Thinking and talking about rugby every day for 50+ years
10 May 2017
One of the first things people say to any rugby commentator is - 'Just how DO you pronounce all those names from all the different countries?'
The answer of course is to research local trends in pronunciation and then simply, 'practice, practice and do yet more practice!' You must say each player's name in any team equally and fairly.
Take the 2017 Fiji test squad for instance - you MUST remember at all times to instantly pronounce the 'c's' in a player's name as a 'th' sound, the 'd's' as an 'In-dee' sound, the 'b's' as an 'Im-bee' sound and the 'g's' as an 'ing' sound.
Well, it's something like that - it's hard to write down on paper. I have only given you the simplest of versions of what I believe is the correct way.
There are other pitfalls and disciplines too.... But hey! Try yourself out with what has been released in recent days. It's fun to try and the Fijian populace will like you more for trying!
So, here you go - Just take a deep breath and swallow through! Pretend you're at a live radio or TV telecast at Suva's National Stadium (remembering at all times that when its 'live on the air' you can't get any of your words back for a second chance) and read these names as quickly and fluently as you can - as if the Fiji team's big squad was on one of their glorious team runs to score! Get it right with no stumbles - and you could be on the way to a new career.
"Campese Ma’afu, Peni Ravai, Joeli Veitayaki, Manasa Saulo, Leeroy Atalifo, Kalivati Tawake, Sunia Koto, Jale Sassen, Tuapati Talemaitoga, Leone Nakarawa, Tevita Cavubati, Api Ratuniyarawa, Sikeli Nabou, Naulia Dawai, Viliame Mata, Nemani Nagusa, Akapusi Qera, Mosese Voka, Dominiko Waqaniburotu, Peceli Yato, Nikola Matawalu, Serupepeli Vularika, Henry Seniloli, Ben Volavola, Levani Botia, Jale Vatubua, Eroni Vasiteri, Albert Vulivuli, Vereniki Goneva, Asaeli Tikoirotuma, Josua Tuisova, Nemani Nadolo, Patrick Osborne, Timoci Nagusa, Metuisela Talebula, and the try is scored by Kini Murimurivalu!"
So bravo for trying so hard - and doing so well!
[Mind you, if you are of European stock (or of a Celtic background), and you think they'd be an easier commentary problem try 'identifying and broadcasting' at your highest speed the 2017 Welsh team as they rush to score on their upcoming Pacific tour. The Welsh, as you'll see, offer a completely different set of problems;
"It's Aled Davies to Gareth Davies to Sam Davies and Seb Davies; then to Rob Evans and Steff Evans! And finally it's Owen Williams who gives it to Rhun Williams then Scott Williams and Tomos Williams touches down!"
See! No problems at all!' (Perhaps because there's only one Morgan and one Jones also in the touring squad of 32!)]
NZ had to go to Brisbane for this Sunday game; the ABs scored 8 tries to 1! Winning the first World Cup was now only a week away!
Jedforest, Newcastle and Scotland
51 internationals for Scotland 1988-99
Described once as ‘a one-off, a complete and utter mystery’ as a person, Gary Armstrong ended his international career remembered as a deeply steadfast scrumhalf whose commitment to any team he played for could never be denied. The 'mystery' referred to extreme shyness.
But like a lot of shy rugby people Armstrong expressed himself strongly once he ran on to the field. He always tackled way above his diminutive stature, was an elusive runner, especially around the short side of a scrum, and above all was unswerving in his courage. He may have been a quiet man but when he played his final game for his country, captaining the team against the All Blacks at the 1999 Rugby World Cup, he was described afterwards by his coach Jim Telfer as ‘the bravest man I ever saw play for Scotland’.
Armstrong made his debut for Scotland in 1988 and only months later was in the British Isles team which toured Australia. On that trip he failed to make the test teams, losing out to Robert Jones of Wales, but in 1990 he played some of his greatest rugby. Not only was he a powerful force in the Scottish touring team to New Zealand, a team which harried the All Blacks over two close tests, but he also played a pivotal role in Scotland’s epic victory over the ‘auld enemy’, England, in the critical Five Nations and Grand Slam match of that year.
Injuries kept him out for two seasons and one time, after 28 tests, he actually retired from test rugby to concentrate on his dearly loved Jedforest team. But Scotland seemed to always call Armstrong back and each time they did he gave his usual 110%. He was captain of Scotland when they won the Five Nations in 1999 (of great satisfaction considering they were 100-1 outsiders when the season started). He also was one of the rare players to play the 1991 World Cup series, then miss the 1995 series in South Africa (he was injured), only to be back for the World Cup in 1999.
He retired from international play after captaining and playing strongly in the quarter-final match against New Zealand on his beloved Murrayfield.
After sevens years of productive play as a professional with the Newcastle Falcons, Armstrong became one of the first professionals with the new Scottish Borders professional team in 2002, signing as a 35 year old on a three-year contract!
Which New Zealand Tennis Sponsor's representative always included two of his 'own' invented words in his speeches at the Heineken Open prize givings in the 2000s - and what were the words?