport Gwent D'gons vs Glasgow14:40
Scarlets vs Benetton Treviso18:00
Sunday , September 21
Ospreys vs Edinburgh16:00
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Friday , September 19
Brive vs Toulon18:00
Saturday , September 20
Racing Metro Paris vs Toulouse18:00
La Rochelle vs Bordeaux-Begles18:00
Clermont Auvergne vs Lyon18:00
Castres vs Oyonnax18:00
Grenoble vs Bayonne18:00
Montpellier vs Stade Francais18:00
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Friday , September 19
Lions vs Pumas19:10
Saturday , September 20
Western Province vs Griquas15:00
Blue Bulls vs Sharks17:05
Eastern Province Kings vs Cheetahs19:10
More Currie Cup fixtures
ITM Cup
Thursday , September 18
Northland vs TaranakiNorthland vs Taranaki Preview
Friday , September 19
Counties Manukau vs CanterburyCounties Manukau vs Canterbury Preview
More ITM Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
ITM Cup
Wednesday, September 17
Southland 14 - 38 TasmanSouthland vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , September 14
Wasps 20 - 16 NorthamptonWasps vs Northampton Report
Newcastle 18 - 20 London IrishNewcastle vs London Irish Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Cardiff Blues 12 - 33 GlasgowCardiff Blues vs Glasgow Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Bordeaux-Begles 27 - 21 MontpellierBordeaux-Begles vs Montpellier Report
More Top 14 results
ITM Cup
Waikato 26 - 21 Counties ManukauWaikato vs Counties Manukau Report
Hawkes Bay 41 - 0 Otago
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , September 13
Gloucester 34 - 27 Sale SharksGloucester vs Sale Sharks Report
Bath 53 - 26 London WelshBath vs London Welsh Report
Exeter 20 - 24 LeicesterExeter vs Leicester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Rugby Championship
New Zealand 14 - 10 South AfricaNew Zealand vs South Africa Report
Australia 32 - 25 ArgentinaAustralia vs Argentina Report
More Rugby Championship results
Guinness PRO12
Leinster 42 - 12 ScarletsLeinster vs Scarlets Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Toulouse 9 - 13 Clermont AuvergneToulouse vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Bayonne 23 - 6 Brive
Oyonnax 40 - 27 Grenoble
Racing Metro Paris 28 - 11 LyonRacing Metro Paris vs Lyon Report
Toulon 24 - 28 Stade FrancaisToulon vs Stade Francais Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Griquas 31 - 27 PumasGriquas vs Pumas Report
Lions 35 - 33 Western ProvinceLions vs Western Province Report
Cheetahs 30 - 30 SharksCheetahs vs Sharks Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Bay Of Plenty 12 - 27 AucklandBay Of Plenty vs Auckland Report
Southland 36 - 34 Northland
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 12
Harlequins 0 - 39 SaracensHarlequins vs Saracens Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Benetton Treviso 10 - 21 MunsterBenetton Treviso vs Munster Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Saracens29
2Bath29
3Leicester Tigers29
4Exeter26
5Northampton26