Lions beat Crusaders

The British and Irush Lions beat the Crusaders in Christchurch tonight, 12-3, all penalties.

Tough for the Crusaders to lose their first game this season, and unusual for them to be kept tryless, but they were outscored and outplayed. The Crusaders were claiming the game as a virtual test, but they weren’t up to it.

This is a good result for the Lions obviously, but an even better result for their tour. It’s a tough one for them but each game will be tough for their opponents.

This result signals that it is game on for the test series. That’s good for the game.

 

Rugby World Cup draw

The draw – or at least the preliminary draw, has just been made for the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

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Who knows how strong South Africa will be by then. Or the All Blacks. Or Italy.

Still over two years away with quite a few gaps to fill in.

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.

Ireland 40, All Blacks 29

Is history going to be made at Soldier Field in Chicago? UPDATE: Yep, a great day for Ireland!

Ireland has comprehensively outplayed the All Blacks in the first half of the test and lead 25-8 at half time.

The ABs have made too many stupid mistakes, including several dangerous tackles, one resulting in a sin binning – and Ireland scored two tries during that ten minutes. Their lineout has barely functioned. They have turned over mall ball and except for one try have failed to make much of an impression.

In contrast Ireland have played smartly and with determination and passion. Three tries to one is an emphatic clobbering, so far.

There’s another half to go, but if Ireland can keep things up and the ABs fail to fire again in the second half then Ireland could make history today.


Ireland started the second half with another try to lead 30-8. The ABs played quite a bit better from there and closed the gap to a few points. But mistakes crept in again and the Irish finished better, scored another try late in the game to score 5 tries to the AB’s 4 to clinch the game.

Ireland 40, New Zealand 29

A well deserved win for Ireland, their first win ever against the All Blacks..

It’s great for them, and good for world rugby.

And it won’t do the All Blacks any harm. This makes their European tour much more interesting, with games against Italy, France, and what should be a riper of a return match against Ireland.

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Raging over Losi Filipo

Losi Filipo was lucky to escape conviction for a brutal assault on four people.

Losi Filipo was unlucky to escape conviction for a brutal assault on four people because the furore that has erupted as a result has put a disproportional degree of publicity on what happened.

Late yesterday Filipo ended his rugby contract with the Wellington Lions, presumably to try and dampen things down.

He was in a hopeless situation anyway as if he had played there would have been a huge media distraction.

His playing future must be in doubt, as it is likely that any sign of violence is likely to be highlighted and amplified.

While he escaped a conviction and sentence from the court his public sentence is probably disproportionately severe. A fine and some community service would have probably been easier on him.

There’s a lot of violent crime in New Zealand and most of it escapes much if any scrutiny, it is normal life in New Zealand.

So Filipo is suffering more than normal, and that is likely to continue for some time, especially if he tries to play high level rugby again.

In a way this may seem disproportionately unfair.

But the violence he inflicted on four people was also very unfair. Many many New Zealanders are unfairly affected by violence. Many have their lives wrecked by violence.

So while Filipo may be effectively suffering greater consequences than the average thug  greater good may be served by his public sentence.

It has raised public awareness of the insidious effects of violence in our society.

What needs to happen now is a much better response from New Zealand Rugby. Many rugby players and lovers will be dismayed that their sport keeps getting tainted by thuggery.

The Rugby Union has to stand up here and do far more to distance the sport from thuggish violence. It has to lead on dealing with it, not flail in response to a string of embarrassments.

Filipo’s rugby career may have been trashed – largely due to his own actions – and his sport has been trashed with it.

But NZRFU could use this to make a real stand against violence, if the so choose.

They and the media and the people of New Zealand can stop raging over violence and do something about reducing it.

What was bugging the All Blacks?

A listening device was found in the meeting room used by the All Blacks at their hotel in Sydney.

All Blacks’ hotel room ‘bugged’

NSW police investigate reports that a listening device was found in a hotel room used by the All Blacks, ahead of the Bledisloe Cup match on Saturday night.

– see All Blacks coach Steve Hansen unfazed by bug in Sydney hotel room

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen said he was “shocked” but “not too bothered” by the discovery of a listening device in a team meeting room in Sydney last Monday.

The former police officer-turned-coach also said the team allowed the Intercontinental Hotel to look into the matter and then waited until New Zealand Rugby Union boss Steve Tew returned from the Olympics in Rio before reporting their discovery to police five days later, on Saturday.

There’s been a lot of speculation but it’s still unknown who planted the bug and when it was planted. Steve Hansen.

Lots of people are speculating about who’s done it and who hasn’t and I don’t think that’s fair because no oen knows who’s done it and there’s obviously plenty of people who can do it.

“I think until the enquiry is done by the police we should just sit back and let them do their job and certainly not speculate who planted it there because no one knows. We certainly don’t know.”

I think it’s also unknown whether the All Blacks were the intended target or not.

Meanwhile, Wallabies coach Michael Cheika shrugged off the scandal. “I don’t think anyone has accused us of it have they? It had nothing to do with us,” he said.

I’d be really surprised if the Wallabies were connected with this.

Especially after seeing how the played against the All Blacks last night. The ABs demolished the Wallabies 42-8. Who bugged whom?

Sydney Morning Herald:

And NZH: ‘Just Bledi Awful’ – Aussie media react to thrashing from All Blacks

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Go Fiji!

Fiji have never won an Olympic medal – yet. They are currently playing in the semi-final of the men’s sevens, against Japan, and it looks like they are on track to win this and guarantee a gold or silver.

Fiji would be a very popular winner, and it will good enough to see them get any sort of medal in a sport they are passionate about.

Japan have done extremely well to make the semis, beating New Zealand in their first game, but they are struggling against Fiji. Final score 20-5.

Go Fiji!

Versus Great Britain in the final, who have just beaten South Africa.

 

Sweeet victory

In another rugby final today: Cromwell wins title for first time in 35 years

Not since 1981 has Cromwell rugby tasted a victory so sweet.

The premier side was crowned the Central Otago champion after an intense 21-18 victory over Maniototo at Alexandra on Saturday.

Players were overcome with emotion at the final whistle, some even shedding a tear in the moments after.

Cromwell players pose with the trophy following its win over Maniototo in the Central Otago premier rugby final at Alexandra.

Great to see this result.

I know how sweet a victory like that can be – I was playing for Cromwell when they last won in 1981.

I might try and find an old photo.

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Chiefs/stripper issue continues

The issue of the stripper allegations regarding a ‘Mad Monday’ event held and attended by some Chiefs  rugby players is becoming an embarrassing debacle that looks bad for what happened to the stripper, and looks bad not just for those directly involved but is also embarrassing and awkward for Chiefs players who were not involved and for rugby in general.

Especially with the way the media operates the stupidity of a few people can affect many more.

And the Chiefs franchise continues to fail to deal adequately with the ongoing fallout.

NZ Herald: Chiefs stripper scandal: ‘Do the right thing’

Last night as New Zealand Rugby, the Chiefs and the NZ Rugby Players’ Association began an investigation into the first stripper’s claims, Waikato Woman’s Refuge called on any players involved “to stand up as the brothers, fathers and sons we know you to be and to redress this wrong”.

While not involved All Back coach Steve Hansen has condemned what happened.

Chiefs management and Chiefs senior players should be standing up and speaking up, but as yet they have failed to front adequately or at all.

There were more developments yesterday:

…a second stripper, who wanted to be known as Laura, alleged players touched her and called her a “filthy slut” at a 2015 season-ending party.

In an interview with MediaWorks she claimed 10 different players touched her body inappropriately, including her bottom, despite telling them not to.

“They were just full on. I was trying to dance and they are all surrounding me and I asked them several times to back off … They ended up spitting alcohol, beer all over me.”

And:

Margaret Comer, the corporate executive of Chiefs sponsor Gallagher Group, apologised for earlier saying “what are we supposed to do?” if men touched a woman who took her clothes off and walked around in front of them.

Comer, who is also a trustee of the Waikato Women’s Refuge later apologised for her “poor choice of words” and said she did not “condone any kind of mistreatment of women”.

But there are mixed accounts, as there often are with situations like this.

One witness at Monday’s strip show said he never saw the stripper being manhandled by the players.

A Mt Manganui man, who didn’t want to be named, said he watched Scarlette perform but didn’t see players do anything untoward.

Concerned at the media coverage, he’d contacted Chiefs management and told them he and his friend would be witnesses for them if an investigation took place.

“The guys were as good as gold, apart from a bit of chanting.”

The man said the stripper used sex toys during her performance and got one of the younger Chiefs players down on the ground.

He said he heard her talking with the players afterwards about joining them on the team bus. They all then walked off towards the bus together. However, the stripper said she left.

The Weekend Herald understands investigators have been told no players had touched the stripper. It is understood they were told that a player’s friend had performed a sexual act on the stripper, but nobody else had.

So it’s still far from clear what actually happened and who was directly involved, and especially whether any Chiefs players were directly involved (one Chiefs player apparently hired the stripper).

The Auckland-based Blues Super Rugby franchise said it banned Mad Mondays last year. Chief executive Michael Redman said the team endorsed All Black coach Steve Hansen’s comments there was no place in the game for such events. The Rugby Union would not say whether it would ban the practice.

It looks likely the Chiefs will follow suit and ban any repeat events.

But what can rugby franchises do about players doing things privately?

Players are involved in big business. Perhaps their contracts forbids them from bringing their franchise and their sport into disrepute.

Super semi finals

Tonight the Hurricanes play the Chiefs in the first Super Rugby semi final. I’m not going to pick this either way, I’ll just enjoy the game.

Except that If the Chiefs win tonight  and the Highlanders manage to beat the Lions  in Johannesburg in the middle of the night (that will be tough) that would mean a Dunedin final which would be great.

Hurricanes won 25 – 9, just too good, especially Beauden Barrett who was instrumental in giving them a 15-6 lead at half time lead, and the Chiefs just weren’t up to it.

Lions just too good for the Highlanders, they are very good at scoring tries and got too many of them for the Highlanders to get close. The final score was 42-30 but late catch up points made it look a bit better than the walloping that it was.

So the final will be Hurricanes versus Lions in Wellington next week. Both teams have earned their final spots.