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Irish whiz leaves Ben, Billy, Quade and co with a hard act to follow

It may be only February, but if Irish rugby wizard Simon Zebo doesn’t feature in one of those end-of-year sports highlights packages, I reckon l might just give this caper away.

One thing is for sure. Showmen like rugby league’s Ben Barba and Billy Slater and union’s “Fighting” Quade Cooper have one hell of an act to follow.

If you haven’t already seen footage of Zebo’s outrageous backheel flick en routé to setting up one of Ireland’s three tries in their Six Nations opener against Wales, do yourself a favour and check out one of the myriad videos up on the net (try

Then try telling me it’s not one of the most audacious, freakishly executed acts you’ve seen on the international stage (bearing in mind, too, the bloke was actually making his Six Nations debut!).

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To many of us, I suspect, rugby sevens is a bit like cricket’s T20 – you either love it or hate it and there’s not a lot of middle ground.

With rugby hellbent on using sevens (now on the Olympics program) to take its game to the wider world, it could not have hoped for a better result than came out of the Wellington Sevens at the weekend.

I refer, of course, to Kenya’s (yes, for those not up with the play, Kenya’s) monumental semi-final victory against New Zealand  — before an excruciating extra-time loss to England in the decider.

Make no mistake. To those in the know, the Kenyans’ remarkable run in Wellington was no flash in the pan and only served to highlight the dramatic impact Olympic funding can have on a sport’s development.

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It’s interesting, not least in light of a fairly significant football event staged earlier this week, to revisit one of the quirkier Olympic trivia questions: Who are the reigning Olympic rugby union champions?

Answer: USA (Paris, 1924).

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I’m not sure we came up with enough quality entries to produce a Top 10 Sporting Quotes, so here’s my pick of them (courtesy of an old Kiwi schoolmate who, as it happens, has just taken over at the helm of New Zealand Golf):

The harder I practise, the luckier I get!” — Lee Trevino

— Peter Thomson













2 Responses to Irish whiz leaves Ben, Billy, Quade and co with a hard act to follow

  • John Wagner says:

    Would Kenya have won that final with a different ref.??
    Also great to see that Italy are now playing a more expansive game — with a rewarding result!

    • Admin says:

      I agree it’s great to see Italy, like Argentina, attempting to play a more expansive game. It’s obvious, too — given the number of their players who ply their trade in French club rugby — that neither country is in any way intimidated by the Frogs.

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