Jonathan Drennan

Author's details

Name: Jonathan Drennan
Date registered: January 20, 2016
URL: http://www.theguardian.com/sport/tennis

Latest posts

  1. Graham Stack: the Arsenal Invincible who has more fans in India than Islington — March 27, 2017
  2. Why would anyone drop the All Blacks to play for Ulster? Charles Piutau explains — March 3, 2017
  3. Has Australia fallen out of love with rugby union? — December 8, 2016
  4. Has Australia fallen out of love with rugby union? — December 8, 2016

Author's posts listings

Mar 27

Graham Stack: the Arsenal Invincible who has more fans in India than Islington

Graham Stack was on the bench for Arsenal on the day they won the league at Tottenham in 2004, but that fixture offered little preparation for life in Kerala

By Jonathan Drennan for Behind the Lines, part of the Guardian Sport Network

Graham Stack knew that playing football in India was going to be different. The goalkeeper enjoyed a successful season with Kerala Blasters in the Indian Super League last year, but a single game, a 5-0 defeat against Mumbai City FC told him the fans there were unique. “I had let in a hat-trick from Diego Forlán,” he remembers. “It was an away game, so when we returned to Kerala I was a bit nervous about facing our fans. First time I see them after this bad defeat, they’re all profusely thanking me for trying my best and assuring me that the team would come back stronger. I thought I’m seriously a long way from home now.”

Stack started his career as a goalkeeper in the Arsenal academy and graduated to become part of the famed Invicibles squad in the 2003-04 season. The former Republic of Ireland U21 goalkeeper lifted the Premier League trophy at Highbury surrounded by Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Patrick Vieira. As a member of that great squad, Stack is welcome at the club any time and he recently visited Arsenal’s training ground for lunch with his old boss, Arsène Wenger. Stack’s privileged football education in north London shaped him and he continues to apply the lessons he learned at Arsenal for Eastleigh in the fifth tier of English football.

Related: Why would anyone drop the All Blacks to play for Ulster? Charles Piutau explains

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/behind-the-lines/2017/mar/27/graham-stack-arsenal-invincibles-goalkeeper-india-kerala-eastleigh

Mar 03

Why would anyone drop the All Blacks to play for Ulster? Charles Piutau explains

Charles Piutau missed out on winning the Rugby World Cup when he signed for Ulster but his move wasn’t about his success – it was about his family’s welfare

By Jonathan Drennan for Behind the Lines, part of the Guardian Sport Network

Charles Piutau grew up as the youngest of 10 siblings in Māngere, south Auckland, heavily influenced by his Tongan heritage. The suburb is home to many families from the Pacific Islands and was once the home to another son of industrious Tongan parents, the late great Jonah Lomu. In Maori culture there is a concept called “mana” that pervades Māngere, whether in church, school or at home. It denotes personal and collective pride, strength and identity. No man or woman is bigger than their community in a Tongan family. When you rise, you support your relatives along the way, as they have helped you in your development.

Two years ago, Piutau was an All Black who made a decision that some of his compatriots struggled to understand. At the age of 23 he was recognised regularly on the streets on Auckland as a rising star for his provincial and international teams. To the surprise of rugby fans in New Zealand, Piutau decided to postpone his international career and sign for Ulster. An All Black must play their club rugby in New Zealand and Piutau was swapping the fabled black jersey for the white of Ulster.

Related: Ruan Pienaar: ‘I wanted to come to Ulster as a foreigner and make a difference’

Related: A life in boxing: Freddie Roach on Ali, Tyson, Cotto, Pacquiao and his mum

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/behind-the-lines/2017/mar/03/charles-piutau-ulster-all-blacks-rugby

Dec 08

Has Australia fallen out of love with rugby union?

Australia were well beaten by England on Saturday but the sport is facing bigger troubles at home, where participation, investment and interest are falling

By Jonathan Drennan for Behind the Lines, part of the Guardian Sport Network

The Wallabies have returned home after a heavy defeat to England in front of a capacity crowd at Twickenham. Taking a beating from England is never easy for any Australian sports fan, but the result was softened by the fact that the match reports hovered slightly above the weekend’s lawn bowl results. Rugby union is largely out of sight and out of mind here.

If you don’t live in Australia, it is hard to believe that rugby union features so low on the sporting agenda. The Wallaby jersey has been worn by some of the game’s greatest players and the country’s contribution to the sport has been enormous historically, but the game is losing relevance for Australians. The country’s stadiums are barely filled and the crowds are muted.

Related: Wallabies end 2016 on a low note but positives emerge from European tour | John Davidson

Related: From Fiji to Sweden: how a Scottish cricket coach taught the world to play

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/behind-the-lines/2016/dec/08/australia-rugby-union-england

Dec 08

Has Australia fallen out of love with rugby union?

Australia were well beaten by England on Saturday but the sport is facing bigger troubles at home, where participation, investment and interest are falling

By Jonathan Drennan for Behind the Lines, part of the Guardian Sport Network

The Wallabies have returned home after a heavy defeat to England in front of a capacity crowd at Twickenham. Taking a beating from England is never easy for any Australian sports fan, but the result was softened by the fact that the match reports hovered slightly above the weekend’s lawn bowl results. Rugby union is largely out of sight and out of mind here.

If you don’t live in Australia, it is hard to believe that rugby union features so low on the sporting agenda. The Wallaby jersey has been worn by some of the game’s greatest players and the country’s contribution to the sport has been enormous historically, but the game is losing relevance for Australians. The country’s stadiums are barely filled and the crowds are muted.

Related: Wallabies end 2016 on a low note but positives emerge from European tour | John Davidson

Related: From Fiji to Sweden: how a Scottish cricket coach taught the world to play

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/behind-the-lines/2016/dec/08/australia-rugby-union-england