Sports

Sport: Holding Out For An Animal Hero to Predict the World Cup

This Rugby World Cup has offered plenty of entertainment already – a daft Englishman mocking the haka in an attempt to huck shite clothes, a former All Black hating on the English, current All Blacks using their bus as a changing room for maximum sponsorship exposure, and Tonga winning ‘Blazer of the Tournament’.

Alas, no matter how trivial these things are, none has the resonance of an animal oracle. How can this even be a global sporting event without some form of fauna predicting the results?

Here at The Spinoff Sports, we can only live in hope, while we take a tour of the brief history of animals predicting sports results.

Screen shot 2015-09-18 at 12.07.20 PM

1. Paul the Octopus

Perhaps the most famous of all, this very uncommon Common Octopus began his tenticular tipping career in 2008, when it began picking victories in the Euro 2008 tournament, but it was during the FIFA World Cup of 2010 when Paul really made a name for himself.

Paul, a resident of the Sea Life Centre in Oberhausen, Germany (which is a very long way from the sea) would go 8 from 8 in the World Cup, including accurately predicting the outcome of the final.

Along the way Paul received death threats from Argentinian chefs and even an offer of a transfer fee from officials in Galicia who proposed to make Paul the star attraction of their local seafood festival. This offer was rejected by his handlers in Germany, as was the offer of State Protection from Spanish Prime Minister Jose Zapatero.

Paul even managed to piss off Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad but, really, who hasn’t?

Hoping to ride the wave of publicity created by Paul, handlers at Chenmitz Zoo attempted to have their own menagerie join the party. Alas, Leon the Porcupine, Petty the Pygmy Hippopotamus and Anton the Tamarin were all failures.

Screen shot 2015-09-18 at 12.10.39 PM

2. Buffett the Manatee

Made famous by Captain Planet cartoons, the Manatee (not to be confused with the Dugong) these days gets very little press. Thank goodness for Buffett who went 5 straight on his Super Bowl predictions between 2009-2013, only to pick the Denver Broncos last year. Idiot.

Manatee pride was restored by Buffett’s half brother Hugh who chose the Sea Hawks and thus took his own Super Bowl record to an impressive 5 from 7.

Doubters, citing the fact that Manatees have completely shit vision and can barely make out details, suggest there is every chance neither Manatee picked the team they thought they were picking any way. But that’s just nitpicking.

3. Sonny Wool

Described by his manager as ‘a bit socially inept’ Dannevirke sheep Sonny Wool apparently had a fetish for night lights and rugby balls but, as awkward as this all seems, this cunning hill maggot had a penchant for predictions from an early age.

Having convinced his handlers that he could predict the weather, the next logical step was to see if he could predict All Blacks results. Sonny Wool did not disappoint and picked the home side in all seven of their matches.

Sonny Wool was terrible at games not featuring the All Blacks, incorrectly picking the three other quarterfinals. Good one Sonny.

Not much is known about life after the Rugby World Cup 2011 for Sonny Wool, but we do understand that during the event he received death threats.

Sadly his final tweet, posted on October 3, 2011 reads: “Fell asleep counting sheep, but did I really need to give a tip for the All Blacks v Canada?”

Screen shot 2015-09-18 at 12.16.01 PM

4. Mr Nuts

Named, apparently, for his impressive package prior to having the whole thing chopped off, this American cat was more famous for correctly picking the loser in the 2012 US Presidential election than he was for any sport-related tomcat foolery.

In the case of Mr Nuts, the litter box he chooses to do his business in represents the loser in any prediction racket. So, when he shat all over Mitt Romney, Obama was deemed safe for another term.

Still, Mr Nuts also did a roaring trade on the sports scene and is said to have accurately picked the loser in three NFL matches, and the 2013 America’s Cup. Mr Nuts also accurately picked the sex of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s first child.

5. Peak Animal Lunacy

With no German octopus available, the world needed an animal hero for FIFA World Cup 2014, and the animal kingdom answered the call.

Germany, sensing it was on the verge of a very big moment, pretty much used every animal available, including an armadillo (of course), an elephant, a African Clawed frog, and some lab flies.

England, too, was in on the fun with three penguins, who unfortunately couldn’t decide which team they wanted, and ended up choosing three different outcomes for Roy Hodgson’s men, when really, we all knew there was only one outcome for England.

Brazil had a loggerhead turtle called Big Head who got off to a flyer but quickly faded from view, much like his nation’s side.

China was too cool for any such nonsense, and withdrew its pandas from participation just hours before they were ready to show the world what they could do. The reclusive black and shite bamboo-eating bears would have been a cute addition to the genre but alas, they were no match for State pressure.

And so we come to the Rugby World Cup 2015, and not an animal oracle in sight. Here at the Spinoff Sports we want to know if anyone has a Llama. We want a Llama. And we shall call it Ieremia.

The Spinoff Longform Fund is dedicated to facilitating investigative journalism. Our focus is on supporting in-depth reporting on important New Zealand stories. Your donation will help us sustain this most resource-intensive form of journalism, ensuring that the most complex and important stories still get told.