2007 All Blacks 30 year reunion dinner runsheet, with notes

1700 Guests arrive at Hotel / Greeted in foyer / Welcome nibbles, champagne, beer, wine served
1702 Was that Stu Wilson pan handling outside?
1723 Fuck this, is there any scotch?
1724 Doug Howlett cut off from further alcohol
1755 Guests ushered to ballroom by nervous staff. That floor has only just been resurfaced, do you realise?
1800 Pre speech ‘energisers’ with Darren Shand
1804 First bread roll thrown
1805 Speech: “Reminiscing – bonded brothers bleeding on the battlefield” with Anton Oliver
1807 First fork thrown
2030 Speech: “I was wrong, very wrong, where I went wrong, Oh how I loathe the very ground I walk on everyday” – self flagellation and spiritual cleansing session with top referee Wayne Barnes
2200 Jordan Luck takes the stage
2218 Aaron Mauger’s wife injured while loitering in Jordan Luck’s path to the lavatory
2245 Is that stores? Get me another case of Johnny Walker, NOW! What? Get down to LiquorLand in a cab, then! For the love of god..
2305 You’re me best mate. You fucker.
0012 Searching for a cab, racked with sobs

Je suis coeur brisé

My heart started really thumping with twenty to go – but hang on, wasn’t this meant to be the ‘sit back and enjoy the ride’ cup, as we took everyone to bits with this fantastic team that’d reconditioned, formed leadership groups with itself, and beaten all comers in the last four years? No worries, right? As Bob Howitt, a proper rugby Journo, reassured John Campbell on Thursday night, we have the best prop, openside, first five and full back, overseen by the most meticulous coach. There was no WAY we’d lose.

While alternate realities are pretty appealing right now, we are indeed out in the quarters. We still have wall to wall All Blacks flogging us phones, Weet Bix and Fords on the telly like some kind of sick joke, but they’ll be watching the rest of the World Cup from the couch like the rest of us (if we bother). The All Blacks never get to play with the underdog spirit, that devil may care, nothing to lose attitude the French do so well (and nope, we won’t get to do that in 2011 either). We’ve got more than anyone to lose, Christmas only comes every four years for Kiwis – Gregan’s ‘four more years, boys’ sledge was a deadly accurate bulls-eye on our national psyche.

Maybe we should just get over it. Watching the sub’s faces, they looked bloody terrified. For all the training and preparation this group has done, nothing can take away the knowledge that 3 million people in their pajamas are watching you like a hawk, ready to jump on your back if you miss that line out take, or drop that pass – it must be bone chilling. The defeat hurts, a lot, and today I’ve found myself drifting into silence and staring off into space a lot – maybe, as a nation, we should all take up a new hobby.

Other stuff –
Don’t I look like a dick? This was foolish, too. This smart-arse bloggery is not going to be as much fun for a little while, but if ever a country needed to take itself less seriously, now is the time, team
– Hope the fans in Cardiff and the Mums and Dads having to traipse to the Semi and Final keep their good humor – the bad tempered impression a mob of sullen chip-shouldered rugby fans leave with the world could take Peter Jackson years to undo. If you’re going to be a misery guts, flog your ticket for pounds, and make the most of a European mini-break
– Hopefully now TV news will now feature more news and less cheer-leading based content
– Spare a thought for me mate Mike who was there last night, and there in ’99.

RWC 2007: two week review for the attention span-challenged

Rugby World Cups are slow burners – you forget in all the anticipation how loooong they take to really get going before plunging into sudden death. So far the tournament’s been Tri Nations – OE Edition. What the HELL have they been doing up north? Watching the darts? Updating their Facebook? This is the World Cup, team, it comes around every four years, there’s plenty of time to get ready, no excuses.

So. How’s everyone shaping up two weeks into it, and where will they finish?

New Zealand – Still building. First 20 minutes against Italy were awesome, you could feel the tension of the last six months (hell, the last four years) being released. Tricky to keep that standard up, of course, and the Portugal game was just… weird, with loads of new guys in the team, over 100 points scored, and no-one really that happy about it. Our guys are peaking for the quarters, a semi and the final – it’s hard to judge them until then, but so far so good, apart from ALL THOSE F%&@**@ INJURIES. Champions.

South Africa – a real team. And scarily for us, they’ve got Eddie Jones, the mastermind of the 2003 semi final in their corner. They looked great against England, but then again, England were pretty crap. They’re the other team who had a break mid-season – looks to be working out OK for them, alright. Losing finalists.

Australia – the woman who runs my pub quiz named her new baby Stirling George, after her two favorite Aussies, posing two questions: A. WHAT THE F$*@ IS SHE F$%&*@#!* THINKING?!?! and B. they HAVE been around for ages, haven’t they? Australia’s looking good alright, but haven’t met any decent forward packs yet, and they’re not as as well coached as in the past. Out in the semis.

Argentina – Bloody good on them. They smothered France in a defensive display worthy of anyone first up. I hope they didn’t peak just for that match, but nobody will fancy playing them now. Out in the semis.

France – the big disappointments for me because they’re the hosts, with a huge bearing on the tournament’s success. We were lead to believe they were building a formidable challenge, or had a plan at the very least. Now they look like Woodward’s Lions, and LaPorte looks like a cock. I’d love to write them off (I’d really, really, love to), but as we all know, the hoariest old cliche in Rugby is ‘write off the French at your peril’. I still reckon they’ll be out in the quarters in Cardiff, miles from home.

Ireland – the other big underachievers. With players like O’Connell, O’Callaghan, O’Driscoll, D’Arcy, O’Gara and Horgan, they should be challenging for the cup (and have a couple of six nations already), not batting to beat Georgia. Their fans (best in the world) will win the piss athletics regardless, but deserve far better – maybe they should have hung on to Warren Gatland, instead of the politically appointed O’Sullivan. Own foot shot, out in the quarters.

England – taken to bits on Saturday morning like a pimply teenager skinny dipping in Crystal Lake on Friday the 13th. They’re learning the same lesson as England’s football team, ie if your domestic competition is chocka with stars from overseas, your own players wind up carrying the tracksuits, and your national team suffers. And they can’t even get their Beckham on the pitch. They’re not getting out of their group.

Scotland and Wales – Sent home tae think again about changing the rules. Out in the quarters, if they get there.

The minnows – Georgia, Portgual, Tonga, etc. I think they’ve done bloody well, with spirited displays all around, lead by Argentina upsetting France, but you can’t count them as minnows by any stretch. No, the format’s not perfect, Yes, there’s too many mismatches, but this is the World Cup – in Rugby, the big guys play the little guys less than Matt Dunning takes the fruit breakfast option. Seeing as I know everything, I’d like to see a mini tournament for 8 teams as an entree to the main event, with two teams qualifying to join 14 other qualifiers for the World Cup proper. That’s that sorted, then.

England have the World Cup fever – the 2003 fever

Woah – another big website, another scary insight. With 20 odd days to go until rugby’s big showpiece event in France, click on the BBC’s ‘Rugby World Cup‘ section and this is what you get – poor old sicknote Wilkinson looking uncomfortable in the arms of an enthusiastic team mate on that magical night in Sydney.

Talk about Groundhog Day – I’m appalled at the shoddy lack of updates on the Beebs’ website. And NO mention of 1987 whatsoever.


What was the top story on the New Zealand Herald’s homepage at 1.30PM Monday 13 August? New Zealand’s nationally distributed and widely read newspaper published out of our biggest city?

A long retired Wallaby player reassures the nation about our biggest collective fear – the All Blacks won’t choke.

What will the evening edition bring? Martin Johnson saying Dan Carter and Richie McCaw are highly unlikely to accidentally kick each other in the bollocks in the first five minutes of the final? Janie De Beer saying “Go to sleep and dream little Kiwis, every thing will be alright. Everything will be alright”?

I love this country.

Fishy fishy

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Fishy fishy, originally uploaded by richirvine73.

I hauled this one out of the harbour this morning before work. I think I’ll call him Nathan Bracken.

It hurts

Thoughts on this evening’s defeat to England:
– Following a Black Caps top order collapse on CricInfo is much less fun than watching on the box (if you find that sort of thing fun, that is)
– Styris got 80 odd in a domestic match today – let’s get him on a plane, quick smart
– What were England DOING when they batted? They dwardled along like 11 Geoff Boycotts, it was more boring than ten man rugby from the 80s. If we’d had a little luck and got Flintoff out any earlier we’d have probably nicked it
– Flintoff is obsessed with punching gloves with his batting partner – one of England’s tailenders wasn’t expecting it when he came to the crease, and just about got a cock-punch
– Without Bond, our go-to tactic is still the slow-medium dobbers – twelve years ago it was Latham and Harris, now it’s Astle and specialist bowler Craig McMillian (who in fairness did a great job tying England down at the death)
– Tony Greig’s shameless cheering for the Poms is beyond a joke – if Sky Digital had an option to mute individual commentators, and have them replaced them with nails scraping a blackboard, I’d cheerfully pay double my subscription (Stu Wilson, you’d be next on my list, Bucko)
– Cricinfo’s headline right now is ‘Flintoff edges England in thriller’ – is that in a kind of Michael Jackson sense of ‘Thriller’?
– Scary thing is, England aren’t all that flash a side, and we stil lost. Did you spot anything to worry the Aussies?
– More depressing than the actual game was tuning into Radio Sport on the way to the video shop post-match, with one caller asking if Shane Bond actually had a migraine (back strain?), or just didn’t feel like playing. The horror…