Belfast Telegraph

Friday 31 October 2014

A brief encounter during a week of rugby Kiwi-style Model: All Black Dan Carter

And to think some people in the world actually believe New Zealanders don't have a sense of humour ...

One of the funniest cartoons drawn during this Rugby World Cup appeared this week, following the news that All Black star Dan Carter was out for the rest of the tournament after tearing a groin muscle.

Carter has been pictured on giant advertising boards throughout the country, bronzed, muscled and toned wearing only a pair of underpants to hide his modesty.

The cartoon showed a forlorn-looking young boy standing in front of his mother who is sobbing her eyes out into a handkerchief. The boy's father stands by him, saying, "Your mother is distraught. Carter's groin injury forced him to withdraw from the rest of the underwear ads."

Methinks there is a trend here somewhere. At a dinner just before the tournament began, where I was asked to be a member of a panel of (don't laugh) rugby experts, the three of us took turns to entertain the audience and give our views on the tournament.

By the end of a long evening, I thought the diners would have heard enough of us and I asked a question addressed to the ladies in the audience, who I reckoned must have been bored to tears by so much rugby talk.

"What would you ladies like to see at this tournament," I asked. "Sonny Bill Williams [All Blacks centre] with his shirt off," was the first female response. Interesting.

POOR old Australian TV commentator Gordon Bray, one of the nicest men this business has ever known, got his facts mixed up and got in a bit of a muddle 'calling' one of the pool matches last weekend.

Bray said of one player, "He plays for Beziers in the French Top 14."

Sorry, mate. He certainly doesn't. Beziers were relegated from the top group of French rugby way back in the late-1990s, were relegated to Division 3 a few years ago and only got back to Professional Division 2 this season.

Mind you, some of Beziers' long-suffering fans will be delighted to hear they're back among the elite.

ENGLAND wing Chris Ashton is a pretty good assessor of time during a game.

Asked about his match-winning try against Scotland last weekend with just three minutes of the match left, Ashton talked about the fact that he had been starved of the ball for long periods before that.

"It must have been 60 minutes before I even touched the ball," he said. How accurate was that? On my stopwatch, Ashton first got a pass in the game after 59 minutes 44 seconds.

I KNOW we live in a global world nowadays, but, even so, there have been some strange goings-on at this Rugby World Cup.

Russia had an Australian-born lock forward named Adam Byrnes and a wing named Vasily Artemyev who lists his club as Northampton Saints in England, but who spoke with an Irish brogue while England have had in their squad players born in those well-known English towns or cities such as San Francisco, New York, Auckland, Rotorua, Nairobi, Sydney, Durban and Moto'otua in Samoa.

As for Ireland, they had players born in New Zealand, Brisbane and San Diego. And Italy had players hailing from South Africa, Toronto, Argentina and Australia.

ONE of the best things about this World Cup has been the singing of the national anthems by assorted choirs from New Zealand. Shame the offer of tickets to see some of the games was withdrawn, with the singers being ushered out of the stadia once they'd sung their hearts out.

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