All Black and Blues
Every time a Schwarzenegger or Stalone action movie came out in the 80s, we expected these muscle bound heroes would dominate any antagonist that would have the nerve to stand in their way. We loved it
by Cam Schuster I 23rd June 2023
Movie after movie, year after year, when it came to Arnie and Sly, no villain bossman, or henchman had a chance! Abit like the Crusaders the past six seasons.
Take the 1985 movie Commando for instance. Here’s Arnie (like the Crusaders) as Colonel John Matrix on a mission to rescue his teenage daughter Jenny (the Super Rugby Trophy) from a group of terrorists (SANZAAR) led by President Arius. No, make that a whole frickin army. Add to that, a bunch of ex-green beret mercenaries (Blues, Chiefs, Canes, Landers) including a crazed fishnet shirt-wearing Australian (Brumbies, Tahs, Force, Rebels)
Matrix dispatches his opponents one by one with ease only suffering a couple of bumps in the road (Fiji Drua, Chiefs, and Hurricanes) when he’s tranquilized by Bennett, and arrested for robbing a gun store. Not surprisingly, in the end (of the round robin) Matrix enters Finals Rugby by locating Jenny on a remote island. He arrives in underwear by boat, suits up, and is ready for battle.
Quarter Finals and the Fiji Drua were sitting ducks like Arius’s army against a Cantab outfit out for revenge and indeed pumped the Drua like they weren't supposed to be there with a 49-8 final score. Cue the "get outta here man" meme.
When the following semis came, my beloved Blues who I thought, WERE supposed to be there, supposed to have found redemption turned out to be a total embarrassment for myself and my team. The Crusaders had layeth the smacketh down. It was shock and awe at its finest, the shock of handling errors and failing to execute the basics plagued the Blues throughout, the awe was the defending Champs annihilating their opponents at the ruck with speed, power, and precision unmatched. The Blues never had a chance. The Crusaders scored two unanswered tries in the first eleven minutes of the match, this was the writing on the wall and by half time it was already game over. What the hell just happened? Well, John Matrix with his pump action just blew Arius away through the French doors and off the balcony. Bennett (Chiefs) is next.
Frustration, anger, and humiliation are how I still feel a week later. I’m still avoiding my two Cantabrian work colleagues who came into the office on Monday with an extra spring in their step (although they are both NSW fans, we can finally suffer together). But, this loss to the Crusaders was the last straw, I cannot defend my team. Lessons from last year's final were unlearned. The effort was appalling, they did not show up, and talk of "we'll be back" last year was all eats. As Don Corleone said at the mob meeting "...I'm going to blame some of the people in this room..." There were pretenders in our midsts which I steadily eye-balled and will call out right now.
It seemed like this guy hardly played all season All Black rest policy aside. Seemed like he was wearing his old Canes jersey underneath like his heart wasn't all in this season, too busy thinking about his big payday in Japan. His form wasn't the best, he looked distracted all season and it showed in his game. Foster knows it.
Another dude wearing his old Canes jersey underneath. I’m not sure what Rangi saw in this guy over try scoring machine Kurt Eklund but I guess Riccotelli came right the last 2 round-robin games but yeah nah he was a bit of a head scratcher.
Reiko Ioane & Caleb Clarke
The potential of these two uso’s to be devastating to opponents on the field every match is scary, unfortunately, we didn't really get to see it at all. Yeah sure we saw flashes here and there but not when it mattered the most. Brilliant attackers in open play, but that was it, the play was closed. This brings me to my final pretender…
Coach Leon “Rangi” MacDonald.
I’m NOT going to blame Rangi for changing the culture at Blues HQ. I’m NOT going to blame Rangi for taking RTS out of the rotation after his return from injury. I’m NOT going to blame Rangi for the selections he made in the semi-final. I AM going to blame Rangi for going MISSING when his men needed him the most. Yes, you could say the players have to be more accountable but that goddamn semi-final. One of the jobs a coach has to do is prepare and motivate. There was nothing of a kind at that goddamn semi-final. That slaughter. Don't get me wrong fellow Blues fans, Rangi did what no coach has done since 2003, bringing our team from the bottom to the top (Trans-Tasman Championship trophy in the cabinet thank you). But you got to wonder if that All Blacks assistant coach appointment was a distraction, and that's on NZR.
It's hard to be a Blues fan this week in Auckland or Sydney. I type this paragraph while the second half of Game 2 State of Origin is on. I turned it off after Hamiso scored in the 50th minute making it 16-0 after a successful conversion to the Maroons. You see, I know when the writing on the wall starts to appear and just like their namesake, the NSW version showed nothing in their game to manifest any inkling of a comeback. Queensland was on a momentum high. Young and Untouchable. 32-6 final score, Series winners.
For the Aucklanders however, we know Rangi has left the building leaving a platform the Blues can now build upon, and they better. It is said when you are down in the deepest pit the lowest of the low, there’s nowhere to go but up. Hopefully, the 50 points put on us in that goddamn Semi was that deep pit, and right now we are tilting our heads up
This weekend the Grand Final held in the City Of The Future, The Tron concludes a Super Rugby season not so super, and I don't mean that because the Blues died. The competition has declined as a fan spectacle. Lots of predictable matches, a lack of competitiveness, the criticism from sports journos and Steve Hansen comparing the NRL as a far superior product. He isn't wrong. I'm a Rugby Union guy, but this is the first year in my whole life I've watched more NRL games than Super Rugby. I believe the structure of Rugby in NZ and the business model of NZR must change. NZR must explore the privatization route with its franchises, which comes with its own sets of problems but they got to change with the times and find a way. This will be my next write up but for now, to my Chiefs and Crusaders fans out there, let's end the 2023 Super Rugby Pacific season with the spectacle the fans deserve. Let's see if the Chiefs let off some steam, or if the Crusaders get shot between the eyes.
In any case, I won't be watching. I’m tuning into the NRL.