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Old 09-22-2007, 10:46 AM   #151
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Yeah, that game was a prime example of how a bad ref can fuck up rugby. Now, someone like Honiss, he lets the game flow and it's entertaining. Shame he'll almost never ref the All Blacks, as he's a Kiwi himself.

And at half-time in England vs Samoa, the Poms lead 23-12. The Samoans are keeping in touch by penalty kicks, but that's not going to be enough. Unless they manage to find some cohesion, they haven't got a chance of coming back in the second half. If they defend well enough though, they could at least limit the English and finish with a respectable scoreline.
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Old 09-22-2007, 11:03 AM   #152
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Well, just seven minutes into the second half and suddenly 23-12 has become 26-22. Samoa's right back in this game - the try was certainly a hard one to call, but I think it was indeed a try, you can see the Samoan changed the direction of the ball and had downward pressure when it hit the ground. Had it not been given, I wouldn't have been surprised, but I'm glad it was as this game is suddenly a whole lot more entertaining. I was going to go to bed, but I think I'll stay up to see how this progresses. Come on Samoa! This English team is so shithouse that they should be beaten.
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Old 09-22-2007, 12:22 PM   #153
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but for a nervy 25 minute period after half time, i think england deserved the win. samoa did brilliantly to come back but wilkinsons drop goal swiftly followed by a penalty knocked the stuffing out of them. sackey did excellently to get an assist and try towards the end. a much improved performance although it's still nowhere near enough to challenge one of the southern hemisphere sides. at least we're starting to look like we do want to defend this trophy of ours.
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Old 09-22-2007, 08:50 PM   #154
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Well, I went to bed at 29-22, figuring that England had the game but nothing interesting would happen in the last 10 minutes as both sides seemed to be tiring, with Samoa running out of energy and England as usual out of ideas. Evidently I should have stayed up.

England should be worried about Tonga though. That Tongan team is perhaps under-rated, and I wonder if they've majorly improved from the side I saw get crushed by ~90 points four years ago at the hands of the All Blacks. The Tongans beat the US by a similar margin to England, and got up over Samoa by four points, so considering how unconvincing England was in at least half of that game, the Tongans look like they could be decent opposition. Sad commentary on the state of England rugby really, and given the state of Wilkinson's dull play last night, I don't think even he can be relied upon to win games now.
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Old 09-22-2007, 11:20 PM   #155
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Wow! South Africa 30-25 Tonga! Terrific effort.

If they keep going it'd be great, especially as a testament to Lima.
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Old 09-22-2007, 11:28 PM   #156
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Hey, sorry for the very delayed reply, I don't get to post here too often. A lot of rugby has happened in the meantime..

Quote:
Originally posted by Axver
Yeah, I'd agree with that. It's interesting to note the differences between the Aussie and Kiwi media. In Australia, even SBS slips into "uber-Aussie-pride" mode sometimes, and the commercial channels are just hysterical in their coverage of Australian teams. Meanwhile, in New Zealand, there's no hyper-promotion; there's hyper-expectation. One of the few worthwhile comments a Channel 10 commentator has made this RWC, though it's a repeat of what people have said before, is that for the All Blacks, the expectation isn't that they try their best. The simple instruction from the general public is "don't lose". When they win, they're heroes; if they lose, we're merciless. Hell, note even my language there: "when" they win, but "if" they lose. We simply don't expect the All Blacks to do anything but win. It must be hard for the players.
Yeah those folks across the Tasman take their status as rugby top dogs seriously, no doubt, and for new players coming into the squad it must give them the most satisfying sense of achievement and honor to make the grade at the same time as nearly overwhelming them with the expectation. That's professional sport though isn't it, and the cream of the crop relish the challenge to lift when it counts.

I remember during previous World Cups the news taglines of "national mourning" and "counselling crisis" when the All Blacks didn't bring home the cup, such were the expectations. No doubt there was also an element of schadenfreude from the non-NZ media in reporting that, though..

Quote:
Originally posted by Axver
Heh, I seem to recall Carter's minders weren't so happy about the soccer. It certainly goes some way to explaining why he's so good with his feet though. Speaking of soccer-to-rugby skills, watching Argentina is always good because the soccer influence is clear in their gameplay and makes them a unique quantity in the top flight. I think what helps soccer for young children in New Zealand is that many schools prohibit rugby for the younger grades. At my primary school, we weren't allowed to play contact rugby until standard two, which is your fourth year, when you're eight years old. Before that, if you want to play sport, it's soccer or netball or whatever.
Even eight years old seems fairly young to be thrown into rugby, with the scrums and rucking and whatnot. Not to mention some kids can grow to be quite big at a young age. I guess that's a perfect time though to teach them the old tackling lesson that no matter how big they are they can't run without legs..

Quote:
Originally posted by Axver
That tactic seems to have some efficacy though. When I moved to Australia in 1997, I would have had a hugely difficult time finding anyone born here who gave a shit about soccer beyond playing it as a young kid. Suddenly, last year, it seemed like everyone was a soccer fan and if A League attendance is indicative of anything, that effect is lasting. I wonder if this new ARC provincial rugby thing will have an impact. When I moved to Australia, I loathed that there was no equivalent of New Zealand's NPC.
Completely agree on the A League thing, it has been like a juggernaut here. I'm one of those who's wanted to care about soccer but just couldn't be enthusiastic about our domestic comp given the relatively poor standards in previous years. These days though after catching some of the odd game I've been pleasantly surprised, and am keen to see more. After all they play just up the road from me! Of course it depends on your tastes, but I think that soccer is one of those games that, when played at reasonably high levels, can really wow the viewers with some of those spectacular skills. When it's not played at a high level, and unfortunately sometimes even when it is, it can be a bit dull.

You're right in that they are trying to do the same thing with rugby here in the form of the ARC, yet I'm not sure that the same grassroots interest is there. So many people have never looked sideways at the game let alone play it or know what the rules are. I'd hope that the ARU would also be looking to increase participation at the junior level, and the interest might gradually swell over the space of a newer generation.. Oh but meanwhile I do think that the ARC comp is a good thing, it should encourage a higher level of play at the Australian domestic level.

Quote:
Originally posted by Axver
While I would agree with the assessment that it reveals a lack of depth, I think there were two other important factors at play behind the rush to include league converts in Super 12 teams and the Wallabies. You mention one, marketing - scoring Rogers, Sailor, et al was a big scoop every time and sure to draw a crowd. And the other is simply that the ARU didn't want its investment to appear to be wasted: why have Sailor rocking around in lower grades learning skills rather than in the top flight? Would the league guys even switched codes if they hadn't been assured of a place in the Wallabies? I mean, would you go from being in the national league team to a low grade of union that nobody notices?
Very true, fair point - no way would those league guys have switched codes if there had been very little prospect of them playing at the highest level. I think the lure of competing in a more genuine World Cup was strong. They probably had enough of the fundamental skills to almost hold their own in Super 12's, yet there is still quite a difference between the way that the games are played. In the case of Sailor, it really showed yet somehow not long after there he was in his Wallaby jersey. How is it so? It's not like there would have been a secret clause in his contract that he must be fast-tracked into the green & gold.. surely not? Yet he made it and he was nowhere near ready.. The other guys must have been piss-weak. Anyway enough about that guy..

Quote:
Originally posted by Axver
I think that in 2006, a fair World Cup final would have been the All Blacks vs the Junior All Blacks. We could field one team and win by ~40 points over Wales in Cardiff, then field a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT team the next week and win by ~40 points over Ireland in Dublin. What does that tell you? Probably the biggest point against including the All Blacks, Junior ABs, and New Zealand Maori is that only Kiwis want to see all three of them in the top four!

I just find it so hard to comment on the talent gulf. You look at how New Zealand dismembered Italy, the Maori thumped the US, and South Africa gave Samoa a lesson, but then you look at how England only just scraped through against the US and Ireland unconvincingly beat Namibia. Is Southern Hemisphere rugby really that dominant that the minnows who can't even lay a finger on us are competitive with the Northern greats? How does that explain the fact that games between Northern and Southern teams are usually competitive? I don't know what to make of this. I see arguments both ways. There does need to be a limit, though. Portugal should NOT be at this World Cup. I keep saying it, but Portugal vs New Zealand should not happen. If I were the Portuguese, I'd forfeit. This is a pointless game.
Yep the stats do make it difficult to draw conclusions, especially once you throw into the mix the fact that so often teams will field second-string teams against lesser ranked opponents, not even necessarily minnows, eg. South Africa v Tonga. I think the fact that they can afford to do that to save the best players for the marquee clashes suggests that there is a gulf there and you can't blame them (although maybe the entry fee paying spectators can) as it is usually the smart thing to do. Yet as you say how often have we also seen those surprisingly close fought matches between the Southern and Northern Hemisphere teams when they ARE fielding their best players? I hope that that will be the case with New Zealand versus Scotland, by the way. The Kiwis could do with a tough(ish) match before meeting up with (I think?) France..

Quote:
Originally posted by Axver
I just feel that league defence simply lacks the imposing force of union. I can't say I've ever found a league team with a forward pack nearly as intimidating as an All Blacks forward pack. Half of those guys look like they run into brick walls every day and win, while the other half are built like tanks. I just cannot fathom how league forwards would even hope to hold up in a union scrum. League scrums are a laughing stock. When was the last time a league forward was poached? I'd be very curious how they coped in scrums, rolling mauls, and simply clearing the ball from a tackle situation far less conducive to easy clearances than league.
For sure, body bulk means a lot more in rugby due to the scrums (pushing power and pack weight) and rucking, and having some taller players for the lineouts doesn't hurt either yet in league a tall player is mostly damaging as an offloader. With the effective removal of scrum pushing in league there has been a shift away from heavy, hulking players, and that's opened up the game to a quicker, more agile style of play. I too used to scratch my head at how seemingly pointless the league scrums had become yet on reflection it still serves a purpose to open up attacking options in the backline, and the increase in the speed of the game is well worth the sacrifice of the big bulldozers. It's healthy to have more differences between otherwise similar sports. Mind you there are still plenty of imposing guys on the paddock (110kgs plus) in most league comps so it's not as if they are tackling lightweights out there..

Anyway, for both codes the players know the ideal body type for their position and they adapt their diet & gym regime accordingly. Except for Matt Dunning, who is secretly in training for some other sport or profession altogether. If it's body weight and skills training, and not ability that's the primary difference between the two codes then I really don't think it's a big obstacle. The general skills of passing, tackling, sliding across to cover attackers, running decoy angles, etc translate very closely between the games otherwise we would never see any sign of dual internationals, and there have been plenty. Some unwarranted or premature though, as mentioned earlier.

Er so anyway.. geez how'd we get onto this in the first place? Oh, right.. I think this related back to the apparent gulf in skills between some international rugby teams. As with the NZ Maori and Junior All Blacks, it would be fun to train up (properly) some of the league guys and throw them into a rugby World Cup to see how they might fare. Look out Namibia.

Quote:
Originally posted by Axver
You're quite right: the soccer World Cup's lack of diversity in winners is not that illustrative of just how competitive the tournament is. Perhaps a better indicator would be how many unique runners-up and third placed teams there have been. The soccer World Cup always has so many worthy teams vying to get in, and it's that much harder to predict who will be a semi-finalist. However, with the RWC, the teams who should be there always are, joined by a contingent of no-hoper minnows, and picking the semi-finalists usually isn't that hard. Group D may throw a spanner in the works this time around; my prediction of Australia vs NZ is still likely but France vs South Africa is looking unlikely right now. Argentina vs South Africa would not only be interesting, but would do the world of good for Argentine rugby. And if the IRB succeeds in getting SANZAR to open the Tri-Nations up to including Argentina as early as next year, that would be even better. Argentina are to rugby what Sri Lanka were to cricket about 2.5 decades ago, and look at how far Sri Lanka has come - even a World Cup win.
No doubt, Argentina would love to ascend as a rugby nation as much as Sri Lanka has in cricket. Rugby needs to have that shake-up at the very top.

And don't get me wrong with this whole discussion of the competitiveness (or sometimes otherwise) of some of the rugby matches - there are still plenty of drool-worthy matchups to hope for. Yeah, Argentina v South Africa as you mentioned, don't think SA would be fielding a second string team for that encounter. It would have to be the grand final or the playoff, I think? My bro-in-law is Welsh so the Aus v Wales clash was good fun, although the up and down form of both teams was not too encouraging. By the way Axver you were spot on with your prediction of that result. I'd love to see Wales take down South Africa if they do end up meeting. Dreaming, you think?

Quote:
Originally posted by Axver
And, you know, I'd love to discuss the cricket, but for the sake of brevity, maybe we should rock on over to the cricket thread?
Well I would post in the cricket thread but some people are mistakenly posting about some "20/20" "sport" in there at the moment..
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Old 09-23-2007, 12:05 AM   #157
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Ah, glad you're still around, Zihua! I'm enjoying this thread, though I'll have to delay my response until tomorrow evening as I'm working on an essay for uni and don't have the time to write another essay on here in response!

I just procrastinated the last 2 hours away anyway.

Though I should say this part of your post absolutely cracked me up: "Anyway, for both codes the players know the ideal body type for their position and they adapt their diet & gym regime accordingly. Except for Matt Dunning, who is secretly in training for some other sport or profession altogether." World championship of hot dog eating, perhaps?

Quote:
Originally posted by COBL_04
Wow! South Africa 30-25 Tonga! Terrific effort.

If they keep going it'd be great, especially as a testament to Lima.
Holy shit, I totally missed that result when I checked the scores this morning. I looked up England and Argentina, but thought the Boks were playing tonight. That's just ... stunning. Really, really stunning. England are FUCKED. Wow, can you imagine Tonga knocking the Poms out? I know who I'll be going for when they meet in about six days' time.

Got to admit, this is bizarrely ominous for the Springboks after the way they flogged the Samoans and England. Were they playing their second stringers or something? Still, South African rugby has a bit of depth so this is surprising even if that were the case, and looking at their scorers, people like Pienaar, Montgomery, and Steyn were on the park ...
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"And as for Bono, he needs a colostomy bag for his mouth."

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Old 09-23-2007, 11:52 AM   #158
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So, Australia 55-12 Fiji, doesn't really reflect the game. Fijians played with a lot of entertaining flair and a number of Aussie tries were scored when the Fijians were in a big attack mode, made a mistake, and simply lacked the skills to get back in time to defend. Australia were clearly stronger, but they didn't impress me as possible world-beaters. I couldn't stop laughing when the Aussie commentators kept talking up the Wallabies backs as some of the world's best, as some of them are total shit if you ask me. Looking at you, Huxley and Ashley-Cooper.

And now it's 20-0 to the All Blacks over Scotland in Edinburgh. New Zealand's just been dominant, with great offence and solid defence. Unfortunately, our catching of passes has let us down at a couple of points and cost certain tries. If they connect just a few more passes, this could really blow out in the second half. Our forwards are hugely dominant in the scrum, Scotland might as well not be there, and some tackles have simply been huge.

Also, well done to Douggie Howlett, who scored his 47th try and in doing so became the highest tryscorer in All Black history. Christian Cullen's 46 is now second place.
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Ian McCulloch the U2 fan:
"Who buys U2 records anyway? It's just music for plumbers and bricklayers. Bono, what a slob. You'd think with all that climbing about he does, he'd look real fit and that. But he's real fat, y'know. Reminds me of a soddin' mountain goat."
"And as for Bono, he needs a colostomy bag for his mouth."

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Old 09-23-2007, 12:09 PM   #159
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This is the most bloody slow start to a second half. I feel like I've seen more scrums in the last 10 minutes than I've seen in my life. Ugh! Just score a try, New Zealand.
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Ian McCulloch the U2 fan:
"Who buys U2 records anyway? It's just music for plumbers and bricklayers. Bono, what a slob. You'd think with all that climbing about he does, he'd look real fit and that. But he's real fat, y'know. Reminds me of a soddin' mountain goat."
"And as for Bono, he needs a colostomy bag for his mouth."

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Old 09-23-2007, 01:46 PM   #160
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i can't believe new zealand and scotland were wearing almost identical kits
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Old 09-23-2007, 07:25 PM   #161
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Yeah, what was up with that? Clearly, when someone told New Zealand to play in their alternate strip, they failed to notice that the usual jerseys would actually be easier to distinguish! We usually wear our alternate strip when we play in Scotland, but since the Scots have changed their uniform so much, I think it's now counterproductive. And goodness, the new Scottish uniform is awful.

By the way, the miraculous happened - in the space of a minute, the Australian commentators made two quality observations! The first was that the New Zealand tryline might as well have been on the moon for Scotland, and the second was that New Zealand just achieved one of the most unconvincing 40-0 away-from-home victories you're likely to see. I think the All Blacks were strong, but too many tries were blown through simple mistakes. The scoreline should've been at least 60-0, but at crucial moments our normally solid handling went to pieces. Daniel Carter's kicking also wasn't up to his usual standards, and there were a couple of times where our decision to take a penalty kick rather than kicking for touch was just bizarre.

I still have a fair bit of confidence in this team though. 40-0 is nothing to turn up your nose at, and it seemed to me that out of all of the Northern teams, Scotland actually had the most desire to attack when they had the ball! The All Blacks just thoroughly shut them down. So that gives me a measure of reassurance that although we blew some attacking manoeuvres, our defence - particularly our scrum and rolling maul - is strong.
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Ian McCulloch the U2 fan:
"Who buys U2 records anyway? It's just music for plumbers and bricklayers. Bono, what a slob. You'd think with all that climbing about he does, he'd look real fit and that. But he's real fat, y'know. Reminds me of a soddin' mountain goat."
"And as for Bono, he needs a colostomy bag for his mouth."

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Old 09-29-2007, 09:05 AM   #162
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Damn, go the All Blacks. After just four games, our for/against points differential is a whopping +274. We've scored more than 300 points so far. In our last group game, we gave the Romanians a rugby lesson. When we first played them, back in the heady days of Ceausescu pouring shitloads of money into rugby rather than actually feeding his people, the Romanians gave us a scare and we only got away 14-6 (and they actually beat Wales and France!). Today? 85-8.

In other news, England got past Tonga and dragged themselves into the quarter-finals. Australia will destroy them, though probably not as badly as they will pummel the Canadians tonight! Poor Canada - they couldn't even beat Japan, just a 12-12 draw.

Of course, this week's big clash is Ireland vs Argentina. I'm picking the Argentines by about 15 points. Ireland will come out fighting, desperate to stay in the tournament, so they'll probably play better than they did against France, but I still don't see them getting past a Pumas team with a point to prove - and a semi-final berth virtually guaranteed if they top Group D (because their quarter-final opponent will be one of the easily beatable Scotland or Italy).
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Ian McCulloch the U2 fan:
"Who buys U2 records anyway? It's just music for plumbers and bricklayers. Bono, what a slob. You'd think with all that climbing about he does, he'd look real fit and that. But he's real fat, y'know. Reminds me of a soddin' mountain goat."
"And as for Bono, he needs a colostomy bag for his mouth."

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Old 09-29-2007, 08:02 PM   #163
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HOLY SHIT, WALES ARE GONE!

Fiji 38-34 Wales. At one stage, the Fijians were 25-3, and they did a damn good job holding on right at the death. Interesting to see that Wales actually scored one more try, but that was more than cancelled out by bleeding penalty kicks. Unbelievable to see one of the greatest rugby nations of all time eliminated now, though. So now South Africa will take on Fiji instead of Wales next week - not that it makes much difference, as they'd have beaten either.

And the Italians should right now be really hating their kicker, Bortolussi. If he'd made just one more penalty, Italy would have won. Instead, they're gone, 18-16, despite scoring the only try of the game.

What annoys me is that every team in the quarter-finals will get an easy opponent apart from the All Blacks, and the All Blacks probably have had the worst hit-out so far by having such a miserably uncompetitive group. I'll admit I'm a little worried, especially if we get stuck with France. In comparison, South Africa gets a ticket to the semi-finals thanks to playing Fiji; Australia would normally have a competitive game against England but the wayward English will likely provide no hindrance to Aussie semi-final ambitions; and the winner of Pool D, whoever they may be, will have an easy time against Scotland. Bah. Interesting to note that if Pool D's final placing is Argentina 1st and France 2nd and my All Blacks worries are unfounded, the semis would feature just Southern Hemisphere teams - Australia vs NZ and South Africa vs Argentina, and they happen to be the top four in the world right now. So if I'm honest, I hope it turns out that way and Northern rugby does a lot of soul-searching to figure out how they're meant to stay competitive with Southern rugby.
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Ian McCulloch the U2 fan:
"Who buys U2 records anyway? It's just music for plumbers and bricklayers. Bono, what a slob. You'd think with all that climbing about he does, he'd look real fit and that. But he's real fat, y'know. Reminds me of a soddin' mountain goat."
"And as for Bono, he needs a colostomy bag for his mouth."

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Old 09-30-2007, 05:00 AM   #164
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Did Tonga beat England? Please say yes. :Pray:
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Old 09-30-2007, 05:19 AM   #165
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Quote:
Originally posted by COBL_04
Did Tonga beat England? Please say yes. :Pray:
No.

England 36-20 Tonga.

Now, Australia's had a pretty shithouse group so we can't take too much indication of form from their results, though the unconvincing win over Canada may be a tad ominous. But frankly, I think you can already book the Wallabies' semi-final tickets now. England are completely dreadful.

Also, Lote Tuqiri is a selfish fuck and doesn't deserve to be on the team after his display against Canada. Not passing when he had Drew Mitchell unmarked simply because he was desperate to get a try himself? Pathetic, absolutely pathetic.
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Ian McCulloch the U2 fan:
"Who buys U2 records anyway? It's just music for plumbers and bricklayers. Bono, what a slob. You'd think with all that climbing about he does, he'd look real fit and that. But he's real fat, y'know. Reminds me of a soddin' mountain goat."
"And as for Bono, he needs a colostomy bag for his mouth."

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