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My Sporting Weekend – Rugby’s back in New Zealand

It was a rite of passage at my rugby-playing school in Scotland…. going to watch the touring New Zealand All Blacks in Edinburgh.

And I was counting down from weeks out to see Graham Mourie’s all-conquering rugby team finish off their itinerary at Murrayfield.

And listening to Timmy Teague’s promises that he would go onto the pitch and do the pre-war Haka war dance with the players.

How I felt on a rugby field

I got a flashback of Timmy as I heard of the return of rugby to the Land of the Long White Cloud with the Highlanders beating the Chiefs 28-27.

Highlanders’ fling

A thrilling match with the Highlanders stealing it at the end.

And best of all it was played out in front of 20,000 rugby nuts, with no need for face masks or social distancing.

The Land of the Long White Cloud

Nirvana, and a country where we’ll all be flocking to when we get the chance.

I have a hankering to visit Mangaotaki and the other locations used by Peter Jackson for Middle-Earth in Lord of the Rings.

Where my old colleague and singing partner from Rising Star Karaoke Bar and Aaawlando… Orlando, the rollercoaster capital Eoin played rugby.

Lord of the throw-ins?

‘Mr Brightside’ loved it and also learned the Haka… every rugby team in New Zealand practises it in training.

Stick your tongue out

Timmy could have done with some practical too… he was hopefully out of sync.

But he did do it. And the police allowed him back in to watch the second half of the game.

Hakademic really

He’d have been as well missing it. Scotland were hammered.

The All Blues: Not quite the same and Scotland take a beating in Dublin

But there’s nothing new about that.

Now you want to explore how to get out there.

Jimbo and Tommy Bowe.

Well, I’d always recommend G Adventures while check major airlines for flights and conditions.



Emirates and ref Nigel on airplane etiquette

An old schoolmate was giving out about rugby referee Wayne Barnes and his handling of the Scotland v Ireland World Cup rugby match.

His contention was that we (Scotland) never get anything from Wayne.

Now far from me ever wanting to defend referees but I think Scotland can succeed in losing to anyone all on their own.

In an effort to make referees appear more human World Cup sponsors Emirates have this natty and amusing video.

With refereeing legend Nigel Owens at its heart reminding passengers of airplane etiquette.

Listen to the ref: Nigel Owens and Tommy Bowe in Dublin

The first of the videos with an Irish fan is on

And the second Is here…

Coming back to my pal Mark’s nemesis, Wayne Barnes.

And I had the pleasure of listening to Ireland rugby hero Tommy Bowe interview him back in Dublin.

And he told us that back in 2007 after he had refereed the New Zealand v France match, the last time the All Blacks were beaten in the WC, he was voted the second most hated man in NZ.

High and mighty. Is that hold legal? Photo by Ivandrei Pretorius on

After Osama Bin Laden.

Now there is a belief, mostly perpetrated by the egg-chasers, that rugby players don’t pull the same strokes as footballers.

However, I’m reminded of a particularly tight Calcutta Cup game at Murrayfield which I was reporting on.

It’s fine when there’s no-one next to you. Air travel. Photo by Sourav Mishra on

When an Englishman put his hand in the ruck and then called foul.

And the ref fell for it.

Remembering the rugby code of mild acquiescence Scotland captain Gavin Hastings told us later.

‘It’s all part of life’s great tapestry.’

Up, up and away

When you’re 15,000ft up in the air then it’s difficult to keep tabs on what’s happening on the field of play down below.

And so it was a Godsend to the Gaelic football fans of Dublin and Kerry when the steward told them at the end of our flight to Tenerife that the All-Ireland final had been a draw.

It was the perfect result and probably averted an all-out riot between the Dublin and Kerry fans on board.

But you needn’t have to wait until the plane lands before you find out the result.

Yes, everyone wants a passenger’s seat. Photo by edwin josé vega ramos on

Emirates is screening matches live on its sports channel Sport 24.

So not even 15,000ft up in the air will I be spared the inevitable drubbing for the Scots.

Emirates has two flights daily from Dublin to Dubai.

The airline also offers a daily A380 flight to Osaka, a daily A380 flight to Tokyo’s Narita Airport.

And a Boeing 777 flight to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, providing easy connectivity via the airline’s Dubai hub.

Now, remember for all other flight entertainment, then this is the blog to be on and Flyday Friday is the day God (or me) made for it.

Geisha look at this: Japan. Photo by Satoshi Hirayama on



And back to Emirates… plastic/


Flyday Friday – Emirates and the Rugby World Cup

I’ll be conflicted when Scotland face Ireland in the Rugby World Cup on September 22 in Yokohama as I’m of the Irish-Scots variety.

But I’m thinking that a draw would suit both just fine.

One thing is for sure that when it comes to the party then the Scots and the Irish will be clinking glasses.

Two thousand Green Army foot soldiers will be flying with Emirates to Japan. And but for a pesky raffle ticket number I’d be too.

My numbers were too low, but congratulations to the winner (no, really).

Talking rugby: Wayne and Tommy

I had spent lunch with Tommy Bowe who was doing a Q&A session with Wayne Barnes ahead of him refereeing the Ireland v Wales game at the Aviva this afternoon.

The pair shared some good bonhomie as they recalled past matches including the iconic 2009 Ireland Grand Slam match with Wales.

How Tommy Bowe had come on as a replacement only to have to go off again with a broken leg which elicited the reply from the ref: ‘Oh, Tommy.’

This will be Wayne’s last Rugby World Cup and I wish him well. I’ll share more nuggets like this in your weekly This Sporting Weekend column tomorrow.

But for now check out Emirates’ best deals to Japan which you’ll fall in love with when you see the rugby action on TV.

Winter warmers

I Amsterdam… and so is she

I thought my friends at Aer Lingus knew me better because they posited that we needed to avoid the temptation to hibernate for the next six months.

As if.

Aer Lingus won’t be putting their feet up either.

They have 2 million seats on sale until September 23.

They have European fares from €29.99 one way for travel from October 1 to December 16.

And fares from North America from €159 each way when booked as part of a return trip and valid from November 1 to March 31.

Here’s myself and the Scary One livin’ it and lovin’ it in Amsterdam

Wendy is the business

Wall to wall. Photo by Tom Fisk on

Returning to Japan for a minute and there are few people who know more about Asia than Wendy Wu

Wendy Wu Tours are offering free one-way Business Class upgrades with Cathay Pacific on selected China & Japan offers.

The upgrades are available both ways from €1199. This offer is based on flights from Dublin while Shannon and Cork add-ons are an additional €100pp.

Valid one-way only on inbound flights from Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and Guilin in China and from Tokyo and osaka in Japan.

Booking dates September until October 7.

A quick browse of their many offers and I found Jewels of Japan, 11 days from €6190pp and nine days In Pursuit of Panda from €2490pp.

And, of course, we’re on the road to Japan with and



Flyday Friday

It’s the final straw. Well done Emirates for introducing eco-friendly paper straws this month. And binning plastic swizzle sticks and stirrers and replacing them with eco-friendly alternatives.

And from August plastic bags used for Inflight Retail purchases are to be replaced with paper bags.

It reckons it will be able to remove an estimated 81.7 million single-used plastic items from landfill each year.

And that’s not all! It has introduced onboard blankets made from 28 recycled bottles, saving 88 million plastic bottles from landfill by the end of 2019.

The airline is also segregating large plastic bottles on board to be recycled in Dubai and the rest of the world. This diverts an estimated 3 tonnes or about 150,000 plastic bottles from landfill in Dubai each month.

Emirates operates two flights from Dublin each day to Dubai and from there connects passengers to more than 150 destinations. Visit And why not visit for some great suggestions too.

London calling

The time is right: Photo by Pixabay

There are some things on our doorstep which we just take for granted… and obviously just shouldn’t.

One such is London.

London is one of the great cities of the world and so familiar yet so new… no matter how many times you visit you will always find something you either never knew was there or you just hadn’t got round to yet.

For me one of the great joys of London is Theatreland. It’s Beautiful! Cue for me to dig out my weekend there when I caught the dazzling and fun-filled Beautiful: The Carole King Story a couple of years back. Bear with me and I’ll post it soon.

For now Aer Lingus flies Dublin to London City from €47.99, one way including taxes and charges, to Gatwick €29.99 and to Heathrow €45.99. Cork to Heathrow is from €45.99, Shannon to Heathrow €45.99 and Knock to Gatwick €32.99. See And visit my review of London’s West End and a musical that made the earth move…. in a new tab)

Shout of Africa

Congratulations to Ethiopian Airlines which has just been named the Best Airline in Africa for the third year running at the Skytrax 2019 World Airlines Awards in Paris.

Ethiopian also won Best Business Class in Africa and Best Economy Class in Africa at the awards. Ethiopian has 120 destinations worldwide. For best rates visit

I missed out on the pleasures of flying out with Ethiopian this year to Addis Ababa, preferring to send a female colleague instead…. well, it was World Women’s Day… they were going to ‘meet’ Lucy, the world’s ‘oldest’ woman.

And it is a pleasure I will certainly be keen to enjoy in the future. The Ethiopians are a wonderful friendly people and have the secret of good ageing… as shown by Lucy.

But also because everyone there is seven years younger on account of them using a different calendar as they explained the first Enkutatash I celebrated with them at Dublin Airport… and such was the hospitality of Ethiopian;s Country Manager for Ireland, Meseret Tekalign and her team, and food I went back for seconds this year.

Me and Meseret: I’d look good in gold

Flyin’ air

Now I’ve been a customer of Mr O’Leary in the last week and intend to be again next weekend. It is an acquired taste but there is no denying that he has added to the gaiety of the nation and that his fares are darned reasonable.

Just back from Lourdes, and I will tell you about it in the coming weeks, and at just two hours it isn’t far to go for a miracle.

Ryanair is offering Lourdes at €22.98 one-way among a tranche of other great offers.

And this will leave you lots of spare change to buy those holy trinkets, candles, holy water and Virgin Mary statues because if my Dear Old Mum is anything to go by you can never have too much holy stuff around the house to bring you luck.