Opinion: Booby prize for boys who inject flair

By ANENDRA SINGH sports editor

NOT since B grade actor Burt Reynolds flippantly juxtaposed his success at a global awards ceremony with ex-wife Loni Anderson's "two big ones" in the early 1990s has there been so much fuss over someone's breasts.

England rugby's royal flavour, Mike Tindall, has reignited the persuasive powers of mammary glands when CCTV footage from a Queenstown bar last week caught the recently married player burying his face in a blonde's ample cleavage.

Surely, Tindall's got it down to a tee.

Chucking a few hobbits around in between a few pints of beer with his teammates and then making a right royal tit of himself is perhaps exactly what every team needs in the Rugby World Cup right now.

The Queen's granddaughter, Zara Phillips, of course, may vehemently disagree.

But, then again, maybe Mrs Tindall had probably agreed to a belated stag do for the Gloucester club centre who reportedly told his father the blonde was "an old friend" he was catching up with.

But I digress because that sort of garbage is best left to the tabloids and palace spin doctors.

My preoccupation is with veteran Jonny Wilkinson who reportedly told the Independent newspaper the salacious Tindall saga "has been massively motivational to everyone in the team".

To the tune of expletive-ridden exchanges the day after, the England squad has found a renewed sense of commitment to their campaign Down Under.

They certainly had Georgia on their mind on Sunday and got into some running rugby.

Now if other teams run on to the ground with that attitude the cup will be overflowing with excitement.

How sad is it to see Pacific Island nations, renowned for their flair and flamboyancy, trying to show everyone how much grunt they can have in the engine room.

Whatever happened to a forward pack providing impetus and breathing space for bobbing and weaving backs to set the field alight with a rash of tries?

Instead, we have forwards who pick up the ball and succumb to gravity the moment they feel an opposition tackler's hand on them.

The opposition seem quite content to let the ball carriers crash and bang their way to the 22m mark before putting up a decent effort to regain possession. Either that or wait for those in possession to make a mistake.

Is it me or is rugby union looking more and more like rugby league?

Ditto lineouts. Seldom will a team contest it. Not that hookers help the cause with wayward throws that referees fail to police even with the help of a touchy standing in a pivotal position.

If the whistle blower picks it out then countless scrums and resets follow. Yawn.

Who ends up with a freekick or a penalty from ensuing infringements is definitely a lottery.

Someone's forever not binding or burrowing or collapsing the scrums and mauls.

How lucky you are depends on who the ref is watching at the time.

The grumblings and looks of frustration, especially from Samoa and Fiji, spoke volumes.

Sky TV commentators' sympathy for northern minnows has become an anthem amid calls to the Six Nations to boost their profile.

But what about Australia, New Zealand and South Africa?

How frequently do these southern giants let islanders play tests in their backyard?

That minnows feel it's a small price to pay to play twice in the space of four days to soak up the Cup atmosphere when the big boys have a week's rest is in itself warped, never mind seeing the back of a ref for a lion's share of the game.

Australian players in the Warriors squad have pointed out how appalling the standard of rugby league officiating is from their compatriots.

It appears Samoa captain Mahonri Schwalger is doing the same in rugby, albeit under duress as "dancing natives" who must grin and bear it.

Rugby will dismiss such discrepancies at their peril. Propaganda such as Northern Hemisphere rugby is inferior to the southern one just won't be enough. The Irish are a living proof of that.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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