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The week's best NZ sporting content and loads more, every Friday morning at 8am.


Low-key world cup predictions

You're going to hear a lot about 1995, 2007, etc
Remember when we used to dread world cups? Compare and contrast your emotional equilibrium this morning, and in say 2002. Or 2008. It's easy to forget what a monumental flan we used to make of this tournament. For a team that dominates rugby like us, it's actually inconceivable we've only won the thing three times, and we only really got good at it when we grew up just a little and showed faith in Graham Henry (and Steve Hansen).

We're going to worry about teams we shouldn't worry about
The All Blacks are such massive favourites that some betting sites run 'without New Zealand' odds. But that doesn't mean you and your neighbours won't be kept awake at night dreaming about English dropkicks, Australian intercepts and Irish people dancing in pubs. 

Everything Steve Hansen says is going to be analysed to death
In his dual roles as national coach and pub comedian Bhudda to the nation, Hansen has at least 30 people listening to his every utterance at all times. He doesn't give much away, so everything he *does* say is endlessly picked over. Expect to see breathless pieces to camera and breaking news alerts everytime he orders the ramen.

Rugby will be on for ages
The world cup final happens on November 2. Today is September 20. Yes, it's important to include developing nations in your showpiece tournament (cough, cricket, cough), but that means we're going to be at this for some time. Unlike netball, who seem to play their world cup over the course of an afternoon.

People are going to be unhappy with Spark
Like a papal obituary, stories will have already written about people mucking around behind their TVs minutes before kick-off, angry comments in Facebook pages and people having problems watching on a dial-up connection. Spark were very brave taking this on, and will have to cop it for all kinds of things that are beyond their control. Streaming is great for admiring Scandinavian drama knitwear on Netflix, but can be hit and miss for watching live sporting events on a little island at the bottom of the Pacific, especially when all your neighbours are watching too. Let patience and perspective be your watchwords.  

It's all going to be all right
I've quite enjoyed our buildup being disrupted by players being out of form and injured. It feels like our coaches are doing some coaching, rather than rocking up with a hubris-based game plan. Fair play for swapping out the back three weeks out from the tournament, and playing a horses for courses midfield. Yes, playing guys out of position gives me the shits, but history will judge if it's a genius 4D chess move, or something that could cost Ian Foster his 'All Black coach designate' seat. The team we've named for South Africa is pretty amazing, and Retallick is yet to come back. I'll take that.

Thanks for reading - Richard
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The week's best NZ sport content

Steve Braunais reviews All Blacks mental skills coach Ceri Evans' book, and dismantles it like Greg Norman on the Augusta back nine [Newsroom]

A ripping yarn about a touring Japanese side's win over our Junior All Blacks in 1968 from Ben Stanley [NZ Herald]

Patrick McKendry argues that we should have more daytime rugby matches, and he is goddamn right [NZ Herald]

Fantastic doco about the lead up to our first world cup win by way of the Cavaliers and baby blacks [TVNZ On Demand]

How to watch the rugby world cup - all the different (legal) ways [The Spinoff]

Satisfyingly nerdy analysis from Max Johns of why super overs and boundary countback are shit ways to settle any cricket match, and why we should be putting DLS to work [content is the web]

Video nasty

Big brain plays - you'll want to rewind these a few times to figure out what's going on.

Long read

American family packs up their life and go all the way to New Zealand (ahem) to live in the outdoors and learn to be together again []

Selected weekend fixtures 

  • Yip, the rugger's on - it starts with Japan v Russia (yay?) at 10.45pm tonight, then it's Australia v Fiji (4.45pm), France v Argentina (7.15pm) and us v South Africa at 9.45pm tomorrow night, it's all on Spark Sport
  • The Warriors Women make their Mt Smart debut on Sunday at 3.15pm v the Dragons

Bring back the gif 

You, setting up Spark Sport at 9.35pm on Saturday night.
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