Chris Rattue runs through the best and worst from the sporting weekend.
Loser: Stadium fatigue, ft. All Black Hotel
Oh no. Another Auckland stadium project, this time a glitzy multi-billion dollar mega-downtown precinct (gosh that sounds impressive).
This latest proposal, the plans of which were released over recent days, even features an All Blacks-themed hotel.
In other words, a load of upper-class knobs from around the world can get turned on by porters in rugby headgear while Joe and Jane Average are knocked out by their rates bill.
All this in a part of town where the traffic system barely survives the Santa Parade, in a city that can’t even find the money to clean its stormwater drains properly.
And is there any point to looking 60 years ahead, as project director (and former Warriors boss) Jim Doyle encouraged us to do, when rugby as we know it looks in terminal decline?
My favourite part of the proposal, by far, was the casual reference to this new bog-standard footy stadium by world standards as being our “very own Sydney Opera House”.
If only the design and construction of iconic architectural masterpieces were that easy.
Once we’ve knocked that one off, maybe we could build the next Eiffel Tower.
Oooh, I love this city.
Loser: Our fear of the Aussie cricketers
I knew the statistics were bad, but this bad?
I don’t watch a lot of test cricket these days - at my age, there are so many better things to do. Life is short.
A series against Australia is something different, however. There are two upcoming tests at home - can’t wait.
But a story in an Australian paper provided a reminder of just how bad we are at facing the Aussies.
In the past 31 tests between the two nations, New Zealand have won just once. Yes, that is one win in more than 30 years, while the Aussies have often won by landslides.
We might laugh at Australian rugby, but their record against us is way better than that. Even our Kiwi league teams have fared better against the vaunted transtasman enemy.
And this is supposed to be a golden generation of Kiwi cricketers.
For starters, it is a record that puts a significant asterisk next to the names of players like Kane Williamson, when arguments about greatness are being made.
We had one in the office this week: Williamson v Richard Hadlee. Who is our greatest cricketer?
When you throw in the Australian factor, Hadlee wins hands down.
There can be no doubt at all that latter-day Kiwi cricketers are intimidated by Australia. The record proves it.
Some players of old had big personalities - Hadlee, Glenn Turner, Martin Crowe, et al. They were self-made men, of extremely strong wills.
So strong, indeed, that a lot of them struggled to get on with each other.
I interviewed the late, great Crowe - a man I revered - as he attempted a comeback when approaching the age of 50, and it was clear that the rift with the equally tough John Bracewell was far from forgotten.
Those old cricketers sure were characters. Maybe that’s the key.
Our modern equivalents aren’t shrinking violets. I sense that old-style toughness in test captain Tim Southee, for instance.
But the fact is, we shrink before the Baggy Greens. And it can no longer be seen as due to inferior ability.
To add perspective to the Kiwi capitulation, the story by Robert Craddock in the Telegraph pointed out that during the same three-decade period, the West Indies have won seven tests against Australia and Sri Lanka five.
Even Bangladesh managed one win.
A great get - hiring Tony Brown as an assistant coach, to guide their attack. Former All Black Brown will also give the Boks tremendous insights into our overall methods.
New Zealand - particularly the Crusaders - have dabbled with more overseas influences. It should be seen as a vital part of our rugby development.
Loser: The strawberry dessert defence
Russian skater Kamila Valieva remains banned for four years, after the Court of Arbitration for Sport rejected the idea that a chopping board her grandad used to mash his heart pills was to blame.
Teenager Valieva, who tested positive for the banned substance trimetazidine, is - or was - a rising superstar of figure skating.
There is another major concern here, beyond the one about errant granddads who are too blasé about Wada rules.
Normally, medications should not be crushed, but there you go. Bad grandad.
Loser: Lionel Messi
The football phenomenon has taken a massive hit after failing to appear for Inter Miami when they played in Hong Kong.
This isn’t surprising, since the reason for the big crowd and exorbitant ticket prices was his presence.
The organisers will take a big financial hit, Messi’s image in parts of Asia is dirt, and he’ll pay a price in mainland China where his commercial clout will plummet as one media commentator put it.
Messi remained on the bench because of injury, yet played in Japan a few days later.
The immediate ramifications have included the cancellation of two Argentina national team games in China.
A very odd business.
Winner: English Premier League dramas
Among the latest... the wife of veteran Chelsea defender Thiago Silva launched a social media attack suggesting the club should axe manager Mauricio Pochettino. You can’t make this stuff up.
Belle Silva apologised, putting the outburst down to her passion for victories and sadness at defeats.
Winner: Free Sky footy
A great move by the battling New Zealand subscriber service, which will give away some NRL and Super Rugby Pacific games - although they will end up being slightly time-delayed because of advertisements.
Sky and the footy codes should have looked at this a long time ago.
Making some games free is a boost for the sports and thus Sky itself.
Locking virtually everything away behind a paywall creates a division between sport and the public, particularly in tougher economic times.
Out of sight, out of mind.
The big winner may be the resurgent Warriors - seven of their games will end up being almost live on free-to-air.
Winner: Kiwi cricketer Daryl Mitchell...
... so let’s hope his foot injury has healed so he can play in the tests against Australia.
He’s about to make a fortune in India’s IPL playing T20 - also hoping that doesn’t interfere with his test plans.
Winners (so far)/Losers: Wellington Phoenix
Five points clear at the top of the A-league. Sadly, they are still flying under the radar, which shows where the A-League sits in the public’s perception. Still, they are having a fantastic season.
Losers: ‘Controversial red card’ rugby stories.
Chris Rattue has been a journalist since 1980 and is one of the most respected opinion writers in New Zealand sports journalism.