Hugh Farrelly: Sarge not a fan of green army
POSTCARD FROM NEW ZEALAND
IT has been an interesting couple of weeks for Ireland supporters, the Euro 2012 contingent earning widespread approval (except from some notable sceptics), while those following Ireland's rugby expedition in New Zealand have been castigated.
The comments of Sergeant Scott Banfield provoked a great deal of reaction this week after the Christchurch police officer ranted about the antics of Ireland supporters at last week's Test match.
Five fans were arrested and 16 ejected from the stadium prompting Banfield to slam the Irish saying they "demonstrated they can't handle alcohol," going on to claim that "if that's a representation of what they do in their own country, they have got big problems. We don't drink to the point where we fall over so much in our country."
This led to a stinging editorial in yesterday's 'Otago Daily Times' which defended the Irish and attacked Banfield for hypocrisy.
"Sergeant Banfield must live a sheltered life if he thinks New Zealanders don't drink to excess and cause trouble in public places," said the 'Times'.
"Many aggrieved Irish people have quite rightly taken him to task. Rightly or wrongly, Ireland is anecdotally known to have a drinking culture, but in any global league table of binge-drinking, this country sadly punches well above its weight.
"It's a sad indictment on New Zealand's tolerance for drink-related bad behaviour that the reaction of many Dunedin people to five arrests at the Test was: Is that all?"
Kiwis a decent bunch -- despite war on vowels
NEW ZEALANDERS continue to do horrible things to their vowels, with a particular disregard for the proper pronunciation of 'e's, 'i's and 'a's.
Thus, you get sentences like "Oireland are being tupped to bring a sense of betterness from last weekend into their final Tist against the All Blicks in Hemulton" and so forth.
It is an endearing affliction and having had the privilege to visit this beautiful country five times over the last seven years, realising you are not likely to have an opportunity to return introduces a certain degree of sentimentality.
True, New Zealanders can become a tad obnoxious when extolling the superior virtues of their rugby team but, on the whole, they are a decent lot, very similar to the Irish in many ways.
Auckland, Wellington and, especially, Queenstown are memorable places to visit, but there will be few pangs for some of the country's more obscure towns.
However, as a first-time visitor to Hamilton, it is not as bad as some descriptions made it out to be, with a lively selection of restaurants and bars on Victoria Street and some stunning surrounding countryside, such as the coastal town of Raglan.
"Is this your first time in 'Hemulton'?" enquired the nice bloke, who asked to share the only remaining taxi in from the airport.
"Yes, what's it like?"
"Well, I'm not going to lie, it's quiet and a bit basic," he said, "like a bigger version of New Plymouth, do you know New Plymouth?"
Ahem, as the Americans say ... don't go there.
All Blacks keeping eye on Ross and Reddan
THE general perception of the All Blacks and Kiwi rugby supporters is of a myopic breed, obsessed with themselves and having scant regard for the opposition, bar the high profile, easily recognisable players such as Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll.
However, possibly as a consequence of Ireland's powerful showing in Christchurch, these notions have been disabused by eye-witness accounts from the All Blacks' team hotel where various notices and to-do lists had been pinned up on the walls.
With echoes of the Gloucester tactical plan left on the seat of a Limerick taxi ahead of the 'Miracle Match' against Munster in 2003, the All Blacks had one sheet devoted exclusively to the strengths of Ireland tight-head Mike Ross and how to negate them, with the thoroughness of their preparations demonstrated by another devoted to sub scrum-half Eoin Reddan.
They even managed to spell 'Eoin' correctly, something the match programme producers failed to do last weekend.
Moriarty and the weird boarding school game
WITH so much travelling to be done on these tours and so much time spent in each other's company, finding ways to kill time is essential to maintain some sort of grip on sanity.
One pastime which has become popular on this trip is 'word association,' where participants have five seconds to say a word that links directly to the one preceding it, without using proper nouns or repeating a word that has been said already.
Thus you could have "grass ... cow ... milk ... glass" and on. Simple.
Or so you would have thought, but this harmless diversion has been riven by dispute and confusion over a variety of issues, such as what constitutes a direct link and whether sounds or context should apply. Examples included "tick" being followed by "thin" and "pith" by "urinal."
However, for all the complications, word association was still preferable to the game one of the party described playing in boarding school called "Are you right there, Moriarty?"
Apparently this involved everyone stripping down to their underpants and swiping at each other with copies of the 'Daily Telegraph' shouting "Are you right there, Moriarty?" as they did so.
That's just weird.