The ever controversial ,occasionally entertaining , George Hook writing in the ‘Indo’ earlier this week concluded one of his usual negative pieces on the rugby scene writing about Connacht rugby.
“With a debt of almost a million euro, an average coach and an even more average squad, the future is bleak. Economic reality may bite and as was always the sensible option, Ireland should have just three professional teams”.
So just like that Hook consigns Connacht rugby and thousands of loyal fans to history – but one may wonder if it is not George himself who is way past his ‘best sell by date’? Certainly an ever increasing number of followers, , some once staunch supporters seem to think so judging by many of the comments on sports forums and in the media in recent months. True George provided some entertaining controversial comment in early years but whilst that may be acceptable to an audience or readership for a year or even two, just producing negative pieces week in and week out, has but a limited appeal to most and judging by recent reaction it may well soon be a case of ‘bye bye George’.
Let George remember there are FOUR Irish provinces not three. Remember this suggestion of ‘pulling the plug’ comes barely a month after the win over Toulouse when Hook wrote, also in the ‘Indo’:
“Like the assassination at Sarajevo in 1914, this result will be heard around the world.
Former coaches, administrators and players will be standing a little taller.
In London, Jim Staples and Simon Geoghegan; in Manchester, John and Barry O’Driscoll; and in Dublin, Ray McLoughlin and Ciaran Fitzgerald will have raised a glass last night. Even in far-off Zimbabwe, David Curtis will have heard the news.
Today is a good day to be associated with Connacht rugby”.
And yet this week he wants to see Connacht thrown out. Enough said.
Why should the IRFU ‘abandon’ Connacht as Hook suggests? That would be a ridiculous decision if it was to be taken by the powers that be at IRFU. True there is the outstanding debt. The Sunday Indo put it like this a day before Hook’s outrageous proposal:
“It was confirmed at the December meeting of the IRFU committee that between a shortfall in projected income, and an overspend on the professional game, Connacht will be saddled with a €900,000 deficit going into next season. It remains to be seen how this affects their ability to plan and recruit”.
Clearly that does need URGENT action and not just Connacht must be asked to account for their spending. The IRFU and indirectly the Irish Sports Council have been providing significant funding to Connacht (and the rest of Irish sport) over many years?
What controls did they put in place to ensure it was money being wisely spent?
Across the Irish Sea, UK Sport vigorously checks on how its funding of sport in GB is allocated and how it is being used. Time for the I.S.C to do the same in Ireland. When the English Amateur Boxing Association did not ‘toe the party line’ at the end of 2013, UK Sport soon made it clear that funding would be immediately withheld and if necessary a new body created if they did not follow the laid down guidelines for the sport . That soon happened. In Ireland it does not seem that there is any stringent follow up procedures after the funds have been distributed and that needs to change … and quickly.
Connacht in fact have done quite well this year with two recent Heineken Cup wins including a magnificent away win against Toulouse plus an additional four losing bonus points. True that weekend massacre by Saracens was a heavy blow but they can also take pride in the number of home grown players they have produced in recent years albeit they have not always remained within the province having been spirited away by others.
Even better they have produced two of Ireland’s most exciting potential stars of the future in Kieran Marmion and Robbie Henshaw so the talent is there if only it can be further nurtured.
As a starter the IRFU should call in independent experts to assess the financial situation and ascertain how such huge debts have accrued (and been allowed to accrue) and satisfy themselves that there are no worse losses still to be discovered .
If any significant discrepancies are discovered then heads must roll whether within Connacht or elsewhere. No, George Hook’s suggestion is preposterous albeit no doubt he will receive a ‘warm welcome’ when next he appears way out West.
Indeed a few young Munster, Leinster and Ulster up and coming young players could be ‘seconded’ for three months or season long loans, if they are getting little or no play time in their own provinces. Where there is a will, there is a way.
Hook was in one of his most negative moods before and during Ireland’s November international against New Zealand as Mary Hannigan pointed out in ‘The Irish Times’:-
“Woodward’s emotions (on BBC) were, funnily enough, in striking contrast to the Hook man over on RTÉ, the fella once again demonstrating the art of failing to capture the mood, sticking his size 16s up the backsides of the Irish team, confusing his refusal to be a fan with a microphone with the occasional need to give, you know, credit where it’s due. Tom McGurk almost had to waterboard the man to get a begrudging ‘they did well . . . ish’.
“Ireland cannot win this match,” he’d said before the contest commenced, and, for once, few of us could dissent, but when he started rambling at half-time about lucky generals and the lads getting the breaks and the whistles and the intercepts going their way and yada yada, you could only chuck your eyes heavenwards and thank the very same heavens for the BBC. Tiresome, like”.
Readers’ comments were not exactly favourable either:
Sling your hook, Hookie, seems to be the general consensus. What is this guy’s qualifications to be a rugby analyst? Surely some coaching experience in the non-professional era is not adequate? This old war horse needs to be led briskly to the knacker’s yard. He should only appear on programmes about which he knows something, like Irish dancing for example. Perhaps its time to renew his relationship with Jean Butler, with whom he had wonderful chemistry on Jigs and Reels….
“If he walks like a buffoon ,talks like a buffoon then yes george hook is a buffoon ,lol,too many old men on rte ,give the younger generation a chance
Of course Hook is not the only ‘dinosaur’ on RTE Sports – Eamon Dunphy, Bill O’Herlihy, Tom McGurk, Jimmy Magee are also 65+ and in failing to promote younger sports presenters RTE are doing themselves – and licence payers – no favours . There should be a compulsory retirement age (65) at RTE as with most other companies though there are still opportunities to use ‘Golden Oldies’ for comments and occasional interviews.
You need not expect such world class sportswomen as Sonia O’Sullivan, Katie Taylor, Fionnuala Britton etc to receive any plaudits from Tom McGurk either , as witnessed here when presenting the New Zealand game :
“Only so often in a generation do the sporting Gods appear . . . that unforgettable divinity of the athletic and the aesthetic . . . Jesse Owens, Pele, Muhammed Ali, Georgie Best, Jack Nicklaus, Diego Maradona . . . Brazil 1970, Spain in ’08, the Wales rugby team of the 1970s . . . closer to home, the sporting gods living next door, Christy Ring, Mick O’Dwyer, Jack Kyle, DJ, Chippy, Arkle, Keano, Michael Gibson, Tony McCoy, legendary teams like Kerry and Kilkenny. Our memories of them age like fine wines, today we salute perhaps the greatest rugby team ever, if not the greatest team of all time.”
Never mind Tom, surely Katie would call upon her God to forgive you… or would she? Not so sure since McGurk’s view of women’s boxing as he once outlined on RTE’s DriveTime would not fit comfortably with the views of Katie and her Dad and coach, Pete.
“I think women’s boxing is an obscenity… “I think it’s outrageous… I think the notion of women in the ring hitting each other is unacceptable.”
Said Katie: “I can’t believe people are still saying things like that in this day and age”.
“Amateur boxing is such a safe sport. We wear headgear, gum-shields, and women wear breast protection as well. If you’re getting hurt, the referee will step in or the corner can throw the towel in.” .”You don’t see many knockouts in amateur boxing.”
“[McGurk] probably never even wanted women to vote,” Pete laughs. Both say most critics haven’t even bothered to watch women box. “You box by choice,” he concludes. “Ultimately,” Katie says, “everyone involved in Irish boxing supports me. I’m no different to any of the lads boxing in the National Stadium or anywhere around the country.”
Love him or hate him, George will still be around for a while yet. Earlier this month he announced via Twitter :
George Hook ✔ @ghook
Today is the4 first day of the 12th season of the Right Hook I never imagined that would happen
George Hook ✔ @ghook
The Right Hook will end at the end of September 2016 if God spares me
George Hook ✔ @ghoo
Plan to leave TV after Rugby World Cup 2015 DV