You’ve always been one of the last men left standing of his loyalists, so perhaps don’t notice the effect on those who get in his way. But you equally know that in recent years the fact that his push was thwarted by the powers-that-be saw him turn ever more feral on the airwaves and in print attacking rugby and its administrators with a relentlessness and ferocity that only he could muster.
This last year included him attacking such a selfless rugby figure as Brother Bob Wallace and Australian Schools Rugby Union. #FFS! Why? Again, because his agenda was not being followed, and his coterie not bowed to.
The people who deserve most respect in rugby are those who simply give to it over the decades, not those who try to dictate terms to it.
In the last couple of years Jones relentlessly attacked Raelene Castle in both print and on the air.
In the words of an insider who was privy to it all: “Despite his systematic bullying, at no point did Raelene ever denigrate him publicly or undermine his status as a Wallaby coach.
“She facilitated ticket requests from him and extended invitations to other rugby events. How much more respect does he deserve?”
Kings of the kids
TFF received a good response to my piece last week about the Sydney Kings basketballer Brad Newley, and his inspirational efforts in reaching out to a young basketballer. It prompted a letter from Dr Kate Manderson, from the Shoalhaven.
“I’m so pleased to hear you singing the praises of Brad Newley and the Kings in today’s SMH,” she wrote. “We met Brad on one of his regular visits to the Starlight Room at The Children’s Hospital Westmead. We are there every week for our five-year-old daughter Bella to have life-long treatment for a rare genetic disease – mucopolysaccharidosis type 1 A, thanks for asking. Bella really connected with the bounce, roll, catch and throw of the big purple and yellow basketballs. Before we knew it, we were invited to courtside seats as Brad’s guests, and later with another MPS family in a box with Bella doing the ‘door knock’ for them. When the Kings pulled the pin on the finals because of the risk of COVID-19 to our community, it sealed the deal. Kings and everyone who works for them are truly royalty in our family’s book.”
Good to hear!
Come again, Bryce?
Ummm, again I don’t mean to be unkind on the whole Bryce Cartwright flu shot thing but if there was a medical issue with him getting the shot, why did we not hear about it before he blew up with the loony-tunes nonsense about the general dangers of vaccinations? Seriously, is it not an extraordinary coincidence that someone who appears to embrace the crack-pot theories against vaccination, proceeds to rage against them without saying “And let me tell you about the horrible things that happened to me last time I got a shot?” And then we only hear of the problems last time, when he’s told he has to get it anyway or blow his contract?
Isn’t it like someone protesting against conscription in the army, being conscripted anyway and then saying, “Well, here’s my doctor’s certificate – I have a buggered knee anyway.”
I know, I know. He has the medical exemption form, no doubt signed by a reputable doctor. Still, would you mind if I got a second opinion? I think I might go right to the top and go to the very expert the NRL relied on to start the comp up again, the still-anonymous “biochemical weapons expert,” after they reportedly lost faith in the last infectious diseases expert, because she didn’t think the competition should be started again yet.
You can’t make this stuff up!
Scary soccer mums
Listen, under the circumstances, it is probably not surprising that this is a slow sporting week. So, for the hell of it, let’s go with an oldie but a goldie, the beloved sports gag that you haven’t heard for years. And it’s a true story!
There’s this junior soccer game at Barra Brui Sportsground in St Ives, where, with 20 minutes to go in the under-10s, the game tight, things are really starting to get heated from the supporters. It gets so bad that at one point the coach of the home side calls one of his nine-year-old players aside and asks, “Jimmy, do you understand what co-operation is? What a team is?”
The young lad nods.
“Do you understand that what matters is whether we win or lose together as a team?”
The lad nods again.
“So,” the coach continues, “I’m sure you know that when a penalty is called against us, you shouldn’t argue, curse, attack the referee or call him a dickhead. Do you understand all that?”
One more time, the lad nods.
Coach continues, “And when I take you out of the game so another boy gets a chance to play, it’s not good sportsmanship to call your coach a dumb arsehole, is it?”
The lad shakes his head to indicate that he is in complete agreement.
“Good,” says the coach. “Now go over there and explain all that to your mother.”
What they said
Peter V’landys on whether the decision to get rid of the two referees is a bad one: “We’ll see on the 25th of October. If I am on a cross, you know I have failed.”
South Australia’s SA COVID-19 Transition Committee puts the kybosh on the two Adelaide AFL teams crossing state lines back and forth in the new comp: “On public health advice, the committee has resolved that any economic and social benefits to be gained by allowing modification or exemptions to SA quarantine requirements for AFL players and staff were not outweighed by the public health risk.” And that in a state that just about has no cases.
The letter went on: “The Committee noted that as a highly visible part of society, it is also important that the AFL model the behaviours expected from the public in general.” Couldn’t have said it better myse … oh, wait!
This week’s apology from Nathan Cleary: “I just to want to apologise for my actions. My actions were irresponsible, selfish and pretty stupid, to be honest. I brought a lot of negative attention to not only myself but my family, the club, the game as well, and that’s what has hurt me the most.”
Former Roosters fullback Luke Philips on the Titans’ Bryce Cartwright being the sole player to be granted an exemption from getting the flu shot on a – claimed – previous bad reaction: “He also has been exempt from tackling. Based on a previous sore shoulder from attempting one.”
Grant Hackett on competing against Kieren Perkins: “To beat him, given how dominant he was for so many years and how far he lowered that world record, was hugely satisfying. But beating him at the Olympics, that was one of those moments in sport … if you have ever watched Wayne Gretzky in hockey, Don Bradman in cricket … Kieren Perkins was like that here for swimming.”
Eddie Jones: “All the political infighting seems to go away when you start winning and if I was Australian rugby, I’d just be focused on winning. Dave Rennie will do a great job – even though he’s a Kiwi. Australia has got good players.”
Jones goes on: “I think the solution for Australia is relatively straightforward: invest in the clubs, get the right domestic provincial competition, whether that be three or four teams, find a way of how you pay for that through television and you’ll have a strong national team.”
Dijana Djokovic on her son, Novak: “Wimbledon was the most difficult last year. When Federer had two match points, I grabbed my cross … I am a believer … I said to myself: ‘Nole, you can do it, you’ve done it twice, you can do it again.’ And he did it. He was saved by God. Novak also believes in God, he feels chosen.” Easy. Eaaaasy, I say! It’s all right. I am holding it in.
Michael Cheika on Alan Jones: “Even though he has been a hard marker of rugby in Australia over recent times, like many, it’s only because he wants our gold jersey to be looked upon as the gold standard in how the game is run and played.” Either that, Michael, or it was because Jones always wants to push his inevitable tight circle of his acolytes, and gets furious when denied?
Mick Malthouse takes the yellow jersey in TFF’s annual Mixed Metaphor comp: “I’ve been called a ‘dinosaur’ before, that’s water off a duck’s back.”
Shane Warne on the baggy green cult: “I loved playing cricket for Australia, and I didn’t need to wear that cap or have that verbal diarrhoea about it, I just enjoyed playing cricket for Australia. I always felt that if I wore a white floppy hat or wore my baggy green cap it meant exactly the same, I was playing for Australia.” Goodness!
Team of the Week
Peter V’landys. Whatever you think of him and his decisions, he’s giving the Shane Warne from back in the day, a run for his money in generating headlines.
Daniel Ricciardo. When the Formula One music stops, may be sitting on a McLaren chair. Be still my beating heart.
John Coates. Got through a far less controversial AOC AGM.
Out of Isolation. I am told it ran a gallant second on debut in the first race at Caulfield last Saturday afternoon, while Viral won again in the very next race. Methinks that might be a message for some overly eager people & pollies.
Agustin Pichot. The Argentine handed back his blazer, resigning from his role on the World Rugby Council, after being narrowly defeated for the role of chairman by Sir Bill Beaumont.
Mrs Audrey Coupe. This lady from Waverley College Junior School has been the mainstay volunteer of the Australian Schools Rugby Union for over three decades, booking venues, taking minutes, making travel arrangements, writing letters, sorting points tables … the lot. Upon announcing her retirement she has just been made a life member. Well done, oh good and faithful servant of the game.
RIP Mary Pratt. Believed to be the last surviving member of the Rockford Peaches died age 101. The Rockford Peaches were part of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. The league was immortalised in the 1992 film A League of their Own. Put away your handkerchiefs, however. As you’ll recall, “There’s no crying in baseball.”
Peter FitzSimons is a journalist and columnist with The Sydney Morning Herald.