Each Monday, 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…
Stop the press – Newcastle United won a football match.
The Toon bested high-flying Everton 2-0 in Saturday’s early kick-off to register their first win in 10 league attempts, and first win in 12 matches, with a Callum Wilson double doing the damage.
Everton ‘keeper Jordan Pickford’s pained expression was a highlight, given that he’s a former Sunderland player with a deep-seated hatred for Newcastle, a sentiment repaid in kind by Toon fans.
But I’m getting ahead of myself here, because we should really begin with rugby, and the Currie Cup final, where the Bulls pipped the Sharks 26-19 in extra time.
After a stop-start season, thanks to COVID-19, it seemed fitting that the first half of the final itself was halted due to lightning strikes close to Loftus.
Sharks flyhalf Curwin Bosch clearly left his kicking boots at home, missing five shots at goal, and both Morne Steyn and Chris Smith struggled for the Bulls.
Referee Jaco Peyper also came in for some stick, but he did his best to allow the game to flow, and also delivered a great zinger to Sharks scrumhalf Jaden Hendrikse, telling the livewire “You’ve got a lot of advice for your first Currie Cup final”.
All in all, it wasn’t a classic, but congrats to Jake White, Duane Vermeulen, and the Bulls for winning their first Currie Cup title in 11 years.
Special mention should also to man of the match Cornal Hendricks, who has overcome huge odds to return to professional rugby after being diagnosed with a heart defect.
There’s a decent chance he’s in line for a Springbok recall – more on that here.
As for the British and Irish Lions tour, planned for later this year, much still hangs in the balance, but Australia has stepped forward and offered to host on our behalf.
A decision is expected to be made by the middle of this month.
We can’t mention feisty scrummies without mentioning Faf de Klerk, whose Sale team claimed a 25-15 victory over Leicester in the Gallagher Premiership.
Early on in proceedings, Faf was involved in some argy-bargy, with rumours that the words ’32-12′ may have been uttered:
— Jared Wright (@jaredwright17) January 31, 2021
If you haven’t yet seen the Cheslin Kolbe interview where he details what it was like to score that try in the Rugby World Cup final, please do so.
You’ll be a better person for it.
Perhaps the only man in the world who can rival Kolbe for the world’s best winger throne is Fijian Semi Radradra, and he scored a cracker of a try last Friday for Bristol against Bath.
Watch from the 1:30 mark below:
Quality finish, but I’m still going with Cheslin all day.
Over to cricket, and the less said about last week’s test match drubbing, which wrapped up on Friday morning, the better.
The Proteas fell apart again, losing nine second-innings wickets for 70 after a spirited stand by Aiden Markram and Rassie van der Dussen, and the Pakistanis knocked off the 88 needed to win without much fuss.
It has now become abundantly clear that Quinton de Kock is not the man for the skipper role, and both his batting and his demeanour behind the stumps have been adversely affected.
When pressed post-match about the collapse, and how South Africa could improve, Quinton said:
“If I knew I would let you know and if we knew how to fix them we wouldn’t be doing it in the first place,” he said.
Then asked whether there was a way South Africa’s spinners could have done better, de Kock did not know, again. “If there is, I’d like to know how and what we didn’t do right.”
Asked if there was something different South Africa could have done with their team selection, given the last minute injury to wristspinner Tabraiz Shamsi and the wealth of seamers in the squad, de Kock did not know. “I haven’t really thought about it.”
Well, you better get thinking.
One bright spark was KG Rabada reaching 200 test wickets, becoming the youngest South African to achieve this feat, and the fourth-fastest of all-time.
Settle in for all 200:
Let’s turn our attention to Australian coach Justin Langer, who has come under fire following his side’s home series loss to India.
In a Sydney Morning Herald article, it’s been reported that some players have become drained by his intensity and mood swings:
Sources say some senior players are frustrated at the atmosphere in the team being brought down by the coach’s shifting emotions and what they see as too much micro-management…
Sources say the coach’s headmaster-like manner and difficulty coping with pressure was in the summer increasingly incompatible with a team consisting largely of experienced players in their late 20s or 30s.
Putting all of that aside, how about this absolute cracker regarding toasted sandwiches being brought onto the field by an Australian player:
During the Brisbane Test Langer ordered a player not to persist with a habit of jamming a toasted sandwich in his pocket to eat on the field…
“You’re walking on against India, we’re trying to win a Test match and one of our players walks on with a toasted sandwich in his hand,” Langer said. “I spoke to [the player] about it at length yesterday. I said, ‘How do you reckon it looks, mate?’ Is that not something I should say?“
Rather toasties than sandpaper, fellas, and Langer has a point here. Eat your sarmies in the changing room, unless you plan on using some of the seeds from the bread to rough up the ball?
Did David Warner ask one of the players to shove the toastie down the front of their pants? I would put nothing past this team.
The identity of the toastie-wielding cricketer has not been revealed, although most believe it was Marnus Labuschagne.
Staying Down Under, and a very contentious ending to a Big Bash match.
With Sydney Sixers’ James Vince on 98, and his side needing just a single run to win to secure their place in the final, Scorchers bowler AJ Tye bowled an awful wide, thereby denying Vince the chance at a ton.
Tye has denied that he did it on purpose, but Vince was not at all impressed:
Shithousery of the highest order.
— Cricket Shithousery (@CricketRustling) January 30, 2021
Shithousery, whether intentional or not.
For those who find T20 cricket too time-consuming, there’s always the Abu Dhabi T10 League, which is currently underway.
West Indian Nicholas Pooran put on an absolute show yesterday, smashing 89 from just 26 balls, which included 12 sixes.
There’s a reason he’s regarded as one of the crispest strikers in world cricket at the moment:
— T10 League (@T10League) February 1, 2021
Finally, our women’s Proteas team continued their dominance over Pakistan, winning the second T20 international by 18 runs, with Shabnim Ismail taking a career-best 5/12 to help the team defend 133.
The win means we take a 2-0 lead into the third and final T20 international on Wednesday, having won the ODI series 3-0.
Alright, let’s wrap up the footie and call it a day.
The biggest footballing story of the weekend, other than the aforementioned Newcastle victory, was the leaking of Leo Messi’s contract to Spanish newspaper El Mundo.
With Barcelona in a dire financial situation, brought about by years of terrible mismanagement, somebody (most likely former Barcelona President Josep Maria Bartomeu) is clearly trying to throw the Argentinian under the bus.
Over the duration of the four-year contract, which expires at the end of June this year, Messi earns a maximum of €555 237 619 (yes, well in excess of €500 million) over four seasons if a series of conditions are met.
That includes a signing-on bonus of €115 225 000 for accepting the initial renewal, and a loyalty bonus of €77 929 955.
The contract, in its entirety, is believed to be the biggest pay deal ever for an athlete. He’s the greatest footballer that ever lived, and football is the world’s most popular sport, so I don’t blame him for his club’s financial woes.
Still, that story leaking would have been on his mind as he stepped onto the field for last night’s match against Athletic Bilbao.
After missing a few decent chances, he curled in a cracker of a free-kick:
Messi just scored a beautiful free kick vs Bilbao! pic.twitter.com/HDPISJq9HJ
— Chambo (@davidc98) January 31, 2021
If that video doesn’t work, see the goal here.
Finally, because this has now dragged on a bit, here’s a great comeback starring a man whose name befits such an occasion.
22-year-old Jizz Hornkamp, a forward for Dutch Eerste Divisie club FC Den Bosch, scored four goals, as his team came back from 3-0 down against Excelsior to claim a 4-4 draw.
Once again, that’s a real player called Jizz Hornkamp, scoring four times in a massive comeback:
3-0 achter bij Excelsior. Uitzichtloze situatie. Maar dan is daar:
⚽️ 52′ Jizz Hornkamp 3-1
⚽️ 55′ Jizz Hornkamp 3-2
⚽️ 78′ Jizz Hornkamp 4-3
⚽️ 86′ Jizz Hornkamp 4-4 pic.twitter.com/RN7w3rxyWe
— ESPN NL (@ESPNnl) January 30, 2021
This led to ‘Jizz’ trending on Twitter, which is probably not that uncommon, given the depravity of social media.
Here’s to another great week of sporting action, then.
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