A short history of bad ideas

The All Blacks' 2007 loss to France in the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals in Cardiff got the "r'' word rotation out of rugby forever.  Photo / Brett Phibbs
The All Blacks' 2007 loss to France in the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals in Cardiff got the "r'' word rotation out of rugby forever. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Competition interruptus

This entered the Southern Hemisphere rugby lexicon in 2011 when Sanzar announced their revamped Super rugby series.

Since the game went pro in 1996, rugby officials in New Zealand, Australia and South Africa have wrestled their way through 12, 14 and 15-team competitions, morphing into the conference system in 2011.

That created more local derbies and more anomalies, sides avoiding playing a team from each conference. But wait, there was more.

Just as the sides built towards the late stages of qualifying, the Stop sign came out for the tournament and 400 players worked through training camps, rehab and practice matches and watched footy on the TV in June as 90 players gathered to do test battle for the All Blacks, Wallabies and Springboks. Go figure.

Now we are supposed to be on the edge of our seats again as the same intellectual administrative troika arrange our next dose of rugby allure.

-Wynne Gray

Playing at home is supposed to be an advantage but it hasn't worked out that way when the Warriors and Kiwis play at Eden Park, the two sides losing all six games between them there. Despite this, the Warriors want to move away from their spiritual home of Mt Smart Stadium before their agreement runs out in 2018 and relocate to the country's biggest stadium.

The Warriors have averaged 13,000 this season, which would get lost in the 45,000-seat venue. Crowds have, admittedly, been good when the Kiwis and Warriors play at Eden Park - the Warriors have surpassed 30,000 on all three occasions - but it's a lot more difficult to sustain and the cost of staging games there is prohibitively expensive. It's also away from their traditional South Auckland fanbase.

- Michael Brown

Scaredy Cats

It was supposed to be the greatest sailboat race ever held on any body of water in any galaxy. Up to 16 international teams would compete in this glorious global showcase, held in the tight confines of the San Francisco Bay course to provide spectators with a close-up view of the action. The crowning glory of the event: the super hi-tech, ultra-fast AC72 catamarans.

There was just one serious glitch in Larry Ellison and Russell Coutts' plans for the 34th America's Cup: hardly anybody turned up. The specs for the new class of yacht they dreamed up were far too complex; the scale of the project and research and design costs scaring off all but three challengers. Organisers realised their folly and tried to change the class rule to a less ambitious design, but by then it was too late - the teams that had signed on were already well-advanced with their plans.

With only three challengers, one of which - Artemis - barely took part in the regatta, this year's Louis Vuitton Cup was missing an integral element of any sporting event: competition.

- Dana Johannsen

Not-so-super subs

The super-sub was an experimental rule introduced by the ICC to ODIs in 2005 that, much like promoting Daniel Vettori to the top of the order, failed to get off the mark.

Under the rule, the 12th man became a substitute who would replace any other player on the field and take over their batting or bowling duties. The ICC hoped teams would use allrounders but instead specialist bowlers or batsmen were favoured. It wasn't long before it was realised teams who lost the toss were at a distinct disadvantage because if your 12th man was a bowler and you were forced to field first, they were suddenly of less value as they'd need to replace a player who hadn't batted yet. It was canned after less than 10 months. The equally pointless powerplay rule, however, remains.

- Cameron McMillan

A big gamble

Betting on sports, what could possibly go wrong? This moral dilemma has been around as long as the greyhound, but the sheer volume of betting options and forums now is overwhelming; the opportunities for match-fixing and its evil little brother, spot-fixing, are so tempting it has become hard to take "upsets" in some sports seriously any more.

There is a small but well-articulated backlash forming, as fans and some commentators realise that having oddsmakers spruiking their wares before and during telecasts was tawdry, but in truth the cork is well and truly out of the bottle.

- Dylan Cleaver

Stadium naming rights

The North Queensland Cowboys play their home games at 1300SMILES Stadium. Taranaki rugby plays on a loaf of bread. Every insurance company worth someone else's salt has a stadium named bedecked in their signage. Some stadiums change names like Wilt '10,000' Chamberlain changed girlfriends.

At the risk of sounding grumpy-old-mannish, it's crass.

- Dylan Cleaver

Taunting Tua

It's all part of the fight game, of course, but Shane Cameron's taunting of David Tua before New Zealand's "Fight of the Century" in 2009 backfired massively.

Cameron called Tua, who at that point hadn't thrown a punch in anger for two years, fat and old. The Mountain Warrior added that Tua "got a hiding" from Lennox Lewis in his world heavyweight title challenge in 2000. In training (and for the cameras), Cameron wore a T-shirt making fun of Tua's "O for awesome" moment and added in an interview with uncanny foresight: "This is a serious business. People can get hurt."

The result? A second-round KO by Tua after he twice dropped Cameron in the first. The trash talk had worked Tua into a frenzy, helped by his top physical condition which was improved by the fight being delayed due to Cameron's broken hand.

- Patrick McKendry

Rest and rotation

Sounds like something Rick Stein or Nigella Lawson would preach but it was a rugby recipe concocted by Graham Henry as part of plans to win the 2007 World Cup.

The idea was to create depth in each All Black position but the plan also bit into the Super rugby tournament while Henry, in pursuing his concept, never seemed to get his best XV together on the park often enough.

Different rules applied to some players, though. Richie McCaw was a constant as skipper on the openside and Mils Muliaina, Joe Rokocoko, Daniel Carter, Jerry Collins, Carl Hayman and Tony Woodcock were rarely swapped in the run-up to the tournament.

There were grizzles from others about a lack of work and when the All Blacks fell to France in their RWC quarter-final in Cardiff, the rotation ideas got an extra roasting. Henry kept his job but the R'n'R concept got the yellow card from the rugby vocab.

- Wynne Gray

Planting more seeds

It was introduced in 2001 by Wimbledon. They had stuck by their own set of player ratings due to the competition being played on grass, which doesn't suit all the top players. The Australian, French and US Opens use the ATP-generated rankings.

Good players who were ordinary on grass nevertheless didn't like being dropped down the rankings, so the sop was to bump the list of protected players up from 16. The other slams soon followed suit.

It gave the best players a hand to avoid potential banana skins early in the first week - though no one told Sam Stosur when she tumbled to Victoria Duval (who?) two days ago - thus at the same time removing one of the great uncertainties, and delights, of the opening seven days. Yes, it helps TV ratings, and the players and sponsors thought it a cracking idea. But it's bad, bad, bad for the first week, when slams are largely reduced to a parade of one-sided contests. Boring.

- David Leggat

All that glitters is not gold

When the Indian Premier League began in 2008, Brendon McCullum gave it the dream start, whacking 158 off 73 balls on the opening night for the Kolkata Knight Riders. The IPL owes McCullum a significant debt.

But the league, from that spectacular opening, has steadily descended into a cesspit amid allegations of corruption, bent players and officials. Players have privately talked of the tournament being one large party, with a bit of 20-over cricket thrown in, but change their tune when the microphones are on.

It has also caused grief for various boards as players insist on being able to take part when their national team needs them. Now six seasons in, who would miss it if it disappeared? Only those players who get a gig, often at ludicrously inflated pay rates.

The initial buzz and glitter has well and truly faded. Does anyone, other than the owners, for whom it's presumably a nice bauble for the boardroom, care who wins?

Does the game need the IPL? No.

-David Leggat

Summer in Qatar

Why did Fifa award Qatar the 2022 World Cup?

It wasn't their soccer pedigree, their national team never having qualified for a World Cup.

It wasn't because the tiny Gulf state will continue the party atmosphere that will be seen next year in Brazil, considering alcohol is allowed in only selected clubs and bars.

And it wasn't a climate with temperatures reaching 50C, not when Fifa are likely to stage the tournament in the European winter for the first time.

How about the fact Qatar, blessed with reserves of oil, was named by Forbes as the world's richest country per capita?

Ah, that might be it.

After all, allegations of bribery - tabled by England's FA, among others - are the only explanation for the most unpopular World Cup since the oppressive heat of Mexico in 1986, where it was only by the grace of the Hand of God nobody died of a heart attack.

- Kris Shannon

- NZ Herald

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