I know, I know, it’s early but we’re excited!
January means that it’s NFL Playoff time and those of us up here in New England follow the exploits and activities of the New England Patriots closely as they inch towards another Superbowl showdown.
The New England Patriots are a professional American football team based in the Greater Boston region. The Patriots compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member of the American Football Conference (AFC) East division. The team plays its home games at Gillette Stadium in the town of Foxborough, Massachusetts, which is located 21 miles (34 km) southwest of downtown Boston and 20 miles (32 km) northeast of downtown Providence, Rhode Island. The Patriots are also headquartered at Gillette Stadium.
An original member of the American Football League (AFL), the Patriots joined the NFL in the 1970 merger of the two leagues. The team changed its name from the original Boston Patriots after relocating to Foxborough in 1971. The Patriots played their home games at Foxboro Stadium from 1971 to 2001, then moved to Gillette Stadium at the start of the 2002 season. The Patriots’ rivalry with the New York Jets is considered one of the most bitter rivalries in the NFL.
The Patriots have appeared in the Super Bowl eight times in franchise history, six of them since the arrival of head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady in 2000. The Patriots have since become one of the most successful teams in NFL history, winning 14 AFC East titles in 16 seasons since 2001, without a losing season in that period. The franchise has since set numerous notable records, including most wins in a ten-year period (126, in 2003–2012), an undefeated 16-game regular season in 2007, the longest winning streak consisting of regular season and playoff games in NFL history (a 21-game streak from October 2003 to October 2004), and the most consecutive division titles won by a team in NFL history (won eight straight division titles from 2009 to 2016). The team owns the record for most Super Bowls reached by a head coach-quarterback tandem (six), as well as being the first tandem to win the Super Bowl 13 years after the first.
Sunday 22nd January 2017 – another date with destiny – the Pats vs Pittsburgh Steelers for the right to play in the 2017 Super Bowl!
2013 is the 100th version of the Tour de France – the legendary cycle race around France which takes place in July each year. For 2013, the famous King of the Mountains leg over Mont Ventoux in the Luberon is back after taking a break for a few years. 221km of hairpin bends and hills, we believe! Mont Ventoux (the ‘windy mountain’) is covered in shale at its summit which gives it the impression that it is covered in snow – fooling many newcomers. Ventoux can be reached via a very scenic route through the major lavender growing areas via Sault.
We decided to have a day out and follow the Tour route up to the mountain after a particularly cold spell so there was a few dustings of snow around. As is our wont on these ‘days out’ we have taken to preparing a little picnic and this week, Madame did not disappoint (when does she?), with coronation chicken and salads on the menu.
The world mourns the greatest cricket writer of his generation. He went where others dared not to – long may he be remembered.
Breaking from normal transmission…….but then it’s Rugby World Cup time ……… here’s a book which is compulsory reading if you like the Game they play in Heaven.
The Springboks and the Holy Grail
Behind the scenes at the Rugby World Cup, 1995-2007
By Dan Retief
Sifting through the millions of words written about the demise of the News of the World and Rupert Murdoch’s grim grasp on his faltering News Corp empire – a story we follow relentlessly here at 2OceansVibe – I flipped to the Sports Section of the final “Thank you and Good-bye” edition of NOTW. In the Sports Editor’s own obituary to the NOTW Sports journalists, he stated that they were all ‘fans’. That’s why they had the stories, they knew the games, and they had the respect of the players. They were not journalists churning out the copy because it was a job – it was a passion.
Dan Retief is a FAN. That’s why ‘The Springboks and the Holy Grail’ makes such compelling reading. He has the respect of the players and, as mentioned in the book, the legendary 1995 World Cup winning Springboks coach, Kitch Christie said, “you know the game”. In fact, Dan modestly relates how it was he that suggested that a kicking Joel Stransky play at fly half and the accepted playmaker, Hennie le Roux play at inside centre in the 1995 team – and we know what happened there! Retief has been in the journo game for over 40 years but is still in touch. He is well known through the pages of many newspapers, magazines and, of course, SuperSport. The book cleverly links events between the World Cups through detailing the up and down of the soap opera that is South Africa. There’s plenty of spice! The relationship between Gary Teichmann, Bob Skinstad and coach Nick Mallett gets a thorough airing – prior to the 1999 World Cup.
This is a book which is a cracking read and one for anyone remotely interested in rugby, the Springboks and even the politics of South Africa, it’s a must. Apparently the first edition is now virtually sold out but the publishers are rushing out a second printing. However, it can be downloaded through Amazon (as the book listing is ‘sold out’). Some Exclusive Books still have copies, though.
Follow Dan on Twitter at: @retiefdan or catch up with his musings at www.danretief.com
Footnote – this review first appeared in www.2oceansvibe.com and www.crikey.com.au
Ex-pats in Europe know the feeling. Sky Sports put Southern Hemisphere rugby on to ‘Sky player’ or ‘Sky online’ so that you must pay extra to watch or else you are condemned to watching Bth playing Leicester or something similarly trivial like WWF.
Here’s a nifty solution. Get a mate in SA or Oz/NZ to train their webcam on to the TV screen and log on via Skype or an internet TV station. Commentary? So, you really do listen to Hugh Bladen? Log on to www.2oc/fm and you’ll get some really alternative – and hilarious – commentary.
It’s probably all illegal – but then it’s News Corp who are shafting you anyway, and let’s face it, they owe the public a favour. Voila!
Long ago when men were men, ladies were ladies and journalists were real wordsmiths, Normal Canale was at his peak.
In a career spanning five decades, Canale was a pioneer tabloid journo. Expert in rugby and boxing (he called it the ‘sweet science’), in particular, Norman Canale sold newspapers. Canale lived with the characters, he ate and breathed them. He drank with them.
‘Snakes in the Garden of Eden’, Canale’s autobiography just published by Don Nelson in Cape Town is a glorious read. The first half of the book chronicles his colourful life, his many wives, friends and – predictably, enemies.
We read about the legendary Cape Times Sports Editor, Dick Stent mocking up the back page on the Cafe Royal bar counter along with a gin and tonic. The iconic Sunday Times editor Joel Mervis comes back to life in the pages.
The second half of the book presents a few of Canale’s great articles. The one on Springbok prop Boy Louw is a gem.
Co-founder of the South African Sports Illustrated magazine, reporter on the Cape Times, Sunday Times, Sunday Express, Rand Daily Mail and more, Canale live life to the full.
As a young cadet, I asked then Cape Times Managing Editor Chris Greyvenstein why he only drank lime juice and soda at the Cafe Royal. “I used to drink with Norman Canale” was his answer! Enough said.
Get this book and read it. It’s available at leading South African bookshops and through the publishers, Don Nelson.
Footnote: One sour note. In the article on Rod Laver, the Rocket is listed as an American. Norman – you should know: Melbourne Sports Park’s main arena is called Rod Laver Arena for a reason – he’s an Aussie!
This review originally appeared on www.2oceansvibe.com and Norman has pointed out that he was referring to Don Budge and that he would not make such a mistake. I doff my non-existant cap, Norm : ACP taught me journo English!
The map above shows the route for the Tour de France 2011 which has just been announced in Paris. Conspicuous by its absence is our pat of the world. Oh well, we can’t begrudge our dear friends in Montpellier some fun. Interesting is the lack of Mont Ventoux as King of the Mountains – now they’ll be battling it out in High Savoy.
The table below sets out each stage with the relevant dates:
Stage Type Date Start and Finish Distance Details
1 En ligne Saturday 2 July Passage du Gois La Barre-de-Monts > Mont des Alouettes Les Herbiers 191 km
2 Team TT Sunday 3 July Les Essarts > Les Essarts 23 km
3 En ligne Monday 4 July Olonne-sur-Mer > Redon 198 km
4 En ligne Tuesday 5 July Lorient > Mûr-de-Bretagne 172 km
5 En ligne Wednesday 6 July Carhaix > Cap Fréhel 158 km
6 En ligne Thursday 7 July Dinan > Lisieux 226 km
7 En ligne Friday 8 July Le Mans > Châteauroux 215 km
8 Medium mountains Saturday 9 July Aigurande > Super-Besse Sancy 190 km
9 Medium mountains Sunday 10 July Issoire > Saint-Flour 208 km
R Rest Day Monday 11 July Le Lioran Cantal
10 En ligne Tuesday 12 July Aurillac > Carmaux 161 km
11 En ligne Wednesday 13 July Blaye-les-Mines > Lavaur 168 km
12 High Mountains Thursday 14 July Cugnaux > Luz-Ardiden 209 km
13 High Mountains Friday 15 July Pau > Lourdes 156 km
14 High Mountains Saturday 16 July Saint-Gaudens > Plateau de Beille 168 km
15 En ligne Sunday 17 July Limoux > Montpellier 187 km
R Rest Day Monday 18 July Département de la Drôme
16 Medium mountains Tuesday 19 July Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux > Gap 163 km
17 High Mountains Wednesday 20 July Gap > Pinerolo 179 km
18 High Mountains Thursday 21 July Pinerolo > Galibier Serre-Chevalier 189 km
19 High Mountains Friday 22 July Modane – Valfréjus > Alpe-d’Huez 109 km
20 Individual time-trial Saturday 23 July Grenoble > Grenoble 41 km
21 En ligne Sunday 24 July Créteil > Paris Champs-Élysées 160 km