Retiring from test matches

The All Blacks play tests, but they don’t play tests. We used to play whole series (Phillips, Iveco) of not-tests against meaningless nations like Wales or Scotland, who’d left all their best players at home anyway, to warm up for the Tri Nations. This year’s test against Fiji wasn’t a test because it was only Fiji, which made it a training run. The test against ancient foes South Africa wasn’t a test because all their best players were at home doing fark knows what. So, the first *real* test of the season won’t happen until  *this* Saturday night against the Aussies. Anyway, all these tests mean nothing because the real test is going to come in the Big Fucking Tournament. Even then, it only really gets going in the quarters, if that. Rugby, eh?

So the would-be test against South Africa was an interesting watch. It seems the tactic of having 18 players vying for the back three is a winner. Disgruntled tweeter Cory Jane suddenly looked like a test player again and Zac Guildford (who has a weird shaped body, according to the females I watched the match with) played bloody well, as did Mils. We’re heading for a selection headache the likes of which Steve Hanson hasn’t seen since the day after Old Boys ‘Vicars and Prostitutes’ themed end of year prizegiving bash in ’85. In the forwards, Andrew Hore played like the Bok pack was made up of seven Mark Hammetts and a fur seal, while the pack as a whole went like a high performance arse kicking machine. I’d characterise the All Blacks performance as ‘fucking impressive’ on the impressive-ometer, especially as we’re still arguably a few guys short of the best XV. The Haka stats from this test are worth a look, as always.

And of course, much of the talk was about the new Adidas jersey. I don’t like it. It’s funny looking. I like the idea of a retro-themed kit (some of my favourite teams have had retro kits), but this is neither one thing or the other, with a collar a mid 90s premiership team would be ashamed of. The super-tight-tube-whatever construction means it’s hard to actually put the thing on, with each All Black requiring three or four other All Blacks’ assistance just to get dressed. There’s a possibility of delayed kick offs due to our national team’s inability to clothe themselves. The challenge of being an All Black is no longer about being worthy of the jersey, it’s whether you’re actually able to put it on.

The other jersey-gate this week was England’s black away jersey, in the biggest attention-seeking move since every single time Clive Woodward opened his mouth. With only nine rugby playing nations, away kits aren’t the money spinners they are in football. Indeed, the sole purpose of international rugby jerseys now seems to be annoying the All Blacks – see France’s deeper shade of blue at the 2007 world cup. Don’t fall for it, New Zealand. Ignore the English black jersey and let’s hope we get to play them in the final, ‘cos black jersey or not, they’re a bit shit at rugby.

The tiger and the cow

Today Tiger Woods AXED long time caddie and New Zealand’s greatest athlete Steve Williams in a business like statement on his website. Williams has given this country some of its proudest sporting moments, carrying Tiger’s shit through some of the world’s greatest golf tournaments, making him go to Huntly and throwing an American ‘get in the hole’ dickhead’s $7000 camera in a lake one time.

The AXING is a tragedy for New Zealand’s reflected glory everywhere – no longer will Kiwi dads be able to tell their sons “That guy winning the golf tournament? That guy next to him carrying his shit is a Kiwi, son.” Williams was an inspirational figure for personally taking responsibility for making sure Tiger knew New Zealand existed, and showed that coming from a tiny South Pacific island nation was no barrier to growing an ego the size of Megashark. Tragically, in the post-Williams era, young New Zealander’s best chance of reflected glory will be finding another Shrek The Sheep.

In other news, the All Blacks will line up against Fiji this Friday night in Dunedin. is not clear what’s happening on Saturday evening (or Saturday afternoon) to prevent our national team in our national sport playing then, but it must be pretty amazing. Waikato v Auckland with three jousters per team amazing. Paul Henry being denied access to Party Central for wearing black jeans live on air amazing. Boxing featuring Sonny Bill Williams and Norma Plummer amazing.

At least we’re underway – the All Blacks squad and team is as expected, with Jared Hoeata coming in, and your Slades and Williams getting a run against Fiji, which is only right. The Crusaders players need to get their airline-weary feet up. If we were thinking straight, the only games to work ourselves to yelling at the TV over will occur in a couple of months time, in the quarter, semi and final of the Big Fucking Tournament. But, rest assured, we will yell as one at the sports news, newspaper, ‘online’ ‘sport’ ‘blogs’ (this one especially), ALL the Hurricanes’ twitter accounts, pre-match build up and the games themselves as we spiral into a rugby black hole the likes of which has never been seen before. By the time finals week rolls around, Kiwis everywhere will be so wound up about all things rugby, Martin Snedden won’t be able to walk the streets without being punched in the face. Guys – take it easy.

Rugby black hole (artist’s impression)

Still, at least we’re not aping cretinous fluff from overseas tournaments that divert attention from the sport itself, so that after the final whistle everyone’s talking about a sodding cephalopod instead of the match. Oh. Hang on. Unfortunately, while the Herald is crowing about Richie McCow’s ‘international coverage’, the context is along the lines of ‘look at what those simpletons downunder are doing now’. The best bit is Richie’s owner breezily explaining that Richie’ll be off to the freezing works to be slaughtered if he doesn’t cut the mustard (geddit) as a rugby pundit. I bet Paul the Octopus would have been fantastic in a bit of beer batter too.

Finals fever

They don’t muck around, netballers. No taking-years-to-get-ready, drag-it-out-for-months-making-a-stadium-party-central like a rugby or cricket world championship. No, they just hired a mid sized conference venue in Singapore, and got on with it.

One young man even took pre-tournament-publicity into his own hands – urinating on a plane is not normally news, but this yellow rainbow didn’t take place in a coffin sized toilet or in some annoying businessman’s drink when he went off to complain about something, like normal. No, this one took place in the aisle, in full view of an aghast plane load of cut price netball fans. Aerial disturbances are usually the domain of our sporting media, but this time the perp was NZ Netball coach Ruth Aitken’s son – men across the country cringed to themselves when they imagined the telling off he’d get later. While normally revels in sporting shit hitting the media fan, this time I hope this pissing contest doesn’t get out of control and wind up with Steve Hanson’s offspring shitting on Prince Philip during the rugby world cup.

As for the netball itself, readers may know I don’t watch a lot of netball (or a lot of sport at all, in fairness), and tend to stick to the every two years commonwealth / world championship finals. After last night’s match, I felt validated, I was literally (I use that term in the literal sense) *shaking*. I couldn’t handle the netball. These big netball finals are some of the most intense sport you will ever see, team – hard luck Silver Ferns.

In rugby, New Zealand’s Crusaders were overwhelmed by the Reds – this was the wave of emotion final, with flood ravaged Queensland up against the earthquake decimated Canterbury. To be honest, the Crusaders looked buggered, and were found out in the last 20 minutes by a more settled team playing at home. I’d like to re-iterate what EVERY SINGLE TV REPORTER has been saying all week – fair play to them for getting to the final, and shame about the Hollywood fairytale ending. I only hope the All Black bound Crusaders get some serious rest between now and the world cup.

Interestingly, both the netball and rugby finals were marred by basic errors and missed chances. Twitter, post-netball loss, was full of doom and gloom merchants hypothesising that a one-point NZ loss to Australia in the world champs, along with the Crusaders’ loss DEFINITELY means we’ll lose the rugby world cup. To those people, I say “fuck off”. We need cool heads, team. Yes, there were mistakes made in these big finals, but that’s big finals, they’re never classics, are they? Save the superhero stuff for the quarters and semis – you just need to be less shit than the other guy to win finals.

Millions of voices tweeting out in terror – then silence

The NZRFU HQ is on a secret mission to turn the dreadlock holiday Hurricanes into the Crusaders in the hope of being good at rugby and that. They picked the right man for the job – Mark Hammett, who comes from the Robbie Deans ‘what the fuck are you looking at? school of media relations is so embedded in Crusaders culture that his stools look a little bit like Grizz Wylie.

First job is the clear-out. All Blacks Nonu, an eye-liner-ed maverick that won’t listen to The Man, and Hore, a disappointing captain despite the ginger beard and that, are out. Dumping two current All Blacks is as bold a move as putting up a really, really cringey sign right beside your main airport, but it’s no surprise, the indications were were there all along if people had been paying attention:

More players are expected to go – hilariously, the enigmatic tweeter Corey Jane seems pretty disappointed not to be included in the first cut, and has been flouncing on and off Twitter in protest, when flouncing around a rugby field properly might be a better move. Throwing out All Blacks like a Dublin nightclub bouncer is a new thing for super rugby in New Zealand – all eyes will be on Hammett next year, if he hasn’t been made All Black coach by then.

Still, the latest challenge to the Hurricane’s title challenge is’s attempt to bring the team down from within. They’ve imported their very own Stephen Jones lite, Mark Reason, to provide some fist thumping, claret slurping, yorkshire pudding farting, jolly hockey sticks rhetoric to really set the cat among the grouse. This week, he aimed both barrels at Hammett and the wayward Hurricanes:

Nonu’s propensity for yellow cards and dissent is not acceptable. Hore’s drinking is not acceptable. Weepu coming back from injury overweight is not acceptable. Jane tweeting dissent is not acceptable.

Reason, who mysteriously googles very poorly and probably looks like an injured Piri Weepu, is obviously taking his ‘wind everyone up’ brief seriously, but he’s trying too hard. Outraging New Zealand rugby fans is  easier than locating a dickhead in Australia – we’re unhappy when we win, let alone when we lose. Most people’s abiding memory of winning the 1987 world cup is being upset at that dork waving behind David Kirk. Word on the twitter street is that Reason is only starting to rev the Land Rover, and will be full steam ahead trolling the rugby public by the time the world cup comes around. Thanks,, that’s just what we need.

Will to live status: being sucked

So. Sport and that. Have to say, actual sport to watch has been a little thin on the ground with the Super 15 at a sedative point of the competition and the Black Caps being on the world’s longest holiday. Still, we DID get another classic piece of Alex Ferguson media relations to enjoy this week – I reckon he gets Darth Vader to help him brush up on press conference technique. Sunday morning’s Champions League final (at a very civilised time, NZers!) could be a classic, or it could be a classic ‘cancel each other out’. Be grateful though, the alternative final could have been Real Madrid v Chelsea, in what would have been the nastiest match since Oscar the Grouch took on Judith Collins at cage fighting. I predict 1-0 to Barca, with Messi nutmegging Ryan Giggs, tweeting about it, dribbling through the defence three times before smacking it into the net off Fergie’s face. Looking forward to it.

The big story in Rugby has been Dan Carter and Richie McCaw signing back up with NZ for four more years. The NZRFU is all about flexible contracts these days, with sabbaticals, casual Fridays and god knows what else on the menu. sportreview’s admiration for Richie McCaw went up about tenfold when he decided to re-sign at his local rugby club, doing the presser from a bar leaner.

Where would one expect the captain of one of the world’s most successful sporting teams to make such a momentous announcement?

Parliament Buildings for the ubiquitous prime ministerial photo opportunity? A swank golfing resort? The red-carpeted lobby of some five-star hotel (though there aren’t many of those left in Christchurch)?

Nope. Richie McCaw – who hails from a family farm in the Hakataramea Valley but a proud Cantabrian now – opted instead for his local footy club.

The only way he could have done it in a more Kiwi fashion is if he’d done a yard class and spewed $5 of chips on a TV camera. On ya. Now, the focus turns to Sonny Bill signing up – the big issue seems to be letting him smash people over in-between matches. Considering how comfortable the NZRFU have been with All Blacks smashing people over in bars in the past, I reckon the deal is as good as done.

On Wednesday night, I tuned in to watch the State Of Origin. I was a big fan in the 90s – Graham Lowe, Alfie Langer masks, Cockroaches, big Mark Geyer, big Marty Bella, state against state, mate against that guy that shat in that hotel corridor, big men sorting their differences out with their fists and each other’s faces. Fantastic stuff. But my GOD, I caught about 15 minutes of the build-up to Origin One (as everyone INSISTS you call it), and was convinced Australia was about to collectively disappear up it’s own arse so far that they’d somehow disappear and pop out as a nation somewhere on the Afghanistan / Pakistan boarder and be forced to make a new life for themselves without all the sharks and minerals and that. It was that over the top – interviews with the player’s families in the crowd, Phil Gould wandering beneath the goalposts looking like he was trying to find his way out of the stadium after a messy corporate function three weeks previous. Have to confess, I watched about half an hour of the match and went to bed. Some things are just more important than sport.

Tweet yourself unemployed

Twitter’s Cory Jane got in hot lineament this week when he posted “Siit … If the ABs team got picked 2moro on form NO #Chiefs or #Hurricanes would make it apart from #ConradSmith & @LiamMessam #JustSaying” to popular social networking site Twitter.

Before he had time to pick up his homies in his Hummer and roll to Hurricanes training, Cory found himself on the front page. published both his reported tweet, and his protest that an All Black expressing an opinion shouldn’t be news. He’s right, it shouldn’t, but as a nation, we’re more conditioned to hearing our national team expressing opinions on their preferred choice of underarm deodorant, breakfast cereal, carbonated soft drink or big grunty V8 petrol burner of choice. We rarely hear them talk about rugby, especially so if you tune in to the post match interviews.

Presumably, as an All Black, Cory is more media trained than John Campbell’s surprised look, so he’s being naive in the extreme. If he believes his tweet wasn’t newsworthy, he probably believes Dan Carter really is a heat pump, the NZRFU cares about the Ranfurly Shield, and that Steve Hanson didn’t go missing in Graham Henry’s eyebrow for three weeks in late 2005.

While @Coryjane1080 winding up on the front page of with a silly tweet is quite big, I still predict a bigger, proper Hurricanes Horror Twitter Explosion is yet to occur. Someone is really going to lose it at some stage – I do not envy the Hurricanes and NZRFU media teams’ jobs, they must be having kittens – but it’s going to be awesome to watch when it does happen. Watch out around All Black selection time, or in the weeks afterwards. There’s only so much playstation an ex All Black with time on his hands can take.

The Crusaders attempt to capture the lucrative youth / internet market with mid-game planking.

Elsewhere, heat pump to the nation Dan Carter will announce his playing future today. New Zealanders follow Dan the same way they’d follow a duckling trying to cross the southern motorway, every move he makes causes howls of angst. “Left! Left, little ducky! Watch out for that sixteen wheeler Mac truck!” “Dan! Dan! Ignore that shady looking Frenchman carrying cash in a suitcase and smelling vaguely of cheap hotel room!”. It goes on. Whatever happens, Dan will be part of our next world cup, his third, and look half asleep. I predict he’ll re-sign with the NZRFU, with a couple of sabbaticals to get highly paid / injured / catch up on playstation inbetween.

‘Super’ 15

Team, there’s going to be a FUCKING MASSIVE rugby tourna-meh-nt later this year. Why, here in Auckland, we’ve spent years preparing by arguing and leaving all the actual stadiums and railways and that exactly the same as they were. We’re set to showcase our nation’s ability to piss, moan, argue and leave everything ’til the last minute to the world.

Still, at least there’s rugby on to take our minds off all this rugby coming up. The SUPER 15 is happening RIGHT NOW, with an EXCITING new format seemingly designed to create unprecedented interest in googling exactly how the tournament works, ‘cos no-one’s got a shitting clue.

The Super 15 tournament format (exec summary).

We’re a few weeks into it now and three things have become clear:

1. Dan Carter is injured

2. Richie McCaw is injured

3. “Nurse, hand me my revolver. I’m going for a walk in the south stand. I may be some time.”

That All Black injury crisis in full

Alongside a punch in the nuts somehow leading to the remote going missing, injuries to Dan ‘n Richie in a world cup year are pretty much the nightmare scenario. Injuries to Woodcock, Jane, Smith, Thorn and Whitelock among others, not to mention Wayne Smith’s perm playing up means we’re in the middle of a full blown INJURY CRISIS, and will in all likelihood line up at the world cup with a container of mince and cheese pies past their expiry date at full back, Don Brash at first five and a forward pack made up of Shrek the sheep. Suddenly our strength in depth is looking positively Australian – let’s have a look at the teams:


It’s a far cry from the Blues teams of the 80s and 90s when they won shit and the coach changed facial expressions every so often. Still, they’re going well and Mealamu and Ranger have really impressed me. Ali Williams is fit-ish and well-ish, which makes me happy. 


The Chiefs are like a box of chocolates that drank 16 beers, had a few spots, went into town, got in a fight, slept under a cop car, brushed their teeth with sausage rolls and only just made it to their cousin’s wedding with no time to shower and change clothes. You don’t know what you’re going to get. The thing we’ll remember about this season will probably be next season’s coaching appointment.

Most disappointing thing for me is no-one’s tweeted anything really stupid yet. I mean, they’ve tweeted stupid stuff, but nothing that’s REEEEEEALY turned it all to custard and caused walk outs, trouble with the media team, etc. Rugby’s been worse than the tweeting, in case you hadn’t noticed.


Looking really good, from a ‘feckin Crusaders always bloody win everything, but at least they should go well for the All Blacks’ point of view (Highlanders game aside). Fair play to ’em.


Jamie Joseph is channelling Laurie Mains and running a tight, tight ship, tighter than Marc Ellis is to his sense of self-worth. I really like them, but it’s hard to see which individuals would make an All Blacks side, Mackintosh aside. Colin Slade has been very unlucky with his jaw.

Hot cliché on cliché action

This was a match that truly lived up to the clichés. The Dark Horses, plucky little New Zealand, punching above their weight and making the most of their meagre resources, up against South Africa, the supremely organised team that, faced with a pressure situation, become as effective as wet single ply in the face of a heavy curry house session the night previous. And choke.

The Black Caps showed they were prepared to win ugly; make no mistake, this was an ugly win, possibly up to full Ricky level on the Ugly-ometer:

Ugly scales up from L-R

For this match, made the rare effort to actually review some sport, sacrificing time that could have been spent unconscious to stay awake and watch the entire Black Caps innings. Taylor and Ryder played it safe to get us a reasonable total, but traditional one day tactics dictate the  ‘accumulation’ period usually lasts between overs 18 and 35. New Zealand’s accumulation period may be still going – it was an innings best described as ‘gelatinous’, but, on a pitch more dry and dusty than 48 hours in a Koru Lounge with Phil Goff, it would do. Then this happened:

In the cricketing equivalent of that Australian schoolkid chucking that bully about, the Black Caps surrounded Du Plessis, who’d just run out the competent De Villiers like schoolboys around a well worn copy of Playboy to let him know he’d fucked up, if he hadn’t worked it out already. The ensuing fracas lead to fines and bad examples for youngsters watching. Let’s have a look at the Black Caps’ crimes in slow motion:

Stryris and Vettori attempt to manoeuvre Du Plessis into training ground set-piece move ‘Black Cap sandwich’. 12th man Kyle Mills, who was just passing by, helpfully offers the South African a drink. Of choke-a-cola.
Du Plessis shoves Mills, in the process setting the game back years in the vital USA market, because nothing looks as ‘wussy’ as when cricketers fight, not even cyclists. Vettori tries to rescue the situation by telling Du Plessis to use his bat at least.
A garden gnome (in red) tries to restore order.
Styris and Du Plessis are nominated to kiss and make up on behalf of the sides by their captains, and play resumes.

Did the Safas choke? Well, a little bit. Maybe. But, they came up against a New Zealand team that discovered their self belief down the back of the couch, and used it to turn the heat on South Africa like Gordon Ramsay with a knife in each hand and sand in his undies; Stephen Fleming would have been proud.

For choking students, this match closely resembled the All Blacks’ loss to France in the 1999 rugby world cup semi final – decent team, handy lead, a few signs of life from the opposition, then folding like a cheap card table. Hard to take for the Proteas and to be honest, Kiwi sports fans should wait for the All Blacks’ next world cup performance (which is happening soon I hear) before throwing too much shit their way.

I was very pleased for Jacob Oram, who took some vital wickets and a stonking catch – he showed exactly how much we’ve missed him over the years, and how people who’ve criticised his place in the team are cocks.

Like much of the country I imagine, I went to bed after the first innings and awoke to a big surprise, roughly equivalent to a horse’s head in the bed. Considering our form going into this tournament, and the stumbles along the way, we can be very pleased with making the semis, especially as we knocked over a proper big team in the quarters to get there. Sri Lanka at home will be tough, but fuck it. Bring it on.

If you’ve made it this far, here’s more quarter final coverage, that’s better than what you’ve just read, to be honest:

The C-word – (check out the awesome comment on this post!)

Andy Bull’s Guardian sport blog

The Outside Edge – still pinching myself

Choking and berserkers – how’s your world cup so far?

The Black Caps’ win over Pakistan has catapulted us from tournament also rans to the tournament’s Toxic Avengers. Ross ‘Rose’ Taylor celebrated his birthday by spending 30 overs looking more lost than Tony Grieg at a ‘knowing what the fuck you’re going on about’ conference, before launching into the Pakistan attack like it was his laptop during a heavy ‘tweeting’ session, and celebrating in the traditional manner.

In fact, if we grasp at straws hard enough and link Taylor’s innings and Irish legend Kevin O’Brien’s knock against England, we can call this the ‘berserker’ tactic. The equivalent of rugby’s ’99’ call, berserker use in cricket is a huge opportunity, and we could see soon teams sending their 12th man sprinting on with a bat in each hand to threaten the fielding side, in a move sure to be labelled the ‘Bracewell’.

The berserker – the future of cricket, or Graeme Smith relaxing in his hotel post-match?
Of course, after Pakistan’s Akmal let a golden Taylor chance go gleefully between himself and first slip, before clearing up any lingering doubt about his suitability to be an international ‘keeper by dropping Taylor all by himself, Some People On The Internet claimed ‘match fixing’. can exclusively reveal the only ‘fixing’ of the tournament so far occurred when the Black Caps played Zimbabwe and everyone had their bollocks chopped off.
But these are early days in this 18 month long tournament, and we’re yet to see a clear favorite emerge. England have been the entertainers so far, losing to Ireland, tying with India, and facilitating a South African choke. You know that when you’re among Englishmen behaving weirdly and South Africans choking, you’re not in a Brixton nightclub but a cricket world cup, team.
Predictions at this stage: Vettori to struggle on manfully despite losing one or more limbs in the Sri Lanka match; Kyle Mills to put his hand up for berserker role, claiming he’s been doing it for years already; England to default match against West Indies, missing the toss and circling the ground in a double decker bus instead while blasting the Benny Hill show theme; and to start watching a cricket world cup match and managing to stay up past the tenth over, in the prediction least likely to occur.

Of course, in other sporting news:

Commonwealth tame

The Commonweath Games. You’d get bigger crowds if Gerry Brownlee was caught in a fisherman’s net and the contents of his belly were publicly examined.

Deadball has dismissed the event like Richard Hadlee showing a hapless batsman the way to the changing shed, and I agree, mostly. Anywhere that sevens and netball are the main attractions is a bit TV One and slippers, innit? I AM enjoying seeing little-covered sports like squash, track cycling and lawn bowls on the telly, and if I was still a sifty student I could watch Sky TV’s games mosaic for days on end, just letting the sport wash over me like Cleopatra forcing her minions to entertain her before slipping into an ass milk bath. Or something.

Predictably and depressingly, we’re picking up a steady stream of silvers and bronzes and fourths. Our main medal hopes are in sports where we’re able to  bully the shit out of everyone else, like sevens, netball, whatever Valerie Adams does and Who Has The Most Racist TV Presenter. We do better at the Olympics.

Predictably and depressingly, the Australians are cleaning up. Sure, they don’t look happy about it, sporting surly scowls like 12 year old being made to attend their weird cousin’s 21st, and in protest, have developed the most startling innovation of the games – winning, then giving the officials the fingers.

Think of how many giving-the-officials-the-fingers opportunities have been missed through the years.
Dubbed Fingari Kari, it’s the ultimate self-foot-shooting when you’re a few seconds away from collecting the medal and being carried back to the games village on the shoulders of your team mates, towing a box of condoms on wheels. It’s brilliant. And bizarre – what goes through an athlete’s mind? Apart from ‘fuck this shit’.

I kind of hope for Delhi’s sake that Delhi can somehow turn these games around (and this could only be achieved by introducing surprise events like ‘Who can park a car on Prince Phillip the most accurately’ and ‘10000 metre Queen annoying’). Otherwise, the only bright spot for residents who’ve had to make room in their city for pushy sports parents toting inexplicable lanyards, camcorders and shitty attitudes is that they’ve rung the deathknell for an outdated institution that’s been overtaken by, well, pretty much any sporting event that’s not called ‘the Commonwealth Games’.

Can Delhi turn these games around with new events ‘Who can park a car on Prince Phillip the most accurately?’ and ‘10000 metre Queen annoying’