Opinion: Take a long, hard look NZ - diehard Tonga and Peru sports fans are putting us to shame

New Zealand, we need to up our game off the field.

If there's anything to take away from the past few weeks of international sporting action it's this – we as a sporting nation have brilliant teams with sub-par fan bases.

Before you grab your pitch forks, think about it.

Mate Ma'a Tonga's supporters have stolen the show at this year's tournament says Joseph Tapine. Source: 1 NEWS

When was the last time we showed the same diehard passion and love for one of our national teams that Mate Ma'a Tonga has seen in their Rugby League World Cup campaign?

When was the last time we filled a stadium or an airport with deafening songs, chants – even dancing?

When was the last time we were so desperate to see our team win we lit fireworks in front of the opposition's hotel to disrupt their sleeping patterns?

Okay, that last one was admittedly a little bit over the top and, to an extent, pseudo-cheating in my eyes but the same denominator that comes from all of these actions and moments is the same – the fan bases are insanely committed to their teams and will do anything to help them win.

Credit where it's due, Glen Osborne tried to spark a counter to the Barmy Army when they arrived for the Lions Tour with the "Tutira Mai" song and chant to back the All Blacks but even that lacked the flare and adoration we've come to see over these last few weeks.

The Team NZ helmsman is shocked by how many New Zealanders have braved the Auckland winter. Source: 1 NEWS

If I were to pick a time when Kiwis were at their best for a New Zealand team this year it would be for the America's Cup parades around the country, but that was after it was all said and done.

That energy was reserved for the celebration – not to be the extra bit of wind to get Team NZ across the line first.

People were riding on cars, playing music cheering and showing how proud they were of their team after the historic win. Source: 1 NEWS

Mate Ma'a Tonga wins their opening match of a World Cup and their fans literally bring a South Auckland suburb to a standstill – the funniest part in all of that is that the game wasn't even in Otahuhu (or New Zealand for that matter) and they were still partying like the Auld Mug was rolling down the street.

To emphasise again, I don't condone partying in the streets and all the hullabaloo that comes with it but what is undeniable is the love and devotion these fans have for their teams.

The locals got a chance to rub shoulders with the men in black overnight. Source: 1 NEWS

The All Blacks can beat a team by 20 points and we're still unimpressed.

There comes a time where as a nation we need to not be afraid to shed that humble coat we wear in the build up to and during live matches and just let our voices be heard.

The team hadn't even touched down yet and the party had already started. Source: 1 NEWS

Either that or we could be seeing more "homefield advantages" turning into seas of red, blue, green or whatever colour a lively fan wants to paint their face in – as long as it helps the team win, right?

Tonga's culture was on full display as junior and senior players showed each other the ultimate respect. Source: 1 NEWS



Olympic legend Usain Bolt goes airborne as he runs in zero gravity

Was it a bird? A plane?

No, Usain Bolt's latest publicity stunt.

The eight-time Olympic gold medalist took a zero-gravity flight over France today, courtesy of a champagne producer.

Taking a break from his efforts to become a professional football player, Bolt said he felt like a "kid in a candy store" after spending about four minutes floating and joking around in near-weightless conditions.

Aboard the Airbus A310 plane, the 32-year-old Jamaican caught a free-floating globule of champagne in his mouth and ran in low-gravity conditions.

The eight-time Olympic gold medallist took a zero-gravity flight in France, promoting a champagne brand. Source: Reuters


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Kiwi UFC veteran Mark Hunt to battle fellow over-40 star in Moscow

UFC veteran Mark Hunt and his Russian opponent will strike plenty of blows for the over 40s in mixed martial arts, when they headline a historic card in Moscow on the weekend.

Sydneysider Hunt, who's fight catalogue bulges with bouts against other leading heavyweights, faces another world ranked adversary in Alexey Oleynik, in the first UFC promotion in Russia.

NZ-born Hunt, who is 44, is ranked eighth, three places above 41-year-old Oleynik.

The Russian, who is nicknamed "The Boa Constrictor," is a submission specialist renowned for his ground game, while Hunt remains one of the most feared stand-up fighters in the organisation.

"I think it's a classic striker versus grappler," said Hunt, whose bout will take place early Sunday (AEST).

It's the second last bout on Hunt's existing UFC contract.

While not looking past Oleynik, Hunt is eyeing a spot in Australia's next UFC show on December 2 in Adelaide.

"If I'm not injured (on the weekend) i'm going to to try and get on the (Adelaide) card," Hunt said.

The show in South Australia will be headlined by rising Australian heavyweight Tai Tuivasa, who regards Hunt as his mentor.

Kiwi-born heavyweight blows up after UFC reveals Lesnar tested positive for a banned substance immediately after beating Mark Hunt.
Source: 1 NEWS


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Opinion: There's more to life and rugby than money, Lima

Before I dive in, I just want to say I understand where Lima Sopoaga is coming from.

For guys from a "low socio-economic background" as he put it in his interview with the Guardian, huge offers from overseas can be tempting and one that All Blacks have started taking more often in recent years.

Whether it’s for family, the future or simply the fortune, there’s no denying Kiwi rugby talent is becoming harder to keep on our shores.

But there's a couple minor details Lima didn't mention when he sent this warning to the All Blacks about the changing times.

One, the guys that are going aren't the go-to stars.

It’s harsh, I know, but let’s be honest. When you look at the list of former All Blacks who have left our shores in recent years for the UK, none of them jump out as the 'one who got away' do they?

Charlies Piutau, Malakai Fekitoa, Aaron Cruden, Steven Luatua and Julian Savea are just a few to leave since the 2015 World Cup but they were fringe players at best.

But, once again, hats off to them. They've gone and secured a future for themselves and their families that some can only dream of and it’s respectable that they adjusted their dreams of being an All Black or a world champion or whatever else for their families. There's no arguing that is a commendable act.

Other guys like Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith left to get a handsome paycheck before they hung up the boots after spending most of their careers adding to the legacy of the black jersey, so there’s not much to argue about there either.

The Chiefs coach said he's focused on the team's quarter-final, not speculation regarding Nonu.
Source: 1 NEWS

But that brings me to the next point.

Money doesn’t last forever but legacies do. For the guys who spend the larger part of their careers chasing and earning the black jersey, it’s almost like their names get woven into its fabric.

Richie McCaw, Keven Mealamu – even Tony Woodcock after that stunning 2011 try. World class players at their position who will go down as some of the game’s best and if you look up a picture of them, it’ll be in a black jersey.

They could’ve gone overseas. They could’ve taken the big money. But as McCaw said in his film, he always set out on being a "G.A.B".

What kid doesn’t want that? Fame and riches are well and good but if you are considered one of the best in the world at your position, why would you ever want to leave arguably the best sports team on the planet when you can add to its history?

Sopoaga is right in saying the game has become a business and the "riches of Europe" are going to appeal more and more to "young guys" but going as far as saying "things are starting to change" in relation to the All Blacks is pushing it.

I can’t speak for the likes of the current youthful stars of the All Blacks but it’s fair to say there haven’t been many rumours of them being tempted off-shore by European clubs.

Again, this isn’t a dig at Sopoaga’s choice or anyone else’s for that matter but just a gentle reminder you can’t put a value on the black jersey.

And if you ever need a reminder of that, look up Karl Tu’inukuafe’s debut from earlier this year against France – I think everyone can agree a teary-eyed moment like that is truly priceless.

COVENTRY, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 08:  Lima Sopoaga of Wasps offloads the ball during a Premiership Rugby match between Wasps and Exeter Chiefs at Ricoh Arena on September 8, 2018 in Coventry, United Kingdom.  (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Lima Sopoaga of Wasps offloads the ball during a Premiership Rugby match between Wasps and Exeter Chiefs at Ricoh Arena in Coventry, United Kingdom. Source: Getty


Conor McGregor being sued by UFC lightweight fighter after attack that left him with facial lacerations

Mixed martial arts star Conor McGregor is being sued by UFC lightweight fighter Michael Chiesa after and alleged attack in April.

Chiesa is seeking damages he suffered when McGregor allegedly threw a dolly (a cart for moving heavy items) at a bus window, injuring Chiesa and forcing him to withdraw from the UFC 223 card on April in Brooklyn, New York.

The incident was captured on camera at the Barclay's Centre.

TMZ reported that the lawsuit was filed overnight and alleges Chiesa suffered "serious personal, economic, other injury" and "severe emotional distress, mental trauma and bodily harm."

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 07: Michael Chiesa enters the Octagon against Anthony Pettis in their lightweight fight during the UFC 226 event inside T-Mobile Arena on July 7, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Michael Chiesa enters the Octagon against Anthony Pettis in their lightweight fight during the UFC 226 event inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Source: Getty

The lawsuit accuses McGregor of assault, battery, negligence and infliction of emotional stress.

Chiesa is also named the Barclay's Centre as a defendant, saying the organisers at the venue failed to take "proper security measures to protect the plaintiff and other patrons."

The American fighter doesn't specify the amount he is after, but is asking for compensation lost which includes "lost opportunities".

He argues that the incident robbed him at a shot at a UFC title, with the UFC needing a last-second replacement for the lightweight title fight at the UFC 223 event, which Chiesa was unavailable for due to injury.

Mixed martial arts figher Conor McGregor, center, is escorted by court officers as he leaves a Brooklyn Supreme court, Thursday, June 14, 2018, in New York.  McGregor is in plea negotiations to resolve charges stemming from a backstage melee at a Brooklyn arena. The 29-year-old Irish fighter and co-defendant Cian Cowley remained free on bail after a brief court appearance on Thursday. They are due back in court July 26.  (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Mixed martial arts figher Conor McGregor is escorted by court officers as he leaves a Brooklyn Supreme court. Source: Associated Press

McGregor agreed to a plea deal with the Brooklyn District Attorney's office in July which allowed him to avoid a criminal record.

He pled guilty to a single charge of disorderly conduct. The 30-year-old is set to return to the Octagon at UFC 229 on October 7 (NZ time).

Chiesa recovered from his facial lacerations and went onto fight Anthony Pettis at UFC 227 in July in Las Vegas.


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