Archive for the ‘Sport’ Category

Russia track and field banned from Olympics

June 18th, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Russia’s track and field team cannot compete at the Rio Olympics because the country has not given up its doping culture but exceptions will be considered for clean athletes, world athletics body IAAF says.

IAAF president Sebastian Coe said after a governing council meeting in Vienna on Friday “although good progress has been made, the IAAF Council was unanimous that RusAF had not met the reinstatement conditions”.

The council found “Russian athletes could not credibly return to international competition without undermining the confidence of their competitors and the public”, Coe added.

The IAAF had met to consider whether Russia had set up a functioning anti-doping structure in response to a report by world anti-doping agency WADA that detailed systematic cheating in Russian athletics.

“The deep-seated culture of tolerance or worse for doping that got RusAF suspended in the first place seems not to have changed materially,” said Rune Andersen, head of the IAAF’s Russia task force.

There were still no strong anti-doping infrastructure in Russia and doping tests were still being hampered, Anderson added.

This is a good decision. All countries probably have some athletes who have cheated with drugs. But in Russia the cheating is state sponsored and sanctioned. Unless Russia remains suspended, there is no incentive for them to genuinely clean up – and other countries would seek to emulate them.

Now the IAAF is acting with some integrity, the question is whether other bodies will do similar.

RIP The Greatest

June 5th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

RIP Muhammad Ali. He was and is The Greatest. The only other boxed who I think came close in terms of dominance was Mike Tyson at his peak.

Female rugby players up 30%

April 6th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

For 6-year-old Maddy Hales bringing down opposition players on the rugby pitch is simple.

“You have to take out their legs and use your shoulders to tackle.”

Yep.

The rugby mad Maddy, even though still too young for tackle rugby, loves that part of the the game so much she practices her tackling at home

Along with big sister Briar, 8, the pair are two of 19,792 female players around the country to step onto the rugby pitch last year.

That number increased by thirty per cent between 2012 and 2015, making women’s rugby the highest area of player growth in the sport.

Great to see.

Dean Hales coaches his daughters’ teams at the Clive Rugby Club in Hawke’s Bay.

He was initially surprised when Briar came home from school as a five-year-old asking to play rugby.

But he said the sport was good for girls, who trained hard and listened well.

This year was the second season for Maddy, who said scoring tries was her favourite part of the game.

There’s something magical about a try. I love seeing a cricket ball go over the boundary and a football go into the net but nothing quite beats the thrill of seeing a rugby player cross the try line and touch down.

Gender pay gap in sports

April 4th, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Washington Post reports:

Five key members of the U.S. women’s soccer team have filed a federal complaint against the U.S. Soccer Federation to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging wage discrimination. In the complaint, the players cite USSF figures from last year showing that they were paid nearly four times less than men’s players despite generating much more revenue.

My first reaction to this story was that there is no issue if a national team of one gender is paid less than a national team of the other gender.

I imagine NZ has a men’s netball team. No one would expect that team to be paid as much as the Silver Ferns. Likewise I doubt anyone expects the Black Ferns to be paid as much as the All Blacks.

The team that attracts the most spectators and viewers is the one you expect to get paid more.

However in this case, the female soccer players have a pretty good case:

The pay disparities exist even though the U.S. women have been successful not only on the field, but also at the ticket booth and in terms of television ratings. The team’s 5-2 win over Japan in last year’s World Cup final was the second-most-watched soccer match in U.S. television history, with 25.4 million viewers. That’s also the largest television audience for a game involving a U.S. national team; the biggest audience for a U.S. men’s game was 18.2 million for a USA-Portugal World Cup match in 2014.

The women’s team also has pulled in comparable revenue to the men’s team.

Their revenue is $50 million compared to $60 million, yet they get paid around 20% of the men. I think they have a very good case.

A daft idea

March 29th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Louisa Wall writes:

Last week in New York at the 60th Commission on the Status of Women I attended a session titled “Advancing Gender Equality through Sports: 2030 Agenda – the contribution of sport to achieve gender equality and end violence against women and girls”, organised by Mission of Brazil, United Nations Women, and the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

One idea proposed was for all international sporting organisations – and therefore national sporting organisations – to have 50 per cent of women on their boards to qualify for their sport to be at the Olympics. 

What a daft idea.

Some sports are male dominated and some are female dominated. So rugby union would not be eligible to be an Olympic sport unless half the board were women.

Does this apply in reverse? Netball is a female dominated sport. Would netball be banned if half the board are not men?

Sevens to stay in Wellington

March 28th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Sevens rugby is to stay in Wellington, with the capital the only city serious about hosting the colourful sporting spectacular.

Wellington has won the event at a cut cost against scant opposition, sources say.

No contracts have been signed but, following detailed board room discussion, New Zealand Rugby (NZR) is expected to confirm on Thursday the event will remain in the capital for the next couple of years.

I’m glad. Now the challenge is to make it fun again.

A combination of factors, including waning interest and a crackdown on intoxication which led to breath-testing complaints, has turned punters off the event in recent times.

New Zealand Rugby Players’ Association chief executive Rob Nichol is confident the event can be a success.

“We all know for various reasons and pressures there’s been a move towards a more responsible pitch of the tournament where there is the opportunity to go and have your party, but there has to be certain levels of responsibility met,” Nichol said.

Breath testing people at a sports game is just nuts,and if they keep that up, it will die.

Sharapova’s unlikely story

March 9th, 2016 at 2:23 pm by David Farrar

Scotty Stevenson writes at NZ Herald:

Tennis Uber Star Maria Sharapova walked fashionably late into an LA hotel today and announced to the world that she had failed a drugs test at the Australian Open.

She said she took responsibility for that, and then proceeded to run away as fast as she could from her mea culpa.

Sharapova tested positive for meldonium, a Latvian pharmaceutical used to treat angina and myocardial ischemia, a condition which leads to a lack of blood flow to the heart and a reduction in oxygen to the body. The drug is widely available throughout Russia but is not available in the United States where Sharapova is based. When combined with other compounds it is claimed meldonium can aid exercise capacity.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) banned the substance in December 2015 saying they had evidence that athletes were using the drug with the intention of enhancing performance.

Sharapova claimed today she had been using Meldonium, also known as Mildronate, since 2006 to combat a magnesium deficiency and an irregular EKG. She says it was first prescribed by her family doctor. It is not known whether Sharapova suffered from angina or from Myocardial Ischemia.

Very suspicious. She lives in the US, but gets this one drug from her family doctor in Russia.

“I received an email on 22 December from Wada about the changes happening to the banned list and you can see prohibited items, and I didn’t click on that link.”

“I didn’t click on that link.” Why not? Surely a professional athlete whose very livelihood depends upon knowing what substances and supplements can and cannot be taken would click on a link that provides that very information.

Almost certainly.

She also says she took it to combat diabetes as her family has a history of it.  Yes she really looks like diabetes is a real concern for her.

Chris Bishop on Martin Crowe

March 8th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Like many people of my generation, Martin Crowe was the best NZ batsman I could recall.  I was away tramping when he died, and wanted to say a few words, but cricket fan Chis Bishop has made a great post which I’ll just copy:

Martin Crowe was my childhood hero. Almost every boy growing up in NZ has one; Martin Crowe was mine. I missed seeing Crowe in his mid-1980s pomp – I was just two when he tore Australia apart at the Gabba in 1985 after Hadlee had taken 9/52 – and so my earliest memories of him are in the 1990s.

Like many Kiwis the 1992 World Cup is indelibly burned into my mind. I watched every ball of the first match against Australia. England had spanked us 3-0 going into the tournament. Hopes were not high for a New Zealand victory. But on that sunny, heady, day at Eden Park Crowe and his band of trundlers and journeymen played like world-beaters. I watched every ball of Crowe’s 100 not out. He drove McDermott down the ground straight, he pulled Tom Moody to the (very short) boundary behind square-leg, and did it again, and again. In the final over, he back-cut Steve Waugh behind square to get his century, and the crowd invaded the field. He had lit up the World Cup; inspired a team; and made a nation believe. Three hours later Larsen and Latham (!) had strangled Australia’s batsmen on the slow, low pitch, Harris ran out Boon with a 30 m side on throw from deep-wicket, and we had won. I wrote about it in my standard two class notebook, and I kept it for years and years.

After that game the nation went nuts. I can still picture where I was for every game. Our cousins in Upper Hutt for a summer Barbie when we beat England. At home, watching Greatbatch deposit Brian McMillan onto the roof of the biggest stand at Eden Park, chasing down South Africa’s 192 in 25 overs. At another set of cousins’, watching with disbelief as Greatbatch charged Malcolm Marshall and Curtly Ambrose (!) and hit them for six over deep extra cover. Dipak opening the bowling against Pakistan. Through it all Crowe was the master – almost impossible to get out when batting, directing things in the field, chivvying his young and enthusiastic team, daring to dream that New Zealand could do the almost unthinkable.

I used to keep a scrapbook of cricket news clippings. I would carefully cut out articles of interest from the Dominion and the Evening Post (separate papers in those days) and paste them into a big scrapbook. I can still picture the large article published the day after Crowe and Jones’ epic partnership in 1991 at the Basin Reserve. There’s a photo of Crowe and Jones with their wives, glasses of champagne in their hands, tired but happy looks on their faces. The scorecard for the test. The list of records broken by their massive partnership. For years and years in my backyard cricket games I would replicate Crowe’s innings – the cautious start, the resolute desire to Just. Not. Get. Out, then the slow build through the 100s as the bowlers got tired and the partnership grew and grew, then the freedom that came in the 200s, sixes off de Silva, breaking Turner’s 259 record, and then getting to 299. What to do? Obviously not the run past the keeper Crowe played. An off-drive? A clip off the legs? Push for one? I always scored 300. Crowe didn’t, and he later wrote about the anger, the agony, the pain. And the redemption, of sorts, when McCullum did it on the same ground, years later.

So many memories.

In his autobiography Crowe talks about the mental demons that come with being a cricketer, a batsmen in particular. One mistake and you’re out. That’s it. Sometimes when you don’t even make a mistake, you get dismissed. The ball that you just have to play outside off that takes the edge – out. The ball that cannons into the stumps when you’re backing up at the other end, with the bowler’s minute touch – out. The bouncer that so discombobulates you the ball ends up in short-leg’s hands off your bat – out. Cricket is a tough, tough game mentally, if not particularly physically. Crowe writes of the fear of failure; the fear of getting out, of missing your opportunity to score runs, to contribute. In schoolboy cricket you only get one chance to bat every Saturday. You don’t want to waste it. I used to try and channel Crowe when I batted – obviously the elegance and the strokemaking (at least an attempt) – but specifically his tricks for dealing with stress. Imagine your best ever innings and replicating that today. Remember how you felt when you were batting. Replicate that today. Get in the same zone. Remember the shots. Replicate. Watch the ball. Replicate. Score runs. Watch the ball. Score.

Later when I did a lot of debating, I used to try and channel Crowe again before giving a speech. Remember that speech you gave three years ago that won that debate? Replicate that. Remember how you felt then? Do it again. Remember the audience response? Do it again. Channel past greatness to inspire current greatness

Crowe was my first idol. The guy I wanted to bat like, to be like, to lead like.

Because I never said it when I got the chance – thanks Martin.

The Halberg winners

February 19th, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Halberg winners were:

  • Sportswoman – Lydia Ko
  • Sportsman – Kane Williamson
  • Disabled Sportsperson – Sophie Pascoe
  • Team – All Blacks
  • Coach – Steven Hansen
  • Emerging Talent – Eliza McCartney
  • Sporting Moment – Grant Elliott’s six on the 2nd to last ball to win
  • Supreme Award – All Blacks

All fairly uncontroversial choices.

You could argue Ko should have got the supreme award as she got No 1 in a sport that is globally competitive, rather than played by a smaller number of countries. But you can understand why the All Blacks got it as the first team to defend the Rugby World Cup successfully.

Dan Carter may be hard done by not to get Sportsman of the Year but he did get International Rugby Player of the Year.

Sure it was a “friend’s” bike

February 2nd, 2016 at 10:57 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Cycling was being forced to confront a new controversy on Sunday after the sport’s head confirmed the first top-level case of “technological fraud” with a hidden motor being found on a Belgian cyclist’s bike.

You have to admire the ingenuity of the cheats, if not their ethics.

Yet the 19-year-old Van den Driessche denied suggestions she had deliberately used a motorised bike in the women’s under-23 race and was in tears as she told Belgian TV channel Sporza: “The bike was not mine. I would never cheat.”

Not yours, but you rode it in a competition.

Van den Driessche said the bike looked identical to her own but belonged to her friend and that a team mechanic had given it her by mistake before the race.

Most cyclists know their bikes as well as themselves. What is the chance of a genuine mistake? Around the same as the chance that there just happened to be a bike around that was identical to her bike in looks, but had a secret motor inside.

Why would anyone but a professional cyclist have a secret motor in a bike?

“It wasn’t my bike, it was my friend’s and was identical to mine,” Van den Driessche told Belgian TV channel Sporza.

“This friend went around the course Saturday before dropping off the bike in the truck. A mechanic, thinking it was my bike, cleaned it and prepared it for my race.”

Can she name the friend? And again the only reasons you have a secret motor in a bike is to cheat. There is no real innocent reason for one.

 

Why the Sevens are dying

February 2nd, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Westpac Stadium’s boss is defending the enforcement of drinking rules at this year’s rugby sevens, after claims security was heavy-handed.

Some of a group attending yesterday’s first day were turned away at the gate by security staff, after they were breath-tested.

They’re breath-testing people coming into the stadium. And you wonder why no one wants to go. It used to be fun.

Stuff also reports:

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said the weekend’s event had been “excellent”, and she judged the increased family focus a success.

Organisers had tried to boost crowd numbers by moving the event to earlier in the year, offering cut-price tickets and incentives for families to bring children, she said.

Bringing kids?? It’s a two day event. I doubt many parents want to have tired and grumpy kids with them at the Sevens.

sevens

The Sevens is dying, and it is self-inflicted. What was a legendary Wellington event has been killed by the fun police.

Now giving away Sevens tickets

January 28th, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A Wellington bar is giving away tickets to this weekend’s Wellington Sevens, but only to people who buy a certain beer. 

Backbencher’s managing director Alistair Boyce said the bar was given 20 tickets by the Hospitality Association last Friday.

He wasn’t sure what to do with them, so decided to give them away to people who bought an Emerson’s beer. 

Not that long ago all 30,000 tickets or so sold out within three minutes. Today they can only fill quarter to a third of the stadium and are giving tickets away.

This is what happens when the powers that be decide that the event needs to be less fun and more family focused.

Should all athletics records be reset?

January 14th, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Guardian reports:

UK Athletics wants all world records to be reset due to the sport’s doping crisis and has announced it will seek to bring in a lifetime ban for any athlete guilty of a serious drugs violation.

The governing body for British athletics has published A Manifesto for Clean Athletics, which calls for hard-hitting measures to be brought in to clean up the sport. It comes after the doping scandal in which Russia has been banned from international athletics, with allegations that former officials from the sport’s world governing body the International Association of Athletics Federations also took money to cover up positive tests from Turkish and Moroccan athletes. Kenya, one of the most high-profile countries in distance running, is also at the centre of doping-related allegations.

Their recommendation is:

A call to the IAAF to investigate the implications of drawing a line under all pre-existing sport records – for example, by adjusting event rules – and commencing a new set of records based on performances in the new Clean Athletics era.

I doubt it would be agreed to, but I think it is a good idea.

Far too many of the world records of the last 30 years were done through doping.

Make them all historical records, but set up a new set of world records from say 2018 onwards, once the sport is truly clean.

Why are the Sevens dying?

December 24th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Wellington Sevens seem to be dying.

I recall the days when the tickets sold out in three minutes. The Internet would freeze as Wellingtonians tried to be one of the lucky ones to buy their tickets online. There would be dozens of people queued up outside Post Offices and the like, to buy tickets.

Now the stadium barely gets half full. Even with three months of selling tickets, and huge price drops, less people want to go.

The question is why?

One reader e-mails:

For me the 7s died the day they banned Borat.  It’s essentially been killed by the thought police, rules, regulations and a general ‘we know better’ attitude.  Not to mention the extortionate beer prices and disgusting overpriced food.  Why would anyone want to attend?

What do you think?

Hansen on hating losing

December 23rd, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Kids need to be taught the joy of winning and the pain of losing.

That’s the message from World Cup-winning coach Steve Hansen in a wide-ranging interview with the Herald.

The All Blacks coach believes coaching took a wrong turn when emphasis was changed from winning to participating.

Let alone when kids now don’t even get told the score!

He believes his hatred of losing is his greatest strength and greatest weakness as a coach, and as he has grown to accept losing as an inevitable byproduct of competitive sport, he has become better at his job.

“The fact I hate it so much, I’ve got to learn to control it. There’s no point having a hissy-fit just because you’ve lost, but it doesn’t mean you just accept it,” Hansen said.

“There are so many things you can learn when you lose if you’re open to it.

“At the same time you’ve got to have that huge love of winning that can motivate you to make sure you don’t lose too often but you can’t allow that to overshadow the process of how you win.

“That’s the most important thing in sport.”

Hansen believed that it was unnatural to minimise the importance of competition when coaching kids.

“Where we got it wrong a number of years ago was when we said winning was not important.

“You ask any kid from the age of 10. Whether it’s rugby or two kids playing marbles, they want to win, that’s a natural instinct,” Hansen said.

It’s very natural. You can teach to be a gracious winner and an accepting loser, but that’s different from teaching that winning isn’t important.

FIFA starts to redeem itself

December 22nd, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini were each banned for eight years by the FIFA ethics committee last night in a stunning removal of world soccer’s most powerful leaders.

FIFA President Blatter and his one-time protege Platini were kicked out of the sport for conflict of interest and disloyalty to FIFA in a $2 million payment deal that is also the subject of a criminal investigation in Switzerland.

Good. This starts to restore a modicum of faith in FIFA.

FIFA’s ethics judges decided that Blatter and Platini broke ethics rules on conflicts of interest, breach of loyalty and offering or receiving gifts.

Platini took $2 million of FIFA money in 2011 approved by Blatter as uncontracted salary for work as a presidential adviser from 1999-2002.

Another story gives the context:

A state of denial is a virulent affliction for football’s lake-dwellers – and Platini has a bad case of it. He cannot see how accepting $2 million from Blatter shortly before he (Platini) agreed not to challenge Blatter for the Fifa presidency might offend the sensibilities of those who think transparency and accountability are vital attributes of governing bodies.

if it looks like a bribe, sounds like a bribe and smells like a bribe, it probably is a bribe.

The suggestion it was for work done 10 years earlier is almost laughable. A few issues with that:

  • Who would wait ten years to be paid?
  • $500,000 a year for a part-time advisory role is ludicrous
  • There was no contract
  • The debt was never shown in the books
  • Any payment to an “insider” is a potential conflict of interest and should be approved independently and recorded

We all knew Blatter was corrupt, but sad that Platini has been found to also be corrupt. He was seen as one of the white knights, but it seems all their knights are just shades of grey,

McCullum scores 100 test sixes

December 14th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum rewrote record books yesterday when he smashed his 100th six in Test cricket, equalling Australia great Adam Gilchrist’s record for most number of sixes in the five-day format.

McCullum, who remained not out on 17 on Day 4 of the first Test against Sri Lanka in Dunedin, belted his second six of his innings to equal the world record. It took his total to 100, joining Gilchrist as the most prolific boundary busters in Test history.

McCullum is aged 34 and could well play for several more years.  He could well set a record that will last for a long time.

Cairns not guilty

December 1st, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Chris Cairns has been moved to tears, speaking of his relief at being found not guilty after an eight-week London trial over match-fixing allegations.

The former Black Caps cricket captain was cleared of a perjury charge, and both he and his co-accused, Andrew Fitch-Holland, were found not guilty of perverting the course of justice.

The jury at Southwark Crown Court took 10 hours and 17 minutes of deliberation to reach their verdicts on Monday morning (local time).

This means the jury were not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that he had lied in court about match fixing.

Modi immediately responded to Monday’s verdict.

“I am aware of the verdict at Southwark Crown Court. As you know, I am limited in what I can say as I am restricted by the injunction put in place following the 2012 libel trial,” he said.

 “I will consider how this affects my own civil claim against Mr Cairns in due course.”

Any civil claim would be on balance of probabilities.

Ultimately the evidence of Lou Vincent was found to be not trust worthy. The judge in his summing up basically said they can’t rely on what Vincent said.

I’m very pleased for Lance Cairns, one of my cricketing heroes, that he hasn’t seen his son found guilty.

Football corrupt, not just FIFA

November 29th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Transparency International have done a report on FIFA and national football associations. They find:

Between 2011 and 2014 FIFA distributed a minimum of US$2.05 million to each of its 209 member football associations (FAs). This included a one-off payment in 2014 of US$1.05 million following the success of the World Cup. During that same period FIFA also gave US$102 million to the six regional football Confederations. FIFA says the money is for football development. But other than a partial accounting on the FIFA web site, there is no clear way to track what the FAs did with all that money.

  • 81 per cent of FAs have no financial records publicly available
  • 21 per cent of FAs have no websites
  • 85 per cent of FAs publish no activity accounts of what they do

81% have no public accounts and 21% do not even have a website! Yet they get millions of dollars.

Only fourteen out of FIFA’s 209 football associations – Canada, Denmark, England, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Norway, Portugal, the Republic of Ireland and Sweden – publish the minimum amount of information necessary to let people know what they do, how they spend their money and what values they believe in.

Well done Football New Zealand.

42% of FIFA members publish no relevant information about their organisations.

They propose:

FIFA should mandate through a change in its statutes that all its members must make publicly available the following information as a pre-requisite for membership and financial assistance: audited financial accounts, an annual activities report, code of conduct/ethics3 and organisational statutes. This should supersede national legal requirements if they are less rigorous.

Seems a good idea to me. You want the money, you need to have some transparency.

20,000 female rugby players

November 24th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The NZ Herald reports:

• 150,727 players – small increase of 163 from 2014
• 80,978 Small Blacks (5-12 years) – increase of 549 (1 percent) compared to 2014
• 42,072 teenagers (13-20 years) – decrease of 242 (0.5 percent) compared to 2014
• 27,677 players aged 21 and over – decrease of 144 (0.5 percent) compared to 2014
• 19,792 female players – increase of 1967 (11 percent) compared to 2014
• 12,109 coaches – increase of 396 (3 percent) compared to 2014
• 1851 referees – decrease of 33 (2 percent) compared to 2014

Almost 20,000 female rugby players is cool – around one in seven players are female.

When I was a kid, 90% to 95% of rugby spectators were men. Now at big matches I reckon close to half the audience are women. Rugby has gone from just being a male sport.

Anyway those stats got me wondering what the gender breakdown is in other sports in NZ? How many netball players are men? How many cricket players are women?

Anyone got data on other sports?

McCaw retires

November 19th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Richie McCaw has today confirmed he is hanging up his boots and retiring from professional rugby.

The 34-year-old All Blacks captain and most capped All Black of all time has drawn the curtain on his stunning international career which started in Dublin 14 years ago, almost to the day, and ended in London last month when he hoisted the Webb Ellis Cup aloft for the second time.

Not just the most capped All Black of all time, but the most capped rugby player ever.

“I am heavily involved in the Christchurch Helicopters company, they are great people and I’m excited about the opportunities there. Aviation is something I’m passionate about, I’m going to carry on flying and work towards getting my commercial pilot licence.

Great to do what you love.

McCaw said he’d love to be involved in the game in the future. He never considered taking up a professional contract overseas after his international days were over.

Riche would be a great referee! 🙂

Some McCaw stats:

  • 131 victories for the All Blacks (32% of their total victories since 1903)
  • Won 131 out of 148 tests
  • Scored 27 tries
  • 10 Bledisloe Cups
  • Four tri-Nation titles
  • Three Rugby Championships
  • Two World Cups
  • Win 59 out of 61 tests in NZ
  • World Rugby Player of the Year three times

14 years of test rugby is an incredible effort, especially as a flanker.

Russia suspended from athletics 24-1

November 15th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

CNN reports:

The International Association of Athletics Federations voted Friday to provisionally suspend Russia as a member amid a doping scandal, the IAAF reported on its website.

The action will keep the All-Russia Athletic Federation, the nation’s leading athletic association, out of international competition for an indefinite period that may include the2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil.

“This has been a shameful wake-up call and we are clear that cheating at any level will not be tolerated,” IAAF President Sebastian Coe said.

“Today we have been dealing with the failure of ARAF and made the decision to provisionally suspend them, the toughest sanction we can apply at this time,” Coe said. “But we discussed and agreed that the whole system has failed the athletes, not just in Russia, but around the world.”

The 24-1 vote was taken by teleconference. Russia was not allowed to vote

This is the right call, as noting short of this will convince the Russian Government that it needs to take action over drug cheating, rather than cover it up and facilitate it.

Very sad for the clean Russian athletes. They need to hope that enough changes occur so that they can compete in the Rio Olympics.

A very well paid slave

November 15th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

USA Today reports:

Caddie Steve Williams said he had no idea using the word “slave” in his new autobiography to describe his relationship at times with Tiger Woods would trigger a storm of controversy that has spanned the globe.

After a New Zealand newspaper published an excerpt from his book, Out of the Rough, 10 days ago in which Williams said at times he felt he was treated “like I was his slave” while working for Woods, Williams has been heavily criticized.

It is estimated that Williams earned US$12 million while caddying for Williams. That’s not bad for having to pick his clubs up off the ground occasionally.

Will Russia be banned?

November 10th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

An international anti-doping commission recommended on Monday that Russia’s Athletics Federation be banned from the sport over widespread doping offences – a move that could see the powerhouse Russian team excluded from next year’s Rio Olympics.

The commission, set up by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), found a “deeply rooted culture of cheating” in Russian athletics. But it also identified what it called systemic failures in the global governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

The international police body Interpol said it would coordinate a global investigation into suspected corruption and doping in athletics.

The commission said in its report that the London 2012 Olympics had been “sabotaged” by the widespread inaction of international and national anti-doping authorities.

“For 2016 our recommendation is that the Russian Federation be suspended, in fact one of our hopes is that they will volunteer that, so that they can take the remedial work in time to make sure that Russian athletes can compete under a new framework if you like,” Dick Pound, president of WADA, told a news conference in Geneva.

Russia finished second behind the United States in the medal table at the 2012 Olympics, with 17 medals, eight of them gold, and has long been one of the chief players in track and field.

Russia really is regressing to the old Soviet Union, which of course was world leaders in doping.

Disagreeing with Roughan

November 10th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

John Roughan writes:

What a strange thing it was that Sonny Bill Williams did. All the previous strange things in his career have been blamed on his manager but there was nobody in Sonny Bill’s ear when he decided to give his Rugby World Cup winner’s medal away.

It was his own spontaneous gesture to a lad who had run out to the All Blacks during their victory lap and had been tackled by a Twickenham security guard. The kid was not hurt and probably not surprised to be tackled. Williams and Steve Hansen picked him up, put an arm around him and Williams steered him back to the fence where on a parting impulse he gave the kid his medal.

A trifle excessive, I thought. Also a bit demeaning for the prize the All Blacks had just won, and I wondered what his teammates thought. I also hoped the boy’s parents would realise it was a needless gesture, probably made in a moment of excitement when the man was not thinking clearly, and one he would later regret.

I hoped they would later offer it back, which indeed they did, Williams has said. But he told them, “Nah, better he has it than it hang on my wall”. Was he modestly depreciating his generosity or did he really not want this thing?

I think it was a spontaneous gesture with the best of motivations. It was a realisation that to a young fan, the medal would have perhaps a lifetime of impact, which was greater than having it was to Sonny Bill.

This doesn’t mean he doesn’t value it, but that what he values more is the actual achievement of helping win the Rugby World Cup, rather than the medal that goes with it. The memories, the photos, the actual event are what mean the most to the players. The medal is a tangible record of it, but is not the end in itself.

He is not alone among top sportsmen is having little interest in keeping memorabilia – but it is fairly unusual to give it away a moment after it has been draped around their neck. Insulting too. His teammates might never say whether they found it insulting but as a fan, I did.

It felt like a betrayal of our enthusiasm for their achievement and the exquisite agony of those early mornings on the couch.

I don’t know whether I’m more disappointed in Williams or the many who see it as an utterly admirable act of generosity.

I’m one of those. I think it was a reflection of the All Black culture we now have about being role medals, and inspiring young people. There should be no expectation ever that any sportsperson should do what SBW did, but when it happens as it did, let’s just celebrate it in an uncomplicated way, rather than psychoanalyse it.

Most human beings get pleasure from giving other people pleasure. It can be as simple as that.