And the winner is...

Women's sport had its best year EVER.

And I'm not talking results.


The movers and shakers, the real people, the storymakers...they were women.

Compared to the corporate-style BS that dominates men's sport, it felt more real.

Not that I watch a lot of women's sport, to be honest, but you don't have to watch it to follow it.

In a nutshell...

1) National netball captain Katrina Grant gave the most memorable and probably genuine response to a question, shedding tears when the team's pride was questioned.

2) TVNZ's Jenny-May Clarkson asked the question of the year, which got the Grant response.

3) By far and away the most significant story of the year was the revolt by the Football Ferns which led to the departure of their coach and national technical director Andreas Heraf and chief executive Andy Martin while exposing some dodgy attitudes in HQ. In other words, the brave revolt was history turning for all areas of a major sport.

4) Eventing superstar and new mum Jonelle Price's description of her "westie" horse, after winning Badminton, was funny and came from the heart.


5) Ructions past and present were exposed within the national netball and women's sevens teams.

Football Fern Abby Erceg...led the revolution. Photo / Photosport
Football Fern Abby Erceg...led the revolution. Photo / Photosport

Put it this way - it's difficult to recall the last meaningful, believable and truly revealing utterance from an All Black. Rugby has fabricated an image of all for one and one for all, and expects everyone to believe in it. And a lot of people do.

Kiwi women led on the results front, from Price to the rugby sevens to the hockey players to the junior footballers, but that's not what I'm talking about here.

We've had some groundbreaking/outspoken women sports people over the years — think the great 1970s/80s running trio of Anne Audain, Lorraine Moller and Allison Roe.

But women's sport lapsed into a goody-two-shoes, give-us-a-break brigade.

Those old runners still stand out, but there felt like a bit of a shift in 2018.

Women struggle to reach the same levels of performance men do. Women's sport isn't as watchable a lot of the time.

But it is changing.

The best women's rugby is absolutely superb, a great watch. In other areas...well, put it this way, I still battle with women's cricket.

But 2018 represented progress in the profile of women's sport. The masses were naturally drawn to the people, issues and stories.

There are a lot of people who read about the Heraf business, who formed opinions on it, who have never even seen a women's football game. And maybe that will draw them to the game itself. The story is ongoing, with players calling for the return of leading Heraf naysayer Abby Erceg.

I'd give a special gong to those women involved in the football uprising.

Move over SBW

Ma'a Nonu...the 103-test World Cup bolter. Photo / Photosport
Ma'a Nonu...the 103-test World Cup bolter. Photo / Photosport

Rugby World Cup predictions for 2019:

1) The All Blacks will win it, quite easily. They've got too many brilliant attacking options.
2) Blues recruit Ma'a Nonu will make the All Black squad — even at three-quarter pace I'd take him over SBW, Ryan Crotty and co.
3) Ireland will make the final.
4) Australia will have a disaster whoever the coach is. They don't have the depth to survive a tournament.
5) England will implode again, under Eddie Jones' obsessive coaching.

Hail the Halbergs

Joe Schmidt and Steve Hansen...that would be a fair comparison. Photo / Photosport
Joe Schmidt and Steve Hansen...that would be a fair comparison. Photo / Photosport

Finally fallen in (moderate) love with the Halberg Awards...because even the nominations give people something totally meaningless to argue over at a quiet time of year.

There is nothing more pointless in the universe than trying to compare Irish rugby coach Joe Schmidt to para swimming supremo Roly Crichton or working out if Joelle King from squash is better than Jonelle Price from equestrian.

And there's nothing more cringey than watching all those people cramming themselves into dicky bows, rented suits and shiny dresses like Monaco wannabes, so they can honour each other with agonising speeches.

But hey, it's a free world, there's not a heck of a lot else going on at this time of year and why not have a crazy debate about nothing? It's better than agonising over the stock market by the hour.