I know there are only a few people here who are actually happy that the rugby season has started. Those would be the people who either don't like cricket (not me) or the people who realise they can watch both. But because they really are a minority group I will only quickly talk about about the opening round of the Super 14.
Compare and contrast the Crusaders v Chiefs match with the Lions v Cheetahs match.
In the dying minutes of the former the Crusaders had a one point lead and the possession on the Chiefs goalline. Eighty minutes had passed and the Crusaders could not get a bonus point try. However they kept battering away until Casey Laulala scored. (Final score: 19-13 Crusaders)
In the dying minutes of a surprisingly exciting match between the Lions and Cheetahs the scores were level and both teams had a four-try bonus. The Lions began banging over drop-goals. (Final score 34-28 Lions)
Why didn't the Crusaders kick a drop-goal? It was the final play of the game and a kick attempt (good or not) would've brought about the final whistle. Did the Crusaders want to deny the Chiefs a close-loss bonus point? Quite possibly. The teams do seem evenly matched and bonus points could put the Chiefs ahead at the end of the season.
So why did the Lions start kicking? I think it's because they aren't very good. The Crusaders and the Lions are miles apart when it comes to self-esteem. The Lions really didn't want to lose whereas the Crusaders really didn't want the Chiefs to come away with anything.
A couple of quick side notes:
- I told you Sione Lauaki is good at Super 14 level. Shame he couldn't translate that up to the All Blacks. Oh and Lelia Masaga is built of speed
- Also I hope everyone noticed that the <a href="http://www.photosport.co.nz/viewphoto.php?source=search&page=&searchField=HEADLINE&searchstring=%22Super%2014%20-%20Crusaders%20v%20Chiefs,%2014%20February%202009%22&orient=&sort=&sortorder=&linkperpage=20&albumId=48048&albumId=48048&imageId=689773&page=1&imagepos=1" target="_blank"Chiefs have NOBs. That is of course Names On Backs. I can't think of a single other time I have seen this on a rugby jersey and I think it's awesome. Adidas if you're reading this you need to start selling them (oh and radial arching might look good too).
Dan Vettori was right to get angry at his team. While he is still the #1 ODI bowler (Mills is #3) his ten friends in black are letting him down. The 20/20 should have been seen as a proxy for the final in the Chappell-Hadlee trophy (although with a one-run loss maybe it was) and the Kiwis should've blasted to victory chasing the Aussies small total on a batter's pitch.
Aren't we all tired of the Black Caps teasing us with these flashes of brilliance? Can't they just be good or be terrible? Sigh.
On the weekend I received two books on sport (and one on Tikis and one on cocktails amongst other gifts, friends are awesome). One is the biography of a pioneer cricketer and missionary in China (Note: I haven't found out if there should be a comma after "pioneer" yet).
The other book was a collection of The Best American Sports Writing. Naturally this collection is very large and includes Norman Mailer, Tom Wolfe, John Updike, and Hunter S Thompson among some other greats. There s even an entire chapter on stories about Muhammad Ali.
I know the cricket book was a none-to-subtle hint, but hopefully both books will mean you get longer and more descriptive accounts of the games. Maybe I can be imbedded in the All Black squad when they go to Zaire to play the Wallabies.
I'd also like to take this opportunity to thank all my friends who helped me celebrate my 30th on Saturday; especially my baby, who organised an alternate reality "video game" around downtown Wellington. We ended up dancing in the wee hours at San Francisco Bathhouse's Atomic to the best of the 80s (and some 90s) and I had the realisation that if I had kids, that they would've been cringing.