Instead of trekking deep into the woodlands of Southern Germany we headed to Ireland for a few days. The first stop from Dublin was the shortish drive into Northern Ireland and to Belfast. Rugby Union is one of the only sports where Northern Ireland and the Republic join together to represent Ireland as whole. The Pro 12 competition has been incredibly successful over there and Irish teams have won 9 out of 15 editions of the tournament. So it was no surprise we couldn’t get a ticket for this Kingspan Stadium clash between Ulster and Munster! All 18,000 tickets had been sold and we couldn’t even score a freebie from the club itself. Luckily for us we bumped into a couple of likely lads outside the ground and snapped up their surplus tickets. The game wasn’t a classic by any means and Ulster, who hadn’t lost at home since May 2014, were red hot favourites considering Munster had also lost 5 straight! We wont expect to be invited back anytime soon……. Munster won 9-7! #rugby #rugbyunion #pro12 #guinnesspro12 #ulster #munster #kingspanstadium #belfast #northernireland #ireland #ravenhill
What else do you do on New Year’s Eve apart from heading to Helsinki, Finland for the Ringette World Championships? After accidentally stumbling into and claiming media accreditation for the Junior Ice Hockey World Championships which were taking place in the venue next door we eventually were directed to where we were supposed to be. Ringette can loosely be described as a non-contact form of ice hockey played predominantly by female participants. The stick used is an ice hockey stick without the blade and a rubber ring is used instead of puck. We got to see the titanic clash between Canada and the USA. Unfortunately for the gallant Americans, the sport was invented by the Canadians and they proved far too strong for their neighbours. The one way traffic probably didn’t show the sport in the best light unfortunately, and being possibly the coldest ice rink I have ever been in, probably prompted us to make an appropriate exit not too long after the game! #ringette #wrc2016 #teamusa #teamcanada #helsinki #finland #worldchampionship
Darts, especially the World Championship at Alexandra Palace (Ally Pally) has become one of the must see sports events on the planet. It certainly was on my bucket list and it certainly lived up to my expectations. First of all the darts on show were of such a high quality and tow of the three matches themselves went the full distance of 7 sets. The Legend that is 15 time World Champion, Phil “The Power” Taylor was beaten in a final set decider. Peter “Snakebite” Wright beat Dave Chisnall in another 7 setter. Chisnall averaged over 103 points per visit and LOST!!! The sheer quality of the darts was matched by the atmosphere of the crowd. For close to 4 hours they go non-stop. They come in fancy dress and they sing, chant, dance and most importantly they drink; but they bloody enjoy themselves to the fullest. They appreciate the darts too – that doesn’t get missed amongst the madness. What we did notice though was the amount of foreigners in the crowd. Lots of Germans, Spaniards, Poles and we even met a group of Greeks; all of whom had come specifically for the darts! I can see why. It is a sporting experience that should be everyone’s bucket list. You wont be disappointed.
Sidecar Speedway is one of the most adrenalin fueled sports you can ever imagine. We ventured up to the Victoria and New South Wales border town of Mildura, where apparently 80% of Victoria’s grapes hale from. Mildura is famous for the aforementioned grapes, the River Murray and speedway, be it 2, 3 and 4 wheels. The superstars of world speedway have graced the dirt track of Olympic Park at one time or another and if there is one town that lives and breathes speedway racing it is Mildura. They are a different breed; the people that take part in sidecar racing. The swingers that crawl all over the back and the side of the bike whilst doing upwards of 130km/h, moving their weight around so that the bike doesn’t career off into the walls that surround the track – quite tricky considering the bikes are generally out of control throughout. Crashes are plentiful; banging bodywork is a given and excitement is guaranteed. #sidecarspeedway #mildura #victoria #australia #crash #sidecars #speedway #motorbikes #dirttrack #olympicpark
The Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race is regarded as one of the most prestigious offshore yacht races in the world. It has been contested annually since 1945 and attracts some of the best boats and crews from across the globe. The race starts its 630 nautical mile (1170 kms) journey on Boxing Day from Sydney Harbour into the Tasman sea and south to Hobart in Tasmania. The finish is sailed up the Derwent River into the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania. The race record is 1 day 18 hours 23 minutes set in 2012. It’s not all plain sailing however (hahaha!) as the race was marred with tragedy in 1998 when a freak storm hit the fleet; 5 boats sank and 6 sailors died and only just over a third of the boats that entered actually finished the race.
It’s the 20th December in the middle of Western Europe and its 12 degrees. El Nino in full effect. Cyclocross is basically cross country cycling on a variety of terrains on a closed course. There are areas where it is only just possible to ride, some areas where it is difficult to ride and some where you have no hope of surviving so you throw the bike over your shoulder and run with it instead. It is Belgium’s National Sport and it was no surprise when 20,000 locals turned out to watch the institution that is the last World Cup race before Christmas.
Have you heard of high jumping for horses? One of the highlights of The Olympia Horse of the Year Show is the Puissance, where competitors compete in a knock-out format to keep jumping higher and higher over the wall. If you knock a brick off though, you’re out of there. #puissance #londonolympia #horseoftheyearshow #olympia #london #england