Rugby, schmugby. New Zealand's got plenty of other reasons to be cheerful

01:43, Jan 31 2009

Another failed All Black World Cup campaign getting you down? Well, cheer up, there's other stuff we are good at that doesn't involve dodgy English referees or debates about the rotation policy.

We've thumbed our noses at the nuclear swaggering of the superpowers and made movies and songs to entertain the masses.

We might not have been World Cup winners since 1987 but, in the greater scheme of things, is it really that important? Despite what you might think, Ernest Rutherford certainly thought it had its place.

The father of nuclear physics actually did give a split particle about the national game, but clearly understood there were bigger things in life, even if they were the size of an atom.

Rutherford's tradition was continued by recently deceased Alan McDiarmid, winner of the Nobel Prize for chemistry.

Surprisingly, McDiarmid did not design the ionised rugby jerseys we heard so much about before the World Cup.

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He was too busy figuring out, along with his colleagues, how to get plastic to conduct electricity. Apparently it was an even bigger invention than the 3-2-3 scrum.

We might not be singing the All Blacks' praises, but we can sing.

Think Neil Finn and co and their Crowded House, or Kiri Te Kanawa, or maybe Hayley Westenra, who World Cup organisers banned from the event because her pure good looks and sweet voice had the ability to shatter opposition confidence like a crystal glass.

Bigger, maybe, than the Webb Ellis Cup is the Booker Prize, the English-speaking world's most esteemed fiction honour and a New Zealander, Lloyd Jones, has been shortlisted for it for his Mister Pip.

No, haven't read it either, but it must be pretty good.

What is definitely bigger than the World Cup is King Kong and that was directed by New Zealander Peter Jackson, who is now one of the most influential movie-makers on the planet. He's not alone. Think Andrew Adamson (Shrek, Chronicles of Narnia) and Martin Campbell (Casino Royale, Goldeneye, Mask of Zorro). Think about Lee Tamahori, but not in stilettoes and fishnets.

On the small screen the Flight of the Conchords are hoping to win over Britain the way they have the United States. Starring New Zealand comics Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie, the show follows two musicians struggling to make it in New York. Also getting props on the box is Julian Grimmond, multi-Emmy Award winner as a producer for reality show The Amazing Race.

You see we can do it, and this is only scratching the outer mem-brane. Don't get us started on Valerie Vili launching a shotput into space, or our dominance over the Australians in badminton's Whyte Trophy. Go Kris Gemmell, who won a World Cup triathlon race in Greece at the weekend.

Rugby, schmugby.

The Southland Times