Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Mauled: Let's be under no illusion - Lions were second best

Mauled: Let's be under no illusion - Lions were second best


By Tony Ward

Monday June 22 2009

Whether it was the opening hour (dominated by the Springboks) or the final quarter (owned by the Lions) that provided the better barometer, the bottom line was a bitterly disappointing start to the three-Test series for the tourists. You can play around with post-match statistics all you want. So yes, while Paul O'Connell's side did dominate possession (56pc), did force the 'Boks into a three-to-one tackle count, did monopolise the advantage line (crossing 32 to 9) and did take the try count (three to two), the harsh reality is that the better side playing the more realistic rugby over the greater portion deservedly took the spoils.

South Africa did what they had to do when securing primary possession. They took the set piece -- line-out and scrum -- with sufficient comfort to enable coach Peter de Villiers indulge in tactical arrogance that almost cost his side the match. By giving all of his replacements a run from the 53rd minute on, he effectively turned the trend of the game to that point on its head.

Aside from the brilliant centre pairing of Jamie Roberts and Brian O'Driscoll, the Springboks dominated every other position. It made the 19-point gap (26-7) representative of the Springbok intensity up to that point. David Wallace did provide one encouraging first-half burst but, Roberts and O'Driscoll apart, it was pretty depressing stuff from a touring side expected to hit the ground running.

By comparison, it was the under-cooked and under-prepared 'Boks who took the initiative from the off. If there was one imperative to first-Test -- and perhaps series -- success, it was that the Lions had to lay down the early marker. In the end, de Villiers' sideline decision-making almost cost the world champions dear.

For Ian McGeechan, there is no such solace. Yes, they were on the receiving end of the penalty count -- not by dint of numbers (13 to 12) -- but more by the context in which they were awarded by referee Bryce Lawrence. The unfortunate Phil Vickery was the focus of the match official's attention and however hard done by he, O'Connell or any other Lion felt, the reality was of a front row in trouble and a scrum under pressure. Adam Jones' second-half introduction did steady the ship, making tight-head the most obvious area in need of address for Pretoria on Saturday.

The line-out wasn't a lot better, conceding three on their own throw. That said, if there is a more athletic lock pairing than O'Connell and Alun-Wyn Jones on tour, then I haven't seen them. I accept that both are primarily middle-of-the-line jumpers but, given Saturday's experience, the Welsh man can adapt.

Of more immediate concern is the back row, with Tom Croft's brace of well-taken tries adding to the confusion. For me, a place must be found for Martyn Williams. Whether that means with Wallace at six (unlikely, given Croft's Durban performance) or the Munster man moving to eight and Jamie Heaslip losing out, the balance in the back row is in need of re-assessment. If impact off the bench is the logical aim, then Williams must start with Wallace and Andy Powell coming off the bench - that makes the most efficient sense.

At 26-7 down on Saturday, it was hard to equate any reserve on the Lions bench with potential impact over and above the player he would replace. Mike Phillips will continue at scrum-half but whether it's Stephen Jones or Ronan O'Gara alongside depends on the pre-ordained plan. If it is to return to basics then the case for O'Gara is overwhelming. If not (and here expect Jones' contribution to Saturday's midfield impact to be central) then the backline will return en bloc apart from likely inclusion of Rob Kearney if Lee Byrne can't recover from injury.

Tommy Bowe, Roberts and O'Driscoll have all earned that automatic right but Ugo Monye will have an anxious wait ahead. The logical pressure should come from current World Player of the Year Shane Williams but tour form (not green-tinted I might add) ought to dictate Luke Fitzgerald's name to be in the next Test frame.

I firmly believe the rounded and more compact Fitzgerald would have copper-fastened one, if not both, of the try-scoring opportunities that came Monye's way. Add these to Phillips' second-half goal-line spill and it represents six clear-cut opportunities in all.

My own fear is that the Lions' management will read too much into the last quarter. When it really mattered, the ring-rusty Springboks were comfortably the better side. More to the point, they will be much the better for the full 80 minutes in Pretoria.

And yet, in a strange way, defeat makes for a better-focused touring party, with many of those not involved in the Test 22 harbouring match-day aspirations now. That in itself is no bad thing. Incidentally, with just over two minutes to go and trailing by five points (26-21) the penalty decision should have been taken to kick for goal, but instead they went for the jugular in the corner.

As for the Television Match Official, and I make this comment with the greatest respect to Christophe Berdos (next Saturday's referee), surely it is the most obvious component that match officials speak the same language. The difficulty and potential misunderstanding between Frenchman Berdos and New Zealander Lawrence governing the TMO's decision on Monye's first-half failed try (called rightly in Jean de Villiers' favour) should not arise. Lawrence, with the aid of Berdos, deserves great for ruling on the spot and calling the 22 re-start as he saw it.

One final point. Apparently some 5,000 seats remained empty on Saturday. It is a poor reflection on everyone involved that, seven games in, world rugby's biggest brand, in South Africa for the first time in 12 years, still await a full house.

- Tony Ward



Maze of Monkey Illusion - 2009
Optical illusion maze caused by conflicting horizontal and vertical lines.

maze of monkey illusion medium InkBlotMazes Ink Blot Mazes, By Yonatan Frimer, your humble maze artist

Mauled: Let's be under no illusion - Lions were second best

Mauled: Let's be under no illusion - Lions were second best


By Tony Ward

Monday June 22 2009

Whether it was the opening hour (dominated by the Springboks) or the final quarter (owned by the Lions) that provided the better barometer, the bottom line was a bitterly disappointing start to the three-Test series for the tourists. You can play around with post-match statistics all you want. So yes, while Paul O'Connell's side did dominate possession (56pc), did force the 'Boks into a three-to-one tackle count, did monopolise the advantage line (crossing 32 to 9) and did take the try count (three to two), the harsh reality is that the better side playing the more realistic rugby over the greater portion deservedly took the spoils.

South Africa did what they had to do when securing primary possession. They took the set piece -- line-out and scrum -- with sufficient comfort to enable coach Peter de Villiers indulge in tactical arrogance that almost cost his side the match. By giving all of his replacements a run from the 53rd minute on, he effectively turned the trend of the game to that point on its head.

Aside from the brilliant centre pairing of Jamie Roberts and Brian O'Driscoll, the Springboks dominated every other position. It made the 19-point gap (26-7) representative of the Springbok intensity up to that point. David Wallace did provide one encouraging first-half burst but, Roberts and O'Driscoll apart, it was pretty depressing stuff from a touring side expected to hit the ground running.

By comparison, it was the under-cooked and under-prepared 'Boks who took the initiative from the off. If there was one imperative to first-Test -- and perhaps series -- success, it was that the Lions had to lay down the early marker. In the end, de Villiers' sideline decision-making almost cost the world champions dear.

For Ian McGeechan, there is no such solace. Yes, they were on the receiving end of the penalty count -- not by dint of numbers (13 to 12) -- but more by the context in which they were awarded by referee Bryce Lawrence. The unfortunate Phil Vickery was the focus of the match official's attention and however hard done by he, O'Connell or any other Lion felt, the reality was of a front row in trouble and a scrum under pressure. Adam Jones' second-half introduction did steady the ship, making tight-head the most obvious area in need of address for Pretoria on Saturday.

The line-out wasn't a lot better, conceding three on their own throw. That said, if there is a more athletic lock pairing than O'Connell and Alun-Wyn Jones on tour, then I haven't seen them. I accept that both are primarily middle-of-the-line jumpers but, given Saturday's experience, the Welsh man can adapt.

Of more immediate concern is the back row, with Tom Croft's brace of well-taken tries adding to the confusion. For me, a place must be found for Martyn Williams. Whether that means with Wallace at six (unlikely, given Croft's Durban performance) or the Munster man moving to eight and Jamie Heaslip losing out, the balance in the back row is in need of re-assessment. If impact off the bench is the logical aim, then Williams must start with Wallace and Andy Powell coming off the bench - that makes the most efficient sense.

At 26-7 down on Saturday, it was hard to equate any reserve on the Lions bench with potential impact over and above the player he would replace. Mike Phillips will continue at scrum-half but whether it's Stephen Jones or Ronan O'Gara alongside depends on the pre-ordained plan. If it is to return to basics then the case for O'Gara is overwhelming. If not (and here expect Jones' contribution to Saturday's midfield impact to be central) then the backline will return en bloc apart from likely inclusion of Rob Kearney if Lee Byrne can't recover from injury.

Tommy Bowe, Roberts and O'Driscoll have all earned that automatic right but Ugo Monye will have an anxious wait ahead. The logical pressure should come from current World Player of the Year Shane Williams but tour form (not green-tinted I might add) ought to dictate Luke Fitzgerald's name to be in the next Test frame.

I firmly believe the rounded and more compact Fitzgerald would have copper-fastened one, if not both, of the try-scoring opportunities that came Monye's way. Add these to Phillips' second-half goal-line spill and it represents six clear-cut opportunities in all.

My own fear is that the Lions' management will read too much into the last quarter. When it really mattered, the ring-rusty Springboks were comfortably the better side. More to the point, they will be much the better for the full 80 minutes in Pretoria.

And yet, in a strange way, defeat makes for a better-focused touring party, with many of those not involved in the Test 22 harbouring match-day aspirations now. That in itself is no bad thing. Incidentally, with just over two minutes to go and trailing by five points (26-21) the penalty decision should have been taken to kick for goal, but instead they went for the jugular in the corner.

As for the Television Match Official, and I make this comment with the greatest respect to Christophe Berdos (next Saturday's referee), surely it is the most obvious component that match officials speak the same language. The difficulty and potential misunderstanding between Frenchman Berdos and New Zealander Lawrence governing the TMO's decision on Monye's first-half failed try (called rightly in Jean de Villiers' favour) should not arise. Lawrence, with the aid of Berdos, deserves great for ruling on the spot and calling the 22 re-start as he saw it.

One final point. Apparently some 5,000 seats remained empty on Saturday. It is a poor reflection on everyone involved that, seven games in, world rugby's biggest brand, in South Africa for the first time in 12 years, still await a full house.

- Tony Ward



Maze of Monkey Illusion - 2009
Optical illusion maze caused by conflicting horizontal and vertical lines.

maze of monkey illusion medium InkBlotMazes Ink Blot Mazes, By Yonatan Frimer, your humble maze artist

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Susan Boyle coming to America?

Susan Boyle coming to America?

Guess who might cross the pond and sing for American audiences?

The invitation will be extended: Susan Boyle is more than welcome to appear on the American version of the talent show that shot her into stardom.

The Scottish woman who became a media darling on "Britain's Got Talent" just might show up on NBC's talent show, "America's Got Talent."

"If she’s up for it and she is well enough,” says Piers Morgan, a judge on both shows. "Our feeling is she probably will [appear on AGT]. Absolutely!”

He said Simon Cowell, who helps produce both shows, wants Boyle to come to America.

And even if that doesn't happen, he promised reporters that the new season of the American version - which debuts June 23 - will reflect the Susan Boyle Effect.

"From the time ("Britain's Got Talent") aired in Britain, thousands more people auditioned in America. She had a big effect on auditions," Morgan said. "There will be two or three acts who could have the same impact. After one group performs, there won't be a dry eye in the house."

He said he and fellow judges David Hasselhoff and Sharon Osbourne won't know the contestants before they compete, just like they didn't know Boyle's story before she first stood in front of them and wowed them.

"If we knew Susan Boyle had a voice like an angel, we wouldn't have been condescending to her. It's very important to the integrity of the show that the judges not get any warning," he said.

He was just a little excited about the possibility of Boyle appearing on the American show. “Susan singing live to 25 million Americans? That would be great!” he said. "She still gets a bit tired sometimes, but she is 48.”

Forty-eight old?

Let's hope they let her on the plane with her hearing aid and cane.

| Lisa Gutierrez



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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Susan Boyle shines at 'Got Talent' event

Shocked to get "3-Yeses" Susan Boyle Maze
maze of susan boyle singing i dreamed a dream on britians got talent

Susan Boyle shines at 'Got Talent' event

BIRMINGHAM, England, June 13 (UPI) -- Scottish singer Susan Boyle may not have won "Britain's Got Talent," but fans raved about her performance at a live tour concert in the city of Birmingham.

The Daily Telegraph reported Saturday that Boyle, who finished second on "Got Talent" in May, received rave reviews after performing Friday at the National Indoor Arena along with other stars from the ITV series.

"It's really great that she made it to the show. She was fantastic," Cathy Blair, 50, said of Boyle's performance.

Friday's show also included a performance from Diversity, a street dance group that took home the show's 2009 crown.

Street dancer George Sampson, last season's "Got Talent" winner, also performed at Friday's event, taking the stage with the dance group Flawless before finishing with a solo act.

The Telegraph said Boyle, who earned international acclaim for the "Got Talent" performance of a "Les Miserables" song, is also scheduled to perform at two shows at the Sheffield Hallam FM Arena.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Susan Boyle : BGT bosses charged with negligence in care for Susan

Susan Boyle : BGT bosses charged with negligence in care for Susan

Susan Boyle who is recovering from breakdown due emotional and physical exhaustion after Britain’s Got Talent final is much happier after she has been released from the mental health care clinic and is looking forward to her next projects.

Meanwhile Media watchdog Ofcom may launch an inquiry into the handling of Susan Boyle by the producers of Britain’s Got Talent for negligence in care

The 48-year-old, who suffers from learning disabilities as a result of being starved of oxygen at birth, was reportedly provided with just a counsellor very near to show finale , despite the strains of the media spotlight mounting far earlier in the show.

Boyle became an international sensation after her first audition was televised on April 11, and matters came to a head after Boyle lost Shows final. She was even reported to have thrown water over a producer backstage.

A doctor saw Boyle at her hotel on Sunday, before she was taken by ambulance to the north London clinic for treating her “emotional exhaustion”.

Having received a number of complaints about Boyle’s participation in Britain’s Got Talent, Ofcom has said that the makers of the programme have questions to answer about their duty of care to such a vulnerable contestant.

“There is at the very least an argument that it could be investigated by Ofcom as a potential breach of the broadcasting code - that they failed to protect her. If such things are not part of the code, then perhaps they should be. When you are dealing with people who find it difficult to cope with media pressure, then the programme-makers who have brought it about have a responsibility to ensure they are properly looked after,” the Telegraph quoted John Whittingdale MP, chairman of the Commons culture, media and sport committee, as saying.

Susan Boyle has a tremendous talent but plainly she has had the most extraordinary degree of exposure, to an extent which nobody has had before. It is perfectly understandable that somebody like her, who lives alone and comes from a very humble background, would find it hard to deal with. I would expect that the programme-makers help her as much as possible.

“It is a sad story. But the fact that somebody from her background can demonstrate this extraordinary talent is a positive story. But should Susan Boyle have had the chance to sing? Yes,” he added.

Learning disability charity Mencap insisted that Boyle should have been provided with extra support.

“Anyone who shoots to international fame would need support, whether they have a learning disability or not, but if you have a learning disability you would need extra help in dealing with the new situations that Susan found herself in. From the reports we have seen, that bit of extra support would probably have helped her through,” a spokesman said.

Britain’s Got Talent and Simon Cowell’s company Syco are said to be paying for Boyle’s medical treatment.

A programme spokesman said: “We provided Susan with a counsellor in the last week when it became evidence to us in the run-up to the final that she needed support. The attention which has surrounded her is absolutely unprecedented and overwhelming. Susan is now taking a few days out to get some rest and recovery out of the spotlight.” (ANI)

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Shocked to get "3-Yeses" Susan Boyle Maze
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Saturday, June 6, 2009

'Talent' judge: Show did not exploit Susan Boyle

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'Talent' judge: Show did not exploit Susan Boyle

  • Story Highlights
  • Amanda Holden: Boyle is "a grown woman who applied to come on a talent show"
  • Holden believes negative press coverage stressed out the overnight sensation
  • Though Boyle was exceedingly nervous before finale, Holden says she "nailed it"
  • Dr. Drew Pinsky: Contestants on high-pressure shows should get help with stress

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(CNN) -- Scotland's Susan Boyle gives new meaning to the term "overnight sensation." The "Britain's Got Talent" contestant was expected to be something of a joke when she first sauntered on stage, but she absolutely wowed the audience, the judges -- and then the world via the Internet -- with her stunning rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream."

Along with Simon Cowell and Piers Morgan, Amanda Holden is a judge on "Britain's Got Talent."

Along with Simon Cowell and Piers Morgan, Amanda Holden is a judge on "Britain's Got Talent."

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But like others who stumble upon sudden fame, she found the pressure and scrutiny to be overwhelming.

"Talent" judge Amanda Holden and Dr. Drew Pinsky of VH1's "Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew" joined CNN's Larry King Tuesday night to discuss Boyle's hospitalization for stress and the toll the spotlight and media criticism might have taken on her mental health. They also discussed whether Boyle will develop the emotional stamina for a high-pressure singing career.

The following interview has been edited for brevity and clarity:

Larry King: What do we know right now?

Amanda Holden: Basically, we've spoken to Susan's brother. He, in fact, spoke on [CBS' "The Early Show"] this morning to say that his sister was very keen to come home as soon as she possibly could and that she was resting up in a clinic in London and that she was very much looking forward to coming out and seeing what was available to her when she felt better.

King: Is the show, Amanda, paying for the hospital bills and are they taking care of her?

Holden: I have no idea if they're paying the hospital bills. I would imagine that they are. We're a very loyal show. We love Susan very much. In fact, all the contestants that appear on our show are extraordinarily well looked after.

King: Your fellow judge, Piers Morgan, has said that there was talk of taking her off the show because of all the pressures on her. Were you involved? Were there any discussions like that?

Holden: I wasn't involved in any discussions like that. And I think Piers has a slightly closer relationship with her. ... The only thing I'm worried about with Susan Boyle is that she seems to have a crush on Piers Morgan. ...

I think that Piers kind of reassured her during the final that she was doing well and that she mustn't pay any kind of attention to the press and all the other stuff that was going

King: Despite all the tumult, there's no disputing that Susan sang her heart out during the finale of the competition. I know the dance troupe [Diversity] was terrific. But, frankly, why didn't she win?

Holden: Honestly, I can't criticize the decision because it was the British public that voted in the end. I have no real idea, to be honest. I wonder whether it could be that Diversity was utterly fantastic on the show that night. They decimated the show. They really, really were amazing. And I just wonder whether maybe younger people voted and were quicker on the texts than the kind of people that were voting for Susan.

But as I keep saying, if Susan is a loser, then surely she is the biggest and best loser that we have in the world. And coming second is no bad thing. Video Watch Amanda Holden discuss Susan Boyle »

King: She came in, though, [as] a small-town amateur singer, [with] learning disabilities due to suffering oxygen deprivation at birth. Some say the program exploited her and her vulnerabilities. Do you agree?

Holden: I couldn't disagree more. You know, she's a grown woman who applied to come on a talent show. She enjoyed every second of every moment that I met her or saw her behind the scenes. She was very excited. She was very proud to be taking part in the show.

I think the downturn in press in our country [Britain], I think, maybe stressed her out a little bit. And I think she was just quite upset about all the exaggerated stories and the kind of falsehoods that were being written about her. I think that everybody gets upset about bad press when you're in this business. And she's somebody that's gone from anonymity to [an] absolute worldwide phenomenon.

King: Yes.

Holden: So how is she expected to handle that? Nobody can handle that with the best will in the world. I've been in the business 15 years, and I'm still not media savvy.

[Dr. Drew Pinsky joins the show]

King: What do you make of this Susan Boyle thing?

Pinsky: The problem here is that here's a woman that's suddenly under the scrutiny of the spotlight who maybe has some developmental issues, who is under tremendous stress and [now] is in a psychiatric hospital. The question is, did the show harm her?

King: Did it?

Pinsky: It's hard to say. This is the first time these kind of experiences have really been undertaken by people. People that come out of nowhere all of a sudden are international superstars.

King: Should we be, Amanda, concerned about that?

Holden: First of all, I just want to say that Susan's brother said on British television this morning that, yes, Susan has experienced learning difficulties. But in actual fact, when she was at school, she did as well as any of her other siblings. But throughout her childhood, always before an exam or anything else, she always got quite anxious.

[Before the show], she was feeling nervous. But she went out there and she nailed it. You know, she did the best performance that we've seen. And let's not forget, this is actually only the second or third time we've heard her sing. ...

She is in a place where celebrities go when they are burnt out. Now, I am obviously not a doctor. I have no factual information to give to you. I can only say to you her brother ... has said she wants to come home within a matter of days, rather than weeks.

Pinsky: That's excellent.

King: Would you guess, Dr. Drew, that she still has a career in front of her? Wouldn't you bet she does?

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Pinsky: Oh, I bet she does, absolutely. And she will learn to become accustomed to this kind of stress, I am sure. But let's make sure she has the care she needs.

And let's be sure that ... everybody that goes on shows like this has access to things that help them deal with the stress of these kinds of environments.