International play keeps Rugby Union on top

PETER SLATTERYIT was great to see a bit of top-quality international rugby over the weekend. It's one of the code's competitive advantages over its other team contact sport competitors - AFL and rugby league.

In South Africa, we've got something going on called the 'Quadrangular Tournament' involving Manu Samoa, South Africa, Scotland and Italy. The boys from the Republic beat Italy 44-10, and Manu beat the Thistle 27-17.

Elsewhere, Canada beat Tonga 36-27, and the Welsh were lucky in their 22-18 win over Japan in Osaka.

Closer to home we had the All Blacks v France test, and then the Reds v British and Irish Lions' tour game.

I've got to confess, I'm a massive fan of All Black rugby. Always positive, and their ambition is, more often than not, matched with precise execution. What you get with All Black rugby is the closest thing to consistency of quality that is offered in world rugby.

The French are somewhat of a bogey side for the All Blacks, and are one of a very, very small group of nations to have won a series against the Kiwis on New Zealand soil. Add the French unpredictability and 'All Black' rugby, and you've got yourself an intriguing three match Test series.

As for the Reds v British and Irish Lions' game, it was a cracker. Plenty of attacking rugby and smashing-in defence and at the breakdown.

The Reds, missing up to seven Wallabies, were very impressive. I loved their positive intent and brutal approach to contact. It made this old(ish) QLDer very proud. There is much honour in losing to an international team when you go about your footy in that style.

All the Reds players did themselves and the team proud.

But, for mine, there was one 'first among equals'. And that was Beau Robinson.

The bloke was throwing his body around with total disregard for his well-being. It finally got him in the end - he was stretchered off.

But he was an inspiration, and shone a light on the type of approach and attitude required to take on the blokes in Red from the north. Bash the living bejeezus out of them in contact, and be everywhere, all the time.

Brutally omnipresent, even. (Without knocking yourself out, of course.)

As for Quade Cooper, it was a quintessential Quade Cooper performance. Moments of brilliance. Moments of madness. And moments of traditional decision making, moving his team up and around the field.

Did he do enough to make the final Wallaby squad? Well, depends on the Wallaby selector's plans, Robbie Deans' preferred style of play for the British and Irish Lions' series, and whether the focus is on Cooper's moments of madness, or his moments of brilliance and traditional decision making.


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