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A match to make you feel good about sport

Welcome distraction ... the Super Rugby final was more than a match for the Olympic action in London.

Welcome distraction ... the Super Rugby final was more than a match for the Olympic action in London. Photo: Getty Images

FOR the sake of one's sanity, the Super Rugby final could not have been better timed.

You can only be baffled by the Olympic Games for so long, before screaming, ''Enough is enough!'' There are only so many times you can endure badminton slackers attempting to outdo each other by how well they can serve their shuttlecock straight into the net.

Enough sleep has been lost trying to fathom how that Club Med of a silly pastime - beach volleyball - actually made the cut. As for the stream-of-consciousness equestrian commentary by Lucinda Jane Prior-Palmer nee Green, well, it just puts you one step closer to the men in white jackets arriving and a sudden visit to the funny farm.

You turn to rugby for some relief. And what do you get? You attempt to find out what exactly is going on in that other lunatic asylum otherwise known as Waratahland, and you soon ask yourself if you've instead accidentally walked on to the set where they're filming a Monty Python skit. You know the one.

''Is this the right room for an argument?''

''I've told you once.''

''No you haven't.''

''Yes I have.''

''No you didn't.''

''Yes I did.''

On and on.

You switch channels, and at last there's something to watch that provides some faith in the real world. The Chiefs and Sharks are at each other, and everyone has got their perspectives in the right order. They are fighting for a noble cause, the trophy really sparkles, there are no short cuts, they are endlessly fearless, and their expressions shows this really means something. And with it comes rousing, encouraging moments.

First up, you have to admire the victors. A bunch of scrubbers came good, primarily through smart coaching, excellent selection and intense pride in their product. Hint, hint, Waratahs. The Chiefs' elevation from 10th spot last season to first-time Super Rugby victors on Saturday night is such an admirable feat.

Adding to the occasion was that those who came second weren't sobbing about how they had let their family down. They were instead having enough problems just keeping their eyes open, after two weeks overcoming the most excruciating of jet lag traumas, resulting from endless trips travelling to and from Australia, South Africa and New Zealand as they advanced through the finals until qualifying for the Super Rugby big night. The Sharks' effort to hang in for so long was as impressive as what the Chiefs had achieved in bringing delight to their region.

With it came a touch of tradition and history, with the famous Mooloo bells, which has been at the core of Waikato rugby for so long, ringing around the ground. Sadly, the only familiar sound missing was that of ''Possum'' and his trusty chainsaw, which for decades at the Chiefs headquarters went into grinding, screeching action any time the opposition kicked for goal or when the home team had scored a try.

Also, this triumph will enliven a city that has suffered unnecessary barbs over the years. Hamiltonians haven't yet got over former Wallabies fullback Chris Latham's complaint that their town was boring. It's not. They do have traffic lights which flash. And anyone - like me - who has been to Bloemfontein would argue otherwise. As one Irish rugby writer once summarised Bloem: ''The highlight of my trip was seeing a local reverse-park his car.''

All up, this final made you feel good about rugby again. But then reality hit once again. Some oaf reminds you the Waratahs, who are at the beck and call of a mysterious rugby subcommittee, might name their new coach this week. And with that comes hurtling back all the horrid memories of the endlessly embarrassing Moore Park blunders of the past six months. You can only shake your head, and say over and over again: ''Someone, anyone, give me strength.''

Rugby Internationals 2014

Round 1
Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 18 vs TGA 18 Report Stats
FJI 25 vs ITA 14 Report Stats
NZL 20 vs ENG 15 Report Stats
AUS 50 vs FRA 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 47 vs WXV 13 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 29 Report Stats
USA 6 vs SCO 24 Report Stats
CAN 25 vs JPN 34 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sat, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 15 vs ITA Report Stats
FJI 45 vs TGA 17 Report Stats
NZL 28 vs ENG 27 Report Stats
AUS 6 vs FRA Report Stats
Sun, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 38 vs WAL 16 Report Stats
CAN 17 vs SCO 19 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 23 Report Stats
USA 29 vs JPN 37 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
ARG 19 vs SCO 21 Report Stats
FJI 13 vs SAM 18 Report Stats
JPN 26 vs ITA 23 Report Stats
AUS 39 vs FRA 13 Stats
NZL 36 vs ENG 13 Report Stats
Sun, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 31 vs WAL 30 Report Stats
USA 38 vs CAN 35 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 55 vs SCO 6 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Sun, 02 NovTimes shown AEDT
BAR vs AUS 01:30Twic
USA vs NZL 07:00Soldier Field
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Sun, 09 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA vs SAM 01:00Stadio Del Duca
ENG vs NZL 01:30Twic
WAL vs AUS 01:30MilS
FRA vs FJI 03:45Stade Velodrome
IRE vs RSA 04:30Lansdowne Road
SCO vs ARG 04:30Murrayfield Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Sun, 16 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA vs ARG 01:00Stadio Comunale Luigi Ferraris
ENG vs RSA 01:30Twic
WAL vs FJI 01:30MilS
SCO vs NZL 04:30Murrayfield Stadium
FRA vs AUS 07:00StdF
Mon, 17 NovTimes shown AEDT
IRE vs GEO 01:30Lansdowne Road
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Sun, 23 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA vs RSA 01:00Stadio Plebiscito
SCO vs TGA 01:30Rugby Park
IRE vs AUS 03:30Lansdowne Road
WAL vs NZL 04:30MilS
ENG vs SAM 06:00Twic
FRA vs ARG 07:00StdF
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Sun, 30 NovTimes shown AEDT
ENG vs AUS 01:30Twic
WAL vs RSA 01:30MilS
View All Fixtures
 
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