You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
This was the banana-skin round with some big upsets and certainly calamitous for yours truly who picked one from four - some expert! Taieri was a comfortable victor over Southern and is only one point out of the four. Southern somersaults to sixth on the back of three straight losses. The slumbering giant that is Varsity may have woken up, as it crushed competition leader GI to squeeze into the four. AU got the monkey off its back when recording its first "W" for the season when dishing up Zingers. Took the gloss off Chris Bell's 250th and it lost the precious Grace Mills to boot. Harbour got home late over Dunedin to join GI at the top of the comp. But it is tight with a five-point spread across the top five teams, but there can only be four!
The big news
So the rugby union has announced outgoing chairman's Keith Cooper replacement and it is Rowena Davenport. Yes, she is a woman - the name gave it away. In fact, she is the first woman to run a major provincial union in New Zealand rugby history. I don't know Rowena well but my spies tell me she is extremely capable and was far and away the best choice the board could have made. The disappointment for me was the way the appointment was handled. Rowena wasn't available for interviews the day it was announced. Marketing 101, the union should have delayed it until she was available. It is big news and we needed a good shot of her on the front page of the "Old Girl" (ODT) and we needed to hear from her, not a stage-managed press release. You only get one go at this! However, I digress. Congratulations Rowena, well deserved. All is not lost. I might try to persuade Rowena to come on Rugby Chat next week. Yes, I know - a poor second choice!
The junior rugby saga continued ...
Now on my soapbox last week I was wailing on about the dangers of canning tackle rugby from the current 8 years old to 12 years old, as North Harbour is supposedly trialling. The union heavies have informed me I have got that wrong. Can't believe I am wrong! What North Harbour is really doing is once you reach 8, tackle rugby starts but Harbour is offering an alternative comp in which if you don't want to play tackle you can continue with Rippa. Most of those kids will be back, of course, but if it keeps kids in the game I'm all for it. I have severely castigated my sources for giving me a bum steer! But I must emphasise before we institute changes we need to talk to the grassroots junior rugby organisers and make them part of the decision-making progress.
Down on the farm
Two big games this weekend in Central as Upper Clutha takes on Cromwell and Wakatipu meets the Maggots for the White Horse. They're obviously expecting fireworks in Queenstown as "resident heavy" Harty is going up from Dunedin to officiate. If Wakatipu coach the "Big Show" expects to get the last word over Harty he better get up bloody early - that's all I'll say on that. A little bird tells me they may have had a bit of preamble after the Wakatipu and Cromwell game last week - this is a must-see. Excelsior travels into the sticks to take on Valley in a top-of-the-table clash in the north. Too close to call. Can someone tell me if it is true Jacko has bought no imports in this year, how has Athies got 12 new players and how much money has the union saved? Is he bringing a pocketful of cash to the big smoke to snap up players? Be very afraid!
Some other bits
Spare a thought for Dunedin hooker Nathan O'Brien who had to play two full games in 18 hours last weekend. He fronted at Eastern for Dunedin on Friday night and then backed up on Saturday at Port for the Shark prems. If that wasn't bad enough, he played both games out of position at No8 and there wasn't a substitution in sight - good on ya, mate and I'll get Speight's to drop in one or two. You deserve it! While I'm on confessions, I interviewed the heavies from Zingari - coach Karina and club captain Sach - and was skiting I've never had to do a retake on Rugby Chat as I'm that good. Yes, you guessed it, I immediately made a massive mistake.
I was annihilated by JT Taylor from AU last week. I've moved on but now only lead the props by five points! On to Shane Frikken for GI this weekend, so surely. The Hawks (13+) will just be too strong for Zingers at Oyster Oval. The Eels (13+) slither into town and jelly at the Pony Pit. GI has to scale the mountain on to the high veldt to take on Kaik (12-) and just won't get it done. Kaik has the second-best pack in the comp and wins it up front. Southern rolls out to the sea to take on the Sharks (12-) in the battle of the also-runs. On paper, Southern wins but surely the Sharks come right at some stage.
The late mail
The word is Browny is back for the Landers next year - tell me it's not so.
Harbour hooker Sekonaia Pole has been drafted into the Blues as injury cover. Congrats, mate.