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Top five sporting flops of 2012


By David Skipwith

Published: 10:33AM Sunday December 30, 2012 Source: ONE Sport

Professional sport is all about results yet sometimes a poor performance or cringe worthy incident proves just as memorable as the most epic of wins.

Sometimes it's the simple matter of a team performing poorly or below exceedingly high expectations, other times it's an administrative gaffe that draws derision.

David Skipwith takes a look back at the top five sporting flops from 2012.

5 - Pt Chevalier Pirates field weakened side

The Pt Chevalier Pirates rugby league side made the national news for all the wrong reasons when they were kicked out of the Fox Memorial playoffs after they were accused of throwing their final game of the regular season against Marist Saints.

A judiciary hearing found the Pirates guilty of bringing disrespect to the competition by losing the game 102-0 after fielding a weakened side featuring 13 players that had not played the previous weekend.

Their apparent motivation for pulling this devious ploy was to eliminate the Papakura Sea Eagles from the semi-finals, a team which had beaten the Pirates in their two minor premiership meetings.

Marist's mammoth score allowed them to sneak into fourth spot ahead of Papakura.

The Sea Eagles complained to the Auckland Rugby League who agreed the Pirates had not fielded their best team for the Marist clash and therefore deliberately influenced the final competition placings.

The Pirates insisted they were resting some players while injuries had ruled others out, however the presence of Pirates squad members drinking on the sidelines during the controversial match was not a good look.

4 - Ian Thorpe's failed Olympic comeback

Australia's five-time Olympic gold medal swimmer Ian Thorpe returned to the headlines in February announcing his comeback to the sport he retired from in 2006.

The 29-year-old 'Thorpedo' planned to reclaim his place in the Australian team for the London Olympics, having recovered from a bad run of injuries and a bout of glandular fever that had stymied his career following the 2004 campaign in Athens.

It all came to nothing however, Thorpe missing selection after failing to qualify in the 100 and 200 metres freestyle events at the Olympic trials in March.

He even failed to make the 100 metre semi-final after qualifying in 21st spot while he also missed out on the 100 metre final, after finishing in 12th place in the semi-finals.

With that idea blown out of the water, Thorpe remained in the spotlight with the November release of his autobiography 'This is Me', which shed light on his battles with alcohol and depression.

He shouldn't feel too bad about his failed comeback bid - in his prime Thorpe also claimed 11 world titles and 10 Commonwealth Games gold medals, six of which he won in Manchester in 2002, and set 13 long-course records.

Most people would have been happy with that haul.

3 - The Blues dismal Super Rugby season

The arrival of All Blacks Piri Weepu and Ma'a Nonu was supposed to further strengthen a Blues side many were tipping to go all the way yet their season never got started and quickly turned to misery for all involved.

Things got off to a bad start with twin losses to the Crusaders and Chiefs before an away win over the Bulls gave false hope that Pat Lam's side was capable of turning things around.

Injuries, suspensions, and the seven losses that followed made it clear that wasn't going to happen.

Another one-off success against eventual wooden spooners the Lions was nothing to get excited about, the Blues reverting to type to notch another three losses before managing to finish with two more wins over the second-from-bottom Western Force, and Brumbies.

Lam's future was decided a lot sooner however, the Blues electing to advertise for a new coach in early May. The prolonged and very public battering of Lam's proud reputation was difficult to witness, frustration amongst fans boiling over with racist comments directed his way via social media and talkback radio.

The sad decline of one of New Zealand's powerhouse rugby regions meant Aucklanders had little to cheer about until the All Blacks rolled into town to demolish the Irish in the first of the June Tests.

Fingers crossed JK can turn things around in 2013.

2 - NZC sack Ross Taylor

The unsavoury manner in which Ross Taylor was ousted from his captaincy position and replaced by Brendon McCullum still sticks in the craw of many New Zealand cricket fans.

The fact that Taylor, New Zealand's top Test batsman, was told by new coach, Mike Hesson, just days before a Test series against Sri Lanka that he wasn't wanted as skipper beggars belief.

The ensuing PR disaster when his axing was confirmed turned the national cricketing body into a laughing stock, as Taylor accused Hesson of lying, when he said he had indicated he only wanted a change of captain for limited overs cricket.

Taylor insisted it was clear he was being removed from all forms of the game and later knocked back a belated offer for him to retain the Test captaincy.

A public apology from NZC chairman Chris Moller eventually came Taylor's way however a five hour board meeting with Hesson also in attendance determined that no-one was responsible for one of the worst weeks in New Zealand cricketing history.

The public's feelings of discontent are still palpable and how the side fares in the upcoming Test series against the Proteas, and how things continue when Taylor makes his eventual return to the side, will ensure this story has a lot more milage left in the tank.

1 - Warriors fall from grace

The mood at Mt Smart was better than positive as the kick-off for the 2012 NRL season approached.

The side that had made the grand final the year prior were expected to produce more of the same under incoming coach and working-class hero Bluey McClennan, yet they showed little resemblance to the hard-working and methodical Ivan Cleary-coached outfit of 2011.

A first-up loss to Manly at Eden Park was shrugged off, yet after eight rounds they had just three wins to their name and serious questions were being asked as to their ability to catch, pass, kick, run and tackle.

Encouraging wins over the Rabbitohs, Broncos and Roosters gave hope they were warming to their work but things were about to get a whole lot worse as the Warriors season nose-dived, notching just three more wins and losing their last eight games in a row.

With a finals spot still within reach, a bold press conference saw owners Owen Glenn and Eric Watson share their grand long-term vision, yet the embarrassing surrender of an 19-point lead and eventual 24-19 loss to the Knights that followed was a better indicator of their immediate future.

Despite assurances his job was safe, Bluey was ousted with two rounds remaining, his assistant Tony Iro taking the reins for the final two capitulation's to the Dragons and Manly.

Injuries and suspensions played their part but too often the 13 players on the field did not.

Things can only get better under Matthew Elliott in 2013.