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Good rugby, bad thumbs and ugly reactions

Stunning quarterfinals, subconscious bias, a thumb in the wrong place at the wrong time, and idiots in a car make up another edition of the Good, Bad and Ugly of sport.

GOOD

No surprises where I start, and topping the list from four gripping RWC quarterfinals are the All Blacks, who produced an outstanding rearguard action to withstand a late Irish onslaught to win 28–24 and book a semifinal with Argentina this weekend. One of the best performances by the All Blacks in my memory, and that’s far too many years to think about.

Stand up, Sam Cane; you’ve silenced a few detractors, and I’ve been one. And is there a tougher, better all-around player on the planet than Ardie Savea?

Not far behind were the old foes, the Springboks, who ended the hosts’ hopes of lifting the William Webb Ellis Cup for the first time.

All Blacks great Dan Carter is to be inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame. With a world record haul of 1598 points, including scoring 29 tries from 112 tests and two World Cup victories, the honour is well-deserved and long overdue.

Staying with rugby, the Hurricanes re-signing one of the All Blacks’ rising stars, halfback Cam Roigard, for the next four seasons. His battle for the number nine jersey with veteran TJ Perenara will be one worth watching, and their combination gives the Canes a strong hand in the pivotal position.

Yay, we got some cricket, albeit on an artificial pitch, but there were some encouraging signs for Wairarapa’s rep season, with unknown Shamal Perera leading the way with a brilliant 92 for the North and then picking up two wickets in the South’s reply. Quinn Childs and Samuel Payne also impressed with the ball, and veteran Seth Rance got in four overs as part of his long recovery from shoulder surgery.

The Black Caps are three from three at the Cricket World Cup and should make it number four tonight, but it won’t be easy against Afghanistan, who upset holders England, which is also a good thing!

The cricketers also have plenty to smile about with the inclusion of T20 for the 2028 LA Olympics, along with squash [singles], baseball-softball, lacrosse, and flag football [American Football’s version of Touch]. Disappointingly [yeah, right], the sport [?] of Breakdancing has jittered off the stage, into oblivion with their boom boxes.

BAD

Consistency of refereeing raised its ugly head again at the RWC. I’m baffled how Aaron Smith is sent to the naughty chair for getting a couple of fingertips to the ball in an instinctive reaction, whereas England’s Owen Farrell deliberately knocked the ball down in what was certainly more of a yellow card offence than Smith’s, yet a penalty was the only punishment. That issue raises the spectre of subconscious bias by RWC referees towards the tier-two teams, but let’s not go there; it might get ugly.

But possibly worse still was Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth’s knock on 5m from his own line, with France having a two-man overlap. How that was missed, with the assistant referee right there, and didn’t result in a penalty try, a 14–0 lead, and a yellow card has me beat. I’ve certainly seen those dished out for a lot less. Even more galling for the French, the Boks equalised moments later.

Not a good look, though, is the continual waving of arms and gesticulations by players urging the ref to make a call. Concentrate on your game and let the ref get on with it.

Williamson’s thumb! Can Captain Kane cop a fair break? Just back from major knee surgery, Williamson was completing a run in the win over Bangladesh when a throw from the outfield bounced onto his thumb holding the bat.

The Cricket World Cup – where are the crowds? If their beloved India isn’t playing, the fans are staying away in droves, and in those big cavernous stadiums, the empty seats stand out as much as Kane’s sore thumb!

UGLY

Those keyboard warriors who dissect every perceived injustice that might have cost their team a win are becoming uglier and uglier in their reactions and comments. Get over it; the result is not going to change, and even with TMOs, VAR, Third Umpires, and Bunkers, there is still human error, and that has been a part of sport since the year dot.

The IDIOTS, who decided it would be a cool idea to tear around the Queen Elizabeth Park Oval in a car in the early hours of last Thursday, damaging the northern end of the cricket block and parts of the surrounding outfield, putting the start of the club cricket season at risk.

A session in the nets facing a fired-up lineup of fast bowlers for several overs should cure the offenders of any desire for an encore performance.

Chris Cogdale
Chris Cogdale
Chris “Coggie” Cogdale has extensive knowledge of sport in Wairarapa having covered it for more than 30 years, including radio for 28 years. He has been the sports guru at the Wairarapa Times-Age since 2019.

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