#Scrum5: Weekend Tests as good as it gets?

Packed house, afternoon rugby. Is there anything better? Image via Wallabies Facebook.

Packed house, afternoon rugby. Is there anything better? Image via Wallabies Facebook.

ESPNscrum.com: Both Australia and New Zealand completed their series clean-sweeps over France and England, respectively, and the methods employed either side of the Tasman now has all eyes on the first Bledisloe Cup clash of the year.

Here are the talking points from the last weekend of June Internationals, with Super Rugby all set to resume next weekend:

  • Positive intent has to be the Wallabies blueprint;
  • Genuine French concerns or just the end of a long season?
  • All Blacks: Just stop it…
  • England head home far from disgraced, and
  • Israel who? The Ben Smith show rolls on…

Plus, the Scrum5 podcast is back, with Andy Withers and I wrapping up the June Internationals:

ABC Grandstand: Finish the series on a high

Young Waratahs lock Will Skelton, here scoring with his feet still on the 22, will make his Test debut in Sydney this afternoon. Image: NSW Waratahs/AJF Photography

Young Waratahs lock Will Skelton, here scoring with his feet still on the 22, will make his Test debut in Sydney this afternoon. Image: NSW Waratahs/AJF Photography

ABC Grandstand Digital: The More That Just a Game gang were in the Grandstand Breakfast studios again, and they interrupted their World Cup viewing this morning to talk Test Rugby with me one more  time.

With afternoon rugby returning, and a full house anticipated today at Allianz Stadium in Sydney, all eyes will be on what sort of gameplan the Wallabies stick to, while the French team will be hell-bent on finishing their season on a high.

And all eyes will be on the debut of young man-mountain Will Skelton, all 203cm and 140+kg of him. There won’t be a better opportunity to see how he takes to international rugby than today, even if it possibly is before he’s ready.

Scotland beat Argentina early this morning in Cordoba, and New Zealand host England in the last of their three-Test series this evening in Hamilton.

 

Third Test: all aboard the Wallabies roller-coaster again

New Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper found the going tougher in Melbourne. Image: ABC Grandstand

New Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper found the going tougher in Melbourne. Image: ABC Grandstand

The Roar: Here we go again, then. The Wallabies’ exhilarating 50-23 win in Brisbane was followed by the now-customary lacklustre follow-up in Melbourne.

It was, at least, a win. So many Wallabies sides in the recent past would’ve lot patience with a nil-nil halftime score, and shelled penalties and tries late in the game to lose by 15 or more. So on that front, there is some degree of positivity coming of the 6-0 result.

Up, down. Up, down. Already it feels like the Wallabies of 2014 are treading a familiar path, and with it comes the familiar extreme reactions.

And I’ve explored those extremes, while taking a bit of a look at what we might be in for in Sydney tomorrow afternoon, when the Wallabies and France face off in the Third Test…

#Scrum5: England and All Blacks each have much more to give

"‘Outstanding’ doesn’t do [no.15] Ben Smith’s game justice. This was a superlative-busting game." Image: ABC Grandstand

“‘Outstanding’ doesn’t do [no.15] Ben Smith’s game justice. This was a superlative-busting game.” Image: ABC Grandstand

ESPNscrum.com: It was tougher slog on either side of the Tasman this weekend – so much tougher, on the western side – yet the results have gone the same way and both series have been decided. But did the results and all the subplots solve the major questions, or just ask more?

Here are the talking points from the Tests in New Zealand and Australia:

  • England left to ponder how they lost a series 2-0;
  • What to make of the All Blacks, then?
  • Ben Smith is some kind of mutant super-freak;
  • A completely different French beast, and
  • Wallabies get their sixth win on the trot.

(But the less said about the last point, the better…)

Also, Andy Withers and I are back for the #Scrum5 podcast, and this week we’re joined on the line from New Zealand by Associate Editor of the ESPNscrum mothersite, Tom Hamilton, down this way covering the New Zealand-England series over the ditch.