New Zealand’s victory in the women’s World Cup rugby union competition on Sunday — held in their own country — should be welcomed if only because it signals a triumph for the way the game should be played: fast, running rugby, which showcases the players’ skills and is attractive to watch.
The Black Ferns, as the team is known, were up against England, a team of huge players, whose main skill harks back to the 1960s: rolling mauls and a slow grinding down of their opponents. It is the worst way to try and win.
Last Thursday [September 15] the issue of time-wasting in international rugby matches was highlighted after a referee changed a decision from a penalty to Australia to a scrum feed to New Zealand, in the last minute of the game.
The decision was taken because fly-half Bernard Foley was taking too long to kick the ball to touch. And following that, even today there are discussions taking place about the amount of time that is wasted during such matches.
French referee Mathieu Raynal made the right decision when he asked the All Blacks to feed a scrum after he had first awarded a penalty to Australia and then waited, seemingly forever, for the fly-half Bernard Foley to take the kick to touch.
There was little time left to play and after the scrum feed went the All Blacks way, they scored a try through Jordie Barrett to win the game 39-37.
Doubtless the Australians would have felt gutted, doubtless this kind of decision has been rarely, if ever, seen before, doubtless it decided the game the All Blacks way, when it looked very much like an Australian victory was the only outcome.
There’s a common element to much, if not most, of the news that flits across the TV screens: lies.
People attempt to add a touch of sophistry to lying, by trying to create classes of lies, but in the end it all adds up to the same thing: saying one thing when knowing that the opposite was correct.
One well-known example: the current president of the United States, Joe Biden, came to office promising a US$15 minimum wage for the country. He also promised to provide medical services for all and forgive at least a part of the billions in student debt.
When Australian scrum-half Nic White was walking off the field after the whistle blew for half-time in the third Bledisloe Cup game on 31 October, he was given a headset and microphone by Fox Sports and asked for his take on the game upto that point.
Australia had been outplayed by New Zealand in the first 40 minutes and were trailing 0-26, meaning that the horse had well and truly bolted and any chance of them making a fight of it had disappeared.
But White seemed to be in an alternate universe. “No disrespect, but they haven’t done a whole lot, it’s just been all our mistakes. We’re just gifting them points,” was what he had to offer.
The focal point of the third Bledisloe Cup game in Sydney on Saturday will be the Australian back-line where two rookies will be playing as fly-half and centre; that, incidentally, is the place on the field which many opposition players slip through when making a line-break.
Noah Lolesio and Irae Simone will be under a lot of scrutiny and it may well be the game that establishes them. Both have come in because of injuries to the regulars in these positions, James O’Connor and Matt Toomua respectively. It will be a literal baptism of fire.
For the second time in as many years, Australia will be going into a Bledisloe Cup game against New Zealand with more Pacific Islanders in its ranks than Anglo-Saxons.
After the first match in the Bledisloe Cup series ended in a 16-all draw, Australian sports writers were on a giddy high, predicting that the dominance of the All Blacks had more or less ended and the big boys had been caught with their pants down.
Well before this hype began, at the end of the game, there was a gesture by the Australian team which showed that its mental state was still very fragile. When the final whistle blew, the ball was still live, so the referee let play proceed.
A thrilling nine minutes ensued, with first Australia, and then New Zealand, threatening to score. Strangely, though, neither team thought of attempting a drop-goal to win the game. After one of the New Zealand forays, the Australians regained the ball and fly-half James O’Connor kicked it into touch, ending the game.
The ninth edition of Australia’s annual 20-over cricket tournament, the Big Bash League, ended on a rather downbeat note, with the final reduced to a 12-over-a-side affair, though the fact that it would rain on the day was known well in advance.
Despite that, the Sydney Sixers, a finalist and the eventual winner, did not want the game shifted to Melbourne due to the home ground advantage that it claimed it would have.
The other finalist, the Melbourne Stars, would not have minded moving the game so that the full 20 overs could be played, but moving it to the MCG, which was the alternative venue, would have afforded the Stars home-ground advantage. Shouldn’t professional teams be able to play at any venue and win? Continue reading “The BBL is going downhill slowly, but surely”