All Blacks win because they have developed a winning culture

For the last 16 years, New Zealand has been winning the annual Bledisloe Cup rugby union competition against Australia, with 2002 being the last time they lost. It is a symbol of rugby supremacy, and for the two countries involved the next best after the World Cup itself.

Over the last few years, every time the games approach, the Australian media hype up the chances of their national team and for the uninitiated, it would appear to be some kind of equal contest. But in the end, New Zealand always runs away with the trophy, though some games can indeed be close.

Last year, for example, New Zealand came to Sydney for the first game as usual. By half-time, despite predictions of a close game being in the offing, New Zealand was ahead 40-6. The game ended in a 54-34 win to the All Blacks.
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Dawson was too fragile for what she tried to do

THERE is an unspoken convention among most people that one does not speak ill of the dead; in the Sinhalese language, there is even a separate word to describe this.

Not that one needs to remind people of this; most people tend to be politically correct when a man or woman dies and refrain from speaking the truth. Even when Richard Milhous Nixon died, most people refrained from describing him as a crook – even though that was the mildest term one could use to characterise a thug like him.

A week or so ago, Charlotte Dawson, a TV personality, was found dead in her flat in Sydney. Dawson, who was approaching 50, made a name for herself by trying to take on social media trolls and outing them. She was prone to fits of depression and ended up in hospital for her troubles.
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How the AFL shields law-breakers

IN AUSTRALIA, as in many other countries, the use of recreational drugs is illegal. Yet the Australia Football League, the body that administers Australian rules football nationally, knows and hides the names of several players who have been known to indulge in the usage of drugs.

The AFL’s drugs policy is a curious beast. It will only name players when they have been caught thrice. The league tests players both in and out of season and any infractions are noted.

In 2012, there were 26 positive tests. Had any of these players been operating under the code of the World Anti Doping Agency and tested positive on match day, that would have meant a ban of two years.
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Saudis, booze and the Manama causeway

MANY years ago, in order to curry favour with its citizens, the Saudi Arabian government funded the building of a causeway between the kingdom and Bahrain. While many reasons were advanced to explain this generosity, the truth was known to all in the region: it was a means whereby the liquor-starved Saudis could slip across to get pissed.

Which means that these days, there will be plenty of parched throats in Saudi Arabia; it is doubtful whether any Saudis would want to risk getting caught up in the political events in Bahrain just for the sake of a drink.

Both Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are members of the Arab Gulf Co-operation Council – they hate it when the place is rightly called the Persian Gulf, with Iran being public enemy number 1 – and citizens of all six countries belonging to the council can travel freely to each others’ countries. For the Saudis it is a short drive to enjoy the taste of a cool beer – and Lord knows, in the searing heat of the Gulf region, nothing is more welcome.

Alcohol is banned in Saudi Arabia though one can find a bar in the house of every Saudi of any standing. These supplies are said to be imported in as furniture – many a royal has been summoned to the airport with the reverential advice, “Sir your furniture is leaking.” Saudi Arabia is the home of Islam, with the religion’s two holy cities, Mecca and Medina, within its borders, but the ban on booze has nothing to do with Islam although the religion does advise against the use of alcohol.

In 1953, a member of the royal family, Prince Mishari, in a drunken fit, shot and killed the British consul to the country. At that time, the British envoy to any part of the Middle East was only slightly lower in status than the Almighty so this act could not be taken lightly. King Ibn Saud offered the prince’s head as compensation and paid the required blood money to the envoy’s widow. But that was the end of booze sales in the kingdom; from that point onwards, ships were launched with a bottle of water, not champagne.

As per the law, any person caught with liquor or having consumed liquor will be either jailed or deported. A person who enjoys a drink now and then thus has to make the most of trips outside the country; a friend of mine consumed three bottles of Absolut vodka during a trip to Dubai to cover a golf tournament. He never went to the tournament, but wrote his reports after watching it on TV in an alcoholic haze. When I inquired why he was spending most of his time blotto, he replied that once he went back, it would mean another nine months of forced non-consumption until he took his annual holiday in Bombay.

In Bahrain, on the other hand, one can buy liquor in the bigger supermarkets. There are plenty of hotels built close to the causeway and it is very convenient for the Saudis and other visitors who arrive with the express purpose of getting tanked.

Thus, the Saudis will be watching the situation in Bahrain with the greatest interest. Not because they fear that the riots may spread to their own country, but more because they fear that they may not be able to quench their thirst at short notice if the little island falls under the control of radical elements.