World Cup 2003
... photos from The Weekend Australian
... then the whistle blew
... Gregan was the first to congratulate Martin Johnson
I was going to print some extracts from this article - the vitriol about Soccer being amusing I thought - but although I disagree with the class-based sentiment of the author, he is correct about the loss of ovals and playing fields in England that are accessible to state schools. The author, I'm assuming, isn't entirely serious. However, even Labour politicians send their sprogs off to fee-paying schools. What a mess. You get a better state education in Jamaica than you do in England .. according to some friends of mine there.
If rugby woos soccer fans, it will be a disaster for the nation
William Langley has just one word to say to the radio phone-in callers who derided Rugby as a 'toffs'game': Good
As a reminder of what the embrace of the masses can do to the fortune of an otherwise decent game it is worth recalling that 121 years ago the FA Cup Final was won by Old Etonians (1-0 against Blackburn Rovers, with the 0Es' captain, Arthur Kinnaird, arriving at the oval in an open-topped charabanc pulled by his fans). Most sports have been elitist at one time. Only a few have had the sense or good luck to stay that way.
Football has been heading downhill for decades. The World Cup win of 1966 did little to slow the slide. Today soccer represents the greatest single stain on Britain's national character; a game at which we are embarrassingly second-rate and getting worse, played by men of fathomless vanity, stupidity and selfishness, and supported by some of the ugliest and nastiest individuals on earth. .
All week, bathed in the rosy glow of victory, pundits have been talking about rugby union's chances of replacing football as our number one sport. It cannot be allowed to happen. Excessive popularity and the profligate spending of delinquent television executives would wreck rugby as surely as they have scuppered soccer. The game's extraordinarily high standards of sportsmanship, discipline, camaraderie and valour survive, indeed thrive, because only a relative few are ever likely to aspire to them.
These are unfashionable values. They may he burnished on the field of play, but they are forged elsewhere; around the hearths of solid, traditional families, and in those schools - mostly, but far from exclusively, in the independent sector - where rugby is cherished.
One of football's basic afflictions is that it has become an excuse for an education. Boys from working-class backgrounds see no point in learning anything when there is a chance that football will toss them £50,000 a week, a mock-Tudor mansion and a Malibu-guzzling blonde in a Bentley.
A huge proportion of what might be called football's natural intake achieve nothing in school, and as a consequence it is considered normal, even appropriate, for professional players to be so chronically under-educated as to be barely able to express simple sentiments of happiness or disappointment. The handful of boys who make it are talent-spotted and apprenticed at an absurdly young age, and enter the game believing they need never exercise their minds again.
Rugby, by contrast, is a part of an education. The schools that foster it will almost certainly be among the best of their kind. The boys that play it are more likely to grow up confident, well-behaved (at least when sober), popular and trusted. Rugby is one of the reasons why desperate parents will pay good money, move home and pawn their heirlooms to avoid the bog standards of the state sector.
There is a general crisis of sport in schools for which only the independent sector currently offers anything like a remedy. An astounding two-thirds of medals won by Britons at the 2000 Sydney Olympics went to privately-educated athletes. Strip out (with no disrespect intended) our black sprinters from the inner-city comprehensives, and the public schools have a virtual monopoly on sporting excellence. As state schools have increasingly given up on sport, such institutions are now the only places where talent has any opportunity to flourish. It almost goes without saying that a substantial majority of England's World Cup winning rugby squad come from independent schools.
The rot is too deep to be easily reversed. Under financial and bureaucratic pressure state schools feel unable to organise games on any worthwhile level.
Headmasters increasingly fear litigation arising from injury - especially with highly physical games such as rugby.
The Government doesn't care. Footie's all that matters, innit- ( New Labour's sporting priorities were established when the Prime Minister claimed to have sat behind the goal at St James's Park, watching his "teenage hero" Jackie Milburn playing for Newcastle United. In fact, Blair was four years old and living in Australia when Milburn retired. And in those days there were no seats behind the goals.
The one promising Government appointment to be made in the past six years was of Kate Hoey as sports minister. It took her no time to identify what was going wrong. Demanding a return to "ethics, morality and decency", she tore into the greed and indiscipline that football exemplified. 'schoolteachers write to me saying that this is what children in their playgrounds are mimicking," she said. "People in other sports don't let it happen. 1 certainly don't see it in rugby."
Kate was later fired but she was right: you don't see it in rugby. The game's ethos, while closely held, is encouragingly contagious. Consider these remarkable statistics; a seven-week tournament, 40,000 England fans, countless million pints, three arrests. Not all those fans spent their formative years in our better boarding schools. Yet they behaved impeccably, brought credit upon themselves and their country, and had a wonderful time in the process.
How was such a thing possible when our abiding image of England's presence in major sports events is of massed hooligans being hosed off the streets- Essentially because the rugby fans were taking their cue from the game itself.
Rugby is rough, loud and elemental, but it generally minds its manners. Its players tend to be a mixture of the yeomanry and the cavalry. You can imagine Martin Johnson leading a pikestaff charge at Crecy while Jonny Wilkinson, spurs twinkling, gallops over the dewy sward.
With such imagery to draw on, it is easy to deride rugby's survival as an outpost of sporting decency. On radio talk shows, callers were queueing up to denounce it as a -"toffs' game" that no soccer lover could understand or want to play.
Good. There is almost nothing that football has done wrong that English rugby hasn't done right. It has turned professional without losing its poise, it has subtly spread its appeal beyond its traditional middle-class base (take, .as an example, Jason Robinson, ,raised fatherless, on a tough Leeds council estate), avoided the kind of scandal that engulfs soccer on a near-daily basis, and won the biggest prize of all.
The need now is to keep it alive in the schools. For while only a few may play it, all can cheer for its standards.
The Weekly Telegraph, Issue no 645, Australian Edition, Dec3 to Dec 9 2003
France win the right to host 2007
The IRB has anounced that France has won the right to host the 2007 Rugby World Cup. The vote was won by a margin of 18 votes to three.
The French bid included place for matches to be played outside France. As a result, Murrayfield, Lansdowne Road and Cardiff's Millennium Stadium are all likely to hold group games.
RWC 2007 will be played in the months of September and October.
The Venues of 2007 Rugby World Cup
Lansdowne Rd, Dublin 50,000
Millennium Stadium, Cardiff 75,000
Murrayfield, Edinburgh 67,500
The wins and losses of outrageous fortune inevitably produce the usual outrageous and often regrettable diatribes of a jingoistic nature.
The first of these didn't start until after the Wallabies defeat of New Zealand and is reproduced, in an edited form to spare the sensitivities of our members, below. I look forward to more. I also look forward to the sulking, sledging and swearing that will no doubt continue into 2004 as it adds more interest to those Thursday winter nights around the log fire.
Sent: Tuesday, 18 November 2003 3:38 PM
To: Emma Curran
Subject: Bloody Hopeless
I deliberately backed off taking the piss out of you KIWIS for the dismal display last Saturday, as I thought that many other individuals, less caring than myself, would have had a go at you. It seems you have not learnt your lesson in Humility yet, as your recent e-mail now purports to be supporting the 'southern Hemisphere" in Saturday's final.
Don't think I don't know the reasoning behind this. If Australia wins on Saturday then they become the World Champs. This means that whenever New Zealand plays Australia in the next 4 years and manages to win you lot can get your little jollies off by saying you beat the World Champs, thus making you the best team in the world.
The only way New Zealand can become World Champs is by winning the World Rugby Cup. You have not done this since 1987. You won't get another chance until 2007, and given your previous record will go into that tournament as favourites AGAIN only to be knocked out in the semis AGAIN probably by Georgia.
Eat Humble Pie - Bite the Bullet - Adopt a Low Profile.
Yes I will be supporting the Northern Hemisphere (In the shape of England) on Saturday as I believe the World Cup needs to go to that region for the first time ever, if only to stop the continuous gloating, back-slapping and self-masturbation from the Tri Nation countries.
If there is anything in this e-mail you do not understand, feel free to ask daddy for clarification.
Yours truly in Rugby
E-Mail Address: email@example.com
From: Emma Curran
Sent: Wednesday, 19 November 2003 9:17 AM
Subject: RE: Bloody Hopeless
Dear Daddy...or Nobby as is more fitting,
You are a sad, sad little man.
Knowing you as well as I do, I believe that you have sat and pondered my email for far too long trying to come up with this piss-poor effort at retaliation.
On reading this waffle of yours I believe it is you that must now be labelled as confused- for am I not speaking to the man that claims so proudly to be of Scottish descent-
Or is it just that you are bitter that your flower of Scotland is nothing more than a cactus pricking you in your large arse---
Don't try and jump on the English bandwagon now you pompous git.
It is my firm belief that through your whole spiel below it is yourself that was mastering the art of self-masturbation.
Wack off Hammer
You bore me
much love and kisses
Em the wise one
From Kim Evans - e-mail 11th November 2003
Most of you have already heard the good news, but to some of you this will be new and I have cc'd you in to this email because I feel the need to brag a little!
THE BIG WIN
I entered the Telstra Greatest Local Rugby Moments Competition, and we have won second prize. The competition called for a description, in 100 words or less, of the Club's greatest moment. They were looking for a moment which captures on-field excellence, team work, club morale and commitment to the community. This sounded like OCs to me, so I emailed a few Keepers of the Flame and asked for suggestions.
Jesse offered the Under 16s premiership of a few years back, and I penned the following:
The Under 16s won the 1997 Premiership beating traditional rivals, Brighton. Dylan played every game of that season. He had belonged to Aussie Rules premiership sides for three years, but had never been allowed to play a single game. Dylan is intellectually disabled. However, with his rugby team, his hard work, dedication and enthusiasm earned him a permanent spot. The players and coaches had the glory of victory, but long after the glory has been forgotten the club will retain the honour and integrity earned by this spirit of inclusion and fairness.
Twenty entries were selected by Telstra, and the final winners were selected by a panel of judges who included Phil Kearns.
Yay, Phil loves me.
As the entrant, I won a double pass to Saturday's semi final, plus flights, accommodation and a merchandise pack, at a value of about $5,000. More importantly, my club receives eight more tickets to the game, plus airfares accommodation and three merchandise packs, at a value of about $20,000. Total value, approx $25,000!
The packs include a RWC backpack and a mini-ball signed by My Mate Phil, plus other stuff. They will also be doing some promotions etc in the local press, so the club should get some reasonable exposure out of it as well.
A delegation of the OC committee met on Friday night (a couple of hours after Telstra called me) to pick the lucky clubmen who get to go. As you know, I was already going to the games, so I donated my two tickets back for distribution and we selected ten eminent worthies. For the record, we were looking to reward people for their ongoing commitment to the club, particularly those who were involved in Dylan's story.
The ten lucky bastards are:
Dylan - for being the inspiration
Czez and Boof - who were the coaches, and who continue to support the club on the pitch, as junior coaches and at the bar!
Jesse James - for all his work with the juniors, and for suggesting Dylan's story in the first place
Paul Horne - for his work with the website and previously with the juniors as well
Neil and Anne - for their ongoing support of all things Old Collegian, and particularly with the juniors. Neil, I note, was the manager of Dylan's team.
Braddles - who played in Dylan's team, and who has continued to coach, manage and work for the club, even when he hasn't been able to play. He must have been brought up properly...
Murray and Emma - for their million and one contributions to the club
In addition, a whole lot of us were already going to be in Sydney anyway, and we all plan to meet up. You can expect to see Ted, me, Stewie, Tedgie, Tiana and Kristie - to name a few!
THE ADMIN STUFF (Those who aren't going to Sydney with us can ignore the rest, you may find it tedious ...) Everything is still being confirmed, but I'll let you know as soon as I hear. - The flight is almost definitely 6.15pm this Friday. It's going via Melbourne (how tedious) but it's the only one they could get that wasn't during the day. The return flight will be sometime Sunday. If anyone is interested, I know of a couple of tickets going for the second semi final - if you can find somewhere to stay on Sunday night you can probably change your allotted return flight and catch another game ... -
Accommodation: Rushcutters Harbourside Hotel in Sydney for the nights of 14 and 15 November 2003 (http://www.rushcutters.com/) - Tickets - A Reserve, but I don't know where the seats are yet. - Publicity - they want to do a group shot and some interviews. They are tossing up between an airport shot and a club shot. I want a club shot, but we'll see how we go.
One last thing - I'd like to thank the ten who are going for their part in this. I'm enormously proud of you all, and of the club of course, and I'm so excited to be sharing this experience with you. I love youse all
.... and we love ya too Kimie
From the Tregenza Times, January 2004
We entered Telstra's "Greatest Local Rugby Moments Competition" and were lucky enough to win second prize. The competition called for a description in 100 words or less of the Club's greatest moment. They were looking for a moment which captured on-field excellence, team work, club morale and commitment to the community. Our entry was as follows:
Our Under 16s won the 1998 Premiership beating traditional rivals, Brighton. Dillon played every game of that season. He had belonged to Aussie Rules premiership sides for three years, but had never been allowed to play a single game. Dylan is intellectually disabled. However, with his rugby team, his hard work, dedication and enthusiasm earned him a permanent spot. The players and coaches had the glory of victory, but long after the glory has been forgotten the club will retain the honour and integrity earned by this spirit of inclusion and fairness.
We are proud of this story, and the values it represents are those same values that have won us the West End Trophy in the last few years. For the record, the winning entry went to the Forbes club, who had lost a number of its players in the Bali disaster. We are honoured to be mentioned along side such a story.
Twenty entries were selected by Telstra, and the final winners were selected by a panel of judges who included Phil Kearns. We won ten tickets to the Australia v NZ RWC semi final, including flights, accommodation and merchandise packs, at a total value of about $25,000. A delegation of the committee picked the lucky clubmen who got to go. Kim was already going to the games, so she donated her share of the prize back to the club for distribution. For the record, we were looking to reward people for their ongoing commitment to the club, particularly those who were involved in Dillon's story. The ten lucky bastards were Dillon (for being the inspiration), Richard Czeglik and Ben Suttell (his coaches, and who continue to support the club on the pitch, as junior coaches and at the bar!), Jesse James (for all his work with the juniors), Paul Horne (for his work with the website and previously with the juniors as well), Neil and Anne Bradley (for their ongoing support of all things Old Collegian, and particularly with the juniors. Neil was also the manager of Dillon's team), James Bradley (who played in Dillon's team, and who has continued to coach, manage and work for the club, even when he hasn't been able to play), and Murray and Emma Curran (for their million and one contributions to the club). The list of people we would have liked to take was endless - if only we could have taken 100 rather than 10! Fortunately, many Collegians were already going to be in Sydney anyway, including Christian Tedge, Stew Douglas, Ted Apted, Kristie and Tiana Hume, Joe Suttell, Gus Elliot and others.
At the Telstra Stadium ... Jesse, Chezza, Dillon, Kim, Boof, Emma, Stewie and James
Of course, nothing ever goes smoothly and the trip started by Dillon missing his plane. He was escorted to Sydney the following morning with Kim and Stewie, and everyone met up at the hotel in Rushcutters Bay. The rest of the party were looking pretty bleary, having spent an entertaining evening in the Cross. Note for young players - if ever you venture into an establishment of adult entertainment, check their liquor licence before paying your entry fee or you may, like Tedgie, find yourself forking out $40 for a round of beer that turns out to be non-alcoholic! The Saturday was spent in Darling Harbour meeting up with other Collegians. The sound of the club song resounding through the Pontoon Bar is something we won't forget in a hurry. Tourists were taking photos - you'd have thought they'd never seen drunk idiots before. We found our way to the game in a series of buses, trains and taxis, and took our seats (A Reserve - just back from the players' tunnel). As you all know, the Kiwis lost to the Wallabies - much to the horror of the Bradleys and Currans but to the great delight of the rest of the party. We headed back to town, and at this point we draw a veil of discretion over the proceedings. Feel free to quiz the protagonists over the bar - there are plenty of stories to be told. There were long walks home, there were Euros tucked into bras, red cards were flashed and eaten, and missing persons reports were filed. We leave the sleuths among you to ferret out the truth...
At the Pontoon Bar, Darling Harbour
Anne Bradley, ?, Neil Bradley, Paul Horne, Dillon, Jesse, James Bradley, Stewie, Tiana Hume, ?, ?, Kristy Hume, Chezza,?, Brock James (foreground), Muzza (obscured), Gus Elliot?, ?, Kim Evans, Tedgie, Ben Suttell, John Gaughan. ? means can't tell from the photograph
Kim Evans also won another competition through Foxtel, for a funny rugby story of 50 words or less. She retold our old story of the lineout call using the names of fruits or vegetables. On a line-out call of "Artichoke - 8" one bright spark screamed out "Is artichoke a f____ fruit or a vegetable?". Kim has happily claimed a Sony home cinema (projector, DVD and speakers) which we can expect her to bring to the clubrooms from time to time for us to watch big games on.
An edited account of the weekend
(... that is, I studiously avoided any mention of us losing Dillon ... and other things)
We were awarded the trip and tickets based on a story Kim provided to Telstra, who were the sponsors, about Dylan, an intellectually-impaired boy now 21 years old who played for our premiership under-16 side of 1997. We all - myself, Jesse, Muzza, Emma, Boof, Chezza, the Bradleys and James - met at the airport on Friday evening. Kim brought Dylan with her and Stewie the next day.
At Sydney when we arrived we went to a pub in Woollomoloo, picking up Tedgie, and from there to the Cross where everyone gravitated between the Vegas pub and a nearby club. In to bed by 4.30pm or so.
The next morning a brief walk from the hotel in Rushcutter's Bay to meet everyone else together with Kim, Stewie and Dylan at the Vegas.
From the Vegas we went back to the Hotel, got changed and headed off for the Pontoon bar at Darling Harbour to meet up ostensibly with Brock James. As the afternoon rolled on we met up there with John Gaughan, Ollie, Jeremy Uther, Ted, Tiana, Christie, Gus Elliott, Joe Suttell....... so that at one point it seemed as if half of Collegians' was there. It was a warm to hot day with the sun reflecting off the water and a lot people walking around and enjoying themselves. One of those magic Sydney afternoons.
At 6-ish we headed off to Central Station to get a train out to Homebush. As we went in taxis we were split up and met up on the grounds of the stadium. There were stalls selling food, drink and merchandise and stalls taking comments in writing and stalls dispensing face-paint. There was a band next to a large screen provided free for those without tickets. There were people everywhere, over 80,000, mostly in Kiwi and Wallaby colours but a number there in English and French colours, ready for the match on Sunday.
We had seats mid-field and near to the tunnel so got much closer to the players from both teams than would otherwise be possible. A perfect spot.
The game, as history records, went to Australia.
As we were scattered about the stadium it seemed to take forever to get together. Then it seemed to take forever before everyone got going and got their train tickets and join some of the mass of people heading into Sydney. We caught a tram at Central but that broke down at Paddy's Market so with some encouragement to those who thought the tram might actually be going anywhere we walked to Darling Harbour but found long queues to get in anywhere there. I opted for the city itself and after being faced with reticence and indecision from the rest, decided to head off there anyway, together with Jesse, who seemed to be fond of the Vegas. After then seeing that getting a taxi wasn't a possible option we walked into town, now accompanied by the rest, excluding the women who were allowed in to a bar ahead of the queue as they were women. We stopped off at few city pubs but we then thought we'd walk off to the Cross again, with much grumbling. The excuses from the back were that they'd had so little sleep the night before, that the Sydney humidity was difficult to take and that it was uphill. Chezza declined to walk for 100 meters, do 5 push-ups, walk another 100 metres, do 5 sit-ups and so on, until we got there. In retrospect we should have gone to the Opera House where things were happening and/or the Rocks area. Next time-
We put up with lots of Wallaby taunts, including congratulations. Sure, without us Mortlock would have never had the run he did - yep, all down to us. A very detailed but largely incomprehensible series of invective from a bunch of toothless hags cluttering up a corner of William Street - sadly, these people were in their 30s, I suspect As well, a few Kiwi taunts but more along the lines of, well, you got it from us (excuse me, you had it to give-) so make sure the English or French don't get it. Fair enough.
At 8-ish we grabbed some of the others for breakfast and newspapers next door. A good fry-up, with real tea. By the time we left to get our stuff together everyone had met there for a bite to eat.
We were out of the hotel by 11am and went off to the Pontoon where I had my first Bundie & Coke for lunch rather than a Tooheys, my old alma mater. It seemed like a Bundie sort of day and gives that instant recognition of alcohol to the brain.
I left everyone in the afternoon to get to Homebush Bay to watch England v France.
PH ... 19th November 2003
Me, Stewy D, Dillon, Chezza, Tedge, bit of Paul Horne's sunnies, and Boof
Myself, Brock James, Chezza and Kimmy
Mr Tedge and I
Me eating my flag as i was a tad upset at that stage
Out of focus .... Chezz, Paul, Muzza, me, Boof
By Elissa Doherty
TWO people, 16 Rugby World Cup games, five Australian cities, six weeks, price tag $10,000: this is the cost of dedication for a pair of diehard Adelaide fans.
"No we're not crazy - the only people who think we are mad are the ones who don't understand rugby," cries Kim Evans, 30.
"People have been more likely to ask - how the hell can you afford it?"
It's a fair question considering supporting the Wallabies is costing the Linden Park Old Collegians rugby club members a hefty $5000 each for tickets, flights and accommodation.
Stewart Douglas, 26, admitted he could have done a budget trip of Europe for around the same price. "We're not going so far but we are seeing a world class sporting tournament and it's going to be the biggest party since the Olympics," he says. "It's a small price to pay." After 12 months of meticulous planning, a group of six from the club sets off this Thursday for the World Cup opening ceremony in Sydney before criss-crossing the country via car and plane to support the Wallabies playing against more than 500 players from 20 countries.
Kim says she has been to 12 international rugby games since being introduced to the sport aged 24.
"It's not enough," she says of the 16 World Cup games she was seeing. "There would never be enough, I can't imagine doing anything else in the next six weeks."
Nick Malone, 25, was on a tighter schedule than his mates, with six games in three cities in 10 days.
"I'm taking Wallabies jerseys, anything gold, our club jerseys, a bottle of Bundy, a stubby holder - and Berocca," he says.
The group have tickets to the two games at Adelaide Oval on October 25 and 26.
From the Sunday Mail, 5th October 2003.
Photo by Jo-Anna Robinson