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Showing posts from 2007

Waddell vs Drysdale

What a great race and rivalry is brewing for 2008 and Beijing in the men's sculls. I am not surprised to see Waddell defeat Drysdale. To me, Waddell is a freak and would have reigned supreme since 2000 if he had stayed in the sport. He will only get faster. Drysdale will too, but I can't see him making the gains that Waddell will. I say, get Mahe in a double, because I can't see him running Rod down. But why can't they both compete in the singles? What a strange world we live in when one will miss out.

Athletic Stars of the Future

We have some class coming through in athletics. I was there at the secondary school nationals last weekend and there were some super performances. Fraser Wicks is quick. In one race he broke the national junior and senior 400m time. Fantastic! He looked like a young Michael Johnson! Dallas Bowden will be a star. He has a blistering finish, demolishing the 800m and 1500m fields. He is class. He had to run a heat for the 1500 and a heat and semi for the 800m leading in. Look out for this class athlete. Hannah Newbould followed up last years cliff-hanging Junior 1500m victory with a senior win in the 1500 senior event. She is strong and beat off some real class in her victory. Esther Keown was similarly dynamic in winning the junior event. We have real strength in junior middle distance running coming through with a number of good times posted. Sarah McSweeney continues to dominate the Steeplechase, winning just a couple of hours after a fine second in the 3000m. Olivia Burne too was sup…

Black Caps

What a great start to the season for the Black Caps. We have come to the end of an era and it is not looking good. Hammered by South Africa and more of the same in Australia. Our top order is dismal! Embarrassing. A lack of technique is palpable. We need to go for experience. And what are they doing to Matthew Sinclair. Put him in and leave him in and watch him flourish. It is time for Vincent to give it away, he is not there. We are terribly vulnerable at present, weak. The loss of Fleming, MacMillen, Cairns and others is really noticeable. To me the only world class players are Bond who is out again and Oram who is class. McCallum is class with the gloves and has his moment with the bat. But, we need to desperately find a top order that can get us through to 150-200/3 to give ourselves a chance. Is is time for Bracers to go? Perhaps. But then, he does not have a lot to work with.

Henry, Deans and all that

I have not said much for a while, eating humble pie from my earlier stated position that Graham Henry should resign as All Black coach and then watching his reappointment and Deans appointment as Australian coach. But I must break my silence. I DON'T GET IT!

Surely this was the one time that it was a no-brainer that the AB coach WOULD NOT BE reappointed! Henry took the number one team in the world and through the shrewd strategy of failing to play them so that they did not develop combinations, lacked match play and the nous to win a quarter-final against one of the worst French teams in recent times. They should have slaughtered France, demolished England and won a gruelling final against SA! But they didn't and it comes down to poor preparation and poor selection! Yet he is reappointed.

At the same time Robbie Deans sits waiting, the best coaching record bar none on the planet; he is primed and ready. He is rejected!

Instead he is sent to coach our arch enemy, Australia, withou…

Letter to Sarah Ulmer

Here is a letter to Sarah Ulmer.

Dear Sarah,
You rock! What a wonderful person you are. What a great sportsperson you have been. Sure, you could have won more if you hadn't been injured, but you conquered Everest, winning an Olympic Gold in a world record time. I am thrilled for you. You should be immensely satisfied with your career. You did yourself and NZ proud.

What I like most about you is not your sports brilliance, although I love what you have done. It is your character. You, like Barbara Kendell, light up the world around you. To me, character is way more important than sporting prowess. You embody character. You have joy and you inspire. You embody a piece of writing that means a lot to me, 1 Corinthians 13.

So, thanks for your brilliance and great thanks for your person! I know you will go onto further greatness in the world beyond competition. I urge you to pass it on. Inspire the youngsters of this nation to play hard with character!

I have three daughters in sport. One ha…

Bangladesh Cyclone

What is wrong with our news coverage? How can this not lead the news today? Reports suggest 2000 people are now missing! Dhaka is in rubble! Thousands are stranded on islands in the Bay of Bengal! We must pray! The search is on to find out how bad it really is. If this was in a western situation, we would have nothing but continual coverage! Come on NZ, start being global! Let's pray, let's send money, let's help! In 1991 another cyclone saw 143,000 die! It is expected that the death toll will reach more than 3000! 1000 fishermen and their boats are unaccounted for! Then there is the toll on animals with thousands floating in water near a world heritage site and the home of the endangered Royal Bengal Tiger! I hate our westo-centricism! Let's open up! Let's pray and help.

NZ Batting Woes 2

I have written before on the NZ batting woes. We do not have players with an adequate technique to cope with quality pace bowling. Papps and Cummings are simply not good enough cricketers to cope with pace bowling. Fleming is injured. Styris has always been marginal. But who will take their places? Perhaps McIntosh to pair with Cummings? Sinclair does not have the technique to bat about 5. Perhaps put Fleming at 3, Vincent at 4, Sinclair at 5, Oram at 6. Taylor can be given more time to develop? Or play 6 batsmen and 4 bowlers?

Whatever, the problem is shuffling deck chairs at present. We need to listen to John Parker and concentrate more on technique, to ensure our batsmen have the essential technique required to bat at test level!

Bugger Again!

My post rugby world cup blog was entitled 'bugger!' This one is due to the netball world cup. It was terribly disappointing to watch in one sense, Aussie won. On the other hand, they gave it their all so... well done the Silver Ferns. You could not back up, but you went close.

My analysis suggests we lost for several reasons:
1. Jodie Te Huna was off her game. She was reticent to shoot and it placed too much pressure on Irene van Dyk. Too many short passes in the circle, which the Aussies touched away.
2. The mid-court was outplayed. It seemed to me that the Aussies had more pace and were able to exert more defensive pressure. It was noticeable that Langman struggled to get free and this stifled the flow. Oh that she could have played WD and Temapara was there at her best. But you can't go back (I wish Tana had been in France too).
3. The fouling of the Australians esp. in defence. The Aussies without doubt played to disrupt in the circle, going to the edge of the law and beyo…

James and Murray Deaker

I was listening to newstalk ZB today (Sat 18-11) sometime around 5.15 and I heard the biggest plonka I have heard on radio for a while. A guy called James rang up and had a go at Deak's. He got stuck into him for calling Graham Henry a mate and then writing his book on the World Cup in which he critiqued Henry's approach to coaching. He suggested that some respected All Black had supposedly told him that when Deak's was an alcoholic that Henry stood by him. He then suggested that Deak's first wife had left him and that he had found support from his mates then. Deak's responded by telling him that his first wife had died of cancer and that it was all a rubbish.

I just wanted to express in public on the net that James is a plonka! In fact, he is far worse. He is a disgrace. He crossed the line and deserves a bollocking. If you know James out there, give him the message. Deak's suggested that he would have decked the guy if he had said it to his face. I can tell yo…

Ethical Dilemma

I came off the motorway heading north at Tristram Ave on the North Shore of Auckland (NZ) and as I approached the lights they turned amber and then red. It was one of those situations where I could have gone but chose not to. I would have made it easily and I was tempted.

As I sat at the lights the thought went through my mind, 'what if I have an accident between here and home? I could have taken the option of running the red (safely) and not had the accident!'

Anyway I sat there pondering such thoughts and then the light turned green. As I drove off in my lane the guy in the lane next to me decided to go for it and cut across on me into my lane. I hit the breaks and thankfully managed to avoid crashing. After the usual comments best left unmentioned and hitting the horn, I laughed to myself thinking... perhaps I should have run that red! Of course, the truth is, I didn't crash; but it made me think. Ethically, it was illegal to run the red light, but perhaps morally it was …

Stop the head shots

Building on the previous blog, the recent controversy in regards to the failure in Britain to cite players who inflict head shots on other players needs to be brought into context. It is ridiculous. These players should have been cited and banned for 2-6 weeks. Anyone who goes for the head in the rugby codes should pay the price.

I can imagine the second test tomorrow becoming rather tough. It would not surprise me if the Kiwi's take on the British with some big shots. Why not? Supposedly there is nothing wrong with it. Of course, one can imagine the ref sending someone off from the Kiwi's? If so, why would the Kiwi's not walk off the field and refuse to play? Then, they would be cited, and suspended!

League need to sort themselves out. Many see it as a game of thuggery, I am not one of them. The NRL has done a brilliant job in ridding the game of such problems. The British need to do the same. They need to have the same standards to international league.

I will be watching t…

Boxing Should Be Banned

I watched some of the 'Mountain Man's' fight last night. He got a good pasting in the end, cutting badly, blood pouring down his face. It should have been stopped earlier when he was severely cut. It is sad because to me it is the end of his being a serious threat. He has the skills, but he cannot take the hits, his skin cuts too easily and he cannot sustain the heat. He is a great boxer to watch, but unfortunately to me, it is all over. He may struggle on, but I would suggest getting a day job. Not that I would say that to his face, I would last about 5 seconds in the ring before you would see me running through the entrance at high pace!

The fight got me thinking about the question, 'when should a sport be banned?' Some would ban all body contact sports such as rugby and league on the basis of the injuries generated. I can see why, the injury toll is shocking, the cost to society of these injuries through the health system and ACC is massive. There is of course a…

The Key: 1-10

Looking at the world cups, what is needed to win it more than anything else, is a really powerful all-round pack, and a really good half and first five combination.

In 1987, the AB's did it with a great pack and Kirk-Fox. Fox was utterly brilliant, ran the game with precision. Kirk I rate as one of NZ's most underrated players. He is second to me behind Loveridge in recent times. He was a Rhodes Scholar, say no more!

In 1991, the Wallabies had the best pack I think they have produced in my time, excellent across the board. They had what I consider the best half-back-first five combo I have seen (I didn't see Edwards-John in the flesh, they may have been better). They were streets ahead of any combo at that point.

In 1995, the South Africans had a great pack that could match the AB's (at least food poisoned), one of the best half backs of their history Joost Van der Westhuizen who is underrated by Kiwi's but was a devastating player. Joel Stransky was not utterly brill…

Can we put an end to the 'end of the day'?

It was Sean Fitzpatrick who coined the term 'at the end of the day'. It is now in the NZ psychie as the way to describe the moment where it all comes to the crunch. How many times do we have to put up with it? It is driving me insane. So, in the hope that some NZ sports nuts will move to a new vocab, can I suggest:

'At the conclusion of the light hours'
'At the beginning of the night'
'At the point at which the sun goes down over the horizon'
'When we all go to bed'
There is always the 'when the fat lady sings' or the politically correct version, 'when the well-portioned man-woman sings'
'When the game is over!' How about that!
'When the pies are put out'
'When the lights go out'

Now, there are many more you may come up with. However, this is enough for now. Sean was a great captain but a boring repetitive cliche one-liner speaker. Can we see a new breed of NZ sports people who don't parrot good old Fitzy!

Knock Out Coaches

Perhaps we have all got it wrong. Without doubt the coach in NZ who knows how to win Knock Out rugby is without doubt Gordon Tietjens! He has proved it again and again, taking NZ sevens teams with a wide array of skill and experience, and more often than not, pulling it off. Perhaps it is time to give him the AB's to show us how it is done. He is a legend at getting people fit, knows how to put together a team on the smell of an oily rag and knows how to win a tournament. SOS Gordon Tietjens, coach for the 2011 rugby world cup.

The Myth of All Black Supremacy

There is this romanticism that is associated with NZ rugby supporters. We look at today's pampered AB's arguing that they have no mental toughness, cannot win the big ones, are not up to it when the pressure is on. We look back on the 'hard men' of NZ rugby in the 'good old days' and we pine for former glories. 'If they had had world cups in the good ol' days, we would have won them all'! Yeah right.

Track back into the archives and the AB's have always dominated (as they do now actually) but they had some really tough times and lost matches unexpectedly. Our best period was clearly the 60's but we still lost surprisingly to South Africa in 1960 at home, to the Aussies in 1964 in the third test (a shocker), drew against Scotland 0-0 in 1964, lost to the Springboks in 1965 in the third test when way ahead at half time. From 1965 to 1969 they were unbeaten, a time in which we possibly would have won the world cup. However, as 1970 showed, we ma…

The Richardson Factor

Mark Richardson rocked as a cricketer. He started off as a number 11 left arm spin bowler and ended up a NZ test opener with one of the best records of any NZ test opener, only Glen Turner can match him in terms of averages! The thing that was brilliant about Mark Richardson is that he played to his strengths and within his limitations. He was rudely exposed in One Day cricket, but in test cricket, he played to his strengths.

The England rugby team demonstrated the same at the recent world cup. They played brilliantly to their strengths, forward brutality and Johnny W kicking teams off the park.

South Africa too dominated in the same way. Brilliant line out, great half back, awesome defence, and picked up the scraps with their devastatingly quick wings.

NZ on the other hand to me had an identity crisis and have fatal flaws. They want to play the razzle dazzle game but in the quarter final lost their mojo. They tried to play like England. Through the season they dropped too much ball. The…

South African Cricket Tour

Why is it that I am not confident concerning the chances of NZ in the South African cricket tour. We do not do well on tours of the subcontinent at the best of times. This time we are weak in the openers (again, what is new) and they are running well having just smashed Pakistan in Pakistan.

I don't rate our chances against Kallis, Pollock and the gang. They are a mature team with strength throughout except perhaps a quality spinner, not that seems to matter to them. They seem to crack against Australia, but we are not the Aussies. I think we are in trouble.

I can't see how we will combat Steyn and Ntini, who traditionally relish the NZ batting line up on the bouncy SA pitches. I just can't see Michael Papps and Craig Cumming putting up stern resistance, one can imagine Steyn and Ntini licking their lips with glee! Then they will face either Ross Taylor or Stephen Fleming at 3. I hope it is the latter; however, it will mean our best batsman is facing the new ball on a consis…

Thanks Macca

So Craig McMillan has retired. I loved the way he batted. Good test batting figures by NZ standards: 3116 runs at 38.46 with 6 centuries and 19 fifties and a high score of 142. He alos got 28 wickets at 44.89. Not many Kiwi's crack the 40 average mark. He did this with diabetes and eye-sight issues and that should not be forgotten. He also played with an almost Aussie belligerance which I liked. His one day record was not as sharp. Yet he still scored 4707 runs at 28.18 with 3 centuries and 28 half centuries with a high score of 117. He also got 49 wickets at 35.04, a fine all round performance. He was a lethal 20-20 player with 187 in 8 games with high score of 57 and impressive average of 31.16. He could hit sixes for sure, with the most at the recent 20-20 world champs. I think he has been underated by NZ cricket fans and deserves to be remembered with great fondness.

Red and Yellow Cards

After watching the AB quarter final exit with Luke M yellow carded and then the NPC final with Flavell's time in the bin, it is time to find another way to punish players. There is too much riding on a game to use the reduction of teams as a punishment. This is especially so when we see how inconsistent refs are and how they make mistakes. Rather, there should be a report system whereby there is a judiciary ruling on the offence. Perhaps the player in a case of an extreme event is sent off, but they should be replaced. It should be 15 on 15. I am not a gambler, but if we are going to have sports betting, games should not be decided on referee's whims. Take for example too Rodney S when he smashed Brent Ward in the NPC final. He was lucky not to go, but should he have? The only downside I can see is that this might lead to people targetting opposition players, but I think that the flipside is worse. I say, use the cards either as a report system or as a sending off device in wh…

Tana and Justin

Is it any coincidence that the departure of these legends came about at the time when the AB's began to slip? To compound it we left Mauger, Howlett and Jack on the bench! I think we underestimate the greatness of these veterans.

All Blacks in Europe

The last world cup illustrated a real problem for us as a rugby nation. We are caught between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand we do not want to allow players who leave NZ rugby for the dollars in Europe to be available for the AB's. This could lead to an exodus and leave NZ rugby a shell of its former selves. However, in refusing to allow these usually older veterans who will be much better players for their experiences in the rugged northern rugby leagues, we rob ourselves of their value. These guys have experienced the trench warfare of the Heinkein Cup and we need them. It also means that the NZ competition lacks hardness as the rugged, durable vets go off to Europe. We need these guys. I say it is time for the next world cup to allow any NZ player raised in our system to be available. We might find some first fives who have learnt to drop goals, players who know how to play knock out rugby. If restructure our rugby right, it will still work. At some point the European…

That's What I'm Talking About! What a Goal!

Check this link out to You Tube. It is an extraordinary goal scored by Rey of Venezuela in the World Cup qualifying. It is not just the goal that is utterly unbelievable, it is the commentary which is worth several listens!

Click on the link and enjoy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CA7fdmdXRT4
Or for a clearer post goal commentary: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-eXRB-tUdsQ&mode=related&search=

Now that's passion!

Things Worth Dying For 3: Scripture Defines Christianity

The starting point for understanding Christianity is the Scriptures. It is the Bible in all 66 books which tells the story that lies at the heart of the faith. The core essential here is that the Bible is the authority for the faith i.e. the authority of Scripture. The Bible is utterly reliable. It is completely trustworthy. It is inspired in that in some way, God oversaw the writing of its words so that through the words of Scripture he reveals himself to humanity. I would die for this notion.


Now how we formulate this is worthy of debate. Some argue for inerrancy, in that the Scriptures are utterly flawless in their original autographs according to authorial intent. Fair enough, I agree with this in principle; except that this tells us what the Bible is not and it is difficult to prove either way. It is also hard to formulate an understanding of an inerrant song (a Psalm), an inerrant parable etc. On the other hand, errancy cannot be applied to the Bible, as no 'error' has or…

Things Worth Dying For 2: What makes something essential? What non-essential? Further Introduction.

So what makes something essential and non-essential? Those things that are essential to me are those broad themes and truths that are self-evident to anyone reading the text of scripture. Of course, that presupposes that Scripture is the first essential of Christianity (in some way) and I will discuss this in the next blog. But assuming this, the essentials are those elements of the Christian message that are utterly critical to the faith.

To illustrate from the world of sport. Critical to rugby is the lineout and ruck/maul (i.e. point of continuity). If I take the lineout out of the game, it ceases to be rugby and becomes more like league. If I take out the ruck/maul and replace it with a play the ball, despite there being a few rule differences, it is essentially league with 15 players in it.

It is probable that we can grade levels of essentiality actually. Some things are essential for salvation others are not. How created the world to me is not an essential in this regard. That G…

Macro-Narrative and Text... Hermeneutics

I have been reflecting for a while on one issue in regards to hermeneutics, biblical interpretation. It stems from an observation; namely, that one of the the greatest danger to accurate biblical interpretation is what I call 'Macro-Narrative Imposition'. It works like this. People study the bible with a fine tooth comb (some finer than others). I call this 'micro-text investigation'. That is, they study the text without forcing it into a 'macro-narrative structure', exegeting, thinking through its meaning.

Over time they develop a 'macro-narrative' perspective on the text. Once established in their minds, they at some point they cease working from a 'micro-text investigation' approach and rather settle on their 'macro-narrative' and impose it on the text. The macro-narrative' view begins to be the dominant factor in interpretation. I suggest that when we get to this stage we are in danger.

To get what I am trying to say, it is better …

Things Worth Dying For 1: What are the essentials worth taking a bullet for? Introduction

One of the things I have been considering lately is this question, 'what would I be prepared to die for?' I am not talking about causes here, but in terms of elements of Christian belief that are totally indispensable, things that are so essential to my belief that were I taken captive by terrorists, I would take a bullet for.

This is no academic exercise. The history of Christianity is full of the imposition of all manner of things as 'essential' to the faith. We have fought wars over some of them. People have been put to death for elements of belief. Churches have split continually over such things. As we go about preaching the gospel, we need to seek to be as certain as possible about these things, to ensure that we preach the gospel authentically. If we do not, we may sell people a lie, we may impose on them things they do not need to believe, telling them they are imperative, when in fact they are not that certain.

This was an issue in the early church. Should a …

World War 3?

Interesting article on Wikipedia news concerning comments on WW3: See http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Bush_and_Putin_suggest_potential_for_World_War_III

To summarise Bush and Putin are at it again. Bush has said this week that the Iranian nuclear program may be the trigger for WW3. Bush is quoted as saying that Iran with its leader who wants to destroy Israel and desire for nuclear weapons is a danger to security against which he is seeking to rally the world. This led to a Tehran response that Bush is either made or wanting a new world order and in fact it is the US who is the threat to world peace. Putin responded by saying Russian was boosting its nations defenses with new nuclear weapons to overcome the US anti-missile systems in Europe. Putin also suggested that the US are after Siberia's resources and has considered invading Russia!

These guys are mad! I am interested in the key words Iran, US, Russian, Israel and WW3. Interesting!

As for me, I will not try and predict anything dum…

Awesome Boks!

Brilliant win South Africa. Rubbish game, but a great win. They had a great draw, England twice, no NZ, Aust or France; but, who cares, awesome! Great pack. Brilliant half back, wonderfully talented second five, great goal kicker, awesome field position and fantastic defence. They were and are the number one team at the moment. And their lineout is sensational! No holds barred, congratulations. England were gutsy but had no attacking power. They nearly scored, but the 3rd ref got it right, unfortunately. Way to go Argentina, awesome performance. Their great win over France indicates how appallingly the AB's played! In 6 months the AB's have gone from the best team in the world to well below their standard, the South Africans in the last year have gone from number 2 to number 1. Things change and so why worry about 4 years ago except to pick the best team and go for it.

Another way ahead for rugby

Perhaps it is time to bite the bullet and go global with world rugby. Flag the world cup which in rugby is not working. Replace it with an annual or biannual competition.


There is the 6 nations in the north and the tri-nations in the south. Why not have one international competition each year? The heart of rugby is shifting north not so much in strength but in terms of where players are going. The truth is, in 10 years, most of the NZ best players will be playing in the European competitions. So why not extend the 6 nations to a 10 (or 12) nations competition. The All Blacks, Wallabies, South Africans and Argentineans go north every second year and play in it. It could be played either as a complete round robin which may take too long, or as two pools of 5 with semis and a final.


You could extend it to 6 in each pool and on the alternate years if biannual, have the remainder of the world's nations playing off to see who gets into it in a tournament of Romania, Georgia, Portugal, the…

Nuggets of Jude 4

The final nugget reads: 'to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.' This refers to those in the context of Jude's readers who are falling into sin, particularly the sin of excessive freedom (antinomianism). The believers are to show mercy to them, indicating the grace of God demonstrated to them. 'Mixed with fear' is difficult and could be the fear of the sinners, fear of judgement or of God generally. It is probably the latter two, fear of God and the consequences of sin. In other words, show grace and mercy to these people but do so with a determination not to fall into sin. The final statement reinforces this, the believers avoiding interaction with them and so being corrupted. This resonates with 1 Cor 5 where Paul urges the expulsion of a sexual sinner from the Corinthian church because of the dangers of the church being corrupted.

So we have insight into how to respond to false teachers. We are to be merciful an…

True!

Here's an article by J. Davies an ex-Welsh superstar which from a different point of view identifies where the AB's went wrong. I think it has a point: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/4/story.cfm?c_id=4&objectid=10470084.

Richard Loe too puts it well: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/topic/story.cfm?c_id=476&objectid=10469742.

John Mitchell is on to it. I still think he should have been given another go after the last world cup, but he made too many enemies: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/topic/story.cfm?c_id=476&objectid=10469122.

And on drop goals: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/4/story.cfm?c_id=4&objectid=10469269

Nuggets of Jude 4

Jude 23a is one of the most direct statements on evangelism in the NT: 'snatch others from the fire and save them'. The NRSV has it better in regards to the Greek: 'save others by snatching them out of the fire'. This is the second half of a men-de construct i.e. on the one hand be merciful to those in doubt, and on the other hand, save... The imperative is 'save', the means is 'by snatching them out of the fire'. This is a call to reach out to the lost and save them. Clearly, it in the NT it is God who saves, but he works through believers as his agency, empowered by the Spirit, as they share the Gospel with the lost.

This verse speaks of the dangers of eternal destruction. This is clear from verse 7 where the recipients of the letter are warned of the dangers of 'the punishment of eternal fire'. Sodom and Gomorrah serves as a warning to the readers.

Here we have an appeal from Christ's earthly brother Jude, to be motivated in our evangelism …

Now's The Time to Coach the AB's

If I was a budding rugby coach I would be desperately keen to get the AB's now. We go into the next world cup with a hometown advantage. We know that NZ is desperately difficult to beat at home, no matter how good the opposition is. I am sure that if Graham H, Laurie M, John H, John M had had the AB's for a home world cup, they would have probably won. Mind you our ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory is now legendary. Now is the time to get the AB's then. Mind you the person appointed should get a 2 year contract. Worry about the World Cup after two years. This would make them accountable for success in the interim. I think it will be Deans. He is tainted by Sydney 2003, which is bad but not as being tainted by the goings on in the rotation-recycling cup! Perhaps Gatland might be a chance? Who knows? But they have a great advantage whoever they will be, for they will get to play at home. Maybe at home we can throw off the chokers tag? Perhaps not? Then again,…

Eden Park Fiasco

Here we go again. Banks is in and the Eden Park games begin! Why not just give it to the Aussies now! What a mess. I hope the powers that be get sorted asap or the RFU will move it. Perhaps it is time to get the Albany Stadium plan together. It makes more sense anyway?

No surprise

South Africa's comprehensive win today is no surprise. They are a complete side now. What happened today should have happened twice for the AB's, knocking over France and then England with strong forward play, defence, goal kicking and attacking. Instead, the AB's were poorly prepared and foundered on inadequate preparation.

What a dream run for the South Africans; has any team ever had a run like this? Fiji and then Argentina in the play-offs! Neither of these sides are equipped to win the cup.

I can't see England beating the Boks. They fought well against France but the match showed that neither the French or the English have the x-factor. I predict a good win to the Boks. They are playing with passion and belief. They are fine-tuned. They have had an easy run and so have fuel in the tank. They have brilliance out wide and devastation upfront. I think it will be closer than 36-0 as the English are better than that and are playing much better. But I can't see them w…

Give it away

I don't get boxing at the best of times. Being of the Christian persuasion and believing that the human body is a gift from God as is life, and that the human mind is the centre of all that we are and experience, I struggle with sports which involve intentional desire to damage another person's head. Boxing's goal is to knock unconscious another person. This as we are regularly told by medical experts is bad for you and can cause long-term damage. One can argue that other sports like league, gridiron and rugby are similarly dubious. And there is an argument here as these sports involve physical domination. But the difference with boxing is that boxing involves damage to the brain! Whereas to do so in these other sports is an offense (although one can be forgiven for believing so sometimes!)

So what do you do with Evander Holyfield? One week short of his 45th birthday and he goes into the ring again to fight 32 year old Sultan Ibragimov of Russia and not unsurprisingly loses…

NZ League!

58-0! OK! That is a shocker! If the AB's lost by that, there would be a government enquiry! What a sad day in NZ league. What a start for Kemble! Lack of discipline, outclassed... The sending off cannot be an excuse although it didn't help! Still, we won the Junior Kiwi's game... little consolation!

Barry Curtis 10K

Congratulations to Nina Rillstone for her great win in the Barry Curtis 10k today in the senior women. What a star! Underated. 13th in the World Champs marathon this year in Beijing in tough conditions! Keep it up, there are people who are so excited about your performances. It was an honour to see you personally!

Awesome performance too by Gracie Keown in the Juniors, winning comprehensively! Rock and roll! What an improver Gracie is this season! She no longer lives in the shadow of the younger sisters. She is out of the shadow! Way to go John Bowden, coach of the pair... another great day at the office for John!

And keep it up Kelsey Patterson, you will be back!

SPARC Funding

Now as I see it the AB's came 5th equal in the rugby world cup. Now that is the same result as Kimberley Smith the NZ middle distance runner at the recent world athletic champs. Cool! We can expect athletics to get as much financial support as the AB's. Mmmmm... some how I don't think it will work like this. Mind you, the AB's did win the Tri-Nations this year... who will remember that for the next four years!

Dear Graham...

Just watched the England-France game! England! Who would have thought it after SA, Tonga and Samoa!

Yet, months ago in this blog I warned the world that if Johnny got back in the team and in form, England would be a force! They are, they were! I hadn't realised how well Johnny was playing, brilliant. He is back, the number one first five in the world. King Johnny gave Graham, Dan C and the others a lesson in first five play today. A legend. England are timing their peak brilliantly. They are doing what must be done in a tournament, peaking at the conclusion! Well done England...

We saw starkly the problem with the AB's last week. The Poms play week in week out, huge demands on them from their clubs. They come together for their national team, usually under prepared because of club demands. Yet, when the trench warfare of international rugby at the top level begins, they are are tough! They are resilient. They have had no rotation or reconditioning, but they know how to win. They…

Semifinal time

So who will win the semi's now that the AB's and the Wallabies are out? France I believe will defeat England. They have had their glitch against the Argentinians. They will be too strong at home, having the psychological edge on them. Having said that, I wouldn't be at all surprised if the English got up. I hope not, it is a sad day for world rugby if 10man rugby wins the world cup. Mind you, it will, they all play it now and the AB's unbelievably did so last week, and lost!

While many commentators are picking the Argentinians I think the South Africans will be too strong. They are a great side and may win the tournament. I think the Argentinians will meet their match this time, the South Africans have to me their match up front, and superiority in the backs. Again, nothing would surprise me either way though!

The final then will probably be France-South Africa. But then I thought the AB's and Wallabies would win. How about the bloke who put a $1 million on the AB…

Nuggets of Jude 3

Jude 21 reads, ' Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.' Again we are called here to take responsibility for our own faith. Remember that Jude's readers are facing false teachers and he has dished out heinous warnings to these teachers and their followers of a terrible fate. Here, the readers are to resist and keep themselves in God's love. 'Keep' is tereo and has the sense of 'guard oneself'; that is, watch your own faith. I am not one who agrees with the 'once-saved-always-saved' theology. I think such a view has to do exegetical gymnastics with a raft of texts which suggest one can initially believe, but do so in vain through falling away (e.g. 1 Cor 15:1-2; Heb warning passages). Hence, I believe Jude is warning his readers, look after yourself in the faith.

'In God's love' here is the language of relationship. Walk in faithful obedience and you remain in rela…

What does one have to do?

I see Roger Kahui was convicted yesterday to 16 years in prison for rape. Now that sounds rather harsh! But to me it is not enough. This guy on a pretense got a woman to let him in to her house and for four hours brutally raped her. She only got away because he made a mistake and she was able to run to a nearby petrol station and get help. Kahui before this had spent half his life in jail and had been convicted 130 times! One NZ Herald article notes that this number would be far higher if he had not been in prison so much!

Now I am all for restorative justice to a point. It is good to see the reconciliation of victim and perpetrator, to see both parties fully restored. I do not like jail in many ways, the gathering together of criminals in what often turns out to be a school of crime. It also leads, as in the case of Kahui, to criminals who cannot function on the outside and repeatedly offend to go back to jail. Several years ago a guy walked into our house in Henderson and stole my wa…

Nuggets of Jude 2

The second glorious nugget here is 'pray in the Holy Spirit'. 'Pray' here is present middle, the present indicating 'continually pray'. 'In the Holy Spirit' can mean 'by', 'with', 'in the sphere of', 'as led by', 'in the power of' and more. It should be taken in a global way. Pray as led by, in accordance with, by the urging of, in the love of etc etc, the Spirit. It is prayer drenched in the Spirit's grace, love, guidance and urging. It recalls Paul's injunction in Eph 6:18: 'pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.'

Prayer is the basic humanward side of response to God. Worship is essentially prayer. Prayer involves lots of listening, and sharing with God one's deepest thoughts, concerns, desires and yearnings. It should characterise us as Christians. It is one of the means of 'building ourselves up in the most holy faith'.

There are two equal and opp…

Marion Jones

So she is a cheat! No surprise in this. She has now admitted it. Won't say 'good on her', because she is a cheat. Now her 100m medal will go to another drug cheat (Katerina Thanou) who has also tested positve. 2 of the other woman in her 4x100m relay are also drug cheats (Chryste Gaines and Torri Edwards). Should they all lose their medals. Absolutely! She should be banned for life and lose every medal she have ever won and all who won relays with her should lose their medals.

What is amazing is that she has professed her innocence and even passed a lie detector test in the past! Apparently she has passed 170 test! So the testing sux! So you can beat a lie detector!

Now I have three daughters who run, one of whom is on the verge of the World Junior Champs in Poland next year. I wonder whether she has a chance as the sport develops! Can she ever know whether the others are clean? There are other problems at these junior events, people lie about their age. So she as a 15 year …

Nuggets of Jude

Jude is an underated book. It is written (so I think) by Jesus' brother Jude. He describes himself as a slave (doulos) of Jesus Christ and James' brother. It is written to some unspecified Christians described as the called, the loved by God, and kept by Jesus Christ. His recipients are afflicted by false teachers against whom Jude encourages them to contend for the faith. These false teachers are infiltrating the flock and are now condemned. They are godless and distort an authentic Christian doctrine of grace into a freedom to be sexually immoral and deny Jesus Christ as King and Lord.

Jude appeals to OT and apocalyptic examples of God's judgement. These include the Exodus, angels, Sodom and Gomorrah. These are examples of those who will suffer eternal punishment. These false teachers too are unholy, reject authority and slander celestial beings. Jude warns them with the example of Michael who when disputing with Satan over Moses' body, did not dare to slander Satan. …

On deeper reflection

So where are we at?

To me, while I have always loved Graham Henry, I think it is time for him to go. He has had a great career, won many titles, began the Welsh revival; but with the Lions and AB's he did not quite scale the heights of rugby immortality. Wayne Smith will not coach them again. I think it is Robbie Deans time. He is the man of the moment, he is at his peak, he is poised. We missed John Hart when it was his moment, he getting his chance 10 years too late. Perhaps the same is true of Graham Henry who should have coached the AB's after his glorious time with Auckland. John Mitchell was 10 years too early. Deans is ready! Don't let the Aussies have him.

What about the players? Mils is off and Leon M has had his day. Perhaps Corey Jane from Wellington will get his chance now. Doug is off, but the Fijians are ready to go and Smith is waiting in the wings. Hamilton and Hosea Gear are also good.

At centre we have good options, Tuiava, Smith and Nonu. In the midfield w…

Are we finally growing up?

It feels different this time... losing the cup I mean. In 1999 and 2003 the losses at the world cup were more like a funeral followed by blood letting. Anger filled the airways, John Hart and John Mitchell were vilified, Taine Randell and Rueben Thorne were the world's worst captains. NZ rugby was rubbish and needed sorting.

This time it is definitely different. There was grief and sadness and there are calls for Henry's head. But this time, as we saw at Christchurch airport yesterday, things are different. I was proud to be a NZer yesterday, and my desire to support the AB's was given a great boost as 2000 or so Kiwi's welcomed home the AB's.

And that was good! The AB's have done brilliantly over the last four years. They have beaten the Lions, had a grand slam, won the trinations, Bledisloe and we have won all but one Super 14 title. It has been a very good era. They fell at the final post, well the third from final one, for sure; but one cannot be too critical…

Rebecca Smith! Far out!

Sometimes a sports story comes along and slips through the net. More often than not it involves a woman who does something extraordinary, but because of the grip rugby has on this nation, no one takes much notice.

How about Rebecca Smith! She is NZ's women's soccer captain and today SHE WAS NOMINATED IN FIFA'S SHORTLIST FOR THE INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S PLAYER OF THE YEAR AWARD!

Now forgive me if I am wrong, but this is absolutely extraordinary! We have had some great players. Wynton Rufer, the Oceania player of the century who won a UEFA cup! He and Maia Jackman have both played in Fifa All Star teams. But this is something again!

She has been named with Germany's three-time world player Birgit Prinz and Marta of Brazil, last years player of the year, the best player at the recently complete world cup and the top goal scorer for the tournament!

Sure it is 'only' women's soccer, but soccer is the nos one sport in the world! And here we have global star. So …

Dougie!

Interesting reaction in the world press to Doug Howlett's antics. At one level one can see why people are up at arms. On the large, a few too many, gets carried away, knocks about a few cars. Not the sort of behaviour one might expect from a role model to the youth of society. Binge-drinking again! All Blacks should be above that!

On the other hand, these guys are only human! Here is Doug H, a year ago ranked the 4th best wing in NZ and probably on the outer for the world cup. He has a great season and knocks out Rico Gear, a truly brilliant player. He gets picked, breaks the NZ test try scoring record, and is probably with Ali Williams the NZ star of the cup.

Then the teams for the quarter finals are named and Dougie misses out! No doubt he was gutted. As it turned out, his experience was sorely missed as were Chris Jack and Aaron Mauger. Then, before he could blink the AB's were gone, out of the cup!

So he has a few too many, makes an error of judgement and before you know it, …

The power of the church

Embedded in this story (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/topic/story.cfm?c_id=500820&objectid=10467088) is a cool account of a church who stood against injustice and helped to lead to the fall of communism in Germany. It speaks of the power of passive resistance in oppressive contexts. As in many of these situations, it often takes years to get there, but it can be done. We who name Jesus as Lord need to stand against injustice. The uprising was in East Germany in 1989 in a Lutheran Church led by a pastor Christian Fuhrer who simply inaugurated prayers for peace, carrying candles to indicate non-violence. This led to 400,000 filling the centre of the city and ultimately 31 days later the fall of the Berlin Wall and communism in East Germany, Czechoslovakia and Romania! As the writer notes, 'That church provided the institutional context in which to challenge the state. And the faith of so many ordinary people gave them the courage to go into the streets on that evening when paratroop…

Rugby, God and all that

So what do the church's do that planned events for the coming Sunday mornings. One church had Eroni Clarke coming for a breakfast, to watch the game, and give a testimony. Many other church's have planned events, like my own, where I was going to say a few words in the outreach. Oh well! Does this mean though that Satan worked feverishly to assure that the French won to stop such outreach. A cosmic conspiracy is behind NZ's loss! I certainly prayed for an AB victory; not for the outreaches, but for the poor guys involved. I feel so sorry for them, having to come back to NZ to face the criticism; all because they lost by 2 points.

It was freaky how much went the French way. The ref made mistakes esp. the Luke M sinbinning, the forward pass in the winning try; and worse, missing offsides and the French slowing the ball down at the second half breakdowns. It is rather surprising that the French gave away not one penalty in the second half!

But hey, it actually means little. It …

Spin off

One thing that is rather funny as a Christian and rugby lover is the impact that this will have on churches. Many churches had prepared special events on the Sunday's leading through to the final; all based on the assumption that the AB's would be there to the end. My own church was planning a breakfast for the semi-final with me saying a few words at a special service after. Now these events are off. I simply can't see people coming out to watch the France-England semi on the big screen! I heard of one church who were preparing a big event with Eroni Clarke speaking!

Perhaps the devil did it! He didn't want these events happening because it could lead to many unbelievers becoming Christians! I am joking! I know one minister who is rather miffed, they now having to prepare a normal service with a normal sermon! Life is like that!

Bugger

Months ago on this blog (http://sportdivine.blogspot.com/2007_03_01_archive.html) I said, 'From a NZ point of view this will be a huge challenge. To beat Ireland/France then Australia then South Africa/England in successive weeks is a huge challenge! If NZers think they have the cup in the bag, get real; this will be a gigantic challenge and it is anyone's cup!' I also suggested that we would play Ireland but possibly France. Bugger, we played France, and we lost.

So what went wrong.

1. Rotation, Reconditioning is retro! These ideas have some merit but the truth is that the AB coaching panel failed to prepare the A team in terms of combinations. Neither does reconditioning work, it leave players without enough rugby. While you need fitness and depth, you need a team well prepared with hard rugby. They didn't need the rotation, we have more players in every position than any nation in the world already! They didn't need the reconditioning, they needed to play! They sh…