The Sin Bin
Unfortunate look-a-likes, Kiwi-baiting and yet more Twitter woe
ESPN Staff
August 10, 2012
Belarus' Nadzeya Ostapchuk celebrates winning gold in the Micky Skinner look-a-like contest, sorry the women's Olympics shot put title © Getty Images

Welcome to the latest edition of The Sin Bin - our regular feature offering you some of the quirkier stories to emanate from the game we love.

There's not a ruck we will not delve into or a hospital pass we will avoid in a bid to bring you some of the more bizarre, humorous and downright daft stories, videos, pictures and soundbites from around the rugby globe.

Unfortunate lookalikes

Belarus have three-gold medals with their sole athletics medal coming from Nadzeya Ostapchuk. She launched the shot an impressive 21.36m to beat New Zealand's Valerie Adams by a whopping 66m. The shock win inevitably drew Twitter's attention but it was her uncanny resemblance to a few of rugby's favourite sons that may have drawn the most amusement from the community. Former Ireland hooker Shane Byrne was put forward by Saracens' Mouritz Botha and ex-England flanker Micky Skinner was also suggested. James Haskell, however, went for "I thought it was the bloke who tiled my bathroom." Who looks more like the Olympic champion? Well it's up to you.

A brief history of rugby in England

"Rugby is as English as roast dinners and Sunday afternoon strolls in the park," declared a VisitEngland press release this week. Determined to do all they can to bolster England Rugby 2015's bid to host the biggest and best World Cup in a little over three years' time, the tourist board rolled out the welcome mat to international journalists at the Tower of London. Their efforts must be applauded although there was an unfortunate typo in their 'brief history of rugby union' that informed readers that the 'first international rugby match was played in March 1981, between England and Scotland." There were other gems too, including a list of 'famous rugby players' that included Sean Connery, JFK, JRR Tolkien, Bill Clinton, George W Bush, Russell Crowe, Chris Farley, Meat Loaf and Che Guevara - so now you know.


A man never to shy away from controversy, Stephen Jones, has one again hit the headlines in New Zealand and predictably, it involved Kiwi-baiting. The man, who has a urinal fashioned in the shape of his head, is one of New Zealand's least favourite Anglo sons, along with referee Wayne Barnes. He opted to tear into the Land of the Long White Cloud's medal tally on Twitter and the New Zealand Herald opted to report on the matter.

Spine-tingling stuff from the Chiefs

As impressive as their run to the Super Rugby title earlier this month, it was almost outdone by the haka performed in front of the Waikato Stadium faithful following their final victory over the Sharks - including a post-shoulder operation Richard Kahui!

Mike Phillips' new wheels

Watch out Bayonne, our Sin Bin favourite Mike Phillips has some new wheels, and there are just two of them. The Wales scrum-half has acquired a Vespa so if you ever pass through the picturesque French town then you may just see a British & Irish Lion scooting around on his new toy.

A warning for Thorpe

Former London Irish flanker Richard Thorpe did not adhere himself to his new boss Richard Cockerill after he announced his transfer to the Leicester Tigers before it was meant to be official on his Twitter account. Cockerill, when asked about it, did not pull any punches saying: "He [Thorpe] will not be using Twitter to be discussing any of those things anymore. If he didn't know beforehand, he certainly knows about it now." Those with good memories may remember another Tiger - Jordan Crane - getting into similar trouble after a couple of years ago for revealing the extent of an injury on the micro-blogging service. His mistake earned him a dressing down and this promise from Cockerill: "I assure you none of our players will be tweeting or Facebooking anything about Leicester Rugby Club ever again." Perhaps he didn't say that on Twitter?

Let it go

The Sharks did their best to defy an epic travel schedule in this year's Super Rugby play-offs but came up just short against the Chiefs in the season finale. Critics have since been queuing up to highlight what they see as the unfair nature of the competition format that rewarded the Reds with home advantage despite an inferior record to some of their rivals. The Cape Argus reports that SA's elite rugby players are two to three times more likely to get ill when travelling across five or more time zones to play games in Australia and New Zealand than when competing at home, according to a study led by Professor Martin Schwellnus of the UCT/MRD Research Unit for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine at Newlands. But the bad news is that the study doesn't provide any excuses for why an SA team didn't win this year's Super Rugby title, because it found that Kiwi opponents were similarly affected when they flew to SA.

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