Paul Lewis on sport
Paul Lewis is the Herald on Sunday's Sport Editor

Paul Lewis: You must be joking...

The NRL's disciplinary system is a real puzzler. Photo / Getty Images
The NRL's disciplinary system is a real puzzler. Photo / Getty Images

Joke - Wife says to husband: "I'm looking fat, can you pay me a compliment?" Husband: "Your eyesight's perfect."

Joke - the NRL disciplinary system.

Joke - the England rugby tour.

Joke - New Zealand Football's efforts to play meaningful internationals.

Joke - Lydia Ko changing her swing.

Sad joke - breaking up appears to be good for Rory McIlroy's golf, but not for Caroline Wozniacki's tennis.

Yes, folks, sport is a bit of a joke around these parts right now, although not many are laughing. It means the Warriors are the most compelling sporting fixture around apart from Sir Gordon Tietjens' speaking engagements.

NRL - How do these bozos get away with it? Josh Reynolds' tackle on former Warrior Brent Tate - a man already with neck troubles - was so bad it surely must have earned a huge punishment.

But, no, this is State of Origin. It's mate against mate, hate against hate. Only this looks more like mates against Alex McKinnon. He was the guy who suffered serious spinal injuries in a similar tackle recently. Oh, how the NRL talked up their regard for safety. Until Origin.

Now it just looks like they have swept under a rug McKinnon and his brave efforts to get out of a wheelchair. Lip service? Hip service.

In the lead-up to Origins, fans also sit through excruciating hours of build-up including Gus Gould (normally a fine comments man but who descends into irritating caricature when it comes to Origin). He has a face like an exploded mattress and prowls around the field talking about "Origin moments". Hey, Gus, Reynolds' ability to play in Origin II while McKinnon struggles to move his legs ... now there's an Origin moment.

England - The IRB might have a better record in safety but they can't even control their own calendar. With international rugby crying out for a more meaningful global season, the IRB are unable to control their own game to produce a more interesting spectacle - necessary when rugby's own rules and horrendous use of video refs is threatening to choke itself with delays, confusion and boredom.

Instead, they send down an under-strength England team that even former coach Sir Clive Woodward has called, "the biggest cock-up since the Tour from Hell". That was the England tour of 1998 when clubs blocking players, injuries and rest and rehab saw England thrashed by Australia (76-0 ), All Blacks (64-20 and 40-10) and New Zealand Maori (62-14) and also beaten by New Zealand A (18-10 ). What did the IRB learn from this? Not much.

The All Whites - Some sympathy here. The South Africans sent a B team and the All Whites' best players stayed away and it was surprising 9000 turned up. NZF suffer financially when they bring teams here. This situation cries out for a transtasman series - only the Australians aren't interested. Even if the stars weren't present, Kiwi-Aussie contests with an edge are proven crowd-pullers. Can't the PM/government money intervene?

Lydia Ko - New coach David Leadbetter said one significant word when he took over Lydia Ko's tutelage and was asked about swing changes: caution. Ko's seemingly flawless swing needed little or no attention, though he tweaked her grip and stance and she won the Swinging Skirts title in Taiwan in her second start as a pro.

But now she is apparently looking to add a draw to her weaponry, even though golfing annals are filled with examples of those who tampered with their swing - and bombed. The draw (or slight hook) gives further yardage and benefits players on certain courses - the most famous being Augusta.

Golfers who can't hit a draw generally don't win at Augusta. Ko, like a lot of golfers, hits a fade (a slight slice) - which never stopped geniuses like Jack Nicklaus from winning (even at Augusta).

But if the unflappable Ko can handle turning pro, a change of coach, the fuss over her taxpayer-funded support and fixing that which isn't broken, well, she will be one of the most remarkable 17-year-old females ever to walk the planet.

Rory McIlroy - You have to feel sorry for Wozniacki. McIlroy's break-up with her sounds as if it was garnered from the pages of the Bastards' Manual - days after they sent out wedding invites, he called her and broke up with her in a three-minute conversation so unexpected it was reported she thought he was joking at first. So he goes out and wins the BMW PGA at Wentworth and followed it up on Friday with a cracking 63 at the Memorial Tournament in Ohio. She crashes out of the French Open in the first round.

It'd be funny if it wasn't so sad - almost as sad as the NRL's disciplinary disasters.

- Herald on Sunday

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