Dylan Cleaver on sport
Sport analysis and comment from Dylan Cleaver

Midweek Fixture: Chalk another anti-Ocker victory up to Eddie Jones

By Dylan Cleaver

England head coach Eddie Jones, looks on during the tTest match between the Wallabies and England. Photo / Getty
England head coach Eddie Jones, looks on during the tTest match between the Wallabies and England. Photo / Getty

Have you heard the joke about the ex-Wallaby who gatecrashed a press conference to ask the England rugby coach a question at the weekend?

It's hilarious, honestly. In the best traditions of high school humour, Stephen Hoiles asked Eddie Jones a question laced with double-entendres and homophobic overtones.

"And the lads were pumped up, there was a bit of moisture out there and I think you and Glen [Ella] had a good moment, looked lubed up and a fair bit of shrinkage. How did you enjoy that moment with your old mate Glen up in the box?"

What a knee-slapper.

I mean, where do you even start to analyse the mindlessness of that intervention? Is it the sheer banality, the mixed metaphors or the very idea that in this day and age, physical interaction between two men can still elicit back-of-the-classroom sniggering?

God knows what Hoiles would have made of the pile-on that followed Beauden Barrett's 79th-minute try in the World Cup final, but no doubt he's got some witty lines for Julian Savea and Sonny Bill Williams, who lead what he must have considered near-orgiastic celebrations.

Rugby was one of the sports that recently signed a diversity pledge to stamp out the sort of nonsense that makes women, the LGBT community and ethnic minorities feel uncomfortable in clubrooms and on sidelines around the country.

It is a move that should be congratulated. Even just a year ago former All Black Andy Haden dismissed homophobic slurs on the field of play as "just banter", showing how far we need to come to make sport, in particular the more 'traditional' sports, more inclusive.

Crass jokes, desperately unfunny jokes, set the cause back.

So good on Jones for calling him out, for not just chuckling away and treating the interruption as harmless banter, which is what too many of us do, too often.

Jones, who is busy transforming England rugby into the powerhouse they have long threatened to be, won not just the match but the high ground.

Good on sections of the Australian press, too, for condemning Hoiles' prank.

Wrote the Sydney Daily Telegraph's Mike Colman: "More reason for the working media to be sick and tired of so-called comedians coming into their workplace and behaving like idiots...

"Australian journalists... were angry and embarrassed that one of their countrymen should waste their time with such a display of Ockerish buffoonery."

Colman was described by one respondent in the comments section as being "precious".

Better to be precious than a punchline in a joke that was never funny.

***

The sports story of the week?

A Madrid court's decision that the infamous blood bags seized in Operation Peurto must be handed over to authorities, including Wada and the cycling's governing body, the UCI.

The decision countermands that of Judge Julia Patricia Santamaria, who in 2013 ruled the blood bags should be destroyed, a decision which provoked widespread fury, including that of British tennis star Andy Murray who called Puerto the "biggest cover up in sports history".

Ten years ago, the sting operation revealed a doping network involving some of the world's top cyclists after police seized 211 coded blood bags from the clinic of Dr Eufemiano Fuentes.

The appeal judges said they were overturning the earlier decision to destroy the blood bags to help the "fight against doping, which undermines the essential ethical value of sport".

Do not underestimate the waves this could cause through the sporting world. While cycling's dark past and cloudy here-and-now is exhaustively documented, it is the presence of other high-profile sportsmen and women including, it is believed, some of the world's best footballers, that has the potential to change the way we view sport.

None of the athletes whose blood have been stored - originally for the purpose of transfusions, which boosts red blood cells to increase stamina - can be charged.

***

Speaking of scandals, I watched The Lance Armstrong Story: Stop at Nothing last night. Aside from the sheer audacity of Armstrong, the biggest takeout for me was that sport's most heinous cheats, whether they be dopers or fixers, can't do it alone.

They need a network of liars and enablers to make it happen. Often these enablers will be friends and family who know what's happening but don't have the guts to stand up for what is right.

In many respects they are as bad as the cheats themselves.


SPORTS SHAREMARKET

I'm buying... OJ: Made in America

It's coming to our screens via ESPN next week and from all reports, it's stunning. "I'm not that interested in the murders or the innocence and guilt question," said the director Ezra Edelman "That's been done." Instead, Edelman's epic spans 7h 43m and looks at what created the myth and, in many eyes, the monster that became OJ Simpson. Sports Illustrated's media monitor Richard Deitsch calls it the best thing ESPN has ever done. Can't wait.

I'm selling... Oceania football

The timing of this tournament, alongside widespread coverage of the Copa America and European Championships, did the Oceania champs no favours because what we saw was two different sports. Even with all the cynicism and violence on display in the US and France, the Beautiful Game shines through. What we saw in Papua New Guinea was just tripe, even if All Whites' coach Anthony Hudson begs to differ. The sooner Oceania devolves into a sub-confederation within Asia, the better.

I'M READING ...

A strongly worded piece of navel-gazing from the Daily Mail's Martin Samuel, confronting the fact that although the violence at the Euros might not be specifically England's fault, there is still an English problem.


MY LAST $10

Reality check.

Last week: I took the Newcastle Knights with an 8.5-point start at $1.87, thinking that the Warriors revival was a mirage and they haven't travelled well. What I failed to take into account was just how abysmal the Knights are. A poorly conceived and woefully researched wager. A deserved loser.

This week: Perhaps it's wishful thinking, but I want to see a game seven of the NBA finals and that will require Cleveland beating Golden State on home court this week. Ally that hope to the near-certainty that is Melbourne Demons being beaten at the SCG by Sydney Swans and you get close to doubling your money at $19.40.

Total spent: $180 Total collected: $245.25

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