Field Theory by Hadyn Green

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Field Theory: Four Years Ago

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  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    I’m not blaming the local staff, it’s probably impossible to run a commuter metro for short term corporate profit in the way they’ve been tasked to and offer reasonable service.

    Hey, Rich, you try dealing with twice as many people as your best reality-based estimate. Perhaps one potentially useful thing to come out Len’s inquiry will be some clear statements of simple physical and resource limitations in play. Veolia and Auckland Transport are just going to have to HTFU and accept they're going to wear a lot of unfair criticism (and various political axes being ground) along with all the shit that can totally fairly be laid at their feet. But I'm cautiously optimistic that it won't just be an exercise in arse-covering and buck-passing.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report

  • Sacha, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Any investigation that looks at transport in isolation of the factors that drove the waterfront crowd size is not to be trusted.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • Ross Mason,

    Just come out from Wellington. Left Karori just after the finish of the Wales SA game. A cracker by the way!!!!

    Bugger all cars. Even though lots of empty seats by the time of the final whistle. But i did take not of the car parks at the stations. Almost a weekday's worth.

    Great public transport system down here for games. I feel sorry for you guys up there. You really are missing something well worth while.

    We really gotta do something about it.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report

  • Geoff Lealand,

    There sure has been some magnificent rugby this opening weekend--capped by the near-victory of Wales over SA.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2562 posts Report

  • Tom Semmens,

    Apart from the Welsh and a little bit the French, the northern hemisphere teams are simply awful. The only reason the first weekend of rugby was any good was because the minnows played with some enthusiasm and spirit, and the general ineptness of their big name northern hemisphere opponents meant they stayed in the games for much longer than they should have.

    I will be surprised if Scotland make it out of pool play, and Ireland will only do so because they are in a weak pool. The British like to talk it up, but they are way off the pace this first weekend. England were abysmal. Arrogant, bad tempered and full of excuses – that much never changes. Apparently the English RFU has spent a fortune on this team’s preparation – all I can say is never on the field of human conflict has been so much been spent by so many in return for so little. They have to improve from here, they surely can’t get any worse. I loved the way the fine folk of Dunedin (and Buenos Aires) razzed the Poms in, as one British journo described it, “the house of Spain”. Serves England right for wearing that stupid (and budget) jersey. I have no idea what other sort of reception they thought such a calculated attempt to get up peoples noses would get! The northern teams are just so limited. It is easy to have a big pack. Lord knows, Italy, Argentina and Romania all have managed that. The French were just adequate – again, they struggled against a team that they should have beaten in their sleep. One British commentator took this of evidence the gap is closing in quality between the IRB board nations and the rest – but I am not so sure it is closing in the direction he had in mind.

    Of the minnows, I liked Japan’s Légion étrangère best. None of the others will amount to much except perhaps Argentina, who are the best of an awfully limited bunch.

    New Zealand is probably the best of the big three from the first weekend. The Aussies were OK, but you just know that if you put them under pressure they are very, very brittle. Quade Cooper may slowly being realising exactly what being public enemy number one means in New Zealand. That dirty little prick should just be grateful he doesn’t live in the era of tours against provincial teams – one doubts he would survive long if he was exposed to the hard men of the ’Naki or Northland on a wet afternoon with no TV cameras around. And the Boks – they are playing on reputation and memory. The Welsh played well, but they should never have got as close as they did. Matfield, Habana, a whole pile of the South African players look well past it.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report

  • Tom Semmens,

    Oh yes and a Wayne Barnes blunder costing a team victory during the rugby world cup? Who would have thought it?

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report

  • BenWilson,

    I dunno, Tom, I think you're underrating that every single team has improved. The first thing that struck me this time around is that you can't see anyone who doesn't look very athletic. Where they have mass, it seems to be muscle. And we're not seeing much by way of deliberate attempts to take a breather, kicks to touch outside of a penalty have been rare. I'm presuming rising professionalism has been the cause of this.

    This contributes a great deal to evening up the odds - there's only so much to be gained from more strength and fitness training. Also, the tactical understanding of every team seemed to be good (with exception of some bizarre moves by the Italian kickers, I wonder if they were trying to show flair when they kicked a penalty ball straight into the hands of the Australians massed on the other corner of the field). Great balls skills can be seen everywhere, this always tends to rise with fitness.

    So I agree with the English commentary that the gap is becoming smaller. Or perhaps this first weekend was just a matter of very spirited "minnow" performances, and nervous conservative play by the top teams. It's easy to forget that playing the World Cup in NZ is something that is going to mean a lot to rugby players - there's nowhere else on earth that nearly everyone they meet is going to be aware of rugby. Everyone is aware this is the stomping ground of the famous All Blacks, and the place where this tournament began.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    Pom de tear...

    Serves England right for wearing that stupid (and budget) jersey.

    The peeling numbers reminded me of the Ark's packing crate in Indiana Jones, Raiders of the Lost Ark - it's almost as if the numbers were embarassed to be seen on them!
    I wonder what the kicking problem was in that game?
    Is it an aerodynamics issue with the new ball?
    Or some air pressure problem in the closed environment of the new Dunedin Stadium?
    - What would happen if everyone held their breath on one side of the stadium, while everyone on the other side blew out at the same time...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report

  • Tom Semmens, in reply to BenWilson,

    Ben - For all the marketing hype that surrounded it, it was clear at the last soccer world cup that that competition is more and more taking second place to the demands of European megaclubs and their billionaire owners. Teams like Italy, France and England put in sluggish performances with teams badly hit by 'injury" and full of players who either burnt out or who saw the tournament as a bit of a vacation from the demands of a 50 week season. It is only round one of the RWC, but looking at the performance of the teams from the Heineken cup countries, I couldn't help wondering to myself if the same baleful influence of to much money and greedy clubs isn't impacting team performances in the rugby world cup also.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report

  • Ross Mason,

    I think the new tackle rules since the last WC have contributed significantly to the minnows being able to foot it without the games blowing out with cricket scores.

    But it does impede progress of the whole team down the park. But i'm buggered if I know (still) when and where a teram can push stright over a ruck and pinch the ball without picking it up. And if I am confused, just think about how the players feel......

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report

  • Rich Lock, in reply to recordari,

    Those black jerseys were pathetic, and in the end bothered me greatly

    You're not talking about the black jersey worn by Mr Sonny Delight himself, I take it? That wardrobe failure seemed to get a lot of people rather hot and bothered. Around 50% of the population, by the sounds of it...

    Given his talent for self-promotion, it wouldn't surprise me if someone in his camp had been at the seams pre-match with a pair of nail scissors. Look at the footage of the way the jersey rips, people! Back, and to the left. Back, and to the left.

    We're through the looking glass.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report

  • recordari, in reply to Rich Lock,

    You're not talking about the black jersey worn by Mr Sonny Delight himself, I take it?

    No, I was talking about the English underarm re-oderant shirt. It stinks. The numbers were even falling off in protest.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report

  • Sacha, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Perhaps one potentially useful thing to come out Len’s inquiry will be some clear statements of simple physical and resource limitations in play.

    Ex regional transport committee chair Joel Cayford explains in some detail why to him it's a matter of safety.

    Decades of neglect and under-funding are the fundamental reason for the fragility of Auckland's commuter rail system. Central and Regional Government each share some of the responsibility for the delicacy of Auckland Rail which comes under strain at peak time - like any network system.

    But it's not that simple. We should be able to do better with what we have. The public should be able to rely on the institutions that are responsible for governing and operating Auckland commuter rail to provide services that are safe - irrespective of the delicacy or robustness of the network. It should not be up to the public to carry out a risk assessment everytime they give up their cars and follow advice to take public transport.

    Auckland Rail is an accident waiting to happen in peak times.

    Auckland Council must now prioritise passenger safety, and the funding of projects that increase public safety and service reliability - especially at peak travel times because that is when the risk is greatest.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • Rich of Observationz,

    I went and saw England play Fiji at Twickenham (82000 seats) in the 1998 RWC.

    Public transport was the standard scheduled commuter services - I don't think they even had special trains. Needless to say, the trains were crammed, but they got us to and from Waterloo ok (we even picked up a stray commuter along the way who bought our spare ticket and wagged off work),

    I'd take from that that if you have an adequate public transport system that's used by a majority on a normal basis, than it'll cope with special events without too much strain.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Sacha,

    Well, that was rather more useful than Mike Lee in Te Herald this morning:

    Auckland Council transport chairman Mike Lee said Veolia had to take a large share of the blame.

    "Everything we have worked for in the last five years ... we were let down - it was a disgrace."

    Tomorrow, Mayor Brown is to receive a review of the rail problems from Auckland Transport chairman Mark Ford and chief executive David Warburton.

    Mr Lee has called a special meeting today to discuss Friday's events.

    A council source told the Herald that "Veolia hasn't stepped up to the mark as well as it could have done", saying the train operator had previous performance issues, including at U2's concert last November when a passenger pushed a stop button and stranded several trains near Ellerslie station.

    Mr Lee said it was time Veolia started earning its management fee of about $35 million within total annual rail funding of $85 million.

    For pretty obvious reasons, nobody at Veolia is going to say this on the record, but there are plenty of transport operators in Auckland who feel exactly the same about Auckland Transport. As someone said to me, (not my Dave, BTW) Auckland Transport would be much easier to deal with if there fewer political hacks and more people who have a reality-based understanding of how a public transport network operates, and what can actually be done with current resources.

    I get the politics - no politician is ever going to lose support (or column inches) crapping on the evil multinational corporation. But I think Mike Lee and Mark Ford have some questions of their own to answer.

    Hell, I think various AT staff clearing their fraking voicemail and replying to e-mails in a timely manner would be a start.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report

  • Sacha, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Some discussion on other thread too.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • Ross Mason,

    The goal that wasn't

    Has anyone else noted a change in the "voting" system in rugby over the last 20-25 years???? In the "old days" I thought the touch judges were there to "vote" on whether the ball went over. That is, each TJ decided if the ball went between the posts and they then put their flag up - and here is the punch - without comparing notes. The referee then had the deciding vote as to whether it was a McCarthey "It's a Goal" or not. Now you see them talk to each other, compare notes and mutually agree or disagree. Then usually the referee signals. My experience in this kind of mutually assured shinannigans (another sport but where two people have to decide) is that a less experienced TJ could be influenced by their more experienced colleague.

    Just had a chat to an old referee mate who concurs that that was how it was and as far as he knows it hasn't changed. Checking the laws of Rugby Law 6 says that the referee may refer to a match official if required. Couldn't find anything about "voting" but there is no doubt the indication is that the referee could overrule both TJs if he felt inclined to disagree with their decision.

    I certainly recall games where TJs indicated opposites and the referee needing to make the final decision.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report

  • Hadyn Green,

    Still writing my post from last night's game, but as for the "the kick", as it seems to be known now, from my seat at corporate box level it looked like it missed.

    Though it should be noted that when Wayne Barnes was announced as referee there was a brief, but noticeable, rumbling of discontent through the crowd.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2090 posts Report

  • Carol Stewart,

    From my seat (up quite high, midway) it looked like it went over... but I don't think I'd put money on it.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2008 • 830 posts Report

  • BenWilson, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    It is only round one of the RWC, but looking at the performance of the teams from the Heineken cup countries, I couldn't help wondering to myself if the same baleful influence of to much money and greedy clubs isn't impacting team performances in the rugby world cup also.

    If so, that's all part of the beauty of a World Cup, which injects a periodic dose of reality into their scene, as it does for English Soccer.

    On professionalism, one thing I do notice is that it browns the sport a lot, because it becomes all about whether you're any good at the sport, rather than if you can afford to take the time out of your real job for it. Teams are still, on the whole, formed from nationals, but their top notch immigrants get a look in, and their society as a whole becomes well represented.

    But I'm not convinced that the spirit of sport is well represented by commercial interests. For instance, the USA is unable to find a group of people who would dwarf every other team? Only because American Football and the big bucks floating there drain it all away. Consequently, all those athletes never experience international competition.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report

  • BenWilson, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    I'd take from that that if you have an adequate public transport system that's used by a majority on a normal basis, than it'll cope with special events without too much strain.

    I think that good public transport will always help, but you're not comparing apples with apples - London's public transport is designed to cope with a city of 15 million people. A major sporting event there (and the RWC is not really that major for London) causing only a blip on the transport experience is likely. They have excess capacity for Africa. They have massive ability to reroute.

    To make something remotely comparable to what happened here on Friday you are talking about handling a reasonably sudden choice of 2 million people to descend onto a some London central city riverside venue. Even then, that would probably only cause local blockages, because the various ring loops and other lines wouldn't be affected. We just don't have anything like that here.

    Scapegoating the train operators is ridiculous. It's decades of decisions not to expand our rail network at fault here, and even then, those choices were dictated by the comparatively small population of Auckland, and its extremely hilly and harbour-divided geography.

    Furthermore, there was a lot of advice the day before to travel early. They knew the capacity was not there. I knew it was not there, and I don't even use public transport - my trip on the bus on Friday was the first (outside of Waiheke) in 20 years (and was a very pleasant surprise). Common sense tells you that if you quadruple the number of travelers, you will grind it to a halt. In the city of the automobile, which moves most of the working population in and out of the city every day using automobiles and buses, the capacity of THAT to cope was clearly there. If I'd got to a train platform and found 500 people waiting, and had a ticket to the ceremony in my pocket, I wouldn't have boarded the train in the first place, would have just got my car, driven as close to the stadium as possible, and then caught a cab or walked the difference. Possibly offering a lift to 3 other people if I felt public spirited. Or ridden my bike, or hitched.

    I know sometimes these things creep up on you and feel compassion for those who missed out on the opening ceremony. But scapegoating doesn't really help anything. We've never had anything near the scale of the RWC happening here before, and Kiwis need to take a long look at the attitude of dourly underestimating their interest in things, then suddenly changing their minds at the last minute, and then complaining that plans weren't made for that. It's an unattractive part of the national spirit to me.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report

  • Carol Stewart, in reply to BenWilson,

    Well said Ben.
    There were no problems with Welly's public transport last night that I could see -- we just hopped on a regular bus at the end of our street and got to the stadium with at least an hour to spare. I got the impression that a substantial proportion of the crowd were from overseas actually (or maybe Kiwis are just too shy and retiring to make a big impression like the Welsh did..). It was very, very slow getting out of the stadium afterwards, was the only downside of the event.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2008 • 830 posts Report

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to BenWilson,

    Yep. +1 . People we know who attended the game did exactly as you said. Got close by their own transport and walked the rest. Close being, other side of the Bond St overbridge. Parking was absurdly easy.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report

  • Sacha, in reply to BenWilson,

    those choices were dictated by the comparatively small population of Auckland, and its extremely hilly and harbour-divided geography

    The choices over the last 7 decades were political, not geographical. Joshua Arbury's blog has extensive detail (and cool old maps).

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • Sacha,

    I am also in total agreement with Joshua's assessment of Friday's debacle:

    I’m reasonably confident that the transport system could have coped with either getting 60,000 people to and from Kingsland or getting 200,000 people to and from the city centre.

    In the Bledisloe Cup game a couple of months back a combination of buses and trains carried over half the audience without too many problems (just a few delays after the game, but that was somewhat to be expected). Similarly, the transport system to and from downtown copes with the daily rush hour and also copes with big events in the city like Santa Parades, Christmas in the Park and so forth.

    Coping with either of the two events would have stretched the system, coping with both at the same time in the same place fundamentally was just too much.

    The opening night events were probably over-hyped quite a lot: the music on Queens Wharf was pretty useless to around 90% of people in town because they couldn’t get on the wharf. The waka arrival in the Viaduct Harbour was pretty cool, but once again because the crowds were so big it was impossible to see the mass haka or anything else.

    The fireworks were also probably best seen from high points or coastal points around the Waitemata Harbour – but people weren’t told that, they were told that the best experience was to be had by getting downtown, by public transport, early. So we did, in HUGE numbers.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

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