Rugby Intelligence? KiwiLeaks? Piqued too soon?

07Aug10

“It was a defensive session anyway, and at the end of the day you have still got to go out there and make sure you do everything possible to get over the gain line and are in space,”  No, not Rocketman Joe Rokocoko but mild mannered  Mils Muliaina talking about the heinous  leaks in the build-up to Bledisloe I.

The recent Afghan WikiLeaks may have been the biggest leak of American intelligence since the Vietnam era Pentagon Papers but closer to home it was Rugby KiwiLeaks that really ran hot in terms of column centimetres a week ago.

Leakwise the domestic news had been filled with stories of leaky homes and leaky parliamentarians*.  Likewise the international news had been dominated by the leaking of 90,000 intelligence documents, the modern equivalent of the Pentagon Papers in the Vietnam War era.

But releasing important rugby intelligence: this was really treacherous. The patriotic outrage in some quarters was palpable. This was rugby, for godsake, not some bloody game.  

Despite widespread publication in several newspapers, the apparently unconscionable  incontinence  of Kiwi-born  Getty Images  photographer Scott Barbour in leaking the All Blacks defensive tactical diagram* didn’t derail the ABs in Melbourne.  Their performance  on the night had few, if any, negatives. 

A week later, hours before Bledisloe II, to which I am heading with my 6 year old grandson if the southerly hangs off, I can now reveal that the purported Flash Harry exposure by the male Mata Hari from Harihari was actually a carefully planted leak by a patriotic double agent working hand in glove with the NZRU.

Counterespionage

Close inspection reveals that Graham Henry was actually holding a blown up photocopy of Rodney Hide’s shirt cuff notes for Dancing with the Stars *(“Item 1: The Quick Step-Dancing your political party partner to the right”).  

The real act of pre-test sabotage last week was to the ground. The enclosed Etihad Stadium, nee Colonial Stadium and formerly Telstra Dome,  was hardly pitch perfect.  Close up video camera shots, (not taken by Scott Barbour, because in a photo finish he’d been redcarded for the series to protect his cover), showed that the slippery playing surface was more Torvill and Dean than Henry and Deans. The Hide diagram may have been a big help after all.

 At other times visible sand was kicked up like yesteryear’s Bondi Beach bully kicking the stuff into the face of a 90lb weakling in dire need of bulking up.

On some much better quality home turf it’s now poor old Robbie Deans, Canterbury’s own, who is skating on thin ice and Graham Henry who has the skiting rights.  Would the senior AB coach have thought to himself ten years ago that, when he’s 64,* he’d be coaching an All Black side to 13 wins on the trot plus  8 consecutive wins against the wannabe Wallabies? If he makes it 9 tonight that’s definitely one for  the octopus on TedTalks*.

Even the most monocular visioned denizens of Robbies  bars in Christchurch, who wouldn’t have a bar of Ted Henry after the debacle of the last RWC, when he was re-appointed All Blacks coach  ahead of the pre-annointed other local lad,  would have to concede that the critics were piqued too soon.

Some may even give a grudging nod of respect not just to Graham Henry but to Steve Hansen and Wayne Smith, those other coaching locals who make up the AB’s triumphant triumvirate.

It’s a real test for Robbie and his Ockers tonight at AMI Stadium, which has the new Deans Stand, and, for the night only, the Henry Stand, courtesy of Paul Kelly.

Dean’s avenue of attack will be focused laser-like; we saw signs of great potential last week when they were one man down (rather unfairly)  for a long time. 

The new Rugby Road from Cathedral Square to the stadium is being trialled tonight as a RWC 2011 warm up for walkers only. With the way the new rugby rules are working and with the intense sense of occasion I hope the  game won’t also be a  pedestrian affair.

Apparently some senior Australian Labour party figures have placed significant bets against their own party in the upcoming federal election. Robbie better ban his boys from betting at the TAB before the Bledisloe test . There is enough dodgy insider trading elsewhere.

I gave Kev the Kea the opportunity of  a predictive dry run,using  this  Saturday’s test as a trial for next year’s RWC, by offering him the choice between a leg of Oamaru wallaby and a nice bit of Heller’s black pudding. Kevin ignored both and buggered off with the barbeque bag.

Bereft of ornithogical logic my own  intuition is that, if the Aussies can keep a full team on the paddock-and it is the All Blacks who might register the most refereeing black marks -the game will be a lot closer than many might think. I  certainly wouldn’t discount a Wallaby win against the odds, especially if the much heralded weather change keeps holding off, as it looks like doing.

If you hear a sudden great gust of wind that will either be the southerly hitting or a  great sigh of relief from Robbie. 

Footnote  In another blow to Oz pride, it appears that the wallaby, like the kangaroo, isn’t a  home grown marsupial but an ancient import from South America via ancient Godwanaland. It’s a bit of a dag: obviously the originals didn’t tie their kangaroos down.

 *BLINKS

 www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/sport/3968800/R…   The Leak

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Torvill+and+Dean   Vid 1984 Olympics – Bolero
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGtSpsYURAQ Vid When I’m 64

http://www.ted.com/talks/mike_degruy_hooked_by_octopus.html    TedTalks

  #Lyall Lukey 7 Aug 2010
http://www.lukey.co.nz/  http://www.smartnet.co.nz
http://lukeytraining.wordpress.com/ My other (bit more serious) blog

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