All equal?

November 3, 2019

The All Blacks played their best in the quarter finals.

England played best in the semis.

South Africa saved their best for the final and now hold the Rugby World Cup for the third time.

But, since the All Blacks beat the Sprinboks, England beat beat the All Blacks and the Sprinboks beat England, are we all equal at the top?


Not so much the loss

October 27, 2019

It wasn’t so much the loss, as the way the All Blacks lost that made last night’s Rugby World Cup semi-final such a disappointment.

Last week the team was on fire against Ireland, last night they looked like they’d lost their spark.

My heart has been backing Wales to win this evening but I’d rather face them than South Africa in the Plate match for third so might have to go with my head.

In other news North Otago won the Meads Cup, and this afternoon the Silver Ferns will be doing their best to beat the Diamonds in the deciding match for the Constellation Cup.


Gotta love the Irish

October 20, 2019


Sir Brian Lochore tribute and farewell service

August 9, 2019

Sir Brian Lochore was farewelled yesterday.

You can listen to and watch the service here (it begins at about 1:05)

The tribute below is from the All Blacks.

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Sir Brian Lochore 3.9.40 – 3.8.19

August 4, 2019

All Black, captain, selector, coach, farmer, community stalwart and good man, Sir Brian Lochore has died.

Lochore, All Black #637, represented New Zealand in the black jersey on 68 occasions, including 25 Tests. He was the All Blacks Captain in 1966 and went on to lead the team in 18 Tests.

In 1985-87 Lochore become the All Blacks coach, with his crowning achievement winning the 1987 inaugural Rugby World Cup.

He was made a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to sport and the community and also inducted to the International Rugby Hall of Fame in 1999. On Waitangi Day in 2007, he received the country’s highest honour, the Order of New Zealand.

New Zealand Rugby Chief Executive Steve Tew said Sir Brian passed away surrounded by family.

“It is with great sadness and grief that we announce that Sir Brian succumbed to his battle with cancer, earlier today. We have lost a genuine legend of our country, an unwavering figure on the field, and a highly respected figure off it. His family has lost a devoted husband, father and grandfather and for many of us, a great friend.

“It is not over-stating the facts to say that Sir Brian Lochore, was the saviour of New Zealand rugby on several occasions and many of us have lost a great mate. Our hearts go out to Pam and their children.”

All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: “It’s with great sadness that we have heard that one of New Zealand’s tallest kauri has fallen.

“Sir Brian Lochore is one of of the most respected men in New Zealand, not only in rugby but all facets of New Zealand life, as well as being hugely respected and held in high regard around the world. . . 

Lochore’s standing in the community, not only in rugby but also in farming, saw him involved in many committees while he also served a term as chairman of the national sports funding organisation, the Hillary Commission and his contribution to New Zealand across all fields was acknowledged in 1999 when he was knighted and he received the country’s highest honour, the Order of New Zealand in 2007. His contribution to New Zealand Rugby was acknowledged when he received the Steinlager Salver for distinguished service in 2003, an award repeated on the international stage when he received the International Rugby Board’s (World Rugby) Vernon Pugh Award for distinguished services in 2006.

He was also a trustee of the New Zealand Rural Games Trust which I chaired for a couple of years.

Working with him was a pleasure and a privilege.

His death leaves a big hole, not least among his family and friends to whom I offer sincere sympathy.


Who gets money from All Blacks’ tours?

October 4, 2018

All Blacks’ fans will be paying a high price for World Cup tickets.

Ticket prices for the All Blacks’ pool matches range between $536 for category A down to $134 for category D for the pool opener against South Africa, as well as the matches against Namibia and Italy. The contest against the repechage winner is slightly discounted at between $402 and $93.

Category A tickets comprise the bulk of the main stands running pitchside, while category D is essentially immediately behind the in-goal area.

The quarterfinals are priced the same as the All Blacks’ pool match against South Africa at between $536 and $134, while the semifinals will require you to fork out $938 for a category A tickets and the final $1340. . .

That final price tag is still less than we were quoted for tickets to the All Blacks vs Pumas in Argentina last year.

The first quote came back at several thousands dollars including accommodation in a five-star hotel.

We didn’t need five-star accommodation. The next price for a more modest hotel was still eye-watering.

I suggested another hotel where someone in our group already had a booking so we knew the price. When we subtracted the hotel from the quote that came back we would still have been paying around $1500 for a ticket to the game.

I gave up on trying to get tickets from New Zealand and asked an Argentinean friend to try for us.

She got us good seats for less than $300 – around five times less than the lowest price we were offered through All Black tours in New Zealand.

So who gets the difference between what the tickets cost and what fans are charged after costs and a reasonable profit are taken off?

 


Celebrating winners

October 3, 2018

My farmer spotted these signs in Sydney a couple of months ago:

They were part of a campaign to raise money to help drought-stricken farmers.

”Would we get that sort of support in cities here?” my farmer asked.

When relatively few people now come little closer to farms than a glance out a window as they drive down a main road, and the anti-farming lobby is so vocal the answer could well be no.

But this gives me hope:  the ODT opines that the All Blacks are not our only winners: 

. . . Rugby experts suggest New Zealand’s winning formula is not as dark an art as our black jerseys suggest. Instead, they say, it is a result of hard work and good management, of understanding what the fundamental parts of rugby are, and ensuring players from a very young age learn those basics. In other words, cleverness and hard work.

So can we not dominate a global industry with our cleverness and hard work the way we dominate rugby? Imagine the benefit to New Zealand, to our economy, to our employment rate, to our tax take. The answer of course is obvious: we do. In farming
.

I’m a fan of Fred Dagg and Wal Footrot but sad that those images are close to reality for too many people who don’t know farmers and understand farming.

Our farmers are the All Blacks of international agriculture. Our livestock herds roam farms of natural grass, grass fed by little more than rainwater and manure. The resulting products are the envy of the world, yet our farmers compete on price with factory farmers from other nations, despite receiving none of the tariffs and subsidies many of our competitors do.

Our world-renowned horticulture industry employs thousands, sending prime produce across the globe despite the genuine tyranny of distance implicit in an industry where fresh is considered best
.

I wonder if there is still a lingering snobbery about people who get their hands dirty that means at least some urban people don’t recognise the many skills food producers need and excel at?

The irony is when the All Blacks win their innovation, hard work and brilliance is celebrated. When our farmers win, day after day, year after year, it seems a growing portion of New Zealanders feel nothing but resentment that farming is not just swaying grass and wildflowers. Instead they see a dark industrial evil, polluting rivers, producing emissions and ruining landscapes. Clearly there is an image problem needing fixing.

Mistakes have been made in the past which will take time to repair; and some by accident or deliberately, are still not using best practice.

But those are the minority. Most farmers take their responsibility to look after their stock, their land, waterways and the wider environment, and to treat their staff well, seriously.

Of course, animal welfare, land-use and pollution are serious issues; that is not up for debate. But it is hard to imagine another economically equitable industry without its own unwanted by-products.

Farming requires the landscape to remain covered in photosynthesising plant life. It is spread around the country, ensuring the ongoing existence of hundreds of small communities. In New Zealand, farming is cleaner, kinder and more efficient than virtually anywhere else on earth. It provides healthy, active, well-paid outdoor employment for thousands of Kiwis, and pays for the employment of many thousands more in support roles, including this country’s world-leading agricultural-science industry.

Thankfully many New Zealanders do still value what farming offers New Zealand. They know we are, as a country, world champion farmers and we are immeasurably better off because of that. It is right and natural to celebrate the exploits of our rugby players as they continue to do us proud on the international stage. But let us not forget that it is not the only international stage we excel on. Our farmers are proof of that.

This is high praise.

It is heartening to know that the hard work of farmers, their staff and the many people who service and supply them is recognised and celebrated.

 

 


365 days of gratitude

June 23, 2018

An evening of rugby under cover at Forsyth Barr Stadium, catching up with friends, meeting some new people, having fun, a fast-paced exciting game, a win to the All Black and a safe trip home, for all of which I’m grateful.


Northcote election result

June 9, 2018

8:50 – A win for Dan Bidois, 13,82 votes ahead with 100% of the votes counted.

(And after a shakey start, All Blacks are ahead 25-11 in the test against France).

8:20 – 84.8% of votes counted, Dan Bidois is leading by 1,282.

8:10 – 75 % of votes counted, Dan Bidois ahead by 1,071.

8pm – Dan Bidois leads by 800 with 54.5% of votes counted.

7:20pm  National’s candidate Dan Bidois has a 790 vote lead over Labour’s candidate Shanan Halbert with 48.5% of votes counted.


Let’s not get ADS

October 23, 2017

Whatever you think of her politics, Prime Minister designate Jacinda Ardern is an intelligent and articulate woman who appears to genuinely want to make New Zealand a better place.

You might disagree with at least some of what she wants to do and how she wants to do it – and I do – but that is no excuse for abusing her personally and buying into ADS – Ardern Derangement Syndrome.

The left was badly afflicted by Key Derangement Syndrome. This was because they couldn’t understand John Key’s popularity and wouldn’t let the facts on what he and his government achieved get in the way of their antipathy.

It’s too late for the anonymous scribe who asked did Jacinda Ardern curse the All Blacks?

But anyone else tempted towards ADS, needs to take a deep breath, swallow their bile and engage their brains.

Personal abuse of politicians is the lazy refuge of those who have neither the wit nor words for substantive debate on actions and policies.

There is already so much scope for criticism of plans and policies, there is absolutely no need for critics to lower themselves by getting personal.


Sir Colin Meads’ funeral

August 28, 2017

Sir Colin Meads’ funeral is being live-streamed on the All Blacks’ Facebook page.


2 cups 1 gold 1 silver

August 27, 2017

What a wonderful weekend for New Zealand sportspeople.

The Black Ferns beat defending champions England to win their 5th World Cup.

Five tries in 30 minutes either side of half-time, including a hattrick to prop Toka Natua, proved the difference as the Kiwi women overcame a 12-point deficit and a yellow card to break English hearts for the fourth time in a Cup final. . . 

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The All Blacks kept hold of the Bledisloe Cup after trailing the Wallabies for most of the match.

A Bledisloe Cup contest fit to rank with all the great tussles between Australia and New Zealand was played out in Dunedin on Saturday before the All Blacks claimed a 35-29 Investec Rugby Championship win three minutes from time.

It was an effort that called on all the resources of the All Blacks who had to overcome a 0-17 deficit after only 14 minutes, and then come back as the lead changed hands throughout the second half before the Bledisloe Cup was locked away for another year. . . 

We were at the game.

My knowledge of rugby is such that I miss the commentary at live matches but the atmosphere at Forsyth Barr Stadium more than made up for that.

Lisa Carrington and Caitlin Ryan won good in the K2 500 m.

Kiwi paddler Lisa Carrington has started her medal haul at the canoe sprint world championships with a gold and a silver.

Carrington and Caitlin Ryan powered away to win gold in the women’s K2 500m final on Saturday night (NZ time) in the Czech Republic. . . 

Carrington also won silver in the women’s K1 500.

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We don’t sing as one

July 8, 2017

The Welsh have been singing at rugby games for generations.

Australians took to singing Waltzing Matilda  more recently.

Why don’t New Zealanders sing?

When we were in Argentina to watch the Pumas play their first home game in the Rugby Championship against the All blacks four years ago, the group practised singing before the game but once we got to the stadium any attempts to get a rousing song going petered out.

The Rugby Union has been using social media to get garner enthusiasm for Tutira Mai 

It means stand as one but it hasn’t got us singing as one.

It’s been shared and liked on Facebook by thousands of people but has failed to get traction at the tests.

Lions fans have been louder, and possibly more numerous than the locals.

Maybe many of the people who go to rugby matches aren’t the people on social media.

And playing Tutira Mai through the speakers isn’t enough to get the crowd singing. As we found in Argentina, that requires strong singers in the crowd.

I like the song, even though Ngatai Huata, the daughter of Canon Wi Te Tau Huata, who composed it, says we’ve got the words and tune wrong but I won’t be at the test and even if I was, I’m definitely not the one to get a crowd  to sing as one.

However, singing or not, I will be backing black and my prediction – based on the fact the team will want a win for captain Kieran Read’s 100th test and they will also be focussed on continuing the unbroken steak of series wins against the Lions – is a win to the All Blacks by um, 21-13.

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Much more than rugby

February 18, 2016

Richie McCaw was named the New Zealander of the Year last night.

. . .Presenting the award, Prime Minister John Key said: “One end of the country to the other we’re jam-packed with people who do incredible things.

“Kids always ask: ‘What’s the coolest thing about being Prime Minister? The free things – the people.

“Richie McCaw, who is the greatest All Black New Zealand has ever produced – an amazing New Zealander.

“Louise Nicholas who has done more for sexual violence and sexual abuse than any other New Zealander.

“Rob Fenwick who has a real passion… For the environment that we as New Zealanders treasure and enjoy so much.”

McCaw played a record 148 tests for the All Blacks, 111 of them as captain. . . 

He won for more than rugby, more than sport.

He is a great sportsman but he also does a lot of work with charity and it’s not just what he does but the way he does it – drive, the passion, the dedication, the humility.

McCaw said he was “hugely humbled” to be in the company of such great people.

“I’m the sort of guy who wants to give everything a crack.

“When you’re an old man sitting back and reflecting… Whether you achieved it or not, at least you gave it a crack, and that’s what I want to be thinking.”

McCaw received a standing ovation when his name was read out as winner of the New Zealander of the Year award.

He was then draped with a traditional Maori cloak, and said:

“For 15 years I was lucky enough to do something I loved.

“All I did was play sport really…

“I got more joy really from seeing those around me achieve… And the impact you can have on other people is truly a privilege.

“Representing a country on the world stage… Being the little country going up against the big ones and winning, that’s when you’re proud to wear the silver fern on you chest.

“Travelling round the world and being able to say you’re a Kiwi… That’s what it’s all about.

“Being able to give time to kids and the sport I love so much… And hopefully in the years going forward I’m able to do much more.

“It’s pretty cool.” . . .

McCaw was a record-winning All Black captain and his leadership showed not just on the field but in the way the team behaved off the field.

He stands out as a sportsman, a giver, a leader a man of character and a great New Zealander.

Paul Henry interviewed him here.

Kathryn Ryan interviewed him here.

 

 

 


Thanks Richie

November 19, 2015

All Black captain Richie McCaw has announced his retirement from rugby.

All Blacks's photo.

The All Blacks’ website  lists 12 key dates in his career:

August 18, 2000

Debuted for Canterbury against North Harbour when coming off the bench for his only 18 minutes of first-class play that season. . . .

November 17 2001

Made his All Blacks debut at Lansdowne Road in Dublin against Ireland. New Zealand won 40-29 after being down 7-16 at halftime. . . 

August 10, 2002

In hindsight, this was possibly the first moment where it was identified that McCaw brought a little more to rugby than his openside flanker skills. . . 

May 28, 2005 

With the added responsibility of captaining the Crusaders, McCaw’s portfolio was widening and he led the side to the Super Rugby title when beating the Waratahs 35-25. . .

October 6, 2007 

If there was a low point in McCaw’s career this had to be it. A quarter-final exit at the hands of France in Cardiff, beaten 18-20. . .

August 16, 2008 

So often McCaw’s play has been encapsulated in the performance of his team. In 2008, after losses at home to South Africa (28-30) and away to Australia (19-34) when he didn’t appear in either, he returned to inspire New Zealand a week later to reverse the score against Australia 39-10 and then another fortnight later he went one better when the All Blacks held South Africa scoreless 0-19 at Cape Town, the first time South Africa hadn’t scored at in 105 years.  . . .

May 1, 2010 

McCaw completed 100 Super Rugby games when playing the Stormers in Cape Town, unfortunately not able to celebrate with a win. But it proved a year of performance milestones as he and fullback/centre Mils Muliaina completed their 93rd Tests to become the most capped All Blacks and became New Zealand’s most capped Test leader with 52 Tests, supplanting Sean Fitzpatrick’s record.  . . .

October 23, 2011

When McCaw, feeling no pain from a broken foot that threatened to derail his chances of playing the final, or the semi-final or the quarter-final, held the Webb Ellis Trophy aloft after an 8-7 win over France in the Rugby World Cup final, it was a signature moment in New Zealand’s rugby history first and foremost, but for McCaw and those players who had been involved in Cardiff four years earlier, it was a weight-lifting exercise.  . .

August 15, 2015

The unprecedented scenes after about 62 minutes of the Bledisloe Cup decider against Australia at Eden Park, when New Zealand claimed a 41-13 victory will live long in the memory, longer even than the events of the Test match itself.  What happened when McCaw was substituted from the field was a spontaneous outbreak of respect, affection and acknowledgement for one of the great contributions to not just the All Blacks but to New Zealand rugby . . .

November 1, 2015 

History has its own way of acknowledging those who have had an impact on their area of speciality. That happened at Twickenham when McCaw, regarded as one of the finest to have played the game anywhere in the world, held the Webb Ellis Trophy aloft after beating Australia 34-17 in the 2015 Rugby World Cup final.  . . .

There is no doubt about his skill and accomplishments as a player and captain.

What also makes him stand out is his character.

He has lived with intense scrutiny on and off the playing field and many a lesser man would have let the adulation and attention get the better of him.

Instead, he has always come across as modest, grounded and unaffected by the trappings of fame. Friends who know him say this is not just a show.

His parents, Don and Margaret, can take credit for the values instilled in him as a child.

That and his country upbringing gave him a strong foundation on which he built to become a great All Black, a truly good man and a New Zealander of whom we can all be proud.

Thanks Richie.

 


Jonah Lomu 12.5.75 – 18.11.15

November 18, 2015

All Black legend Jonah Lomu has died at the age of 40.

Lomu battled kidney disorders since the end of 1995 when he was diagnosed with nephrotic syndrome. He had a kidney transplant in 2004.

He suffered health setbacks since the transplant and had been receiving dialysis treatments during his recent visit to Britain where he was involved in heavy promotional work for the Rugby World Cup. . . .


#RWC2015final

November 1, 2015


Black to black back to back

November 1, 2015

What a game, what a win – the All Blacks are world history making third-time Rugby World Cup winners.

New Zealand withstood a gutsy Australian fightback to claim victory 34-17 in the Rugby World Cup final and create history as the first side to win three titles.

The All Blacks were given a Halloween night fright by the Wallabies, who battled their way back from 21-3 with two tries to get within four points of Richie McCaw’s side at 21-17. . . 

Well worth getting up early to watch.
All Blacks's photo.
All Blacks's photo.
"532598971JD00382_New_Zealan LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 31: Richie McCaw of New Zealand lifts the trophy after victory during the 2015 Rugby World Cup Final match between New Zealand and Australia at Twickenham Stadium on October 31, 2015 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)"

 


All Blacks in the field

November 1, 2015

As the World Cup final kicks off, spare a thought for the people who are milking.

All Black fans are everywhere – and some have four legs.

These are the work of Papakaio sharemilker Grant Neal:
Grant Neal's photo. Grant Neal's photo.

 


In a fairy tale . . .

October 31, 2015

In a fairy tale the All Blacks would win tomorrow morning’s match and claim the Rugby World Cup again.

As Gregor Paul wrote before last week’s semi-final, the ABs are the better men:

. . . Results have been hugely important, but he doesn’t want them to be the sole mechanism by which his team is judged. Nearly as important is the manner in which his team conduct themselves.

Whatever the result tomorrow, the All Blacks won’t rush to leave Twickenham. There is post-match protocol to observe and that is not just the media and drug-testing obligations.

The All Blacks post-match protocol looks just like it did 30 years ago, because Hansen has placed considerable importance on his team embracing what can only be called old-school values.

The stakes couldn’t be higher, the pressure couldn’t be greater but Hansen can’t see why that should prevent rugby tradition from being observed.

The game was fostered on a spirit of fraternity and shared experience and to not observe that is to disrespect a core tenet of the game. The third half, as the French call it, has always been rugby’s greatest point of difference.

If no one bothered to engage with the opposition; to put aside the past 80 minutes and realise that everyone involved is chasing the same dream and united by the same beliefs, how long before rugby would morph into football in regard to culture and attitudes?

How long before players would leave the ground with barely a nod and a handshake, jump into expensive sports cars, already having forgotten who they have played and still not certain they know the first name of all the players in their own team?

Hansen has made a stand to preserve the parts of rugby that make it the game it is. “One of the important things to me about rugby is enjoying it,” he says. “When you are in such a big pressure cooker as the All Blacks, it can easily be lost.

“The first thing we had to acknowledge was to stop and enjoy each test. We do that sensibly but we acknowledge we have played another group of men who have tried to do what we have done. So we say, ‘would you guys like to come in? [to our changing room]’.

“Not all teams accept that. Some do and South Africa are one that always comes in. When we are over there we go in. When I played, some of the best moments in rugby were with the guys who you have just gone 80 minutes with and you find out they are just like us. They are ordinary guys and you make lifelong friendships.”

The extent to how the old-school culture pervades has been striking at this World Cup. The All Blacks, tournament favourites and loaded with superstars, have been impeccably professional on the field, proudly amateur in ethos off it. . . .

For the last part of the past decade things were worse because the All Blacks’ schedule was dominated by tests against the Wallabies.

The relationship between the two was strained, awkward and, at times, plain awful. The Wallabies rejected an invitation to join the All Blacks in their changing room after a 2010 test in Christchurch. A few months later in Hong Kong they accepted – after they had won in the last minute and had aggressively and endlessly celebrated. The invitation hadn’t been accepted so they could genuinely reflect on the test but seemed to be more about taking the opportunity to gloat. It was a powerful moment – confirming for Hansen that if he ever landed the top job, he would instil in his players the courage and depth of character to be the same person regardless of outcome.

When you play really well and get beaten you have to accept it,” he says. “You can’t change it – it has happened, you have had your chance and you have to do that with the same humbleness that you do winning. We have got to respect the way we want to be respected ourselves and there is nothing worse than seeing a winner gloating or a team that loses sulking.

“It is okay to hurt but you don’t have to be arrogant and I think rugby is a great game in teaching you some core values of being grateful and being humble.

“I don’t think it is driven by being liked. It is driven by that’s how we want to live. That’s the identity we believe the legacy of the All Blacks has demanded from us. It is really important to us that we live that way – that identity and those values all the time.” . . 

Both teams have so much to play for but the All Blacks have the added incentive of giving captain Richie McCaw a win and several others a win in what is expected to be their final game in the team.

Life isn’t always like a fairy tale but all fingers and toes are crossed that tomorrow’s match will finish that way for the All Blacks.

 


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