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PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2013 5:43 pm 

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As Canada prepares to take on the world number one All Blacks on Saturday night, it is worth reflecting on the importance of rugby for the host nation. [url=]Nike air jordan schuhe kaufen[/url] . Much like hockey is part of the cultural fabric in Canadian society, rugby is at the heart of every community in New Zealand. The game is offered at every school and every town, no matter how small, has some incarnation of goalposts and a playing surface for the oval ball game. The Maori and Polynesian communities embrace the game and the sons (and daughters) who rise up to wear the black jersey of their beloved national team are heralded in the same way we treat Wayne Gretzky or Sidney Crosby. Although New Zealand has struggled to lift the Webb Ellis Cup that symbolizes world dominance in rugby in recent tournaments, you would search hard to find an honest rugby person (exception here: any number of English, Aussie or South African supporters here after a few too many pops!) who would argue they are not the strongest nation in the world. The fact is; because of this passion for the game and their single-mindedness for rugby, New Zealand has a playing base of quality players that dwarfs the rest of the world. This is despite a population of only 3.9 million. The professional leagues around Europe and the southern hemisphere are littered with Kiwi-trained players. In this Rugby World Cup competition featuring 20 international teams, there are 38 New Zealand-born players representing other nations. This is a figure three times greater than the next nations of Australia and South Africa. The Samoan team that came within a whisker of beating Wales and the Springboks featured 15 players of NZ birth. Many dont agree with this trend in international rugby and that is definitely a point for further debate. What is not in question, however, is the fact that there are more quality players in the land of the long white cloud than anywhere else on this planet. Just as we in Canada tune in to World Junior Championships, Memorial Cups or womens gold medal games for hockey, the New Zealand nation will embrace anything rugby and will expect to win. The sevens version of the game, soon to be featured in the Rio 2016 Olympics, has witnessed New Zealand lifting the world title nine of the last 11 years. Other than a recent blip for soccer participation, based on the All Whites involvement in the last World Cup, rugby always gets the best athletes signed up. Even Cricketers tend to play rugby in the winter and then shift for the summer sport. For Canadian Rugby, there has always been a close affinity with the Kiwis. From the early days when All Black sides would stop in Vancouver on their way to dominate the European nations to the development tournaments like CANZ involving Argentina and the New Zealand provincial sides that were so important to developing the Canadian teams of the 80s and 90s, here has always been a willingness for New Zealand rugby to share their ideas. In fact, this year Mike Cron, the New Zealand scrummaging guru, was loaned back (he spent some time in Victoria coaching in the early 90`s) to help the Canadian front row players and what was a failing scrum platform. Although I dont think Canada will trouble them enough on Saturday at scrum time for them to regret that decision, I do think they will be amazed at the progress of Marshall and Buydens in particular and the rest of the pack who have worked incredibly hard to remove scrummaging as a major question mark for the Canadian team. From my time in the professional leagues of Europe, there was always a close relationship between the Canadians and the Kiwis. We shared the same outlook. We felt privileged to be paid to play the game we love. We also were similar, in that we worked hard but we also played hard. We never shied away from the physical challenge and were both also incredibly proud to put on our national jersey. As our boys in red line up to face "The Haka" on Saturday in Wellington, spare a thought for the realities of the situation. It is not quite the equivalent of the same fixture reversed in hockey but it will be a very difficult task for Canada as they face the nation where rugby is a religion! Sentiment and Selection? It is a tribute to the effort of our team in this tournament so far that New Zealand has picked a very strong side which includes both Dan Carter and Richie McCaw - two of the greatest players in the game today. Canadas New Zealand born head coach, Kieran Crowley, has also respected the fixture by picking his strongest team. There are many who would have preferred a more sentimental selection that rewarded squad members who have not had the opportunity to get out of their dress suits so far. There are also many, myself included, who wondered if Canada would make history by selecting the 19-year-old "phenom," Taylor Paris. From my dealings with him he would not let us down and he has a hunger to play for Canada that I think we will be witnessing for many years to come. I understand those emotions and have myself been faced as a team captain by squad members very upset at the prospect of not even getting dressed to sit on the bench. Rugby World Cups are campaigns. As a captain, you ask for buy in from everyone. There is a huge time commitment made to be part of a World Cup squad and it is even harder to swallow when you are effectively an amateur nation. It can be soul destroying to go back to your employer, family or home club without any playing minutes recorded. There are very few people who truly grasp how difficult it is in elite sport to get to the very top. I have two thoughts on this: Firstly, lets be clear. Canada does not secure six points in Pool A action and a probable place in the next World Cup without the input of all 30 players in our squad. We must thank them all and be proud of their entire effort whether it was in a playing role or not! Holding tackle shields, walking on eggshells on game day (so as not to upset the starters) and masking your disappointment after selection meetings is very difficult. To do this without complaining and being disruptive to your nations team is emotionally exhausting and requires character of the very highest order. There are many teams that have failed to reach their goals when players in this position put themselves before the team. Secondly; although it seems cruel to the casual supporter, I can understand Crowleys rationale. As a former player, I am most proud that this RWC team has restored pride in the jersey and what it represents. Generations of players, coaches and administrators have worked for the good of Canadian rugby so that we can have this opportunity on the world stage. Selection for Canada against the best nation in the world is a huge honour. There is a clear message being sent that this is not an emotional decision. If you want to wear the maple leaf in a test match, be the best person in your position. This resonates with former players, sends a clear message to the younger players, and it creates and fantastic culture of excellence for our program as we prepare for England 2015. I salute all 30 squad players and the support staff in New Zealand. They have done us proud and I hope they continue in that vein against the mighty All Blacks! [url=]Nike air jordan 3 schuhe weiß-rosa[/url] . It will be the debut of Hunter as interim coach, the first game he has coached of any kind. Hunter, brought in by general manager Lance Blanks a few months ago as player development director, replaces Alvin Gentry, who left last Friday in what the team described as a mutual parting of the ways. [url=]Air Jordan Schweiz[/url] . Podolski chipped a free kick over the Hannover wall past the helpless Ron-Robert Zieler in the 24th minute, and sealed the win against the run of play with a fine effort from the left in the 86th. [url=][/url] . An internet video showed Valverde putting his glove, with the ball in it, to his mouth before delivering a 1-2 pitch to Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco. [url=]Nike Air Jordan Retro 5[/url] . -- NASCAR has confiscated the front windshields from Michael Waltrip Racings two cars and a third car affiliated with the race team. [url=]Nike air max jordan 23 schuhe grau-weiß-rot[/url] . The defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks needed only a point to secure the final playoff berth still available in the Western Conference, and failed to get it. However, Chicago still locked up the Wests eighth seed after Minnesota defeated Dallas later Sunday. Anaheim, CA (Sports Network) - Orlando Johnson scored 30 points and hit all five of his three-point attempts, as the fifth-seeded UC Santa Barbara Gauchos downed the third-seeded Cal State Northridge Matadors, 83-63, in a Big West Conference Tournament semifinal bout from the Honda Center. Jaime Serna added 16 points and nine boards for the Gauchos (17-13), who advance to face Long Beach State in the title game. James Nunnally added 12 points and eight rebounds. Lenny Daniel recorded a double-double with 16 points and 11 rrebounds for the Matadors (14-18), while Rashaun McLemore and Josh Greene added 13 and 12 points, respectively. [url=]Nike air max jordan 4 schuhe weiß-licht blau[/url]. . UC Santa Barbara put the game away early, hitting 50 percent of its first half shots, while holding Cal State Northridge to 22.2 percent shooting over that span, to take a commanding 40-19 lead into the break. The Gauchos then knocked down 30-of-38 free throws in the second half to earn the win. For the game, UC Santa Barbara outscored Cal State Northridge 37-16 from the charity stripe. ' ' '

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