only the play-off games that we are interested in now.
before we got to the pool this afternoon the nz women played australia in their semi-final and, sadly, went down 4-1. shame, but still a medal chance nonetheless.
2v3 = south africa v new zealand we started really well off the first strike and got pretty damn close to scoring straight away. we couldn't convert the chance and the game seesawed for a couple of minutes before the locals got the early goal. we settled down after that and got into a good rhythm and got a couple of nice goals, then a third cracker just before the 1/2-time break to go into the second half 3-1 ahead. in the second half we kept rolling on in the same manner as the first and took the game away from south africa with 3 more goals in 7 or 8 minutes. once we got a 5 goal lead it was goodnight nurse for south africa and we got another couple of sweet goals to go 8-1 up with a minute and a half to go. someone got chucked in the sin-bin and we leaked a consolation goal with less than a minute to go. final score 8-2 to us. onto the final tomorrow.
1v4 = australia v france games do not come any closer than this cracker. scores tied at the end of regulation time. scores tied at the end of overtime and into golden goal time. crowd goes bananas. france showed the benefit of practicing overtime uwh against colombia yesterday and got the golden goal required. the french played smart and got the puck down into the australian end of the court and played patiently waiting for a slight mistake in the aussie defence line. mistakes = goals at this level.
so quite the upset, both seeds 1 and 2 gone from the final. i'm not sure if this has ever occurred before.
i'll be pushed for time tomorrow evening, so a report on the final will have to wait until sunday. probably not before mid-morning local time. maybe later. it all depends on the quality of the function.
final at 4pm local time = 2 am sunday morning nz time. we will be wearing black togs.
play-off games 4v5 = france v colombia game went to extra time, but france had the experience to score in extra time and close down the game, eventually winning 3-2 3v6 = new zealand v netherlands no extra time required, but all referees in position to see gloving infringements would have been nice. i don't think the game was really as close as the score-line suggests because i feel we had control for pretty much the entire game. netherlands got within 1 goal in the last 30 seconds of the game when we had to play with a man in the sinbin. anyhow, that's finals hockey and we won 4-3. 1v8 = australia v canada we have just left the pool with this game still in progress [and we saw a cool prang on the motorway] but i am sure the aussies will win comfortably. canada just isn't the same team without the quebec players. 2v7 = south africa v usa i expect a comfortable win for the locals in this game too
note the randomness of the playing schedule above? completely odd order of games. you'd expect 1v8, 2v7, 3v6, 4v5 in that order [or a simple reverse of that order] it's not a late change [as is the change to game times late yesterday] it's the way it always was. just seems odd to me.
as is the continued underestimation of the time required to complete international games. an hour now allowed for games in knock-out times where a result has to be found. so an extra 15 minutes has been added to what was too short an interval for RR games. in knock-out games there are 2 5min extra time periods [if required] with a 2min and a 1min break. that's 13 minutes scoffed up by the hungry uwh monster without ref's timeouts. only 2 mins to spare until next game starts - 'what happens if an extra 5mins each way isn't enough?' i hear you ask. well, another 1 or 2min break and into sudden death/golden goal play. i think an extra 15 minutes isn't quite enough. try and convince me otherwise if you like.
tomorrow, assuming south africa roll the usa in 2v7 game, we'll play south africa in the semi-finals at 3.30pm local time = 1.30am NZ time saturday morning. i expect utter bedlam, in terms of noise, on the side of the pool. SA supporters will likely be foaming at the mouth praying for a home-town victory and the colombians will be going ape -shit - cos that's just what they do - beating drums and chanting for everyone.
off for a shower, then some dinner. support crew/team groupies have arrived so dinner table talk will [hopefully] be much more pleasant and less earthy than the last 2 weeks topics of debate. it'll be nice not to talk politics for a change; i'm completely over the hillary/obama thing.
last day of RR play, argentina in the morning, netherlands in the afternoon.
argentina game [because it was only 3rd match of the day] almost started on time. astounding stuff. we rolled over argentina 14-0.
by the time we got to the netherlands game [game 10 of 16 in pool 2] the games were running 40-45 mins behind schedule - so arriving 45 mins before scheduled kick-off for a carefully timed build-up is a bit pointless. i don't know who thought that an international uwh match could be run and concluded in a 45 min slot, but they are badly mistaken. let's just do the numbers: 30mins playing time, 3 mins 1/2 time, allow up to 4 mins for time-outs, loads of time for referees stoppages [cos there are plenty of those this week], maybe up to a minute for clock-stopping in the last 2mins of game time and you have probably eaten 40mins already. THEN there is the time wasted by the 24/7 tv folks. internet tv is a great thing for our sport, but it shouldn't be running our scoring systems and game clocks. anyway, back to the game...
netherlands game started out with both teams fairly willing in the exchanges but we took control after about 5 minutes and got 3 goals ahead by half-time. after half-time we started to run away with the game and ended up winning 9-0. the dutch had a couple of well-seasoned campaigners sitting out of the game, so i can only assume they weren't too bothered by the score or result.
we are playing the dutch in the quarter finals on thursday, so the return match should be a much tougher affair as i expect the old stagers will be in the water.
all we need to know [for certain] is what time our game will be played. the playing schedule was altered last night to allow 60mins/game for the play-offs. fingers crossed.
last day before the rest day. why the rest day is in the middle of the RR and not the day after has never been explained. refereeing randomness continues unabated, but at least we played the aussies today which meant that the refs make less impact. this is because the aussies like to play underwater hockey at underwater hockey competitions. a concept lost on most of the other teams here. when we play australia we have nice, open, passing games of uwh where 1 on 1 skill is more important than being able to smash the crap out of anyone or thing that moves along the sidewalls.
result of game was a 3-3 draw, which i guess is a fair result as control of the game swung back and forth a bit with both teams scoring off the slightest of mistakes of each other [and both teams got a bonus goal each from the refs when forced to play with only 4] probably the aussies feel hard done by the refs cos we got awarded a penalty shot as well. i have no idea if the call was legit [you know my opinions on refs by now] cos the pool is pretty murky and it's tough to see anything further than 10m away [unless you are a ref in which case you don't need to see things, your imagination is good enough].
apparently there is a refs game scheduled for sometime tomorrow and some coaches have been asked if they'd like a chance at payback by reffing the refs. i think i'd just like to drop a couple of kilos of C4 explosive in the water when they are all in there and watch them float, dead, to the surface.
all the elite men's & women's teams have been invited to a big braai at the durban underwater club at 3pm. it's an optional event for our team, the women are spending the day at a game park [might be hluhluwe, i'm not sure]. socialising isn't really my bag, but this might be a good opportunity to organise some gear swapping in advance of finals day...
first game of the day was against colombia who we had beaten comfortably in a 15min warm-up match on tuesday. we didn't properly fire up for a team that had run australia close in the first game of the RR and we paid the price for that. we were behind on the scoreboard at the end of the first 1/2, but the ridiculous number of sinbinnings and infringements called against the colombian team eventually told against them and we managed to go 2-1 ahead. then, because so many of the referees are idiotically trigger happy this year, Pig got given a 5min sinbinning. i admit the pass he threw caught a colombian in the head, but if you are stupid enough to press your face against the wall when play is being heaved along that same wall, then there aren't really many places to move. and, according to Pig, the clown took enough evasive action to pull his head away from the wall as the puck bounced off the wall. result: colombia equalised from resulting free puck/melee, in our corner. final result 2-2.
i am furious with the standard of refereeing, once again. our entire subs bench, John & myself witnessed Pizazz [world chief referee, i remind you] watch a fairly blatant hooking offence against our player in open play. Pizazz, signalled for advantage to run. no advantage was gained and 10 seconds after Pizazz called a foul against our guy. what's with that? this is the guy who almost cost us a place in the final in sheffield with a bullshit call against Piers. Pizazz also sent Pig for 5 minutes near the end of the game [see above]. immediately after the game Pizazz apologised to our water-boy and manager for sending Pig out - 'tell him i am sorry if i got it wrong' stunned reaction from w-b & m. if you are not certain about such a devastating/potentially crucial to a match outcome call - DON'T BLOODY CALL IT. a better apology might be refunding the costs of attending the competition to the guys who get knocked out early because of refereeing incompetence. this is the same guy who refuses to believe, despite clear video evidence from sheffield, that sending out Piers was a good call. referees and those who appoint them for games really have to consider the cost, to athletes, of refereeing mistakes. each of the guys in my team have paid around $6500nz to be here. they don't get state funding. there is no magic money pixie who pays for these campaigns. and whilst saving the cash, the guys have to take time away from paid employment to train twice a day. meanwhile referees are starting to have their expenses covered: 'so that we can get the best refs to attend' well, shit. if the ghouls and simpletons on display here are the best, then our game will remain a crash-bash thug festival. playing in small, shallow pools like kings park only exacerbates the problem.
this may seem like a sour grapes moaning bitch, but i honestly feel that the standard of the game has developed beyond the capacity of almost all the officials who are controlling games. 1 of 2 things will happen to the game. 1. refereeing standards improve rapidly and the game becomes open and enjoyable to watch and play. 2. refereeing standards remain as they are and teams that attempt to play open games are repeatedly thwarted by brutish thuggery that goes largely unpunished, as it is now with the result that adventurous teams either: a. give up in disgust and leave it to the boofheads, or: b. start playing like boofheads as well, and hope for the best when the refs keep making random sinbin calls.
presently i do not hold much hope, the same timing system that was a disaster in sheffield is being used again here. a proven, bullet-proof, system exists but i can only assume either jingoism or indolence is keeping it sidelined. people are not learning from their mistakes.
we learned from ours in the morning and as a result poor old canada, who have never done anything to offend us, got punished for our mistakes in our late game. we thrashed them 14-0.
only 1 game tomorrow, top of the table clash v. australia @ 15h30 local = 01.30am 29/04/08 NZ time. selection calls for spots on the playing roster are getting very tough.
we had a nice early game against france [current world champs, post-cmas games in bari last year, and rightful custodians of the trophy]. we tightened up all the things we got wrong in our preparation prior to the south african game. after a tough first 5 minutes during which france took an early lead, the pace of the game evened out a bit and we managed to climb back onto the scoreboard, eventually winning 4-1. this is the third world champs in a row that we have beaten france 4-1 in the RR stages and we are hoping this is a good omen. france got a bit hammered in the penalty count, but if your skulduggery goes as far as trying to pick up the puck with your free hand and throw it in the bin - well you only get what's coming i suppose.
our second match of the day was against the usa and was a pretty dire affair which we won 8-0. usa made no attempt to actually score goals or win the game and were content to swim from side-to-side of the playing area playing keep-away. sure, you can't win the game without posession, but having the posession isn't the same as winning.
we watched the elite women play canada and it was a fairly turgid affair too. the canadian team isn't the same as the one that narrowly lost the final in sheffield. the canadian women spent a long portion of the game playing with reduced numbers - getting down to only 2 in the water at one stage.
after the women's match we went for dinner at the big mall. service was crap, the restaurant was not air-conditioned and some local chap bashed another bloke in the face with a beer glass. great family viewing.
late starting games on sunday - colombia @ 12h30 [10.30pm NZ time] and canada @ 17h45 [1.45am mon morning NZ time] colombia won promotion to the elite A division in sheffield in 2006 and have already claimed the scalp of 2006 runners-up, the netherlands, and ran the aussie men close, going down 1-2 in the final 5 minutes of the game. the colombian game should be worth staying up for.
a cruisy start to the day against namibia who we beat 15-0. benson lent a namibian a glove because he fronted for the game with a white glove and white stick [not allowed in the rules]. namibia seemd a bit confused by some of the rules and ref signals throughout the game. timing displays/systems all to cock again like sheffield. do these people not think of testing these things in advance to make sure they operate properly?
we continued in a cruisy manner when we played the south africans later on as well and went down 2-3 despite playing 5 or 6 against 4 for the last 2 minutes. more cock-ups with the scoring/timing system meant the clock wasn't being stopped in the last 2 mins of game time [for infringements] and we were denied a fair amount of time to equalise the match. also the start of the game was delayed 5 mins due to something in the video taping area. dunno what but it is the same problem that we had in 2006 - you'd think they'd have this sort of thing fixed by now.
this is billed as the premier uwh tournament in the world, but minor technical stuff-ups like timing problems make it very apparent that we are an amateur sport. it's galling when you realise that such things are avoidable problems with a little bit of operational planning. more galling still for the athletes who train like professionals and spend money like drug barons to get here and compete.
oh, and today was my birthday, thanks to the women's team for the card and the wine. thanks to all who said happy birthday and thanks to the guys for the lemon meringue pie - which they enthusiastically helped in the disposal of.
tomorrow's games = france @ 09h45 local [7.45pm NZ] & usa @ 14h45 local [0.45am 27/4/08 NZ] french will be tough and confident as they beat south africa today. usa probably not quite so tough.
usual carry-on at these things. someone is MC and introduces folks who have done good things to make the tournament happen and the odd local dignitary. a group of children do something enthusiastic and mildy entertaining - this time it was gumboot dancing. lots of skinny white kids must be working in the diamond mines nowadays... a walk-by intro of all the teams then a group of seasoned performers came on and performed some zulu dancing - probably the best native dancing i've seen at one of these ceremonies.
at least there was no water-polo, or clowns jumping off a dive tower, this time.
best news of the day - all games will be broadcast FREE, LIVE on www.247.tv downloads will not be free but video quality will be better than the live feed. so, no excuse not to see our games.
first game is 11h45 v. namibia tomorrow = 21h45 25/4/08 nz time. we are playing with black sticks in pool 1.
second game tomorrow is 15h00 v. south africa = 01h00 26/4/08 nz time. we are black again, same pool as morning game. set your alarm clock, it'll be a cracker.
up and about early, but now i am sick as well as broke. i blame Pig: i lent him my sweatshirt at the freezing cold outdoor pool on tuesday because he had forgotten his. i decided it was better to risk me getting cold instead of a player. i now think i would much prefer him to be sick instead of me - after all i could go spend his money whilst he stays in bed, a much better state of affairs.
1 last 45 min practice session, coming up, this morning, then opening ceremony this afternoon sometime. maybe i can sneak out of attending ceremony claiming illness. not a lie, but i'm still ambulatory.
apparently our junior girls team played a couple of the elite women's teams yesterday and beat them. very promising. i know that one of the teams was the canadian women, can't remember who the others were. canadian women got silver in 2006 but the team they have sent here looks very different.
it's a big day of arguing and name calling here today for all the non-combatants. committee meetings and ref's fitness tests and all the usual carry-on that the players [and i] steer well clear of. due to recent political shenanigans at commission level, this year's name calling and back biting should be fairly epic. no doubt we'll need to call in a local shaman to lift curses and spells after Tristan and other mucky-mucks have gone at each other. with a bit of luck a few countries [not least NZ] will get their asses off the fence and get the pile of crap that is uwh politics resolved.
our new rental cars arrive this morning, and it's time, right now, to go climb into 1 and head to our last training session. i think we have everything covered already, so it'll be a light, lazy affair.
liam still crook, so still out of the water. warm-up outdoors in sunshine - finally the weather is coming right. we had a 15 minute game of 6 v.5, refereed most kindly by Pizazz - new world chief referee. then we went back to dull old set-play stuff in corners and on the walls.
the guys have everything sorted now and when i ask them to practice something it comes right in a matter of minutes regardless of which personnel are involved. which is as it should be and my biggest hassles now will be who to put in and who to leave out of games.
after some awful navigation by Matt, we got to clifton pool an hour after we were due there. the hour delay was my fault - i thought we were due there at 11, we were due at 10. Darren should have know better, he jacked it up with the locals. we managed to get 15mins of game time against the local colts type team, the 'mad cows'. no idea why they are called that and not the masters women's team. hey, it's a different culture here and i'm just a go with the flow kind of guy.
pool temp was arctic. after 28+ degrees in singapore it was hard yakka and many of the guys were reporting racing heartrates every time they subbed into the game. at least they had done a proper warm-up. i jumped in from standing and spent 30 mins in the water spectating.
so after we thrashed the mad cows for 15 mins [cos they play as individuals, not as a team] we had a 15 min run against the colombians - the big improvers in 2002 & 2006 when they moved into the A division at the expense of GB  and USA . luckily for GB in 2004 and USA this time, there is no B division due to low attendance numbers. but colombia re probably pretty keen to cement themselves in the top 8, this year, in case there are enought teams in subsequent years for 2 divisions or if entry to tournaments becomes ranking based.
for the first 5 minutes of the colombian game all the action was in our defensive zone and the colombians were unlucky not to score. a good breakout from a sub got us down to their end of the pool and we got thhe scoring started. then we got another very quickly and the colombian's heads dropped a wee bit. after that we had pretty much full control.
both games were good results. Liam, our goalie, is a bit crook and he stayed out of the pool, so we played both games with a makeshift goalie. Benson sat out against the mad cows and Ben had a rest when we played colombia. We also experimented with Andre at centre against colombia so rob could have a run on the wing. so both games played without our strongest line-ups and both were fairly convincing results. no goals in our bin at all.
off to kings park pool afterwards for registration, then lunch at the big mall up the road from our accomodation. guys went wandering about the mall after lunch. it was pretty dull without a wallet. John had a go at the standing wave flume, with mixed results.
naturally Matt's navigation skills had us completely stuffed and 2 mins from home he got all 4 cars back onto the motorway heading back to durban. another 15 mins added to a 15 minute journey.
scheduled practices tomorrow at kings park [competition] pool.
the entire programme for the comp has been bollixed by the very late withdrawal [thursday last week] of the zimbabwean masters team - who you may recall had already been moved into masters from the elite division. programme booklets had already been printed, so the poor organisers have a lovely colour booklet with a worthless draw in it. i can only assume that they are mightily pissed off at the zims.
by-the-by a local here told me that popular opinion holds that Mr Mugabe knows something about Mr Mbeke that Mr Mbeke would like kept secret. Thabo spent many years of anc exile in zimababwe and is a very good mate of Rob's. maybe their eyes met one evening, a high-five was mandatory, and mutually assured destruction will occur if either one breaks the code of silence. all pure speculation on my part.
we flew out of singapore at 2.20am local time for 10.5 hours, mostly in the dark to joburg. everyone punched out for the first 5 hours or so. after that our bodies decided that no matter how knackered we were it was about 7.30 am singapore time and we should be awake. the discomfort of economy class seating certainly does not encourage sound sleep. also the flight was pretty bumpy in places. best part of flight was about 45 mins out of joburg. we came through some high cloud and got bumped around a bit. as we flew out of the cloud bank we looked back and could see lightning flashes going off every few seconds in the clouds we had left. really cool to watch, but i'm glad we didn't see it until we were out of it.
arrive at joburg expecting african heat and getting 5 degrees. i was also expecting to change $600NZ into local currency. without my wallet, that's just not going to happen. shit. so i scamper back to the international terminal to find the singapore airtlines desk to see if the plane can be checked before it's filled up and flown away again. 15 mins hunting and NO singapore airlines desk. i go to lufthansa [also star alliance] and get directions to local handling agents for SIA. first desk sends me to second desk - which is helpful, but a bit hopeless. they know where the SIA agent has a desk, but it is in the middle of an area undergoing refurbishment and they cannot find site access. another 15 mins schlepping around the concourse. back to desk 2 and a chap there knows the way to SIA desk. 2mins later and a helpful chap on the phone to plane crew. 2mins after that and reply comes back - no luck.
so i am in joburg. i have no cash or credit cards. only 5 weeks to survive in africa without money. Liam owes me about 65 rand so i will not be destitute once i call in that debt. for the record $1NZ = approx 6 rand. i start to budget a spending plan of $2NZ/week for the next 5 weeks.
i still have my cellphone and all cards are cancelled before we leave joburg for durban [final destination for uwh].
Matt and Rowan get 5 min massages in those crazy water-jet massage booths in the departure area. I spotted the argentinian squad slide through the domestic terminal, but all the others [who have money] are distracted by food and miss them.
on to durban. pilot tells us to expect 15 degrees. we get hosing down rain, about 10 degrees and no airbridge. 50 yard dash in the rain from the plane to baggage collection, then on to more, african-style, hassles.
out of baggage area to be met by local accomodation organiser [cheryl] who appears to be jsut about the most switched on person on the continent. our hire vehicles are in another town. well, of course they are - why on earth would we expect them to be waiting for us at the airport when we have already paid in advance for them?
Cheryl has already solved the hassle AND organised a van for all our luggage to get to our accomodation. this is good because we have 320kg of luggage and it was never going to fit in the back of 4 toyota yaris's. also we can follow cheryl to where we are staying, which is good too, because none of us had any clue how to get where we were going.
on the way the car Ben & I were in, driven by Pig, started to wobble alarmingly. the luggage van driver pointed out we had a flatty, so we wobbled to nearest servo and applied the pump. tire valve was stuffed, so we changed wheel and kept on going. rest of party and cheryl now long gone into the distance, but van driver said he thought he knew where we where staying, but he had been following cheryl too. we got here o.k.
accomodation is holiday flats for families which are rented out when owners do not want to be here. there is a swimming pool and direct access to the beach. an enormous shopping mall is 5 mins drive away. the pool is about 10-15 mins drive from here.
our rental vehicles are crap, but they are being replaced. getting them sorted has been quite a saga. but it's way too dull for a blog, even one as dull as this.
right, that's all the travelling out of the way. from here on in it's about uwh.
all up and ready to leave hostel on bus at 9.30 as usual, except all checked out of our rooms and about 200kg of luggage left at reception for the day. pool was deserted on a sunday morning so i took the opportunity of having the guys do some 50m swims - sprints underwater in various forms, and then some sprint relays across the pool. i was hoping to get them all tired enough to sleep on our flight to joburg late tonight.
aussie juniors came sifting past the pool whilst we were there, but they didn't seem interested in a practice game.
after pool session, back to hostel for lunch and then guys shot off to do own thing. most went for a massage downtown and got fairly pulped by experts. Ben, Roobs, Pig & I went to the zoo. it hosed down, which was nice and cool and we left as the gates were closing at 6.30pm. despite it being a lovely zoo with fairly natural enclosures for the animals, some have quite clearly gone nuts in captivity - most notably the male white tiger and one of the polar bears. you know the drill - animal paces back and forth on a short walk for the entire time you watch it. eventually you move on in shame, because there is no apology you can make to the beast that it will understand or that would be sufficient.
dinner and showers at hostel [we got one entry card to general hostel showers and one by one 14 guys took a turn slinking away to the shower] whilst risk was played, books were read and emails were checked. departure for airport at 10.30pm, then all the usual drama at the airport. only 3 guys are found to actually have tickets properly entered into the system. also despite being the first people to physically turn up at the airport we are told it is a very full flight and we cannot all get window or aisle seats as we want. enquiry about how this situation can occur when we are first to check in is explained: check in began 48 hours ago, we are just about last to check in. thanks again to travel agent for passing on that helpful hint. oh well, another learning experience - we are learning a lot from our travel agent on tis trip. guys mooched about the airport looking for distraction until the flight is boarded. i certainly got distracted by something somewhere in the airport or the boarding lounge, or possibly on the plane itself with damned annoying results. i'll go into that when i move onto part 2 of travelling, because that's where it becomes an effective nuisance.
saturday in singapore and traffic to pool much heavier, but still only 30 min travel time. more time spent on endless set-play situations and some quick game time. warm-up has been adjusted to a daigonal swim across the pool in order to make distances swum = 25m [on the hypotenuse, for all you 4th form maths students out there. quick quiz: if pool is 20m across and the hypotenuse distance is 25m, what is the length of the third side of a right angled triangle? hint: square root of 225]
after pool session & lunch guys did their own thing for the afternoon. the young fullahs went to wild wild wet [a big waterslide park] and almost succeeded in being tossed out for not obeying rules. most of the older guys went to chinatown for a nosey about and a small few just hung around the hostel sorting out their messes for an early departure tomorrow.
in the evening dinner was a fend for yourself event. John and I went to orchard road to a food hall. after local dinner stuff, John decided [with some prodding] that he really should try to the local delicacy in a small pancake affair. Now durian fruit is very popular with the natives in a love/hate way. it is reputed [note - i have not tried the stuff] to taste delicious - although it is something of an acquired taste, perhaps you need to be born in the system - but, sadly, the price of the great taste is that it reeks like the bottom of an old wheelie-bin outside a takeaway. for that reason durians are pretty much banned from all indoor public areas, especially hotels, buses, cabs and the like. John took one bite of his delicacy and instantly decided that it tasted like the bottom of a fly-blown wheelie-bin. was funny watching him rifle his wallet to hastily purchase some fresh pineapple to get the rank taste out of his mouth.
you can see the pattern by now - up early, eat, go to pool, train, back to hostel. we spent an extra hour at the pool today, but otherwise it's business as usual by now. big lunch back at hostel, then rest because we are playing with/against the locals this evening. we are hoping they will point us in the direction of a new food destination after the pool session. Whilst Newton Food Market is entertaining we have a very low tolerance for repetitive amusements and the old guy with the sunnies is, quite frankly, starting to bore us.
will report on this evening tomorrow.
we went to queenstown pool last night - also outdoors - and played a 10 minute game against local tough guys. fairly predictable 1-way traffic. then we played a couple of minutes against ourselves because locals wanted to see what sort of damage we did to each other for fun.
after that we all split up to do some simplae coaching stuff. forwards gave forwards tips on how to make backs look silly, backs huddled in an oily group and concocted dark schemes on how to foil the balletic grace of the forwards: a fruitless endeavour, but we let them dream.
john managed to become the first casualty on the trip by gashing his knee on a broken tile. 3 stitches and a slight limp, but no lasting damage. mainly cosmetic.
lau pa sat food market, with singaporean uwh crowd afterwards. it was about 9.45pm when we rocked in there and the place seemed to be pretty much shutting up for the night. kind of strange for singapore in general and stranger still for a friday night. we finished up around 11ish and then struggled to find taxis to get home. many of the drivers weren't interested in fares that weren't heading in the direction of their home. so in the the end as soon as a driver stopped to hear our destination, someone jumped in the cab whilst others piled bags into the boot. 3 more burly lads climbed into the cab and driver had no optin but to take us where we wanted to go - home to bed.
another early start - the restaurant downstairs opens for business at 7.15am. it's a buffet and open season for our crew.
off to pool again at 9am. more of the same stuff there: heat, training, games. back to hotel and walk-throughs of some stuff in the ankle deep kids pool at the hostel.
lunch was a school outing to tang plaza on orchard rd. at basement level next to the mrt entry is a small enclave of foodstalls that blows any food hall in Nz into the weeds. we were able to try all manner of local dishes for a $ or 2 a pop. probably everyone spent way more than they realised scoffing down everything on offer. happy, greasy fingers and faces. good times.
after lunch guys scattered to do their own thing. SOME went looking for local red light district. strictly looking, but absolutely certain they needed to see how it compared to amsterdam. John, Benson & I got the mrt to a very cool mall that only deals in electronic stuff. and prices are actually marked on the products [unlike orchard rd].
guys need regular watering and fodder so dinner was early and back to Newton Food Market to try the things we hadn't had on wednesday night or at lunch.
team fine session was held at 9pm. Darren missed the session because he was visiting relatives and unaware of the meeting. not a good enough excuse for a jury of his peers and he was duly fined for being absent.
everyone pretty nuked after travel. dinner at hostel then off to bed. new adventures await us...
up pretty early for most as we adjust to changed time zone, big feed at hostel then off to pool at 9am. arrive at pool nice and early and get given whatever we ask for. marvellous stuff. Reuben [sun smart ambassador for WCC] decides that it is a diferent sun from the star which gently heats NZ with it's radiance and as he has loads of free sunblock at home, he isn't gonna use any here. a mistake. however, despite liberal applications of SPF15, most go shades of pink & red because... the pool is oudoors. in the tropics. and we are gallivanting around in speedos in the middle of the day. pool is very warm too. lovely place to play and train. but loads of water is needed poolside. in a shady spot.
after pool the guys decide they need to experience orchard road and an expedition is mounted to same. everyone does their own thing - which mostly consists of struggling from one air-conditioned mall to another. Not a lot of shopping actually done. Pig buys a pile of local lollies which are probably just coloured sugar. i am sure he is completely content.
at dinner time we all went to Newton Food Market. hawkers going crazy every 5 paces trying to get you to sit at certain tables and buy seafood dishes at high prices. good entertainment, good food too. best event of evening is an old boy who comes past the table and lifts and opens his shirt [like a flasher] to reveal about 2 dozen pairs of knock-off sunglasses for sale. he asks Rowan for $45 for some fake ray-bans. Rowan plays with him a bit and decides to offer/insult him with a counter-offer of $15. which the old boy accepts in a flash. sold. Rowan suckered. Before giving him the glasses the old guy carefully removes the ran-ban sticker off the lenses and sticks it onto another pair. Rowan's flash new sunnies do not have Ray-Ban marked on them anywhere. Everyone slurps down loads of fresh juice drinks and, naturally, Pig orders and wolfs down a truly horrific looking local desert.
everyone and their luggage arrived here in good condition. naturally air nz told us when had no ticket details when we rocked up to wellington airport. despite checking in 4.5 hours before the akl-snl leg of the trip started i was told there were no window seats available. how early do you need to check in nowadays?
local conditions in singapore are sticky, to put it mildly. 28 deg C, raining. like being in rotorua swimming pool. i mean IN the pool. euurgh.
most of team are in a dorm room here, sharing with a few young guys from howick college. sadly John, Bryan & I are 4 floors above them in a room with private ablution facilities. we will miss out on all the jolly japes and shared esprit that the hostel room chaps are sharing, but we are tough men and will bear it stoically.
a few emails with with good wishes from past team-mates. AJ, Perry & Andrew Sanders. thanks for those guys - i can now use the blog to not name and shame everyone else.
as soon as i can nab a few cameras i'll get some of the guys photos on here.
Assault team report: I am suspicious of Captain Watson's arms. They appear to be very nearly hairless. This could be due to the application, and speedy removal, of hot wax. Obvious body image problems there as evidenced by long hours spent in gym training. Lieutenant Tinkler has recently made claims about his ability to propel himself - through sheer physical effort, mind you - at very high speeds. Testing has shown that these claims are bold and not entirely supported by evidence. Corporal Maxwell's gluttony continues unabated. Cadet Taylor still repulsively hirsuite, but he understands the need for discipline and has said he will be barbered prior to launch. I can only hope he understands that launch date is calculated, by mission control, to be April 15th, not April 25.