Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The tri-nations begins

How long has it been since I've written about Rugby? I was in the UK on the weekend and for the first time since forever I was able to watch Australia play live. You know what, I was impressed by what I saw.

Australian Rugby has been in trouble this year. The Super 14 season was pretty much a dud for every team except the Brumbies,  the ARU has been completely mismanaged (as have some of the state Unions), and the Wallabies in the warm-up tests have been somewhat shaky. This was all blown away last week. To begin with John O'Neal was reappointed as the CEO of the ARU, then the Wallabies lost in a a nail biter to South Africa.

Normally, I wouldn't be crowing about a loss to South Africa. But, this year South Africa have had all the form. By all accounts, South African teams played superbly during the Super 14 and the form has flowed on to the Springboks. For Australia to be considered contenders at the World Cup this year they had to be more than in the game against South Africa. They had to show that they have the potential to take away the big games. Even though they lost the game, it could have gone either way. In the end, I think Australia ultimately lost because of three bad lineout throws from the replacement hooker. If one these throws hadn't happened the game could have easily gone the other way.

The Australian backs, with the exception of Julien Huxley, all looked dominant in their positions. Huxley had a mediocre game with the boot which, in a game dominated by territorial kicking, hurt Australia somewhat. However, defence was superb.

The performance of the forward pack made me smile more than anything else throughout the game. The Wallaby scrum easily matched the Springbok scrum and the lineouts (until Adam Frier came on) were a great spectacle. A little less obvious than this was the improvement of the Australians at the breakdown. For the first time in years the Australian forward pack looked fast and aggressive. When in possession the forward pack (with Lote Tequiri) continually made it over the advantage line and maintained possession. When George Smith was on the field the South Africans had to fight like nothing else to retain the ball at more rucks than they would have liked to count. More importantly, Australia were able to not only shut-down the Springbok rolling maul, but they were able to use their own as an attacking weapon.

I'm no-longer completely depressed about Australia's chances at this year's world cup!

Monday, June 18, 2007

I'm moving to Bristol

Regular readers would remember that I visited the University of Bristol a month or so ago for a job interview. Well, my interview and talk went pretty well and I got offered a job there a few weeks back. I've been keeping it somewhat under my hat (ie I haven't posted this until today) because I was waiting for the paperwork to come through.

If all goes to plan (which it seems to be at the moment) I will be starting a two-year postdoc position in the quantum information theory group at Bristol in August. The appointment is the Computer Science department, which is a little weird for me as I've always worked in physics departments. I'm kinda looking forward to the change though, I think it will be a great opportunity to learn some interesting new stuff.

As many of you would know, moving to the UK is going to make my personal life pretty tricky. My girlfriend and I have been living together now for about 18 months and now with this new job we are going to have to go back to being in a long-distance relationship again as Sarah will be stuck studying in Innsbruck until February next year. This isn't something that I'm really happy about. Those of you that know me personally know that I've been trying to find other work and living options for some time in order to avoid this outcome. Unfortunately it hasn't worked out the way we want. I guess in many ways it could be worse, there isn't a huge amount of distance between Bristol and Innsbruck.

Professionally, I'm very happy to be moving to Bristol. I've been a big fan of the work that has come out of there for years. I also have a bunch of friends who already work there so I don't think I'll be too lonely there. Oh, and Bristol is only an hour and a half away from London where I know roughly a zillion people both professionally and personally.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Scirate.com keeps getting better and better

Dave had been busy improving SciRate.com in the last week or two. Now you can comment and there's a funky little "recent comments" and "recent Scitations" box on the side.

It's really great to see that people are already getting on board and writing comments about papers!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

I'm blogging politics at Larvatus Prodeo from now on

I just thought I'd let people know that from now on I will be posting most of my political posts over at Larvatus Prodeo as one of the regulars there. My first article as a regular can be found here.

Sometimes I might cross-post my articles between the two blogs when it makes sense to do so.