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March 17, 2014 | by  | in Opinion |
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Sports Banter with Sammy P

“Woeful Wellington”

Criticism of the best sports teams the capital has to offer has been scathing from the media as of late, treating Wellington’s inability to perform on the sports field as some sort of recent conundrum or temporary issue. And if we look at recent results, it’s easy to see why: in the last few weeks, the Phoenix have been on the receiving end of 5–0 and 5–1 drubbings, while the Hurricanes are yet to register a win after three rounds of the Super Rugby season. However, if we take just a quick look into the past, it’s clear to see that poor performances are no recent phenomena.

While many locals are citing an out-of-town coach as the reason for the Hurricanes’ hapless form of late, it’s important to remember that, in the 18 years that Super Rugby has existed, their record stands at zero titles, one final appearance, and just three semifinal appearances. Compare that to the Blues with three championships, the Crusaders with seven, and the Chiefs with two. Even the Wellington Lions, arguably the NPC team with the most talented individuals in the country, have won just two titles in the last 32 years; in the same period, Auckland have won 16 while Canterbury have the won the last six straight. Meanwhile, in their seven years of existence, the Phoenix have only managed a best finish of third position in the A-League, with an overall winning percentage of 34 per cent (just 17 per cent on the road). The Wellington Firebirds haven’t won a major cricket trophy in over a decade. And let’s not forget the netballers. After five years competing in the ten-team trans-Tasman ANZ Championship, the Pulse have finished tenth, tenth, ninth, eighth, seventh and fifth – by far the worst record in the competition.

Such abysmal histories have clearly had an underwhelming effect on the Wellington faithful, with the Phoenix’s average home attendance last season at a record-low 6877 per game, while the first Hurricanes home game of the season against the 2013 runners-up only attracted 8000 souls through the gates.

I’m not sure what it is, and I’ve given up trying to figure it out, but judging by these numbers there’s something going terribly wrong in the capital. It’s no wonder that the Warriors and St Kilda are capitalising on success-starved fans by aggressively inserting themselves into the Wellington sporting market – perhaps the sporting scene in the capital is ready for a serious shake-up.

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Ollie Ritchie’s Top 5 on the Box

5) Cowboys vs Warriors – NRL: Expect big things from the Warriors as they look to defy their critics and pick up a crucial win on the road. Saturday, SS2, 11.00 pm. Pick – Warriors 13+.

4) Highlanders vs Hurricanes – Super 15: Conrad Smith and the Hurricanes travel to the deep south to take on the Highlanders, who are creeping into some form and will provide a stern challenge for the Canes, who desperately need to find some form. Friday, SS1, 7.35 pm. Pick – Highlanders 1–12.

3) Wellington Phoenix vs Newcastle Jets – Hyundai A-League: The Phoenix, who are pushing for a playoff spot, will be looking for a big win in Newcastle against the Jets who sit just one spot and two points above them. Saturday, SS2, 7.30 pm. Pick – Phoenix 2+.

2) New York Knicks vs Indiana Pacers – NBA: The Pacers travel to New York on the back of some tough losses as they try to cement top spot in the East with the Heat hot on their tail. Meanwhile, New York will be looking for a big home win as they make a last-gasp push to squeeze into the playoff race. Thursday, 1 pm. Pick – Indiana 13+.

1) Bulls vs Sharks – Super 15: No New Zealand teams involved here, but keep an eye out for this battle in Pretoria. This could be a major player in the way the Super Rugby ladder pans out, and expect both teams to hit the ground running. Sunday, SS1, 6.10 am. Pick – Sharks 1–12.

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Top 5 Ugliest Athletes

5) Paul Tito: Although he is now retired, we thought it would be an injustice to leave the Taranaki stalwart off the list. Tito’s curly ginger locks and ugly mug ensured he won both the hearts and the empathy of New Zealand rugby followers.

4) Joakim Noah: It’s hard to believe that Noah’s mother is a former Miss Sweden. Either his father is ET or something went horribly wrong in the gene pool to produce the Chicago Bulls’ centre.

3) Nikolai Valuev: David Haye, a former boxing opponent of Valuev, once said: “Valuev is an ugly freak who stinks.” Although that is an incredibly immature thing for even a boxer to say, there is a great deal of truth to the first part of Haye’s childish statement.

2) Wayne Rooney: To be honest, ‘The British Bulldog’ is a pretty generous nickname for Rooney. It doesn’t help that Rooney has played alongside some of the world’s prettiest footballers such as Cristiano Ronaldo. It also doesn’t help that he looks like a troll.

1) Andy Murray: One look at Murray’s ever-present mother and it’s easy to see why Murray’s mug makes small children cry. However, it’s when Murray opens his uncannily wide gob in celebration that things really get unpleasant: it’s been reported that Murray’s mouth cavity is large enough to comfortably host a small family.

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