Crusaders might not be popular but they were flying the NZ flag
OPINION: It appears there were as many New Zealanders hoping the Crusaders would lose the Super Rugby final as backing them to win.
I couldn't get where Hurricanes captain Dane Coles was coming from when he said "go the Lions" after the Canes lost at Johannesburg.
Surely our rugby hasn't gone tribal as in British soccer, where club fans reason if it's not us, then they hope it's not them – as in another club down the road.
Once the Canes were ousted I wanted the Crusaders to get the job done because they were a New Zealand side. Had the Lions had won, the Springboks would have gone in with renewed confidence against the All Blacks.
Mind you, we in Manawatu have as much cause as anyone resent the Cantabrians with the players from here who have either been poached or sent there by fifth columnists.
Canterbury rugby fans have long been supremacists, many an altogether horrible, insular bunch of fanatics with their feral attitude towards visiting teams.
So when our Manawatu Turbos bowled Canterbury at our boneyard last year, it was greeted warmly by almost everyone else in the dominion and there were no qualms about our esteemed bucketheads giving them a spray.
An added spur for me for a Crusaders win though was the injustice of it all; The Lions had only four games outside South Africa, one in Argentina and three versus Aussie easybeats. And eight of their games were played on the high veldt, a huge advantage when it comes to puffing through the final 20 minutes against seaslugs.
Meanwhile, the dismissal of Kwagga Smith was identical to the accidental aerial tackle of Jason Emery for the Highlanders on the Sharks' Willie le Roux last year. Neither case was deliberate and ordering-off should have been sufficient penalty, but Emery copped a six-week ban, later reduced to four.
The same with Sonny Bill Williams' red. That should have been sufficient penalty.
At the other end of the scale, when the Broncos' Joe Ofahengaue spear-tackled a Titan last week, he was only put on report and later got a three-week holiday.
When Parramatta's Kenny Edwards, originally from Levin and with a lengthy rap sheet, put in a filthy tackle on a prone player, he was simply fined and was back the following week.
Dasher in black
It was strange but heartening to see a black singlet in the 100 metre quarterfinals of the world athletics champs in London.
Our Tauranga prodigy, Joseph Millar, can tramp, but his 10.31 second dash wasn't enough as the first Kiwi in a decade to represent NZ in the sprints.
Not that it bothered Tom Walsh with his cannonball heave of 22.14m for an amazing gold in the most boring discipline.
Millar has high hopes for the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast next year. There he will have to go close to his NZ record of 10.18s because 15 Commonwealth sprinters beat his 10.31s in London. His 10.18s would have got him into the semifinals.
It's a shame ninth-placed Eliza McCartney didn't vault to her best after her Achilles tendon problems. A Beef and Lamb NZ ambassador, she got to 4.55m but her 4.82m personal best, set in February, would have earned her silver.
It's a treat to see her interviewed, an absolute joyous cackler out of the Irene van Dyk mould.
❑ Sometimes when walking along the track below the Esplanade, I feel inclined to hurl myself into the safe waters of the Manawatu River.
That's because most of those astride bikes provide no warning of their approach. They have a bell upon their handlebars, but only a few ding-a-ling-ling it. We need a city council bylaw making it compulsory.
❑ When the Palmerston North Catholic diocese congratulated Fr Brian Walsh on being promoted to monsignor on Sunday, they mentioned those he has encouraged along the way. "And a few of you who have suffered under him on the golf course."
A dogged golfer, he has played at the Hawera, Pahiatua and Manawatu golf clubs. If ever he is in Rome (not for golf), he is now expected to support the Pope in the papal liturgies at St Peter's.
❑ If Manawatu halfback Jamie Booth transfers his current form into the NPC, surely a Super outfit will come looking.
In the past two pre-season games, after eight weeks off, he has been sharp with his running, passing and has been tackling like a loosie. He is getting expert tuition from new Turbos assistant, Aaron Good, the Manawatu halfback from 2006 to 2008.
Lock Liam Hallam-Eames has staked a place too, to partner Jackson Hemopo, with his all-round game including taking kickoffs, for too long a Turbos' oil leak.
❑ If the Arena grandstand remains a fire hazard, let's take the Turbos-Wellington game on April 20 to Cooks Gardens, Whanganui, rather than to McLean Park, Napier.