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Monday, May 09, 2005

[Sport] Keeping the Faith

%#&$%ing Blogger! $%^#@@&^*#er I have tried to post this column 10 $#@&ing times now! Html tags my #$$! Any way it’s finally here so read and enjoy…

This is the column where I get to quote and congratulate myself on being ever-so-smart.

Blues V Hurricanes:
What I said: Hurricanes by less than 12, the Blues may get a four-try bonus-point.
What actually happened: Hurricanes by less than 12. What I forgot was when you have two teams who have great offence the game is usually a low scoring affair.

Waratahs V Reds
What I said
: Waratahs by more than 12
What happened: Waratahs by more than 12 (possibly the easiest call of the week, but remember I was going on scoring stats alone).

Highlanders V Crusaders
What I said: Crusaders by less than 12, maybe even by 1 [Big defence meets big offence normally means a win for the defence, but I’m picking the Crusaders with their points-diff]
What happened: Crusaders won by more than 12 (27-13). Stupid last minute try to…some guy..after some terrible refereeing. I was reminded of something Hunter S said about sport while I watched the game: “[even if you support the team] you find yourself scratching the television trying to claw the lungs out of the junkie quarterback who just scored to beat the spread”. Damn you Crusaders.

Brumbies V Chiefs
What I said: Chiefs by less than 12, infact I also pick this game to be won by 1 point just so the Chiefs will have a zero point –diff.
What happened: a draw. My actual analysis had this at a draw but I so wanted the Chiefs to have a zero points-diff.

Sharks V Bulls
What I said: Bulls by more than 12, like shooting fish in barrel (Har-de-Har-har)
What happened: Bulls by less than 12 (23-17).

Cats V Stormers
What I said: Like, who cares. No that’s nasty. Stormers by less than 12
What happened: Stormers by less than 12.

So it’s “fairly well done Hadyn”. Not bad at all. I had a thought though. What if I just pick the home team to win every game? That means this season I would have correctly predicted 34 of the 60 games, a 57% success rate. This week my success rate (for just winners) was 83% and for winners with margins was 60%. Hooray I’m better than guessing!

Here are my predictions for this week.

Without ridiculous bonus points (if you want the table including the ridiculous points added please see below), the Crusaders lead followed by the Hurricanes (because they both beat the Waratahs). Here’s the table.

  1. Crusaders
  2. Hurricanes
  3. Waratahs
  4. Highlanders
  5. Bulls
  6. Blues
  7. Chiefs
  8. Brumbies
  9. Stormers
  10. Reds
  11. Cats
  12. Sharks
(Cats are ahead of the Sharks and Chiefs are ahead of the Brumbies on Points Diff).

Here’s what will go down this week, remember this is strictly done on point statistics, (there are no other publicly available stats anyway):

Crusaders V Hurricanes
Crusaders by more than 12. It pains me to say it but that’s how the stats stack it up.

Waratahs V Blues
The Blues can still (in theory) make the semis. But they won’t, Waratahs by 12+.

Chiefs V Highlanders
The Chiefs are on a role and the Highlanders are not, having said that, I pick the Highlanders by less than 12. Crazy prediction of the week: both teams will come away with 4-try bonus points.

Reds V Brumbies
If the Brumbies win and get two bonus points in the process (which is impossible) they still have no hope in hell of reaching the semis Hahahahahahahaaaaa. Brumbies by 12+ (not that it will matter! Hahahahahaha). NOTE: This has been revised (with much less laughter) above.

Bulls V Stormers
The Bulls will be keen as beans to win this one with maximum points. Given that I have predicted the Hurricanes losing, the Bulls can leapfrog them on the table with a win. The Bulls have scored more points and the Stormers have given up more. So I will say the Bulls by less than 12.

Cats V Sharks
The fight for the Wooden Spoon. I give victory to the Cats, considering the Sharks -179 points-differential. Wooden Spoon goes to the Sharks.

So the three big matches are Crusaders/Hurricanes, Highlanders/Chiefs and Bulls/Stormers. So it is natural that this weekend I will be very busy.

Now, on to other rugby matters.

If I didn’t need to pat myself on the back enough already, here is another reason why I don’t care Norm Maxwell is going overseas.

My faith in rugby union has been renewed by, of all people, an Aussie.

“The thing”, lyricised former Wallaby Peter Fitzsimmons, “that sets rugby apart from every other [professional] sport in the world is the passion each player has for his jersey”. (Sniff, wipes away a tear) This appealed to my sports romanticism, which is always my downfall. By the way, I inserted [professional] on purpose; given some players fanaticism for their club teams.

Fitzsimmons is against the draft and against the salary cap. He is known for saying “pay ‘em what they’re worth”. On a side note: what is a player worth? Really? And once you’ve figured that out, what’s a teacher worth? Or a street cleaner? Because we should really be paying them first.

Any how he’s right, in a way. Sport is more exciting when the players actually feel something for their jerseys. Remember when players used to swap jerseys? Giving an opposing player your jersey, your most-prized possession, for theirs was a huge gesture. However, let’s not let rose tinted glasses get in our way. We are way past that now.

If players really felt something for their jerseys and province would we have seen Rico Gear go to Nelson in order to play for the Crusaders? Or Radike Samo decide that he would rather play for Aussie than his native Fiji (I wonder who would pay more?). See it’s not even about money any more, it’s about opportunity.

Basketball’s “Mailman” Karl Malone left the Utah Jazz, a team he played with for 18 years (1985-2003), for the LA Lakers because he wanted to win an NBA title before he retired. He left for a (reported) pay cut and LA lost to the Detroit Pistons.

Devotion to your team, province or country is one thing. Devotion to a coach or team-mates you might hate; devotion to a losing team; devotion to low pay and terrible work conditions; devotion to angry fans is a completely different idea.

Should a player wait in the wings for someone else to be injured just to stay in his province or should he be allowed to move to another province that will let him play? Surely he will be as or even more devoted to a province that believes he is a good player than one that thinks he is third best.

Fitzsimmons is right though. Drafts don’t always go to well. Remember Eli Manning crying and stamping and asking his Daddy to help him in last year’s NFL draft? I also wonder how the draft will work. No one seems to want to explain the details.

That’s enough to digest for now. Congrats to the BOP (Waikato) Magic for defeating the Southern Sting in the National Bank Cup. And Happy Mothers Day Mum!

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