Pull your socks up, new boys

Last updated 12:18 15/11/2012

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Rugby Union

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There have to be standards, especially in team sports. So to see new All Blacks Dane Coles and Tawera Kerr-Barlow trot on to the field as substitutes at Murrayfield with bare legs on Monday was galling.

OPINION: Both had their socks below their ankles, and in Kerr-Barlow's case, almost down to his toes. Coaches, by their inaction, appear to countenance this desecration of the All Black uniform.

And don't feed us this rubbish that these guys' calves are too big for the hosiery these days. Rubbish.

Adam Thomson formerly wore his socks down and now wears them up. It has hardly affected his play, and can't be blamed for him stupidly mistaking Scottish forward Alasdair Strokosch's head for the ball at Murrayfield.

Gnarly old All Blacks coach Fred Allen said he wouldn't have stood for socks down, and neither did rugby coach Rick Francis at Feilding High School.

Francis was wonderfully farewelled by the school at his funeral on Monday, where one estimate had about 800 in the school hall.

In the tribute by one of Francis' former hostel boys, George Whitelock, these days the Canterbury captain, he still referred to the 70-year-old as "Mr Francis".

Braeden Whitelock, who helped to coach the First XV with Francis, referred to the firm hand shown by Francis in running the Feilding Ag hostel and sometimes making hard decisions when it came to the boys, because their families couldn't make them. He didn't tolerate slackers.

Thanks to Francis, All Black Sam Whitelock always has clean boots, and Aaron Smith religiously writes things down before he goes out to play.

Yes, there have to be standards.

The people at Manfeild are not having much luck when it comes to staging major meetings at the circuit this summer.

They won't host the new V8 SuperTourers, seemingly due to a dates clash with the V8 Supercars, who will have first dibs on the top drivers in Australia.

And even MotorSport New Zealand's tier-one series has been eviscerated, with classes like the NZ V8 Utes and Suzuki Swifts having defected to the SuperTourers.

They are still left with the Toyota Racing Series, arguably the premier category in New Zealand. And they have the New Zealand Grand Prix, the most prestigious race, at Manfeild again, with a host of overseas drivers.

But the meeting will still need support classes to keep the spectators occupied between the single-seater races.

It is anyone's guess how many of the new-generation V8s will be blatting around Manfeild after all the top drivers have jumped in with the SuperTourers.

I know that there were discussions between the two groups to at least run a meeting concurrently, which is a great advance after the two parties had been jousting in the courts.

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But the dates didn't suit the SuperTourers, and the Motorsport NZ meeting was long ago set in concrete.

It also hasn't helped that the MotorSport NZ schedule has the Manfeild meeting, the final of the series of five, up against the superstocks team championships in Palmerston North.

Staging the two biggest motorsport events on the same weekend is clearly a stuff-up, especially when there are 51 alternative weekends in a year. Those closely involved are telling us it will make a grand festival weekend of motorsport, and let's hope it is.

As long as there are spare beds in Palmerston North and Feilding, because most have been booked by the stockies.

The Awapuni Function Centre operates well for the myriad of events held there these days.

It has plenty of room, an alternative area for the pre-function drinksies, and plenty of car parking well away from the snooping Frogs.

But it is getting repetitive. Every awards function is being held there - even the secondary schools sports awards, which were fine at the convention centre.

For a while, every awards dinner was held at what is now the Travelodge, but for whatever reason that has fallen off the calendar.

Variety is the spice of life - and while we're at it, the Awapuni food could do with spicing up.

- Manawatu Standard

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