When you are idle in a hotel room in Johannesburg, the pre-match statistics booklet for the Heineken Cup final offers welcome respite from the boredom. Where’s the oul paddies out here when you need one for a chat? Which is why a mass of statistics has become my coffee buddy for part of the week.
This time 12 months ago, Munster and Leinster felt bulletproof as they approached their respective Champions Cup semi-final deciders against Racing 92 and Scarlets, with both squads densely fortified with players from Ireland’s all-conquering Grand Slam team.
The South African Spar retailing group says it is positively cautious about the effects of Brexit for its retailing interests in Ireland and the southwest of England. The Johannesburg-stockmarket-listed group owns 80% of BWG Spar and operates chains in Ireland and England, under its Spar Ireland division.
South Africa’s Steinhoff International — which owns the Dealz-Poundland stores in Ireland — plans to sell almost 7.5bn rand (€509m) of shares in South African financial services firm PSG Group, the latest in a line of disposals aimed at shoring up the retail group’s battered balance sheet.
For all the good news coming out of Munster in the past couple of days, the appearance of centres Matt Toomua and Manu Tuilagi on the Leicester Tigers teamsheet yesterday lunchtime will have offered a sobering counterpoint ahead of tomorrow’s Champions Cup re-match at Welford Road.
So much for transparency. For all the good intention of overseeing the most open, least questionable bidding process for the 2023 Rugby World Cup, governing body World Rugby is this morning as big a loser as South Africa, whose bid it unanimously recommended on October 31.