Wellington Phoenix FC today unveiled their marquee signing for the upcoming Hyundai A-League, a “deluxe aluminium and steel gazebo” purchased from Briscoes for a mere $499.
The highly anticipated unveiling by club owner Gareth Morgan, was proceeded all week by rumours that the club had managed to sign a significant European star by the name of Gāzēbō, however the New Zealand football press were extremely impressed with the gazebo they found waiting for them at the team’s Newtown Park headquarters.
“It’s really an impressive signing,” said Fairfax footballer reporter Fred Woodcock. “And given the transfer fee from Briscoe’s online store was only $75, you’ve got to hand it to Gareth and Eddie (Merrick), they’ve bought really well”.
Owner Gareth Morgan was hugely enthusiastic about the signing, saying that the gazebo would bring structure and stability to the Phoenix where it had otherwise been lacking.
“I’m personally hugely impressed by the construction of this marquee,” Morgan said to reporters. “The aluminium and steel construction means it should have fewer injury layoffs than Paul Ifill, and the bargain price thanks to underpaid workers at the Chinese factory means that we’re not going to inch remotely near to even threatening the salary cap. Ever.”
The club’s Yellow Fever supporters group were less enthusiastic about the marquee signing, with “Ian from Tawa” saying on their Facebook page, “I hope they at least got it for a special price from Briscoes. We all know how rare it is to see Briscoe’s doing a clearance sale, so I’d hate to think that our ticket money was spent frivolously.”
Gareth Morgan moved quickly to dispel such concerns saying that he was “pretty sure” his son Sam had seen it in the Briscoes mailer and that they could save medical costs on the marquee by repairing any tears with cat pelts.
Police in Pretoria are rumoured to be investigating reports that up to a dozen Springbok fans in the city spontaneously combusted during Saturday’s controversial test against the All Blacks.
Initially thought to be random, unrelated house fires, Police are now pursuing the possibility that as a direct result of referee Romain Poite’s dishing out of two yellow cards to Springbok hooker Bismarck du Plessis, the fans simply burst into flames due to the high levels of seething rage that they felt at the decisions.
Sources close to Police indicate that the combustions occurred in two waves. The first, some 15 minutes into the game when du Plessis received his first yellow card, saw only two people engulfed in righteous indignation, while the second wave took place during the 42nd minute of the match, where up to a further 10 people are believed to have been no longer able to contain their outrage.
Police are refusing to comment publicly on the investigation, citing fears of causing further incidents of spontaneous combustions, but they did say that they had ruled out the involvement of Olympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius in the fires on the basis that none of the infernos occurred near a bathroom.
French rugby referee Romain Poite red carded all of the All Blacks and Springbok’s players in the highly anticipated test at Eden Park over the weekend and declared himself the winner of the Rugby Championship test, announcing that it was in revenge for the French losing 8 – 7 in the 2011 World Cup final.
Poite, who incorrectly issued a yellow card against Springbok hooker Bismarck du Plessis during the first half of the match for a legitimate tackle that will see All Black’s play-maker Dan Carter out for six weeks, went on in the second half to progressively send off every player from each side at the match for increasingly irrelevant reasons. Stand-in All Black’s skipper Kieran Read was sent off in the 61st minute for “inappropriate facial hair,” while hooker Dane Coles was red carded as he was subbed off the field in the 52nd minute for “not wearing socks that come up to the knees”.
The Springboks weren’t spared from the ref’s card issuing either. Following du Plessis’ departure, Morne Steyn was red carded for “playing club rugby for the wrong French club side,” while Springbok captain Jean de Villiers was dispatched from the field for a “dangerous tackle back in 2012.”
Following the conclusion of the match, which finished early due to their no longer being any players on the field by the 77th minute, Poite refused to make any post-match interviews, instead trying to red card the film crew and Jeff Wilson off Eden Park. When that failed, Poite produced a note-pad and took down their names, vowing that IRB CEO Brett Gosper would deal to them later.
For his part, Brett Gosper has defended the actions of Poite, pointing out that, “anything that means my beloved Wallabies might salvage something resembling a result out of this Rugby Championship has to be a good thing.”
In an move to end speculation about Julian Savea’s future, the Hurricanes have announced that they’re confident they’ll be able to the sign star All Black’s winger if they win First Division and Powerball in this Saturday’s $27m Lotto jackpot draw.
Speaking on the franchise’s weekly conference call, CEO James Te Puni let journalists know that he’d been out buying Lotto triple dip tickets all of Sunday in an attempt to give the franchise the best possible chance of collecting the multi-million dollar prize. “As soon as I heard that the First Division prize wasn’t won on Saturday night, I went straight down to my local Lotto shop and used all the office’s petty cash to buy Triple Dips,” Te Puni proudly advised callers. “Then I made Brenda transfer all our cash into my EFTPOS account so I could buy some more, I really want us to win that prize so we can buy all the All Blacks we need.”
When asked by journalists why the Hurricanes were in such dire need of winnings from Lotto, Te Puni confessed that it was a mix of poor on-field performance deterring sponsorship dollars and “having blown all our spare cash on the hair products required to entice Beauden Barrett to stay in Wellington.”
Te Puni was evasive on what the franchise would do if they didn’t win Lotto at the weekend, suggesting that “If we do lose Savea, I hear nobody else wants Ma’a Nonu, so I figure he’ll be pretty cheap to sign instead.
Finally fronting the media after Tuesday’s 2 – 0 loss against the United Arab Emirates in Saudi Arabia, centre-back Ben Sigmund has apologised for not trying to take out UAE forward Ali Mabkhout earlier in the match. Red carded in the 89th minute for deliberating stomping of Mabkhout with both his legs, Sigmund gained international attention and condemnation for the reckless maneuver.
“I really want to apologise to everyone I upset with that tackle,” Sigmund said at the long awaited press conference in Wellington today. “Doing such a reckless and thoughtless act in the 89th minute of that friendly was a stupid decision on my part. I admit that I was in the wrong and that I should have stomped on Mabkhout’s legs in the 9th minute instead.”
Sigmund continued to elaborate by pointing out, “Had I taken out Mabkhout at that stage, he mightn’t of gone on to score the UAE’s second goal, which could have given us a chance to equalise.”
When pressed by Fairfax football reporter Fred Woodcock that such an action would still have seen Sigmund red carded anyway, forcing the All White’s to play with 10 men on the pitch and that his comments reinforced the public perception that Sigmund was a football thug, Sigmund was unrepentant saying, “Fuck you Woody. I’ll stomp on you next if you’re not careful,” before throwing a chair across the crowded room.
All White’s coach Ricki Herbert declined to defend Sigmund’s actions, both the stomping and the throwing of the chair, noting that, “People should stop focusing on negatives like this and just remember who kept us unbeaten in Pool F in South Africa, that was me. Anything that happened after that is completely irrelevant.” Herbert then proceeded to phone Toronto F.C. coach and former All White’s captain Ryan Nelsen to apparently beg for a job.
2007 Formula 1 world champion Kimi Raikkonen has been announced as Ferrari’s replacement driver for departing Brazilian Felipe Massa today after the Finn signed a contract where he promised not to upset Fernando Alonso.
Raikkonen, who’s been looking for a new team after a difficult two years with Lotus, confirmed that the deal was done with Ferrari after the Finn agreed to keep his mouth shut in order not to impinge on Alonso’s ego.
“It was easy to agree to,” Raikkonen told reporters in Italy today. “I prefer to let my driving do the talking.” Raikkonen then proceeded to get in a car and drive away, telling reporters as he left to just “leave me alone, I know how to win.”
Alonso is reportedly “thrilled” by the decision to sign Raikkonen, especially that the Finn has agreed not to impinge on Alonso’s self-importance.
“It’s a huge signing for the team,” Alonso said after Raikkonen’s unexpected departure from the press conference. “It’ll be nice to have a driver in the other car who doesn’t want to talk to me. I hated how Felipe wanted to be my friend. It just made things awkward when we made him give me a slipstream in qualifying or to let me pass in the race. He’d always go and act like I owed him something afterwards. At least with Kimi, he won’t say a damned thing.”
Meanwhile in Woking, McLaren have confirmed that their 2014 car will be replaced by Jenson Button attempting to compete in the Grand Prixes as a triathlete, “Chances are that having Jenson swim, cycle then run the tracks will still be more competitive than any car we’re likely to build.
Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithall has called off the second scheduled America’s Cup race today following one of the crew members spilling a glass of Moet over his shirt during the first race, which Oracle lost by a margin of 1 minute and 5 seconds to Team New Zealand.
“It was a hugely traumatic event for the whole crew,” Spithall told journalists following Oracle’s decision to play their wild card to postpone the race. “John Kostecki, our tactician, had only just poured his second glass of Moet when a freak gust of wind caught him off guard. The glass toppled over onto him and ruined his new silk shirt and completely traumatised the entire team.”
Kostecki, who was visibly shaken by the spillage, struggled to contain his emotions during the press conference, “I just can’t believe we lost a glass of Moet. I… I feel so responsible. As soon as the glass tipped you could feel the entire morale of the crew drop. We were leading Team New Zealand at the time and suddenly the guys had to take their eyes off the race to make sure they didn’t spill their glasses either. Jimmy was really good about it, he jumped off the wheel to come over with a napkin to try and mop up the spilled champagne, and he even offered me his glass, but by then it was too late. I was inconsolable.”
Team New Zealand, while disappointed that they couldn’t get another win under their belts while Oracle was down in the dumps, understood how troubling such a spillage could be.
“It’s a hugely difficult thing to deal with as a team,” Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker said. “We might only have Lindauer Special Reserve onboard our boat, but we’d be pretty distraught if any of the guys spilled their drink during a race. I nearly knocked my glass over once when going around a buoy, but I managed to catch it just in time, but the team was pretty shaken up by that.”
Oracle have also announced that their design team will be creating champagne glass holders that won’t tip over during future races, while Team New Zealand have confirmed they too are responding to the risk, though they won’t make design changes, instead each crew member will simply drink straight from their own bottle instead, “just like a Friday night in central Auckland.”
Three-time world champion Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull Racing today celebrated a win in the parade at the Monza Formula 1 Grand Prix. In front from start to finish, the German led the field of expensive cars around the six cornered circuit in a generally orderly fashion, with only Force India’s Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil and Toro Rosso’s Jean Eric Vernge unable to finish the parade.
“It was a great feeling leading the parade,” Vettel told the post-race press conference, “There’s really no better way to spend a sunny afternoon than spending it parading such a historic and picturesque circuit like Monza.”
Vettel added that he was also very glad everyone else in the parade decided it should stay as a parade and not a race, as that might have meant that other drivers tried to get past him and that “no one wants to see that in Formula 1 anymore.”
The fanatical Ferrari fans, the Tifosi, clearly agreed with Vettel’s sentiments when parade organisers tried to give trophies to the first three drivers in the parade. As Vettel was reluctantly forced by organisers into accepting a large trophy and 25 championship points for being the first driver of the parade, the Tifosi unleashed a torrent of booing to voice their displeasure that organisers were trying to introduce a competitive element into the afternoon.
Former double world champion Fernando Alonso, managed to placate the crowd and made the cheer when he took second place and indicated to them that he wasn’t very happy with the state of affairs either. At the press conference, Alonso elaborated saying, “It was really unfortunate that the organisers of Formula 1 had misled the crowd into thinking they might see some actual racing this afternoon.” Alonso went on to say that, “We’ve gone to quite some lengths this season to make sure we’re just parading behind Vettel at each track.”
Meanwhile Mercedes driver and former world champion Lewis Hamilton has apologised to fans after giving them the false impression that a race may be actually taking place. Hamilton, who had a poor parade qualifying and then fell out of order in the parade due to a slow puncture with his car, started overtaking other cars. Hamilton admitted after the parade that his overtaking of Kimi Raikkonen, Sergio Perez and Jenson Button had misled fans into thinking that the drivers were trying to compete with each other. The only excuse that Hamilton could offer was that he was “pretty sure I was entitled to be nearer to the front of the parade.”