Chris Rattue lists the winners and losers from the sporting weekend.
LOSER: Ardie Savea/everybody
The All Black star’s throat-slitting gesture towards a Melbourne Rebels player was embarrassing, humiliating, pathetic.
It was sad as much as anything, witnessing sport - and a very popular sportsman - descend to this level of implied extreme violence.
The throat-slit gesture is a threat to kill. Savea’s brain explosion is a disaster on so many levels, particularly when rugby and other contact codes are trying so hard to institute safety rules.
There should be a level of respect between sports professionals, at least in terms of looking after each other’s welfare.
Violent threats are also an image catastrophe. This instance is even worse, given what has to be concern over knife violence in society.
I can’t believe people like an Irish halfback named John Cooney are saying it doesn’t matter.
Rest assured - if gestures simulating extreme violence are considered acceptable at the high-profile level, it will increase the chances of actual violence taking place on club fields, and even the streets.
There is also, absolutely, a responsibility at all levels to give kids a good example. Kids mimic heroes.
And do we really want to witness any sport in which players make threats of life-threatening violence towards each other?
What next - mock guns to the head?
A moment of madness can be very hard to wipe from the record. It will be difficult looking at Savea in quite the same way again.
As for players like Cooney…just as bad.
WINNER: Jacko Gill
The Devonport shot put exponent was a junior superstar who - in part due to medical issues - has struggled to deliver on his incredible promise at the world level.
He’s also had to live in the shadow of the legendary Tom Walsh - an unusual situation in New Zealand athletics where two world-class athletes are competing in the same arena.
But Gill had one of his finest moments at the national championships in Wellington, beating Walsh and ending his long reign.
A series of powerful throws from the 28-year-old Gill sent a big message to the athletics world.
WINNER: Zoe Hobbs
Hobbs ran a fabulous wind-assisted 100m time at the national championships.
She has endured selection setbacks but always makes it clear that they will never let her get off track. As with Jacko Gill, you can admire persistence.
One of my major sports wishes is that Hobbs makes the Paris Olympics team. Sprinting is an elite Olympic event, and it would be inspiring to see a Kiwi line up in it.
Our sprint history is short and not that sharp - the name Arthur Porritt stands out like a beacon.
A famous football rivalry took an extraordinary twist when Liverpool beat Manchester United 7-0.
This is the most unfathomable result in the history of the English Premier League.
It would be unbelievable under any circumstances, but was especially so given the contrasting state of the two powerhouses before the game.
From a neutral standpoint, it was particularly exciting to see Mohamed Salah in flowing form as Liverpool burst out of their slumber.
A key statistic from the game: Liverpool needed just eight shots on target to reach seven goals.
WINNER: Wayne Bennett
The old league master coach guided the new Redcliffe Dolphins to a shock opening-round victory over the Sydney Roosters, who are second-favourites for the title.
Bennett is still going strong at the tender age of 73.
That matches the age of the oldest-ever NFL coach, and is a bit older than Alex Ferguson was when he stepped down as Manchester United’s supremo.
Could coach Bennett make 80? That would be something.
Fun fact: Bennett had a very brief non-test career as a wing for Australia on a tour of New Zealand just over 50 years ago. He made his debut in Huntly, but was not selected for the Carlaw Park test where the Kiwis scored a famous and emphatic victory over a star-studded Aussie lineup.
WINNER: Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad
It’s almost impossible for any club to contemplate a successful NRL season without a top-class fullback.
There had to be doubts over the redoubtable Nicoll-Klokstad footing it with the best in the business but he was sensational in the Warriors’ opening-round win over Newcastle.
And overall, it was a wonderful start to the NRL season, with round one full of upsets and tight matches.
WINNER: Australian rugby
The Brumbies’ victory over the Blues is another crumb of comfort for new Wallabies coach Eddie Jones, as he tries to resurrect the struggling Wallabies.
The Brumbies - true to their impressive history - stuck to their guns in the second half.
As for the Blues, there was one scruffy mistake after another as they set about overturning a five-point halftime deficit.
And it provided further evidence that Rieko Ioane - once the world’s best wing - doesn’t have the vision or guile to be a World Cup test centre.
Then again, perhaps creative class is no longer a requirement at the World Cup, which becomes a demolition derby as the tournament goes on.
A Kiwi didn’t win in Florida, but the opening race simply confirmed we are in for a fascinating season.
There was one very memorable moment when Scott McLaughlin re-entered the race from the pit lane, captured by an all-the-rage drone shot.
But an ensuing tussle with Romain Grosjean led to McLaughlin’s downfall, and a heartfelt apology from the Kiwi for taking the former F1 driver out.
Meanwhile canny Scott Dixon is already positioned nicely on the points table.
Stand by for more drama.
LOSERS: The Breakers
The Kiwi basketball club initially offset their home-court disadvantage with a surprise win in the best-of-five NBL finals against the Sydney Kings. But then they lost at home. Advantage Sydney.
WINNER: Charlisse Leger-Walker
More amazing news involving Leger-Walker’s career in American college basketball, where she has led Washington State to its first Pac-12 title. They beat UCLA in the final, propelling them into the glamour NCAA tournament with a high seeding.
Waikato’s Leger-Walker scored a game-high 23 points as the seventh-seeded Cougars claimed their first-ever title.
They are the lowest-ranked team to win the Pac-12. Even WSU’s men’s team has not won for more than 80 years.