All Blacks vs Samoa

July 9th, 2015 at 11:11 am by David Farrar

The actual game of rugby wasn’t a flash one, but the reception the All Blacks got in Samoa showed that the test match was long long overdue. Big credit to John Campbell who helped lead the charge on this..

A fair number of our All Blacks have Samoan ancestry, and we have benefited greatly from them. It was nice to have the All Blacks give something back. It meant so much to those in Samoa, and especially the kids who aspire to one day play for Samoa, or the All Blacks.

The demands of the international calendar means that this can’t be an annual event, but I hope it isn’t a one off. At a minimum there should be a match every world cup cycle.


Hurricanes vs Highlanders

June 28th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

As a Wellingtonian who lived and studied in Dunedin, I always support Wellington and Otago sports teams. So a Hurricanes vs Highlanders Super 15 final is the ideal for me – I’l be happy with whomever wins. However my greater loyalty is to the Hurricanes, and I will be cheering for them. So thrilled they made the final, and it will be at home.

So who do we all think will win, and who do we want to win?


RIP Kevin Skinner

July 22nd, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Legendary All Blacks prop Kevin Skinner has died in Auckland, aged 86.

Skinner died over the weekend, a New Zealand Rugby spokesman confirmed today.

He played 20 tests and 63 games all told for the All Blacks during an international career that spanned 1949 to 1956.

He was a hard-nosed, durable and tough prop who had his finest moments in the 1956 series against South Africa when he came out of retirement for the last two tests and was credited with the being the man who regained the physical edge for the All Blacks.

The All Blacks won the second test 17-10 in Christchurch and the decider 11-5 in Auckland.

Skinner was also renowned for his boxing prowess, and was the 1947 New Zealand heavyweight boxing champion.

His recall for the 3rd test in 1956 was an act of genius. The South African front row were basically thugs, so we decided to play their game. They would grab testicles of the All Blacks and the like.

Skinner floored Koch with a right hook that could be clearly heard far away. I know one of the doctors who was on duty at the local hospital and Koch was still unconscious when he arrived. How Skinner wasn’t sent out, let alone even penalised I don’t know. But it worked – the South Africans stopped playing dirty.

Skinner is reputed to be the most hated All Black in South Africa. That would be a worthy epitaph for his gravestone!

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Will Coliseum get the rugby?

August 16th, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The internet-based broadcaster that snatched English Premier League football away from Sky is now eyeing the All Blacks.

This weekend Coliseum Sports Media will stream the first of 380 Premier League matches to subscribers.

CSM chief executive Tim Martin said he could not reveal the number of PremierLeaguePass subscriptions, which start at $149.90, sold so far, but interest had “ramped up massively” this week.

“You don’t know how the sales curve is really going to shape because we haven’t done this before … we are well into the thousands, well into, and that is tremendously encouraging.”

He confirmed Coliseum is eyeing a much bigger scrap with Sky – contesting the rights to the All Blacks and Super 15 when they come up in 2015.

Although there had been no concrete discussions, Mr Martin said he had met with New Zealand Rugby bosses. He acknowledged they had a strong relationship with Sky, but an eventual play for rugby was realistic.

Yesterday Sky’s director of sport Richard Last said it was committed to holding on to rugby rights.

“There is always a competitive marketplace … I don’t think there is any piece of content that is an absolute slam-dunk must-have, because you have to run a business.

“Obviously everybody who is interested in television in New Zealand would be interested in rugby. Winning the rights is easy – you just pay more than the person with the highest bid.”

Excellent news. Competition for sporting rights is good for the sports, and I believe good for viewers also. It is quite exciting to see video on demand emerging as an alternative to traditional television.

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Not a human right issue

March 27th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Jo Moir at Stuff reports:

A 10-year-old Porirua boy has torn down his rugby posters and binned his All Blacks duvet cover after his local rugby club made him feel “sad and fat”.

Joshua Moe has been told he has to play in the under-13s this season because – at 71 kilograms – he is too heavy to play in his own age group. But Joshua fears he will get hurt playing with boys who are older than him.

It’s great Joshua wants to play rugby, and I can understand his fear of getting hurt playing with older kids. However there is also a risk of kids his own age getting hurt when there is such a size and weight disparity.

The average weight for a 10 year old boy appears to be 32 kgs, so at 71 kgs Joshua is double their weight. The chance of them being damaged is significantly higher I would say than Joshua being damaged by 13 year olds who will still be smaller than him.

Last year Joshua received special permission to play in the Northern United under-11s team – a grade lower than the rules allowed for someone of his weight.

But at last week’s weigh-in for the new season, the club told him he had to move up to the under-13s. His mother, Vanessa Moe, queried the ruling, but was told he could either play in the under-13s or not at all.

She has now complained to the club, as well as to the New Zealand Rugby Union and the Human Rights Commission.

Oh Good God, this has nothing to do with the Human Rights Commission. Having weight restrictions for sports is hardly new. Boxing has it also.

“This has gone beyond rugby itself, and is now about a club making my son feel like crap and not wanting to play at all,” she said.

Joshua is looking to turn his back on rugby and plans to do swimming this year and have a go at rugby league next year.

“I want the rugby people to apologise and make the rules so it’s about age, not my size,” he said. “My friends all treat me the same, but the rugby club made me feel sad and fat.”

It’s awful Joshua feels like crap, and it is possible that the club officials handled it very badly. And some flexibility could well be desirable.

However at the end of the day a rule based on size/weight is not discriminatory – it is sensible and quite standard in many contact sports.

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Gender in sports management

January 23rd, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Dana Johannsen reports at NZ Herald:

New Zealand’s national sport has been lambasted as a sexist institution and the “last bastion of chauvinism” after a report found women were excluded from decision-making at all levels of the game.

The NZRU has never had a female voice at the boardroom table, while of 194 board positions at provincial level, just five (two of which are on the Auckland Rugby Board) are taken by women.

The glaring imbalance prompted Dr Judy McGregor, in her former role at the Human Rights Commission, to launch a campaign late last year pushing for the inclusion of a female representative on the NZRU board.

I think diversity on a board is a good thing, and that includes sports boards.

However I do wonder what percentage of the 150,000 or so rugby players in New Zealand are women? Anyone know?

How many men have been on the board of Netball NZ? There appears to be one there at the moment. And what proportion of netball players are men?

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Who will win this match?

August 17th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A broadcast media rugby team will square off tomorrow against a parliamentary side in a fundraiser for St John Ambulance Service.

The media team includes former All Black Glen Osborne, former MP John Tamihere, TVNZ’s Scotty Morrison and Monty Betham and Nate Nauer from MAI FM. Radio Live’s Willie Jackson is team manager.

On the other side are MPs Shane Jones, Chester Borrows, Paul Goldsmith, Brendan Horan and Alfred Ngaro. Jacinda Ardern, Nikki Kaye and parliamentary rugby team adviser Winston Peters will provide the glamour.

Hmmn who will win – the team with a former All Black who played in 21 test matches, or the team with Jacinda and Nikki in it? :-)

Anyone know where the game is?

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March 16th, 2012 at 5:12 pm by David Farrar

Sir Loin at Roarprawn blogs:

These men are sought in connection with a violent gang rape of Dunedin City Council ratepayers and BNZ shareholders last night. Another man, Steve Tew , is assisting police with their inquiries. Police advise members of the public that this organised criminal group is hazardous to local body financial health and should under no circumstances be approached. Any siting should be reported to 0800 ORFU FU.

“Otago Rugby Football Union Staff List and Office Holders

President Sir Eion Edgar
Vice President Adrian Read
Chairman Wayne Graham
Deputy Chairman Laurie Mains
Director Richard Bunton
Director Dave Callon
Director John Faulks 
Director Willis Paterson
Director Russell Cassidy
Director Andrew Rooney
Director John Hammer”

Heh, sadly true.

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RIP Jock Hobbs

March 13th, 2012 at 5:53 pm by David Farrar

The inevitable has happened and Jock Hobbs had died. For me it is especially poignant as Hobbs was All Black Captain when I was at secondary school and like most my age worshiped the All Blacks.

His contribution to NZ rugby administration is immense, and arguably unparalleled. His death is several decades too early. The most moving aspect of the Rugby World Cup for me was when Hobbs presented Richie McCaw with his 100th test cap. You could see how ill Hobbs was, and knew he couldn’t have much time to go.

Hobbs also had an interest in politics, and would have made an excellent MP and Minister if he had ever said yes to numerous entreaties to stand.

As always my condolences go out to his family, and close friends.

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Laidlaw says go amateur

February 28th, 2012 at 3:38 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

All Black great Chris Laidlaw believes the crisis in Otago rugby highlights the need for provincial rugby to return to its amateur roots. …

That would be about as successful as King Canute was (and he was making a point on purpose).

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Rugby World Cup 12 September 2011

September 12th, 2011 at 10:17 am by David Farrar

No matches until Wednesday but some great games yesterday.

  • Australia 32 v Italy 6
  • Ireland 22 v USA 10
  • South Africa 17 v Wales 16

The US are only the 18th ranked team in the world, and I thought they played a great game. Credit to Ireland for the win though.

And oh we were all Welsh last night. They came so close. James Hook almost won it for them.

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Rugby World Cup 11 September 2011

September 11th, 2011 at 10:41 am by David Farrar

I’m going to do a RWC post every day, so those interested can discuss and dissect outside of General Debate.

Results from 10 September:

  • France 47 – Japan 21
  • Scotland 34 – Romania 24
  • England 13 – Argentina 9
  • Fiji 49 – Namibia 25

For me the highlight was Romania playing so well, and coming so close to an upset. Would have loved to have seen Argentina win also.

Today’s Matches:

  • 3.30 pm – Australia v Italy
  • 6.00 pm – Ireland v USA
  • 8.30 pm – South Africa v Wales

Today we are all Welsh Italians!

Would also love to see USA win – not because Ireland is a threat, but for obvious sentimental reasons.

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NZ v Tonga

September 9th, 2011 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

I can’t wait for the Opening Ceremony and then of course the game

So what do people think the score will be?


NZ wins Parliamentary Rugby World Cup

September 9th, 2011 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Adam Bennett at NZ Herald reports:

New Zealand has crushed Argentina to win the Rugby World Cup – the Parliamentary Rugby World Cup that is.

The New Zealand team made up of MPs, political advisers and guest players including an ex-All Black made a strong start and won “about 40-nil” in the final played in Auckland according to captain and National MP for Napier Chris Tremain.

“We played well, we had a good team on the paddock. We scored well in the first quarter.”

Stand out players for New Zealand included National MP for Maungakiekie Sam Lotu-liga who scored a “superb” try from a short lineout.

Congratulations to the team. NZ has now won the parliamentary title four out of five times. The team does a great job raising money for charity as well as giving people the chance to ruck an MP :-)


MP to have plastic surgery

August 28th, 2011 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

But this surgery is in a good cause. Sunday News reports:

MP Gareth Hughes will have plastic surgery to repair a badly broken nose, busted while playing for the Parliamentary Rugby XV.

Hughes, the only Green Party MP in the side, suffered the injury on Monday in a game against a Diplomatic Corps XV in Wellington. The match was a warm-up for the Parliamentary World Cup, starting next Sunday.

The broken nose forced him out of yesterday’s game against a West Coast invitational team in Greymouth – won by the Coasters 12-0.

“I got the ball out of a ruck and started charging it up,” Hughes said. “But then I got knocked with some guy’s forearm.

“I went down and an awesome amount of blood came out. I went off to hospital and they said, `Wow, that [nose] is really bent’.” …

Hughes will return to Wellington next week for surgery to straighten his nose.

“I’m out of the World Cup unfortunately,” he said.

“But I will offer to be their water boy.

Hughes suffered cracked ribs in his debut for the Parliamentary World Cup side at Murupara in July.

“But it hasn’t put me off rugby. I will definitely play again when I am fit,” he said.

Good on Gareth for showing some Kiwi guts, and sticking with the game.

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Abstain for the game

August 17th, 2011 at 4:59 pm by David Farrar

This is the first of the videos for the Abstain for the game campaign by Telecom’s Backing Black campaign. What do people think?

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A great game

August 7th, 2011 at 1:21 pm by David Farrar

I’ve seen a lot of rugby games at the Stadium in Wellington, and a few at Athletic Park, Carisbrook and Lancaster Park, but had never been to a match at Eden Park before.

And it was a great game to watch up close. The first Dan Carter penalty was a nice little morale booster as so much was riding on this game. No not just the Bledisloe Cup, but everyone was aware that this could be the the Rugby World Cup final in two months time – New Zealand vs Australia.

Nonu’s try just before 10 minutes was a close call and right on the boundary. Very impressive conversion from Carter. Then the All Blacks are all defence, and yay they don’t let the Wallabies through. Then Mealamu burrows over the line and with an easy conversion it is 17-0. Around this stage I am thinking it should be an All Black victory, but things could change. And a nervous 10 minutes as the Wallabies get close several times to scoring, but the All Blacks don’t let the pressure get to them. 17-0 at half time is a good result.

A Carter drop goal to start the second half scoring off with gets smiles all around, and I start to think maybe the All Blacks can not concede a point. A couple of minutes later the Wallabies score a well deserved try. The speed of a couple of their backs is amazing.

Two minutes later the All Blacks score again and Carter kicks perfectly to make it 27-7. With 25 minutes to go I mentally conclude this is going to be a win – the battle is now for the score. Wallabies spend much of the next 15 minutes attacking again, and while I’m not happy we’re in defence so much, it’s great to see them hacking the pressure. Then around 12 minutes to go and Carter kicks a penalty bringing up his 15th point in the match.

30-7 would have been a great full-time score but with five minutes to go the Wallabies get another try, and sadly they deserved it. The final score of 30-14 is a fair reflection of the match.

In terms of the facilities, Eden Park was looking magnificent, and well up to the Rugby World Cup. Not much of a queue to get in, and the traffic into Kingsland Shops was pretty light, and from there an easy walk to the park. Scores of police, security and guides around to make sure you get to the right gate without problems.

Watching rugby on tv is good fun. But there is something great about being there in the stadium, and soaking up the atmosphere. I’ve already got tickets for some of the Rugby World Cup games – I think I’ll get some more. South Africa v Wales on 9/11 looks fun. Already booked in for Australia vs USA. I love the idea of 30,000 people cheering for the US!

France v Tonga has promise also. Not sure the Frenchies will be used to the size of the Tongans. At this stage not planning to see NZ vs Canada, because expectations are so high for a thrashing, we can’t live up to them. Am leaning towards the third quarter-final in Wellington also.

Tickets for the final are all gone, but if NZ is going well might try and go up to Auckland for their semi-final if tickets still remain by then.


Kids Rugby

June 4th, 2011 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

James Ihaka at the NZ Herald reports:

The Rugby Union has stopped kids winning their matches by more than 35 points, saying it makes the game more enjoyable.

But one coach describes the changes as “political correctness gone mad” and says he and other coaches will lobby for the new rule to be dropped.

Under the NZRU’s Small Blacks development programme for children aged 13 and under, coaches from opposing sides can meet at halftime if one side has put on 35 or more points against the other to agree on how they can “generate a more-even contest”.

A score of 100-nil is now posted as 35-nil – the maximum points differential allowed.

If a side wins 90 to 5, the score is recorded as 40 to 5.

Oh please tell me you are kidding. A friend on Twitter said she was going to read 1984 for the first time – there should be a chapter on faking the rugby score.

I reckon kids will feel worse knowing that they lost by so much, that the score had to be faked. And as if they won’t keep track themselves.

On this issue, I agree with Trevor Mallard.

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Key at Rugby Awards

December 18th, 2010 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Three News has this video of the PM’s banter at the Rugby Awards. He rips on Dan Carter for coming second to him in the Best Dressed Awards. Richie McCaw is loving it.

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Most obvious headline of the year

December 7th, 2010 at 6:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff has a headline:

Nude women’s rugby players draw a crowd

Who would have guessed?

The Old Boys University women’s rugby team have put together a nude calendar as a fund-raiser. They are on Trade Me.

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Well done rugby unions

September 17th, 2010 at 5:05 pm by David Farrar

On the 9th of September I blogged this open letter from a reader:

As we are all aware the people of Canterbury have suffered a terrible disaster, many are operating on adrenalin alone, many face weeks if not months of uncertainty and disruption.

Both the NZRU and the CRU are in an almost unique situation where you can offer the people of Canterbury a brief respite from their woes, with that in mind I have a suggestion.

On the 25th of September you have an afternoon game scheduled between Canterbury and Wellington, why not make attendance at this game free of charge for anybody who wants to come along.

Why not offer the people of Canterbury the chance to forget their problems for a couple of hours, perhaps you could take around donation buckets for those who wish to contribute to the mayoral fund, no pressure should be put on anybody to contribute and many of those who turn up will have lost everything, however there will be others who can and would donate.

Stuff reports:

Canterbury rugby is opening the doors of AMI Stadium to the public as their way of providing some much-needed earthquake relief.

Canterbury union chief executive Hamish Riach today announced that next Saturday afternoon’s Canterbury-Wellington ITM Cup match in Christchurch would be free admission.

The offer is in response to the earthquake disaster in Canterbury and has been made possible thanks to support from the CRFU, NZRU, CRFU sponsors AMI Insurance, Tui, TicketDirect and AMI Stadium managers Vbase.

“The Canterbury region has gone through a lot recently and rugby and its partners are absolutely delighted to give this high-profile game to the community free of charge,” said Riach.

Well done Hamish, and all the companies listed who worked together to get the game made free. I hope those attending enjoy it (and lose narrowly :-).

And congrats to the blog reader who authored the open letter – a good idea which came to fruition.

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An open letter to the NZRFU and CRU

September 9th, 2010 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

A reader has asked me to blog this open letter to the NZ Rugby Football Union and Canterbury Rugby Union:


As we are all aware the people of Canterbury have suffered a terrible disaster, many are operating on adrenalin alone, many face weeks if not months of uncertainty and disruption.

Both the NZRU and the CRU are in an almost unique situation where you can offer the people of Canterbury a brief respite from their woes, with that in mind I have a suggestion.

On the 25th of September you have an afternoon game scheduled between Canterbury and Wellington, why not make attendance at this game free of charge for anybody who wants to come along.

Why not offer the people of Canterbury the chance to forget their problems for a couple of hours, perhaps you could take around donation buckets for those who wish to contribute to the mayoral fund, no pressure should be put on anybody to contribute and many of those who turn up will have lost everything, however there will be others who can and would donate.

Use could be made of returning or retired All Blacks, those who are not playing (from both teams) should be encouraged to walk among the crowd and spend some time chatting with the people.

I would also like you to speak with the Breweries and the soft drink companies, why not offer them the chance to do something great, why not offer them the chance to give everybody who turns up a free beer or soft drink.

Ideally we would have the All Black captain there and he would present Mayor Bob Parker with a cheque from the team, this would be an amazing gesture and one that would gain back many of the fans the All Blacks have lost over the years.

So there it is Gentlemen, how about you take up the challenge, why not show us that Rugby is not just about money these days, why not show all of us that the game of Rugby is still the game of the people.

I think it is a great idea, and hope it is given serious consideration.

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The Nude Blacks

June 19th, 2010 at 4:59 pm by David Farrar

Tourism Dunedin informs me:

Nude Blacks provide perfect pre rugby entertainment in Dunedin

19 June 2010

Dunedin’s Nude Rugby International took place this afternoon between the Nude Blacks and the Welsh Leeks in the lead up to the last All Black test match at Carisbrook.

Fourteen naked players competed in front of a curious crowd of 300 at Logan Park, in the shadows of the under construction fixed roofed stadium Forsyth Barr Stadium at University Plaza.

Event organiser Ralph Davies from Head first Travel said “Unfortunately, the weather was fine for the game.”

“We prefer Antarctic southerlies and about three degrees just to challenge the players a bit,” he said.

The match between ‘The Nude Blacks’ and an international team was refereed by Former All Blacks Richard Loe and John Timu Past referees have included ex All Black Josh Kronfeld and a blind referee.

As with most years there was the obligatory fully clothed streaker who was escorted from the field by a nude policewoman.

Only in Dunedin!

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Editorials 1 June 2010

June 1st, 2010 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald looks at the BP oil spill:

As oil has become a scarcer resource, the search for it has, out of necessity, moved to more difficult locations. Oil companies have had to take a greater interest in inhospitable regions such as New Zealand’s Great South Basin and the waters off Alaska. They are also drilling in water so deep that any problems are beyond the reach of divers. This increases the potential for severe environmental damage if companies do not have adequate safety back-ups. Clearly, that was the case with BP and its Deepwater Horizon platform in the Gulf of Mexico. Indeed, it is now apparent that the company has no real idea how to contain, let alone control, the giant oil spill prompted by an explosion at the rig almost six weeks ago. …

The upshot of this ongoing failure is what the White House now says is the worst environmental catastrophe the United States has faced. The Gulf spill has easily surpassed the Exxon Valdez disaster off Alaska in 1989, with estimates of the amount of oil leaking each day ranging from 1.9 to 3 million litres.

And The Press talks tertiary education:

At first glance it does seem to be unfair on New Zealanders who aspire to a tertiary education.

With the Government freeze on funding for extra enrolments, universities are proposing higher standards for students, including courses that had previously been open entry. Yet at the same time the Government is encouraging more overseas students to study here, provided they pay full course fees.

The more overseas students you have, the more domestic students that can be funded. It is not an either/or.

As far as the domestic students are concerned, higher eligibility standards would be a positive development, despite the move being fiscally-driven. For too long there has been an expectation of an automatic right of entry to tertiary study. This unhealthy sense of entitlement among school-leavers should be eroded as universities call for higher NCEA pass rates.

And there should also be a national entry assessment for students over the age of 20 years; they currently have open entry despite the fact that mature students have a higher failure rate than school-leavers.

Finally, all those at universities should be told that they must now perform academically if they are to be entitled to re-enrol or, as the recent Budget signalled, to receive a student loan.

Slackers like myself will need to improve performance earlier, or get a job.

The Dom Post wades into the Andy Haden row:

It is to be hoped that Murray McCully does not apply the same standards to his role as foreign affairs and trade minister as he does to his role as Rugby World Cup minister. Otherwise New Zealand will become an international laughing stock.

It is no more acceptable for Rugby World Cup ambassador Andy Haden to refer to Polynesians as “darkies” than it would be for New Zealand’s high commissioners to Samoa or Tonga to refer to the locals as “coconuts” – another racial epithet Haden considers appropriate in “the right context”.

I don’t think anyone thinks it is acceptable. It is more a matter of whether he gets sacked for it.

Haden represents an old, and not particularly attractive, face of New Zealand. The image New Zealand wants to show the world at next year’s Rugby World Cup is of a young, confident nation that revels in the racial diversity of its makeup. His time has passed. He should go.

Ageism instead of racism!

The ODT also weighs in:

New Zealand’s premier rugby teams of today look very different to those of yesteryear.

They are now much bigger and much browner. Reflecting recent generations of mass Polynesian immigration to New Zealand, as well as Pacific interest and ability in rugby, Samoans, Tongans and Fijians are commonplace.

The All Blacks of the past 25 years would be a shadow of what they have been without Michael Jones, Jonah Lomu, Olo Brown and a long line of others. The Pacific has provided strength, pace, skill and leadership, capped with the appointment of All Black captain Tana Umaga in 2004. …

Selecting sports teams is, in essence, simple.

Pick those most likely to help the team win, whatever their colour, background or connections.

The jobs of coaches are precarious enough without them cutting their own throats by letting other considerations influence their judgements.

At another level, of course, selecting becomes more complex.

Choosing those most likely to help the team win is not the same as picking the most talented individual players. What will the impact of the person be on team culture, so essential for success? How will the player fit in with the style of the team? What is the playing balance of the team? Will the player thrive or shrivel?It is against this background that the extraordinary comments of former All Black lock and New Zealand Rugby World Cup ambassador Andy Haden should be viewed. …

The Crusaders’ primary interest has been to maintain winning ways, and they have, by the length of a rugby field, been the most successful in New Zealand at that.

It is reasonable to maintain that genetic and cultural characteristics influence how many Polynesians play rugby.

And it is fair enough for a team, like the Crusaders, to have a distinct style and therefore to be cautious about the number of its players, brown or white, who play a particular way.

But the Crusaders are too clever to be sucked into the racism that applies generalisations to particular individuals.

Exactly. Generalisations have their place in discussions, but you don’t apply them to known individuals.

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Tapu Misa on Haden

May 31st, 2010 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

So far the best analysis around what Andy Haden said comes from Tapu Misa, in my opinion:

My eldest son wanted me to leap to Andy Haden’s defence this week because he thinks there may have been some truth to what he said; that he was just being cynical when he uttered the nasty “darkies” word; and that Haden has a point about the physicality of players dictating their style of play.

“If you’re strong, maybe you are more likely to go through the wall than around,” he says.

Her son is quite perceptive, in my opinion.

It sounds reasonable. My son is a smart 17-year-old, a history and politics buff who has never played rugby. He’s doing his best to resist the stereotypes, but he slips too easily into the generalisations being peddled by Haden and others in the rugby fraternity – that New Zealand rugby is being ruined by the dominance of Pacific Island players: big, dim-witted oafs who aren’t capable of playing intelligently.

As with any race-based theory, there’s always a grain of truth. Everybody knows, don’t they, that the island boys are explosive, physical and instinctive, rather than tactical and strategic like the white players.

Almost all stereotypes are based on an element of truth. Otherwise they don’t become stereotypes.

Ergo, the browning of New Zealand rugby is bad. Thanks to Pacific Island players we will never be great again.

Or so the thesis goes. The problem is it lumps Pacific Islanders into a one-size-fits-all problem, as if all players of Pacific descent are cast in the same mould. It ignores the enormous differences between Pacific people, and the range of talents, strengths and weaknesses each individual brings to the game. And that’s short-sighted as well as racist.

And this is the key point. Stereotypes and generalisations can have a place in discussing trends and issues, but it is offensive when you use it to define a group of people in a way which ignores their individuality.

Who exactly is the quintessential Pacific Island player, anyway?

Is it the religious, never-on-a-Sunday Michael Jones, who in his heyday was ranked the best flanker in the world?

Or Sione Lauaki, who seems to get into trouble every time he goes out?

What about Bryan Williams, Joe Stanley, Olo Brown, Jonah Lomu, Tana Umaga, Rodney So’oialo, Mils Muliaina, Keven Mealamu, or George Smith in Australia? Where do they fit on the continuum?

The idea that these players share some kind of inherent mental inadequacy based on their Pacific heritage is ridiculous and wrong. It’s as ridiculous and wrong as the corollary that every Pakeha rugby player is an intellectual giant.

Heh, far far from it.Just think about some of those who are now rugby commentators :-)

It goes without saying that rugby requires different kinds of physical and mental abilities.

Let’s by all means talk about the need for balance in our rugby sides. But if players are being picked for the wrong skills, whose fault is that?

For my 2c, good rugby teams need both instinctive and tactical players. A team of 15 instinctive players will never follow any sort of game strategy while a team of 15 tactical players might never score a try :-)

And one can recognise that players from different races tend to be more one sort, than another, but that is as far as it goes. The merits and skills of the individual is what decisions should always be based on.

And if New Zealand rugby hasn’t worked out how to get the best out of the Pacific players it selects, then maybe it needs to spend more time finding out what makes its players tick and how it can take advantage of the diverse talents on offer in this country. …

Canterbury seems to be on to something – and if we’re to believe the denials, it’s not what Haden and others seem to believe.

The franchise seems to pick the best individuals based on nothing more mysterious than the skills and qualities its selectors think they’ll bring to the game and the team.

And then it puts time and effort into making them better.

That’s what works – not some real or imagined racist quota.


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