This week we will mostly be concerning ourselves with the RWC Final fall-out, England's brat pack problems, the overcoming of huge injustice and a small philosophical thought on refereeing...
There were two disciplinary events in the wake of the World Cup Final that show some serious flaws in the disciplinary processes - and thinking - of the IRB.
The first was this - I'd be astounded if nobody had seen already, but just in case:
The second was made a little more public through official channels: the French response to the haka in the Final - you can also see this here:
Guess which one got punished? The response to the haka of course...
Aurélien Rougerie has dodged a bullet, with the citing period of the post-match expiring without complaint, but at some point, certainly for transgressions like these, ought there not to be simply an automatic disciplinary hearing convened? Teams can keep it out of the disciplinary hearing by not citing, but the media has had a field day with this in the two respective countries, meaning the incident is very much in the public eye, so to speak. Does the IRB really want those considering coming to rugby to know that it's possible to stick your fingers in someone's eye without any form of censure whatsoever?
Meanwhile, the haka response fine... seriously? The Kiwis have been defensive of the haka and its associated traditions for some time now, occasionally to the point of preciousness (remember the shenanigans over when to perform it in Cardiff that resulted in the indoor haka?) but there's a good deal about it to defend, not least the right to do it at all. It is one of the game's most iconic ex-play elements, perhaps even the most iconic.
It's worth noting the IRB punishment was not for the response itself, but because - and I kid you not - the French stepped over the halfway line. They actually came - breathe deep before this one - within eight metres of the All Blacks!!!
For the IRB to tell teams not to front up to the haka, not to respond as they see fit, is ridiculous. A few decades ago, the haka looked like this.
And even in the 70s, it was hardly theatre.
But nowadays it becomes a vain-straining, eye-popping, team-firing piece of opera. There is no doubt whatsoever that, if it wasn't already there, the adrenaline level in the All Blacks is at 100 per cent post-haka. It's a huge mental boost.
So it's a touch rich, in a sport where the average top-class match inflicts the same wear and tear upon the average body as six minor car crashes, not to let the opposition get themselves a little adrenaline leg-up of their own in any manner of their choosing. Anything that doesn't involve flying fists or the risk of serious injury, just as in a game, should go.
But alas... it seems teams will now have to pay a price to create historical moments like these...Click here.
England rugby is in a titanic mess at the moment. Ousted ingloriously from the RWC quarter-finals, dogged by reports of player misbehaviour during the tournament, the national union without either long-term Chairman or CEO to receive the World Cup baton...
Yet the players show no signs of abating. In the past few days alone, we've had two England internationals yellow-carded for asinine on-pitch fouls, an anecdote about a former England player poncing around and up to training in his Ferrari, and the threat of a strike an hour before the World Cup squad announcement as a result over an argument involving the cost and control of image rights. Indiscipline, fast cars, petulant squabbling... boy oh boy.
In England more than anywhere else, the rise and rise of rugby, and the monies involved in rugby, to prominence is creating a serious sporting brat pack problem: a lot of big fit youths strutting around, so mentally bored/boxed in by their trade yet seemingly offered no way of relieving that boredom, that they'll resort to jumping off ferries, lying about nights out, abusing hotel staff and attempting to use national squad status as leverage for more perks. All for a team that can do no better than barely emerge from the weakest pool of the World Cup and then sink without trace.
The next CEO of the RFU needs to be someone with as draconian a sense of justice and as mulish a will as possible, for without that England have the potential to be a laughing stock in 2015.
Few outside of Gauteng will have cheered as loud as I as the Lions rolled their way to victory over the Sharks in the Currie Cup Final on Saturday.
The Sharks made it to second in the table behind the Lions with a Bokless squad that played some cracking rugby at times, yet found it necessary to stuff their Currie Cup Final starting XV with no fewer than seven players returning from World Cup duty.
Meanwhile, the Lions' only returning Springbok was afforded a spot on the bench.
Had the Sharks won, it would have been a monstrous mockery of the tournament; it was already a significant poke in the eye for those Sharks players who had to make way for the Final from the squad that had carried them there. It would have been an archetypal 'ringer' scenario.
Fortunately, the end result - the Lions'emphatic 42-16 victory - shows that you can load a side all you like, but you'll always struggle to beat a true team.
Finally, a word on refereeing. There've been a lot of comments recently lamenting that some rugby referees make a game all about them, that the result of the game is down to them, blah blah blah... essentially, that referees are too prominent in rugby.
A friend asked the other day: "do referees really have the capacity for such an influence on the game?"
Well, yes. In a game where a referee can award a penalty for a transgression which can - and often is - turned into three points from 50m, it's obvious that the referee will have far more an effect on the outcome of a game than, say, soccer, where points (i.e. goals) are all too rare.
It is in fact the nature of the game. So be sceptical the next time someone says 'the ref made the game all about him'. It's probably just the fact he was doing his job.
Loose Pass compiled by Richard Anderson