Haden stays, McCully seeking 7ft carpet

Written By: - Date published: 10:02 am, May 31st, 2010 - 25 comments
Categories: accountability, leadership, national - Tags: , , , , ,

It seems former All Black Andy Haden will keep his job as Rugby World Cup Ambassador after having apologized and withdrawn his allegations that the Canterbury Crusaders have a limit on the number of Polynesian players they recruit.

Fair enough, perhaps. But Murray McCully’s decision to not “shoot” Hayden on the grounds that if he did “there wouldn’t be enough people left in New Zealand to do anything” leaves a few questions unanswered. McCully has carefully made the debate about whether the use of the word “darkies” is acceptable for a high profile Sports Ambassador of New Zealand. I would have thought not myself, and Paul Homes ultimately lost his job over calling Kofi Anan a “cheeky darkie” – but there you are. Some Kiwis do, after all, use terms of racial abuse as terms of endearment amongst their friends, dysfunctional as that may be. And perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised by such standards of decorum, even amongst our ambassadors, after Key’s example of calling Tuhoe cannibals. More importantly, it’s not the central question.

Infantile language aside, the question McCully is more desperately avoiding is what Haden said: is it true that the Crusaders have a race based selection policy?

If that is the case, the recent apology to Maori All Blacks from the NZRFU for their racist selection policies would be as hollow as the Government’s  commitment to DRIP. It’d also look quite ugly in the lead up to the RWC, so surely an issue like this ought to be investigated by an independent judge quick smart, to put the matter to rest and ensure there really is no room for separatism in New Zealand rugby.

But the Crusaders’ selection policy is precisely the question McCully really wants to avoid and won’t take any responsibility for investigating.

Which raises my other question. Why did Haden say what he did? Haden seemed pretty adamant that what he was saying was true, initially saying that it was “in their articles”, later retracting that claim but reaffirming that Crusaders have a very clear de facto policy of not having too many “darkies”, to “keep a certain flavour” and that “it worked well for them”. Haden also claims other All Backs agree with him.

Why did he say that? Is it because Haden knew that the former Crusaders Chief, and now NZRFU Chief Executive Steve Tew would be embarrassed? Maybe it was payback for Tew’s apology for the NZRFU’s past support of apartheid rugby, which back-handedly condemned people like Haden who organized the first Cavaliers Tour to apartheid South Africa in 1986?

Is it because like Paul Holmes he lives for, and makes a living from, media attention? Perhaps Haden sincerely believed what he said but just has very poor judgement and shoots his mouth off without thought or evidence? Either way, not the best qualifications to be an ambassador I would have thought. Regardless of the darkie word angle, one has to wonder if there are any standards at all expected of our ambassadors? Are there really so few ex-All Blacks that the RWC can’t afford to substitute Haden for someone else, or is it that our Government doesn’t see this sort of behaviour by our ambassadors as anything to be concerned about?

On the other hand, perhaps Haden sincerely believed what he said, has evidence to support his claims, and said it because it’s an issue he wants cleared up. In that case, when a giant of All Blacks history and a Rugby World Cup Ambassador makes a claim a few months before the RWC of racially separatist selection policy occurring at the highest levels of contemporary New Zealand rugby, there is no way a government can try sweeping it under the carpet – especially when the NZRFU has just made a formal apology for its racially separatist selection policies!

An inquiry is necessary to clear up whether what Haden claimed is true or false. Only then will McCully be able put this one to rest.

25 comments on “Haden stays, McCully seeking 7ft carpet”

  1. ianmac 1

    I understood that Haden only apologised for using the word “darkie” and stood by his other beliefs about the limits of polynesians. No?

    • Bright Red 1.1

      that’s right. He is still claiming there’s a quota. And it’s important to realise he was saying the quota was a key to the Crusaders’ success and the Blues should copy it.

    • The Voice of Reason 1.2

      Correct, Ianmac. Haden has apologised for the use of the word, and also said that the policy probably isn’t written down as he claimed (“in their articles”). But he stands by the central allegation, which in a general sense, is probably true, if the chatter down in my local is anything to go by.

      Bear in mind it’s a rural, rugby loving area I live in and most of my neighbours are pretty conservative in their views. The consensus seemed to be that Polynesians are seen in rugby circles as lazy, thoughtless and usefull for finishing tired oppositions off late in the game, but not to be given roles that require decision making. So I guess that means few half backs or first fives with pacific passports.

      I guess an analysis of how many Polynesian have started Crusader games and how many have come on as subs would confirm it, but my gut feeling is there is some truth in what Haden is saying, even if it is unconscious adherence to a negative common view of the attributes of Polynesian players. That view may have been somewhat knocked by Samoa winning the Sevens overnight, of course.

      I don’t think that the stereotype of brown skinned people being ‘lazy trainers’ or the like is just restricted to rugby. How many black quarterbacks or coaches in gridiron? How many black captains and coaches in the Premier League?

      Haden’s motivation is hard to fathom, though at a guess, I’d say he’s had difficulty getting jobs for his clients with the Canterbury franchise. I went off him personally when he took off for Auckland in the seventies chasing the big bucks and leaving a halfway decent Wanganui side in the lurch. For all that Haden has always been cheerfully supportive of racists, I never really believed the rumour that when the Cavaliers players returned from the scab tour they snuck through customs with 20 Kruggerands hidden up their dates. Surely not, eh?

      • Carol 1.2.1

        “I guess an analysis of how many Polynesian have started Crusader games and how many have come on as subs would confirm it, but my gut feeling is there is some truth in what Haden is saying, even if it is unconscious adherence to a negative common view of the attributes of Polynesian players. That view may have been somewhat knocked by Samoa winning the Sevens overnight, of course.”

        Yes, I agree. I think I have come across stuff written on this in the past, maybe in an academic article, and maybe purely with reference to US sports and the way commentators and sports reporters talk about players.

        I am pretty certain I have heard critical comments by some anti-racist acquaintances, who claim that there’s a tendency for rugby commentators in NZ to infer, maybe through selective use of adjectives, that brown players are more intuitive, flare players, while white players are the decision, makers, strategists, leaders & organisers – or something along those lines.

  2. Tiger Mountain 2

    Possibly Haden’s idiotic remarks were just some sort of obscure score settling within rugbydom, which world retains an almost Masonic air of secrecy for non rugby followers. Andy just doesn’t appear to be the type to campaign against racism in rugby or anywhere.

    However if there is NZ provincial/Super team slection on racial “quotas’ the South Island would likely be one of the areas more favourably disposed to such behaviour with its pockets of white supremacist sub culture. Polynesian players have been around for years though even in the South Island, and I guess are affordable for clubs and useful for their hi impact style.

    In the parochial South perhaps they do want a “few’ of these players, just not “too many’. An enquiry would be interesting.

    • felix 2.1

      What BR said, above. He isn’t campaigning against racist quotas, he’s campaigning for them.

  3. ghostwhowalksnz 3

    This part concerns me .”.having apologized and withdrawn his allegations that the Canterbury Crusaders have a limit on the number of Polynesian players they recruit.”

    Im unaware that Hayden has done anything of the sort. Yes the offensive darky comment has been apologised for, the apology for ‘any offence’ has been made.
    The substance of Haydens allegations – without foundation- seem to still stand.

    And McCulley is letting him get away with it- like some sort of Kiwi Saddam , Rugby dances to his tune. What next at the stadium , a special box for McCulley and his cronies

    • gobsmacked 3.1

      Haden has not apologised for his allegations about Canterbury/Crusaders racial policies.

      The Canterbury CEO was interviewed on Morning Report. It’s a classic, well worth a listen. He’s so outraged, he just gasps for breath.

      If the allegations are false, then his indignation is fully justified. McCully has really screwed up here – you can’t just leave serious allegations hanging. Either there has been a disgraceful (illegal) racist employment practice, or there hasn’t.

      The wider point, of course, is that when pollies are all too happy to embrace sport for photo-ops and reflected glory, then they can’t run away and say it’s nothing to do with them when the same sport goes sour.

  4. ianmac 4

    Was it Haden as an All Black who “fell out of the lineout” to falsely win a penalty to win the game against Wales(?) ? If so I would call him a cheat. If not him, my apologies for any offence caused.

    • vto 4.1

      Haden did very famously “fall out of the lineout”, however the penalty was not awarded for that but instead for an infringment by the welsh further up the lienout. The result was 3 points and the game to NZ. Unfortunately the welsh crowd saw the “fall” and not the other infringement – and as such the rest is history.

      Re cheating in the All Blacks. That is standard issue and always has been. Just like the top echelons of most every human endeavour.

      • Pascal's bookie 4.1.1

        Re cheating in Rugby.

        I had it explained to me when I was whinging to my coach at half time about the opposing prop doing some sneaky shit, (can’t remember which type of SN), that was pretty much eliminating me from supporting my side of the business.

        The only damn law in rugby, I was told, is that the refs decision is final. If the ref is letting him do it, it’s legal. If you aren’t responding, perhaps chess would be a better waste of your time than whatever it is you think you are doing here.

        Clarified a lot. Spent the next few weeks learning about various presure points that can be reached when binding. Funnily enough, when you respond in kind, both sides tend to end up playing within the guidelines.

        • ianmac

          Pascal: They say there is two sets of rules in a game like rugby. Playing by the rules. And playing to win. (Note the recent football match against Australia.)
          The intent of Haden to “fall out of the lineout” was to cheat. No other explanation is possible (unless he felt like a bit of a rest?) Therefore Haden is a blatant cheat! And that’s not a stupid PC statement!

  5. tc 5

    Now that Andy’s helped his PM out with some bewildering comments, even for one of the old boys, to spark a media frenzy can we get back to sideshow’s conflicts of interests and that ‘Blind trust’ issue please….Haden’s what the media call ‘rent a quote’ and it worked well….move on people he’s had the schoolboy telling off.

  6. BLiP 6

    What – with John Key’s cannibal comment and now Haden’s darkies comment both making the international press, what will the world be thinking? How to take a sure-fire international image enhancing opportunity and turn it into a fiasco – give it to National Ltdâ„¢.

  7. vto 7

    why is it that it is ok to acknowledge certain good aspects of a group of people (or race) but not their bad aspects?

    example – certain african races are brilliant at running and other olympic track and field events due to their physiologicalality. but state that that same physiologicality results in, for example, bad driving and machinery operation and the whole world descends on you labelling ‘nasty racist’ and etc.

    Polynesian rugby skils, and lack of, are similar. High skills in some areas but low in others. (there I said it. Quick, someone label me racist)

    I have never heard a decent answer to this conundrum.

    • vto 7.1

      hang on.. can I be racist if I am part of the race I am commenting on?

    • uke 7.2

      Because such statements are generalisations, for which there are always exceptions?

      Groups naturally like to be flattered on such a basis, but not pre-judged. Best not to use generalisations at all and assess individuals on their own strengths and weaknesses; or how well they perform in-context.

      • vto 7.2.1

        well true true. But generalisations are a core part of human, and animal, behaviour and serve a purpose.

        • uke

          Yep – it’s human nature.

          Perhaps best just to keep both approaches in mind before deciding things or opening one’s mouth.

  8. PK 8

    Bernie Fraser also refers to an informal policy (see below). There was a similar controversy with the Warriors in the late 90’s with some calls for more Aussie grafters.


  9. The political management of this is poor. Mr Haden should have been sacked, short and sweet. End of issue for government. As it is, he’s still in the limelight as a government-sponsored RWC person. Mr McCully sounded foolish on the radio. Mr Tew is clearly furious. And the substantive issue lives on with an overlay of poor government management. Mr McCully’s star will have dipped further today.

  10. Adrian 10

    I’ think the original comment was during a discussion about wether Sonny Bill Williams was going to the Crusaders Haden was pissed off because the Canterbury system is organised and wealthy and opened his stupid gob like he was in the pub. Everything else is not backing down, which is why he was a bloody good rugby player, albeit a cheat and a boofhead. The second point bought up here is the old bad driving saw, if you look at all the groups that have been tagged as bad drivers mostly they have not been bought up having been driven as kids and haven’t been “imprinted” with the dynamics of vehicles. Nothing to do with racial characteristics.

  11. Rosy 11

    Ambassador… Isn’t that someone who represents/promotes an organisation? If a country’s ambassador made negative remarks about the country – there would certainly be a recall. If the World Cup organsisers do not hold the same views as Haden, and Haden brings the World Cup organsisers into disrepute by stating his own views then surely he should be sacked. Whether he was right or wrong about Canterbury or a racist is a whole other issue.

  12. Just out in the Herald:

    Rugby World Cup ambassador Andy Haden should reveal who told him about a cap on Polynesian players at the Crusaders, or resign, the Maori Party says.


    There’s a lot more meat left on these bones yet.

  13. zonk 13

    This puts a bit of perspective on the sentences handed out to the Kelston players.


    This came up in a subsequent Metro article too. The underbelly of New Zealand racism has just come spilling out.

    Perhaps a thread dedicated to http://www.nzonscreen.com/person/merata-mita and her contribution to this. This is what they really mean when they say they can’t remember where they were in ’81. They mean they didn’t think there was much wrong with playing with apartheid South Africa.

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