Thursday, 5 August 2010

In an effort to put tomorrow’s historic Otago Ranfurly Shield challenge into perspective, I’ve delved into my sporting library and come up with the following top four rugby occasions at Rugby Park since we last won the Shield in 1959:

1966 v British Lions (won 14-8). 1978 v Australia (won 10-7). 1979 v France (won 12-11). 1989 v France (won 12-7).

Perhaps though, the most comparable occasion was the Otago challenge of August 2, 1947 when 21,000 rocked up to Rugby Park to witness a Ron Elvidge-inspired Otago take the Log of Wood 17-11.

That great Otago side included the likes of All Blacks Elvidge, Kevin Skinner, Laurie Haig, Jim Kearney, Lester Harvey and Charlie Willocks. Under coach Vic Cavanagh (junior) Otago then defended the Shield on 19 occasions before losing it to Canterbury in 1950.

I’m not suggesting for a moment the Otago side of 2010 is in the same league as their illustrious predecessors but they do possess two All Black-class players in Adam Thomson and Ben Smith, a very able openside flanker in former Stag Alando Soakai and a prop in Kees Meeuws who’s been to the mountain top before.

The Blue and Golds are desperate for some ITM Cup points and tomorrow surely represents a real opportunity to get their hands on some woodwork they haven’t seen since 1957.

And beware any side Laurie Mains is involved with!

* How about this for a bit of wishful train-spotting from one of my colleagues, Newstalk ZB’s Dunedin-based Dominic George?

He’s looked at the last six NPC clashes between the southern rivals dating back to 2004. Otago has scored 128 points, Southland 121. The average winning margin has been 7.5 points with Otago’s 27-10 victory in 2004 the biggest margin. It’s been tit-for-tat with both sides winning on alternate years and the visiting side has won on each of the last six occasions.

He’s therefore concluded Otago will win by 12 and under tomorrow. Tellingly, though, he’s not prepared to wager a beer on it!

* I’ve also been doing a bit of reading ahead of tonight’s centenary dinner of the Toko Golf Club in Milton where I hope to regale some tales of golfing glory. My speech won’t be entitled “Great golf shots I have played”, that would be far too short an after dinner dissertation, rather I’ll concentrate on my trip to the 2009 Masters at Augusta and the day I met John Daly.

Let me leave you with some great golfing quotes I dug up for the occasion:
Missing a short putt does not mean you have to hit your next drive out of bounds - Henry Cotton
Talking to a golf ball won't do you any good, unless you do it while your opponent is teeing off - Bruce Lansky
The golf swing is like a suitcase into which we are trying to pack one too many things - John Updike.
All oh so true!


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