With the kids at school on Monday, Jessica and I went walkabout to a spot intriguingly called Taylors Mistake. Apparently, a ship captain with a bottle of rum too many ran aground around Godley’s Head looking for Summer Bay. There are worse mistakes he could have made.
The bay on the outskirts of Christchurch has daring cliff walks and has a bit of an Old Head of Kinsale feel about it. It’s a magnificent, isolated coastal walk, steep in parts. What we used refer to as clearing the head they now call mindfulness, but I’d highly recommend it.
The Crusaders had Monday off after returning from Wellington with an important victory over the Hurricanes. Important not just for the ladder but for the psychological pep of the players coming off a sloppy loss in Sydney.
It was a manly performance, and we all felt rather good after it. Great players react appropriately to a setback and the Hurricanes had a physical gameplan in their own place but we played some good rugby and stood up when we had to. Rough ball they call it.
All the while, the players are preparing and performing against the ever-present backdrop of what happened in Christchurch on March 15 at the Linwood mosque. The discussions, at a high level, about the Crusaders changing their name in its wake, continue. For everyone who believes there is little point in changing the name of the franchise, others believe it to be now untenable.
The players and management are not involved in this process but it would seem that a team of experts will examine two options — keep the Crusaders name, but change the branding, or a full rebrand and name change.
Atop Taylors Mistake, it’s incredibly difficult to comprehend the events that have scarred this city. If provides stark perspective and you end up smiling a bit at some of the things you read, some of the links made to other clubs and countries. I’ve learned a whole new meaning to ‘in talks with…’ since moving to the other end of the world.
The internet means you don’t have to wait too long for a tall tale to wend its way to the southern hemisphere. Leaks happen for a reason I suppose, and you learn to shake things off and drive on with the family and the day job, things you can trust.
On Monday, I was thinking of Tyler Bleyendaal at Munster and the influence he had on the victory last Saturday in Murrayfield. How he arrived in the province as the missing ingredient, how repeated injuries, especially career-threatening neck surgeries, continually knocked him back, stunting his progress and momentum. And after every false dawn, he had to go back to a place, a dark place, he’d already been down.
Then Munster make the signing of the season in Joey Carbery.
I met Tyler recently in Christchurch, probably at a moment when he was ready to put the past behind him and eat up some road. He spoke about Ireland ambitions, though in the context of making an impression with the province first. He wasn’t sure when that would be.
And then a door opened.
In individual terms, he was the big Munster winner against Edinburgh, picking up possession on the overthrow that led to Earlsie’s decisive second try, putting ball to boot impressively and nailing that touchline conversion, which was a beaut. When a man is at his lowest ebb something positive breaks for you.
That’s a life lesson as much as sport, just as when a player feels truly invincible, something breaks bad the other way to remind him of his or her mortality. It’s a message for schoolboys and girls, to persevere. Three neck operations remember…
I had shaken his hand once or twice, but that coffee was the first face to face with Tyler. Impressive man. Quiet, but steely determination. His game knowledge is really good, he spent some time with the Crusaders, so he is tactically very astute. He was mature in terms of getting his head down as Carbery quickly established himself after coming in from Leinster.
The frustration of not getting any run of games together when Joey was away with Ireland would have damaged many others, but Tyler has that Kiwi mentality, that balanced personality which put him in a good place to step up and capitalise last weekend.
It’s a different last 10 minutes if that was a two-point game at 15-13. One team looking for a winning penalty decision playing at home….
Racing 92 will be fuming in the wake of their defeat at home to Toulouse. It reverts to the fact that if Europe is a once-off, form isn’t, and you can’t have it on tap. To be a man up for the best part of an hour at home in Paris and not see off their rivals will hurt for a long time. It will be interesting to see whether they can rebound and secure a Top Six spot in the Bouclier. Big ask.
I am out of the club a bit now, but not long enough to be able to pass off such a frustrating defeat. Camille Chat came in and scored a try few other in world rugby would score, but it wasn’t enough on the day. My frustration won’t be shared in Leinster, I am guessing.
A winning effort from a poor performance against Ulster gives Cullen and Lancaster loads to work on and plenty of scope for skelping over the next two weeks. It also delivered a ‘home’ semi-final against their pool rivals.
We will return to the Munster task against Saracens. Tonight, I’ll hook up with Laurie Fisher as we host the Brumbies in Christchurch. Good chance there will be a pint together afterwards and a no holds-barred appraisal of where Munster stand now.