Falling from the heights of rugby stardom

Last week it was reported that ex-Wallaby Dan Vickerman had died – some reports didn’t state a cause but appended ‘helpline’ links, while others were open about it being suicide.

There was discussion about the difficulty many rugby and other sports stars had in transitioning to more normal and more anonymous lives.

It’s the silence that kills us: The sad case of Dan Vickerman

There was also news that Dan Carter had been arrested for drunk driving.

Dan Carter loses sponsorship deal after drink driving charge

NZ should man up like Dan Carter to face our sport and alcohol problem – Steve Stannard

There are still strong and contentious links between alcohol and sport. But alcohol isn’t the only problem drug.

Blues coach Tana Umaga seeking ‘clarity’ around Patrick Tuipulotu’s situation

Blues coach Tana Umaga is remaining tight-lipped on the situation surrounding his absent lock Patrick Tuipulotu after authorities confirmed being alerted to a positive drugs test from the player on the All Blacks’ northern tour last November.

After Fairfax Media revelations that the 24-year-old Blues and All Blacks lock’s career was in limbo following a failed drugs test, both New Zealand Rugby and NZ’s Players’ Association on Sunday confirmed the key facts in the situation.

In a joint statement, NZR and the NZRPA said Tuipulotu was shocked by the result and “working hard to identify the source of the specified substance”.

Patrick Tuipulotu cleared of doping charge

But performance enhancing drugs hover over sports these days. There can be a fine line between banned drugs and legal ‘enhancers’.

Tributes flow for former All Blacks forward Sione Lauaki, dead at 35

Mark Reason: After the death of Dan Vickerman the cult of silence is killing too many of our young men

This week I was contacted by David Briggs, a former Chief and captain of Tonga. He wants to go into things “too much”. I think we should stand up and applaud him. The telling of Briggs’s story shows the late Lauaki respect. It shows that Briggs wants to make a difference for the kids of the future. It shows a great deal of courage.

Briggs, who is now 46 years of age, said, “I started taking creatine in 1998. We were all on creatine. I got huge on it. I went from 114kg to 125kg in a matter of weeks. We didn’t know what we were really taking. We were just told it worked.

“But it didn’t feel right. Our bodies got big, but lots of people’s stomachs were playing up. I got cramps and was getting sick. I cannot be sure, but creatine’s killing all the boys. Jonah reckoned it was part of the reason he was sick.

“I was Lauaki. I got in trouble with the law and alcohol. I don’t drink anymore. I had to give alcohol away or go to jail. I woke up in a cell and went before a judge. Either I changed or I would lose everything.

“I retired from the Chiefs in 2004, but I am still getting headaches. I had heaps of concussions. I suffered depression big-time from those head knocks. I don’t think I will ever be right. I accept I will have depression for the rest of my life and a lot of memory loss. I go to the fridge and think, ‘Shit, what did I need?’ It’s just cos I played rugby without a mouthguard.

“We didn’t think about the future. I’m here now and I’m going, ‘Damn’. The young ones need to be careful. I believe creatine is killing all the boys. I can’t be 100 per cent certain. But all the Pacific Islanders are having problems now.

Former All Black Byron Kelleher arrested in France for domestic violence

And now news involving an ex All Black and an ex Wallaby:

Former All Black Ali Williams arrested on alleged cocaine charge

Former All Black Ali Williams has been sidelined by his club in Paris, after being arrested on suspicion of trying to buy cocaine.

As our Paris correspondent Catherine Field reports, Williams was picked up outside a nightclub along with former Wallabies star James O’Connor.

“He was taken in by police at around 3 o’clock Saturday morning Paris time, the two men were spotted by plain clothed drug enforcement officers, trying to buy cocaine.

Apparently they were trying to pay around 200 euros in cash for the cocaine.”

As Field reports, his club Racing has already put him on suspension.

“They say that they want to respect the presumption of innocence- he’s only been charged, he hasn’t been been found guilty of this crime yet, however, they go on in the statement to say this would be a major violation of the clubs ethics.”

Presumption of innocence unless proven guilty – but I think France has a difference system of justice.

France has been a very lucrative place to go for retired international rugby players. It also seems to be a risky place to go, where heaps of money and leisure time seems to easily lead to trouble.

Appropriate honour for McCaw

Richie McCaw has received the highest New Zealand honour, being the youngest person to be appointed to the Order of New Zealand. Membership is limited to twenty living people.

NZ Herald reports: Richie McCaw awarded NZ’s highest honour – but he’s still our Richie

I’m glad he hasn’t been given a foreign gong for his services to New Zealand’s most famous and highest achieving sports team.

McCaw has been honoured for services to New Zealand.

NZ Rugby chairman Brent Impey said McCaw’s latest accolade was “fantastic”, and the now-retired, most-capped test rugby player of all time “had rightly earned himself a place as one of New Zealand’s most respected people”.

“He’s the embodiment of our vision for rugby to be a sport that unifies and inspires people. He has been an inspirational leader and an outstanding New Zealander. We congratulate him on this fantastic recognition.”

McCaw declined all interviews about his honour.

“As he always says, it’s not about him it’s about the team,” said New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew. “Richie is very humbled as you’d expect and I think he took a long time to consider … because as he always says it’s not about him it’s about the team. But I think he recognises that this is something that reflects an area that he’s been an important part of.

“I think he’s very proud and delighted.”

Mr Tew said the honour was monumental for “someone so young and tender of age”.

“What he wants to do now is return back to being a normal New Zealander, which is not going to be easy.”

“This is an appropriate way of recognising him,” Mr Tew said, as opposed to a knighthood.

“He fits in the top 20 bill but he can continue to be Richard to his mother, and Richie to us. We’re just really pleased.”

I’m pleased too. I think this is an appropriate award for McCaw.

As well as McCaw a number of other All Blacks and team management received awards.

Dan Carter and mental skills coach Gilbert Enoka have been made officers of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Ma’a Nonu, Keven Mealamu, Conrad Smith and Tony Woodcock, All Blacks forwards coach Mike Cron and former team doctor John Mayhew were made members of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

They have all contributed a lot to New Zealand and New Zealanders, so it’s good they have received New Zealand awards.

Today’s ODT editorial comments in Worthy recipients of honours:

It is extremely rare for sportsmen to be honoured with the ONZ, Sir Murray Halberg, Sir Brian Lochore, Arthur Lydiard and Sir Edmund being the only examples.

Each also excelled with exemplary service in other fields or with impacts well beyond sport.

 

Dan Carter named BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year

Dan Carter has been named by the BBC as Overseas Sports Personality of the Year, beating beat Novak Djokovic, Katie Ledecky, Usain Bolt, Jordan Spieth and Serena Williams by public vote.

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Carter’s profile will have been helped by having the Rugby World Cup in the UK this year.

It’s interesting to see Carter rated ahead of his All Black captain Richie McCaw, who had a higher public profile than Carter and arguably has been more influential in ll Black successes.

However it’s good to see Carter getting this recognition. The only other New Zealander to get this award was Jonah Lomu in 1995.

Sports Personality of the Year: Dan Carter wins 2015 Overseas award

The highest ever points scorer in Test rugby, he won the World Player of the Year award for a third time in 2015.

The Sports Personality of the Year ceremony will take place at The SSE Arena in Belfast on Sunday, 20 December, and will be live on BBC One between 18:50-21:00 GMT.

The awards will be hosted by Gary Lineker, Clare Balding and Gabby Logan in front of a 7,500-strong audience in Northern Ireland, the first time the event has been hosted in the country.

Fly-half Carter, who joined French side Racing 92 after the World Cup, missed the All Blacks’ win in the 2011 final through injury but fought back to regain the number 10 shirt for the 2015 edition.

He went into the tournament, which took place in England in September and October, acknowledged as one of the greats of the game but with some doubts over his form and whether his body could still withstand the rigours of international rugby.

However, the longer the World Cup went on the better he played and, after landing a vital drop-goal in the edgy win over South Africa in the last four, a sublime performance in the final against the Wallabies saw him win the man of the match award.

In total he kicked 19 points, made 11 tackles and was an unruffled decision-making presence as New Zealand became the first team to defend the World Cup.

Carter, who retired from international rugby after the World Cup final, won 112 caps for the All Blacks in a Test career that started with victory over Wales in 2003.

He was born and raised in the town of Leeston, 30 miles south west of Christchurch in New Zealand’s South Island.

The fly-half made his debut for the Christchurch-based Crusaders Super Rugby team in 2003 and, bar a brief injury-hit spell with Catalan side Perpignan, remained with them until his move to Parisians Racing 92, for whom he made his debut in the 33-3 European Champions Cup win over Northampton earlier this month.

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In New Zealand Carter is known as a first five eight rather than a fly-half.

Carter is far from being an out there attention seeking extrovert.

His quiet spoken humbleness who let’s his deeds do most of the talking  is a very good Kiwi attribute.

Carter has been one of the most influential and successful players ever in one of the most influential and successful international sports teams ever.

 

A Rattue Bomb

Damian Christie @damianchristie tweeted:

Chris Rattue is to sports what Bomber is to political predictions.

RattueBomber

The article (October 7): Chris Rattue: Time’s up: Dan Carter should be dropped:

The explanations for the All Blacks’ mainly awful performance against Georgia have been flowing thick and fast and yet the man in the middle of the mess seems to remain untouched.

Dan Carter had a shocker, his performance being so bad that it was hard to discern what the supposedly deliberately twisted game plan actually was. His goalkicking was completely off, his command as impossible to find as his running game, some hospital passes to team mates bordering on a dereliction of duty.

What I can’t work out is why so little is being said about Carter.

Carter needs to be dropped on that performance alone.

The bottom line: if Carter remains in control after his Georgian debacle, then it’s official – he’s a protected species while Barrett and Slade could be viewed as patsies helping keep him in place.

I don’t think Carter needed that as motivation. Class rises to the occasion, as Carter did in the World Cup final. He was named Man of the Match.