Something For The Weekend: 17/09/2011


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The Independent Online

It's squeaky-bum time for...

The dwarf-racers and tossers

"Work hard, play hard" is the cliché. It is also, in the case of our country's sportsmen, a deal, a bargain. We play sport that you can only dream of, say the pros, and you allow us our loutery. To which the English sporting public can only say: now for your part of the deal. England, with some fringe players, face Georgia early tomorrow morning in Dunedin. Victory, of course, is necessary; a slip allows Argentina back in. Should they win, and win well, then the deal is clearly back on. They can enjoy another evening of dwarf-japery, knowing that it is compatible with preparation for success, and that their supporters have no grievance to hold against them. But a Caucasus catastrophe, and the justification for the evening collapses. No more dwarf-play then.

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The modesty of Ronaldo

From one form of questionable sporting conduct to quite another. Cristiano Ronaldo is one of football's great professionals, and is famous for his rejection of alcohol and nightlife. But his commitment to excellence is so complete that it comes at the price of any commitment to modesty. "Some referees allow them to give me stick like the Dynamo players did today," he said following a rough evening in Zagreb on Wednesday. "I think it's because I'm rich, handsome and a great player. They envy me, there's no other explanation." All true, or at the least true enough. But the point is that justified conceit is still conceit, and evidence as to why the world's most entertaining player is the least embraceable. The Dynamo Zagreb fans' perfect response? To sing back to him: "Lionel Messi, Lionel Messi."

Have you been paying attention?

1 Ryan Giggs has now scored in how many consecutive seasons for Manchester United?

2 How many years had Lancashire had to wait for an outright County Championship success?

3 Who was England's last wicket to fall in Sunday's series-clinching draw with India at Lord's?

4 How many Grand Slam semi-finals has Andy Murray now reached? And how many has he won?

5 Up until yesterday, which player had scored the most points in this year's Rugby World Cup?