The Clifford Cup
The Clifford Cup Knock out games commenced as scheduled on Friday, with Army losing out to a buoyant Havies team. The quality of rugby dished out for a knock out stage game was pathetic at best. The few weeks rest after the league games had done nothing to improve upon the levels of fitness or recharge the batteries. The game was played at a rather pedestrian pace and the crowd that was on hand to witness the game were outnumbered by the soldiers in uniform. The entire open area opposite the grand stand was full of soldiers and two ‘papare bands’ were in full swing. I guess after being on their toes in a bid to eradicate the country from terrorism, they are now entitled to a far less regimented routine. In fact I enjoyed the ‘papare’ music much more than the game.
There must be something catchy about ‘papare’ music as at times we even see them at wedding receptions; maybe a sign of things to follow in the marriage after the wedding is over. It’s a shame that Army were knocked out as the ‘papare’ band will be silent in the future games. Apart from saying that Havies are through to the next round there is nothing worthy of mention in respect of the game, a pity considering that the Clifford Cup is steeped with over 100 years of tradition.
Kandy too seemed to have gone into a slumber mode and made a meal of it before finally beating CH. Navy were supposed to have it easy against the Police, but once gain were stretched to the core before finally emerging victorious. The Police must be a buoyant outfit as they celebrate 145 years of service to the nation. If this is the quality of rugby that is going to be dished out on the weekend, we can all expect very poor crowd support at the remaining games.
I am also distressed to read the article in a leading daily with regard to the plight of Nuwan Hettiarachchi. What a pathetic state of affairs, even after the granting of a Presidential pardon, the authorities appear to be adopting a rather lackadaisical attitude in respect of him finally taking the field to play for the club of his choice.
RUGBY WORLD CUP
The RWC starts on 9 September and in an astonishing move, the New Zealand Rugby Union have launched a high profile campaign to remind the general public that rugby is ‘only a game’. The reason behind this move has apparently been the response of the NZ public after an All Black Loss. As I thumbed through the pages of history, the fate of previous New Zealand World Cup Teams has been as follows:
1991: After losing to Australia in the semi-finals by 16-6 the entire squad were only allowed back into the country after publically self-flagellating.
1995: An extra time defeat to first time entrants South Africa is blamed on food poisoning and, as a result, the New Zealand public forgave the runners up and directed their anger at the winners. The 1995 squad are the only All Blacks team to escape relatively unscathed from a World Cup failure. Rory Steyn, in charge of the All Blacks’ security during the 1995 World Cup in South Africa, alleges that the New Zealand players were poisoned two days before the final against the Springboks.
All Black coach Laurie Mains hired a private detective to discover why several players went down with food poisoning. The detective found that a Far-Eastern betting syndicate had paid a waitress called Suzie to doctor players’ drinks. In his book, One Step Behind Mandela, Steyn says he arrived back at the team hotel after organizing a trip to the cinema. “There is no doubt that the All Blacks were poisoned two days before the final,” he writes. “When I got upstairs to the doctor’s room, it looked like a battle zone. Players were lying all over the place with the doctor and physio injecting them. “Now I was a police officer, I worked with facts. What my eyes told me that night was that the team had been deliberately poisoned. I was very angry that this happened in my country to people in my care.”
1999: A shock comeback from France at Twickenham in the semi-final leads to 13 members of the Kiwi team being forced to remain in quarantine and/or solitary confinement for four months upon their return to native shores. Other players later complain of being victims of voodoo dolls.
2003: Another semi-final defeat to rivals Australia leads to half the squad suddenly disappearing from the public eye. To this day nothing is known of the fate of these players.
2007: After falling in the quarter finals to France the New Zealand public form lynch mobs and proceed to descend upon the homes of the players (still in Cardiff at the time) waving pitchforks and proceed to burn various properties to the ground.
Let the games begin.