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.''