Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The good guys

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  • James Littlewood*,

    Thanks RB. As a non-rugger type, I find this kind of helpful in explaining certain aspects of the national obsession. Do I detect a hint of the apologist between these lines?

    And yet, interesting contrast with Hayden Green's comment a couple of weeks ago that this would be the first All Blacks team ever about which he felt ambivalent as to whether they won the RWC or not.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 410 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Graham,

    Great insight Russ. A will to win but not at the expense of dignity and decency. I like it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 215 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    The postscript to the SBW video comes with this RadioNZ story about him being given a second medal.

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/sport/288596/sonny-bill-williams-given-second-winners-medal

    And isn't it a richly illustrated story, with pictures, video, and Twitter (see, it is good for something!). I like where RadioNZ appear to be going.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Darlington,

    They have done some amazing things within the team after the nightmare of the Mitchell/Deans era a decade ago. I have to totally eat humble pie as regards Hansen, I thought he was a monosyllabic mumbler who would take the team backwards post the 2011 RWC. How wrong I was, he's taken a good team and made them great, the results have been testament to that but also the actions, statements and reputation of this current group are impeccable. You can only do that if you're a great leader, and Steve Hansen is definitely that.

    If you watch the ceremony at the end you will have seen the sheer size of the whole All Blacks group. Men and women, older players, fitness and technical staff, all ecstatic and obviously all completely together and overjoyed to be part of that setup. Felt like a small island of the best of NZ up there on that stage, no arrogance, just a group of hugely proud and satisfied professional people who were happy that they'd done us all proud.

    It's a world of worry out there, so it was nice just to be able to accept for once that, yeh, this was a very good thing.

    Nelson • Since Nov 2006 • 948 posts Report Reply

  • Shaun Lott,

    A national team that can the best in the world at something, by such a large margin, and be the subject of such hype, and still be so obviously just regular decent guys: that surely deserves our respect. It's clear why they inspire national pride, in all the best ways. You can see why John Key is so keen for every possible photo-op...

    (As for SBW, this tournament has certainly elevated my opinion of him significantly, both as a player and as a person.)

    Waitakere • Since Aug 2009 • 109 posts Report Reply

  • BlairMacca,

    My earliest rugby memory was the 87 world cup which hooked me and set a rather high bar for the All Blacks. Going through the 90's and early to mid 2000s its fair to say my confidence in the All Blacks was shattered on a number of occasions: having an amazing team decimated by league transfers, the 1995 Final, losing four in a row in '98, Semi Final 99, Bledisloe last minute loses in 2000, 2001, 2002 etc, 2003 Semi, 2007 Quarters...
    However, even though we won four years ago it still didn't quite make up for it.
    Yesterday it felt like the shroud has lifted, the fear and the pain has gone.
    I think I can now enjoy watching our team a whole lot more, and am happy to share that now with my 3 year old boy who is quite taken by the All Blacks

    Having said that I really hope that when we, inevitably, go through a rebuilding phase that we are grown up enough as a nation (and particularly the media although I doubt this) to understand that we can actually lose and its okay, and other teams are sometimes just better.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2007 • 208 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Brislen,

    One of the TV commentators (I forget who) talked a lot about Keven Mealamu as one of the old guard, whose role off the field in creating the culture has been as important if not more so than his role on the field.

    He said something about new players having to step up to the Mealamu standard - I thought that spoke volumes.

    A tremendous game and a tremendous team. I wonder if we'll see their like again.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 198 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams,

    Russell, your writing entirely captures my feelings about this team. If these be our heros, they appear ok. In fact, they appear a thoroughly decent collection of individuals who happen to be, also, a remarkable team. I do recall one incident involving one member of the team that I sincerely hope was appropriately dealt with.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2273 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    Hansen, who is as phlegmatic as his successor

    Eh? Who's next?

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1889 posts Report Reply

  • simon g,

    Yes, I pretty much agree with Russell's post and comments since. I was wrong about Hansen too - he seemed like an extra-grumpy Griz Wylie, when he was Henry's assistant. Now I find him much more likeable than his predecessor, genuinely indifferent to the media spotlight, a sort of anti-Mourinho and all the better for it.

    As for the rugby media overkill, I try to cope by putting up strong walls in my mental filing cabinet. As sport/entertainment, watching the ABs win is a delight. As a replacement for all other news it's insane, and I can only keep enjoying the success by avoiding the six o'clock swoon and associated bandwagon-jumping (does anybody, anywhere suddenly decide they like the All Blacks because the telly person has told us to?).

    So yes, they're an impressive and likeable sports team, good ambassadors, and let's try and ignore the hangers-on and their North Korean tendencies.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1321 posts Report Reply

  • Jason Kemp,

    I don’t generally watch sports at all. For too long I think rugby and the like has been oversold to the general population when actual interest has declined. I’m fine with people enjoying sports ball but it is great when a “magic moment” like the SBW one actually happens.

    Lydia Ko gets overlooked while Danny Lee gets reported. In July a Neilsen survey The Changing NZ Consumer

    Walking, camping and working out has increased in popularity as many traditional sports such as rugby, league, cricket and netball slip back. Despite this, sport remains very important to our nation.

    This research was mentioned on RNZ Mediawatch cupwatch starts at 23 mins where they noted only 25% of population is interested in rugby.

    Obviously during a world cup it is easy to be a fan when your team is winning. But the best moment I have heard about from the current competition was what SBW did there and you are quite right to provide the context.

    It is a great example of the elevation effect in action.

    That the team were supportive of SBW’s actions was a transformative act. That is what we really need from our sports rather than the overtly commercial ‘sell more milk in black bottles’ spiel we get now.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 364 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to linger,

    Hansen, who is as phlegmatic as his successor

    Eh? Who’s next?

    Ha! Let me fix that ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • Eediot, in reply to linger,

    Did he mean predecessor?

    Auckland • Since Mar 2011 • 51 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Paul Williams,

    I do recall one incident involving one member of the team that I sincerely hope was appropriately dealt with.

    Julian Savea? He completed a police diversion programme and seemed genuinely remorseful. Most notably, he apologised to those he'd hurt and let down, rather than trying to make himself look like a victim.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Eediot,

    Did he mean predecessor?

    Yes :-)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • Kevin McCready,

    I don't see significant change of the brand re alcohol. http://kmccready.wordpress.com/2014/04/24/alcoholism/

    Auckland • Since Jun 2013 • 119 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Most notably, he apologised to those he’d hurt and let down, rather than trying to make himself look like a victim.

    Yes. Savea. That's a change too. The reflexsive non-apology shits-me-to-tears! It's nice being a Kiwi in Australia for the moment I might add.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2273 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Kevin McCready,

    I don’t see significant change of the brand re alcohol.

    Steinlager continues to buy its way in, as it has done since 1986, and we get inflicted with bullshit nonsense like this attempt to claim the All Blacks’ virtues for a nondescript commercial lager.

    But in the dressing room after the game, many players weren’t drinking beer. And I like Hansen’s approach to players’ drinking. In the past we’ve lurched from booziness to alcohol bans, which only serve to make it seem more of a problem. Hansen basically said: “If you want to have a beer, have a beer. But remember your responsibilities.”

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • Bruce Hopkins,

    Superb read, thanks Russell and totally concur with your take on this.
    I did have a couple of reactive thoughts when seeing footage o this incident These are rendered almost irrelevant by the actions of Sonny Bill, Liam & Steve.
    However I did think that even though he is young Charlie lInes & his Dad or care giver who was hugging him at the end of the event must have known he was inviting some form of intervention. I imagine he must have had to help to get over the hoardings, so it was a pretty irresponsible act in the context of the event. The other was that the 'Supervisor', which is the word that was on the security guards jacket, seems to have watched way too many such tackles in news reports, what the hell was he thinking he would achieve with such an aggressive intervention on a kid. I imagine his life will be altered for some time to come by this.

    New Zealand • Since Oct 2013 • 5 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    The All Blacks have won everything at the World Rugby Awards – with the exception of coach of the year, which went to Michael Cheika. Fair enough, really – he's done wonders with that team in a year.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • llew40, in reply to Russell Brown,

    The management have said numerous times that they saw the old boozing culture as toxic and after it came to a head on one South Africa tour early in Graham Henry's tenure, set-out systematically to build a better environment. Notwithstanding the commercial demands of working with sponsors, I think its fairly evident that this team is not really a walking advertisement for boozy dickheads.

    Since Nov 2012 • 140 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to llew40,

    this team is not really a walking advertisement for boozy dickheads

    Assuming that team discipline remains in place, reckon there's any chance that changed relationship with alcohol could also filter down to rugby supporters? Or will the sponsor ultimately win on the day?

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1889 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Steinlager continues to buy its way in, as it has done since 1986, and we get inflicted with bullshit nonsense like this attempt to claim the All Blacks’ virtues for a nondescript commercial lager.

    They've also pretty much cut out sugar, an interview with their nutritionist reveals. Which makes them a weird fit for Coca-Cola's sugar-water brand Powerade, but the commercial reality remains.

    https://twitter.com/damongameau/status/660693747034886144

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    RWC 2015 was great but the final on Sunday morning left me very pleased rather than overwhelmed, which was the experience of the 2011 final. Curiously, the Japan vs South Africa encounter was more thrilling. I think it might have been something to do with media over-kill and sycophantic politicians this time around.

    Did my bit for UK readers in my latest contribution to cstonline, at :
    http://cstonline.tv/early-risers

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2537 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    But it would be good if we don't end up with 'their' silver fern on any new flag, that would only muddy the waters further...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7889 posts Report Reply

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