There was the final price the three national unions were asking at the bottom of the fifth page: $US650 million ($886 million).
With an air of mock theatricality, Chisholm gripped his chest and grimaced fiercely, feigning a heart attack.
“This is going to kill me,” he said with a long and hearty laugh, before abruptly continuing. “And we’re not paying that much.”
Just a month later, however, Chisholm did commit to $US550 million and ended up throwing in an extra $5 million if Luyt would agree to leave his steak lunch and sign within the hour the offer was made.
It was a deal wonderful for both sides, where both prospered.
Is it, as reports have it, all about to fall over, at least in Australia? Will Rugby Australia go one way and Fox Sports the other.
We will know in about six weeks. But it would surprise me. For all of rugby’s considerable woes in Australia, it is still a hell of a driver of subscriptions, and symbiotic relationships of this nature don’t rupture easily, whatever the strain.
Watch this space.
When the blokes of the Newport Breakers rugby club – boasting lots of tradies, landscapers etc – wanted to do something to help the bushfire victims, new president Jake Osborne contacted www.blazeaid.com.au and was quickly told: “Come and give us a hand.” So last weekend, Jake arranged for 27 club members to travel down to Braidwood and work in the blazing heat and smoke from the ACT fires to remove four kilometres of damaged fencing and build a kilometre of new fencing plus a new wildlife shelter. Bravo. You blokes do rugby and Australia proud.
You were saying, Alan
So many points, so little time on the Folau situation, so let me keep it light, tight and bright.
The Super League revolt against his signing with Catalans is fascinating. For, you see, according to the likes of Alan Jones, at the height of the saga: “Only an insensitive, incompetent and virtue-signalling outfit could have brought rugby to this point. And now they have to fork out more millions.” Get it? It was all Rugby Australia’s fault. All other organisations would have copped it sweet and moved on.
But, in fact? In fact, the RA stance was quickly followed by all of their sponsors, the NRL and then other Super rugby franchises in NZ, South Africa and Japan, where exactly the same incontrovertible dynamic applied: If you are professional outfit, living or dying by your ability to bring in the mob, you can’t have emblazoned on your marquee someone who badly pisses half the mob off. The Catalans Dragons are now facing precisely that dynamic.
As to Folau promising he won’t make any more posts, sorry, what? All those arguments about how you’ll sacrifice your career, Israel, to speak God’s truth – as a matter of fact because “God spoke to me” – and you say what? At the first whiff of a contract you do an about-face on that and make the same promise you did to Rugby Australia?
What is wrong with this picture, Israel?
Oh, and one last thing. Where are you, Martyn Iles of the Australian Christian Lobby. Do you have anything to say about this? Weren’t you strong on the ground that this was all about freedom of speech, and that is why your Israel Folau needed the $2 million to sustain the legal fight that might go for years?
Fair go, Pete
Which brings us to Shameelah Mosweu. The outstanding member of the Botswanan women’s cricket team, who is now studying in England, has been invited to play in the FairBreak Global game at Bradman Oval in Bowral against a Bradman Women’s XI next week with players from ten nations including five national captains.
The problem is, she has been denied a visa – with no reason given. Can we give her a break, please, Minister Peter Dutton, for the sake of sport and decency? If she was going to do a runner, she would be more likely to have already done it while studying in England, yes?
Meantime, there has been an interesting stink at Joeys to start the school term, with four new Year 10 lads turning up as champion tennis players. They were selected in the Tennis Firsts, whereupon Scots – all schools! – threatened to refuse to play them.
More pertinently, there was also outrage within the Joeys community about the previous Firsts being demoted for the presumed scholarship kids. It all got rather ugly until the Joeys headmaster, who by the by I know to be a very good man, stood the new boys down from the Firsts and wrote to the parents acknowledging the whole thing could have been done better, etc.
I agree. A starting point would be for all the schools that want to take their sport seriously to concentrate on developing their own talent rather than poaching others. Perhaps, yes, they could award a sports scholarship here and there for students who might be able to use their skills to get a first-class education otherwise denied them, but there should be a Ladies and Gentlemen’s Agreement between them all not to artificially lift an entire sport in a school by bringing in the makings of an elite team.
What They Said
Raiders playmaker and Clive Churchill medallist Jack Wighton (pictured) on Jack Wighton: “I’m still the same Jack Wighton – I really am.” Jack Wighton? We need to talk. We really do. Or ask Ricky. He will tell Jack Wighton.
Glenn Maxwell’s problems with the short ball: “I felt confident against the short ball, I kept getting out, but I felt confident against it. It’s sort of a catch-22 when you try and take it on and get out to it.” No, Glenn, it’s just a simple flaw in your game. That has no trace of a classic catch-22.
Tweet by Donald Trump after the Kansas City Chiefs won the Superbowl: “You represented the Great State of Kansas and, in fact, the entire USA, so very well. Our Country is PROUD OF YOU!” The problem, sports fans? Kansas City is in Missouri. Always has been. Always will be.
49er Joe Staley trying to take in the loss to the Kansas City Chiefs: “You put your heart and soul and your entire life into trying to be a Super Bowl champion, and you get toward the end of your career, and you realize how rare these opportunities are. The emotions are still raw, and real for me right now . . . Put yourself in my shoes for a second. It’s tough.”
Margaret Court on Tennis Australia: “I think they think because I’m a preacher I’m going to preach the gospel but I would never do that. There is a time to speak and a time to not. [Tennis Australia] have pointed the finger at me and tried to discriminate in everything that I’ve done, and I think that’s very sad.” Yes, Mrs Court. Gay kids are the work of the devil, but Tennis Australia are the discriminatory ones, have I got it right?
Magistrate Robyn Denes on Penrith Panther Tyrone May filming a sexual act without consent: “If you ask someone for a cup of tea, you ask them if you want milk or sugar with that. It makes it really simple. If you don’t know they are going to consent, why would you assume they do consent? Do you just assume people want milk and sugar with their tea? No, you ask.” I know. An odd metaphor for that particular crime, yes?
LeBron James: “So in the words of Kobe Bryant, ‘Mamba out.’ But in the words of us, ‘Not forgotten.’ Live on, brother.”
Dylan Alcott on winning his 6th Australian Open: “Tennis, honestly saved my life, it really did when I was younger. The Australian Open single-handedly changed my life. It really has. It’s the most inclusive of the Grand Slams.”
Anthony Mundine: “I don’t even think this Coronavirus is real. I think it’s a ploy to give a mass vaccine look into it.” Can someone close to this fine man talk to him please, on the damage he does by putting this kind of drivel out there? Anthony? STOP IT.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison cutting bait with Bridget McKenzie: “By failing to put appropriate arrangements in place to avoid potential conflict such as asking another minister to make any decisions relating to organisations of which she was a member . . . the Minister failed to do that and the secretary found this was in breach of the ministerial standards.”
Eddie Jones wants England rugby side to be like Liverpool: “When you play that sort of rugby, people want to watch it. It’s like Liverpool now; everyone wants to watch Liverpool, don’t they, because they play with that ferocity. They play with that desire and they never get beaten. We want people to speak about us like that. You can have an effect on people’s lives.” True, that. Most of us would love to live our lives the way England played to beat the All Blacks in the World Cup semi-finals. And yet after that speech, England fulfilled a great English tradition by losing badly to France.
Team of the Week
Sofia Kenin Playing like the Energiser Bunny on fast forward, the young American won the Australian Open.
Novak Djokovic Won his 8th Australian Open and 17th major. Moves to be just three major wins behind Roger Federer’s all-time leading tally of 20 men’s singles titles and only two behind Rafael Nadal, who is on 19. Sadly, he behaved like a prat in the final.
Greg Eccleston Undertaking the Larapinta challenge in April for the Black Dog Institute, trekking in the Northern Territory. You can find out more about his fundraising efforts here bit.ly/bdi-larapinta-greg
2020 Ocean Pool Challenge Eve Baker and Cristina Di Traglia swam 20 laps in 20 ocean pools in one day, as in 400 laps. Looking to raise $10,000 for the bushfires. Find their gofundme page to donate.
Alex Noble Fundraising for the inspirational seventeen year-old who became a quadriplegic from rugby training goes on, and you could win two tickets to a MAJOR sports event every month for a year. Think NRL/AFL/A-League grand finals, F1 Grand Prix, NBL, Aus Open Tennis, Bledisloe, State-of-Origin, VRC Oaks, Syd-Hobart including flights and hotels ex Sydney. Visit anoblegala.com for details, and thanks.
Peter FitzSimons is a journalist and columnist with The Sydney Morning Herald.