The Roar
The Roar

Simon Smale

Roar Guru

Joined September 2014

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Sports-mad Englishman in Brisbane. Tragic Southend United Fan... BUT I don't discriminate, I love and follow pretty much anything to do with sport, especially if it's live and local... For more musings, follow me on Twitter: @simon_smale

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Thanks Kavvy – I don’t know why I didn’t remember it earlier… Ah well!

Can doping ever be an innocent mistake?

You’re right Andrew, and I was actually wrong in the original article. It had just been added when he tested positive – very Sharapova-like situation to be honest. The article below from the Australian gives a really good account of it if you’re interested.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/sport/rio-olympics/rio-olympics-why-mack-hortons-cheat-call-is-not-fair-on-chinese-rival/news-story/61dcdcd74b3d04c320b259abfbf14de4

Can doping ever be an innocent mistake?

Hey Charging Rhino,

I actually wrote the article initially to highlight how Te’o quietly went about his business and how he has now got the England spot that his former Rabbitohs teammate Sam Burgess coveted – and the contrast between the two.

The secondary focus was on his nationality and eligibility to play for England, but obviously that was the topic that drew most attention.

Brad Barritt is a slightly different case, but you’re right, it’s a similar case and highlights similar issues.

Timbo’s comment is quite appropriate though – “that the Wallabies could pick a backline against England with only one player born in Australia.” This perhaps illustrates the way World Rugby is going?

Ben Te'o has earned his stripes for England, but should he be wearing spots?

Thanks for that Pot Hale, I wasn’t certain on the passport rules for the Republic (despite my fiancee being Irish – probably something I should have looked into!) but that does make sense and is a good way of dealing with what is a difficult situation.

I think I was mostly interested from a perspective of a Northern Irishman standing wearing an Ireland jersey while Amhrán na bhFiann/The Solider Song was playing and how that feels. I know that away from Dublin “Ireland’s Call” is used, and it is always played after Amhrán na bhFiann… but Ireland’s call has only been in use since the mid-90’s? Sorry going way off topic here – but it’s always been a source of interest to me and that fact that it is a combined Ireland team has always fascinated me.

Love that story about Bracken/Saunders too – brilliant stuff. 🙂

Ben Te'o has earned his stripes for England, but should he be wearing spots?

This is such a great comment.

I love the idea of representative sport but there is an argument that it is becoming increasingly obsolete.

It used to be the most incredible honour to represent your country. Do some players now see it as a chore? A disruption to their club careers? Already there are some people who say matches like City v Country are pointless. Nobody would ever say it, but perhaps there is an element of truth in that soon we won’t have rep teams at all.

It would be so sad, so devastating to me just like the Jason Little saga was for you – but perhaps this is the future…

Ben Te'o has earned his stripes for England, but should he be wearing spots?

That’s the “glorious conundrum” of the British Isles isn’t it. I always find it funny to hear people with London accents playing for one of the Celtic nations, but it’s a unique situation that’s for sure.

Probably an even bigger issue for someone born in Northern Ireland… He has a British Passport, but plays for the Republic of Ireland. I’ve always wondered about that and would love to talk to someone who did play during The Troubles about whether it was a tough choice as to whether to play or not. I guess the individuals political persuasion would play a role but so interesting and again, (as far as I’m aware) unique in terms of world sport.

Ben Te'o has earned his stripes for England, but should he be wearing spots?

Ye I agree to an extent Wisepranker – the longer I think about it the more I think I’m just being old fashioned in thinking that passion should be an overriding aspect of representing your country – realistically it’s far more professional than people running around the dressing room singing patriotic songs and crying during the national anthem.

I’m an Englishman living in Australia. If I had ever been good enough to represent England in something, I don’t think having moved I would then want to pull on the green and gold… but not being in that position, I don’t know..

Ben Te'o has earned his stripes for England, but should he be wearing spots?

I hate to say it Daniel but I think league is probably more niche in the UK than even Union is here – although living in Queensland I might be slightly skewed by the relatively high profile of the Queensland Rugby Union.

Also I’m not sure this England team are perennial failures. After all, they won the Grand Slam this year in the 6 Nations and won the World Cup (albeit back in 2003).

Yes overall it is probably not quite as good a return for the level of return for the investment from the Union, but you don’t need me to tell you that money doesn’t automatically equate to success.

Ben Te'o has earned his stripes for England, but should he be wearing spots?

Ye absolutely Timbo – it’s an interesting point, and like you’ve said – there are no rules being broken here even if the rules were to be applied more stringently.

I guess in Te’o’s case the interesting fact for me was that he now has represented 4 different countries, while only signing for his 5th different professional club recently… But I think that might be the “future” in this globe trotting age.

Ben Te'o has earned his stripes for England, but should he be wearing spots?

Thanks for all that background Pot Hale – plenty of more than justifiable reasons for moving there. It’s certainly not a cut and dried, black or white option is it? There are so many factors in an increasingly shrinking world.

Ben Te'o has earned his stripes for England, but should he be wearing spots?

Totally agree about the decline of the French national team James – and the role the Top14 has played in it…

Ben Te'o has earned his stripes for England, but should he be wearing spots?

Yes it’s a funny old world that’s for sure…

I wonder whether the reason this sort thing doesn’t happen in soccer (at least not as much or involving as high profile players) – where players have travelled to other countries for years without switching nationalities is a reflection on the perceived (and realistic) lack of opportunities for “smaller” nations to play high profile, regular, competitive games. In league we are limited by the money and the money is in Origin.

Perhaps, if the limitations on players being selected for their countries even if they play in foreign leagues were lifted, international rugby would benefit long term…

Of course the counter argument to that is without strong, local competitions public interest would die off leading to even less internationals and – in a worst case scenario – the sport totally dying off in some countries because there are no local players to look up to and aspire to become. Which is obviously a situation best avoided if possible…

Ben Te'o has earned his stripes for England, but should he be wearing spots?

Ye I get your point nutter – but I think there needs to be some kind of protection for the smaller teams. The unfortunate aspect of this is that say Te’o had stuck with Samoa from the start and when he moved to union then played himself into their squad – when do Samoa next play an international Test match? There is the Pacific Nations Cup in late June I think, preceded by a Tour of the Pacific by Georgia… But I don’t think Samoa are touring Europe this spring? It boils down to a lack of opportunities for the “smaller” nations in both codes. If they don’t play, then the players will just leave for the bigger Tests unfortunately.

Ben Te'o has earned his stripes for England, but should he be wearing spots?

I guess as a coach you’d pick whoever is available to you – and the centres have been England’s problem spot for over 10 years, arguably since Will Greenwood retired. So I’m not sure if it’s an acknowledgement of weakness to pick him any more so than it was to pick Sam Burgess when he had about 5 months experience and had played half of that at flanker… The point is England have been weak in the centres for a long time, it’s only been in the last year or so that they’ve looked like they’ve had some options there.

Eddy Jones said, “Potentially we are going to have three world-class options at 12: Manu Tuilagi, Te’o and Owen Farrell.” and has previously talked about how he likes Te’o for his defensive attributes – and we know Jones is a defensive minded coach so I don’t know if it’s actually weak. This is a guy who won Leinster’s player of the season – in a year they topped the Pro12 table so he is in incredible form for one of Europe’s top teams. I’d have said it would be a sign of ignorance not to pick him.

Also Te’o played for two seasons in Ireland, learned his craft a bit rather than just got shoved into the deep end. I don’t know this, merely speculating but I wonder whether getting in the England squad was his bed game? I’d suspect not. He went over to play Union and played himself into contention. That aspect of this story I really like and – as an England fan I’m kinda looking forward to seeing what he can add to this side going forward.

Ben Te'o has earned his stripes for England, but should he be wearing spots?

It’s interesting isn’t it. I read the Irish Examiner article cited in this article and in the opening sentences it says, “Ireland have been relatively latecomers to the party when it comes to naturalising foreign players for service in the national colours.”.

However, upon closer inspection, of the last 20 players to win a senior cap for Ireland, 10 of them were born overseas, 2 South Africans, 3 Kiwis, a Frenchman, an Englishman, and Aussie and a Spaniard. Granted, a couple of them were born to Irish parents or moved back to Ireland when they were young, but others made the move as a career choice…

As far as I could tell, two of those (Jared Payne – New Zealand U21’s and CJ Stander – South Africa U20’s) have played for their countries youth squads. Finlay Bealham who James O’Sullivan mentions below hails from Canberra and played in the Australian School Boys team.

Certainly backs up your point James… I wonder what the rationalisation is for these players? Is it to play international rugby at all costs? Surely (and Kiwis correct me if I’m wrong) any jersey other than a black one with a silver fern on it is seen as second class for New Zealanders who grew up playing rugby? I am guessing that most moved to Europe for the better salaries – and because that eliminates them from international consideration in their own countries they feel that their best shot is to play for their adopted nations.

Ben Te'o has earned his stripes for England, but should he be wearing spots?

It’s good to have something on the field to talk about for sure… especially with the off field idiocies we’ve had so far this year…

Saving the Indigenous All-Stars

I agree that the indigenous team should play NZ Maori or whomever as part of the international window JezRu. It would create another good pathway for young indigenous players on route to the Kangaroos (potentially) as well as provide a meaningful match to watch.

I have to admit I see where you are coming from in your first paragraph… When I first heard of the concept I couldn’t reconcile it as being good for the game or aboriginal Australians… My thoughts were as yours were articulated, this is an “us v them” match. I couldn’t imagine in the NFL for example a split of African Americans v White Americans could you?

But the more I watched, the more I realised that’s not the point of this at all. This game and the indigenous jersey is merely a tool to promote indigenous culture, not divide people into an us and them camp. There were over 37,000 at the game last night and I’d say about 5% were “supporting” the NRL All Stars, and the divide was not down racial lines by any stretch.

However, I would still like to see an Indigenous team play proper matches.

Saving the Indigenous All-Stars

Totally agree The Barry and Pomski. The overcrowding argument is not as a result of these pre-season games – they would exist in one form or another regardless.

I was there last night and it was a wonderful celebration of indigenous aboriginal culture. My visiting friends were very impressed with all the off-field cultural displays and how it was integrated into the game.

I loved the war dance too – absolutely awesome to see at the start of the game. How good would that look in response to the Haka I wonder…

Saving the Indigenous All-Stars

That’s true Scott, and would potentially be a good time to have it. I guess we’d still get a number of withdrawals, but nothing more or less than what we are getting at the moment anyway…

I was actually about to reply about the lack of interest aspect you mentioned… I ran a (very) little poll on Twitter when promoting this article, and the split in whether or not this game was worth saving was pretty much 50:50 (48% for, 52% against) which sort of surprised me seeing as the overwhelming response appears to be one of indifference…

Saving the Indigenous All-Stars

You’re right turbodewd, the calendar is far too cramped… But is the problem these rep games or are other factors driving the crowds down? Terrible scheduling and unusual stadium choices away from the traditional stadiums are what’s causing the dismal crowds in Sydney, not the presence of an All-Star game a couple of weeks before the season starts.

I for one will be sad to see City v Country go, and I hope it remains in perhaps a different format, maybe at a NSW Cup level. The reason for that is that rugby league plays such a key role in rural communities out in the country, and this is an opportunity for players from the Bush to celebrate where they came from – and more importantly show young country players what they can achieve.

Saving the Indigenous All-Stars

That is a poor effort from the clubs Scott, but having said that I’d imagine they’d want people to come through the gates for the club trial matches, not watch them on TV, just like last weekend’s trial match in Gladstone between the Broncos and Cowboys. I’m glad they got a big crowd for that game, showing the support that exists in Central Queensland for rugby league.

I think the game will cease to exist in its existing format, but my point was that there should be an Indigenous side playing matches instead. Just getting rid of it to satisfy the demands of TV is ludicrous and a real backward step for Aboriginal relations etc in my view. But that’s just my view of course…

Saving the Indigenous All-Stars

That makes sense Onside – thanks for clarifying for me.

Saving the Indigenous All-Stars

That’s what I was getting at turbodewd, the All-Star concept seems a bit abstract when there is a system for getting the best players playing against each other in representative games. I think City-Country still means something – particularly to those players in the Country (although I could be wrong seeing as I’m not a player myself) but as Jarrod mentions, Indigenous/Aboriginal v Maori would mean something and not be artificial.

I also appreciate your comments that this is football, and not politics, but sport is such an important social driver and important to drive change as the examples I’ve used above showed. Sport and politics are inextricably linked – in some cases, and the opportunity can and should arise to allow sport to be a driver for positive change whenever possible. But that’s just my opinion. I think sometimes everything can be overthought and football should just be football.

Saving the Indigenous All-Stars

I did think that Onside – but I wasn’t sure whether there was some kind of convention against calling the team the Australian Aboriginals, so I stuck with following the NRL (not always wise I know – but I thought I was safe-ish in this case!. I’m all for it – a bit of alliteration is wonderful for marketing…

Saving the Indigenous All-Stars

Thanks for that RR, I remember being in Washington DC and seeing cricket being played a few years ago. It was probably the last thing we expected to see to be honest! But nether the less, a clearly organised game was being played within walking distance of the White House. Remarkable stuff.

Is the gap between baseball and cricket disintegrating?