AS I SEE IT (15 April)

bronson ross aisi

By Terry O’Neill.

Rugby scrum front row activities can ensure many rugby props do not compare with an internet dating Adonis due to cauliflower ears and noses not centred. But one rugby prop who doesn’t fill these bills bolsters the front row for Ulster, that former local broth of a boy, Bronson Ross.

There’re those with perception who recall the former Irish Bar now known affectionately as Fat Sally’s. The original proprietors were Eugenia and Rob Ross. Eugenia is one of the McGeown clan headed by Anne and the late Jimmy who migrated to New Zealand from Belfast, Ireland, to settle in Oamaru where Bronson was born in 1985.

Bronson left St Kevin’s College and eventually made his way to Dunedin and played for the Dunedin Club, and aged 22 embarked on his OE to Europe. After two years with the Scottish Boroughmuir club, he represented the Spanish Guernica club, and joined the English Coventry club at the start of the 2012/13 season. Bronson’s form came to the notice of Ulster coach Mark Anscombe who attracted him to join the Irish club which included eminent players like Jared Payne, Ruan Peinaar and Franica van der Merwe in its ranks. He made his debut against the French club, Toulon, in January last year, and has currently played 26 games for them. Bronson, now 30, plays tight or loosehead, and is 1.83 metres and weighs 118 kilograms.

But Bronson’s rugby aspirations deviated slightly when online he met Belfast girl, Leanne Reilly. In March last year Bronson and Leanne, on a romantic getaway, stopped at Dundrum castle at Bronson’s insistence. At the top of the tower Bronson got down on one knee. Just tying up his shoelaces, thought Leanne! After their wedding the pair discovered an earlier family connection – their respective grandfathers, Jimmy McGeown and Bobby Reilly, both played for the local hurling club, Davitts GAA in Belfast.

Bronson relishes the opportunity to play top level rugby. “I have always wanted to play at this level and I’m delighted to be part of the best rugby operation in Europe. And my mother is from Belfast, so it’s almost like playing for my second home.

His first start for Ulster against the much vaunted French club, Toulon was significant.

They don’t come any more difficult than against Toulon. When you’re doing the hard yards in the pre-season and you are working your way up, they are the games you dream of playing in. The lads are great, there’s a good vibe, good banter, great facilities, a great place to improve my rugby . . . to earn those starts and to climb the pecking order by right rather than opportunism.

Props are often known for their longevity, uncompromising attitude to their code.

So Bronson, when Ulster has lost its attraction, there could be a place in the North Otago front row!

ENDS

AS I SEE IT (19 Feb)

Waitaki Aquatic Centre

By Terry O’Neill.

swede

A Smorgasbord (Swedish) suggests sandwich and table, so we have a mixture today.

Regularly I am privileged to propel myself through the waters of the Waitaki Aquatic Centre, one of the district’s most used sporting facilities.

Waitaki Aquatic CentreAnd we are indebted to Adair and David Rush whose foresight and enthusiasm motivated the fund-raising for the complex. With the rise in drowning statistics and reduction in the number of school swimming pools, mainly due to lower funding, this pool is needed more than ever for basic life skills.

At the other end of the learn-to-swim focus it produces high class young swimmers including a number of qualifiers for the national junior age group championships in Auckland later this month.

Swimming demands discipline. Local competitive swimmers train usually from 6.00a.m to 7.30a.m with many from afar breakfasting at the pool before heading for a full school day, and back for a further training later with coach Narcis Gherca. It is interesting to note that North Otago will supply more swimmers to the coming national age group championships in Auckland than South Canterbury and Dunedin!

Is it time to look at establishing a sports complex to replace the Waitaki Recreation Centre in Orwell street? Its beginnings in the 1980s arose at a joint Oamaru Borough/Waitaki County meeting as an exciting compromise to meet community needs and the requirement for Waitaki Girls’ High School to replace its obsolete gymnasium. The Rec’s seen much better days.

Waitaki Boys’ High School and St Kevin’s College have gymnasia used also by community sports teams. The three schools are major contributors to North Otago’s economy and a new complex would certainly be an added attraction for pupils from outside the region as well as for locals. Maybe it will be thrown “into the too hard basket”, but we are the custodians of our future.

North Otago cricket won the Hawke Cup last weekend defeating Buller. Hearty congratualtions!

This trophy is competed for by the 22 minor cricket associations in New Zealand, and is divided into four zones. Each zone plays a round robin tournament and zone winners may challenge the current holder. North Otago first held the trophy in the 2009/2010 season appropriately 100 years after it was donated by Lord Hawke. Last weekend’s win means North Otago must prepare for its first challenge, from Hawkes Bay, in a week’s time.

Rugby League completes the smorgasbord. The competition begins on March 3rd with the Warriors playing West Tigers at Campbelltown Stadium at 9.30p.m. The “leaguies” also have new rules to interpret this season. There’ll be differential penalties for incorrect play of the balls. The old ploy of forming walls to prevent charge downs on field goal attempts will allow referees to penalise for such obstruction. The “shot clock” will be introduced with teams now having 30 seconds for scrums and 30 seconds for dropouts or the offending team has to concede a penalty.Now that’s something that rugby doesn’t have yet.

ENDS

NNNN

Onwards and upwards methinks.

ENDS

AS I SEE IT (29J)

bowls

By Terry O’Neill

Bowls North Otago successfully completed its women’s pentangular tournament last weekend involving Senior women and Development women from the five Centres south of Christchurch: South Canterbury, North Otago, Central Otago, South Otago and Southland.

Teams played singles, pairs, triples and fours on two greens in Oamaru in over 100 games superbly organised by Brian Papps and umpires, Bruce Kelly and Graham Thorn, and with cooperation from the other four centres. The senior womens section operated smoothly.

And the “But” . . . Unfortunately Southland and South Canterbury, neglected to provide essential details of their development womens teams, and listed names only with not an iota of information about team composition and skips. As the tournament began on the Saturday morning, umpires had the additional stress of seeking this information. Hopefully a robust message educated those centres on their basic responsibilities.

This scenario may be indicative of a sports administration trend in which even more is expected to be done by the responsible, declining few. It’s an unfettered malaise that has evolved over the four decades I have been associated with bowls and other sports .

Blame may rest at the feet of professionalism whereby the national bodies tend more to be concerned with promotion of those exclusives at the top of the food chain. In too many cases the roles of governance and management are clouded. Let’s hark back to the days of the late Arthur Familton who, as North Otago secretary, ran bowls with a very firm hand although some might agree his  “firm” might have been be a tad lenient. Governance is the aspect of the committee which decides policy, and management involves those appointed to apply that policy to their sport. The two have become integrated to the detriment of sport. Only time hopefully, and a change in attitudes will ensure a more favourable response to the tasks demanded of administrators.

Can you imagine dealing with a multitude of bowls results on scorecards attributed to Tom, Sandy, Jude, Margie, and the like? These do not identify the players to anyone outside the intimacy of the green so it would be appreciated if full names of skips and players are always recorded.

Meanwhile it’s time to celebrate local sport. The North Otago Sports Bodies annual Sportsperson of the Year function is early March at the Opera House. Once again over fifty individuals have been nominated by their respective sports over a wide range of codes ranging from equestrian horse cutting through to trap shooting, motorcross and downhill mountain biking. Coaches are acknowleged too with Narcis Gherca (swimming), Owen Gould (Rowing), Ray Boswell (trap shooting and hockey),and Hamish McMurdo (cricket/rugby refereeing).

The traditional award for Administrator of the Year may be now be  covered by the Services to Sport award. Sports administration is often a thankless task.

Let’s salute these behind-the-scenes sports people who make things happen. Without their fastidious care, knowledge, humour and leadership, sports could not function.

ENDS

AS I SEE IT (18Dec)

 

NO rugby against AS

North Otago players celebrate as Bill Pile scores the game-winning try against Australia at the Oamaru Showgrounds in 1962. Photo from ODT files.

By Terry O’Neill.

This year’s North Otago’s sporting prowess is renowned despite the low population of this district . . .

Development of our swimming talent is the success story of 2015. Seventeen local swimmers under coach Narcis Gherca brought home a massive total of 45 medals, set 76 personal best times, and many qualified for the 2016 national age group championships. Take note of swimmers like Micah Hayes, Tandia Gooch, Jasmine Emery, Danny Gilbert, Iessha Mansfield, Tiana Mansfield and Imogen Keeling.

Oamaru rowing club administrator Peter Scott maintains the eighty active rowers on the water this season makes the club in the biggest in its 128th year and comprises School, Club, University and Masters rowers. Most satisfying for him is the great parent support and mingling of all local secondary schools.   At last weekend’s regatta Oamaru’s Mark Taylor, Charlie Wallis, Jared Brensell and James Scott were outstanding.

North Otago rugby’s consistency has been the key to significant performances over the last two decades. The playoff systems for initially divisional, and later the Heartland competitions, have been in existencefor nearly two decades.North Otago has made those playoffs on nineteen times since 1997 taking titles on four occasions. 2015 was no exception with Lemi Masoe and Ralph Darling again making the NZ Heartland XV.

The North Otago senior cricket side is currently only one match away from winning the zone four Hawke Cup challenge repeating last season’s effort. This season the team had two outright wins against  Otago Country and Southland. And there’s games coming up against South Canterbury (9/10 Jan) in Oamaru and Mid Canterbury(23/24 Jan) in Ashburton.

Winning the Ian Smith Trophy for only the fourth time was the feature of the North Otago mens hockey side this year. On an individual basis Logan Jopson and Jonty Naylor took a further step in their development being selected in the Southern under 18 side. On the club scene Waitaki Boys’ first X1 won the second division South Canterbury title beating Tainui B,3-0 in the final.

Valley Gold won the2015 premier grade netball title beating Waitaki Girls’ Wildfire in a thriller late in August. Wildfire led by four at the end of the first quarter, three at halftime, and two at three-quarter  time before Valley Gold stormed back to win 37-35. Jennifer O’Connell was impressive for the Waitaki Girls’. Her ability was further confirmed by her selection for the pathway to podium system developed by Netball New Zealand, one of three from the southern region, and she will play two games for the national development team in the Cook Islands this week.

Football Waitaki caters for over 480 children including teams from Twizel and Omarama. In competition, St Kevin’s U/18 finished second, Waitaki Boys’ U/16, second and Meadowbank U/14s finished fourth. Young players coming through the ranks and heading for senior ranks are Caleb Roberts, Riku Koyama and Tom Prestidge.

The highlight of the basketball season was the performance of the North Otago U/15 team which qualified for the nationals beating Otago in the process. Individually Harry Thorp and Tom Crutchley from Waitaki Boys’ are in Las Vegas with the Mainland Eagles Academy team while Matt Brien of St Kevin’s made the National Secondary Schools A tournament team.

ENDS

AS I SEE IT (20 NOV)

NOCA nov 15

By Terry O’Neill.

North Otago’s first Hawke Cup qualifying game is against Otago Country in Alexandra next weekend after winning warmup matches against Mid Canterbury and South Canterbury on the home ground.

We proudly claim All Blacks Ian Hurst, Phil Gard and Ian (Spooky) Smith, yet over more than a century many North Otago cricketers represented Otago and New Zealand.

In 1886/87 Arthur Fisher (one of a long line-up of Waitakians), in his first year participated in the initial interschool match. This multi-talented sportsman was not only in the Waitaki 1st X1, but was also 1887 Athletic Champion, the 1903 Otago Golf Champion, in 1904 he won New Zealand Golf Open. Fisher played five matches for New Zealand cricket and was in the first New Zealand representative side to tour overseas, to Australia in 1899. His Otago first class bowling record, taking nine for 50 against Queensland in 1897, still stands.

In the 1950s New Zealand cricket captain John Reid came to Oamaru as an oil company representative and joined the Oamaru club. Besides bringing considerable prestige and encouragement to North Otago’s cricketing fraternity, Reid was a major influence in securing the 1956 match for North Otago against the touring West Indies.

New Zealand representative Zinzan Harris (1955/65) while in the Waitaki First X1 played once for North Otago, and his cricketing sons Chris (Canterbury, New Zealand) and Ben (Waitaki First XI, Canterbury, Otago).

Let’s digress. Zinzan: distinctive surname of immigrants to New Zealand from England, implying a link to the Brooke family. All Black Zinzan Brooke, originally Murray Zinzan Brooke, changed his name to Zinzan Valentine Brooke.

Christchurch’s loss was North Otago’s significant gain in David Sewell who graduated through age groups and Waitaki First XI to play for North Otago 1994 – 2015. After selection for Otago 1995-96, he toured Zimbabwe with the 1997 New Zealand side after a successful under 19 tournament. David retired from first class cricket after playing 67 matches and taking 218 wickets.

Other notables to represent North Otago (NO dates played in brackets): Dennis Blundell (1923-24) later Governor-General of New Zealand, Mike Hesson (1999) currently coach of the Black Caps, Fred Jones (1902/33) – generally one of the finest at the code. Also for Otago: Carl Zimmerman (1921-37), Arthur Berry (1948-70), Merv Sandri (1949-75), Ivan Geddes (1949-75), Tony Cartwright (1959-76), Norm McKenzie (1962-90), Bob Wilson (1968-87), Warren McSkimming (1997) and Craig Smith (2001-09). And from the 1874 records, L E Reade and a Mr Lynch.

A special mention of current North Otago player/selector Duncan Drew(1994-2015) who jousted with Brendan McCullum for the Otago wicket keeping berth.

And from the St Kevin’s First XI of the 1990s, Paula Flannery advanced with flair to play for women’s Otago, Canterbury, one test and 17 one day internationals over a decade, and played in the triumphant team for 2000 World Cup to achieve the White Ferns’s first title.

ENDS

Imaginary Friend

Quote

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Imaginary Friend.”

Many of us had imaginary friends as young children. If your imaginary friend grew up alongside you, what would his/her/its life be like today?

I had an imaginary friend once.1-23-2011_023When I used to live here.

His name was Tom.

Tom wasn’t really much of a friend. 1-7-2011_033

He would do all sorts of horrendous things and then conveniently disappear, leaving this kid to take the rap.

Where is Tom now? Who cares? Probably prison, politics or big business….

AS I SEE IT

old gold

North Otago’s 25-23 victory over East Coast in Ruatoria, 07/09/13. Photo (c) Gisborne Herald

by Terry O’Neill.

Five Forks livestock manager Duncan Kingan’s “other life” complements his day job looking after heifers. Weekends and intervals during the weeks spanning the rugby season, he’s better known as Old Golds rugby manager, a position he’s held for the nine years since his long stint as Valley premier manager.

In May his season begins, and is hands on till competition ends in late October.

Once Heartland announces the draw, NZRU presides over a conference phone call with all Heartland managers,” Duncan (56) said. “Discussion on the season covers any new protocols and rule changes, and mirrors the ITM setup.” When the Heartland competition launches in late August, for each “away” fixture he contacts the opposition liaison officer to ensure any North Otago pre-match training and warmup requirements can be met.

“The first practice of the season extends to taking individual uniform measurements and generally to indicate management’s expectations of players, on and off the paddock.

Much of Duncan’s responsibility is behind the scene organisation such as flight and booking confirmations and maybe player schedule changes, discussions with the bus driver who meets the team at the airport and with the opposition’s liaison officer, hotel arrivals and any special requirements. Initial accommodation and bus bookings are handled by NORFU CEO Colin Jackson and Murray Pearson respectively.

Last Friday for Duncan dawned at 3.00 am to complete farming arrangements before joining the team bus at 7am in Oamaru to head off to Gisborne via Dunedin Airport. Relaxing was not an option until after phone calls to fine tune Air New Zealand arrangements for the accompanying massive baggage and airport arrival time. On his metal all day, in Gisborne after dinner Duncan assists with strapping and rubbing with team physiotherapist Phillipa Masoe.

Match day. 8am: light breakfast, 10am: players meet with coaches, 10.30 am: pre-match meal followed by the rubbing and strapping, 12.45pm: team meeting, 1.30pm: arrive at the match venue.” Then Duncan swings into informing media of any player changes, and to seek the referee for warm-ups and inspections of team boots and gear. The team returns to the changing room for their final ten minutes until 2.30pm kickoff.

Once the game finishes, if necessary Duncan organises a doctor for injured players, and within 20 minutes he rings detailed match results to the media.

At their hotel players, after the game, are reminded what is required of them that evening and of the morning’s home flight arrangements. Before Sunday’s breakfast the players have the “popular” pool session to alleviate bruised and stiffened bodies and soon we’re homeward bound.” After the Poverty Bay game in Gisborne Duncan’s weekend did not finish until he arrived at his Five Fork home about 9.00pm.on Sunday, and this week he’ll face a similar scenario when North Otago is scheduled to play Horowhenua-Kapiti at Levin.

It fits into my usual job. I’m very lucky with very supportive employers, and while I’m away with the team I keep in touch with what’s happening in the farming area I’m responsible for.”

ENDS

AS I SEE IT (28 Aug)

ref-whistle

By Terry O’Neill

Sports participants and spectators, when their team fails, at some stage may harbour blame for the referee or umpire involved.

I tend to support the referee/umpire who is probably not at fault.

So who are the culprits? Any blame should be shouldered by those who, like the International Rugby Board (IRB) or International Cricket Council (ICC), with due expertise attempt to right what appears to be a wrong or introduce new legislation to, in the first instance, endeavour to make the sport more attractive to supporters.

So my question is to the IRB. When will it preside over a strenuous enquiry into the obnoxious maul in today’s rugby? The maul grievously offends that basic rugby rule that no player may be hindered from affecting a tackle on the player in possession. A given is that player is at that time within the laws, not offside for instance.

I single out the maul simply because many teams, jealous of the All Blacks’ skills, reason that the maul which protects the ball carrier, is one route to inhibit the All Blacks’ power. Realistically, the maul simply allows seven forwards, usually from a lineout, to assemble in an arrowhead formation to protect the ball carrier securely attached to the back of the group and who thus becomes untouchable by the defenders. This practice is a blight on the game and does little to stir positive emotions in supporters.

Don’t hold your breath. Change is a tardy process within the IRB (to some, the SOF!)

In cricket there is the Duckworth-Lewis system, an attempt to calculate runs-per-over required when a fifty over match is interrupted by rain. This mathematical formula devised by English statisticians Frank Dunlop and Tony Lewis, attempts to set a statistically fair target for the team batting its second teams innings, and is based on the score achieved by the first team taking into account wickets lost and overs played.

The equation: Team One’s score is multiplied by the number found by dividing Teams Two’s resources by Team One’s resources.

Simple? A phone app for this ICC system maybe on the way?

And in tennis, why does a player gets a second serve if he fluffs the first?

How many know that the football goalkeeper must keep his sleeves down throughout the game so the referee can see who punches the ball away?

In water polo are you aware that your crotch is sacrosanct. No grabbing, kicking or hitting, and it’s illegal to splash water in an opponent’s face?

Women’s wrestling participants may not wear underwire bras, while in baseball, if the ball lodges in the umpire’s mask, all runners advance one base.

And many think the rugby maul is a problem.

But back to the present or probably the future. Plans are apparently under way to redevelop the Whitestone stadium grandstand.It has been suggested that the back ten rows of seats be done away with

to allow the building of Rugby Union offices plus the creation of a lounge area which will be divided with movable doors so that it can be divided into smaller areas if and when required.In addition it is presumed that cricket administration will be catered for as well. Sounds good to me.   

ENDS

First Published in The North OtagoTimes

As I See It

Oamaru Opera House

AS I SEE IT (16 JAN) edited copy wc 465

By Terry O’Neilll

Waitaki District will celebrate and record for eternity the fine efforts of its athletes at the annual sporting awards on Monday, ninth of March, at the Opera House. The district’s population may be fairly sparse but is by no means a reflection on the sporting prowess of its people. Nine divisions of achievers from Emerging Talent to Masters Athletes are represented in nominations of athletes who excel locally to those who succeeded nationally or internationally. The range includes downhill mountain biking and ultra distance running to swimming, rowing and table tennis, and athletes and administrators of all ages.

Many may view the annual sports awards celebration as a function that highlights winners and losers and do not realise that each nominated athlete achieved a target that they set themselves. At whatever level, to achieve that target is success, a platform of many definitions. American columnist Walter Winchell claimed in 1897 “Nothing succeeds like success”. Author, physician and WW1 Intelligence Officer Somerset Maugham believed “The common idea that success spoils people by making them vain, egotistical and self-complacent is erroneous; on the contrary it makes them for the most part humble, tolerant and kind. Failure makes people cruel and bitter.” And author Robert Louis Stevenson believed “To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive”. In other words it is the learning on the journey that the athletes travel that is more valuable than the ultimate achievement itself.

Success is relatively easy to cope with as long as it placed on the correct rung of the personal ladder of life. Too often success produces over-confidence or even arrogance. As in any field of endeavour that greatest characteristic, humility, is one of the hardest life skills to embody and we are fortunate so many of our sports heroes and role models have it in abundance.

Failure tests the mettle of the individual facing it: daunting and disappointing to cope with but a process that is but part of the journey. How we cope with failure, and with success, in our sporting endeavours will likely mirror the way we live and relate to people as the journey progresses. It’s about perspective. About relativity, that elusive ability to see situations and generalities in appropriate balance.

This district’s annual awards climax embraces a passion to nurture talent, leadership and flair. The formal celebrations of our sporting prowess extends well over fifty years to 1963 when Commonwealth Games gold medallist rower George Paterson became the inaugural Sportsman of the Year, the premier award. The range of sports recognised in these honours indicate the versatility of participants in the district. Cricket, rugby, rowing and athletics have been intermixed with darts, paraplegic codes, show jumping, croquet, sheep dog trialling and shearing.

The basic inhibitor for success in sport is to stop trying!

ENDS

First Published in The North OtagoTimes