Back the boys: Michael Cheika and his Waratahs take on the Crusaders in the Super Rugby final on Saturday night. Photo: Getty Images
You’re a Sydney-based rugby supporter, you say?
No, you’re bleeding well not. Not unless you make the effort and turn up on Saturday night at the Olympic Stadium to support the Waratahs in their Super Rugby final against the Crusaders.
All Blacks captain and Crusaders flanker Richie McCaw – the subject of the famous T-shirt, “I’m not an alcoholic, I only drink when Richie McCaw is offside” – said by leaving the SFS to play at Homebush, the Waratahs will no longer be having a home game. It is up to us to show him what a Tah-gic home crowd looks like. Let’s make the effort. Let’s fill it. Let’s have the Waratahs run out to a roaring crowd like they did last Saturday night at the SFS, only DOUBLE the size!
Offside with the fans: Richie McCaw. Photo: AFP
And Richie? Get back onside, you mongrel!
Pass the port.
Illustration: John Shakespeare
You will likely have seen the photo of Todd Carney with his arms wrapped around Schapelle Corby in a Bali bar that emerged on social media this week. On twitter, TFF lightly asked what the best caption for the photo should be. The winner was @Magnumcumlouder with, “I think I weed myself!!” Another of the Twitterati, @AldoSustar, meantime, also wondered out loud: “Hey Pete isn't she in violation of her probation standing next to 85kgs of dope?”
Yes, I know you tuned out of the Commonwealth Games, you ingrate, but you don’t know what you have been missing! For, ummm, I had also been struggling to get into it until a friend gave me an update on how the “Friendly” part of the “Friendly Games” is faring.
Tour de force: Vincenzo Nibali. Photo: AFP
So far, there’s been a train riot involving 30 people at Glasgow Central; Usain Bolt has crapped on his hosts by saying the whole thing is “a little bit shit”; an Australian weightlifter has spent the night in jail for headbutting a Welsh bloke in a dispute over a young woman; an Australian boxer’s brother was fined for hurling bottles into the ring after the decision went against his kin; our head track coach has been publicly brawling with our best athlete and has been sent home for his trouble; and our most accomplished former athlete Steve Hooker has quit Channel 10 in a huff after his wife was banned for doping.
All up, it is a very good thing these were not billed as the Un-Friendly Games!
IN A DIFFERENT LEAGUE
Continuing his program to drag rugby league kicking, and screaming if necessary, into the 21st century, NRL chief executive Dave Smith announced plans to definitively move against the atrocities that have plagued the game since its inception – expelling the players concerned and penalising their clubs by as much as $1 million a pop.
“We’ve seen a number of incidents over a long period of time and there’s a line being drawn here that says we’re not going to accept that going forward,” he told the Tele. “Enough is enough in making sure our players understand that.”
To me, it makes a lot of sense, giving players and clubs alike the financial incentive they have long lacked to pull their heads, and worse, in.
Long-time sports journo Richard Sleeman, however, does not agree. His take, in an email to me this week: “Don’t you just love it? Teach the often poorly educated to ruthlessly maim, overpower, belittle and bully others into submission all week, laud the most brutal as heroes in the media and drop those who aren't so good at it to the reserves bench. Then expect them to sip tea, pinky finger elevated at just the right genteel angle, with the rest of us when the game's over, while discussing the nuances of whether Othello really did love not wisely but too well. Honestly, whose stupid plan is that? You can't teach an animal to kill, reward it when it does, then expect it to roll over for a belly rub when challenged by a stranger at the front gate. Or at the toilet door at Northies. I haven't stopped laughing at that one all week ...”
We’ll see, Richard. And for the record, remember what that famous five-eighth Iago, told Othello: “How poor are they that have not patience! What wound did ever heal but by degrees?”
Kick Too Farr-Jones, a Newington old boy and now the chairman of NSW Rugby, was among the first to react to the news that the Scots first XV had beaten his old school by the staggering score of 101-0.
“My major concern is safety,” he told Fairfax Media. “If there are significant weight and strength differences [between teams] then there are safety issues and we have to be careful of that.”
One solution, he said, would be to limit the number of scholarship players to just 20 per cent. Another to dismantle the whole GPS competition.
The comments immediately drew fire, with a Facebook posting by one Kieran Healy, who played prop in the last Sydney Grammar team to play first grade GPS four years ago – before, like Sydney High eight years ago, they pulled out – noting, “We lost heaps of GPS firsts games by over 100, where was Nick Farr-Jones then?”
Nick’s answer is that he was not chairman of NSW Rugby then and that the issue with Sydney Grammar and Sydney High was less the fact that other schools were on scholarships than that their schools were pursuing a more academic path, and had a far more wonderfully multicultural make-up than years past, with many students not necessarily disposed to pursuing rugby.
Another Newington old boy, Phil Kearns, also weighed in, amid assertions the Scots team had as many as 14 of its players on scholarships – despite the principal of Scots, who I know to be a good man, robustly denying this, saying the results were merely the pursuit of excellence.
“They must have some very good coaching,” Kearns said, laughing. “Every school accuses other schools of doing the same thing. Shore say they don’t have any players on scholarships. I’m not sure I believe that. And I’m sure Scots are doing it.”
I am with Kick Too Farr-Jones and Kearns. When one team beats another by that amount in serious football, it bespeaks a physical mismatch not consistent with safety. And it is terrible for the game. I know nothing of Scots' scholarship program, but am told that Kearns is also correct that it is rife throughout many of the richer schools.
The solution? A return to basics. Schoolboy sport must remain just that. Rugby at professional level has become a very serious affair. It is a mistake for that spirit to take over the game for the younguns, where the prime value must remain the inclusivity of giving everyone a game, rather than the exclusivity of pouring your principal and principal resources to the elite alone.
WHAT THEY SAID
Adam Ashley-Cooper on the Super Rugby final on Saturday night against the Crusaders: “Pressure? Pressure is for tyres.” Not as good as fighter pilot Keith Miller’s line that “Pressure is a Messerschmitt up yer arse,” but still not bad for a back.
Michael Cheika on the fact the Waratahs have not beaten the Crusaders in the last 10 years: “It was never my forte at school, history. Maybe the Ancient Greeks or something like that. No, I don’t think so. Really what’s the relevance?”
Usain Bolt reportedly – he denies it, but I bet he said it, albeit not in a formal interview situation – on what he thinks about the Commonwealth Games: “A bit shit ...”
A journalist to Bolt at a press conference: “In the past, the Israel and Palestine territories have tried to join the Commonwealth. You’re a man of the world. What is your view?” Bolt’s view was to put his head in his hands and roll his eyes.
Jesinta Campbell on "Buddy" being booed in Melbourne when the Swannies played Hawthorn: “He says that it doesn’t get to him ... But as his partner, I do see that he’s affected by it. He’s a human at the end of the day.” Exactly! All you bastards booing Buddy get back in your box!
English cricket captain Alastair Cook before the third Test against India: “Every guy who has spoken to me has given me their support, unless they’re lying to my face.” Alastair? My guess is they’re lying to your face.
John Landy on the race of the century, when he was pipped at the post by Roger Bannister, 60 years ago this week: “The race really was a promoter's dream. The four-minute mile was something that even people who weren’t interested in athletics could understand and this fascination had built up.”
The deposed manager of Buddy Franklin, Liam Pickering, on claims by Max Markson that Buddy’s commercial potential had not been realised under Pickering: “He’s got no idea. He’s not a good agent. He’s not even an agent ... Sydney is rife with blokes like Max Markson ... They promise you the world and deliver an atlas.”
Perth’s Daniel Ricciardo after recording his second win of the season, this one at the Hungarian Grand Prix: “I am definitely going to celebrate tonight, party for a few days and enjoy a few days off.” Is he the coming bloke? Rev heads, please report in with some informed opinion – I’ll start with you Will Hagon – which I can’t even fake.
Twenty-year-old Sydneysider Jake Stein on his double false start in the opening event of the decathlon, the 100 metres, which saw him get no points: “It’s schoolboy errors really ... For a couple of seconds I was like, ‘Do I really want to be here?’ And then my mind changed pretty quickly ... Decathlon is 10 events, not nine, not one. I have got eight events now after the long jump and I’m looking forward to those. I’ve got a few throws to show them how Australians compete.” He will go far.
New Zealand television anchor Eric Young on Twitter, with an image of the graphic to prove it: “You know what gets me? On the Glasgow Games website, the graphic representing New Zealand AND Australia is the SAME FLAG.” Madness. At least the Kiwis are shortly to hold a referendum on whether or not to have a flag of their own, unburdened by the Union Jack.
Russia should forfeit the right to stage the 2018 World Cup following the destruction of the Malaysia Airlines jet in Ukraine, says Britain’s deputy prime minister Nick Clegg: “[Putin] can’t ... destabilise a neighbouring country, protect these armed separatists in the east of Ukraine and still have the privilege and honour of receiving all the accolades in 2018 for being the host nation of the World Cup. You can't have this – the beautiful game marred by the ugly aggression of Russia on the Russian-Ukrainian border.”
TEAM OF THE WEEK
Waratahs. Play the Crusaders on Saturday night in the Super Rugby final at the Olympic Stadium. Stop being a WUSS and turn up. You know you want to. And bring your hubby and kids with you.
Commonwealth Games. Hey, at least some of the low-profile sports like squash, netball, lawn bowls and badminton are getting some prime-time love.
Swans. Just played in front of their record “away” crowd – 72,760 at the MCG. Biggest ever away crowd for a non-Victorian side.
Daniel Geale. A courageous performance by our bloke, but still bowed out in straight sets against Gennady Golovkin in the World Champeen Middleweight Championship at Madison Square Garden.
Vincenzo Nibali. Italian, known as the "Shark of the Strait", won the Tour de France.
St Pats Rugby, Strathfield. Are starting a program to get all of their past rugby players down to the college for the last home game every year, which is on Saturday against St Augustine’s.
St Pius X first XI soccer team. Won the High Energy Cup for Schools then won the Combined Independent Schools Cup.
LBW Trust. Is holding its ninth annual golf day at the Elanora Country Club on Friday, September 12. They have provided tertiary education to more than 800 highly underprivileged students in seven countries. See lbwtrust.com.au
NSW Country Rugby under 17s. Beat their Sydney counterparts 40-7 last weekend in Tamworth and had 14 players selected in the NSW under 17s team.
The “Drop Bears”. Australia’s Quidditch team won a silver medal at the Global Games in Vancouver last week. Maybe it should be introduced to the Commonwealth Games?
RIP Ian Bell. The giant of the Manly sports scene has passed away, aged 85. A colossus of the fairways at the Manly Golf Club in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, he was also a long-time member of the Manly Surf Club, played with Manly Rugby Union Club and was a great supporter of the Sea Eagles from their first moments in 1947. Vale, old sport.
RIP Glen "Teddy" Turner. The 51-year-old Environmental Officer, killed on Tuesday afternoon - allegedly by a land-owner in a dispute over illegal land-clearing - was a life member of his Tamworth touch footy team, “The Stalwarts”. They called him '"Teddy" in in honour of the enigmatic skills of "Lord Ted" Goodwin. The Herald sends its deepest condolences to his widow Alison, and two fine children Alexandra (10) and Jack (9). Well played, "Teddy."