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


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.


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.

Top 5 Online Poker Players

The gambling market

Online gambling is a massive market and is set to grow. In 2019, the market was worth US$58.9 billion, and is expected to be worth in excess of US$92.9 billion as soon as 2023. Technological advances, changing player habits and changes in legislation in key areas (in particular the US) have driven this growth.

The poker industry is growing at a similar rate, and is predicted to yield 11.5% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2020 and 2027. Increased disposable income in the Asia Pacific Region is driving this growth, and online poker has garnered attention from a new demographic of players, in particular college students.

Why is online poker so popular?

  1. Convenience

Poker has always been popular. The nature of the game has seen it remain popular for many years. The move online has reached a whole new demographic and the ability of being able to play anytime, and from anywhere, has increased the popularity of the game.

  1. Skills, not luck

Many have mixed opinions about whether Poker is about chance, but some have argued it is a game of skill and many enjoy playing it because they are able to show off against their opponents.

  1. Money safety

Improved technology means that one of the key considerations when playing online has been dealt with: money safety. It is now easier than ever to make sure sites are secure, and players can be sure that when they are entering their details their information is secure. Some operators offer cryptocurrency payment, which is in many ways even more secure.

  1. Sociable

Poker is a sociable game, with players being able to meet like-minded individuals and make new friends. The online aspect means that people are not limited to geographical locations and time zones as they would be in land-based casinos, but can instead meet players from around the world.

  1. Popular Culture

Poker has become a big part of our culture, whether it be films about or featuring poker, music and music videos, as well as common every day phrases including ‘when the chips are down’, ‘to go all in’, and ‘poker face’.

  1. Financial rewards

For the most talented players, there is the potential for high returns on investment. Those with the necessary skills can make a fair amount of money, be it on online games or in the bigger tournaments, all the way up to the World Series of Poker (WSOP).

Online poker has become so popular that some players have even gone as far as turning their hobby into a full time career. These online poker players have been hugely successful, with wins and sponsorship deals mounting to many millions of dollars

Top five career poker players

  1. Viktor Blom

By the age of 15, Blom, who is only 30 now, had already amassed US$275,000 in online poker winnings, and was to win much more under the pseudonym Isildur1 before revealing his identity to the rest of the world in January 2011.

By 2009 he was often playing the biggest poker pots in the world, against some of the top players in the world, including Tom Dwan, Phil Ivey and Brian Hastings to name but a few, and reached peak career earnings in November 2009 at just 19 years of age with just under US$6 million. However, he lost US$4 million to Brian Hastings in one day setting a record for the biggest loss and gain in poker history.

Over the last decade, Blom has been in and out of the poker scene, playing occasionally, and with US$3 million in winnings, Blom remains a legend in online poker.

  1. Tom Dwan

One of Isildur1’s opponents, the player known as ‘Durrrr’ online has gone on to find considerable success at live cash games and tournaments. His prowess and playing style is feared by his opponents, playing multiple high stakes tables at once.

Dwan has US$3.4 million in tournament winnings, and plenty more in cash games, and regularly plays in Southeast Asia, in particular Macau, the regions foremost gambling haven.

  1. Dan Cates: Jungleman12

Yet another young player who started his career online as a teenager, Cates had over US$11 million by 2014. Originally studying Economics at the University of Maryland, Cates dropped out to pursue a poker playing career, which so far has panned out well. As well as online tournaments, he has had considerable success in live poker rooms and cash games.

With two WPT high roller titles in 2013 and 2014, a Triton Super High Roller win in 2016, a third place in 2017, Cates has over US7.4 million in career winnings, making him one of the most successful players in the world.

  1. Ben Tollerene

As recently as September 2019, Tollerene won over US$1 million at the British Poker Tournament, a culmination of over a decade of high stakes wins and tournaments galore for this native Texan.

Starting out with a US$500 online deposit, Tollerene has advanced his game considerably, and won over US$10 million in the early 2010s. His overall tournament winnings are said to be around US$3.5 million, with live tournament and cash game winnings of over US9.5 million.

  1. David Benefield

Another Texan on the list, Benefield lived the poker boom of the 2010s, playing poker online to the extent that his poker exploits were documented in the book Ship It Holla Ballas! Along with a group of college drop-outs, the 33 year Benefield won millions in the 2010s playing under the name ‘Raptor’.

He now has US$4.5 million in live tournament winnings, including almost US$1 million for placing eighth at the WSOP Main Event in 2013. Having initially struggled with losses, Benefield has been open with his struggles; Poker is incredibly stressful on an emotional level, which negatively impacts the physical. In my earlier years playing professionally, I was not good at dealing with large monetary losses. They hurt me a lot mentally, and I would tend to turn inward. I wouldn’t want to hang out with friends or hit the gym. Instead, I would sit at my computer and figure out how to avoid losses in the future. I have gotten much better about this over the years.’


So The G carries a nice piece about keirin. Why it started, gambling, place in Japanese society etc. It’s a fun piece.

Except, well, it never actually does explain what keirin is, how it works. Which is a bit odd really. From Wiki:

Riders use brakeless fixed-gear bicycles. Races are typically 1.5 kilometres (0.93 mi) long: 6 laps on a 250 m (270 yd) track, 4 laps on a 333 m (364 yd) track, or 4 laps on a 400 m (440 yd) track. Lots are drawn to determine starting positions for the sprint riders behind the pacer, which is usually a motorcycle, but can be a derny, electric bicycle or tandem bicycle. Riders must remain behind the pacer for 3 laps on a 250 m (270 yd) track. The pacer starts at 30 km/h (19 mph), gradually increasing to 50 km/h (31 mph) by its final circuit. The pacer leaves the track 750 m (820 yd) before the end of the race (3 laps on a 250 m (270 yd) track). The winner’s finishing speed can exceed 70 km/h (43 mph).

Yes, we can see why that might be attractive to gamblers. Given a program of races over a day a repeated charge of high octane excitement in those final sprints.

But The G’s piece would have been better if it had given a – shorter perhaps – explanation of what it actually is.

Well, yes, sorta and maybe

So, black athlete from poor family represents country at Olympics and:

Eventually it all became too much. Her former PE teacher had to finally stop training her because of his personal obligations, and the lack of training facilities, and having to support her family, meant that Neil made the hugely difficult decision to retire from professional athletics at just 23.

She retired in 1973. And here’s the thing:

….the amateur status of the sport began to be displaced by growing professionalism in the late 1970s…

It wasn’t, really, professional at the time she was doing it.

Yes, yes, shamateurism and all that – look, I lived in Bath in the 80s, I know about this and the rugby club – but the real problem here is not her blackness, poverty, wrong side of the tracks, it’s that she was that decade early in the economic process. All very sad no doubt but it’s not quite the story The G is telling.

Mr Rashford and woeful ignorance

Hasn’t anyone told Marcus how stupid this is?

Marcus Rashford interview: ‘People don’t like to see a young black man being successful’


8.1 million people
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side won 3-2 thanks to Bruno Fernandes’ free-kick in the 78th minute at Old Trafford. The tie recorded an average match audience of 8.1 million people, with 2.6 million also watching on BBC iPlayer and BBC Sport online.

10 million people tune in to see if a young black man is going to be successful on that day, at that hour.

This is “don’t like” is it?