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Four Nations drama shows international rugby league is still relevant … for now at least

Thrills and spills: The Kangaroos’ match with England was another nailbiter Photo: Matt King The ever understated Geoffrey Edelsten and his new fiancee Gabi Grecko enjoy the Emirates marquee on Melbourne Cup day Photo: Jesse Marlow
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Thrills and spills: The Kangaroos’ match with England was another nailbiter Photo: Matt King

Thrills and spills: The Kangaroos’ match with England was another nailbiter Photo: Matt King

The ever understated Geoffrey Edelsten and his new fiancee Gabi Grecko enjoy the Emirates marquee on Melbourne Cup day Photo: Jesse Marlow

Thrills and spills: The Kangaroos’ match with England was another nailbiter Photo: Matt King

The ever understated Geoffrey Edelsten and his new fiancee Gabi Grecko enjoy the Emirates marquee on Melbourne Cup day Photo: Jesse Marlow

Making a splash: Bondi Lifeguards Andrew ‘Reidy’ Reid and local legend Ryan ‘Whippet’ Clark flank fitness model Bec Willcock. Photo: Supplied

This Four Nations tournament is so much of a snoozefest your humble correspondent can barely be motivated to write a column about how much of a snoozefest it is.

Of course, we jest.

The matches have been tighter than a Bondi hipster’s pair of skinny jeans.

Samoa have been a revelation despite some of their players being arrested for drunken tomfoolery last month.

The Kangaroos have come back to the field because of injury and some puzzling selections and could be out of the whole show if they don’t beat Samoa in Wollongong on Sunday.

The games have rated well on the box and the crowds have been reasonably healthy.

That said, one visiting racecaller from England who was in Melbourne did ask this question of the vacant green seats at AAMI Park for the Poms-Kangaroos game on Sunday: “Is that not a little embarrassing that all those seats weren’t full for an international match?”

Well, no. Because 20,000 fans in League Land is actually a bumper crowd. It’s how we roll.

Despite the positives, nobody involved with the game at the highest level should be crowing about the success of the tournament.

At some stage soon – as in the next TV broadcast deal – the game’s suits will need to get serious about international footy or forget it altogether.

For those of us who can remember the great moments of Kangaroos tours over the years – Wally Lewis cutout passes to Mal Meninga and Cliffy Lyons’ tries at Old Trafford – let’s hope the highest honour of representing one’s country remains relevant.

Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens is rightly filthy with NRL clubs for making a stack of players unavailable for this Four Nations tournament.

It’s not a new conundrum but it’s certainly a growing one as clubs that pay enormous salaries for their players want their precious commodities to undergo off-season surgery so they are back for the pre-season or the start of the NRL competition.

There was frank discussion between new Tigers coach Jason Taylor and Robbie Farah about whether the captain should forgo a green and gold jumper to have surgery on his troublesome nose.

Farah won the debate. It rarely goes that way at other clubs.

The NRL has been prepared to happily tack on more footy throughout the season, with the all-important indigenous All Stars match and the gimmicky Nines tournament, but the home-and-away season remains far too long.

What’s been squeezed out the other end is international footy. It’s becoming an afterthought when it should be the pinnacle.

I’ll tell you what the real snoozefest is: hearing so many people in the game say that the season is too long. It’s time for something to happen about it.

There is growing speculation about just how long NRL chief executive Dave Smith will remain in the job, but how he or the ARL Commission juggles the game’s growing demands in the next broadcast deal will determine how he or it is judged.

It would take a brave leader to forgo NRL product for international footy. But it’s a decision that needs to be made.

Still up for the Cup

The familiar Melbourne Cup bashing has started again.

Here’s an idea for those who think the sport is barbaric and the event too hedonistic: don’t watch it, don’t go, go and weave a basket and drink some coconut water and write a letter to the editor.

You have to fight, for your right, to par-tay, as the Beastie Boys said. Sung. Whatever.

To that end, many were doing just that in the Emirates marquee on Cup Day.

It was a Knights reunion of sorts with the eighth Immortal Andrew Johns and former teammate Luke Davico and Clint Newton in attendance.

Newton’s parents, golfing legend Jack and his delightful wife Jackie, were also in the room.

They were all outshone, however, by Geoffrey Edelsten, who was wearing a yellow leather tuxedo, and his new bride-to-be Gabi Grecko, who was wearing antlers. As you do.

For some of us, it’s best to be tucked into bed well before midnight on the first Tuesday in November.

Not so others.

We’re told jockey Zac Purton kicked on well into the night in the Mahogany Room at Crown Casino, as he was entitled to do after his mount Admire Rakti died in his race-day stall.

Fellow hoop James McDonald was doing his best at Shane Warne’s Club 23 – along with the owner of 2011 Cup winner Dunaden, SheikhFahad Al Thani.

His excellency was sipping Diet Coke and coffee.

As Mark Twain once said of the Melbourne Cup: “Nowhere in the world have I encountered a festival of people that has such a magnificent appeal to the whole nation. The Cup astonishes me.”

Apart from a few extra marquees and the invention of fake, er, everything, has anything really changed that much since 1895?

Warren’s seeds bear fruit

Thursday marked the 10th anniversary of the death of football’s godfather, Johnny Warren.

No doubt, he’d been looking down with great fondness of what he’s seeing right now: the Wanderers claiming the Asian Cup and the A-League thriving.

FFA boss David Gallop was in the crowd at King Fahd Stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, for the Wanderers match against Al-Hilal.

Every one of the 65,000 seats was occupied no less than four hours before the match, with no pre-entertainment to speak of.

Within minutes of the Wanderers’ draw against Al-Hilal, Gallop was getting emails from free-to-air TV execs in Australia about negotiations for the next TV deal.

So, now, the Wanderers are on the path to a possible match against Real Madrid at the world club champs in Morocco in December.

For a club that is into its third season. Not even Johnny could’ve predicted that.

Lifeguards and lifelines

The iconic sands of Australia’s most famous beach will play host to the inaugural Bondi Splash n’ Dash to raise funds for Waverley Action for Youth Services on November 22.

The event is the brainchild of local boy and one of the stars of Bondi Lifeguards, Andrew “Reidy” Reid (pictured here with fitness model Bec Willcock and local legend Ryan “Whippet” Clark), and it’s attracting some massive names, including Olympians Courtney Atkinson, Brendan Sexton and Emma Moffatt.

And celebs such as Dan McPherson, Chris Brown and Laura Dundovic.

“I wanted to create something that took the best parts of other beach sporting events and roll it into one big celebration,” said Reidy. “Ocean swims can be boring for spectators, but this combines a swim with a run down the beach, and a big party to wrap up. You don’t need any equipment, and we have structured it so that pretty much anyone aged over 14 can enter. We also have a longer course for elite athletes.”

Proceedings will be televised throughout the morning with live crosses to the Nine Network’s Today. The  festivities will kick on late into the afternoon with North Bondi RSL hosting the post dash bash and presentation.

Proceeds of the event will support WAYS, a local organisation close to Reidy’s heart. A self described “fat kid” who battled bullies and depression, WAYS provided Reidy and other kids with a safe place to get support, help, or just somewhere to hang out.

Registrations are now open at www.bondisplashndash南京夜网.au.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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