It's difficult to know who wins the Biggest Pork Chop Award in sport this week – Sam Gaze or Israel Folau.

Maybe they need separate awards – the Crapping In Your Own Nest award for Gaze after his petulant behavior marred an astonishing comeback for his Commonwealth Games mountain bike gold medal; and the Hypocrite of The Month for Folau, our conscience against those evil gay people.

Read more:
Gaze: 'I acted like a boy, I'll be a man now.'

It seemed that Gaze, after lashing out at fellow Kiwi and silver medallist Anton Cooper for not stopping when Gaze punctured, had mended fences by apologising. But, in at least one interview, he managed to make things worse.


On camera, asked if he thought Cooper was still a bad sport, Gaze's eyes narrowed until you thought twin laser beams were going to shoot out of them and reduce Newshub interviewer Ollie Ritchie to a little steaming pile of doggy-do.

"That's a question I can't answer," Gaze said, choking when the not unreasonable follow-up of "Why not?" was asked. Still on camera, Gaze motioned in rarely-seen sports PR specialist Ian Heppenstall. "He's asked me this twice," said Gaze.

Hep, as he is known, is a long-time media adviser to New Zealand Olympic and Commonwealth Games teams, helping athletes with media management.

The look on Hep's face was priceless. He knew all too well that media advisers stay behind the camera so that his charges have the limelight. Being brought into frame and asked to advise Gaze what to say on national TV is the PR equivalent of chundering into the Queen's teapot at Buck House.

Gaze eventually came up with "No comment". He didn't just look like a fish out of water, he looked like a fish on top of Mt Everest. Urgent media training required, please, or at least some help to let the brain catch up with his legs.

Samuel Gaze and Anton Cooper shake hands after winning Gold and Silver in the Men's Cross-country Mountain Bike in Nerang at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. Photo / Greg Bowker.
Samuel Gaze and Anton Cooper shake hands after winning Gold and Silver in the Men's Cross-country Mountain Bike in Nerang at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. Photo / Greg Bowker.

Gaze's "poor sportsmanship" criticism was also based on a fallacy – or at least a piece of etiquette that most New Zealand sports fans would scorn. Gaze was upset Cooper didn't stop when Gaze punctured.

This weird courtesy is observed in most quarters in road racing, even the Tour de France – on the basis that a race is won by racing, not punctures.

But it isn't usually a thing in mountain biking and rightly so. Consider this: the Tour is plagued by the fact most people think it is riddled with ruthless drug-takers yet indulges this whacko politeness.

So let's move to Folau. Honestly, even after his original post consigning gays to Hell if they don't repent, my major interest in Folau was still that he was a member of my fantasy rugby team.

But then it got a bit interesting. First, when Folau's post prompted a flood of criticism, he posted a piece of scripture: "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely…"

Playing the persecution card (why do the ultra-religious do that when someone doesn't agree with them?) got right up my hooter. Come on, Izzy, you can't have it both ways. If it is free speech when you say it, then surely other people have the freedom to repudiate your opinion.

Your post sparked countless media and social media allusions to Voltaire's "I don't agree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it" maxim – and it works both ways. Amen.

Folau met New Zealand's Raelene Castle, the new head of Rugby Australia, to discuss his rather hurtful spreading of the gospel.

Castle gave a very good impression of a person who wanted to slap Folau upside the head but resisted because he is off contract soon and it's not a good look for the head of Aussie rugby to lose their star player.

Earlier, Australian talk show host and former Wallaby coach Alan Jones (who recently called Folau "overrated" and said he couldn't pass the ball properly), offered to defend Folau at the meeting. It would have been odd if Folau had agreed – as questions about Jones' sexuality have followed him throughout his career.

Sportspeople should resist the urge to share with us their political or religious views.

That's not why we follow them – and generally not what they are good at.

Carlton Pearson, the former US bishop who recanted the cruel, biblical literalism of Pentecostal fundamentalism and now preaches the religion of inclusion (and who is the subject of a new movie being released on Netflix) says there is no Hell in the afterlife – but there is Hell right here on earth,

Waratahs fans, after their team finished 10th and 16th in Super Rugby in the past two years might agree.

So come on, Izzy, job to do – and stop worrying about gay people.
And win me some fantasy points…

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