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New Kiwi ‘first’ as fast-food outlet scales the height of absurdity

New Zealand has produced a few significant “firsts” over the years. First country to grant women the vote; first person to split the atom (OK, to save you Googling, Ernest Rutherford); first climber to conquer Mt Everest (Edmund Hillary) …

Then there’s the world’s first pavlova – though, of course, that’s long been a claim hotly disputed by Australia.

And now … first country to come up with the culinary equivalent of a pub with no beer — a KFC with no chicken!

I kid you not.

And of all times to be greeted with a stunning “sorry, before you order, I need to tell you we don’t have any chicken” apology, it so happens it occurred after I’d just treated myself to an early-evening viewing of a film (Beyond The Edge) documenting Hillary’s remarkable 1953 feat.

The explanation? Well, I’ve got to say it wasn’t immediately forthcoming and, frankly, I was too dumbfounded to ask. But as I headed towards the door, en route to Maccas, I swear I heard the young lass offering her next unwitting customer extra fries with his fries.

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Having spent the first 21 years of my life in Wellington, I thought I’d seen it all when it comes to the bizarre impact of high winds on a game of rugby.

That’s until I watched TV coverage of New Zealand’s national second division final — between Mid-Canterbury and North Otago – played at a gale-battered Ashburton, 80-odd kilometres south of Christchurch, last weekend.

Mid-Canterbury goalkicker Murray Williams had set the tone with a massive wind-assisted penalty from 12 metres inside his own half. Then, from a halfway restart, North Otago fullback Ed Keohane could only watch in disbelief as the ball travelled no more than five metres forward before being blown straight back over his head, bouncing end over end and over the deadball line!

If you haven’t sighted it — it immediately went viral on YouTube — here’s a link: http://www.givemesport.com/395428-new-zealand-rugby-team-terrorised-by-gale-force-winds

One of my most indelible Kiwi rugby memories is of legendary All Black goalkicker Don Clarke sealing a skinny 5-3 win against France at Wellington’s Athletic Park in 1961 (three-point try days) with a freak near-touchline conversion.

With the All Blacks playing with an horrendous southerly gale at their backs, Clarke placed the ball on the then 25-yard line, aimed at the Millard Stand that ran along the western side of the field. He then used the “25” as his run-up line – and watched as the wind caught the ball and hurled it, at right angles from where he stood, through the goalposts.

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Mount Athos and/or Sea Moon. For what it’s worth — and probably not a lot unless you’re planning a major plonk — that’s about the best I can offer on the Melbourne Cup front. Good luck!

— Peter Thomson

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