Links on Friday – Shield challenge special

Here’s some Hamilton hyperlinks for yers to celebrate the big shield challenge tomorrow night. I’ll be there, can’t wait
Waikato’s Sione Luaki hands off Richie McCaw – wow. He throws the All Black captain and best player in the world around like he’s a wussy smart arse blogger or something (thanks, Rugby Dump)
Hamilton rock – if you’ve ever been to Zak’s, or seen Knightshade in action, you know how hard the ‘tron ROCKs. Here’s what I’m talking about (thanks, Spare Room)
Highlights of Waikato v North Harbour – the smash n grab run to the shore
The McKay family – har – but is it for real?

Red faces all round as cylinder contains body parts, not turf

SRNZPA: There were red faces at the All Blacks’ farewell at Auckland Airport last night. The team was presented a cylinder supposedly filled with turf cuttings from all 1071 of their predecessors home grounds. But when the container was opened, it was discovered to actually contain cuttings of the 1071 All Blacks themselves.

“Ohhhhhhhhh, that makes a bit more sense” said Adidas Cylinder Ambassador Peter Harvey-Withers. “That fax DID get a bit smudged, but I never double checked. I got some funny looks going into all those cemeteries with a shovel and saw, let me tell you. What a turn-up, eh?”.

All Blacks’ girlfriends now allowed in rooms for ‘nookie only’

SRNZPA: All Black management has softened their hard line stance on the All Black wives’ and girlfriends’ access to the players’ rooms. “Partners can visit rooms for nookie only” said Steve Hansen. “That’s it, though. Once the show’s over, they’ve gotta go straightaway. Darren Shand will be strictly monitoring this area”.

All Black management is concerned partners’ demands for attention and cuddles or reports on that day’s shopping could jeopardise chances of bringing home the World Cup for the first time since 1987. “No man wants to hear about cute shoes or stunning cafe au laits, that’s just brutal” said Hansen.

A member of the touring party, who did not wish to be identified, described the policy as “bloody sweet”, adding “This is better than home – you can make the sweet, sweet love and get back to playing Xbox straight away. I wish it could be the World Cup all year ’round”.

IRB unveils experimental Monopoly rules

SRNZPA: Go directly to jail; collect $200 with referee’s approval. The IRB’s power will soon be felt on family occasions and rainy days in baches the world over, as Rugby’s governing body moves into freelance rules consultancy. “The IRB rules committee offers solid experience in rule changes. Hey, we do it every three or four weeks” said IRB chairman Syd Millar at the unveiling of Monopoly’s experimental rules, being trialled in Australia’s B competition.

“The new position of a compulsory, non playing referee / banker will add new levels of consistency” explained Millar. The referee will have a range of powers, including harsh fines and deciding who makes the tea. For severe transgressions referees can force players to leave the room for a while and think about what they’ve done. Referees will be supported by neutral observers, who sit in the corner of the lounge and take notes for later review. There will be a blanket ban on owning both utilities and railway stations, which is designed to open up the game and allow it to flow, adding interest for new Monopoly markets. “Families and new players alike will learn to love the ‘depowered’ Community Chest” Millar added.

Critics of the ‘Old Kent Road’ laws, as they’re known, say they’re a thinly veiled tactic to blunt New Zealand Monopoly troupe All Hats’ captain Ronald MacKay’s game. MacKay plays to the very letter of the law, with moves that try the patience of Monopoly’s governing body. “We’re not comfortable with the direction of the game in the southern hemisphere, it’s becoming basketball on a board” said International Monopoly Board head Ralph Stevens. “That’s why we set those pedantic IRB arseholes loose”.

The IRB’s rules consultancy unit is also working with Tennis on a proposed new scoring system of Love / 15 / Touch / Hold / Engage.

Football weekend

– The Phoenix have risen from Wellington’s coffee grounds (or something) to play in Australia’s A-League, and kicked off on Sunday against the Melbourne Victory. It’s a shame for us Auckland footy fans, but the Cake Tin, or Ring Of Fire has it’s now known and football looks like a match made in heaven. There was a decent crowd, numbering around 14,000, seemingly ALL kitted out in cool yellow T-Shirts or scarfs (is it still cold in Welly or wot?), all keen to put those terrace chants learned on OEs to good use.

The Phoenix are made up of New Zealanders, Australians (including the Keano-like Aloisi), and BRAZILIANS no less, and lead by 1982’s Riki Herbert, who’s effortlessly gone from mullet and tight sorts to Casino Royale-style well cut suit. And they can play. Once the nerves had settled, and they’d gone two nil down and fluffed a penalty, they began to play, and started passing it around nicely. The Brazilian Daniel looks like a fine player when not writhing around on the grass, and Aloisi obviously brings great experience. Daniel and then Shane Smetlz headed goals, and we were really unlucky not to get the win, with a couple of fine chances they’ll bury later in the season.

It was really important to get a great start and bury those memories of the Kingz / Knights / whatever being flogged every week at Albany stadium. Riki Herbert really is the man, and his team are all set for a great season – Sunday afternoon on the couch just got really exciting.

– Spurs, spurs, spurs. You go out of interweb coverage for a week, and come back to this pile of shite. Tottenham are fast losing the ‘sexy football’ rep, and consolidating the ‘sexy shoot oneself in the foot’ one. The board is divided on the hugely popular Martin Jol, whose cheery unflappability looks more and more flappable by the week, and went to Portugal to try and lure Seville’s Juande Ramos two games into the season. It’s a typically Spurs dog’s breakfast, and when you’re in that situation, a trip to Man Utd the last thing you need. Surprisingly, we did alright, and conceded only the one 30 yard screamer, and got a dead cert penalty turned down – a typical Old Trafford result.

It’s back!

Poor old North Harbour didn’t know what hit them, from the stream of cars clogging the motorway, to the cacophony of cowbells showing Albany stadium what crowd support is all about, to the steam roller, utterly committed performance of the team in red, yellow and black. Stephen Donald’s performance was the best by a New Zealand first five this year, with flawless goalkicking, intelligent running and miraculous passing. We Mooloo men are all about that shield, and despite big bad Canterbury rolling up this weekend, I’m pretty bloody confident it’s staying in Hamilton this summer.

Fish 1 – me nil

I’m a guy who spends most days at a desk, my manhood being tested only by locking horns with Windows XP. So when the chance to go big game fishing came up on my holiday in Vanuatu… well you’ve got to go, don’t you? I was ready and waiting at the resort wharf at 7.30am on Friday, the harbour quiet and glassy as the boat pulled up. I clambered on board to meet skipper Fabrice, a local, and his son Stefan the decky.

I was a bit nervous, frankly. My preparation for a new sport is usually sitting down with a book on it, and having read about epic man vs. fish battles lasting several hours I wondered if I’d bitten off more than I could chew. I went on a fantastic fishing trip off Great Mercury Island earlier this year, pulling up Snapper by the bucketload, but Marlin the size of horses would be an entirely different (ahem) kettle of fish.

Handily, it’s a quick trip out of Vanuatu’s harbour to the open ocean, and we quickly went from gently rolling seas into big old swells in 100-150 metres of ocean, and the Nikita, an 8 metre fibreglass boat started pitching up and down. I’m generally OK at sea, but wondered if repeated viewing of ‘Jaws’ and an overactive imagination were the best way to settle the nerves. Stefan had quickly organised 6 rods with impressive reels and brightly coloured lures looking like SpongeBob Squarepants’ mates – and we were fishing.

Vanuatu is renowned for its Marlin, Sailfish, which is like a Marlin with different fins, MahiMahi, a big fish with a weird round head, and Wahoo, “very agressive fish, teeth like Shark” explained Fabrice in his thick French accent. We trawled through the swell for an hour or so, before hitting Pointe Diablo, an impressive place where the ocean swell smacks the coast hard from very deep water – Nikita started bobbing more erratically than a Wallaby walking home from a team night out.

We followed the coast back into the bay, and just as we were headed out to sea Fabrice started shouting “Fish! Fish!”. I leaped up and into the chair, heart pounding… 30 seconds later I sheepishly pulled a thin little Tuna of no more that 30 centimetres on board. This was a great sign according to Fabrice, as it was our prey’s favourite snack, but Stefan gave me a quizzical look as I snapped a photo – surely it was too small to waste pixels on?

It was back out to sea, and my little Tuna was quickly speared with a big hook and chucked overboard to add variety to the menu we had on offer. The swell was just as big, and despite Fabrice’s constant pleading “Where are the fiiiish?”, we had no luck. He was on the radio to other fishermen, and of the four or five boats out that morning, only one caught a fish, a 22kg Wahoo. It wasn’t my day, and as we went back to the harbour, I thought technically, I’m not a big game fisherman yet (I’m on my way though – on observing Fabrice and Stefan’s bare feet, I quietly kicked my jandals off under my seat – smooth). I enjoyed being out in the ocean and listening to the tales of better days and bigger fish, I’ll be back out there for sure.

Links on Friday

Villa’s Martin O’Neil, pop picker extraordinaire, telling Robbie Williams what for – classic, it’s like being told off by a senile old science teacher
Wayne Rooney meets Dirty Sanchez – the Welsh jackass imitators that are ten times funnier. That can’t be his house…?
Touch The Rainbow – great tv ad for Skittles. Wish I could do this with a nice bacon sandwich
All You Had To Say Was ‘Owen Wilson Befriends A Dolphin’ And I Was Sold – that’s how it gets done, team

Dunning not planning on speaking French during World Cup

SRNZPA: Australia’s Matt Dunning has announced he will speak no French during the 2007 Rugby World cup, being staged in France. “French is for woofters” he said. “I tried it in ’05, all that tu est le merde for brains or what ever – it’s not right”.

Dunning remains confident of making himself understood. “I always have a picture of four beers and a ham sandwich with me anyway, I’ll be fine” said Dunning. He went to explain team mate Lote Tuquiri was probably a garlic munching French wanker with a name like that, so he could do the talking for both of them.