Pareora under 6 rugby team on the attack against Celtic in South Canterbury, New Zealand. Photo: Bob McKerrow
The biggest single factor in New Zealand's favour is that significant changes have been made to the rules at the breakdown which gives huge opportunities and rights to the team taking the ball into the tackle, which suits hard runners such as Ma'a Nonu, Cory Jane, Israel Dagg, Dan Carter, Mils Muliaina and a new line-up of young players in the wings such as Victor Vito, Benson Stanley and Rene Ranger.
At Pareora I observed how strong 'grassroots' NZ rugby is and through a constant stream of talented players coming from small communituies like Pareora which has contributed hugely to our current strength at many levels of national rugby. The rules have allowed the All Blacks to play exciting, well constructed and fast running rugby which is our natural game. We've beaten South Africa twice in 3 weeks and Australia beat the Boks on Saturday night which that proves the dour Springbok and English kicking game does not win rugby in 2010.
Celtic playing Geraldine at Pareora, so typical of grass root NZ rugby.
Photo; Bob McKerrow
The NZ Maoris have beaten Wales, Ireland and England this year and the NZ under 20s recently won the world cup. Never before a year out from the Rugby World Cup have we had this depth.But the depth is from north to south. Southland took the coveted Ranfurly Shield from Canterbury last year and has pumped new life into provincial rugby.
I leave for Sri Lanka tomorrow after 3 weeks in NZ and I feel very positive New Zealand are on track to winning the 2011 Rugby World Cup thanks to the new rules and the strength at grass root level. Thank you Pareora.