Sport

Terrible idea

No, really:

Rugby union could follow football in proposing plans to stage a men’s World Cup every two years by exploring the idea of a biennial showpiece tournament.

The radical move is “being considered”, admits the chief executive of World Rugby, as the sport’s custodians mark the midway point between the 2019 and 2023 tournaments by mapping out their vision for the future of the game in an extensive interview with Telegraph Sport.

Going the wrong way entirely.

Can’t recall who it was, might have been the England set up, possibly France, who had what I thought was a much, much, better idea. Run it every 4 years, as now. But run something like the Nations Cup at the same time in the same place. Maybe Nations isn’t the right name. But the knock out competition for all the teams that didn’t qualify for the World Cup itself. So that Peru, Singapore, Brunei, Kenya etc etc etc are all sending teams to that second competition to be played in the same country as the World Cup itself. You might even need three tiers, not just the two.

But actually make it all of world rugby is here and in this place for a month, 6 weeks, once every 4 years. Yes, Sikkim v El Salvador would attract a crowd of 2 blokes, three dogs and an empanada salesman but still. If we’re – as they do – going to try and call it all the global celebration of the game then let’s actually make it that.

A thought on this men and women are the same idea

Tennis. Not that I know much about the game. And three are confounders to this idea – the Williams, Boris winning Wimbledon etc.

So this is a question, not a statement. Do female tennis players peak at younger ages than male? From my very limited knowledge we seem to get teenagers winning in the female section in a manner that we just don’t – regularly – in hte male.

Is this, maybe, something to do with earlier maturity? Men aren’t, usually, at their physically strongest until early 20s at earliest.

Anyone actually know on this?

If I understand modern tennis

Emma Raducanu: Tennis world captivated by US Open’s young star – but now comes her greatest challenge
The 18-year-old has never faced a top-40 player and Belinda Bencic knows a thing or two about being a teenage prodigy

We’re hoping that our Canadian-Chinese-Romanian is better than the Swiss’ Slovak.

Have I got that right?

How colonial

Gareth Southgate said the onus is now entirely with Fifa and Uefa to tackle racism as there is “no more” his players can do on the issue after yet more abuse in Hungary.

On a night in which Raheem Sterling and Jude Bellingham faced monkey chants in Budapest, the England manager added that fans still booing players for taking the knee were “dinosaurs”.

Johnny Foreigner really just must act in accordance with our wishes, eh?

Just for clarity’s sake, no, I don’t support making monkey noises at the melanin enhanced. But we do indeed have this vast industry now insisting that Britain is the very devil because of the way it told Johnny Foreigner to act for a couple of centuries. And?

Might be a specialist market Afua, might be a specialist market

Afua Hirsch wants to tell us that she knows markets better than the IOC do. This could even be true as well. And yet:

The second scenario of how the Olympics approaches such a person is, I’m afraid, a more cynical one. In this version, the IOC is a corporate giant trying to sell a product.

Like other grandiose sporting conglomerates, it brokers lucrative broadcasting deals, negotiates eye-watering advertising contracts and enjoys a brand that makes others weep with envy.

If this were the case, you might conclude it’s doing pretty well. The IOC’s much lauded “commercial transformation” has seen its sponsorship revenues jump from $500m in 2000 to approaching $3bn today. McDonald’s sponsorship ended in 2017 after 41 years, but Coca-Cola sponsorship continues (are we really still meant to believe elite athletes drink Coke?), and the IOC has added digital companies such as Alibaba and Airbnb to its list of “partners”.

In this context, you would expect the IOC to look at an athlete like Saunders and see, in cold, capitalist terms, her potential to market its product. She was after all one of the most impressive people competing in the Games.

OK, let’s run with the capitalist bastards explanation then.

When the lovable shot putter Raven Saunders, who is a black, gay woman, won a silver medal, she used the occasion to cross her arms in an X – a gesture of solidarity at “the intersection of where all people who are oppressed meet”. There are two ways we might expect the Olympics to approach this.

It’s vaguely possible that that’s an appeal to a fairly specialist market. One that the IOC might not be trying to reach at the expense of the wider one they are.

Well, yes Stuart, we get the point

Gatland’s conservative tactics failed and a series that should have been won was lost. The record doesn’t look anywhere near as impressive. As for style, Gatland gave up on it. He believed the hype about the green South African defensive wall and kicked the series away. Only Finn Russell reminded us that a skilled professional can find ways to unearth chinks in any defence.

This is, in fact, a replay of the mid 80s thing with Rob Andrew.

Andrew was told to play conservatively, kick a lot, he did so. He got the caps. Barnes was more intuitive, much more fun and didn’t get the caps (only 10 I believe).

The argument being made now is the same as it was then.

It might be an argument as old as the game itself.

The pursuit of sporting excellence

That British breaststroke swimmer. OK. So, his training regime is 10 km a day. Before the weights and all the rest of it.

Which is an interesting example of quite how much effort goes into that sporting excellence.

I’m a good swimmer. Just one of those things. I can do a mile, easily – when pools are open and that’s my exercise gig that’s what I generally do as well. I know I can do two miles because I have done.

Could I do 5 and more miles in a day? Sure, spreading it over several sessions, slowly. And having gone into training in order to be able to do it the once.

That is, even as someone with an aptitude for the base activity, I’d have to go into training to be able to do, the once, his normal daily training.

A useful guide to how far away from normality this world beating stuff actually is.

This is fun

Leaps in athletic performance do rather raise an eyebrow. But that’s not the fun bit:

On Sunday Lamont Marcell Jacobs was the surprise winner of the most coveted prize in the Olympics with a European record of 9.80 sec, and yesterday he added another gold medal as part of the Italian 4x100m men’s relay team.

He only broke ten seconds for the 100m in May and as a consequence was not included in the Athletics Integrity Unit’s drug testing pool, which targets the world’s best athletes. Indeed, in the 100m final he was the only sprinter not on the AIU list.

Exactly those who show the leap in performance are those not long term monitored.

No, I’m not saying he’s dodgy. Nor am I saying the system is clearly nuts or anything. Rather, it’s a comment on how difficult it is to actually manage something. The universe is a complex place, plans are difficult……

Fan owned football clubs are such an obviously good thing

Why don’t we, as some insist we should, impose this upon our own leagues?

A club that should have set the standards for the world game, a fan-owned cooperative,

In its most recent published accounts in June last year, Barcelona reported a negative working capital – debts that exceeded short-term assets. Encompassing debts of €320 million (£284m) to other clubs in transfer fees; bank borrowing of €280m (£249m); bonds of €200m (£178m); unpaid wages of €200m; debts to suppliers of €84m (£75m), and public administrators €55m (£49m). The club’s €146m (£130m) state-backed credit line was eaten up by last summer’s six-monthly wage bill.

In short, Barcelona are broke. Their total debts exceed €1 billion

Oh.

Perhaps not race but genetics do matter in races

Hassan was up against three Kenyans – Hellen Obiri, Agnes Jebet Tirop, and Lilian Kasait Rengeruk – and three Ethiopians: Gudaf Tsegay, Ejgayehu Taye, and Senbere Teferi. Obiri, is a two-time world champion, between them Tsegay, Taye, and Teferi have run three of the 10 fastest times in history. It was one of the strongest 5,000m fields put together and Hassan,

Hassan is Dutch of Ethiopian birth and extraction.

(Northern) Kenyans and Ethiopians are not the same tribe, we’d not describe them as a race either. But a grouping – Cushitic, Nilotic-Cushitic, summat like that, and not Bantu – which dominates middle and long distance running in a manner that West African heritage does sprint – even though it was an Italian this time.

Race, eh, but genes do matter.

Where does the line come from, “But our ____ did better than your _____”?

Fat lady singing and all that

Meanwhile, Jamaica’s 100m bronze medalist Shericka Jackson committed the fatal error of complacently slowing down at the end of her 200m heat and failing to qualify for the semi-finals.

It’s over when it’s over and not before it’s over and all that.

The Greatest Olympian Of All Time – John Steven Akhwari

The voiceover is more than a little sonorous and mastery of the human spirit etc. And yet:

1968 Olympic marathon
While competing in the marathon in Mexico City, Akhwari cramped up due to the high altitude of the city. He had not trained at such an altitude back in his country. At the 19 kilometer point during the 42 km race, there was jockeying for position between some runners and he was hit. He fell badly wounding his knee and dislocating that joint plus his shoulder hit hard against the pavement. He however continued running, finishing last among the 57 competitors who completed the race (75 had started). The winner of the marathon, Mamo Wolde of Ethiopia, finished in 2:20:26. Akhwari finished in 3:25:27, when there were only a few thousand people left in the stadium, and the sun had set. A television crew was sent out from the medal ceremony when word was received that there was one more runner about to finish.

As he finally crossed the finish line a cheer came from the small crowd. When interviewed later and asked why he continued running, he said, “My country did not send me 5,000 miles to start the race; they sent me 5,000 miles to finish the race.”

23 km on a knee you’ve just dislocated? Respect.

No fucker’s going to beat that this year. Or, likely, any other.

Umm?

Scott, who had qualified second fastest for the final, is a freestyle specialist and so it was of little surprise that he should lag back in sixth place after the opening backstroke leg. He then moved up to fifth in breaststroke and butterfly before unleashing a ferocious finish over the final 50m to surge through the field into second.

Backstroke first leg? Really?

Second leg, surely?

And this is from the Chief Sports Reporter?

This isn’t a great argument

Dan Bibby, an inspirational stand-in captain in Tokyo after Mitchell got injured, has proved a vegan can compete at the highest level of his sport. Rugby traditionalists may think this is too touchy-feely, but it is the future and this is why these sevens players need to cherished. We need male role models who can talk openly about their feelings and aren’t afraid to break the stereotype of whatever a rugby player is supposed to be.

Well, maybe we do and maybe we don’t.

And who was there years ahead of their time, discussing mental health, veganism, the importance of sharing resources with female counterparts, learning from women’s sport with regard to openness and LGBT athletes? The sevens men. They are a team for our times.

OK, super. But here’s the problem. The rest of the whingeing is about how they only came fourth. Meaning that all this wokeness might not be all that helpful in the base aim of sport, to win.

There’s also one other point. All this “support” the sevens teams should get. Well, that sevens circuit is pretty mature now. Ongoing global competition. Does it make enough money to support the teams playing it?

Nope? Then why make other people subsidise it?

Yes, yes, start up investments and all that. But that sevens circuit is mature now.

Sporting behaviour

The Huddersfield forward Kenny Edwards has been banned for 10 matches for putting his finger up the bottom of an opponent.

But this is the interesting bit:

The Catalans back-rower Joel Tomkins was suspended for eight games for a similar offence last year while the wingers Tommy Makinson of St Helens and Warrington’s Tom Linehan were suspended for five and eight matches respectively for grabbing opponents’ testicles.

Actual dangerous behaviour gets the lesser punishment.