Tuesday, 28 April 2009


Yes, despite all my best attempts to run them down - I am a pessimistic old git - the Hurricanes are starting to deserve the favourite tag hooked on them before this year’s Super 14. They are peaking at the right time and we should all be happy. Except its all doomed. We will finally get to another final only to have it called off due to ‘Swine Flu’.

It may be time to stock up on Tamiflu, face masks, even Star Anise to get you through. Attending such a public gathering under pain of death may be at least as twice as frustrating as going to a normal Hurricanes knockout match.

Personally, I blame all these poncey Auckland schools. There is a Recesion on fercrissakes, yet these little toffs are traipsing of to Mexico for a week!!?? WTF? When I was a kid, we got to go here of we were lucky ... for the night! Look at it, its glorious.

The next time you think of sending little Janey or Crispin off to a high quality private educational institution up North, think again.

You could well be sending them overseas on some kind of Gap Year Plague Mission, turning them in to Agar Plates of the Apocalypse.

Maybe this is the Mayans & Aztecs paying the West back for the Conquistadores. Or maybe its all just another pile of media beat up a la Bird Flu like we went through 3-4 years ago.

If face masks become the “new beret”, does it mean Altern8 and heavy acid techno will come back too? got to be better than Op Shop.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Lions Squad Announced today

Ian McGeechan will announce his Lions squad today for the tour of South Africa. Ha has already named Paul O’Connell (POC), the Munster Monster, as his captain ... picking him over the other Irish favourite for the job, Brian O’Driscoll (BOD). The rest of the touring party that will have to face the World Champ Springboks in 3 Tests will be named tonight our time.

It is expected that the Wasps head man, and former Lion himself, McGeechan will name a touring group of 35 or 36; far less than the bloated band of 45 gypsies Clive Woodward brought out here in 2005. And that tally did not include his QCs and Alaistair ‘Bomber’ Campbell.

BBC has a team picker here and I have had a crack for the first Test team. Once again I will qualify my selections by saying I know bugger all, and I am just a BeanBag Pundit with some beers in the fridge ...

Much of the talk has been about picking a bunch of bruisers to battle the Boks up front, and it will be attritional, but McGeechan is wily - he will want to have a mobile bunch as well I think. Defence will keep the Lions in the game, but it will not win it for them. They will have to score tries. Duh.

Despite the number of tries that England did actually score in the Six Nations, their players are a little thin in this squad, and that simply comes because of Irish and Welsh standouts in key positions and the need to (rightly) slot in existing combinations around them first up. I would say that the Test team may very change noticeably over the tour. I think McGeechan will pick on form from all the fixtures. If players like Lee Halfpenny, Delon Armitage or James Haskell or Nick Kennedy get on the plane, they may well get a Test appearance.

So there’s my effort. Unlikely to see Shanklin and BOD together, but what the hell ... do something different, play your cards and let them swap about; power and pace. Henson goes for me, still has to be fit (otherwise Ricki Flutey), but he ticks lots of boxes. And 9,10,12 are going to make a truck load of tackles.Whatever the outcome, it will be hard for the tourists. The Lions are simply at a disadvantage because of the lack of preparation and the mix of nationalities ... but that is why these tours are so good.

“Can they do it in the face of such sheer odds?”

Kiwis will just have to be a spectators this year because the biggest Rugby Union event of the year does not involve us. Might do all our “hubris” some good, eh?

Saturday, 18 April 2009

My Tuppence Worth

Team Veitch? What is this? An America’s Cup syndicate?

Tony Veitch has enough money and media friends (like “Holmsie”) at TVNZ to construct a very sneaky narrative out of all this. Don’t forget his very pre-crunch salary paid to him by state owned TVNZ, or that this ‘
sports journalist’, like all TV personalities these days, gets groomed via womens mags and appearances on star-fucking, ego-fellating piles of shit like ‘Dancing With The Stars’, into what we call a S’leb ... someone we can all relate to, feel like we know, and maybe if we are lucky see their wedding photos, or wrinkly new baby!! Arse.

Many high-powered Kiwis, almost all from Planet Sport, got conned in to giving personal references to Team Veitch, like Susan Devoy and Graham Henry ... and people are not happy about it. But now the same referees are scrambling to distance themselves from their own words, claiming they were misled. Come on people, get smart. Dance with that Devil ... and you may get voted off.

The media scramble will continue - this the perfect mix (storm?) of celebrity, violence and public bloodletting that we all love. They must be creaming themselves over at Stuff! It’s like our very own OJ! Veitch will get his TV One soapbox - and heaven knows he might need the box to stand on. He will probably be back on telly and radio in the not too distant future.

This blogging stuff makes it really easy to attack someone, eh? Personally, I have never liked him; never connected with his toothy grin, his smarmy, just-one-of-the-blokes media persona. It stems from some primeval memory I can’t erase of him (I am sure it’s him) interviewing Steffi Graf for the Holmes show years ago. On gaining access to - at the time - the greatest womens tennis player on the planet, he asked her “How did you get those fantastic legs?”. If it wasn’t Veitch, I am sorry ... though I remember it as him. And one day I could do jury duty!

If that level of crapness is what makes you a sports journalist, then I am off to pick up my Pulitzer.

Anyone remember that poor 13 year old girl raped in Auckland this week? No, because she can’t afford a PR team and doesn’t see the One News team in the staff cafeteria every day.

Rant over. Got to get ready for the Hurricanes game ... like, that will cheer me up!

Monday, 13 April 2009

Cup Spillage

Can’t wait to see how this one pans out - England’s Rugby Union looks set to be battling it out with Japan to get the 2015 Rugby World Cup now. After all the sanctimonious bleating about the desperate need to “grow the game” in 2011 and how NZ was simply a backwards, sympathetic choice, let’s see how the Old Farts at Twickenham spin this one out. The Poms heavily invested in Japan for 2011, and were openly against NZ getting it. Either choice next time, its laying out RWC right in the grubby palms of even more massive corporate ownership. Its already pimped out to the likes of Visa and Heineken, but take it to either Japan or England and the scramble for a slice of Brand Pie will be frightening. And if Kiwis think they are going to have steep ticket prices for 2011, they may be surprised in four and eight years time. I’d rather have our “World Cup of Campervans” in 2011, as BBC Rent-a-Rant Brian Moore described it, than some sponsors only, boardroom sausage fest.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

I love it - ah!

Can’t get interest up for Super 14 still. Maybe it will return at the semis stage, but with so much rugby during the year now (the NZ v Australia Bledisloe Cup Test in Wellington is not until the 19th of September!) I have been soaking up the cricket series against India, and enjoying radio commentary of it.

Coming back to New Zealand to live earlier this year, there was a clear list of things I wanted to experience again. I wanted to drink some Emerson’s Bookbinder, eat a decent Malaysian curry with Roti bread, mow a lawn, make local phone calls for free, go to the beach (not the “seaside”) ... and spend a day at the Basin Reserve, watching Test cricket from the embankment. Well, check that last one off.

I’ve seen the MCG, been to Lords and The Oval ... but our Basin is in a class of its own as a rare ground that retains some much of the village green flavour.
It may in truth be a roundabout for State Highway 1, but its unique layout allows spectators to walk 360 degrees around the ground and lean over the pickets begging autographs off resting fast bowlers. What other cricket ground in the world has a layout that lets conga lines of visiting fans (whether Barmy or Bhaji Army) loop around it all day? And what other sports ground lets kids get out there and play on the pitch in the interval? Its a throwback, and a glorious one.

It does have a big flash replay screen now (gone is the ‘ransom note’ scoreboard of ten years ago), but the bank remains untouched, where fans of both teams mingle, and families can giggle at hopped up rogues. And I have not even mentioned the hotdogs - another Kiwi delicacy I was keen to reconnect with.

Loved it. Though typical of Wellington these days ... the queue at the espresso stand was 3 times as long as the beer shack. If they can sell that much caffeine at a five day test, what will they sell to T20 fans? P?

The Indians may have lacked the killer instinct to put us away on the last day and, but they showed their class constantly ... and again New Zealand struggled to concentrate for five days. That’s fine. We punch well above our weight in cricket, we always have. And now that lucrative career earnings are possible via the IPL for our top players, we may well forge a crop of true world class players. Competing in Tests may well continue to be a struggle, but I have really enjoyed watching a bunch of youngish guys step up to, and consolidate their places in, our international sides. Jesse Ryder, Martin Guptill and Grant Elliot, are here to stay. Tim McIintosh, Nathan McCullum, Neil Broom and Peter McGlashan we’ll see more of. And those old fellas like Brendan McCullum, Daniel Vettori and Ross Taylor are showing the consistency expected of them.

And what about Chris Martin? Remember when he was the fresh faced chain smoker who looked like he came straight to the ground from a Psy-Trance night?
He is now the elder statesman of the team at 34!

Summer is officially over: the Indians have gone home, the clocks have gone back, and rugby will do its best to grab our attention again. Its about time the economy got going isn’t it? About time the ‘Gummint’ did something? Said something? Anything ... like issue a budget?

Meeting for a week to come up with a national cycle track idea did not exactly inspire me. Allowing the local government issues of Auckland to dominate everything is just making me suspicious. Line by line reviews of every government budget are making the natives of the Wellington public sector very twitchy; this village had the same Chief for 9 years, and now there’s a new boss in town.

Are we in a recession or a coma?