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Lots of good and an ugly red card

Record crowds and television audiences, a record medal haul, an overturned red card, and a cheating school – there’s plenty to talk about in the world of sport, so let’s take a look at ‘the Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ of it all.

Why not start with something local?

Tumu Douglas Villa and Greyfriars Motel Greytown don’t play in the top football league, but to finish second and win promotion from the Capital Divison Two and Three, respectively, all with local talent, is no mean feat and should be celebrated. 2024 will be a big step up for both but don’t bet against these two well-coached sides from making a big impact.

Copthorne Wairarapa-Bush got their Heartland campaign off to the ideal start, sneaking a 32-31 win over Ngati Porou East Coast. How good was Andre Taylor, whose stunning 40m run through tiring defenders set up the match-winning try for Nathan Hunt? The former Hurricane wasn’t perfect by any stretch, but his value to the team was summed up in those 15 seconds of brilliance. Not so good, the bagging of Taylor by some hard-to-please ‘rugby heads’. C’mon, guys, he just won us the bloody game!

What about Rocco Berry? The Greytown product is having a breakout season and looks more and more at home every time he runs onto the field for the NZ Warriors. His influence at centre is one of the many reasons why the men from Mt Smart are on the charge for the top four. The son of All Black Marty Berry wouldn’t look out of place in a black jersey for the end-of-year internationals.

Another well-known to locals through his deeds in the NZ Cycle Classic, Aaron Gate, bolted to victory in the points race at the Cycling World Champs in Glasgow, swinging on his bike as he put four laps on the field to win his second rainbow jersey. But his efforts were just a small part of an outstanding campaign for the Kiwis, who rode away with 19 medals [six gold, four silver, and nine bronze] and finished eighth on the medals table, four places ahead of our trans-Tasman cobbers and traditional powerhouse, Australia. The Para Cyclists added another 12 medals. Bring on Paris 2024!

Scott Dixon, the ‘Ice Man’ lived up to his name, winning in the IndyCar Championship for the 19th consecutive season, winning the Indianapolis GP, just 0.4779 seconds ahead of Graham Rahal, whose reaction, “It’s ridiculous, it’s absolutely insane”, best summed up the red-headed Kiwi’s achievement.

Bonza!! Cracker!! The Women’s Football World Cup – what more can be said? Labelled by Fifa as “by far and away the best ever”, the tournament has drawn record crowds and massive television audiences and proved to the world that the Antipodean cousins can put on a bloody good show! And who said women can’t beat the blokes? England’s Chloe Kelly’s match-winning penalty was clocked at 110.79kmh, faster than any goal scored in the EPL last season.

Wairarapa Track and Field athlete Liam Lamb was literally “ticked off”. The budding middle-distance runner’s European campaign was cut short when he was bitten prior to an 800m race in the Netherlands, resulting in an infection which he is still battling.

Sports organisation websites and social media. Some are good, some are okay, and others are just bad. Take NZ Hockey. On Sunday, I was searching for score updates on the Black Sticks men’s deciding game against the Hockeyroos in the Oceania Cup – updates, not live coverage because I was working and couldn’t afford the time to sit down and watch it. But no, nothing on the NZ Hockey or Blacks Sticks websites, and I even tried Facebook and Twitter, but no joy. I eventually found something on the excellent Tribe app, but I would have thought the games should have been front and foremost when I went to the national website. Unfortunately, it’s one of many that aren’t exactly user-friendly, especially for old farts like me.

Cheating rowers! Secondary school powerhouse Hamilton Boys’ High School have been hit with a suspension, fined $5000, and stripped of titles and medals won at two Maadi Cup regattas and two North Island Secondary School Championships between 2021 and 2023 for 17 breaches of rules and regulations. Just another example of the exaggerated elitism placed on sports by some of our leading secondary schools.

Owen Farrell’s shoulder charge and red card! The independent panel’s exoneration of the red card has freed the recidivist offender to play immediately.

The committee said the England captain’s action should not have been upgraded to a red card because of the “sudden and significant change in direction from the ball carrier” and “this mitigation was sufficient to bring the player’s act of foul play below the red card threshold.”

What did they view? The same video as me? I have seen several angles now and am still bemused at what the heck they saw that made them come to that conclusion.

Instead of accepting their captain shoulder the blame for his actions, the Rugby Union employed a slick legal eagle to get Farrell off, and it worked. Unless, of course, World Rugby show some kahunas and appeal.

Regardless it smacks of the “haves” and “have-nots” that have plagued the 15-person code for decades. Compare the thug Farrell’s ugly effort with Tongan international George Moala’s tip tackle that earned a 10-match suspension, and you will see what I mean.

There is no place for the Owen Farrells of this world on the rugby field, let alone in France next month.

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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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