Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The good guys

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  • Alfie, in reply to Geoff Lealand,

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    I think it might have been something to do with media over-kill and sycophantic politicians this time around.

    Tremain - you're not the only one Geoff.

    Nice piece Russell.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1385 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    That is impressive when you remember just how young some of them are, both in age and in life experience, going from school to professional rugby does not give you much chance to learn much about the world or yourself.

    And they're subject to all the temptations and pressures of celebrity.

    Eight or 10 years ago, there were a few young All Blacks with poor reputations for public behaviour. Almost without us noticing, that seems to have completely changed.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22749 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Bart Janssen,

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    a beautifully measured and balanced post Russell

    ...another early adopter, Sir Colin Meads
    a long time stringer, 'opines' above with his measured and balanced post!

    < pic source >

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7887 posts Report Reply

  • llew40,

    Almost without us noticing, that seems to have completely changed.

    And I think, this, above all else, is the outcome of good leadership. And shared leadership that is devolved from Steve Hansen down. I've never seen a more impressive sporting interview than the Nation interview with Steve Hansen - it wasnt about rugby at all, it was about being decency. Having the likes of McCaw and Mealamu setting the cultural and behavioural standard. The mantra, coined by Sir Brian Lochore I believe, that 'better people make better All Blacks' is applicable to any organisation or team. A few years ago, the Sydney Swans put it in a more colloqially Australian way, dubbing it their 'no dick-heads' policy for recruiting new players.

    Since Nov 2012 • 140 posts Report Reply

  • Abbie,

    As one who takes a desultory interest in rugby at best - just tell me the final score - I have watched with interest how manly all this is. And look at the commenters on this thread - almost entirely male. I am not saying that NO women take an interest in rugby, but I think you have done a splendid job, Russell, at capturing the magic of the ABs for menfolk, mainly. I doubt that it is coincidence that at a time of saturation coverage of the most manly of sports and the unabashed fawning from the PM, there have been two other threads through my social media - domestic violence and the rise of new age feminism. Personally, I find the dominance of male values in rugby (and in ill tempered Aussie sledging) distinctly offputting.

    North Taranaki • Since Sep 2012 • 26 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to llew40,

    And I think, this, above all else, is the outcome of good leadership.

    Yes but - that doesn't take away from the effort the actual players have made to follow that lead. I get that someone needs to stand up and say "this is how we will behave" but there a numerous instances where that message has not been taken up.

    So there is something a bit special about this team as well in that they have been willing to listen to the good advice.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4450 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Darlington, in reply to Abbie,

    As one who takes a desultory interest in rugby at best - just tell me the final score - I have watched with interest how manly all this is.

    The thing that really brought a lump to my throat at the end was seeing the women who were part of the All Blacks management group going up to get their medals. I can't say I know enough about their setup to know who they were but they were obviously equals within the group and were as excited as everyone else to be up there to receive them.

    I don't know why that in particular got to me. I guess it just portayed in a small way that there is inclusivity in the team, and that this was a victory made by our people together, not just a bunch of macho guys on a paddock.

    Nelson • Since Nov 2006 • 948 posts Report Reply

  • Howard Edwards,

    For me one of the biggest differences between the teams of 2011 and 2015 was having an accurate reliable goalkicker. In 2011 the top three first fives (Carter, Cruden, Slade) were also the most reliable goalkickers but all were injured at some point. Piri Weepu was used in the quarterfinal against Argentina and did a fantastic job (remember the "Never Fear, Piri's Here" T-shirts that suddenly cropped up after that game?) but crapped out miserably after that. And although Stephen Donald saved the day with that kick in the 2011 final, it was only just inside the goalposts.

    This year it was quite different - Dan Carter was incredibly reliable and accurate. In both the semifinal and final his kicks were almost always straight down the middle, as were his two amazing drop goals.

    In the past NZ hasn't put much emphasis on goal kicking, as there seemed to be a widely-held belief that we could always win by scoring tries, and it wasn't that long ago that NZ crowds would boo if a visiting team attempted a drop goal.

    Looking at the 2015 tournament it appeared that every major team had a goalkicker who could bang them over from anywhere. Once again, this team seems to have learned a lot from 2011.

    Albany • Since Apr 2013 • 66 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Howard Edwards,

    NZ crowds would boo

    Interesting isn't it that the team behaves so much better than our crowds.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4450 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    his measured and balanced post

    I don't think ramming the post 4 feet into the ground counts as balanced :P

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4450 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22749 posts Report Reply

  • st ephen, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Interesting isn’t it that the team behaves so much better than our crowds.

    And the internets are filled with comments from gloating, boorish kiwi fans banging on about the outstanding humility of the ABs. It isn't rubbing off, guys.

    dunedin • Since Jul 2008 • 254 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Peter Darlington,

    As one who takes a desultory interest in rugby at best – just tell me the final score – I have watched with interest how manly all this is.

    The thing that really brought a lump to my throat at the end was seeing the women who were part of the All Blacks management group going up to get their medals. I can’t say I know enough about their setup to know who they were but they were obviously equals within the group and were as excited as everyone else to be up there to receive them.

    Yes! I'd like to know more about them. I recall it being a pretty big deal when Jane Dent was the All Blacks' comms manager – basically the voice of the team – in the 90s. And of course there's Melody Robinson.

    The person whose opinion I respect about rugby pretty much in the world is Tracey Nelson (although I'm very disappointed to see she's been too busy celebrating to get her RWC final game stats together), but I know a few other women who follow the game keenly.

    Most of the feminists in my Twitter timeline have been perving at the players and retweeting that picture of SBW and Ma'a on a bed in their undies, but that's cool too.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22749 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    NZ crowds would boo

    Interesting isn’t it that the team behaves so much better than our crowds.

    That's not quite it. Drop goals (and more particularly attempted drop goals) were booed because they were seen as negative play. Now that they win us world cup final matches, drop goals are of course AWESOME.

    Making a bit of noise is part of the fun of being in a big match crowd. I myself have been known to advise the referee when he's in error. I like to help.

    But rugby crowds aren't really like people who don't go to games think they are. If anything, they're a bit quiet. Opposing fans sit happily amongst each other and there are women and families. You'll get the odd boofhead, but I honestly can't remember the last time I witnessed it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22749 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I’d like to know more about them. I recall it being a pretty big deal when Jane Dent was the All Blacks’ comms manager – basically the voice of the team – in the 90s. And of course there’s Melody Robinson.

    The person whose opinion I respect about rugby pretty much in the world is Tracey Nelson (although I’m very disappointed to see she’s been too busy celebrating to get her RWC final game stats together), but I know a few other women who follow the game keenly.

    I’m glad the women in the men’s rugby crew are being recognised. But it’s still men’s rugby. And women may enjoy watching it, but they don’t get much recognition when they play it.

    There was quite a big netball match last Friday night between NZ and Australia, the current world champions. It was a heart-stopping game that went right down to the wire, with the Ferns winning the game but losing the cup by a nose. Almost zero media coverage for that, the media utterly preoccupied with All Blacks. Would the Silver Ferns have got parades if they’d won the Constellation Cup? Fawning politicians? I doubt it. Women’s sport has at best a niche audience, yet we’re all expected to feel strongly about men’s sport.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3887 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to Lilith __,

    Fawning politicians? I doubt it.

    Even John Key probably would realise that trying to get into the Ferns' changing rooms after the game might come across as a little creepy ... wouldn't he?

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1886 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to linger,

    Fawning politicians? I doubt it.

    Even John Key probably would realise that trying to get into the Ferns’ changing rooms after the game might come across as a little creepy … wouldn’t he?

    Because it’s not creepy the way he fawns on Richie McCaw? That's not really the point, though. ABs are seen as having wide public interest.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3887 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    But the gender of the politician is relevant, because Key is desperately keen to be seen as a conservative blokey bloke, accepted by undeniably blokey blokes — hence his creepy fawning over the alpha male role models. Female sporting role models, however successful, can’t have the same brand value for him.

    I agree entirely that there should be much more attention paid to women’s sport. Why isn’t there the same level of media interest for the Ferns as for the ABs? Perceived TV audience ratings (and media bidding wars, and so perceived value by media bosses, who happen mostly to be male)? Notable absence of support from the most newsworthy politicians (who happen mostly to be male)? Or the number mismatch that more men than women are involved in team sports? (Which in turn is partly a corollary of more women spending more time in unpaid or lower-paid work, but that’s by the by, and not any kind of predictor of success levels among those that do take part; see below.)

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1886 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    Just by the way, the New Zealand Women's Rugby team won the Women's Rugby World Cup four times in a row (1998, 2002, 2006, 2010).

    Only another 2 to go, All Blacks.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3887 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to Lilith __,

    with the Ferns winning the game but losing the cup by a nose. Almost zero media coverage

    Ah...but do you remember the media coverage for netball when A Certain Company wanted to put their brand logo on the seat of the players' uniform pants?

    Said it all, really.

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1344 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    (Meanwhile...)
    Key: Maaaaate! MAAAAAAATE!
    SBW: Ya need any help getting him off, Richie?
    Richie: Nah, he seems to be doing that for himself…

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1886 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Lilith __,

    I’m glad the women in the men’s rugby crew are being recognised. But it’s still men’s rugby. And women may enjoy watching it, but they don’t get much recognition when they play it.

    I watch the Black Ferns, but not many other people do. And it's good, but it it's not as exciting to watch. The strength, skill, speed and intensity are nothing like those in men's international rugby. To be honest, they'd probably be beaten by a NZ Schools team.

    It's a bit different in tennis, where the women's game can often be a better watch than seeing two Slavic giants blast the ball at each other. I don't think it's a coincidence that prize money in major tennis tournaments has been equal for men and women for a long time. Or that the world's three highest-earning female athletes are tennis players (with a figure skater next).

    There was quite a big netball match last Friday night between NZ and Australia, the current world champions. It was a heart-stopping game that went right down to the wire, with the Ferns winning the game but losing the cup by a nose. Almost zero media coverage for that, the media utterly preoccupied with All Blacks. Would the Silver Ferns have got parades if they’d won the Constellation Cup? Fawning politicians? I doubt it.

    Netball has suffered very badly from the move to pay TV. The additional money is good for the sport but not for public engagement. Audiences have been way down compared to the free-to-air era – as much as 75%. That's part of it. I don't watch as much netball as I used to.

    Otoh, the Constellation Cup (us playing the only other good team in the world, again) very probably got more viewers than the Kiwi rugby league team's game against England this week, which was barely reported. The RWC drowned out everything.

    Women’s sport has at best a niche audience, yet we’re all expected to feel strongly about men’s sport.

    It depends on the sport, especially outside team sports. I'd struggle to name a New Zealand cyclist, but I could definitely name Sarah Ulmer. Cycling is another sport where prize money is equal. But pro team sports? All about the men, everywhere.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22749 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Perceived TV audience ratings (and media bidding wars, and so perceived value by media bosses, who happen mostly to be male)?

    See above. Moving to pay TV has decimated netball's TV audience.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22749 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I watch the Black Ferns, but not many other people do. And it’s good, but it it’s not as exciting to watch. The strength, skill, speed and intensity are nothing like those in men’s international rugby. To be honest, they’d probably be beaten by a NZ Schools team.

    pro team sports? All about the men, everywhere.

    Imagine how good the Black Ferns could be if they had the pool of talent and resources that men's rugby has. Admittedly it's a while since I've been in school, but I never knew a single girl who played rugby. How many schools have a Women's First XV?

    Individual women can succeed in individual sports if they have the talent, coaching, and financial support. But for women to excel in team sports requires much more.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3887 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Lilith __,

    Imagine how good the Black Ferns could be if they had the pool of talent and resources that men’s rugby has.

    It looks to me like being on the women's Sevens circuit is helping, actually. But

    I didn't mean to sound so dismissive above, sorry. It's worth talking about. And it's past time there was a women on the NZRU board.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22749 posts Report Reply

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