Rugby World Cup 2011

I don’t often comment on sport but sometimes you just have to.

I enjoyed the Rugby games over the weekend, admired the plucky efforts of Italy to be 6-6 with the Wallabies at half time then breathed a sigh of relief as the Wallabies climbed back on top in the second half. I thoroughly enjoyed the USA v Ireland game and feel that if the USA could manage to play some more meaningful internationals each year they will become a force in world rugby, especially as the US have two Olympic Gold Medals for Rugby ((France won the first and Australasia (Austrlaia and New Zealand) won the second)).

Japan, always entertaining, the island teams – Fiji, Tonga and Samoa – exciting to watch as always. I am curious to see the efforts of Russia, Georgia and Namibia.

It is the All Blacks though that I am interested in at the moment. They won the very first Rugby World Cup and, well, that’s it. They’ve almost won the Webb Ellis trophy a couple of other times but heroically have managed to fail. The following sums it up:

This is Australia

We were at the Royal Easter Show on Sunday and we went in to see the wood chopping. What is an Australian show without the big blokes in singlets having at blocks of wood with axe and saw?

On the way into the show I saw a few young fellows walking around using an Australian flag as a kind of dress or cape on top of the jeans and t-shirt – maybe trying to look or feel Aussie, I can’t help but think back to some of the social problems on Australia Day and at other times in our recent past.

However, to sum up what is Australia, there was the junior underhand wood chop handicap about to start. The young blokes lined up with their axes and the count started ((In the handicap, the number of seconds from the start are counted off and each competitor starts a different number of seconds in)). The race was exciting but what was truly magnificent was young Tom.

Tom was kind of smaller than the other boys and all the other boys had finished when Tom was still cutting. Watching, we could see the axe getting heavier and heavier as Tom tried to complete the cutting of the log. Ten seconds passed, then another ten, then another ten. Tom was tiring, we could all see that but he would not quit. The other boys all moved up to stand around Tom and his mentor and they were all encouraging Tom. The crowd was cheering Tom on and Tom kept hitting that log with his axe, then wrenching the axe free.

Tom finished to a big cheer from the crowd and from the other competitors. He finished maybe 2 minutes after that last of the other boys. Tom, however, and his competitors as well as the audience, all showed the Australian spirit, all showed what it is to be Australian.

Tom was not going to quit – he just had to keep going until he finished, no matter how far behind the other boys he finished.

Tom’s competitors, all finished and tired from their own efforts, took the time to encourage a fellow competitor, to urge him on and to help bring him home rather than just sit and relax.

Tom’s mentor kept encouraging him positively, encouraging him to continue and not to quit.

The audience kept encouraging Tom, willing him to cut through that log.

This then is what Australia has always been about – about being the best you can be and being appreciated for that effort. It is a great example of the spirit of Australia and reflects more the country, the philosophy and the oneness with Australia than walking around wearing an Australian flag does.

Well done Tom, his mentor, the competitors and the audience – I think that was the proudest I have been as an Australian, especially with my partner there and me able to say “this is what Australia is all about”.

Bloody Big Catfish

In a report, Sea Shepherd activists attack Japanese whaler, in the Sydney Morning Herald, there is a note of a conference in which:

Onodera spoke of the latest clash as he addressed a seminar in Tokyo with officials from 11 developing states that have recently joined or plan to join the deadlocked International Whaling Commission.

Japan is holding the meeting to win support for its position that the international body should allow “sustainable whaling”.

Western nations, led by Australia, strongly oppose Japan’s whaling.
The countries taking part in the seminar are Angola, Cambodia, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ghana, Laos, Malawi, Palau, Tanzania and Vanuatu, the Foreign Ministry said.

Of course, Laos is famous for its wonderful beaches and extensive pristine coastlines … not! Perhaps those Mekong River Catfish have gotten really really big 😆

Mekong River Catfish - from ESPN website http://sports.espn.go.com/outdoors/fishing/news/story?id=2097849

Perhaps Japan is really just trying to stack the numbers at the International Whaling Commission – a fistful of dollars to the developing countries and the Japanese can continue to enjoy their whaleburgers – surely not!

Read the full article about this catfish at ESPN’s website – Thais catch 646-pound catfish in Mekong and for the Imperially challenged that is 293 kilograms. Its length was 9 feet, or 2.7 metres. Now that is a fish!

For more information too, see Giant Catfish Critically Endangered, Group Says on the National Geographic website.

Myth or Busted?

Front Cover of The Next Bite Gar published an entry on Lost Nomad entitled Myth or Busted? You Decide…

I was going to comment directly there but when I click on the “0 comments” link no comment form opens so, I’ll comment here in Thomo’s Hole.

The gist of the article is that this guy is reeling in a 10 lb (4.5 kg) fish when a bigger fish comes along and nabs it – so he reels in the bigger fish (it weighed 44 lbs or 20 kgs). This means the total landed weight of both fish is around 25 kgs (54 lbs).

Now, if Gar had put this up yesterday then I would not have bothered checking … unless Gar is currently in the States of course. 🙂

However, checking as best I can my trusty Myth Determiner, Snopes, I note that there is a piece about this in Snopes. Unfortunately, I cannot check further as the Saudi Arabian censors have censored the Snopes site and I can’t be arsed at the moment spending the time to find a proxy server that the censors have not found yet. However, click the link here for the Snopes message board for some details.

You can also have a look at The Next Bite – a fishing magazine – where the issue illustrated here has the same fisherman and fish on its front cover.

Make up your own minds folks … but someone let me know what Snopes said (Thomo grumbles to himself about Saudi Arabian censors). 😦

Ireland Wins A Cricket Match

From the BBC Sport website, Johnston Overwhelmed by Victory. Yes, Ireland won a cricket match. They beat Pakistan. It has been a topsy-turvy sporting year this year already. For example, in Rugby, Italy beating Scotland at Murrayfield not so long ago and in cricket, England and New Zealand both beating Australia recently as well.

Well done Ireland.

The most bizarre thing is that Ireland could now be in the Super 8 series, the quarter-finals to the World Cup. Will we now start to see touring Irish Test sides. I wonder.