Rugby Almanack keeps its mojo

23:00, Mar 26 2014

Once when the precious NZ Rugby Almanack hit the stores, the then familiar logo of the Moa, the flightless bird, was always in pride of place.

When the latest edition touched down recently, it was like old times. The logo was there but this time it was a motor mower, fair dinkum.

The logo illustrates the genesis of the Almanack, rugby's koran, and of New Zealand sports publishing.

We feared when Hachette NZ's office in Auckland was closed down last year, apparently because of the proliferation of ebooks and books freight-free from, we feared the Almanack might cave in after 80 years.

Not so it seems. Mower at Albany in Auckland is part of Upstart Press formed by former Manawatu man Warren Adler and Kevin Chapman, who had lost their jobs with Hachette.

These publishing gurus are bravely ploughing on, not surprising when they oversaw the birth of McCaw, The Open Side last year. It was hardly a shock, horror, expose, because McCaw was still playing, but it sold out in 36 hours and all up sold 120,000 copies, the biggest sports book seller in Kiwiland.


Which tells me there must still be money in this game.

Maybe not so much with the Almanack which is for the diehard spotter and an essential tool in our trade. It is now subsidised by the New Zealand Rugby Union, as it should as the sport's official archive.

That fact might prevent the authors giving the NZRU both barrels in their editorials should it be deserved.

The last time the Almanack was published privately was by founder Arthur Carman in Linden, Tawa, in 1982 when it sold for $6 and had only 218 pages. Now it retails for $55 and has swollen to 445 pages.

In 1983, Moa Publications took over publishing the Almanack. Moa, owned by the entrepreneurial John and Janet Blackwell, embarked on a magnificent binge of sports publishing, well before the silly internet era.

Along the line their company became Hodder Moa, part of Hachette Livre, a subsidiary of the French media giant Lagardere, the second largest publisher in the world, and finally Hachette. Trouble is, giant companies have way bigger bottom lines so let's hope Adler and Chapman can make a go of it with fewer overheads.

There are now three Almanack co-authors, which is sensible with so much data to be processed and for succession planning. Manawatu farmer Clive Akers has been with the Almanack since 1995 and this year has been joined by Hawke's Bay's Adrian Hill. The other, Geoff Miller, is from Paeroa which brings a nice provincial favour to the book.

New innovations pop up each year and all that's missing in version 2014 is a photo of the Manawatu Turbos. Many other unions sent them in and we will be expecting one in 2015.

■ I'm sticking firmly to my belief Tiger Woods will not win a 15th major.

His body is falling to bits after too much stress on it through almost two decades on the tour and whatever relations of an industrial scale he put it through off the course.

His sponsor's call of "rip it" has been Woods' mantra and ageing bodies do not appreciate being ripped.

As the priest said at the big funeral in Palmerston North on Saturday, "the body is not meant to last."

Woods, rising 39, has not been as powerful mentally ever since Elin gave his car a good thrashing with a 7 iron.

Craig Perks, when in town for the LawnMaster Classic, said every professional had a lot to thank Woods for, namely the huge money in the game with PGA Tour events routinely having purses of more than $US6 million.

Should Woods bale out of golf, the broadcasters would take a huge hit. Americans already talk about Tiger events and non-Tiger events, such is his viewing pulling power.

Adam Scott might be the player du jour but the question mark about him centres on the funny telescopic wand with which he putts.

All going well it will be banned next year, he will have to revert to short orthodox putters which ordinary players like Woods use and we'll see if he continues to clean up.

Perks credited a lot of Scott's success over the past two seasons to Tiger's old bag carrier, Steve Williams, a tough, focused taskmaster if ever there was one. As Perks said, Scott wouldn't dare not give his all with Stevie on his bag.

Manawatu Standard