Posts Tagged ‘football’

SBW Cleared to be Selected for All Blacks

The best Rugby Union team in the world just got better.

New Zealand Rugby has cleared the way for footballing sensation Sonny Bill Williams to rejoin the All Blacks squad at the end of the NRL season.

And why wouldn’t they?

Sony Bill Williams.

Sony Bill Williams.

The 29 year-old South Sydney Rooster hasn’t played a domestic game of rugby union this year. But his footballing prowess, fitness, and game sense are without question. Williams has been outstanding for the Roosters this year and has shown he can make the swap to the 15 man game without any problems.

The New Zealand Rugby board granted Williams an exemption, making him available for representative duties. Steve Tew, New Zealand Rugby boss, said this would make Williams eligible to be picked for the World Cup end-of-season squad.

The All Blacks end-of-season tour begins on November 1 against the United States. Tests against England, Scotland and Wales follow over successive weekends.

Williams’ contract with the Roosters finishes with their final game of the year. The Roosters are guaranteed to make the finals and are posing as real threats to win the premiership. Should they go all the way, Williams will play his final game will be the NRL Grand Final on October 5.

He will play for Counties Manuka in the domestic New Zealand competition in 2015, under coach Tana Umaga.

ASADA Offers Deal

The joke that is the ASADA investigation into illegal doping within the NRL is building up to its punchline. ASADA has effectively cut a deal with players given ‘show cause’ notices. 17 past and present Cronulla players have been given the opportunity to admit the club gave them banned substances.

But they have been given a get-out-of-jail-free card. Should the players say they were unwittingly deceived into taking the substances their ban will be significantly reduced. Playing this care will result in a mere one-year suspension BACKDATED TO NOVEMBER 1 2013.

This means an admission of guilt in the use of banned substances will result in only 10 weeks on the sideline. Conveniently, the player bans will end the day new NRL contracts become registered – effectively not prejudicing any of them.

Players like team captain Paul Gallen won’t even miss playing for Australia, in the Four Nations Test, after the regular season. At worst he may only miss one game and perhaps have to postpone a scheduled boxing match.

The five current Cronulla players with ‘show cause’ notices are: Paul Gallen, Wade Graham, Nathan Gardner, Anthony Tupou, John Morris. The other players (part of the 2011 squad) are: Kade Snowden (Knights) Jeremy Smith (Knights), Luke Douglas (Titans), Albert Kelly (Titans), Mathew Wright (cowboys), Broderick Wright (retired), Colin Best (retired), Paul Aiton (Leeds), Stuart Flanagan (Appin), John Williams (retired), Josh Cordoba (London) and Ben Pomeroy (Catalan Dragons).

For Queensland Origin fans this must be a lot to stomach. Just as Lance Armstrong was stripped of his Tour de France victories when he admitted being a drug cheat so too should the New South Wales Blues forfeit their Origin wins.

Players have until Friday to decide whether they wish to take the deal. Refusing to do so will expose them to a mandatory two-year suspension should they be found guilty.

Wallabies Break All Blacks’ 17 Game Bledisloe Winning Streak

Bledisloe Cup. Photo:

Bledisloe Cup. Photo:

Last night the Australian Wallabies held on for an unconvincing draw against the New Zealand All Blacks in the first Bledisloe Cup game of the season. Much was expected of Kurtley Beale playing at No. 10, for the first time in two years, and much was directed at him by the All Blacks.

In rainy conditions, the two sides played a fast, taxing and brutal game; wearing away at each other in slippery conditions. The 12 – 12 score line definitely flattered the Australians.

Kurtley Beale and Israel Folau came in for special attention from the All Blacks. They were slowed with damaging tackles and relentless pressure. Beale threw several wayward passes, stymieing the Australian attack at crucial times of the game. He furthermore broke the hearts of Aussie fans by conceding a penalty, through not releasing the ball, in one of the more promising goal line raids.

But Beale showed his ability under the high ball. The New Zealanders peppered the five-eighth with bombs, hoping the slick ball would slip free for a penalty. Beale disappointed them.

Australia’s 12 points came through goal-kicking. Again Beale was hot and cold kicking at 80 per cent and ruing what might-have-been.

Folau suffered a nasty head clash in the first-half, as he slid into a team mate in search of the loose ball. Trainers were on in seconds. Folau had a serious cut and appeared wobbly on his feet, but refused to come off.

New Zealand’s Conrad Smith was absent from the side due to his wife giving birth to their first child.

During the game All Blacks Wyatt Crockett and Beauden Barrett were shown yellow cards by South African referee Jaco Peyper. But even with an extra man the Wallabies were unable to break the Kiwis heroic defense.

Aaron Cruden kicked four goals for all the New Zealanders’ points. The tie ends a 17 game winning streak for the All Blacks.

In all, the New Zealanders allowed the Australians into the match with a few uncharacteristic mistakes; mistakes not likely to be there when the teams meet again in Auckland next week.

Monday Night Football Flop

Rugby league fans are voting with their feet, staying away in droves from the NRL’s Monday night football.

While hardly a typical game, Monday night’s Roosters vs Titans match attracted a paltry 7000 fans. Even the more hotly contested matches are struggling to fill seats.

Ground attendance figures for games are as follows:

  • Friday night: 740,673
  • Saturday night:  603,319
  • Sunday afternoon: 586,040
  • Monday night: 211,508

But worse awaits; with crowd figures expected to dip still further as difficult economic times forces families to make cuts wherever they can.

Paul Kind. Photo:

Paul Kind. Photo:

Paul Kind, the NRL’s commercial chief, believed the figures were indicative of the poor weather and mismatched sides. “The fact is there have been some great Monday night games this year, just as there have been great games on the weekends. Monday Night Football gives fans another opportunity to watch rugby league either at the ground or on TV and helps us spread our reach to more fans.”

Kind appears to be somewhat correct. TV broadcast figures for Monday nights are not significantly different from viewer numbers at other times. But actual ground attendance figures don’t le.

Fox Sports chief executive, Patrick Delany told that Matthew Johns’ Monday night football show was rating between 150,000 and 180,000; a windfall for the station.

Titans Lose Main Sponsor.

Moribund NRL football club the Gold Coast Titans have had another nail hammered into their coffin. Their major sponsor iSelect has pulled the pin on it’s four-year deal, leaving the club with no sponsor at the end of the year. iSelect had the option of remaining the club’s main sponsor until the end of 2016, but have chosen to part ways with the club in the wake of fresh investigations from the NRL integrity unit.

Titans Chairwoman Rebecca Frizelle. Photo:

Titans Chairwoman Rebecca Frizelle. Photo:

Just like the inquiry into illegal drugs in sport, the integrity unit’s probe is dragging ever on. The investigation is now into its eighth month, with no sign of a conclusion on the horizon. “We haven’t been given time frames,” said a clearly frustrated Rebecca Frizelle (Titans’ chairwoman), “as it is an NRL investigation which is ongoing at this point in time, however the NRL has indicated that they would like to finalise it as soon as possible.”

Titans boss, graham Anneslyey, is out beating the drum in a desperate effort to replace the income deficit left by iSelect’s departure. He told reporters he will be meeting with two major international businesses this week.

On Friday Pivotal Homes signed up with the Titans as sponsors to next year’s Auckland Nines tournament. And while this is one piece of most needed good news for the football franchise, it is nowhere near enough.

Frizelle reiterated the club’s openness and compliance with the NRL auditors, “We have provided full access to all Titans records and documentation including the financials,” she said.

Should the Titans be dragged down by this latest controversy the consequences would be severe. Should the Gold Coast franchise lose their right to host a club in the NRL it is unlikely they would get the opportunity again.

Griffin faces sack from Broncos

Broncos coach Anthony Griffin is expected to be given the sack today, after the return to the club of super-coach Wayne Bennett was made public.

Bennett is understood to have accepted a three-year contract worth $4 million dollars to return o the club at the end of the season.

Under Griffin’s tutelage, the Bronco’s have performed ‘adequately’. But their gut-wrenching loss to the Sharks a few weeks ago had many wondering what needed to be changed.  And while it is unfair to blame the coach for a team’s on-field performance the Broncos have made no secret of their wish to reclaim Bennett. For his part Bennett, somewhat churlishly, was quoted by News Corporation as telling the Bronco club directors he was ready to return and rebuild the club.

Griffin is understandably disappointed, but intends to honour his contract and see out the year. At the end of the season he will be a coach without a club, perhaps looking overseas for employment.

Bennett has had mixed success in his post-Broncos coaching. He led the St George Dragons to a premiership before leaving them floundering. While his time at the Newcastle Knights, most agree, has been an unmitigated disaster. The reason for the poor performance of the Knights has been attributed to off-field factors. But many wonder just how Bennett tried to mitigate the effects.

The Broncos board began pursing Bennett in May. They have had numerous meetings, and discussions with him and finally extended an offer too good for the coach to refuse.

The players were informed of the decision to sack their coach prior to the announcement made to the media.

What kids’ soccer matches teach us about teamwork

If you’ve ever watched a kids’ soccer match, it’s understandable if you found it hard to follow.


As soon as the ball comes into play, all the little legs rush towards it in a clumsy wolf pack, leaving every other part of the field exposed. There’s always the kid who loses his or her configuration and accidentally scores a goal for the other team only to have the ecstatic excitement shatter into red-faced embarrassment. And no matter how loud the frantic coach on the sideline shouts, the young team just can’t seem to comprehend what “stay in your position” means.

Shamefully, as adults, we’re often not much better. Whether it’s in a sports team or a workplace, we often forget to step back and look at the bigger picture.

One of the most important things in team sports in to communicate. Kirstyn Haywood, a team-building expert from People for Success, recently said: “In a team, it’s essential to listen to those around you.” “It’s impossible to organise all the elements in a team when everyone is doing their own thing”, Haywood said.

She’s right. Every person in a team has something different to offer and the best way for all the pieces to complement each other is by speaking and listening to one another.

By placing teammates in different parts of the field, each gains a different vantage point that can be shared with the others. Often, it’s the defending back line who is best positioned to tell the striker when the opposition is creeping up

When we are connected, we can work seamlessly in sync like a well-oiled machine. When we see the whole field, we can create and implement the most effective strategy.

For any team, growth comes from training and setting goals. Getting your team together regularly to train and practice executing well-planned tactics is a great way to build teamwork. In addition, fostering an environment of ambition, determination and clear goal setting is essential for motivating your team. When they can visualise success, they can reach it.

A little disorganisation is fine when it’s a bunch of five-year-olds running around in the mud on a Sunday afternoon. But when the stakes are higher and the trophy is waiting to be won, actively promoting teamwork and solid communication is the best way to win the match.

Gallas set to sign for Glory


The A-League is set to welcome another big name into it’s ranks with French star defender William Gallas due to be Perth Glory’s latest marquee signing. Confirmation that the former Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur man will be joining the Western Australian side is imminent, according to the French media.

Gallas was close to coming to Australia earlier in the year when Melbourne Victory was close to confirming his signature, though decided on signing the Chilean Pablo Contreras instead. It appears, however, that the Glory deal is all but confirmed with the current free agent expected to arrive in Perth after the round five trip to Wellington.

Gallas has said to be enticed by the Australian football sphere by what he sees as a new footballing frontier. Taking note of recent overseas successes in Emile Heskey, Shinji Ono and Alessandro Del Piero, the A-League shouldn’t be surprised that it has gained a following around the world. Though it did go through a few years of trouble where crowds were low and football wasn’t at it’s highest quality, the introduction of new players, teams (notably the Western Sydney Wanderers) and now free-to-air televising has increased popularity and put the league on the national scale.

Gallas looks to add Perth Glory to his list of already high profile teams. After Joining Chelsea from Olympique Marseille in 2001, he was sent to the Emirates in a deal which saw Ashley Cole move the other way. He then moved to direct rivals Tottenham Hotspurs, with whom he played until he was released earlier this year.

Gallas will be looking to help Perth Glory lift itself from a disappointing first couple of games, having taking only one point from their visit to the Newcastle Jets. They are due to face Melbourne Heart in their first home game this Sunday.