Champions, once again and finally!

After 24 years, the All Blacks are the Rugby World Cup Champions, beating France 8 – 7!

Now, before you think it was a walk in the park for the tournament hosts, it was a different France side that New Zealand faced in the final. This was a France that upped its level of intensity and threw everything they got to the All Blacks. I’d say they were the better side in this match, dominating in possession for the most part—even momentum swung to France for most of the second half—until that final few minutes when we all knew New Zealand had it in the bag.

The better team in the final may not have won, but it was the right and the best team throughout the tournament that deserved the Webb Ellis Cup. Congratulations, All Blacks!

(And yes, Daniel Carter was so dapper in a suit.)










Of tackles and rivalries.

New Zealand faced Australia in the semifinals of the Rugby World Cup 2011, and the All Blacks won in convincing fashion over the Wallabies, 20-6. That’s not to say it was a lopsided match. Australia looked to give it their all, and every point was hard-earned—it was just that the All Blacks simply outclassed them.

And boy oh boy, the tackles in this match were something else. (Really, I wouldn’t mind Richie McCaw tackling me, as long as he doesn’t knock me unconscious and break any bones.)

Next week: it’s the Finals versus France!

Welcome back, Izzy Dagg.

Well, I wouldn’t mind being on top of Mr. McCaw.

Welcome back, Richard Kahui, you gorgeous person you.

Cory Jane MOTM.

Piri Weepu tells you who is number 1.

Thank god for Piri Weepu.

Thank god for Piri Weepu. His kicking abilities have kept the All Blacks afloat in the Rugby World Cup 2011—this, despite the impenetrable defense by Argentina (which luckily cracked late into the game) and because there seemed to be one too many errors by the All Blacks in this match.

Australia vs. New Zealand next weekend should be very exciting.

And because I can, here’s some bonus Sonny Bill Williams:

New Zealand 79 – 15 Canada

Dan Carter is out of the Rugby World Cup 2011, and that bums me a bit. I’m a newbie rugby fan, and the guy has been my favorite in the few matches of the All Blacks that I’ve seen. Apart from him, Richie McCaw and Richard Kahui were ruled out for their last match in Pool A. Yep, three of my favorites out due to injuries.

That said, I’m glad Colin Slade stepped up to the plate to fill in Carter’s shoes.

And I have a new favorite in Zac Guildford, who scored four tries in the All Blacks’ 79-15 demolition of Canada.

 

Here’s a bonus Sonny Bill Williams, because you know you can’t resist those tattoos. And of course, because he also had a try across his name.

A Winning Weekend, Finally!

I’ve got a lot on my plate this weekend, such as an article to transcribe and some interviews to do content analysis on. However, nothing can and will take away my weekend basketball, rugby, and of course, football.

Basketball
Let me just out myself and say that I do (not-so-secretly) root for the Blue Eagles—and they pretty much demolished the Tamaraws in the first game of the UAAP Finals. One more game, and the defending champions are bringing home the UAAP men’s basketball crown to Loyola Heights once more.

Rugby
I’ve been making a point to catch the All Blacks’ games, and yes, they made me follow rugby (shame I’ve yet to see the Volcanoes in action—and I don’t mean the action of the billboard type). They did great versus France, 37-17. Snaps:

Football
Liverpool beat the Wolverhampton Wanderers at Anfield, 2-1, and the Reds came out firing. The goals were courtesy of a Johnson deflection of Charlie Adam’s shot, and a brilliant goal from Luis Suarez, who was on fire the entire time he was on the pitch. Relentless, I’d say—-to the point where he had a bit of a hissy fit when substituted out for Steven Gerrard. Andy Carroll, I thought, in the first half, looked more like the player equivalent to what Liverpool paid for him. In the second half, he wasn’t much of a factor—but as it is, he better play and play and play until he stamps his class (at least for the time that’s given to him).

Now let’s talk about Steven Gerrard. He came on during the Carling Cup match versus Brighton, which I missed. This is pretty much the first time I’ve seen him since… lord knows when. The last game he started was back in March. As for class, it was a very inspired 10-minute appearance from Captain Fantastic, with some brilliant runs with Dirk Kuyt and a shot that just went wide over the net. Overall, a good game for the lads, and I’m still waiting for Andy Carroll to blow me away.

 

Over in Spain, I was beginning to wonder if there was something brewing internally that made Real Madrid lose five points in two matches. Then again, the whole La Liga table was been pretty interesting after jornada 4. In any case, if I ever had doubts, these were erased as the men in white powered over Rayo Vallecano, 6-2. It was a slow start for Real Madrid, however, with Michu beating the defense to follow up a shot that was earlier parried by Iker Casillas—all within the first minute of play. Madrid got their scoring going with a Ronaldo hat-trick (the first goal with an assist from Kaka; the second a penalty kick, because Kaka was brought down; the third another penalty kick because he was brought down), Higuain (off a Xabi Alonso free kick, headed by Ramos for Higuain to easily net), Varane (with a nifty backheel kick in front of the goal to softly lob it over the keeper), and Benzema (off an Özil assist).

Midway through this jornada, it’s Real Betis at the top of the table, followed by Barcelona (ugh), Sevilla,  Real Madrid, and Valencia. And for those wondering, Athletic Bilbao are in 17th.

Some Somber Notes
The Philippine National Basketball Team lost to Jordan. The medal hopes are still live, as they’ve got to battle it out for 3rd. Go Gilas!

In Chelsea’s match versus Manchester United last Sunday, Fernando Torres scored a goal and then missed a golden opportunity in front of a wide open net to score another. Torres decides to bite karma in the ass by scoring a goal against Swansea. Karma decides to bite his pretty ass once more when, after scoring a goal, he is shown a red card for a two-footed (swan-like) tackle. Oh freckles.


Weekend football notes… and a bit of rugby

First. Liverpool lost to Stoke City last night, 1-0, no thanks to a questionable penalty call. The boys showed much fire, especially Suarez and Downing. It may have been quite a nightmare for Hendo, whose 3 consecutive shots were all saved—at a position were Liverpool looked to have easily equalized in the dying minutes of the game at that.

Here’s a photo shared by Leo that pretty much sums up last night:

Second. Thank god for Basque men. Not only are they hot by default, they can be shrewd when it comes to trying to beat Barcelona. After being down 0-2, Real Sociedad managed to get a draw versus Barcelona. At 2-2 and nearing the end of the match, as Victor Valdes walks back to his goal, Xabi Prieto launches one from the midfield. Guess Valdes (who gives me heebie-jeebies, by the way) heard his teammates frantically screaming, saving the shot just in the nick of time. It would have been fantastic if it went in. Nice try and good job, Xabi Prieto.

Third. Real Madrid wins over Getafe, 4-2. The defense was rather sloppy, but my men in white were such a joy to watch overall.

Fourth. I woke up to the news that the mother of Phil and James Younghusband passed away last night due to a heart attack. I remember interviewing Phil back in January, and we briefly talked about losing a parent (which I did not include in the article that was published). My heart goes out to those two, and their younger sister Keri. I know what it feels like to lose a mother, and really, I wonder how many more mothers must 2011 take away from their kids. I can’t even being to imagine what those three are going through right now, having lost both their parents already. My thoughts and prayers are with them, and I do hope they are given the privacy to mourn.

Fifth. I’m starting to learn how sexy rugby is, thanks to the Rugby World Cup 2011. There’s something about men grappling and wrestling each other sans the armor. Throw in a couple of hot men with big chests and trim waists into the mix. That’s what I discovered last Friday night. Also, the All Blacks’ Haka is quite a spectacle to see (and yes, I understand the meaning of this ritual/war dance runs deep in their culture). Here’s a look at the Haka and Tonga’s Sipi Tau: