Rugby World Cup finals

On Friday night New Zealand beat Wales 40-17 to finish the Rugby World Cup with the bronze medals. The All Blacks played very well generally, bouncing back from their disappointing performance against a fired up and focussed England team in the semi-final. Wales played well at times, scoring two tries, but looked like they had run out of steam, and had lost some key players through injury.

Some of the players that missed out on the semi-final squad stepped up in their final game for the All Blacks, Ben Smith in particular who had been a surprise omission from the big games. And Sam Cane showed why he should have started the game last week. Selection mistakes may or may not have been costly against England – they played so well last week any All Bl;ack line-up would have struggled.

Last night in the final South Africa wore down England. It was a bit of a kick fest for most of the match, but they scored two very good tries in the last quarter with both wings touching down to win the final and their third world cup, beating England 32-12. They had an easier path through the play offs and had enough energy left.

England were warned they may have played their ‘final’ last week and that’s how it looked, they couldn’t lift themselves to the same heights last night. That’s not a surprise, near perfect performances usually don’t happen very often in any team sport.

England coach Eddie Jones was hailed as a hero last week, but couldn’t get his team over the final hurdle.

Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus wins the plaudits this time, having turned a struggling team around in a year to take the big four yearly prize.

So congratulations to South Africa, who clearly deserved their win, and became the first team to lose a pool match and go on the win the final. The draw may have helped, but that’s sport.

Rugby World Cup semi finals

Big games for four teams in the Rugby World Cup in Japan this weekend.

Tonight (Saturday) at 9 pm (NZ time) England will play New Zealand. It will be broadcast live on TV1.

Obviously this could go either way. At their best the All Blacks will be very hard to beat, but if England get their tactics and execution right, minimise mistakes and keep the ABs under pressure they are a real chance. Both countries had very good wins in their quarter final matches, so this should be  very good game.

I’d like the ll Blacks to win, but if England are good enough on the day to beat them then good on them.

Tomorrow night at 10 pm (NZ time) South Africa play Wales.

It’s hard too predict how this game will go. South Africa lost their first pool game (against the All Blacks), and haven’t really been tested since then. Japan put up a real fight in the first half last week but couldn’t get over the line to score, and succumbed to the power of the Springboks in the second half.

Wales did well to beat Australia in their pool, but they didn’t play very well against France last week. A red card reduced France to 14, and Welsh tenacity got them the win, just.

Another game that could go either way. As it should be.

I’m looking forward to both games with anticipation.

Rugby World Cup quarter finals

The Rugby World Cup quarter finals will be played today and tomorrow in Japan.

Tonight (NZ times):

  • Australia v England, 8:15 pm
  • Ireland v New Zealand, 11:15 pm

They will be streamed live by Spark Sport. Only the New Zealand game will be delayed broadcast free to air on TV1.

I’ll watch the first game live, then stream the All Black game when I get up in the morning.

Both of these games could easily go either way.

I’m hoping the All Blacks win, but if Ireland is good enough to beat them then good on them.

Sunday night (NZ times):

  • France v Wales, 8:15 pm
  • Japan v South Africa, 11:15 pm

Wales are favourites too win the first game tomorrow but the French have a habit of lifting for key games, sometimes.

Japan will have a tough battle against South Africa, who would normally be expected to win, but the Brave Blossoms have exceeded expectations already and have an opportunity to do it again.

Japan beat Ireland in RWC

Japan have beaten Ireland by 19-12 in the Rugby World Cup, turning Pool A on it’s head. There’s still several games for each team to go but Japan must be a real chance of getting through to the quarter finals. They play Samoa next week, and the following week will be a crucial game against Scotland.

Ireland should still get through too the quarter finals, but this will rock their confidence.

It was an intense and absorbing game to watch. Ireland started very well, scoring two tries too lead 12-3 half way through the first half, but Japan fought their way back, defended very well and ended up deserving the win.

Japan break new ground

FT: Japan 19-12 Ireland

Japan celebrate
  • Japan have recorded their first ever victory against Ireland in Test rugby, they’d lost each of their previous seven by an average margin of 31 points.
  • Three of Ireland’s last four pool stage defeats at the Rugby World Cup have come against the host nation, also losing to Australia in 2003 and France in 2007 (also v Argentina in 2007).
  • Japan have won five of their last six matches at the Rugby World Cup, this after winning just one of their initial 24 matches at the tournament (D2, 21).
  • Ireland have lost to a non-Tier 1 nation at the Rugby World Cup for the first time, they’d won each of their previous 15 such games.

RWC – results and problems

Aafter the opening three days of the Rugby World Cup in Japan there have been mostly predictable results. Most notable of the other results, Argentina had a very close match against France, losing 21-23, and Ireland were too classy for Scotland last night winning 27-3.

In the big game the All Blacks struggled at times against South Africa but a five minute two try blitz made the difference, plus a disciplined and strong defensive second half. This puts the ABs in the box seat for winning the pool, lining them up for a probably quarter final against Scotland if they aren’t upset by Samoa or Japan.

One of the biggest talking points about the RWC here has been the failure of Spark to provide flawless streaming of the games.

I have worked out what my problem probably is. My PC (it’s  few years old) doesn’t have enough processing power to handle the stream, despite being good enough to work with Netflix, Youtube and other streaming services. Every few seconds it pauses, which is very annoying,

From Spark Sport FAQs: Why is my stream buffering?

Even if you have a decent internet connection, some lower spec laptops and desktops might get stuttering or buffering issues as they don’t have the processing power to decrypt the stream. We would recommend checking that you’re running the latest version of your browser and if you’re still having issues – trying a different device.

Devices

If you’re having buffering issues, try watching on another device to determine if the issue is with your device or your connection. We also recommend trying to watch another piece of content on Spark Sport or other streaming provider such as Lightbox, to determine if the issue is with a single piece of content.

I found out that my work laptop, which is a couple of years newer, manages to stream without the hiccups. The problem is that it doesn’t have an HDMI port. And I hadn’t had time to work this out until Saturday evening, So we huddled in front of the small screen to watch the All Black-Springbok match, which wasn’t great.

And it wasn’t a flawless stream either, with a number of buffering pauses. A few minutes before the end of the game a message popped up saying that Spark had put the second half up on Duke due to ‘a small proportion’ of viewers. It was very annoying to only find this out near the finish, too late to be of much use – I even didn’t bother switching over.

I had connected Spark on Saturday morning about the problems, via email and via a tweet. I still haven’t had a reply to my email, but I got a response from my tweet – on Sunday, so too late for Saturday’s games.

They suggested that “it is common for older devices to have buffering issues that are not network related. I had already worked out this was a likely cause, but only streaming Spark Sport.

They had noticed I had tried with both Chrome and Firefox – Chrome wasn’t as bad, but still hard to watch.

They suggested I try Safari. I found that Safari hasn’t been updated for a few years but is supposed to perform better than Chrome and Firefox (or at least it did when it was current). I downloaded the latest version and tried it, but get this message.

I’m guessing this may be because Safari is too old to know about whatever streaming system Spark Sport is using.

I did some googling but haven’t found a way around this yet. So I will get back to Spark to find out if they have a solution for their suggested workaround.

So my TV, while ‘smart’, is too old to run the Spark Sport app – anything older than a couple of years is too old.

My PC is too old to stream without continual hiccups.

I’m sure I will be far from the only one to have found that Spark Sport streaming is not really good enough for mass delivery.

They are offering a money back option, but that would mean I can’t watch all the games I want to watch, and I won’t be able to stream on demand which was the benefit of a streaming service, especially with many RWC games late in the evening NZ time.

Maybe they can’t adequately resolve their technical deficiencies and will broadcast all games on Duke. That solves the bad viewing experience, but won’t provide on demand.

For now I will wait and see.The All Blacks don’t play again until next week. But I will want to have a decent way to watch all games by the time the quarter finals start (on 19 October). That gives Spark Sport about a month to sort their shit out.

Hopeless start to Spark RWC streaming

Spark winning the rights to broadcasting the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand meant I have had to pay a premium to watch any games I want to watch, as otherwise it would have been included in my Sky Sport subscription.

But I paid the $80, at least thinking that streaming meant that I could watch games at my convenience as opposed to at scheduled broadcast times.

I subscribed two weeks ago and had a quick test and it seemed to run ok.

I have unlimited fibre plan through Spark.

I am running it through my PC (connected via WIFI too my Spark supplied device) via an HDMI cable to my TV, which is a smart Samsung TV but more than a couple of years old so not supported by Spark.

I also did a quick test of the opening ceremony on Friday night and that seemed to run ok.

But as the first game (Japan v Russia) started late-ish I decided to stream it early this morning as that suited me better.

I got up just after 5 am and tried it. It didn’t start well. I could only get a badly broken picture. I switched from Chrome to Firefox, and it was a little better but still bad. So I switched back to Chrome and I got sound and picture, so settled in to watch.

The video quality at best was ok. he problem was that right through the first halve the streaming kept stopping every few seconds, sometimes momentarily, which was annoying, but sometimes for seconds, missing usually the most active play. That was bloody annoying.

I persevered until half time but was getting increasingly frustrated.

At half time I rebooted my PC and started it with just one program, Chrome. I did a Spark broadband speed test

According to Spark Sport: What broadband speed do I need?

We recommend that you have at least 15Mb/s download speeds to take advantage of our highest quality content, but if your speed is lower than this, the quality will adjust accordingly. A minimum of 6Mb/s download is required to support a Spark Sport stream.

To have a look at what your speed is, head over to speedtest.net and run the test on the device you plan to stream on, at a time and place where you would normally watch Spark Sport.

So I tried that speed test.

Spark also tries to answer Why is my stream buffering?

As Spark Sport is an online streaming service, there are several factors that could lead to you experiencing buffering issues. The quality of your streaming experience is determined by your broadband connection, your modem and where in the house it is located, the device you use and how many other devices in your home and neighbourhood are using the network at the same time.

Your network and connection

You will need a minimum of 6Mbps to be able to stream Spark Sport; we recommend at least 15Mb/s download speed to take advantage of our highest quality content.

So theoretically my Spark fibre connection should be more than good enough.

I tried watching the second half. It began the same as the first half, with pauses every few seconds.

Until the video stopped altogether and I only got audio.

So instead of watching I am typing this post. Bloody annoyed.

But before starting the post I tried to connect to Spark Sport help chat. I am still getting “Please wait, you are in a queue to speak to an agent.” I don’t know if I will speak to anyone before the second half is over. I have a house to paint.

I want to watch the All Blacks versus South Africa tonight, live. I’m not optimistic, but maybe streaming via peak viewing will be better.

But if Spark can’t provide adequate streaming on demand it will negate the advantage of streaming, and it will be a waste of money.

I often stream Netflix, Youtube, sometimes Parliament TV and other things with few problems, and nothing like the problems I have has streaming the RWC.

So far my experience with Spark Sport has been a dismal failure.

 

Silver Ferns win Netball World Cup

Defying form over the last couple of years, and also seedings and predictions, New Zealand’s Silver ferns have won the 2019 Netball World Cup, beating Australia in the final in Liverpool by just one goal.

 

I even felt a bit emotional watching the final minutes, seeing the reactions to the result, and then the presentations and the national anthem.

Coach Noelene Taurua and everyone else involved in the campaign deserve a lot of credit too.

I’m not a great netball fan, but this is a great effort and a great result.

Netball New Zealand: Silver Ferns win Vitality Netball World Cup

 

England worthy winners of Cricket World Cup

England were worthy winners of the Cricket World Cup just completed at Lord’s in London.

New Zealand’s Black Caps were worthy runners up.

They won by the smallest of margins. The scores were tied after 50 overs, 241 runs to each side. The scores were tied again after a super over, 15 runs each. England won due to the higher number of boundaries scored – that’s the rules so there can be no complaints about that.

There are a number rof things that happened during the game that could have made the difference, could have swung the game one way or the other, but in the end that is all irrelevant. What matters is the final score and the final deciding factor, and England did what mattered.

England have been a top one day team over the last few years and were tournament favourites. They had some wobbles during pool play but won their semi-final easily against defending champions Australia, and won the final just over New Zealand.

This is the first time England have won the World Cup, so very good for them, and despite some disappointment at the result I actually feel as good a as a loser could for the winning team.

The Black Caps exceeded my expectations against Inndia in their semi-final, and exceeded my expectations in the final. I always hoped they could win, and they came so close to doing so, but my main thoughts coming into this game were hoping they would wouldn’t lose badly, and that they would lose with credit.

They couldn’t have come closer so couldn’t have come out of this tournament with more credit, short of winning.

This was one of the greatest games of cricket ever and was also worthy of a final. It will be very good for the game to have had such a hard fought, close game, played in extremely good spirit by England and New Zealand.

Kane Williamson (New Zealand  captain):

“Look, it certainly wasn’t just one extra run. So many small parts in that match that could have gone either way as we saw. Congratulations to England on a fantastic campaign.

It’s been challenging, the pitches have been a little different to what we expected. Lots of talk of 300-plus scores, but we haven’t seen many of those.

I’d like to thank the New Zealand team for the fight they showed to keep us in the tournament, and get us this far. A tie in the final. So many parts to it. The players are shattered at the moment. Obviously it’s devastating. They’ve performed at such a high level through the tournament.

We were weighing up the overheads versus the pitch, it was on the drier side. runs on the board, as it proved, was going to be challenging. We would have liked another 20, but in a World Cup final we’ll take 240-250. Both sides showed a lot of heart, a lot of fight. For it to go to the last ball, and the last ball of the next match, it was pretty hard. That [the Stokes deflection] was a bit of a shame, wasn’t it? You just hope it doesn’t happen in moments like that. You can nitpick, but perhaps it just wasn’t meant to be for us. It is perhaps tough to review the match, and such small margins.”

Eoin Morgan (England captain):

“There wasn’t a lot in that game, jeez. I’d like to commiserate with Kane. The fight, the spirit they showed. I thought it was a hard, hard game.

This has been a four-year journey, we’ve developed a lot over those years, particularly the last two. To get over the line today means the world to us. The guys in the middle keep us cool, the way they play, the experience. It’s calming at times. Not a lot between the teams. Just delighted we’re lifting the trophy today.

As long as he wasn’t too cooked [sending Stokes back out for the Super Over]. Full credit to those two boys and Jofra. Every time he plays, he improves. The world is really at his feet at the moment.”

Cricket

I’ve been a bit distracted this morning watching cricket.

I saw bits of the end of the India-South Africa match – India’s first win (first up), and South Africa three losses from three.  It will be hard for them from there.

New Zealand is still making hard work of what looked like a modest run chase against Bangla Desh, who had shocked South Africa in their first game.

The Cricket World Cup will continue for all of this month.  Most games run through the night NZ time, the current one was day-night so has been a better time for the second innings.

That was close. The Black Caps kept losing wickets through the last ten overs, but Santner stayed calm to get the winning runs with most of three overs to go. Two from two for the Black Caps.

That was a good workout, with nearly all batsmen getting some world cup experience.

Rugby Australia intend to sack Israel Folau, NRL rule out a switch of codes

Rugby Australia says they intend to sack Israel Folau “In absence of compelling and mitigating factors, it is our intention to terminate his contract”.

This dents Australia’s chances in the Rugby World Cup later this year, but they appear to have little choice, after Folau’s homophobic, forniphibic, idolphobic, fibaphobic, drunkaphobic social media post.

The NRL has also stated that they would not allow Folau to return to league – NRL won’t allow sacked Israel Folau to rejoin the NRL

Any hopes of a rugby league homecoming for fallen Wallaby Israel Folau have been dashed after ARL Commission chairman Peter Beattie sensationally banned him from the NRL on Thursday night.

While up to nine NRL clubs may have the financial means to sign Folau, the governing body has ruled out allowing them to take a risk on the controversial star ending any hopes the former Kangaroo could seek refuge in the code which gave him his start.

“Israel Folau fails the NRL’s inclusiveness culture which is a policy strongly supported by the Australian Rugby League Commission,” Beattie told the Daily Telegraph on Thursday night.

“As a game, we have a clear position to be inclusive.

“From our point of view rugby union has made a decision that clearly rugby league would support.

“The ARLC therefore would not support his registration to play in the NRL.”

Folau is finding that ‘free speech’ can have consequences, especially when one ignores contractual agreements not to repeat making divisive public statements. He said that just about everyone will go to hell if they don’t repent (which is a ludicrous concept), but his lack of repenting will guaranetee’s his sports career will go to hell.