The All Blacks are leading rugby’s positive revolution where attack is king.
That’s the view of astute British commentator Stuart Barnes who marvelled at the win by a second-string New Zealand team over Argentina where “rugby’s rules of engagement were turned upside down”.
“More than a hundred years of test match rugby ideology is coming to an end. As far as the All Blacks are concerned anyway,” Barnes wrote for The Times.
“The tyranny of the number on the back of the (black) shirt is over … yes, there have been props who can pass and centres who excel in the contact but the comfort with which this latest New Zealand team play the game in the loose indicates that the old ways are nearing an end, replaced by a new attitude to international rugby.”
Barnes conceded this latest win in Nelson was a far from perfect performance and errors continued “because the speed of the Kiwis is quickening with every game”.
“The ambition is at a level that no team has ever approached.
“Overwhelming pace is not a traditional part of the fabric of the game. Nor the willingness to run it from anywhere, to keep the opposition guessing for the entire 80 minutes. When it clicks, we witness a brand of rugby the like of which we have never seen.”
Barnes praised the Pumas for “going along for the ride on rugby’s fastest rollercoaster” and noted there was high praise for Argentina around the rugby world despite leaking nearly half a century of points in their 46-24 loss.
“Seventy points, nine tries and defence was barely criticised. This is rugby’s positive revolution. Attack is king. Fear, so long the driving force of the sport, has been replaced. All those ‘defence win titles’ scrawls written on changing-room walls are going to become little more than dated graffiti against New Zealand. The mindset has been altered.”
Barnes, a former England and British & Irish Lions first-five and a long-time admirer of the All Blacks, wants New Zealand to crown their gowing game with another World Cup victory in Japan next year.
“If Steve Hansen’s team make it a hat-trick of World Cups, it may be irrevocably so for us all. Watching the All Blacks and Argentina followed by the ‘so what’ of Australia against South Africa an hour later makes me hope that New Zealand seal their extraordinary era of domination with an exclamation mark in Yokohama.
“There are, of course, many ways to play the game but New Zealand’s record suggests that constant speed against the clout of those who cherish collision is the ideal for the modern game. The 2015 All Blacks were far and away the best team in that competition but this side are changing the rules. They are ripping them up. It looks like anarchy,” he wrote in The Times.
Barnes noted that doubters would look at the ability of the British & Irish Lions to nullify the All Blacks in last year’s drawn series in New Zealand.
“But that was a year ago. New Zealand have moved on. Errors abound but the game is quicker than ever, the passing ability of the front five on another level, the devastation of their counterattack crippling.”
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