Hook

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Hook is a former athlete who co-owns and writes for Total Sports Blog. For updates on his articles and insights, be sure to follow Hook on twitter @HookTSB.

On reflection, the Six Nations is arguably one of the most passionate sporting events played across the globe. 

Every February, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, France and Italy all contest for the Six Nations crown, but perhaps the most poignant feature of the tournament is the delivery of the national anthems beforehand. 

Similar to other sports but certainly not as fanatical as ruby union, the national anthems provide a jubilant atmosphere as it serves to lift the fans and players before the first whistle. 

Here, we take a look through each nation’s anthem ahead of the Six Nations opener on February 1st, with Betfair providing over ten markets to punt on. 

England – God Save the Queen

Although the exact origin still remains unknown, composer John Bull is thought to have written ‘God Save the Queen’ in 1619. It’s also the national anthem of New Zealand and Bermuda but will always be renowned as the United Kingdom’s. 

God save our gracious Queen!

Long live our noble Queen!

God save the Queen!

Send her victorious

Happy and glorious

Long to reign over us

God save the Queen!

Ireland

The current Six Nations holders can not only boast a world class squad, they can provide two anthems as well. The traditional version is called A Soldier’s Song and dates back to 1910, although it wasn’t until 1926 it became the national anthem. 

Soldiers are we,

whose lives are pledged to Ireland,

Some have come

from a land beyond the wave,

Sworn to be free,

no more our ancient sireland,

Shall shelter the despot or the slave.

Tonight we man the gap of danger,

In Erin’s cause, come woe or weal,

’Mid cannon’s roar and rifles’ peal,

We’ll chant a soldier’s song 

The second anthem is in Gaelic, and is called ‘Ireland’s Call’ which was written with the ideology of recognising a fractured Ireland. It was first used for the 1995 Rugby World Cup. 

Come the day and come the hour,

Come the power and the glory!

We have come to answer our country’s call,

From the four proud provinces of Ireland

Ireland, Ireland,

Together standing tall!

Shoulder to shoulder,

We’ll answer Ireland’s call!

Scotland – Flower of Scotland

Although this isn’t the official national anthem, Flower of Scotland has been used at a variety of sporting events including rugby union. Roy Williamson from the group the Corries penned the lyrics, in reference to the Scots victory over Edward II at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. 

O Flower of Scotland,

When will we see

Your like again,

That fought and died for,

Your wee bit hill and glen,

And stood against him,

Proud Edward’s army,

And sent him homeward,

To think again.

Those days are past now,

And in the past

they must remain,

But we can still rise now,

And be the nation again,

That stood against him,

Proud Edward’s army,

And sent him homeward,

To think again.

Wales – Land of my Fathers

The Welsh are arguably the most passionate fans when it comes to rugby, and their national anthem will be sure to give you goose bumps when sung in full voice. It originates from Evan James and the tune is composed by his son James James. It was first sung at a rugby match in 1905, some 114 years ago. 

The old land of my fathers is dear to me,

Land of bards and singers, famous men of renown;

Her brave warriors, very splendid patriots,

For freedom shed their blood.

Nation [or country], Nation, I am faithful to my Nation.

While the sea [is] a wall to the pure, most loved land,

O may the old language endure. 

Italy – Brothers of Italy

Written in 1847 by student Goffredo Mameli, Brothers of Italy has been the national anthem since 1946 when Italy became a republic after World War Two. The Six Nations whipping boys did have various other anthems throughout the 18th century but Brothers of Italy has always remained popular. 

Brothers of Italy,

Italy has woken,

Bound Scipio’s helmet

Upon her head.

Where is Victory?

Let her bow down,

For God created her

Slave of Rome.

CHORUS

Let us join in a cohort,

We are ready to die.

We are ready to die,

Italy has called.

Let us join in a cohort,

We are ready to die.

We are ready to die,

Italy has called! Yes!

France – La Marseillaise

Penned in 1792 by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle, La Marseillaise was quickly adopted by French revolutionists and became the national anthem three years later. The song acquired its nickname quite simply as protesters would travel from Marseille to Paris to support the revolution. 

Arise, children of the Fatherland,

The day of glory has arrived!

Against us tyranny’s

Bloody banner is raised, (repeat)

Do you hear, in the countryside,

The roar of those ferocious soldiers?

They’re coming right into your arms

To cut the throats of your sons, your women!

To arms, citizens,

Form your battalions,

Let’s march, let’s march!

Lest an impure blood

Soak our fields!

Form is everything in horse racing, or so we are told. It is, of course, the first thing any punter looks at when picking a runner. However, there are many instances when a major festival is the arena for rediscovering that form – a shot at redemption. The winter national hunt schedule threw up some interesting winners who will surely march on to Cheltenham as big favourites. However, there were a few head-scratching moments from big names, some of whom certainly have the class to bounce back at the Festival (12th – 15th March). Here are five to keep in mind: 

Might Bite: 

To say Nicky Henderson’s 9-year-old had a poor winter is an understatement. Last place in the Betfair Chase was put down to early season rust, but a 7th place when trying to retain the King George VI Chase really rattled the betting markets. Might Bite is now 16/1 for the Gold Cup with Betfair – four times his SP when he finished runner up last year. The question is whether he had a bad couple of races or if there is a permanent decline? 16/1 is enough to take a chance on the former for what is undoubtedly a Gold Cup-winning worthy horse. 

Faugheen:

It’s really difficult to know what to think about Faugheen over the last couple of years. He disappoints, then does just enough for punters to think he could get back to the top of his game again. William Hill’s favourite for the Stayers’ Hurdle is Penhill at 7/1 (some bookies have opted for Apple’s Jade). But it’s still worth remembering that Faugheen, currently available at 12/1, whipped Penhill in the Irish Stayers’ Hurdle just last April. It’s a conundrum, but right now you can catch special Cheltenham betting offers, like free bets, and Faugheen might just be the perfect type to use one on. 

Annamix:

If you checked the Cheltenham ante post betting just a month ago, Annamix was the favourite for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. In a way, it was a bit strange, because the five-year-old had never run a competitive race in the UK or Ireland (a sole run in France yielded a second-place finish). However, Willie Mullins and owners the Ricci Family know a superstar when they see one, so not many eyebrows were raised. A second-place finish in Limerick came on his debut, with Annamix looking a little clumsy and unsure. 20/1 is offered from Paddy Power right now. You are going to the reputation of the trainer and owners, but they have delivered time and time again in the past. 

Kalashnikov:

Kalashnikov isn’t the perfect horse, but the five-year-old is ultra-consistent (six wins and three seconds from nine starts) in his short career. Switching to chasing in this winter hasn’t been bad, with two wins from three, yet there was disappointment when finishing runner up to Dynamite Dollars in the Wayward Lad Novices Chase last month. Kalashnikov is available at 7/1 for the Arkle with Betfair, whereas Dynamite Dollars and Lalor are at 15/2 and 5/1 respectively. It could be a cracking race, one where Kalashnikov could reassert his brilliance. 

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Footpad:

Footpad had a fairly terrible winter, falling in one race and failing to beat Simply Ned in another. However, only Altior had a higher rating as a chaser from Timeform over the last year. The problem, of course, is that he might face the impeccable Altior in the Queen Mother Champion Chase. Altior is given 1/2 odds, with Footpad at 9/1 (Betfair) and it’s hard to see anyone get close to Henderson’s super horse. However, if Footpad goes in any other race – Betway offers 8/1 for the Ryanair Chase – Footpad is worth a punt.  

This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-NC

It’s been quite a ride for Conor McGregor over the last couple of years. He climbed to the very top of MMA again, winning our respect by becoming a two-weight champion. He took part in a much-derided, money-spinning boxing venture against Floyd Mayweather. He got arrested after attacking a bus full of UFC fighters, due to a perceived ‘beef’ with his upcoming opponent.

That opponent is Khabib Nurmagomedov, a Russian fighter who just happens to hold the longest undefeated streak in MMA history, with 26 straight victories. The pair will clash at UFC 229 for the UFC Lightweight Championship, scheduled for the 6th October at the T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas. The fight didn’t need the sideshow of McGregor’s arrest, it was going to be a huge draw regardless.

McGregor more than a smart mouth Read the rest of this entry »

It has been something of a slow build, perhaps going all the way back to Tyson Fury and Wladimir Klitschko back in 2015, but heavyweight boxing seems to be at the very top of the sport once again. A series of fortuitous events, such as Fury vacating the titles, coupled with bona fide stars emerging at the top of the division has created a perfect storm for heavyweight boxing in 2018.

Two big title fights will take place in March. First up, Deontay Wilder (c) will face Luis Ortiz for the WBC heavyweight title in New York on the 3rd March. Wilder is favourite with bookmakers to retain, currently available at odds of 2/5. Ortiz can be widely backed at a price of 2/1.

Joshua and Parker will fight in front of more than 70,000 fans Read the rest of this entry »

3 years ago my brothers and I pooled our money together to buy my father a special gift for his 60th birthday.  We got him a 60″ TV and what we thought was a nice TV stand to put it on.  All was well until the Alphaline Glass and Metal TV Stand purchased at Sears crumbled into a million pieces, destroying the TV in the process. Read the rest of this entry »

Thanks to Gillette, I had the pleasure of speaking with Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie Tight End OJ Howard and his very proud father Kareem.  Gillette had Kareem mic’d up for his son’s rookie debut, and then let OJ watch the game through his father’s eyes in the above video. Read the rest of this entry »

Former Chicago Bears defensive tackle Anthony “Spice” Adams teams up with Kelloggs this week to surprise Chicago and Green Bay fans with a “sunny” start to their day, complete with a mobile game day breakfast cart and milk dispensing keg as fans set up their tailgates.

Spice Adams will be making sure fans at Soldier Field here in Chicago get their day started off on the right foot with Raisin Bran before the game.  So if you plan on heading out to the game on Sunday, make sure you get there early and keep an eye out for the Kellogg’s Raisin Bran cart and Spice Adams.

When it comes to the sport of boxing, many people would question its nobility. This is especially the case with today’s boxing where boxers take hype to the next level. However, behind that hype and lack of humility lies a humble individual with a past that should be emulated. It is difficult for an ordinary fan to see that in a great fighter. Thanks to the greatest boxing films ever made, they are able to overlook the hype and explore the very foundation and morals that make that boxer great. Some of those films include:

Rocky

It tells a tale of the famous boxer Rocky Balboa who would never give up in boxing despite his series of losses. He was full of humility and worked hard to get a chance to be the best despite his poor winning record. Fate would have it that he would become great after a chance came from nowhere to fight the heavyweight champion Apollo Creed. He beat Apollo Creed and achieved his longtime dream of holding the heavyweight championship title. From that determination and persistent to be the best paid off at last which is a good lesson young modern boxers can learn from. Get, the best boxing betting advice from experts to improve your odds. Access the latest preview of the upcoming boxing matches to stay ahead. Read the rest of this entry »

The good people at Naked Nutrition reached out to me and asked me to give their pre-workout supplement, Naked Energy, a try.  While I work out regularly, I generally don’t use supplements of any kind.  I’ll crush a protein bar after one or two workouts a week, but that’s about it.  Regardless, I gave Naked Energy a go.

QUICK REVIEW

Effectiveness: A-

Taste: C-

Side Effects: B-

Price: A-

Overall: B

With only 10 premium, non GMO ingredients, Naked Nutrition’s Naked Energy is for the health conscious go-getter who wants that extra “umph” before their workout.  While I wasn’t a fan of the taste, I did feel a sense of alertness and energy that I didn’t have a half hour prior to ingesting the supplement.  I made the mistake one morning of taking Naked Energy on an empty stomach, and got a wicked headache, but otherwise Naked Energy did the trick.

For $39.99 you get 50 servings, which should last you about 2 months.  If you’re interested, you can scoop a tub of Naked Energy here, or order through Amazon.com.

FULL REVIEW:   Read the rest of this entry »

Ice Cube’s Big3 Basketball League made a pit stop in Chicago a couple of weeks ago on Sunday, July 23, and like many basketball fans I was intrigued.  I searched online for tickets, and found out through Ticketmaster that I could sit courtside for $750, second row for $250, 3rd row for $75, or a few sections back for $20.  After unsuccessfully asking multiple friends to cop tickets and join me, I came across a Groupon for $45 floor seats, purchased 2 and dragged my wife to the UIC Pavilion on a Sunday afternoon.  To say it was an underwhelming experience would be an understatement. Read the rest of this entry »