Glasgow is playing host to the Australian Games, otherwise known as the Commonwealth Games from the 23 July to 3 August, 2014.

It’s haggis v meat pies. Having debuted with haggis recently, I know who will win this one. It’s gold to the 4 and twenty!

The Commonwealth Games have been going since 1930 and although there are 53 members of the Commonwealth of Nations, 71 teams participate.

When Australian’s win and dominate everything, like Athletics, which they aren’t even strong in, is there really a point in having the Commonwealth Games?

I think the answer is yes and no. Being highly opinionated, this is very unlike me to sit on a fence and don’t try it, it does hurt.

I believe winning a gold medal in the Olympic Games should be the pinnacle of your sport and that’s why I think sports such as tennis, basketball and golf should definitely not be in the Olympics.

The Commonwealth Games is similar and it’s great that sports like netball, lawn bowls and squash are part of this event. They aren’t included in the Olympics and for these athletes (and yes I am saying lawn bowlers are athletes), winning a gold medal at these games is better or on parr with winning a World Championship.

The Commonwealth Games is also a stepping stone for athletes for the Olympic games, two years after. It gives them a yardstick on where they are at.

It appears as if the Scottish have their security in place, to stop people like me and also for patrons who don’t behave well. ‘UNACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOUR TEAM’.

comm games unnaceptable behaviour

While it may seem weird that there is more chance of white Australian athletes medalling in the 100m than there is of seeing the Loch Ness Monster, the Commonwealth Games has its place. It is tradition now, also.

I tried to find a few interesting facts about Scotland and I found two:

1. Scotland lost the greatest number of soldiers per head of population in World War I.
2. The official animal of Scotland is the Unicorn. It hasn’t done a lot for the country recently.

Here are some funny pieces I found out of Scotland though.

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Comm games 1

Rugby Union expert Brett Moore, is a special guest writer for this article. Brett is the ex-Media Manager of the NSW Waratahs and was previously the editor of Australian Rugby Review when it won the 2003 Magazine of the Year award for its Rugby World Cup coverage. A flyhalf trapped in the body of a goalkicking hooker, Brett has watched sport around the world and tried his hand at pretty much all of them however it’s in writing about Rugby where his sporting talent really lies.

Last week The Call of the Wallaby premiered on Fox Sports. The excellent first part of a six episode season gets Australian Rugby fans to have a good hard look in the mirror. It asks the question, where have all the Wallaby fans gone?

From the 1990s when the Wallabies were twice crowned World Champions, to the brilliant 2001 Lions tour and an amazing 2003 Rugby World Cup which had Australia buzzing, the 15-man code has steadily slipped down the pecking order of Australian sport over the last decade.

The Call of the Wallaby is taking an active role in developing The Gold Brigade, recruiting core of 3000 dedicated fans keen to pull the gold scarf out of the bottom drawer and take the atmosphere at Bledisloe Cup matches back to where it was 10-15 years ago.

The growing apathy amongst Rugby fans is no more evident than in Sydney where the Waratahs are the most-maligned professional sports team in Australia’s biggest city.

Starting each season with great expectations and finishing each one with nothing has been simply too much for many who are not prepared to part with their hard-earned and cheer on their team. In recent times, some of those who have actually turned up have changed from cheering to booing their own team.

In 2006 the Waratahs averaged almost 34,000 to each home game – it was the hottest ticket in town. However Wendell Sailor’s drug ban on the afternoon of their final regular season match started a steady slide that has only now started to flatten out. The Waratahs went on to lose that match, costing them a home-semi and they lost the ensuing playoff game the following week.

In 2007 a string of injuries plummeted the Tahs to second last and crowds started going the same way as the results.

In 2008 the Ewen McKenzie-coached Waratahs hosted a semi-final at the Sydney Football Stadium before falling at the last hurdle to the Crusaders, but despite a strong season the average crowd was now just 27,000. In 2009 it was less than 24,000 and in 2012 under 21,000 were rocking up.

Last year, the Waratahs average crowd was 16,949. Remove the blockbusters against the Reds and Brumbies and that number drops to 14,623.

So the calendar flips to 2014 and the Waratahs are the team to watch. Minor premiers, a seven-match winning streak, the best attack, the most tries in the competition. Oh, and a former AFL player they call ‘Izzy’.

But the crowds have not come back. At least, not yet.

There were matches this season when the Waratahs did not even announce an attendance figure. Why? Well, with the numbers where they were, the figure would either be embarrassing or worse yet, a lie.

Which brings us to this weekend where the Waratahs host a home semi-final for the first time since 2008, and the administrators could not have asked for a better match-up than to take on the Brumbies at Allianz Stadium.

Ticket sales were strong after the Tahs secured a home semi and those holding out to find out their opponent have started to snap up tickets following the Brumbies’ two-point win over the Chiefs on Saturday night.

Waratahs Brumbies in Sydney. A place in the Final on the line. Possibly a Super Rugby Final at the Olympic Stadium against the competition’s eternal frontrunners, the Crusaders. It’s a marketers dream.

And the Waratahs should win this weekend. They are the form side of the competition having not lost since Anzac Day and just three weeks ago they touched up the Brumbies by more than 30 points.

But footy’s a funny game; the Brumbies won a sudden death match against the Force to qualify for the finals and backed it up in an elimination rematch of the 2013 decider. To knock of the Tahs this weekend is not beyond the realms of rugby possibility, particularly if NSW succumb to 19 years of statewide expectation which is firmly pushing down on their collective shoulders.

However where the Waratahs can definitely win – and need to – is in the stands. If the full house sign is to go up on Allianz Stadium this Saturday night it will mark the biggest step forward for rugby in NSW since Jonny Wilkinson struck down years of progress with a right-foot drop goal in 2003.

It will be a clear indicator that the Rugby fan, who for the best part of the last decade has preferred to sit by the fire with a glass of red in hand and the IQ remote in the other, no longer lies dormant.

The Waratahs need them there. Australian Rugby needs them there.

And rest assured, should the Tahs be victorious in bringing the Rugby crowds to Sydney, the hard thing will not be finding 3000 fans to fit in the Gold Brigade come-Bledisloe time – the problem will be finding enough space to fit them all in.

The Origin series has finally finished and all players are back on deck, so it’s time for a power rankings. Things don’t appear to have changed much over the last 9 weeks.

Sharks not setting the world on fire. Top 8 completely undecided with a bunch of teams still in the hunt and no-one showing any real consistency.

The weekend just gone was simply incredible with all the public support for Rise 4 Alex. I don’t think I have ever seen the game bond as one, like I have around this tragic incident. Congratulations to the NRL.

Here are this weeks power rankings:

16. Cronulla – ASADA or try HARDA. Cronulla are in massive trouble.

15. Canberra – All they have left is to fight and make sure there isn’t a wooden spoon in the trophy cabinet soon. They could well be eating their rice bubbles with this spoon though.

14. Newcastle – One of the most inspirational days in Knights history. Such a shame Newcastle couldn’t win this one. I think everyone wanted the Knights to get this one over the line.

13. Parramatta – What’s the matta Parramatta? The year started so well. Jarryd needs to hop into his plane and start flying it better than Maverick otherwise their season is in trouble.

12. St George-Illawarra – Mary Mary quite contrary how does your garden grow? And how does your team win. And who will be the new coach?

11. Gold Coast – They were the biggest party spoilers ever, but they needed this win. Their semi finals are hanging by a thread and with all the emotion in Newcastle, I have no idea how the Titans won this, but maybe it shows they have a lot of guts.

10. Cowboys – They came to the Shire and they conquered. It was hardly like Napoleon taking over the Kremlin in winter, but they won their first game on the road, finally.

9. Wests Tigers – Young, younger, youngest. Mick Potter is coaching for his career. These young players are playing for their season and they delivered in style over one of the front runners. This could be a turning point.

8. Melbourne – It’s getting cold in Melbourne, but I have a feeling this team is just getting warm.

7. NZ – They win the games they shouldn’t and lose the games they should win. Very confusing. A bit like chicken waffles.

6. Brisbane – Players sacked for staying out after curfew. No worries. Sure Anthony Griffin will be staying out after curfew now he doesn’t have a job.

5. Roosters – If the Sharks finish last, Paul Gallen will be sitting in the ‘chook pen’. I think he’ll be there in September. SBW is still fast even when he fasts. What a freak! How do you not eat and still play well in an NRL game?

4. Souths – All I hear from Souths fans is this “if we hold the ball we’ll win the comp”. If you tackle, kick and pass as well, it will help. Let me know if you need any more of my great coaching tips.

3. Dogs – Has someone stopped feeding the dogs their pal? They played like they were malnourished and they aren’t the dominant force they were earlier in the season.

2. Penrith – These cats didn’t purr this weekend but didn’t lose too many of their ugg boot, Jim Beam drinking fans.

1. Manly – Daly Cherry dollars. Will he or won’t he stay? Who knows. Who cares. He has 12 months to work it out but right now the Sea Eagles are on top and there is almost a cherry on top as well.

MONDAY-ITIS LAUGH

Posted: July 20, 2014 in Uncategorized

The Commonwealth Games is about to kick off.

Let’s just hope no mascots offer any winners piggyback rides, like this one!

This hysterical and disastrous clip comes from the Track and Field World Championships in Berlin in 2009, after Jamaican, Melaine Walker won the 400m hurdles gold medal.

We have all seen some amazing goals during the recent World Cup Soccer, but I have just come across this simply amazing goal.

Talk about turning defence into attack. You may not ever see a better goal.

I’m sorry Maradona, I’m sorry Pele, you guys did some pretty handy things, but this is the most bizarre and incredible goal I’ve seen.

If you’ve seen a better goal, let me know.

FLASH BACK FRIDAY

Posted: July 18, 2014 in Uncategorized

The British Open Golf is under way. But let’s go back to 1999 and one of the most famous British Open’s ever.

Frenchman Jean Van de Velde led by 5 strokes going into the final round. Surely, he couldn’t collapse like Greg Norman and his 6 shot lead in the 1996 US Masters?

Well he did and in more spectacular fashion.

When the British Open started in 1860, the winner was given a red leather belt with a silver buckle. Imagine winning that. I think almost every golfer wears that at some point in time now. The winner now receives the Claret Jug trophy. In 1999 with Van de Velde leading by 3 strokes, with one hole to play, the engraver took the liberty to etch his name onto the trophy. That was the last time he worked for the British Open Golf, as the Parisian collapsed completely.

If you make a mistake on a computer, you simply press, backspace. Even before computers there was liquid paper to go over things. Well, it’s a bit different with engraving and the engraver had to scrub out one name and replace it, somehow, with Paul Lawrie!

On the final hole, Jean went for broke. It wasn’t a disastrous shot and his ball was safe. His next shot, wasn’t safe. He used a 2 iron, a club which is now like the walkman and his ball hit the grandstand and ricocheted into heavy rough. His next shot, plopped into the water.

Off came the shoes and socks and he almost played from the water. Sanity returned, he took a drop and then promptly put his next shot into a bunker.

Australian Craig Parry, was next to him in the sand and holed his shot. Van de Velde needed to hole his shot to win, outright. He didn’t, but somehow calmly drained a seven foot putt to go into a three way play off with Justin Leonard and Paul Lawrie.

The play off format for the British Open is a four hole play off, with the lowest score over these four holes, winning.

Lawrie, who had started the day an incredible 10 shots off the pace, won, but the tournament is forever remembered as the one Jean Van de Velde, lost.

Have a look at Van de Velde’s last hole. It will break your heart.

Slip, Slop, Slap is what Australians do with sun cream (not that I do, being dark).

Flip, Flop, Flap is what Australians are doing now, over Ian Thorpe’s infamous interview with Sir Michael Parkinson.

I’ve heard a number of different points of view over Ian Thorpe recently.

I’ve heard people dribble that “I’d say ‘I’m not straight’ for $400 large” and I think it’s a ridiculous comment to make.

People are saying he should have opened that closest, which contained a few Armani suits, a while ago. It’s not exactly like The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is it. If Thorpe had come out of the closest earlier he wouldn’t have gone into some mystical and magical C.S Lewis world. He would have been attacked by the lions and the witches, which include the media and public, which is exactly what is happening now- and I’m not saying people are attacking him in a negative way.

Australia’s greatest Olympic male swimmer made the best decision in not opening up about his sexuality in 2000, from a business and professional point of view, only. I’m not going to comment on if it was the correct thing to do from a personal point of view, as this is a very tough thing, but business wise it made sense. It would have hampered his career. Sport is a business and saying he was gay, would have harmed his sponsorship potential- not just in Australia, but abroad.

If I start with Australia, we are not that liberal or educated as a country, as we think. Minorities are still frowned upon. I’ve seen it first hand with the level of racist remarks I received as an A-grade touch judge in Rugby League. I heard the number of people who would laugh at comments made by drunk ignorant people, about the colour of my skin. I heard kids, as young as 13, call each other ‘p00fters’, as if it was the worst thing they could possibly say. I’m not gay, but when I heard these comments on a sporting field, I would immediately send the child off.

If Thorpe had come out in 2000, it would have taken the focus away from his swimming and given him unwanted attention and extra pressure at events. That is something which can’t be disputed. The media would have asked his competitors stupid questions like, “how does it feel to compete against an openly gay swimmer” and “what’s it like in the change room”. Sport at the local level is hard enough. Sport at the highest level is even tougher and it may have given his competitors a mental edge and made Ian feel inferior.

No-one will ever know if results would have changed, but why risk putting extra pressure on yourself.

If we pretend for a second that Australians and Australian corporations wouldn’t have changed their opinion or business dealings based on someone’s sexuality, let’s turn our attention to other countries. I guarantee most Australians have no idea about the culture and international marketing of other countries and how they view gay men. I’m lucky to have travelled to 43 different countries and I don’t have a clue how gays are received, well apart from Russia, obviously.

Would Japan have made him their poster boy for the 2001 World Swimming Championships, made him an ambassador for the Australian Tourist Commission in Japan or named a drink after him, if he was openly gay? Who knows, but why risk it.

Sport is a business.

I’m not going to touch on Thorpe’s depression, because this is a horrible issue. However, having been around some of Australia’s top sports men and women for the past 14 years, almost every single athlete or coach, at the elite level, suffers some form of depression after their career is finished. It’s just natural. They’ve had the fame, glory, money and now they have to fit into society and live like a normal person.

Who cares if Thorpe was paid $400,000 for his interview. Do you really begrudge him? I know a lot of people do.

Has Thorpe shown guts in coming out once his career is finished? Everyone has their own opinion on this, but what takes real guts is coming out, when your career hasn’t even started. Michael Sam, has recently been drafted by the St Louis Rams, to play in the upcoming NFL season. He’s not a quarterback and will most likely never be as good as Thorpe in his chosen sport, but the amount of attention he has received is absurd. The media were all over it before the draft and who knows how his teammates will react in the locker room. Sam has shown incredible strength and I wish him all the best and hope he isn’t vilified if he ever makes the field.

For some reason, people enjoy drama- especially when it’s not about them. Being a gay athlete shouldn’t be a big deal, but it still is.

I don’t know if Thorpe’s esteemed and former manager Dave Flaskas, advised him at all, but I do believe he made the right decision in staying quiet about his sexuality.

It really has become a case of ‘Out of the Frying Pan and into the Fire’. Ian Thorpe is gay and now everyone is talking about it. I’m fairly sure Tolkien didn’t have Thorpe in mind when he wrote this chapter, in The Hobbit. Thorpe has escaped the Goblins and let’s hope he can continue on his journey.

FLASH BACK FRIDAY

Posted: July 10, 2014 in Uncategorized

With the World Cup Soccer coming to a close, I thought I’d share the top 20 goals of World Cup history.

Number 1 is arguably the greatest goal in Soccer memory and I’m sure you’ve all seen it many times.

Hope you enjoy this highlight reel and it really is worth watching them all. Spending seven minutes with me is time you won’t ever get back, but this is seven minutes worth watching!

If you enjoy this post sign up and follow me at joeshughes.wordpress.com

The poor NRL. They just can’t take a trick. If it’s not putting out fires, with Todd Carney’s urine, they’re wiping the slate clean, with Nate Myles’ faeces.

Now they have David ‘Wolfman’ Williams betting on games he has been playing in.

I love Rugby League. But over the last ten years, including three years working at a club, I have either witnessed personally, or heard of more stories, which would be best suited to a film director.

I don’t know if these players think they are bigger than the game. I don’t know if these players think they are celebrities. I don’t know if these players think they are invincible.

I love the fact that the NRL have suspended Williams for the rest of the season. I actually wish they would ban him for life and set a real example. NRL players aren’t celebrities. They might be well known in certain parts of the state they play in and possibly in parts of New Zealand or northern England, but there isn’t one NRL player who is a genuine celebrity.

I don’t know what is wrong with these NRL players who think they can do whatever they like and they won’t get caught or there won’t be any ramifications.

I know these problems aren’t just restricted to League and it happens all over the world, but it seems to happen far too much in Rugby League.

Do these players want to ruin a competition which has soccer and Australian Rules on their tails? $5 says they don’t.

“Prost” was said at least seven times throughout Germany as they demolished Brazil.

“Yawn” was said numerous times throughout the rest of the world apart from in Argentina and Holland as they played 120 minutes of boring, risk free, minimal shots on goal soccer.

The second semi final came down to penalty shoot outs which is just luck, really. Like going to Vegas and having a flutter at the tables or eating anything chicken in South America and hoping you don’t get sick. The keepers just have to guess which way to dive and hopefully they do it better than Greg Louganis.

The start of the penalty shoot out didn’t go well for the Dutch with the first goal being saved. The Dutch keeper chewed his gum furiously, giving Steve Waugh a run for his money with ferocity. But it didn’t help him save goals.

The third shot from the men in Orange was also saved spectacularly, basically giving the sky blue and white their golden Willy Wonka ticket into the final. It was a Krul way for Holland to go out.

While Brazil won’t be in the final, we do have a European team playing a South American team. Although the world wanted a Brazil v Argentina final, FIFA will be happy with the result.

From Buenos Aires to Berlin, there will be a nervous wait before the finale takes place at 5am (AEST) on Monday 14th July, 2014.