The RWC2019 Debrief: Argentina

The RWC2019 Debrief: Argentina

Welcome to a new series of articles, the RWC2019 Debriefs. The World Cup is now over and a new 4 year cycle begins, but the first stage of any cycle should be looking back at how things went – what went wrong and what went right – before looking on to how things go for the next cycle to ensure qualification to RWC2023 (if they haven’t automatically qualified) and to make sure they enter that tournament in peak form.

I will be going through these debriefs alphabetically, so today I will be casting my eye over Argentina.

RWC2019 Qualification

The Pumas qualified for the tournament automatically by finishing in the top 3 of their pool in 2015, in fact they went all the way to the semi-finals, eventually finishing 4th overall.

2019 Form

It hadn’t been a good year for the Pumas. They came bottom of the shortened Rugby Championship, losing all 3 games including a 13-46 humbling at home to South Africa. Their losing streak continued in their final warm-up game against South Africa in Pretoria.

The Debrief

  • Pool Stages (3rd in Pool C)
    • France 23-21 Argentina
    • Argentina 28-12 Tonga
    • England 39-10 Argentina
    • Argentina 47-17 USA

The poor form continued into the opening match against France as Les Bleus ran out to an early lead. Though the team fought their way back into the match they fell just short, with a late long range penalty from Emiliano Boffelli just missing. They started strongly against Tonga, scoring 28 points in the opening 28 minutes, but allowed Tonga to get back into the game and can consider themselves lucky that a penalty try was not awarded right before halftime when Tomás Lavanini stopped a try with what appeared to be a clear no-arms tackle. Lavanini was however rightly penalised for a high shot on Owen Farrell early on against England, earning a red card that quickly ended the match as a contest. With the quarterfinals already mathematically beyond their reach, the Pumas made some changes for their final match against the USA and it looked like they played with more freedom. In a performance more akin to what we have come to expect from the Jaguares in Super Rugby, the team put the Americans to the sword to end a disappointing tournament on a positive.

Before the tournament, there was a lot of talk about the exclusion of Santiago Cordero, Juan Imhoff and Facundo Isa as they were based in Europe. It certainly felt like they were missed through this tournament as the pack often struggled to get on the front foot, while the backs often appeared to lack any spark, something that Cordero would have given them. Selection questions continued for me as Bautista Delguy was barely used in the early matches despite having been one of their star players before his injury, while Jerónimo de la Fuente and Matías Orlando looked solid but unspectacular. Nicolás Sánchez looked far from his best until the match against the USA, while Benjamín Urdapilleta struggled heavily against England behind an outnumbered pack.

Even coming into the tournament, I had a feeling that the team was tired. With the majority of the players being part of the Jaguares team that went all the way to the Super Rugby final, there has been very little break for them in 2019 as they went from Super Rugby to the Rugby Championship, then the warm-up game in Pretoria and straight into the World Cup. Travelling frequently between Argentina, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and finally Japan will be extremely fatiguing and I think it led to a largely worn out team playing in the key matches.

Looking Ahead

While the tournament will not be one the team looks back on fondly, the final match against the USA was a timely reminder that there are good signs for the future. This squad has a core of stars coming through who are 27 or under, many of whom already have a significant number of caps to their name, while other stars for the future like Mayco Vivas, Delguy and Santiago Carreras have been exposed to the World Cup stage. 2 of their most notable individual performances came from Juan Cruz Mallia (23) and Julián Montoya (25 during the tournament), while captain Pablo Matera is just 26 and star lock Guido Petti is only 24. This is a team that should be building around the young talent over the next few years. The key now is finding a young fly half to build around. Both Sánchez and Urdapilleta are in their 30s and unlikely to still be around come the next tournament, so 23-year-old Domingo Miotti of the Jaguares appears to be the next man up and he needs to become a regular fixture soon in order to cement his place in the squad.

Playing home and away against New Zealand, South Africa and Australia is going to give their place in the rankings a hit, but to regularly play against some of the best will help the team improve. The important thing for them now is to widen the fields for selection. If they continue to select predominantly from in Argentina, they are currently limited to picking form just 1 top tier team: the Jaguares. This will continue to lead to issues of players being overworked and coming into the World Cup fatigued, while also creating a limited pathway for younger players coming through. The team needs to widen their scope to select European-based players if their form deserves it, or find a way to get another Argentinian franchise into Super Rugby, which considering the tournament is about to cut another team seems unlikely any time soon.

SCHMOEDOWN COLLISION III: The Biggest Winners and Losers!

SCHMOEDOWN COLLISION III: The Biggest Winners and Losers!

Back in 2018, I made a decision to expand my focus to include the Movie Trivia Schmoedown – a combination of movie trivia and WWE entertainment. As the brand grew, my writing on here came to an end in November 2018 as I was given the chance to write for their new website, TriviaSD.com along with a number of other Schmoedown bloggers. Recently it was announced that as the crew’s focus is needed elsewhere, it was announced that the site will be coming to an end. This means that the Schmoedown will be making a return to this site!

First of all, I want to give a big thank yous:

  • To Schmoedown creator and Chairman of the league Kristian Harloff and TriviaSD.com Managing Editor William Bibbiani for giving me the chance to write for the site
  • To the cast and crew, who continue to create an amazing product that is just going from strength to strength
  • To the fans, who have helped to create such an amazing community

Over the space of a couple of weeks, I am posting my articles from the site onto here. As some of these are almost a year old, some of them are somewhat outdated and may have proved to be completely off the mark.

Posted to TriviaSD.com 2/7/2019


The biggest Schmoedown event of the summer is now in the rear-view mirror. Four huge matches with plenty at stake: two competitors earned Title shots, the Shirewolves won their Teams Title back and The Family now find themselves in charge of the Commissioners for the next month.

As with any big event, there are those who greatly benefit from the results and those who have far less to celebrate, so in this article we are going to look at five parties who can be considered the big winners coming out of Collision and three who suffered the biggest losses of the evening.

THE COLLISION WINNERS

Fan Leagues

History was made last year as the first competitor made their way from the fan leagues to the Schmoedown in the form of Chance Ellison, but Season 6 has seen even more competitors making the jump from the fan leagues up to the pros. Two of them were competing in #1 Contender Matches at Collision: Kevin Smets and Paul Oyama.

Oyama earned a shot at Dan Murrell’s title with a win over the highly touted Liz Shannon Miller, while Smets fell only just short against Mike Kalinowski in arguably the most suspenseful match of the event. In addition to Oyama and Smets, Jeannine “The Machine” continues to improve her already great reputation in the league with a strong performance in the Manager Bowl that saw her lose to Drew McWeeny, but still beat John Rocha, Stacy Howard and Eric Zipper.

All three of these competitors showed amazing levels of knowledge and have quickly become ones to watch in the league, which gives such great validation to the fans and the associated leagues.

The Family

After Andrew Ghai’s loss in Houston, The Family needed some success to get their season back on track. Their recent win over Inky and the Brain was a great start, but Drew McWeeny winning the Manager Bowl was huge. On a personal level, for “The Godfather,” his Singles record has never really matched up with the level of knowledge he clearly has, so to win in a stacked group that includes one of the all-time greats in John Rocha will do wonders for him.

But on a wider scale, Robert Meyer Burnett now has control of the league for an entire month and can use this opportunity to benefit the faction. Will he look to reward McWeeny or Andrew Ghai with title shots (either in Teams or Singles)? Will he give them matches against seemingly weaker opposition in order to improve their records? Time will tell.

Production Crew

The guys that don’t get enough credit from all of us, but without whom the Schmoedown would grind to a halt. From promos and preparing the wheel to camera work and editing, the production crew do an amazing job every week. Putting on a live stream adds extra pressure, and this was one of the longest live streams yet, but it went off with barely a hitch. Congratulations and thank you to all of you!

The Shirewolves

Obviously the Shirewolves are the winners on paper, but it goes far beyond that. They made history once again by becoming the first team to regain their titles, and with a 7-1 record they are moving steadily closer to beating the Patriots’ 9-2 record. Being double-belted once again helps the argument that Rachel Cushing is the GOAT, while Clarke Wolfe’s legacy is also greatly improved by becoming a two-time Champion. No matter what happens from here, the Shirewolves will live on in Schmoedown history.

Mike Kalinowski

Aside from the obvious, that he now gets to challenge for the Innergeekdom Title again, Kalinowski’s emotional victory over Kevin Smets will elevate him even higher in the history books. Smets looked unstoppable in his run for the title, yet Kalinowski – despite being considered the underdog by many fans and competitors – came out on top. His presence and confidence in front of the camera makes him one of the premier competitors in a live environment and he has the knowledge to back it up. While Rachel may be considered the greatest Innergeekdom competitor, “The Killer” is not far behind and if he can defeat Rachel Cushing at San Diego, he may take that honour along with the new belt.

THE COLLISION LOSERS

Samm Levine, Emma Fyffe & Jenn Sterger

Jenn and the Commissioners end up in this list not because of anything that they did badly, but instead as a result of Drew McWeeny winning the Manager Bowl. This put The Family in the driving seat for the league, which means Robert Meyer Burnett is now in charge of Samm and Emma. Besides likely needing hearing tests by the end of the month, Samm and Emma now have to start hoping they aren’t going to see Burnett ruin everything they hold dear to the league, while Jenn may find herself out of a job since Burnett mentioned changing interviewers, though she may be able to get around it, if he specifically bans “Jessica Sterger.”

Stacy Howard

Things haven’t really gone to plan for Stacy so far this year. After leaving the Viper Squad for KOrruption, she then found herself finishing behind her former stablemate Jeannine in both a 1v1 match and the Manager Bowl. While this loss may not hurt her record, it won’t help her standing in the Singles Division, especially given the strength of her faction. It may be that she takes a break from Singles for a while and focuses on her new partnership with Tim Franco as part of Crimson Fury.

The Horsemen

While they weren’t overly involved in Collision, the Manager Bowl could have left the Horsemen in a dangerous situation. Rocha lost the Manager Bowl, but he put in a strong performance to be proud of. However, Drew McWeeny’s victory means that the Family are in charge of the league for the next month. Burnett is on bad terms with both Rocha and Dagnino after their previous associations, and Andrew Ghai’s war against Ben Bateman leaves a lot of hostility between the two factions. The Horsemen could find themselves marginalised or even suspended for the near future, depending on how Burnett exerts his control.

OH ODD, YOU DEVILS: The Schmoedown History of The Odd Couple!

OH ODD, YOU DEVILS: The Schmoedown History of The Odd Couple!

Back in 2018, I made a decision to expand my focus to include the Movie Trivia Schmoedown – a combination of movie trivia and WWE entertainment. As the brand grew, my writing on here came to an end in November 2018 as I was given the chance to write for their new website, TriviaSD.com along with a number of other Schmoedown bloggers. Recently it was announced that as the crew’s focus is needed elsewhere, it was announced that the site will be coming to an end. This means that the Schmoedown will be making a return to this site!

First of all, I want to give a big thank yous:

  • To Schmoedown creator and Chairman of the league Kristian Harloff and TriviaSD.com Managing Editor William Bibbiani for giving me the chance to write for the site
  • To the cast and crew, who continue to create an amazing product that is just going from strength to strength
  • To the fans, who have helped to create such an amazing community

Over the space of a couple of weeks, I am posting my articles from the site onto here. As some of these are almost a year old, some of them are somewhat outdated and may have proved to be completely off the mark.

Posted to TriviaSD.com 22/6/2019


Back in 2018, I made a decision to expand my focus to include the Movie Trivia Schmoedown – a combination of movie trivia and WWE entertainment. As the brand grew, my writing on here came to an end in November 2018 as I was given the chance to write for their new website, TriviaSD.com along with a number of other Schmoedown bloggers. Recently it was announced that as the crew’s focus is needed elsewhere, it was announced that the site will be coming to an end. This means that the Schmoedown will be making a return to this site!

First of all, I want to give a big thank yous:

  • To Schmoedown creator and Chairman of the league Kristian Harloff and TriviaSD.com Managing Editor William Bibbiani for giving me the chance to write for the site
  • To the cast and crew, who continue to create an amazing product that is just going from strength to strength
  • To the fans, who have helped to create such an amazing community

Over the space of a couple of weeks, I am posting my articles from the site onto here. As some of these are almost a year old, some of them are somewhat outdated and may have proved to be completely off the mark.

Posted to TriviaSD.com 21/1/2019

RWC2019: My Tournament XV

RWC2019: My Tournament XV

The Rugby World Cup is over for another 4 years and before anything else, congratulations to South Africa – the best team definitely won on the day! With the tournament now over, I will be doing a series of articles over the next month or so looking back at the tournament and praising the performances of the nations and players.

Today I will be looking back over the entire tournament to select my XV. I did select a Team of the Tournament after the pool stages, but knockout rugby is where things get super serious, so there have been quite a few chances to that team. Who would make your XV?


Loosehead Prop

Joe Marler certainly deserves an honourable mention after his performances for England having come out of international retirement, but the place in my team goes to Wyn Jones. With Rob Evans left at home and Nicky Smith being demoted to a support role, Jones found himself becoming a key part of the Welsh scrum. Barring having to go up against the might of the Springboks pack, Jones quietly went about his business and was an under the radar star for Wales.

Hooker

Shota Horie was a star for Japan in pool stages, but struggled against a strong Springbok pack and saw his lineout somewhat fall apart in the quarterfinal. As a result, my pick here goes to Ken Owens. He may not be the most spectacular of players, but he was so reliable all around the park and a leader on the pitch.

Tighthead Prop

Oh what could have been if Kyle Sinckler has not gone off just minutes into the final. The Harlequins tighthead has become one of the best props in the world and showed his full range of skills throughout the tournament. Strong in the scrum, he also added a dimension tot he England attack with his tip-on passes. His try from 20 metres out against Australia was the icing on the cake.

Locks

The first pick in the second row was a no-brainer. Man of the Match against New Zealand, Maro Itoje finished the tournament with 71 tackles and was a turnover machine. Beside him, I ended up picking the only person to make more tackles in the tournament: Alun Wyn Jones. A natural leader, it will be far from easy for Wales to replace him.

Blindside Flanker

Honourable mentions must go to Ardie Savea – who put in big performances at every position in the New Zealand back row – and Pieter-Steph du Toit, who was a menace for South Africa at the breakdown. Tom Curry was a star for England, but it is another young Brit who gets the spot: Aaron Wainwright. The Dragons back row has catapulted himself up the Welsh depth chart over recent months and was a star for them in the tournament, with a great blend of attacking and defensive prowess and a long-range try in a Man of the Match performance against France.

Openside Flanker

Another youngster makes it into the back row in the form of Sam Underhill. The Bath flanker was a nuisance at the breakdown but proved time and time again that it is possible to make a dominant tackle while still going low. Racking up 69 tackles, Underhill was a key component of the England defence and will be a star for years to come.

Number 8

Kazuki Himeno was a star of the pool stages, but as the machine that was the South African pack took over the tournament, Duane Vermeulen came to the fore when it was needed. Man of the Match in the final, Vermeulen was such a vital part of the monstrous South African pack, with his strong running and big tackles giving the Springboks a physical edge and a number of key turnovers in the big games.

Scrum Half

Another player to grow into the tournament, Faf de Klerk contributed a try in a Man of the Match performance against Japan, but his contribution went far beyond that. He took on a large role in the territorial game with his box kicking, while he was a constant menace in defence, putting the opposition under pressure.

Fly Half

I want to take a moment to mention Rhys Patchell, who often had a great impact off the bench, but my selection at fly half is Richie Mo’unga. The Crusaders 10 finished the tournament with 54 points (1 try, 20 conversions, 3 penalties), but more than that, he controlled the All Blacks throughout the World Cup and bounced back well from a quiet match against England that I felt was more due to a lack of support and platform around him.

Left Wing

Josh Adams and Makazole Mapimpi deserve a mention for their try-scoring exploits, but I couldn’t leave out Semi Radradra after his fantastic performances in the pool stage. Usually a centre but playing mainly on the wing, he was one of only 2 players to win multiple Man of the Match awards (against Georgia and Wales) and carried more than all-but 4 players throughout the tournament despite not making it out of the pool stages.

Inside Centre

Centres can be difficult to pick as they can play such a variety of roles, but Damian de Allende gets the vote here. He finished the tournament with 2 tries including a crucial one against Wales, but his impact on the tournament went way beyond that. His 65 carries was the fourth most of all players as he played a big role in putting the Springbok attack on the front foot, while in defence he provided a physical resistance to help stop his opponents getting on the front foot himself.

Outside Centre

Another player whose contribution is not always clear, the South African success was built on a solid defence that kept opposition chances to a minimum, which would not have been possible without Lukhanyo Am. The Sharks centre finished with 2 tries but more importantly he secured the 13 channel for South Africa, making them a tough defence to play around or through.

Right Wing

Cheslin Kolbe may have won the 14 shirt had he not missed the semifinal through injury, but instead my pick goes to Japan’s Kotaru Matsushima. 5 tries saw the winger finish in the top 3 try scorers despite exiting at the quarterfinals, while a couple of unfortunate bounces and one untimely drop were all that denied him a few more. He also looked super dangerous when moved to 15 during games. At 26 he is just hitting his prime and could be the next big superstar.

Fullback

I’ve been quite critical of Beauden Barrett playing fly half in recent years, but at 15 he looked so dangerous. Alongside Semi Radradra, he was the only player to win multiple Man of the Match awards (against South Africa and Ireland), creating a dangerous playmaking partnership with Richie Mo’unga and using his pace and footwork to score 3 tries. It will be interesting to say if he keeps the 15 shirt when Damian McKenzie returns from injury.

AS THE WORLD BURNS: Can Robert Meyer Burnett Stay in Charge of The Family?

AS THE WORLD BURNS: Can Robert Meyer Burnett Stay in Charge of The Family?

Back in 2018, I made a decision to expand my focus to include the Movie Trivia Schmoedown – a combination of movie trivia and WWE entertainment. As the brand grew, my writing on here came to an end in November 2018 as I was given the chance to write for their new website, TriviaSD.com along with a number of other Schmoedown bloggers. Recently it was announced that as the crew’s focus is needed elsewhere, it was announced that the site will be coming to an end. This means that the Schmoedown will be making a return to this site!

First of all, I want to give a big thank yous:

  • To Schmoedown creator and Chairman of the league Kristian Harloff and TriviaSD.com Managing Editor William Bibbiani for giving me the chance to write for the site
  • To the cast and crew, who continue to create an amazing product that is just going from strength to strength
  • To the fans, who have helped to create such an amazing community

Over the space of a couple of weeks, I am posting my articles from the site onto here. As some of these are almost a year old, some of them are somewhat outdated and may have proved to be completely off the mark.

Posted to TriviaSD.com 14/6/2019


Robert Meyer Burnett has not had the best of luck when joining factions.

He became the fourth Horseman at the first Spectacular following his victory in the inaugural Innergeekdom match, but then “The Captain” struggled to establish himself in the league, losing the Innergeekdom Title to Hector Navarro in his first defence before losing to Jeremy Jahns in a #1 Contender Match. Blaming the Horsemen for his demise, he took advantage of William Bibbiani’s betrayal to walk away from Rocha and Knost and join their arch-rivals the Lion’s Den.

Things didn’t improve much for him there. He lost in Innergeekdom to Jay Washington and lost in a Fatal Fiveway Qualifying match for the 2017 Ultimate Schmoedown. His only real success in the Lion’s Den came as one half of Blofeld’s Cat, who went 1-1 in the Ultimate Schmoedown before TKO’ing Rachel Cushing in a 2v1 handicap match. Following Marc Andreyko’s defection to Emma Fyffe, Burnett was deemed surplus to requirements and let go from the faction, finding himself locked in a room for six months then disappearing for the rest of the year to plot revenge.

Now back and managing The Family, things appeared to be on the up for him. Burnett convinced Drew McWeeny to turn to the dark side and join him and Drew Ghai, with their debut match as a victory over Ben Bateman and Tom Dagnino. While Ghai took a knock with a KO loss to Ben Bateman at Houston (and his subsequent chair-induced KO), a recent win for The Family over Inky and the Brain put things back on track for the faction.

But while the faction as a whole may be in a decent place, is Burnett’s place in the faction once again at risk, this time from one Roxy Striar?

Roxy’s history with Ben Bateman has seen her take a side in the Action Civil War, with her frequently calling herself a “Ghai Girl”. Chicago’s live event saw her take things one step further by slapping her former flame in the face, something that got immediate respect from Ghai, who proceeded to blatantly flirt with her via video in front of Bateman. Roxy travelled to the Houston live event to support her new Ghai, while she also crashed The Family’s latest post-match interview to congratulate the team on their win before giving the dastardly one a kiss on the cheek.

While Roxy’s managing of The League had mixed results, she has been much more hands on since being assigned to The Odd Couple as a part of the Anarchy shake-up, and it’s paying off. In the 2018 Ultimate Schmoedown, she managed to get Marc Andreyko and Jeff Sneider working together as an effective team as they TKO’d Team Seb’s, beat the Paddington Two and then lost to The Harris Brothers – a match that now looks like an aberration given their other results. Such was her impact on the pair, Andreyko immediately decided to ask her to continue managing him when he heard that Emma Fyffe was disbanding the Fyffe Club to become Commissioner, and Sneider also agreed to keep he trio going.

Since then, both players have played well in the Free 4 All, Andreyko had a narrow loss to John Rocha and Sneider began his next run for the Singles Title with a victory over Mark Reilly, while The Odd Couple TKO’d the Scream Queens, shocked Who’s The Boss in Chicago and recently defeated the 5-0 Shirewolves to win the Teams Title. Arguably, Roxy is one of the frontrunners at this point for Manager of the Year!

A manager of such quality, it would be stupid for Ghai to avoid bringing her into The Family considering she’s clearly on his side, while Andreyko and Sneider also showed themselves to be against Ben Bateman by refusing to shake his hand in Chicago. Bringing in The Odd Couple would make The Family a deadly faction in Teams and Singles, worthy of taking on The Horsemen.

But if the three of them join, or even just Roxy, does The Family need two managers? Arguably not. The only faction that could be considered to have two managers is KOrruption, but Grace Hancock has clearly taken on a manager’s role, whereas Ken is now more of a mouthpiece for the faction. While Burnett could certainly be a mouthpiece, he has a tendency to get distracted by personal rivalries – “NAVARRO!!!!” – and this role could easily be filled by Andrew Ghai alongside his competing.

What role would this leave for Burnett? He is the obvious Innergeekdom competitor for the faction, but his previous performances have suggested that he would be some distance off from competing against Cushing, Kalinowski and Smets. There is a very real possibility that Roxy joining the family would see him as surplus to requirements again.

So now Burnett needs to make sure the Drews don’t want to bring Roxy on board, and that will be easier said than done. Drew McWeeny looked focused on winning back the belt he was forced to give up, which could leave him at odds with Burnett if he chooses to focus on personal gripes. And as for Ghai, Houston was meant to be his big moment, but Burnett could do nothing to stop his man from getting blown out in the ring. Further than that, it was Burnett who supplied Ghai with the chair to attack Bateman. The very same chair that left him battered and bruised. A manager who lets his man get physically beaten in the ring versus a manager who would do anything for him… it sounds like an easy choice for Ghai.

The big factor could be the upcoming Manager Bowl at Collision. Rather than have the managers compete, they will have to pick a member of their faction to represent them in the match, with the winning faction’s manager being in charge of the Commissioners for a month. If Burnett chooses the wrong competitor and The Family loses this – especially if The Horsemen emerge victorious – then this will not go down well with the Drews. And if he were to lose to Tom Dagnino – who has challenged him to a match – then that could just be the straw that breaks the camel’s back and forces Ghai to turn to Roxy.

Watch your back, Robert…