Red Alert

Archive for the ‘sport’ Category

Sunday Sport: Omnishambles

Posted by on December 9th, 2012

Long time readers of Red Alert, and indeed Public Address, will know that cricket, and particularly the New Zealand cricket team mean a lot to me. Along with other NZ Cricket supporters I have had a lifetime of hope and dashed hope, dealing with heroic failure and abject failure, and celebrating the odd (actually there were lots in the 80s) moment of success. But always there for the lads.

So, for non cricketing folk you might wonder about the outpouring of emotion from cricket fans over the three part tragedy played out by New Zealand Cricket this week in partly sacking Ross Taylor, then fully sacking him and then appointing Brendon McCullum as Captain. Well, let’s just say there are many years of emotion attached to it. Actually I think New Zealand Cricket fans are the closest we get to the deep emotion of English football fans. The true fans, the ones who stick it out through wins and losses, feel this omnishambles deeply.

What happened? Well, here is my take. From my standpoint, Ross Taylor probably shouldn’t have been appointed captain in the first place. He was picked to be a “lead from the front” “do as I do, not as I say” kind of captain. In the wake of an unsettled period (Andy Moles, awkward Fleming/Vettori transition, John Wright debacle), and with questions hanging over the ability of a number of the team to cut it at international level, that might not have been wise.

But he was given the job. So, what was done to help him? Was Taylor given the support/training etc that he clearly needed if he was going to turn into a good test captain? Was he willing to accept that kind of support? It will be hard to know what has happened, but just as in politics the spin is now coming from both sides of the argument.

For my ten cents worth, Brendon McCullum is the obvious captain for the shorter forms of the game. Not because he is a fellow Kings High School old boy or because he is the world’s best 20/20 batsman, but because the games require more of the instinctive, gambler personality type that McCullum exhibits. For the test team I am not so sure. I think he could grow into that role, but I would have been happy to see Taylor do it for a while and see whether he could develop a bit more.

Other countries have different skippers for different formats. The difference there is the test captain is often not involved in the shorter form of the game so there is no sense of “confusion” with them on the team. Honestly, though, that must be able to be managed, if you have the will and wit to do so.

Speaking of a lack of wit, that brings us to NZ Cricket. The way NZ Cricket has handled this situation, and others over recent years shows an administration that is deeply flawed, and is bringing the game they are charged with looking after into disrepute. Everyone involved has been treated badly, and some will struggle to make the positive impact on the game that they should.

Ross Taylor is talking about being back for the England series. I hope he will be. But I will bet now that his international career will be shortened as a result of this farce, and that is something we will all end up regretting.

For Brendon McCullum he enters a hugely difficult period as captain. South Africa without your best batsman and with your team feeling demoralised. And then he will return to New Zealand and Taylor will be treated like a folk hero during the English series. The only thing that will give McCullum a break will be some good results. Here’s hoping, and in the meantime, I know I will be supporting the lads, as I always have. They need us now more than ever.

Filed under: sport

Paralympics Coverage

Posted by on September 7th, 2012

This morning Sophie Pascoe won her third gold medal of the Paralympics. It is a champion effort from her, and shows she is firmly established as one of our great all-time Paralympians. Overall New Zealand athletes have won 14 medals. And what have we seen of that on TV? Almost nothing. Those of us lucky enough to have Sky can see nightly highlight packages, but they are brief and that’s it. Nothing on free to air except for random news coverage.

Sky TV has the rights to the coverage, so its not totally fair to blame the free to air channels. Having said that there is no shortage of brilliant human interest stories if they wanted to put the resources into being at the finish line or poolside.

Clare has already put out a statement expressing her concern about the lack of coverage. I really think that New Zealand is missing the boat here. Almost everyone I know in London has gone to an event and loved it. It screens 16 hours a day on Channel Four and is rating through the roof. In Australia they are getting 100 hours of live coverage across the event, and Australian politicians are attending in support.

I should note that there has also been some controversyin the US about lack of coverage.

There is a story underlying this about media ownership in New Zealand of course, and the rights deals that dominate coverage of sport, but at any level more could be done. No one is asking for the same coverage as the Olympics, but just some recognition of a great global event.

Sky have said

we just can’t be in the business of making programming decisions that don’t have some commercial sense to them

This says it all, but also shows a lack of imagination. I have said before that I think one of the best programmes on TV is Attitude, the disabilities issues show that screens on a Sunday morning. The stories are inspirational, interesting and well told. It could easily screen in prime time on a Sunday night. With the right promotion and marketing Sky could have made a whole lot more of the Paralympics.

It is such a shame. New Zealand is doing well, and the courage and talent of the athletes on show is remarkable and inspirational. Such a missed opportunity and such a lack of respect for our athletes.

Our Paralympian heroes

Posted by on September 5th, 2012

Four gold. Four silver and four bronze. So far. Proud of all who are competing

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What makes us proud?

Posted by on September 5th, 2012

It’s a disgrace that NZers are not seeing any of the live coverage of the Paralympics.

Sky TV pay wall subscribers are only being provided with the highlights of Paralympic events, while coverage for analogue or digital Freeview audiences is limited to items appearing on the six o’clock news shows.

The lack of live coverage of events showcasing the enormous talent of our Paralympians is not only a lost opportunity to provide positive role models for the almost one in five New Zealanders with a disability, but also exposes the glaring gap that public television should be serving.

Why don’t we have live coverage? Because there isn’t a buck in it for the commercial broadcasters (apparently). Because we don’t have a public TV channel that puts public interest and serving the whole community above the commercial interests of the advertisers. Instead, we have a government that does not put a value on public interest broadcasting.

A host of the top Australian politicians are at the London Paralympics this week, and the coverage (live, 16 hours a day on Channel 4) in Britain is the most popular TV. Are any of our politicians at the Paralympics?

I believe in a country that champions and encourages all who try their best to achieve. That is the nation I grew up in and continue to believe in.

Sunday Sport: Olympic Awards

Posted by on August 12th, 2012

London’s brilliant party is almost at an end. I have managed to catch a bit more of this Olympics than any in my recent memory, partly due to finding the day in London getting going when I have been getting home. Not as much as in 1984 when I got near to hypothermia being the ball-boy at Carisbrook in Dunedin and had the best part of two weeks off school to watch it. (Well that was my story then, and I am sticking to it now!)

So, what to make of it all. From an overall point of view it seems to have gone off without too many hitches. There was a bit of controversy about empty seats early on, but that went away. In fact one of the best bits of the Games has been the way the British public have gotten in behind the event. The games seem to have been incredibly “friendly” from this distance, including among the competitors.

And for New Zealand. Well it has been an excellent games. Some truly incredible performances, not as many “fourths” and some very solid contributions. Anyway, now for some awards.

The Who Knew Sitting on Your Arse Could Take You So Far. Something about New Zealanders, but with the exception of Valerie Adams every medal we got came from a posterior pointed at the ground. Admittedly the yachties are up and down a fair bit, but ultimately they are on their backsides. This means we need to think about other seated sports for the Olympics. Personally I am backing ‘armchair commentary’, where I have years of Olympic experience.

Gutsiest NZ Competitor. The Black Sticks Women’s hockey team were just brilliant at this games. They played out of their skins. There is no doubt they are skilful and talented, but on form they should not have progressed as far as they did. They were desperately unlucky not to beat the Dutch in the semi-final. In all honesty there was no way they were going to come back from that emotionally for the bronze game, especially against the home team. But what a brilliant effort.

Gutsiest Non NZ Competitor. I probably did not see enough to say, but on the track Oscar Pistorius was an inspiration. The fact he did not get to run his leg of the relay was a tragedy (Oops, I missed that SA team got into final on protest after not finishing the heat). But actually I give the award to Wojdan Shaherkani (judo) and Sarah Attar (atheltics) the first ever Saudi female athletes to compete at the Games. If anyone needed proof that despite the rampant commercialism now associated with the Games they still have the power to make positive change, their involvement was it. Of course this does not mean much has changed for Saudi women, but this represents a big step.

Most Exhilarating Kiwi Moment: I didn’t get to see Lisa Carrington’s win live, but it looked pretty good, but nothing can top Nathen Cohen and Joseph Sullivan powering home to win the double sculls. They were dead last and gone from most people’s perspectives. I am sure I am not the only person who has not heard the commentary of the final 250m since I was screaming and trying to row from my bed. A superb sporting moment.

Most Exhilirating Non Kiwi Moment. I don’t want to say Usain Bolt because he is starting to annoy me. I mean I know he is the greatest track athlete of all time and all, but I reckon you should run your heart out in every final. He is of course amazing, and the run in the 4x100m relay this morning was something special, but I think David Rudisha’s 800m World Record run would have to be the highlight. An incredible performance that was about more than just winning the gold.

Greatest Source of Irritation. The Sky Sport Commentary Team. With a couple of notable exceptions (Peter Calder at the Yachting, the British guy who kept telling us to drink when we won at the rowing) the standard of commentary was woeful. People with little experience of a sport shouting out jinogistic nonsense while missing important aspects of what was happening. Even where they knew a lot (think the swimming) it still seemed like they were only half there.

Best Non Medal Reaction from a Kiwi. Lauren Boyle who was far and away the best of our swimmers. who powered to 4th in the 800m, and promptly fell apart while being interviewed because she genuinely did not think she was that good. You are Lauren, and come 2016 you should have the confidence you need to win a medal.

Get It and Bottle It. Every sport in New Zealand needs to go and visit Rowing NZ and find out about their high performance programme. Especially Swimming NZ.

Unsung Hero. Dick Tonks, who is head and shoulders above all as a rowing coach. Two golds in an hour, and the rowers themselves said he was a huge part of their wins. If he is not winning the Halberg for coach of the year, something is very wrong.

Watch More Carefully. A lot has been said about Valerie Adams dashed hopes for Gold, and not enough about a great effort to get Silver. The clerical error that saw her not entered was unforgivable. Who knows how much it really affected her throwing, but it must never happen again. But this award is actually for the media and the public. Nadzeya Ostapchuk had come into some magnificent form this year, and to be honest had all the momentum coming into the Olympics. It would have been fairer on Val and the expectations of the NZ public if this was reported more widely to give realistic expectations.

Boys Weekend/Girls Weekend. Two magnificent weekends of medal winning action, the boy rowers last weekend, and the girls in the yachting/BMX/kayaking this weekend. Great to see our success across shared between the men and the women.

NZ Champion. All the medal winners were brilliant, but Eric Murray and Hamish Bond have been unbeaten for four years, and no one was even close to them. I don’t know that I have seen a more dominant display from a NZ team.

Olympic Champion. Usain Bolt. I admit it, he is a phenomenon. Runner Up, the British public for being so supportive of their team, and giving everyone else a fair go. Second Runner Up, Twitter for being the best source of information about the Games.

Now, time to get a good night’s sleep.

Filed under: sport

Sunday Sport: The Magic of Irene

Posted by on July 22nd, 2012

What a fantastic win for the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic in the Trans-Tasman Netball League. The first NZ to win a final on Australian soil, and from a team who lost four games on the trot at the start of the season. This is a massive victory from a team who had their backs against the wall.

Much has been expected from the Magic over the years. They are a bit of a dream team, having bought in a number of star players. But it has never fully come together, until they looked down and out. Magnificent stuff.

And towering above all is Irene Van Dyk. As most who follow the sport know, Irene’s mother passed away in South Africa just before the semi-final last week. Irene played through that game, and committed to the final tonight, in what must have been an incredibly tough time. Irene is a remarkable athlete. At 40, in the games I have watched this year she is in the form of her life. No player in world netball is targeted in the way Irene is, but game in game out she delivers as a shooter. Watch her live and you see that her work rate off the ball is huge as well. In the dying moments tonight she came out of the circle to take passes to calm things down, as well as shooting the critical goals.

It is a cliche, but its true, above all Irene is one of the nicest people you could meet. Her bravery this week is a huge tribute to her courage. Her talent as an athlete is unreal. An inspiration to 40 year olds everywhere. All the Magic players made a massive contribution to this win, but for me this win was for a champion sportswoman who we should cherish that she chose to become one of ours. Here’s to you Irene!

Filed under: sport

Sunday Sport: In defence of Piri

Posted by on June 3rd, 2012

Steve Hansen has put out his squad for the Irish test series and predictably the wrath of armchair critics everywhere has fallen on Piri Weepu. There is no doubt Piri has been below his best and obviously not at full fitness in the Super 15. Frankly he is playing in the wrong team, and one that is thoroughly out of sorts at that.

But lets rewind the tape to September and October last year. Piri was the toast of the nation, the man who launched a thousand memes. He is the incumbent halfback, a big match player, with a good bit of experience, and the ability to kick goals and cover another position. He deserves the chance to defend his position in this series. Having said that I am guessing if he goes like he has in the Super 15 you won’t be seeing him in the “four nations”.

Andy Ellis misses out at halfback, essentially to a younger, faster version of himself. Aaron Smith has been in great form for the Highlanders and appeals as a quicker passer than Ellis. There’s a lot of sympathy for Ellis, but if you are looking for a really unluckly halfback, its not Ellis, its TJ Perenara. He has been outstanding for the Hurricanes, full of invention and flashes of brilliance but also showing the ability to direct his team around the paddock. Frankly I don’t care if he is only 20, its the way he plays that matters to me, and he has got the goods.

Elsewhere there is not too much to surprise. I am really pleased to see Tamati Ellison picked, and I hope he gets some game time. He has come back from Japan with an extra bit of aggression and directness in his game, to go with the skills and maturity he has always had.

Hopefully the Irish will give the team a good run for their money. Best thing is a three test series, like the days of old. Should be some midweek provincial games too I reckon…

Filed under: sport

Thanks Needle

Posted by on April 28th, 2012

Fred Allen died today.

His exploits as a soldier, All Black (every game as Captain), and unbeaten All Black coach are well recorded elsewhere.

I was lucky to spend a bit of time with him over the last couple of decades. He was always up for a chat about sport and/or politics. And right up to the RWC celebrations he was as sharp as his nickname.

And his advice certainly could not be described as politically correct, notwithstanding his praise of our first elected woman PM, nor gentle, despite him being a gentleman.

We are a better country because of him. Thanks Fred.

Filed under: sport

The Demise of the Blue and Gold

Posted by on February 28th, 2012

I thought I had witnessed Otago’s darkest day in rugby. It was 1979 and Steve Marfell the strapping Marlbrough 2nd-five lined up a penalty that would have sunk Otago into the 2nd Division South with the likes of Buller and North Otago. He missed and over the years following Otago built up an enviable record under the likes of Laurie Mains, Gordon Hunter and latterly Tony Gilbert. But now Otago rugby stands on the edge of oblivion- at least in the short term. It is truly shocking for those of us who grew up in awe of the blue and gold.

The truth is that the professional era for rugby has never really been kind to Otago. In the years following 1996 there was a legacy of player strength that carried Otago to an NPC title a couple of years later, but it soon became clear that retaining players was going to be a struggle. As the performances of the team declined, so did the crowds, and no doubt the sponsorship revenue. Player payments went up and up, and the cost of retaining Carisbrook as a facility also grew. That much I can see, what on earth else was going on to see the debt rise so much I have no idea. This must have been some pretty shocking decisions taken in the last few years to see it get this bad.

The NZRU seem likely to ensure club and school rugby will continue, and that as Clare and David have pointed out, must be a priority.

As for the ITM Cup (NPC) team I think it is important that something is done to try to field a team this year. This might well be the opportunity to see the wider community come back in behind the team. With local commercial support as the base, maybe Otago people can be given the opportunity to help get the team on the field. The rest of the year then needs to be spent establishing a more sustainable base for the future.

But the real question that does have to be answered is the sustainability of professional rugby at the provincial level. Chris Laidlaw has made the case that we pretty much can not afford it, and there is evidence to back that up. Many provinces are really struggling, and as we can see in Otago’s case, it can have massive consequences. But what would a return to amateur rugby mean for provincial teams? The looming private ownership of Super 15 franchises will put more distance between local rugby and the professional game, and the chances of money earned professionally coming back to support the game will reduce.

The NZRU urgently need to re-look at the model for the game here to ensure that it survives and thrives at a local level. They tell us that is their goal- now is the time to take stock and make good on that commitment.

Filed under: sport

Sunday Sport: The Summer of Guptill

Posted by on February 19th, 2012

For non-cricket fans, I have some bad news. The New Zealand cricket summer actually only started this weekend. What has come so far with a woeful Zimbabwe team was merely the curtain raiser to the main event, the arrival of the South Africans, the second ranked test team and third ranked one day team in the world.

The first taste was Friday night, with a commanding win by New Zealand in the T20 game in Wellington. Before we get too carried away, T20 is not really the South Africans favoured format. They are ranked fifth compared to our second in the ICC rankings. But the Black Caps looked as good as they have all summer.

There are some impressive signs. Doug Bracewell and Tim Southee are charging into the bowling crease. Kane Williamson is looking accomplished. But towering above them all is Martin Guptill. He is in the richest vein of form you could find, averaging over 100 in international cricket for the summer. Watching him on Friday night, in a form of the game that challenges a cricket purist, almost every stroke that Guptill played was a genuine cricket shot, with impeccable timing and a good degree of power.

Guptill is agile and a ball of energy in the field as well. You would think he would be a major focus for the Indian Premier League T20 teams. Well he would be, if it weren’t for the fact that he has ruled himself out, prefering to play county cricket in England so he can focus on developing his skills for all forms of the game. Could I love this man any more?

Well actually, yes. If he can keep this form up for the remainder of the summer- especially in the Tests where New Zealand will be tested to the limit from the South African bowling line up that includes Dale Steyn not here for the T20s.

I have sometimes wondered about playing cricket late into March, but if that means getting opposition like the South Africans and then the summer of cricket can become the autumn of Guptill then I’m more than happy.

Filed under: sport

Sport and Rec policy out tomorrow

Posted by on October 11th, 2011

Not one of the big policies but a few points of interest especially sport/education relationship.

Filed under: labour, sport

All Blacks

Posted by on October 11th, 2011

Campaign team meeting the other day. Great biscuits for morning tea.

Go Pies

Posted by on October 1st, 2011

I know there’s only two games in town for us Kiwis. This weekend it’s all about the Warriors.

But apart from rooting for the Irish (not literally) in Dunedin tomorrow night against Italy, I’ll be paying attention to another grand final today.

Collingwood (Magpies) plays  Geelong (Cats) in the grand final of the AFL late this afternoon at the MCG (from 2.30pm Aus time).

It’s live streamed here

I don’t imagine there’s many AFL fans out there, but I lived in Melbourne for 8 years and you can’t survive in that town without supporting an AFL team. Collingwood fans are pretty notorious. I’m one of them.

And then tomorrow night the Warriors play Manly Sea Eagles in in the NRL grand final

So Go the Pies and the Warriors and the Irish this weekend.

Ted – thought for the quarter finals

Posted by on September 23rd, 2011

No secret – I’m massive All Black fan and have prejudice towards Hurricanes – Weepu, Nonu and Jane. (well mainly former Canes).

The team for Saturday is as I would select it.

But in a fortnight we need to change. Bit of a risk before seeing form v France but this is as I see it now.

We have probably the most versatile starting backline ever. Weepu can play 1st V, Nonu can play 2nd V to wing, Kahui can cover centre and Jane fullback.

All we need is Williams and a halfback. Carter won’t come off unless injured and if he is Weepu can move out.

Read will play next weekend and is the best number eight in the world. But we need Thomson as a reserve loosie.

My solution, drop Slade who has never played well under test match pressure, add Thomson to the reserves and go with a 5 – 2 split.


Filed under: sport

Webb Ellis worth two minutes

Posted by on September 19th, 2011

Listen and laugh

McCully risks our reputation for drug free athletes

Posted by on September 18th, 2011

There are two articles and an editorial in todays Star-Times.

The International Olympic Committee has dropped a bombshell by confirming a banned drug is included in a product that has been provided to elite Kiwi athletes via the New Zealand Academy of Sport’s official sports supplements programme.

The IOC’s chief nutritional scientist, British-based professor Ronald Maughan, says the product Thermotone contains a type of amphetamine which the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) identifies as a banned substance.

The revelation has led to calls for under-fire Sports Minister Murray McCully to reject the findings of a taxpayer-funded report which cleared Crown agency Sparc, and launch a full-blown parliamentary inquiry.

McCully and Sparc’s chairman Paul Collins and chief executive Peter Miskimmin would not comment yesterday on the IOC revelation.

But it prompted Wada’s boss, New Zealander David Howman, to speak out against the way Sparc handled the investigation into the flawed national sports supplement programme.

The first point that I should make is that I know all of the main players well. First met Paul Collins while I was in short pants. I have long admired his support for sport generally, rugby in particular - and it was him providing, with a few others, a personal guarantee that got the Wellington stadium built. Peter is a sporting hero, a great CEO and well known for his integrity. Tim is a well known local barrister, has an international reputation in sports law and is thoroughly pleasant. David used to sit directly behind me in the old season ticket area at Athletic Park and is the world's leader in the anti doping campaign.

McCully. Well he is Muzza and under pressure over the last few months.

The essence of this investigation is that it is possible that an arm of SPARC was recommending a supplement that contained traces of an amphetamine to our high performance athletes. Certainly the experts are certain that one of the ingredients does. We don't know who was recommended the drug, whether anyone used it and if so whether there were any positive tests for it.

The issue is complicated because if it turns out that our athletes (wide range Olympic stars, rugby players etc) were using it then they could be subject to bans. No knowledge of the fact that the athlete knew is necessary.

Now I don't know if we have a problem or not.

But the fact that McCully has instructed those who would normally comment not to doesn't make it look flash.

If there are problems with Tim Castle's report then we should be transparent. I want to see any technical expert advice that contradicts WADA.

Most of all I don't want to be part of a sporting community which looks bad because the Minister wants to pretend that there never was an issue.

Interesting day

Posted by on September 17th, 2011

I’ve been down at the Wellington fanzone listening to the Marine band. Last time I was close to marines on the wharf I was protesting against nuclear power and arms in the late 70s. This band is great and the crowd really appreciated them. Wonderful gesture sending them over.

Later I will watch South Africa play Fiji. Again countries with which we have had periods of rough relationships. No secret that notwithstanding the fact that I was playing rugby in the King Country during the tour I was arrested for protesting against it in 1981. And Fiji can best be described as an ongoing problem.

Don’t know who I want to win. South Africa the favourites but them being run round the paddock and suffering a few big hits won’t harm the All Black chances.

Then down to a pub to cheer for the Irish.

RWC 2011 moments

Posted by on September 11th, 2011

I know Grant will post regularly about RWC 2011. But I wanted to note a few moments that I have found important and special so far.

The first goes back to that day on 18 November 2005 when New Zealand was named as the host country for RWC 2011. It was a great day for us and it was due to the hard work, creativity and determination of a great team lead by our then Prime Minister Helen Clark,  supported by Trevor Mallard who was then Minister of Sport and became Rugby World Cup Minister.

The five members who presented our winning bid to the IRB were New Zealand Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Helen Clark, New Zealand Rugby Union Chairman Jock Hobbs, New Zealand Rugby Union Chief Executive Chris Moller, then All Blacks Captain Tana Umaga and former All Blacks legend Colin Meads. The clip below is etched in my mind as I’m sure it is in most New Zealanders.

And then this clip from Friday night’s opening ceremony; the challenge and the haka, which was viewed by around 2 billion people around the world and demonstrated the power the lies within us all. I watched this bit of the ceremony in my local pub. The pub fell silent as Kiwis everywhere stood tall and could feel immensely proud of who we are and what we represent to the world.

I know the RWC 2011 whatever the outcome for us, will boost our pride in ourselves as a small nation which can stand on its own and by working together, achieve great things. The haka is 8 mins and 53 seconds into the clip.

PS: I did think about putting up “that ripped shirt clip”  but figured I’d never hear the end of it. It should be said that for many people it was also a great moment in the RWC2011!

RWC: So did John Key really not know he was speaking?

Posted by on September 10th, 2011

I thought the dancing cranes needed a bit more time to work on their routine (what was that about?) but overall the opening ceremony was an uplifting, flash, but not too over the top, start to the Rugby World Cup. In Auckland, and (even here in Wellington) it seems like the idea of waterfront party was just what was needed. The only problem was about 10x as many people showed up as there was room for in the city of sails. A good problem to have- that is unless you are stuck inside with a family. The big issue was that the transport system did not cope, despite assurances that it would. I know Len Brown has launched a review this morning, but it clearly wrecked a few nights which is a pity for what looked like such a festive occasion. Would be interesting to hear from anyone who was there, but in the meantime here are some interesting stories and views.

One small curiosity from the night.  On Tuesday morning on Firstline on TV3 Rachel Smalley asks the Prime Minister at the end of her interview (relevant bit at 4.35) where he will be for the opening game of the Rugby World Cup, and will he be there “beer in hand”.  Key says he will be there, laughing saying maybe not beer in hand, “although maybe I will, I don’t have to make any speeches that night.”

Except he did of course.  Now that Opening Ceremony must have been set for months and months beforehand so surely he would have known, and Mr Key was quite definite he was not speaking.  Odd. Perhaps it was an on the night decision, which seems extraordinarily casual for such a major and important event, but it might explain what was a pretty ordinary effort (not even a Kia Ora?) from the PM in front of a TV audience of millions.

Rugby World Cup- It has to be done

Posted by on September 9th, 2011

At Red Alert we are committed to making sure that political issues are debated through the period of the Rugby World Cup. It falls to us as the mainstream media abandon the day to day of politics for anything related to rugby.  The writing was on the wall the other night when both major TV networks led with the naming of the All Black team to play Tonga.

Having said that, we  here in the ship of social democracy are capable of thinking about more than one thing at a time, and for me, and some other colleagues we might just have a wee tad of interest in the Cup. So we will do some brief posts along the way.

So to start, what should folks be looking for in terms of rugby in the first few weeks of the tournament?

  • massive score blowouts as the big teams (think us, England, Aussie, South Africa etc) play the minnows of the rugby world, Georgia, Russia, USA etc (yep the power balance in rugby is pretty much the inverse of geo-politics).
  • wailing and gnashing of teeth that the All Blacks still don’t look quite right. (This will happen whether they do or not).
  • the possible rise of the Pacific nations. I think Samoa, Tonga and to a lesser extent Fiji will be the big movers of the early rounds. The Pacific teams are now stacked with players who ply their trade in the Northern Hemisphere competitions. Combined with a bit of local and NZ based talent, they will be tough opponents for anyone. Fiji and Samoa sprang surprises four years ago in France, and they now have an even bigger base of professional players.

My suggestion for getting through the first few weeks of the tournament is pick yourself an underdog team and live your life through them. The All Blacks will be fine in pool play, give someone else a go too. Then rejoice as the Georgians actually score a try, or the Romanians hold Scotland to half a cricket score. And then when they play each other- there is the chance of a win!

Ah, it is exciting isn’t it? Now, move along, nothing to see here, back to the politics….

Filed under: sport