Archive for: ‘July 2019’

Williams called up to cover Campese

11/07/2019 Posted by admin

It’s the NRL chance departing Canberra playmaker Sam Williams didn’t believe he’d get.

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Stuck behind regular halves pairing Terry Campese and Josh McCrone since round eight, the St George Illawarra-bound halfback thought he’d finish his Raiders career playing for the Mounties in NSW Cup.

But an eye injury to skipper Campese will give Williams perhaps one final crack in the Raiders first grade side when they host Canterbury at Canberra Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

“This is an opportunity he didn’t think he’d get, leaving next year,” said McCrone, who will assume the role of co-captain alongside David Shillington and Brett White.

“We did a bit of work on (our combination) this week so hopefully it feels the same as it did last year when we were playing well.”

It was touch and go for Williams.

Raiders coach David Furner knew he was more than up to the task after his impressive performances in the lime-green jersey during their 2012 finals run.

However the 22-year-old had only just started running again early this week after injuring his ankle three weeks ago.

“He’s had two pretty good training sessions,” Furner said.

“There was contact involved and I know he’s pretty excited.”

With Campese’s long range kicking game out, McCrone said he and Williams would share the responsibility in a hope to create problems for stand-in Bulldogs fullback Sam Perrett.

“One thing in our favour is Ben Barba is out,” McCrone said.

“(Perrett’s) not a regular fullback, so hopefully we can catch them out of position a couple of times.”

The Raiders also have their share of injured key players.

Campese will be joined on the sidelines by tackling machine Shaun Fensom, whose defensive role will be taken over by Joel Edwards.

Representative forward Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, who was confident of returning this week after a three-month foot injury, has now succumbed to a minor hamstring problem.

The Bulldogs on the other hand will be missing prop Sam Kasiano (knee) and back-rower Greg Eastwood (broken hand) following Monday night’s 26-16 loss to the Titans.

“It’s disappointing, they are big losses,” Bulldogs forward Aiden Tolman said.

“But the guys coming into the side, Tim Browne and Martin Taupau are going to do a great job.”

It’s an important match for both the fifth-placed Bulldogs and the ninth-placed Raiders, as either team are still at risk of missing the play-offs.

“It’s really close, it’s bumper-to-bumper in that top eight,” said Bulldogs halfback Trent Hodkinson.

“Every wins counts leading into the finals.”

McKenzie adds another Red to coaching team

11/07/2019 Posted by admin

New Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie has added his Queensland Reds attack coach, Jim McKay, to Australia’s coaching team through to the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

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McKay, who served with the Reds for the past four seasons, will keep the same role under McKenzie for the Wallabies as part of a four-man coaching team.

The former Randwick winger will be one of three assistant coaches, with Nick Scrivener retaining his job as defence mentor and Andrew Blades staying in control of set-piece coaching.

Deposed head coach Robbie Deans had the responsibilities for Australia’s backline throughout his six-season stint while coaching coordinator Tony McGahan left his national team post last month to take charge of the Melbourne Rebels.

McKay’s two-year appointment is another good sign for controversial five-eighth Quade Cooper who has played his best rugby under McKenzie and McKay at the Reds.

Out of favour under Deans, Cooper appears likely to reclaim the Wallabies No.10 jersey for the Rugby Championship campaign which starts with the first Bledisloe Cup clash with the All Blacks in Sydney on August 17.

McKenzie said the new coaching group had combined well already, keeping some continuity while also morphing plans into the “direction where we see opportunity”.

“The structure has now moved away from the traditional forwards and backs concept because that polarises training.

“By coaching as an attack, defence or set piece, it allows us to coach and train in a more game-like manner,” he said.

“Within all of that, I’ll concentrate more on the team elements around the tactics and the game-plan, along with the breakdown, and then work on blending the skills of all three coaches together.

“Right now, I really think we’ve got a good mix between technical and tactical.”

Tougher challenge at sunny Oak Hill for final round

11/07/2019 Posted by admin

Only seven players were under par for the day in the early going at Oak Hill Country Club where British Open champion Phil Mickelson, second-last in a field of 75 after the third round, was two over after 15 holes.

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With little margin of error in approaching Oak Hill’s smallish greens as they continued to dry out and speed up in blazing sunshine, Mickelson was on a roller-coaster ride at 12 over for the tournament.

Always unpredictable and exciting to watch for the fans, the American left-hander had piled up four birdies, one bogey, a double and a triple after teeing off in the second pairing of the day.

Four-times champion Tiger Woods, whose bid for a first major title in five years unravelled as he shot scores of one-over 71, 70 and 73 to sit 13 strokes off the pace overnight, was level for the day after parring his first two holes.

Most fans at Oak Hill, however, were waiting for the later starters to set out as the year’s final major began to build toward a likely exciting finale given its high-quality and tightly bunched leaderboard.

Furyk, bidding for a second major title a decade after claiming his first, was scheduled to tee off at 2:55 pm (1855 GMT) in the final pairing with fellow American Jason Dufner, who was alone on second place overnight.

Furyk seized control by carding a two-under 68 on Saturday to post a nine-under total of 201, and was aiming to follow up with another sub-par score on Sunday.

“Overall, I’m comfortable with where I’m at,” the 43-year-old said. “There’s a crowded leaderboard at the top and instead of really viewing it as who is leading and who is not, I’m really viewing it as I need to go out there tomorrow and put together a good, solid round of golf, fire a good number and hope it stacks up well.”

Henrik Stenson, hunting a first major title, goes into the final round two shots off the pace at seven under, a stroke better than fellow Swede Jonas Blixt.

Masters champion Adam Scott of Australia and American Steve Stricker were tied for fifth at five under with defending champion Rory McIlroy also in the mix, at three under, after resurrecting his title defence with a superb 67 on Saturday.

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Frank Pingue)

McKenzie urging Wallabies to have a go

11/07/2019 Posted by admin

The shackles are off with new Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie encouraging his charges to “have a go” and reprise Australia’s glory days of running rugby.

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The McKenzie reign is underway with the new-era Wallabies assembling in Sydney on Monday and vowing to get straight down to the business of regaining the Bledisloe Cup.

The Wallabies take on the All Blacks in the Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship opener at ANZ Stadium on Saturday week and, although McKenzie isn’t forecasting wholesale changes to the Test side for his first match in charge, he is promising an innovative game plan to try to conquer the world champions.

“We’re certainly not going to deny the players the opportunity to have a go,” McKenzie said.

“People are expected to use their skill and, if they can create an opportunity, then go for it. It’s not about limiting people by structure.”

McKenzie won’t be giving his entire squad a free licence to thrill but said players like enigmatic five-eighth Quade Cooper, who is almost certain to return from his 11-month Test exile under Robbie Deans, will have the freedom to apply the tricks they practise on the training paddock.

“You don’t want to dampen the whole thing and say it’s a Test match, you can’t do anything – just kick to corners and let’s keep it zero to zero,” he said.

“If you see an opportunity, then you’ve got to be able to take it.

“And that’s the Australian thing. You’ve got to have a bit of a go.”

While Cooper is odds-on to be reinstated, McKenzie said he wouldn’t be making radical changes to the Wallabies’ starting XV.

But he is hoping to catch the All Blacks out with a mix of panache and unpredictability.

“You arrive at this time and it’s not a matter of chucking everything out the window,” he said.

“You have to accept that there were things going on that were quite good and world-class, so we’ll only be interested in changing things where we think we can get a benefit, I guess, from a base game.

“Then we’ll look at tactically where are the opportunities against the All Blacks.”

McKenzie will trim his 40-man training squad back to 30 players on Friday and on Monday he finalised his coaching team through to the 2015 Rugby World Cup with the addition of Queensland’s attack coach Jim McKay.

McKay, who has worked with McKenzie at the Reds for the past four seasons, will keep the same role for the Wallabies as part of a four-man coaching team.

The former Randwick winger will be one of three assistant coaches, with Nick Scrivener retaining his job as defence mentor and Andrew Blades staying in control of set-piece coaching.

Deposed head coach Robbie Deans had the responsibilities for Australia’s backline throughout his five-and-a-half-season stint, while coaching coordinator Tony McGahan left his national team post last month to take charge of the Melbourne Rebels.

“We’ve got a very good mix of the technical principles and also the attitudinal bit that you need and certainly some of the innovation that is synonymous with Wallaby rugby,” McKenzie said.

Comment: My parents chose my husband

11/07/2019 Posted by admin

By Debi Thomas

The first time I met Alex was on my parents’ doorstep, the winter after I graduated from college.

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He was Prospective Groom No. 3, or 7, or maybe even 12; by the time my parents met him at the bus station and drove him to our house, I had long lost count. For more than a year, my extended family had been laboring on my behalf, receiving and rejecting proposals. Things were getting desperate; I was 22, and apparently throbbing with marriageability. Old-maid-hood loomed.

As per custom, I met Alex at the door with averted eyes and a guarded smile, feeling ridiculous in the traditional Indian garb my mother insisted was appropriate for the occasion. Over the course of the next several hours, I served him tea, sat across from him at dinner, and answered his questions about my education and interests. When my father at last gave the two of us permission to be alone, I ushered Alex into our family room to chat for a quick 20 minutes and decide whether or not I’d marry him.

By the time my parents drove Alex back to his Greyhound bus a day later, he was my fiancé.

When I tell people here in America that I have an arranged marriage, they react in one of two ways. Some love my story because it appears to confirm their belief that America is doing it wrong: “Kids nowadays—having sex in middle school! All the single moms! The institution of marriage is dying! Your culture is just so beautiful.”

Others are more cautious. If Alex happens to be around, they appraise us both, searching for signs of trauma or misery. Eventually, they lean in and whisper, “Well, it ended up just fine, right? You’re both happy? You’ve made it work and it was all for the best? Right?”

These aren’t really questions. They’re Statements Designed to Make Everything OK, and I know my cue well enough by now to smile big and say, “Yes!—Yes, of course.”

The “yes” is not exactly a lie. Alex and I have been married for 17 years, and our relationship is stable. But the life we live together is still difficult for me to reconcile. For one thing, the words “arranged marriage” conjure up images that have nothing to do with me. Child brides and dowry burnings on the one hand, or henna and Bollywood on the other. I grew up in the United States, a product of New England suburbia, evangelical Christianity, Wellesley College, Pride and Prejudice and When Harry Met Sally. I was the bicultural kid who wore salwar kameezes during the day, read Sweet Valley High at night, and swooned over “happily ever after” stories.

But I always knew my marriage would be arranged. Dating was absolutely forbidden in my family. Still, I dated secretly in high school and college, hoping that my parents (conservative, first-generation immigrants from India) would change their minds and terrified at the prospect that they wouldn’t. I pleaded. I prayed for a miracle. But by the time I turned 20, I knew my arranged marriage was set in stone. Saying “no” (though I still longed to) was not an option—the stakes in our honor-and-shame-based family were too high. Yes, I know this is hard for most Americans to understand, but it’s true.

During my senior year of college, my parents contacted a network of friends and relatives, and an international community came together to find me a husband. We received proposals by mail, by phone, and in person. I thumbed through “bio-data” sheets with my mom. Everything American in me protested: How can love be arranged? Isn’t romance a wild, unruly thing? How will it thrive if it’s coerced?

When I told my family I couldn’t fall in love with a stranger, they told me Indians don’t have to fall like “poor, helpless Americans.” “We choose,” they said triumphantly, as if their notion of choice would make me feel free. “We’re not at the mercy of falling and feeling. We choose to love.”

Perhaps. But I didn’t choose Alex. My family did. Yes, he and I picked each other out of the proposals our families offered us. Based on those 20 minutes in my family room, I decided he was a likeable guy. But what can “choice” mean in such restrictive circumstances?

In ways I’m still coming to understand, it’s our not-choosing that has reverberated across the years of our marriage, breaking us in ways we can’t mend, and recreating us in others. Arranged marriage, as I’ve come to experience it, is far more complicated than either its champions or its critics understand.

In the months leading up to my engagement, my parents talked a lot about compatibility. As they flipped through photographs and resumés, they looked for men with educations, professions, family backgrounds, and religious beliefs similar to mine. At one point, my mother asked me straight out: “What are you looking for in a husband?” Since I wasn’t allowed to say, “I’m not looking,” I said, “A soul mate. A best, best friend.”

This was the wrong answer. A naked, American answer, sentimental and embarrassing. What my mother wanted was something along the lines of, “A man younger than 30, with a minimum of a master’s degree in the medical field, who has a lucrative job, a close-knit family, and high standing within our community.” This was an answer I was incapable of giving her. Not because a stable job and a tight-knit family were bad things, but because our basic visions of what marriage is—what marriage is for—were incompatible.

Alex and I weren’t married three months before our differences—the kinds of differences we couldn’t have discovered in each other’s CVs— started to baffle us. He disliked my seriousness. I found him shallow. He craved adventure. I craved stability. He resented routine. I thrived on it. Though it took years to parse these differences, it didn’t take long at all to recoil from them.

The point, of course, is not that two people with this constellation of differences can’t marry each other. Couples do it all the time. The point is that something compelling (Love? History? Common interests? Great sex?) has to transcend the differences. Arranged couples start out with none of that. When Alex and I got married, all we had was our raw selves.

Conventional Indian wisdom would say, “It doesn’t matter. You adjust to each other. You sacrifice, you compromise, you accommodate. For the sake of preserving the marriage, you change.”

I don’t disagree, exactly. All marriages, arranged or not, eventually hinge on compromise and change. But accommodating a spouse is an entirely different activity from enjoying her. Yes, we’ve changed, and yes, we’ve accommodated, but isn’t framing marriage in terms of adjustment and compromise (instead of pleasure, or even affinity), an admission of defeat from the get-go?

No, my elders would say emphatically, it is not. It is a clear-eyed insistence on reality. Delight fades. Feelings come and go. Affinities shift with age and circumstance. Love, though—the practical, everyday love we choose in spite of our differences—is unwavering. But do I have that kind of love?

Alex and Debi on holidays a few years ago

Neither Alex nor I, when we describe our first meeting, use words like “attraction,” or “love at first sight,” or “romance.” I don’t say, “My pulse raced when you walked in the door.” He doesn’t say, “I got tongue-tied every time you asked me a question.” Neither of us says, “I really wanted to kiss you when we said goodbye.”

In my case, what arranged marriage took away early on was the thrill of pursuit. Alex didn’t pursue me; in the economy of the arrangement, he didn’t have to. I, meanwhile, wasn’t allowed to pursue him. Since neither of us freely chose, neither of us tasted the deep pleasures of being freely chosen.

On the other hand, I’m married to a good man who is my partner and my equal. He’s a committed provider and a loving father to our two children. We have a comfortable life, rooted in tradition, family, and culture. My parents would say I’ve hit bedrock, a foundation far stronger than the shifting sands of American romance.

But the losses are significant, and Alex and I still grieve them. On the rare occasions when we talk about this, we express sadness on each other’s behalf: “I wish you had married a best friend.” “I wish you’d found a spouse who excites you more.” “I wish delight would replace acceptance.” To arrange a life, after all, is to control it. To write its script so exhaustively that there’s little room left for improvisation. And a lot of good stuff happens when you are improvising.

Yes, at times we think about quitting. We wonder whether our culture has asked too much of us. We worry about the questions our very American children might ask about our marriage. But something always pulls us back. To arrange a life is also to love and protect it, to put every bit of scaffolding in place to prevent collapse and chaos. It’s an ongoing tension, messier than the words “arranged marriage” would suggest. This is how we manage our lives. We try to do it well.

© 2013, Slate