Friday, July 27, 2018

A saucy story, of a kind

It's reaching crisis point.

Some time ago the South Island source of finest sauce, BOSS Sauce, and especially the BOSS Mild Worcestershire sauce, was taken over by Delmaine in Auckland.

Now Delmaine, in their wisdom have decided to do away with the two BOSS Worcestershire sauces, the Mild and the Spicy. They have apparently replaced them with a combination of the two called the 'traditional' BOSS sauce.
The new

The only problem is that while there are all these new variations of BOSS Sauce, the smoky, the Texan and probably the barbecue, because everyone seems to make barbecue sauce these days, it is damned near impossible to find the 'Traditional' BOSS Sauce. 
The old

It doesn't help either when Google tells me it isn't available in my area.

This can't continue. Serious withdrawal symptoms are being experienced. 

Can I ask please, if anyone in the Auckland area, preferably on the North Shore given how much extra petrol tax I will have to pay if I need to travel over the Harbour Bridge in my quest, sees the BOSS Traditional Worcestershire sauce brand please let me know. 

I know some wag out there might tell me I should try some 'saucery', or that I should return again to 'Saucelito', that lovely little spot on the other side of San Francisco Bay, but truly any help would alleviate my 'ex-Sauce-tive' searching.

Friday, March 23, 2018

A World Rugby Championship? Not a bad idea

Among the usual delights in the annual release of the New Zealand Rugby Almanack - the 2018 issue has just hit the bookstands -  is a noteworthy suggestion regarding the future of Test rugby by the editors.

Clive Akers, Geoff Miller and Adrian Hill have suggested that the top 10 teams in the world should play annually to give some credence to World Rugby's rankings.

"Perhaps the time will come, sometime in the future, when consideration will be given for a merger of the northern hemisphere's Six Nations Championship and the southern hemisphere's four-nations Investec Rugby Championship," they said.

That would see each of the 10 nations playing each other, no final would be played but the nation scoring the most championship points after the round-robin would be declared the winner.

With all the talk of a global rugby season, it is something that could almost be achieved within the parameters played now.

In their respective championships, the sides could play each other once, four games could be played in the November window leaving the June window as the chance to complete the series, or to be the start of the next year's competition.

Such a scheme, without a final, would leave the Rugby World Cup as the ultimate prize every four years.

The editors also made their case for some changes to the sending off, or red carding, of players during Test matches.

"Red cards are rare but when issued the contest is defused. Two classic examples have occurred in internationals in recent years.

"At the 2011 World Cup, Welsh captain Sam Warburton was sent off in the 18th minute of Wales' semi-final clash with France. It was heart-breaking for the Welsh fans who had paid big money to be at Eden Park that day.

"In the second against the 2017 Lions the All Blacks played with 14 players for 56 minutes following the sending off of Sonny Bill Williams. The All Blacks struggled throughout the 65 (sic) minutes. Would the Lions have won the test, and consequently drawn the series, had the test been 15-a-side throughout? We doubt it.

"We would prefer to see even contests and players placed on report for post-match examination, rather than time wasted while officials study television replays before making their decisions. There are instances when a player completely loses control and deserves to be sent to the sideline, but couldn't they be replaced to continue the contest the public have paid to witness?" they said.

That's a sensible discussion point worthy of earnest consideration.

But here's one you won't see included in newspaper reviews, that is if they ever bother to review the Almanack.

The editors expressed their concerns over the loss of sports reporters from regional newspapers.

"While this has little impact in the major cities, it will severely cut the communication between sports and the followers of local sports. Several provincial unions will be hit hard. Some unions do run an efficient and up-to-date website, but many followers of rugby do not use computers.

"The success of local sportspersons and sports teams at national competitions, whether at primary school, secondary school, or senior level, feeds pride within the region. The coming months will be interesting to see how the affected provinces cope with no regular and knowledgeable reporter providing stories of local club and schools rugby and to what extent it impacts on spectator support at games.

"Newspapers have been a way of life to readers ever since the invention of the printing press. Sadly, in many regions sports enthusiasts have lost their connection with local sports," they said.

The traditional Five Players of the Year should find plenty of favour. They were Sam Cane, Rieko Ioane, Waisake Naholo, Codie Taylor and Portia Woodman.

The Promising Players of the Year were: Matthew Johnson Jr (Southland), William Jordon (Tasman), Du Plessie Kirifi (Wellington), Vilimoni Koroi (Otago), Mike Tamoaieta (North Harbour).

The 2018 Rugby Almanack, Edited by Clive Akers, Geoff Miller and Adrian Hill. Published by Mower.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Sir Nick Shehadie never forgot his rugby mates

Having only met Sir Nick Shehadie once was no impediment to understanding the stature of one of the great men of world rugby.

Under the circumstances, and having heard of his reputation from some of his opponents, there was something of a feeling of already knowing him. 

Two men specifically helped in this regard.

One was Southland player, coach and administrator Ray Harper who went on to become a New Zealand Rugby Union councillor and manager of the All Blacks in 1980 who spoke often about playing against the big Australian forward, and then meeting him several times during the 1980 All Blacks tour of Australia.

The other was a little more personal but involved another Southland rugby identity, C.E. 'Eddie' Robinson, a flanker from world rugby's southernmost rugby club Bluff who was an All Black in 1951-52 and who should have been on the 1953-54 tour to Britain and France, but that's another story.

While researching my history of Southland rugby, Something to Crow About, I rang Eddie to see if he would be available for an interview about his experiences with Southland. I knew he was pretty crook with cancer and said to him I was aware he wasn't well and that I would understand if he didn't feel up to it. He said, "No Lynn, come on down, it will be great to chat."

He was fantastic and had some great yarns. We talked for ages.

He said when he was selected for the 1951 tour to Aussie, Bob Duff took him under his wing. He thought it was because they were both prematurely bald. Duff and Shehadie were mates and so when Robinson came on the scene Shehadie always called Duff and Robinson 'Dad and Son'.

Robinson made a big impression on both sides on his first tour, having arranged for a significant number of Bluff oysters to be sent to Sydney for both teams to enjoy after the first Test.

Anyway, early on the return trip to New Zealand in 1952, Australia played Southland just before the first Test of the tour. Southland beat them 24-9, the only provincial side to win against the tourists.

At one of the first lineouts Shehadie went up for the ball and Eddie hit him. Shehadie ended up flat on his back in the Rugby Park mud. He looked up at Robinson and said ' Your bloody old man put you up to that didn't he?" 

The loss to Southland could not have been too off-putting, Australia won the first Test 14-9.

It was all part of the banter the trio enjoyed and Robinson recalled they had some great times together.

Anyway, 40 years later as a guest at the NZRU centennial  dinner in Wellington,  Sir Nick's and my paths were about to intersect. He and Tony O'Reilly were the guest speakers.

At the end of the speeches all the knobs gravitated to O'Reilly and Sir Nick was left sitting on his own.

I went over and sat beside him and said "Sir Nick, you don't know me from a bar of soap, but I wrote the centennial history of Southland rugby and one of the people I interviewed for it was Eddie Robinson."

He said, "Dear old Eddie, how sad it was when he died."

I said to him that Eddie had been very sick when I spoke with him, but that "when he talked about you and Bob Duff and the fun you had his spirits really lifted." 

And at that Sir Nick broke down and said "Thank you very much for telling me that, it means so much to me." I spent a few more minutes with him and then headed back to my seat.

For all that happened to him in his subsequent rich and fulfilling life, Sir Nick could still be moved by the memory of his rugby mates.

He was a man who defined the spirit of rugby at its very best.

That was evident when in 1983 he was asked to open the Golden Oldies rugby festival in Sydney, the third staging of the event. He was 57 then and when finishing his speech he said he would see everyone at the banquet at the end of the festival. But someone in the crowd shouted, 'Ave a go mate'. So he stripped and played a game.

He said to his new-found team-mates that he would be seeing them. And he turned out on both the second and third days to play.

"This is what rugby is all about," he said. "To start with it brought me out on the paddock again and I had three runs. I enjoyed myself immensely.

"The way in which the 16 nationalities involved here played the game and mixed off the field is a lesson for all the world. Surely, there would be no more wars if we all played rugby like the Golden Oldies," he said.

Australian, and world, rugby has lost a great man.