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Smacking Debate Enters Rugby Arena

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Contributor:
Dave Griffith
Dave Griffith

Should a smack as part of good college rugby be a criminal offence in New Zealand?
‘Henry witnesses rugby brawl’ the headlines screamed. Fantastic I hope he took note that there is still some passion left in the game in New Zealand. That losing is painful and unpalatable, even if it is incorrectly expressed by fighting.
 
Why is the NPC seeing resurgence in interest this season? Could it be that there is provincial pride being played for? That people in the Provinces can see their team play for them every week, and mostly it’s the same team. They are not rested and rotated or put up in 5 star hotels. They are real rugby players playing it hard for the real supporters of the game.
 
Why does the arrogance of Auckland Boys Grammar Principal John Morris remind me of the NZRFU? Maybe it was his deciding what had happened and who was to blame despite not seeing the evidence yet.
 
What happened before and after the Rugby World Cup? Sheer arrogance that after months of doing things like conditioning and rotation that the majority of rugby supporters in this country were uncomfortable with – the coaches and the NZRFU persisted despite obvious evidence that the previous dominance was slipping.
 
“Judge me on the World Cup” said Henry in answering critics of his methods. Well we judged him after the earliest exit we have ever had. But the NZRFU all knowing and all seeing like Mr. Morris and contrary to the evidence knew better than most of the Rugby fans. We got sick of hearing how ‘gutted’ the players where. We just wanted to see some emotion some passion for playing for little old NZ.
 
And where are we now? The last two test matches have been the worst All Blacks displays I have seen in at least 20 years.  To switch a Drinking Ad slogan – “It’s not the losing its how we are losing”.
 
So I hope Graham saw on Saturday that there is still life in New Zealand Rugby. There is still passion and teams that hate losing above all else.
 
Please no more of the All Blacks faithful having to listen to All Blacks Coaches and players spending so much time praising the opposition?” The South African lineout is the best in the world”? “Matfield and Botha are too good”. Are they are so good that we can’t hope to compete against them in the lineouts so we don’t even try? What is that about? – Not All Blacks rugby.
 
Well that’s not good enough for us. We want a national team that fights for everything. To respect the opposition, but beat the crap out of them if they have to. It’s about Hawkes Bay and Taranaki bashing each other to a bruising standstill of a draw on the weekend.
 
Don’t tell us how much you want to win and how gutted you are – SHOW US. We will support you all the way – win or lose. But don’t swim around in your own all-knowing arrogance and pretend everyone else is stupid except you. 
 
So in answer to the question? Should a smack as part of good college rugby be a criminal offence in New Zealand? No it shouldn’t what should be a criminal offence is the continued ignorance by the NZRFU of what the rugby fans in this nation want to see, and its not what we have been dished up in the last two years. We want to see fight. Not necessarily the violence in the college rugby semi-final, but to know that our team will do whatever it takes or die trying. We want a ‘Brad Thorn virus’ to sweep through the team and give us performances to be proud of.
 
Graham and the NZRFU please listen to the wisest words from a rugby coach we have heard for a long time. Your mate, Kelston BHS First XV coach Athen’s Henare saying to his team after the brawl and the loss. “You shake hands and you accept responsibility,” he said. “You take it on the chin and you man up. I don’t want crying, I don’t want tears. You embarrassed yourselves and now you’ve got to stand up and be men".
 
“Accept Responsibility”, “Stand up and be men”. If only we had heard that after the World Cup things might be different now – but they are not.
 
Are you listening Graham and the NZRFU? I guess not. You made your minds up a long time ago and are sticking with it. You think we the fans just don’t understand. Darn right we don’t. Just be grateful we are voting about smacking this week and not the coaching job.
 

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