Saturday, 12 May 2007

Saturday Sport: The Roar of World Championship

The Roar is a hard-hitting sports opinion website and e-newsletter which takes an informed look at some of the bigger issues and characters within Australian and New Zealand international competitions (including Union, League, Football, Cricket). The Roar is produced from Sydney by brothers Zac and Zolton Zavos, who produce the art, music, photography and fashion website, Lost At E Minor.

The Roar features some of Australia's best sports writers including (their father) Spiro Zavos, Wellington-born (Mount St) and recognised as one of the world’s most insightful rugby writers. A first-generation Greek New Zealander, Spiro saw his first rugby test in 1949 at Athletic Park when he was 12, and was struck with a lifelong passion for 'the perfect game'. His rugby column in The Sydney Morning Herald has run for 20+ years. Spiro has written on New Zealand politics, literature, sport and identity since the late 60s.

'Watching the Rugby World Cup' is Spiro's latest book, from Mary Varnham's invigorating Awa Press. "Over 44 drama-filled days, supporters will pour into rugby stadiums in France, Scotland and Wales to watch 47 matches leading up to the final on 20 October. An estimated 3.4 billion television viewers will take in the action...Zavos writes of the events that in 20 years have taken the Rugby World Cup from a pipedream to one of the world's top three sporting contests, equalled only by the Olympics and the Soccer World Cup." Spiro's pick for the most 'perfect game' ever played in the RWC is the 1987 France-Australia semi-final at Concord Oval, won by France after the lead changed five times. Of the 2007 All Blacks, he says the weight of expectation on any All Black team is their key challenge to manage. He cites the Roman saying "Go in Pope, come out Cardinal" as the monkey-on-the-back of previous AB semi-final crashes. Spiro has encouraged at key moments. Cheers mate.

My own sports commentary of the week: Being humble about the chance of being World Champions needs to be the All Blacks' zeitgeist. Underpromise and overdeliver, which is what Team New Zealand did at Valencia this week, where the best boats and best sailors in the world are competing for the America's Cup. I watched the races on TV1, and NZL 92's 94-second win over Oracle - strategically, tactically, emotionally and it seemed on sheer boat speed - was well executed. Still, as they will say, another day another yacht race; they are just one quarter of the way into their task. Team NZ have shown a low-scale emotional center of gravity eg no hype. Advertisers around the RWC should strive to similarly low-key the assumption that we're gonna win. Getting the nation into an emotional lather over a game that can only be won by our team on the field, puts us all on a hiding to nothing. Our emotional involvement in the All Blacks isn't going to help them play better, and let's not ascribe mystical powers of nationhood and manhood to a bunch of 15 ordinary guys with a job to do. Focusing on winning is fine, even assumed, but tasting it before the line invites hubris. Restraint, brand-builders. Restraint.

No comments: