The chief executives of the Six Nations renewed talks in London yesterday aimed at finalising an offer designed to change the face of the game. Having already forked out some €400m to buy stakes in the English Premiership and PRO14, the private equity firm CVC Partners are willing to pay the Six Nations almost as much again for a share of the tournament’s commercial rights.
Whatever your taste in sports, odds are it has been soured at times by a decision from a referee or an official of some other hue. Bill White, a former baseball player and commentator, got it just right when he said that umpiring is tough because, no matter what the decision, you’re always half-wrong.
The clock ticked past 83 minutes, Munster kicked for the corner on the last play of the game, with the backs and forwards uniting to drive the ball over the line for the bonus-point win. I had to double-check the TV replay to make sure it wasn’t O’Gara kicking to the five-metre line, Sheahan throwing to O’Connell in the lineout, or Jason Holland joining the maul to drive it over the line.
Whatever about losing the World Cup final, English rugby had every right to be feeling good about itself and the future of the game after a successful tournament in Japan — until, of course, they found themselves with a PR nightmare on their hands with revelations about Saracens and their manipulation of the Premiership salary cap.
Last night Dave Mahedy closed his office door for the final time at the University of Limerick. As Director of Sport and Recreation, Mahedy has been the driving force behind the growth — and importance — of sport at all levels in UL for almost 30 years.
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.
We’ve been down this road before, on seven different occasions now since Paul O’Connell, in tandem with Ronan O’Gara, lifted the Heineken Cup aloft in Cardiff 11 years ago after Munster beat the tournament’s greatest side to that point in a memorable 16-13 win over Toulouse.