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My sporting weekend

On Saturday evening I watched England entertain the All Blacks.

I was amazed to learn the two countries had met so infrequently and pleased that the last time they did – in the 2019 World Cup semi final at Yokahama stadium – I was there in the presence of Wayne Smith and his Kiwi party.

I treated them to drinks in the hotel afterwards.

You would have read the reports so you don’t need me to say that the first 70% of play was dominated by the visitors.

England’s resurgence should not disguise our deficiencies.  The front row was out-scrummaged – Jonny Hill is not good enough at this level at lock – and Sam Simmonds was playing as blindside flanker for the first time in his life.

Tuilagi at centre looks finished.

So the comeback, with two tries from prop Will Stuart, was remarkable.

With Own Farrell injured Marcus Smith came into his own.

His conversions were immaculate and, unlike Farrell, he attacked the gain-line with pace and verve.

Sadly he will not be remembered for this, but for kicking the ball into touch in the final play of the match.

For me there was real danger of Ardie Savea charging through.  It was not a Quins-like decision but I can see why he did it.

The following day we were spared the opening ceremony but we still had to endure FIFA secretary Gianni Infantino’s asinine press conference speech.

He said “Blame me, not Qatar, not the players …”. He then went on to blame the hypocrisy of western colonialism.

If there was any colonialism, then his country’s invasion of Abyssinia in 1936 springs to mind.

When there was the Great Debate of the Springboks cricket tour of 1970 you often heard the argument “Keep politics out of sport.”

Now it is front and centre.

It is there that the hypocrisy lies.

Footballers might well be exercised by gay rights but – since Justin Fashanu – not one has come out.

The BBC panel hosted by Gary Lineker – comprising Alan Shearer, Alex Scott and Ashley Williams – debated the issues and were almost as tedious as the opening match between Ecuador and the the host nation Qatar, which the former won comfortably.

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About Tom Hollingworth

Tom Hollingsworth is a former deputy sports editor of the Daily Express. For many years he worked in a sports agency, representing mainly football players and motor racing drivers. Tom holds a private pilot’s licence and flying is his principal recreation. More Posts