OPINION: Heading up to Taranaki for Manawatu's Ranfurly Shield challenge last Saturday was almost like entering a semi-autonomous enclave, dodging milk tankers and all. It was rather like driving out of Bosnia-Herzegovina into Republika Srpska.
Taranaki imperialism was at play and I'm not just talking about the rugby players they buy up large from Gisborne.
Just north of Maxwell, en route to Waitotara, there was a sign proclaiming, “Welcome to South Taranaki” and another impertinently saying “this is South Taranaki Young Farmers' territory”.
Bollocks. Chop them down. In rugby and political terms, that rolling country has always been Wanganui's .
The boundary was always the Whenuakura River, down in a dip not far from Patea.
And no, I'm not getting over it. Taranaki now have four Manawatu players and have grabbed many more over the years. They're even snooping around our academy players so we must have our bayonets affixed.
Our Turbos might have perished last Saturday but at least they softened up Taranaki so our Chiefs' brothers could like the Ranfurly Shield last night.
I can confess I was born under the cone of Egmont, even if I can no longer remember the great squawking moment, having dossed down in six rugby provinces since.
As a Tukapa blue-and-white toddler, I yahooed when Ross Brown kicked the ball 100 times a match. I helped my pater turf the embankment at Rugby Park only to see it now desecrated by a hooring great grandstand.
As for the now, Taranaki rugby, flush it seems with roubles, will simply keep going to the market to replenish their stocks.
This competition was not set up to manufacture replica Super Rugby sides, but somehow up there in the Bight it is working under the salary cap, and for Taranaki and Hawke's Bay, that is $1.3 million.
Envy will get us everywhere.
They just don't care as long as they wear amber and drink their amber. ■ The supposedly gold-plated Americans at Medinah had it coming when they saw their Ryder Cup hopes collapse before their eyes on Monday. Their jingoistic star-spangled chants of “USA, USA” were too much.
There's nothing like matchplay golf and a comeback by an opponent who is being ridiculed by the home town masses. Even Tiger Woods got the jitters, missing a putt on the last against Francesco Molinari of a length the great philanderer never misses.
It felt as if all of New Zealand was with the No 11, Martin Kaymer from Dusseldorf, when he drained his vital eight-footer on the 18th. How he could even draw his putter back amid the tension was beyond comprehension after yipping his first putt.
Kaymer's first inclination was to run and perform a pelvic straddle upon Sergio Garcia when at some stage he should have clapped hands with Steve Stricker.
It was great theatre, the Europeans chipping in, sinking snakes and great players like Mickelson and Stricker powerless to stem the tidal surge. Some of them might never recover from that defeat.
Many Manawatu golfers journeyed to Royal Melbourne for the President's Cup version last year. It was great to see the top players there, but the Americans raced away against a disappointing President's team and so there was little of the tension of the Ryder Cup. But then Ryder has been around for 85 years, the President's only since 1994.
Notice the absence of the blonde, mini-skirted American trophy wives at the end this time around.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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