Monday, 25 October 2010

Depending on the results of the Bay of Plenty and Taranaki games, the Stags will know their fate in the race for an ITM Cup top-four spot by the time they take to the park tomorrow night.

A Bay of Plenty win last night (my deadline is 5pm Thursday) could already mean curtains but if the rugby gods and bonus points have been kind, then a four-try victory (whilst denying Wellington a bonus point) could do the trick.

Semi-finalists for the past two seasons, in all probability the Stags will be denied top-four entry through the back door but that should not detract from what has been an historic season.

Never in this union’s proud history has the Ranfurly Shield been defended successfully on six occasions in one season. By my reckoning, 1946 (5 occasions), 1939 (4), 1938 (3) and 1930 (3) were the previous best efforts.

Attention will then turn to the Southland Rugby Supporters’ Club function saluting the class of 2010 on Monday, November 1. The occasion will also double as farewell for long-serving chief executive Roger Clark who, along with the Southland Mafioso of Simon Culhane, Leicester Rutledge, Jamie Mackintosh and Jimmy Cowan, will set about righting the badly-listing Highlanders.

The player of the year award will hold the most interest. Kenny Lynn (until injured), Matt Saunders, John Hardie and Josh Bekhuis could all justifiably put their hands up for the award but it’ll undoubtedly be a two- horse race between Jason Rutledge and Mackintosh.

If you’d asked me a month ago, I’d have said Cabbage in a canter but coming down the home straight, Whoppa has made every post a winner. At the risk of throwing in yet another horse racing cliché, this one will be a photo finish!

* While I’m on the cliché and bad pun bandwagon, I’ve a bone to pick with a purveyor of fine meats, namely Gerry McSoriley.

The diminutive butcher, who could never be accused of mincing his words, tried to convince me Eric Anderson toured South Africa with the 1970 All Blacks. A debate/argument ensued. I had no beef with Gerry personally but I was prepared to steak my reputation on my answer. It was thus decided to settle the dispute like men, with a quiz-off at dawn (well closer to midnight if truth be known).

So next time you’re in Southlamb Gourmet Meats make sure you ask the singing butcher to name the only three members of the 1970 All Blacks to South Africa who did not get a test.

I did. And he couldn’t get all three. God bless Bruce Hunter!


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