Donald Trump won. Just get over it

Donald Trump was elected US president on November 8 but nearly three weeks later, people still do not seem to have gotten over it.

The cries of woe and anguish continue to be heard in the American media and elsewhere, many of them from the same pundits who never saw it coming.

About the only two prominent Americans who genuinely canvassed a Trump win were the filmmaker Michael Moore and the cartoonist Scott Adams. They made their predictions long before the polls, and stuck true to them right to the end.

Moore tried his best to alert people to the dangers of the poll going to Trump, even putting out an uncharacteristic piece of hagiography titled Michael Moore in Trumpland a few weeks before the election.

But he failed to convince an electorate that had made up its mind a long time before the date.

So why did Trump win?

There are numerous factors that are possible causes. For one, the voting public in the US (and many other countries too) have long ceased to be convinced by facts and figures. There is a simple reason for this: given that most of this data comes from people in authority (politicians, civic leaders, the media, so-called pundits) who lie and lie and lie again, the public have ceased to give anything they say any credence.

So if people are now complaining that the masses are unwilling to deal with facts, you know whom to blame. They will believe anything else, and you really cannot take issue with that. They pick and choose what they will believe.

A second factor that came into play was the opposition candidate herself. Hillary Clinton (and when you say that, Bill is part of the baggage) has loads of baggage and much of it is not very commendatory. During the campaign, there were leaks that showed the Democrats had tilted the balance so that Bernie Sanders, who was a much better candidate and one who would probably have defeated Trump, would not become their nominee. Did that anger probable Democrat voters? Take a guess.

Then there was the strange pattern of campaigning where Clinton did not bother to visit many states which, it was taken for granted, would vote Democrat as they have done so in the past. If there is one thing voters hate, it is to be taken for granted. They gave Clinton the finger. The middle finger.

And why would the Democrats put Barack Obama and his wife out to campaign for Clinton? Obama split the nation right down the colour divide when he won. The second time, he just managed to squeeze through past Mitt Romney. He is not the unifying figure many leftists and intellectuals see him to be; if anything, his election only made race more of an issue in a country where it was already a massive factor in just about everything.

Trump won just by not being a politician. He did not treat the whole thing as a popularity contest, just as an exercise that needed to be won. All those who keep whinging now that Clinton has won the popular vote – it is a waste of time. Winning the election was the name of the game, not winning the popular vote.

Donald Trump has sane supporters too

I have a friend who has been living in the US for the last 30 years. He is an intelligent, rational person who is widely read. We have been close friends for the last 37 years.

He is one of the people who will be voting for Donald Trump on November 8. He went to the US on an H1-B visa.

He wrote what follows, well before Trump’s comments on women came to light. Read, judge if you wish, but ponder: if reasonable, sensible, middle-class people come to these conclusions, there must be something terribly wrong with the social system in the US.

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Religion by itself is not the problem – all religions are, by nature, esoteric and mysterious and, ultimately, a matter of faith. It is the clash of cultures originating from these religions that causes all strife and conflict in our society and all societies on planet earth.

Donald Trump is bringing some strong medicine to this country, and the party elites are scared – that their gravy train is coming to an end, that better trade deals will result in good jobs for minorities, that lobbyists will have to downsize, that waste, fraud and abuse in no-bid military contracts and pharmaceutical purchases are going to stop, and that the immigration rules which determine who, and how many people, can come into this country will undergo some major changes.

“America will be the country we all believe in, we all dream of….” said Chef Andres. The only way to keep that intact is to stop a million new immigrants coming into this nation every year. Already our cities are getting crowded, our roads clogged, and our countryside (what is left of it) is fast disappearing. This has a huge impact on our jobs, our culture, our values, and our standard of living. That is why Trump wants all immigration halted until we come up with a sane immigration policy.

There was a time when this country could use a lot of immigrants. That time has passed. Allowing a million immigrants each year is mass migration. That is like taking over a country without a war. If you are supporting Hillary Clinton and open borders, then we no longer need a military. What is there to protect?

By the same token, Clinton and all her supporters should get rid of the doors in their houses, so that anyone can come in and stay and help themselves to anything they want. You have to get real.

This election is about the choice between open borders and controlled borders, between having a country and not having one. It is also about the choice between insider career politicians who are beholden to big moneyed special interest groups, and Trump, the outsider, who cannot be bought. Godspeed Trump!

It is time for change. Time for a non career politician to step in and stop the 1 million immigrants flooding into this country every year; eliminate ISIS, and build safe havens so like-minded people can live in their own countries; and work the room with our elected representatives and develop consensus around the public agenda and not around what Wall Street wants.

In 2014, 1.3 million foreign-born individuals moved to the United States, an 11 per cent increase from 1.2 million in 2013. India was the leading country of origin, with 147,500 arriving in 2014, followed by China with 131,800, and Mexico with 130,000.

Trump is the only one standing between us and the millions of new immigrants who are coming in each year and having an impact on our jobs, our values, and our culture. Vote for change!

Automation is one reason, and immigration (H1-B abuse) and outsourcing are the other main reasons for job losses in the US.

Clinton has no clue on how to address the former, and — considering her donor class — she has no interest in addressing the latter.

Good negotiators are not necessarily good debaters. How else would you explain Barack Obama who is a gifted public speaker, but could not for the life of him work the room with his opposition in it? If debating skills were the basis for selecting a president, the people would have voted for Ted Cruz who is a better debater than Hillary. No, what this country needs is a good negotiator, not a debate champion.

Thousands of people are ripping into Trump for not speaking like a politician. And yet deep down inside they know that he is the only one standing between them and the millions of new immigrants who are coming in each year and taking over their jobs, their values, and their culture.  Vote for change.

Trump’s favourite Bible verse is 1 John 4:12: “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God remains in us, and His love is perfected in us.”

Notable takeaways from a recent Trump speech:

“Hillary Clinton is the last line of defence for a failed political establishment and she does not have you at heart. The Clinton campaign exists for one reason, and that is to continue rigging the system. We will break up the industrial-media complex. That is why I am running – I will be your greatest voice ever.

“They go to the same restaurants, they go to the same conferences, they have the same friends and connections, they write cheques to the same thinktanks, and produce exactly the same reports. It’s a gravy train and it just keeps on flowing. On November 8 that special interest gravy train is coming to a very abrupt end.

“The insiders in Washington and Wall Street look down at the hardworking people like you, like so many people in this state, like so many people in this county. But you are the backbone, your are the heart and soul of the nation. Don’t ever forget it folks.”

The reasons why I am voting for Trump, shown in the order in which things need to be fixed in this country:

Issue 1. Our rigged economic and political systems – Issues 2-6 have remained unsolved for decades because the special interests who control our rigged system proactively stop any solution from being adopted. Only Trump can fix this.

Issue 2. The flagging economy 𔃀 caused by both automation and globalisation. Prosperity can be more widely spread if we negotiate good deals both within and outside this country. Trump will bring good negotiators into our government.

Issue 3. Unfettered immigration – bringing in a million immigrants a year is transforming this nation into a Third World country. Everything from birthright citizenship to safe zones for war-torn countries must be examined.

Issue 4. Minorities – we need to provide a hand up to minority communities. Wasted and under-utilised human resources are one of the primary reasons/sources for crime in many of our cities.

Issue 5. Healthcare – costs need to brought down and basic services made available to every citizen. There is enough money in the system, it just needs to be managed better.

Issue 6. Debt overhang – we need to write down the debts — both credit card and college loans — held by ordinary citizens. This will also help the economy (Issue 2).

The elimination of waste fraud and abuse will cut across many of the above issues. That, and bringing competent people into our government who can deliver on the public agenda, will surely make our country great again. I cannot wait for Trump to arrive in our capital.

The time has arrived for a literary fraud to resurface

One of the many big-noters in India has announced her return to the literary scene with a novel about the uprising in Kashmir. Coming 20 years after her only other effort, Arundhati Roy’s 2017 publication has already received enough hype to make one puke.

Since her book The God of Small Things was surprisingly awarded the Man Booker Prize in 1997, Roy has been involved in activism, written essays and numerous articles. One has to be grateful that she did not attempt a second novel. Her first effort was terrible; author Carmen Callil, chair of the 1996 Booker jury, pronounced Roy’s work “execrable”, and said it should never have reached the shortlist.

I’m willing to bet that the second book will be an even greater success than the first; in this day and age frauds succeed much better than they did in 1997.

Below is the review I wrote at the time; it is no longer on the Internet as the site hosting it died an unnatural death.

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An Indian writer has received an advance of half a million pounds for her first novel, The God of Small Things. Great stuff, one would say, it proves there is talent in the country. The hype that has necessarily accompanied this has obscured the novel to a large extent. There are reviews floating all over the Web, some of them written by people who have not even read the book. The very fact that an Indian author has received a six-figure advance for a first novel necessarily means that the book must be good – thus runs the logic. It makes for even better copy when the writer is a woman.

A number of Indian publications have gloated over the novel. The customary interviews have taken place with the writer and the usual pithy sayings have emerged. It is time to look a bit more closely at this publishing “feat”, the circumstances of the writer and the actual content of the book. One must remember first of all that this year marks the 50th anniversary of Indian independence; indeed, it is a nice time for a British publishing house to give an Indian author such an honour. Good timing to expiate some of the guilt surrounding the act of partition of the subcontinent.

The author, Arundhati Roy, is the daughter of one Mary Roy, a women who gained her own measure of notoriety by challenging the Christian inheritance law some years ago in Kerala. Mary won her case and thus became an icon for feminists in India. Mary Roy, however, was not the best of mothers; she kicked her daughter out at the age of 18 and the girl thus had to fend for herself. It is not, therefore, surprising that Arundhati has constantly tried to gain her mother’s attention by various means and show her parent that she can succeed on her own as well. A large number of so-called great works have come about because a man feels he has something to prove to his parents.

Arundhati has lived on the edge of the so-called intellectual circuit in Delhi, a city which is a ball of hot air. Her first marriage to an architect ended in divorce and she is now married to a photographer by whom she has two children. She has tried her own attention-getting tactics — berating Shekhar Kapoor over his film Bandit Queen was the latest gimmick — and has, to some extent, gained a fair measure of publicity. Now comes this novel, which, if we are to believe the writer, did not require a single correction (there is a silly line which she has used to explain this: “one does not re-breathe a breath”) and in the space of five years. In other words, this spontaneous creation took a fairly long period of time. Does sound a bit like constipated genius.

Now to the novel itself. It is the story of a family who hail from a village in Kerala, one which Roy chose to call Ayemenem. The story is told within an uncertain time-frame which winds itself back and forth and anyone searching for structure within this book will be disappointed; the writer has an excuse – it is like a work of architecture, she says, and the form develops in any direction. There is plenty of detail in the 350-odd pages; the English is stuffed stupid with a surfeit of similes, most of them very poor ones. There is a bid to copy Salman Rushdie but it does not work; the use of language is stilted and and some words are so obviously contrived that they are out of place when used. Roy would have one believe that this work is spontaneous but the truth is that it is contrived and rather badly at that. It is so obviously wrung out of herself that any claim that this novel was lying dormant within herself just waiting to be written must be taken with loads of salt.

The God of Small Things is seen from the perspective of seven-year-old Rahel. She and her twin brother, Estha, live with their mother, Ammu, who was married to a Bengali from whom she is divorced. Ammu and the twins live in the Ayemenem house with their grandmother, uncle and grand-aunt Baby. The family owns a pickle factory that comes into conflict with the Communists. The family is awaiting the arrival of Sophie Mol, the twins’ half-English cousin and the book drifts back and forth to the arrival and the aftermath of the death by drowning of Sophie Mol and an ill-fated love affair between Ammu and the untouchable Velutha. Rahel returns to Ayemenem as an an adult to a decimated household, a dysfunctional twin and a decaying house.

Were a Keralite to read this book, he or she would obviously understand the setting and a lot of social surroundings. An outsider may find it exotic but that is all. In this sense, the book is insular in the extreme; there are splashes of Malayalam here and there and despite the feeble attempt at translation, the real meaning of the phrase is often hidden. Roy obviously has a huge narcissistic streak and ensures that the reader will identify her as the girl Rahel; whether this is intended to tell the reader that everything, including the incestuous relationship Rahel has with her twin, was also part of Roy’s life is unclear. This is a totally unnecessary twist to the book.

The story line is quite predictable; the death of a child and the love affair between a woman of the higher caste and an untouchable are standard fare in many an Indian novel. The only difference here is that this affair is suddenly sprung on the reader and it cannot be logically deduced; indeed, logic is a major casualty in this novel. There is a process of development in any book but there seems to be none in this book and, in my opinion, it is highly over-rated. One thing which puzzles me no end is the fact that Penguin India did not publish it; David Davidar has been the face of Indian publishing in English and his laconical explanation, “it wasn’t offered to us,” does not answer the question. Davidar is one who has chased after any writer whom he feels has the slightest chance of being a success. Why he did not choose to do so with Roy is a mystery.

Logic will not help to defeat Trump

As the US election process approaches its endgame, there are growing fears that the candidate whom many see as the less attractive of the two available options will end up winning.

This is a legitimate fear. Nobody thought that Donald Trump would end up as the Republican presidential nominee when the whole process began. And given that Hillary Clinton is not exactly the most popular of Democrat nominees, the fears are even greater now that her opponent may end up being inaugurated on January 20.

But in the process, simple logic appears to have deserted the so-called thinking classes in the US and in many other countries. Journalists, politicians, community leaders, sportspeople – they all seem to think that if they speak out about the foibles they see as being the entirety of Trump, then they will be able to influence others to come over to their side and ensure a Clinton win.

They seem to be banking on information — data — winning the day, on convincing the undecided ones by using the media to out Trump as the worse of the two options.

This indicates a startling kind of naivety, an inability to understand why Trump is the candidate. People have been fed up with professional politicians for a long time; these are the classes who promise everything but the moon and only look after a certain class once they gain power.

This time, there are lots of people who have made up their minds that they are going to stick it to the establishment. After the war in Iraq, after the 2008 financial crisis, they are convinced that professional politicians can do them no good.

Backing Trump does not mean that they like him, or even any of his policies. He is just the Molotov cocktail that they throw at the rest of the political class.

The level of bigotry in the country is catered to by Trump, who has said some of the most xenophobic things that any politician has uttered. He knows that these sentiments represent the unhappiness that many in the US are feeling. He also knows that they cannot express these sentiments.

You cannot fight bigotry with information, You cannot fight something which exists in the heart through a process that is aimed at the brain. That is something those trying to swing the election must realise.

One can understand the fear among the educated classes and minorities whom Trump has spoken out against. If Trump did become the president, they know that they could be targeted, their country’s image would suffer, that he would undertake at least some actions which could cause the US to suffer economically. And, by extension, they would suffer too.

Hence their panicked reaction is not to be sneered at. But is it going to help defeat Trump? The type of people who support Trump are highly unlikely to be brought around by the arguments advanced by the mainstream media. These are the establishment sorts whom those who have fears about their livelihood, their jobs, hate with a passion.

In their eagerness to cast aspersions on Trump, they could well end up pushing people to give them the finger and cast a vote for someone whom they would not vote otherwise.

AFL has plenty going for it, apart from the commentators

Australian rules football is an acquired taste. Only someone who has grown up with it can get used to a game that is played in an oval field, one which appears to have few, if any, rules, and one which allows players from one side to obstruct their opponents and not incur any penalty.

But even an outsider can appreciate the degree of physical effort required to last 80 minutes of actual playing time; this means that a game takes about two hours to be completed.

What spoils the game to a large extent is the hyper-ventilating commentators who tend to exaggerate everything when there is often no need to do so; the action on the field speaks for itself.

This was illustrated well in the finale of the 2016 season as the Western Bulldogs recorded just their second cup win in the AFL championship in a frenetic game against the much more fancied Sydney Swans.

So tight was the contest that no points were scored in the first 7½ minutes of the first quarter – but then Bruce Macavaney, a commentator who is prone to verbal diarrhoea, had to stretch that out and claim that there had been no score for half of that quarter.

Australian commentators are always trying to improve on things that are best left alone.

The one decent commentator in the game, Dennis Commetti, is leaving after this final. The rest of the pack is made up mostly of ex-players who have poor vocabularies; while they have knowledge about the game, they lack the verbal verve and panache needed to excel in commentating.

A game like this final could well have done with a few better commentators to aid Commetti. The lead changed hands often: Sydney got the first points and led 8-0 but then by the end of the first 20 minutes were trailing 8-12. The Bulldogs stretched this lead out to 31-15 before Sydney came back to lead 33-31 and hold on to lead 45-43 at the main break.

In the third quarter, the Dogs were ahead again after three minutes, 49-46; Sydney went ahead 53-51 after 11 minutes, before the Bulldogs moved ahead at 57-53 at the 13½-minute mark and held on to lead 61-53 at the last break.

The Dogs never surrendered the lead thereafter, even though Sydney closed to 60-61 after 6½ minutes of the final quarter and again to 66-67 nine minutes into the term. When the score leapt to 88-67 with 2½ minutes left, even the Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge came down from his coaching box to the perimeter of the field as he knew it was all over bar the shouting.

Rarely was there any let-up as the Bulldogs, a group of mostly young, inexperienced players were not overawed by their more hardened opponents who have figured in three finals in the last five years. Sydney also boasts the highest-paid player in the AFL, forward Lance Franklin, who joined them three years ago on a $9 million nine-year deal.

Franklin was treated roughly by the Dogs and an ankle injury in the first five minutes did not help him in any way; he kicked just one goal and had limited impact on the game. The Bulldogs played well to a man; they have no big names in their ranks but some who excelled in this game are sure to become household names in seasons to come.

The Bulldogs last won a cup in 1954. They have played in only three finals, including this year’s game. And they are the first team to win after finishing seventh in the regular home-and-away season; the top eight of the 18 teams in the league play finals and the bottom four have to win four games over consecutive games to finish on top.

If only there had been a few more commentators to make the game that much more memorable – or simply stay silent.

Comedy Central screwed up badly by appointing Trevor Noah

It is difficult to think that a company like Comedy Central, which has been so successful in commissioning comedy shows that satirise the news, could make a mistake like it did in 2015 when it let Jon Stewart go with an election around the corner.

It is impossible to believe that the company could not have persuaded Stewart to stick on and go after the November 8 voting took place this year. Perhaps it thought that its choice of replacement, South African Trevor Noah, would be able to find his groove after a few months.

In media outlets here and there, the reason advanced for bringing in a younger host is said to be the need to attract a younger audience; the argument made is that Stewart’s audience was mostly a 45+ demographic while Noah, just 31 at the time he took over, would pull in the crowd below 40, a group that the management deems to be a wealthier demographic and what it needs as it looks to the future.

But if that was the expectation, then it has not been realised. Audiences for The Daily Show, which Stewart nurtured into one of the top-rating shows in the US, have fallen by as much as 40 percent. Comedy Central says it is not worried because the profile of the audience has changed as it wanted. But Noah himself is proving to be a poor replacement as host.

It is true that practically anybody would look bad besides Stewart who, over the 19 years that he was the host, made the show into a vehicle for both satirising the news and also for often conducting more serious journalism during his half-an-hour than most TV anchors and interviewers manage in a month of Sundays.

His interviews with that serial spreader of falsehoods, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and the great New York Times liar Judith Miller, the latter of Scooter Libby leak fame, are masterpieces which any TV journalist would be proud to own.

He also nurtured a whole band of talented artists: John Oliver, Stephen Colbert and Samantha Bee all have their own shows now. Any of them would have been a better replacement for Stewart than Noah.

Noah’s shortcoming is just not that he is not an American. Oliver is British but has learnt more about American politics than many American hosts have. No, Noah’s talent lies in stand-up and not the more serious sort of comedy which The Daily Show made its own; he is the equivalent of Canadian Russell Peters who can provoke a good belly-laugh but does not make the viewer think.

At times, watching Noah on The Daily Show these days is a painful exercise. He struggles to move from one topic to another and tries various gimmicks to gain traction, all of which tend to fail. His interview skills are poor and he has the same lines in his opening every single night.

It would not surprise me if the election is Noah’s last stand and the management decides on a change after January 20 next year.

True to form, Wallabies whinge after defeat

In the end, what was expected eventuated. New Zealand won the second Test against Australia convincingly and retained the Bledisloe Cup for another year.

Australia? They played better than in the first Test, but could only convert three penalties. No tries, just two line-breaks, and a lot of whinging were what they brought to the table.

Quade Cooper wore the No 10 jersey but did not play the role that a five-eighth is supposed to. He stayed well back, shovelled the ball along and had his regular quota of mistakes, kicking the ball to a spot he never intended to once, and failing to collect a high ball in competition with Israel Dagg; the latter action led to an All Black try a few passes later. For the most part, he was a passenger.

Why was he played at all if his prowess as a playmaker was not going to be utilised? That question should be asked of the Australian coach Michael Cheika – but Cheika is too busy whinging and questioning everything about the game apart from the woeful standards of his team, so he may not have time to reply.

Cheika is up in arms about the refereeing. Now everyone and his dog who has been watching rugby knows that Frenchman Romain Poite is a pedantic referee. He wants everything done exactly as he says and and he explains everything he does twice over to make sure that the players have no room to complain.

It makes him the central figure in any match that he officiates, exactly the opposite of what a referee should be. The better referees stamp their authority on the game early on, make sure the players know who is boss, and then melt into the shadows and let the game flow, unless there is a crying need for them to intervene.

Not so Poite. He does not like it when players try to lecture him about this, that and the other and the Australian captain Stephen Moore should have been aware of that trait. Moore has played more than 100 Tests and there is no way he would be unaware of the quirks of every single referee in international rugby.

Yet, a day after the game, there was Cheika whinging that Poite had been rude to Moore, not listening to the captain’s request to have a word with him. Surprise, surprise. Poite has been doing this for years and years. If Cheika was unaware of it, then he should blame himself. New Zealand captain Kieran Read was wiser; whenever Poite told him something, he just nodded in agreement and got on with the game.

Australian scrum-half Will Genia made one line break in the second half but found himself with no support. He looked around wildly for a teammate and found none. The move then broke down. Full-back Israel Folau, who would have much better chances to show his amazing talents as a centre, made the other break after getting an inside pass from Cooper. He almost made it to the line, but the doughty New Zealand defence caught him in time.

New Zealand found the going a little more difficult this week. The Australians were in their faces a lot more – but no-one had told newcomer Adam Coleman where to draw the line or explained to him that he had to back up his aggression with decent play. As a result, the big man flailed around a while and then earned his first yellow card shortly before half-time when he hit full-back Ben Smith with a late tackle, no arms to boot.

The gap between the teams is frightening. New Zealand’s quick passing, offloading in the tackle, supporting teammates and reading the flow of the game is far superior to the lumbering Wallabies. Newcomer Anton Lienert-Brown showed the confidence present in New Zealand ranks with an impressive debut, running the ball fluently and being a great asset. He had come in to replace Ryan Crotty who was injured in the first Test.

As usual, the rugby media, mainstream or otherwise, won’t notice things like these. Why, Planet Rugby is still convinced that Scott Fardy, and not Coleman, received a yellow card! This is a site dedicated to the game, mind you.

No yellow card

Beauden Barrett played a sterling role in the New Zealand win as usual. This man will be the next Dan Carter. He only has to get his place-kicking sorted out a bit, and he will be talked about in more glowing terms in the years to come. The way he reads the game and reacts is simply amazing.

And finally, a word about Sam Cane. He has plugged one of the biggest holes left in the team after the last World Cup, taking over from Richie McCaw. He does a more than adequate job on most occasions, but played out of his skin in this game and was deservedly the man of the match.

Picking Quade Cooper for Bledisloe II not the wisest decision

Australia’s rugby coach Michael Cheika does not appear to be one who learns from history. Or maybe he is ignorant of what has happened in the past when Australia included Quade Cooper in its team to play New Zealand.

Else, he may not have picked Cooper to play against New Zealand in tonight’s second Bledisloe Cup match in Wellington, a crucial game as far as Australia is concerned. If they lose or draw, then the Cup stays in New Zealand for another year. The last time Australia won the Cup was in 2002.

Let’s take a look back in time. Cooper was chosen to play in the 2011 World Cup semi-final against Australia. The match was played in New Zealand.

A few months before that game, during the annual internationals, Cooper had made the mistake of trying to take on New Zealand captain Richie McCaw and get in his face. It did not go down well with New Zealanders.

Let me quote from what I wrote at the time, on 17 October 2011: “For some reason, Cooper decided to start a running battle with the New Zealand captain Richie McCaw some months ago. It developed into physical confrontation at times and Cooper, without realising what he was biting off, kept portraying himself as New Zealand public enemy No 1.

“It was a wrong decision. Cooper is an infant in international rugby while McCaw has been around for eight years and is quite easily the best in his position in the world. The New Zealand rugby captain is more important to the 4 million citizens of that country than even their own prime minister; Cooper has no such status or anything even remotely like it in Australia.

“Cooper built up a lot of pressure on himself and clearly could not handle it in front of the hostile New Zealand crowds. Every time he made a mistake on the field during the tournament, the crowds cheered. They booed whenever he got the ball.”

Back to tonight’s game. Has Cheika taken these factors into account when picking Cooper? I doubt he has. Will the pressure be any less on Cooper? No, because New Zealand dominates the world in just one sport and the crowds there are unlikely to forget Cooper’s actions in the past.

Cooper was picked for the 2015 World Cup but played second fiddle to Bernard Foley. He only played against Uruguay, a minor team as far as world rugby is concerned.

He should have been eased into Australia’s side by playing in internationals against other countries. Once he was functioning well — and he does have a tendency to screw up badly at times — then he should have been picked to play against New Zealand, first in Australia where he has the home crowd’s support, and then in New Zealand.

Rugby coaches need to look beyond a player’s ability when picking them. Cheika appears to have erred on this selection.

Old is gold, but not when it involves rugby backs

It’s funny that none of the rugby scribes around wrote a single word about the selection of 34-year-old Matt Giteau, 32-year-old Adam Ashley-Cooper and 28-year-old Will Genia in the Australian side to face New Zealand in the first of the annual internationals.

In the normal course of things, one would assume that the coach of any team that has a chance of winning the World Cup would like to start aiming for that target right at the start of the four-year cycle. Australia made it to the last World Cup final and have won the Cup twice, so they are one of the nations that can reasonably entertain hopes of winning again.

But you can’t do that with a 38-year-old centre which is what Giteau will be in 2019 when the next rugby World Cup rolls around. And you wouldn’t want a 32-year-old scrum-half either. Neither would you want a 36-year-old winger for the 2019 team – and that is what Ashley-Cooper will be in four years’ time.

Is one to believe that Nick Phipps, who performed the job at the base of the scrum adequately in the last World Cup, was not good enough for the Australian coach Michael Cheika? Indeed, Phipps showed his prowess by coming on and playing on the right wing after Australia lost three backs, including Giteau, to injury and also scoring the lone try that the home team got as it suffered a big defeat against New Zealand.

Is one to also believe that among the five teams that do duty in the Super Rugby tournament there is not one individual who can fit in as a centre and that Cheika’s only option was to call in a 34-year-old with injury issues to face up to what is arguably the fittest and strongest rugby team in the world? Or that Australia does not have a single decent wing three-quarter in its five Super Rugby teams?

From the moment that Cheika announced these selections, it was obvious that he was more interested in pleasing his masters at the Australian Rugby Union than building a team for the next World Cup. New Zealand has held the Bledisloe Cup since 2003 when Reuben Thorne’s side won it back from Australia, and winning that trophy would have pleased the local big-wigs.

Of course, Cheika is not the only one who is looking to the past when trying to fill the ranks. His South African counterpart Allister Coetzee displayed similar thinking by playing Bryan Habana on the wing against Argentina on the same weekend. Habana is 33 and I am yet to see a 37-year-old winger play in a team in the World Cup. South Africa is also a team that would be in contention in any World Cup, having won the Cup twice, once admittedly under rather dubious circumstances. So why Habana? South Africa has one of the largest pools of players to pick from and someone like Courtnall Skosan would have benefitted from the exposure.

On the other hand, Steve Hansen, the coach of New Zealand, has brought in new players instead of depending on any old hands. He lost much more experience compared to the others because Richie McCaw, Dan Carter, Ma’a Nonu, Conrad Smith, and Keven Mealamu all ended their international careers after the last World Cup.

Hansen has retained two older players in Kieran Read and Jerome Kaino; the latter will be 37 when the next World Cup comes around but is one of the fittest and strongest players in world rugby and is unlikely to be a liability in the team. Remember, he is a forward and does not have to be a strong runner – even though he does a fair bit of scoring in internationals.

Lions’ coach was asleep during final loss to Hurricanes

A good rugby coach knows when to bring a player on for maximum effect. He also knows when a player is not performing to expectations and brings on a substitute.

Given this, Johan Ackermann, the coach of South Africa’s Lions super rugby team should wear a goodly portion of the blame for the team’s loss to the Wellington Hurricanes in the final of the 2016 super rugby tournament.

The Lions’ entire game is built around running the ball wide, with the fulcrum being fly-half Elton Jantjies. In dry conditions, with quick ball coming his way, Jantjies is a formidable player, as he showed in the semi-final against the Otago Highlanders.

But on the day of the final against the Hurricanes, it was cold, wet and windy. In addition, Jantjies had to contend with a bunch of Hurricanes players who were quick off the mark when defending, harassing their Lions counterparts no end.

Under these conditions, Jantjies played poorly. It was his delayed pass to centre Lionel Mapoe that led to the latter making a hurried low kick to try and clear the ball to safety, a kick that landed in the left hand of Hurricanes’ winger Cory Jane who grabbed it gratefully and sauntered over for the Hurricanes’ first try.

In the second half, trailing 3-13, and with 11 minutes to play, Jantjies was again at fault, almost ambling as he tried to touch down a ball that had been kicked into the try-in goal area by Hurricanes’ substitute hooker Ricky Riccitelli.

Jantjies’ opposite number, Beauden Barrett, was much quicker and was travelling at a speed of knots; he got his hands to the ball well before Jantjies, to give the Hurricanes their second try.

Apart from three penalties, two to the Hurricanes and one to the Lions, that was all the scoring on the day.

Jantjies kicked poorly as well, missing another penalty which was well within his range. On other occasions, the team made poor decisions, no doubt influenced by Jantjies’ poor form, that led to them taking penalty kicks and looking for ground advantage rather than trying to get the three points on offer. Given that their lineout functioned poorly on the day, these decisions did not do them much good.

One only has to go back to a tape of the semi-final win that the Lions registered over the Highlanders to see how dominant Jantjies can be when conditions suit him. But if a player cannot be at his best during a final, for whatever reason, then the coach needs to realise this and bring on a substitute.

So what was Ackermann doing? Or did he not trust Jaco van der Walt, the substitute fly-half? If van der Walt was incapable of taking on the role of substitute fly-half, why was he on the bench? If he was not deemed suitable, why did Ackermann not bring him on as full-back and switch Andries Coetzee to fly-half?

When Plan A is not working in any game, a coach should push the team to try Plan B. Ackermann failed miserably — but nobody seemed to notice his failure to react.

It’s not surprising, given the quality of reportage these days.

Personal opinions from a denizen of a land down under.