[imagesource: Channel 7]
Each Monday (unless I can’t muster the energy), I’ll be putting together a wrap of the weekend’s sporting action, standout moments, and major talking points, with a focus on football, cricket, and rugby.
So, off we go…
I’m chomping at the bit to talk about the test match in Australia, where India hung on for an incredibly gritty draw amidst an Ozzie toy-throwing barrage, but I’ll tick a few other boxes before sinking my teeth into that.
To start, let’s have a look at one of rugby’s strangest red cards, which took place this weekend in the French second division.
Fijian winger Josaia Raisuqe was sent off for Nevers after he lifted referee Laurent Millotte into the air at the final whistle, which sealed a 30-25 win over Beziers.
Here’s the incident:
Yes, it is better with The Lion King music:
When you have watched the Lion King too many times during x-mas and it costs you a red card 😂 🟥pic.twitter.com/QeX6inU5HW
— Ultimate Rugby (@ultimaterugby) January 9, 2021
Nevers boss Xavier Pemeja was left fuming with his player, saying “To touch the referee is to touch the institution and that is not done. We do not touch an institution…if you go to court tomorrow, you aren’t going to kiss or lift the judge to thank him for not fining you.”
Closer to home, the Currie Cup showdown between the Pumas and a second-string Bulls side ended in a comprehensive 44-14 win for the home side in Nelspruit.
Pumas flyhalf Devon William scored a brace, including a contender for try of the season:
Try of the season from Devon Williams!pic.twitter.com/ozFZGbLq8Z
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) January 10, 2021
I know I said it was a youthful Bulls side, but the half-hearted attempt at a tackle above comes courtesy of 36-year-old Morne Steyn.
He will always be fondly remembered for his British and Irish Lions heroics back in 2009. For those who battled so hard to secure tickets ahead of the Lions tour later this year, a reminder that the future of the tour is in doubt due to COVID-19.
You can read more on that here.
On to golf, and the PGA’s announcement that the 2022 PGA Championship will not be played at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in New Jersey.
PGA President Jim Richerson said the board voted to exercise its right to “terminate the agreement” with Trump National, following the disgraceful scenes from the Capitol last week.
Usually, this would be met with a flurry of all caps tweets from the current president, but now he’ll have to settle for shouting at White House staff members who stumble across his path.
Also not covering himself in glory is world number three Justin Thomas, who was caught using a homophobic slur during the third round of the Sentry Tournament of Champions:
Big fan, not a great look.
— Imsolazy (@DustyBurlap) January 10, 2021
Following the end of the day’s play, Thomas did apologise, telling the Golf Channel:
“There’s just no excuse. I’m an adult. I’m a grown man. There’s absolutely no reason for me to say anything like that. It’s terrible. I’m extremely embarrassed. It’s not who I am. It’s not the kind of person that I am. But Unfortunately I did it and I have to own up to it and I’m very apologetic.
“Like I said, it’s in excusable. I’m speechless. It’s bad. There’s no other way to put it. I need to do better. I need to be better. It’s definitely a learning experience. I deeply apologize to anyone and everybody who I offended and I’ll be better because of it.”
Thomas finished in third place, taking home a cool $490 000.
Let’s focus on football now, and the FA Cup third round taking place across the UK.
We’ve all grown a little weary of hearing about ‘the magic of the cup’, but there was enough giant-slaying to grant the cliche a temporary reprieve.
On Friday night, Aston Villa was forced to play a team made up of mostly under-21 players, following a massive COVID-19 outbreak among the first-team squad and staff, against the might of league champions Liverpool.
It hurts to read those words, doesn’t it, Manchester United fans? At least you’re dreaming about a title challenge once again.
Villa’s youngsters managed to worry Liverpool for all of an hour, with 17-year-old Louie Barry equalising shortly before half-time.
His joy was obvious for all to see:
— Emirates FA Cup (@EmiratesFACup) January 8, 2021
Liverpool went on to emerge 4-1 victors, but there was no shame for Villa in that defeat:
Non-league side Chorley managed to beat Championship outfit Derby County, also battling a massive COVID-19 outbreak, but that shouldn’t detract from the effort of the part-timers.
Four divisions separate the teams, but it’s Chorley’s choice of post-match song that stands out.
— Chorley FC (@chorleyfc) January 9, 2021
Elsewhere, League One outfit Blackpool shocked Sam Allardyce’s West Brom, which will heap further pressure on Big Sam following a torrid start to his tenure.
Always awkward when you’re outspoken in favour of Brexit, and then bemoan the fact that Brexit rule changes have made signing players harder.
Non-league outfit Marine was on the receiving end of a 0-5 hiding from Spurs, who sit a full 160 places ahead of them in the football pyramid (that’s the biggest gap in the FA Cup’s history), but they did score a big payday, and a visit from a high-profile guest:
Scouting for new players?
Jurgen Klopp makes an appearance at Marine vs. Tottenham 😂 pic.twitter.com/7gwNni6rST
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) January 10, 2021
Perhaps he was keen to keep an eye on Tottenham’s Alfie Devine, who scored on his debut at the tender age of 16 years and 163 days:
At 16 years and 163 days old, Alfie Devine became Spurs’ youngest ever player when he came on in the FA Cup against Marine AFC.
He became their youngest ever goalscorer six minutes later 👏
— B/R Football (@brfootball) January 10, 2021
Leeds United was also humbled, losing 3-0 to fourth-tier Crawley Town.
My beloved Newcastle managed to take Arsenal to extra time, but ultimately succumbed 2-0, making it seven games without a win, and one goal from open play in the last 10 hours.
Never mind, because the pundits will still say we’re unfairly criticising Steve Bruce, and suffer from delusions of grandeur, when all we want is a club that tries to do more than merely survive in the Premier League.
Right, to the cricket, and what has been a really dramatic few days at the Sydney Cricket Ground during the third test match between Australia and India, mired with accusations of racism and animosity both on and off the pitch.
According to Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) officials, Indian quick Mohammed Siraj was called a “Brown Dog” and “Big Monkey” by a group of Australian spectators on Sunday, who were later booted from the ground.
This follows on from Saturday, where it’s alleged that Siraj and Jaspit Bumrah were also subjected to racist slurs.
Speaking about Sunday’s alleged abuse, one spectator, told the Sydney Morning Herald the following:
“All these boys were doing is a bit of sledging of the player on the outfield. First it was Bumrah then they had a sledge against Siraj. They kept calling him Shiraz and all that crap. Next thing you know they said: ‘Welcome to Sydney, Siraj’ and then he got the shits. That was literally it. Then he walked off.
“I don’t know why [the police kicked the men out]. Next thing you know you see police everywhere. It didn’t make sense. It was confusing.”
Those accounts have been refuted by others, with multiple tweets alleging that ‘brown dog’ can clearly be heard in a recording taken at the time:
— Dark Knight 🐴 (@DarkKnightRised) January 10, 2021
You can clearly hear “Brown Dog” in the background.
Name and shame everyone who is denying this blatant racism. https://t.co/AEKWOWfPHs
— Mr. Chocolate Hazelnut Spread (@basedIITian) January 10, 2021
On the field, tensions between the players themselves have been simmering nicely, and they came to a head today.
As the Indians stonewalled and frustrated the Ozzie bowlers, earning a draw that will feel like a win, captain Tim Paine and Indian allrounder Ravi Ashwin were involved in a heated exchange of words:
Paine; How many IPL teams wanted you when you asked every single one of them?
I *think* Paine then launches into a bad Indian accent?!? pic.twitter.com/giIBLqeraK
— Nick Toovey (@OneTooves) January 11, 2021
Paine has already been fined part of his match fee for an exchange with the umpires earlier in the test, and was unhappy with what he felt were unnecessary delays from the Indian batsmen.
The fact that Australia’s two loudest players, Paine and Matthew Wade, are also the team’s least skilled, is worth pointing out.
Oh, and Paine had a stinker behind the stumps, dropping three catches in the second innings, one of which took place shortly after his heated exchange with Ashwin:
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) January 11, 2021
David Warner seems to have learnt to keep his gob shut, following that Sandpaper-inspired tearfest, but Steve Smith might need reminding that he is still winning back the cricket public’s respect.
One hell of a batsman, with one hell of a full name (Steven Peter Devereux Smith), but this doesn’t look good:
— SA Cricket Magazine (@SACricketmag) January 11, 2021
As SA Cricket Mag points out, “a possible relevant section of the ICC Code of Conduct is section 2.10, regarding ‘unfair play’. It states that a ‘fielder causing deliberate or avoidable damage to the pitch’ can be a Level 1 or 2 offence.”
There is no reason for a fielder to be shadow batting and digging his spikes into the wicket.
Expect many former Australian players to come out and speak about how the team’s actions aren’t ‘crossing the line,’ as if their cricketers are somehow the universal judges of what constitutes line crossing.
All that talk of elite gamesmanship in the Amazon series The Test, treating the game with respect, and reforming their cricketing culture, but it appears little has changed and the Ozzies still can’t handle not getting things their own way.
Attention now turns towards the fourth and final test, at the Gabba, with the series tied at one apiece.
You will never find a T20 that matches the drama of a proper test match.
All in all, a decent weekend’s sporting action.
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