By Stewart Weir
It was England against Wales in the Six Nations championship, while in Serie A it was first against second when Juventus met AC Milan.
Two sporting occasions, in distance hundreds of miles apart. But when it came to crucial calls and decisions that ultimately decided the outcome in these matches, there was a world between them.
At Twickenham, the video referee Iain Ramage earned his corn in the closing moments as the hosts pressed for a match-saving try, the Scots official eventually ruling that David Strettle had not grounded the ball.
End of nervous wait, end of deliberation, end of match.
Meanwhile in Italy, Milan and Juventus drew 1–1, although the outcome should have been different.
Football – thanks almost entirely to Sepp Blatter’s befuddled thinking – hasn’t followed the route of rugby, cricket, tennis, NFL and the likes by adopting video technology to assist the officials (but not to take over from them) in making key decisions.
Blatter and co think that throwing more officials – like goal-line assistants who, as far as I can see, see nothing other than new towns and cities across Europe – is the way to solve a problem. And the main and most contentious problem is whether a ball has or hasn’t crossed the line.
That archaic thinking is flawed, when technology would help. It’s not infallible, but it would be better than just guessing. As the linesman most certainly did when Gigi Buffon saved from Sulley Muntari.
Here, judge for yourself. And feel free to tell me exactly how involving a video ref wouldn’t benefit football, even on this one key area …
While Wales were celebrating winning the Triple Crown, Murrayfield was hosting Scotland’s Six Nations encounter with France.
France, don’t forget, reached the World Cup final a matter of months ago. So they can play, and showed as much in the second half to beat the plucky Scots.
Plucky, game, unlucky. Heard it all too often.
Under coach Andy Robinson, the Scots have now won just two out of last 13 matches in the Six Nations.
I cannot help but think that if Robinson was in charge of our national football team, questions about his suitability would have been asked long before now, if he hadn’t already been mentioned in a dispatch which included the line “mutual consent”.
And, I can’t think those interrogating would have been fobbed off either by his “but I still believe” reply …
Andy Murray is in Dubai for the Dubai Duty Free Tournament. I remember I used to go there for the snooker tournament of that name. How things change.
This was Murray’s first outing since his Australian Open semi-final appearance (and loss) – and, for one radio reporter, that was enough to relegate him from world no.4 to just plain old ordinary British no.1. Fine.
Such generalisations usually mean people don’t know what they are talking about, but know it’s probably a safe bet to call Murray the nation’s no.1.
I would put the said radio correspondent in that category. By the same token, anyone referring to Murray as the Scottish no.1 probably belongs in a category all of their own …
Football is a passionate sport, and on occasions emotions can spill over. I suppose that will be the excuse Bournemouth chairman Eddie Mitchell will use when he explains to the FA comments made after his club’s 1-0 loss to Milton Keynes Dons.
Most of us involved in football have heard (or even used) rather fruity language when things don’t go to plan.
Few of us, unlike Mitchell, have decided to use BBC Radio 5 Live’s 606 as the platform.
Mitchell swore three times live on-air (“bollocks” and “f*cked” being his best efforts) before presenter Mark Chapman gave him a red card.
Mitchell accepted the FA’s charges of using “improper language”.and requested a private hearing, which will be held before 13 March. Obviously in private, so as not to offend any audience.
Hear Mitchell in full flow here. And it’s OK, the Beeb bleep machine has been edited in …
Scotland have a pre-World Cup qualifying campaign friendly against Slovenia. I find that the match is not being shown on any of the channels I subscribe to (either by law or choice).
So I decide to spend the £5 I have saved by not watching this meaningless contest (rendered such because the national coach won’t pick the best players available to him) and purchase five Lotto lucky dips.
Imagine my shock when I won, which is more than Scotland did.
So I am now a fiver better off than when I started, whereas I was guaranteed to be a fiver down if I’d invested in Premier Sports.
I recall getting all hot under the collar when a Scotland qualifier was shown on Channel 5 at a time when people in the shadow of Hampden couldn’t watch it because they couldn’t get a signal.
Now, I get the feeling no one is really too bothered where Scotland matches appear – or more accurately, disappear.
When you see signs up outside pubs stating “We are NOT showing the Scotland game”, you have to wonder if broadcasters or armchair fans are interested in these friendly games, or Scotland.
Anyway, that win on Wednesday has seen me qualify for EuroMillions on Friday. Wish me luck.
Mark Allen is already a few hundred quid down this season after giving some frank views at a post-match press conference.
And, from his more recent spat with authority, that the Northern Ireland cueist either hasn’t learned or won’t be dissuaded from speaking his mind.
In China for the Haikou World Open (headings like “world” always help when you are selling an under-valued product for above the going rate) Allen didn’t hold back on Twitter.
“Journey a nightmare. People are ignorant. Place stinks. Arena’s rubbish, tables poor, food is horrendous. Other than that I love China.”
He continued: “Dead cat found this morning. Any wonder this place stinks. Must be dead cats all round the town.”
And he added: “This place is horrendous. It just baffles me how world snooker continuously go out of their way to put tournaments on in the middle of nowhere.”
However, he showed some remorse later. “As usual people jump on the hate-Allen bandwagon. Might’ve been a bit harsh a few hours ago in my tweet. Not all Chinese people are ignorant. I stand by everything else though.”
The sport’s governing body, World Snooker, later described his remarks as “extremely disappointing”.
And to think these guys thought they got it bad in Prestatyn …
I thought I’d finish this week with a quiz.
Is Craig Whyte
a) Rangers owner?
b) still welcome at Ibrox?
c) “thoroughly unfit”?
d) “wholly unreliable”?
e) a billionaire?
Answers when the administrators can find them …
– Tweet Stewart Weir with thoughts and comments, @sweirz