This coming week I’m travelling from Dublin to Greenwich, CT for the last in the current series of Exchange 2010 Maestro training events where I’ll be joining up again with fellow MVPs Paul Robichaux and Brian Desmond to deliver around twenty hours of lectures between Wednesday and Friday. The lectures are supplemented with some group work and hands-on labs so our attendees won’t have much time on their hands. After that I’ll be heading to Las Vegas for Halloween – or rather, to deliver a keynote session at Exchange Connections at 8AM (local) on Wednesday, November 2. Should be good fun.
In rugby matters I was glad that New Zealand won the Rugby World Cup by beating France 8-7 in a game that surprised people because of the intense nature of the French performance that stretched the All Blacks to the very limit, forcing them to play out the last few minutes in a pick-and-drive style that they probably didn’t want to and keeping Kiwis around the world on tenderhooks. The All Blacks deserved to be acknowledged as the world’s #1 team as they won every one of their matches. France kept their best and most convincing performance until last but lost to both Tonga and New Zealand during the group stage.
It was also good to see Richie McCaw, the All Black captain, win his 103rd cap. I have two particular memories of Richie McCaw in his early career. First, as a member of the Junior All Black side that won the IRB/FIRA U-19 World Cup in Wales in April 1999 and then when he won his first cap against Ireland at Lansdowne Road on 17 November 2001. I was the assistant referee for the final (Steve Lander of England was in the middle), which New Zealand won 25-0 against Wales in Stradey Park, Llanelli. Other future All Blacks in that squad included Jerry Collins, Mils Muliaina, and Aaron Mauger. The Welsh team had future internationals in Adam Jones, Dwayne Peel, Rhys Williams, Jamie Robinson, Ceri Sweeney, Ryan Powell, James Bater and Michael Owen. While McCaw is probably the pick of the bunch, a lot of other quality players came through to full international level from that tournament. Some excellent referees were there too including Kelvin Deaker (New Zealand), Joel Judge (France), and JC Fortuin (South Africa) (see group shot below).
New Zealand beat the Irish team in their semi-final. In the other game, Wales drew 10-10 with South Africa and went through to the final on the basis that they had scored a penalty and a goal against a drop goal and goal! The rules of that tournament were a little hard to understand at the time… I refereed that semi-final and didn’t quite know what would happen at the final whistle until the crowd went crazy when the announcer said that Wales had won on a technicality. The game was televised live and played in front of around 15,000 people in Bridgend. Standing between the Welsh and South African teams as they belted out their national anthems before that game is still one of my best rugby memories!
The All Blacks won the 2001 game by 29-40 after being behind 16-7 at half time. It was one of the “could have” games for Ireland who played with controlled ferocity in the first half before the greater physical strength and fitness of the All Blacks secured the victory. On this occasion I patrolled the sideline as the reserve official (No. 4 – the referee was Andre Watson of South Africa) and spent most of my time attempting to control the All Black bench. Ten years ago the International Rugby Board (IRB) didn’t exert the same kind of control that exists today on sideline activities where each team is limited to the number of people that can enter the pitch and where those people can position themselves. It was a constant struggle to stop water bottles being thrown onto the pitch like grenades, manage substitutions, and so on.
Even though he was relatively young, McCaw played well that day and showed some of the promise that he has so richly fulfilled since. He was presented with the traditional first cap at the dinner that night and was good enough to share a drink at the referees’ table afterwards. 102 test matches later he’s still a winner and deserved to lift the William Webb Ellis trophy today.
On other matters, blog posts elsewhere this week were a commentary on the retirement of Shane Robison as HP’s CTO, thoughts about some goodness that might have lurked in the RIM (BlackBerry) outage, and relief that Microsoft has eventually fixed the IE9 bug that affected the Exchange Management Console (EMC). I also enjoyed the TEC 2011 EMEA event in Frankfurt where I had the chance to chat with many old acquaintances. It was nice to meet up.
Now on to the U.S., training, and more conferences. It’s a busy time.