Is it time for progressives to love rugby?

Written By: - Date published: 8:30 am, October 22nd, 2015 - 328 comments
Categories: sport - Tags: ,

The Haka female style

1981 marks the point where – for good reason at the time – the left ceded the idea of sport to National.

We still begrudge it. We begrudge it even more than the flag debate.

We hate it because it’s full of mean-old competition, winning and losing, and injuries.

We hate it for its pervy sexism, male media dominance, and macho muscle over mind.

We hate it for its self-glorification, commercialization, and wealth focus.

We hate it for its patriotism, corruption, and taxpayer and ratepayer subsidies.

We hate its regulated violence, alcohol dominance, and sheer meaninglessness.

It’s 34 years since those dark days. Time to figure out how to complain about sport less, and learn to win with it more.

We could love it for the proud communities that sustain the clubs.

We could love it because it’s something we do well.

We could love it for the wives, girlfriends, boyfriends, husbands and children that help them up there.

We could love international sport as a good substitute for war.

We could find who among the athletic elite are also Progressively inclined.

We could love it as we can our country.

We don’t have to cede the whole enterprise of sport to the right.

And now, in the middle of Rugby World Cup, we can grind our teeth watching the apotheosis of Key with Saint Ritchie into the global heaven of sport.

Or we can get out to the nearest RSA, to the televised bars. Be with the people. Yes, sink pints.

Recognize that actually sport is as good as education for class mobility.

Actually, sport can be a unifying community force for good.

Sport can focus male teenage energy away from petty crime: into sport, out of court.
Sport is where the common people are, as well as the elite.

Until the left learn how to love sport as well as the right, we will continue to cede massive territorial ground before the game has started.

328 comments on “Is it time for progressives to love rugby?”

  1. Gabby 1

    Is this one of those straw man thingies I hear about?

  2. Matthew Hooton 2

    This is a really interesting and well-written post.

    • Tracey 2.1

      translation

      It reflects Matthew’s views.

      • RedLogix 2.1.1

        No need for the snark tracey – the post reflects mine as well.

        • tinfoilhat 2.1.1.1

          ..and mine

          • Colonial Viper 2.1.1.1.1

            The political left “gave up on sport” when the political left gave up on the working class, and instead started to look down on the things the working class did and enjoyed.

        • tracey 2.1.1.2

          not snark, sarc. IF Matthew thinks something is “sane” or he parises something it is, on this site anyway, only because h agrees with it.

          You will note I didn’t aim the sarcasm at you, or tinfoil, but quite specifically to Matthew.

          • Ovid 2.1.1.2.1

            There seems to be a reflexive action among some that if Hooton is for something, then the Left must oppose it. Can’t we just take things case-by-case and judge issues or trends on their merits? There’s still plenty of ideological divide around the respective roles of the state and private interests. But I reject the idea that there is no common ground at all between the Left and Right in New Zealand.

            • tracey 2.1.1.2.1.1

              My observations of Matthew on this site are that nothing is without an agenda Ovid. The other day he suggested that Goff was “sane” because Goff’s view mirrors Matthew’s. I challenged that and I challenged this comment (above). Could i be more generous, sure? But after a while of Matthew’s hit and run, selective answers and so on, my patience wears thin.

              If the common ground is that Matthew and some on the Left think that rugby is not embraced enough by the left, then excuse me for thinking that in the scheme of things it matters less than if he posted his view on, say, the Equality thread. So I called it . You called me. redL called me. Everyone gets to express themselves.

  3. Clean_power 3

    Why doesn’t the left love and embrace rugby? Shane Jones was probably the last Labour MP to openly declared his love of rugby, similarly to Andrew Little.

  4. ianmac 4

    Damn! I hadn’t noticed that I had abandoned rugby. Must have a word with my wife. She should have told me.

  5. AmaKiwi 5

    My spectator sport is politics.

  6. One Anonymous Bloke 6

    Well said, though I’m not sure the premise is 100% true: certainly doesn’t apply in my case.

    Isn’t it time these Tories learned there’s no ‘i’ in team? 😉

  7. Ad 7

    Cheers Matthew.

    Labour, Greens and NZFirst fans probably don’t need lessons on what things to be proud of about NZ.

    But Rugby has to be one of them.

    • RedLogix 7.1

      Very timely and thought-provoking Ad.

      Personally I’ve always held to the idea that sport and politics should be held separate. And that whenever they are mingled – for whatever reason good or bad – there is a social cost to be paid.

      And in our pride over 1981 the Left has forgotten to acknowledge this truth as well.

      • tracey 7.1.1

        anytime you have 2 people in a room you have a form of politics RedL.

        The notion that sport and politics could ever be seperated was always a myth perpetuated by some to further their own end (Haden).

        Sport is by its essence “organised”, therefore humans are organising. Humans who are organising are also being political, in a sense.

  8. Westiechick 8

    John Campbell has written beautifully about his love of rugby. I don’t like it for a variety of reasons and cannot stand the recent development where the ABs are associated with the PM (like Mussolini’s soccer team). Who are the progressives within that world? Wasn’t there a range of current and ex All Blacks on election day tweeting in support of Key? Helen pretended to like it but I don’t think anyone believed her and I don’t think that mattered much.

    • Molly 8.1

      I’m also left cold about rugby – as it is delivered to us today.

      Am a supporter of community level rugby for the reasons that have been outlined, but the marketing and semi-god status of the professionals doesn’t create a sense of pride or engagement in me.

      Also, this post smacks a little of being told “a real NZer likes rugby” which I have heard too many times to feel neutral about.

    • Tracey 8.2

      Helen, in my opinion, had a genuine like for Netball and Rugby League. Doesn’t means he didnt “like” rugby.

    • Smilin 8.3

      Just what we needed well said after all its just a game and its worth hundreds of millions but nobody talks about how much we really make out of it
      More Key ego spin I suppose .Did he ever play Rugby ?
      Saw some figures from the IRB after the last world cup and on a production profit basis did we get what you would expect if it was say Fonterra at its dizzy heights

    • Ad 8.4

      The evidence of her involvement for years tells you otherwise.

      • tracey 8.4.1

        What?

        Is your post about Sport (as it states) or about Rugby?

        I am confused by what you are saying here. I have genuinely tried to work out what you mean by “evidence of her involvement…”

  9. esoteric pineapples 9

    The Spinoff has a very good analysis of the All Black – France match. So different to the usual hack rugby journalism.

    http://thespinoff.co.nz/20-10-2015/sports-the-geometric-superiority-of-the-all-blacks/

    • Aaron 9.1

      That is a problem in New Zealand the sports journalism is very poor. Only Andrew Alderson who writes about cricket for the Herald is any good and it’s no coincidence that he’s the only one I’ve seen who gets published internationally.

    • Morrissey 9.2

      Actually, this is not very impressive at all. Yes, it’s certainly a lot cleverer than the crap which constitutes “the usual hack rugby journalism”, but it’s no more informed or accurate.

      It won’t surprise anyone who’s heard his radio and television commentaries that Stevenson takes a delight in crafting grandiose and clever-sounding phrases: “a re-imagining of rugby’s geometric boundaries”, …. “They are the game’s great professors of size and shape”, …”a seminal geometry lecture in the possibilities of a rugby field’s dimensions”, …”impelled by the false logic of proximity to take the shortest possible route”, et cetera, et cetera.

      I enjoyed his unwitting imitation of William McGonagall as he rhapsodised clumsily about the All Blacks’ “fervour for the five metre line”. My favourite comes right at the end, when he tries to ascend into full Bart Giamatti mode: the All Blacks were, he avers, “the very definition of geometry: a study in the relative position of figures, and the properties of space.”

      The trouble is, Stevenson has ignored the most important element of this farcical mis-match. It’s something even more important than the undeniable brilliance and absolute commitment of the All Blacks. That element is: the Tricolors did not try. They were completely terrible, a disgrace, a shame and a scandal. They didn’t just give up, they had given up before the game had started. They hardly won a lineout, they lost every single kickoff, they did not bother with such plebeian concerns as cover-defence. They were a leaderless, dispirited rabble, and their non-performance was an insult to the spirit of rugby, indeed to the spirit of all sport.

      Stevenson, however, ignores that point. He could see as well as anybody else how abject the French failure was. It was so abject that a Rugby World Cup quarter-final was reduced to not much more than a moderately opposed training run. Yet he chose not to mention it. And that refusal to put the All Blacks’ performance into perspective renders worthless all of his vaporing about “re-imagining rugby’s geometric boundaries” and “professors of size and shape.”

      He then compounds all of this by making the remarkable claim that this was “the greatest shellacking ever handed out in the Rugby World Cup finals”. Of course, that’s not true, because the French did not turn up to play. The game therefore lacked any tension, and other than the most blindly partisan All Black supporter, spectators felt depressed and cheated by the French failure to compete.

      So what WAS “the greatest shellacking ever handed out in the Rugby World Cup finals”? That’s easy to answer of course, but someone like Scott Stevenson would never have the courage or the integrity to admit it: the 1999 semifinal, when the Tricolors dominated the All Blacks from the opening kickoff and went on to win 43-31. And, unlike France on Sunday morning, the All Blacks gave it their all….

      Stevenson is not the first and won’t be the last sports writer to over-reach his own ability to express himself. If he wants to write about football like some giddy oenophile burbling about the qualities he perceives in a Cabernet Sauvignon, good on him. But when he writes demonstrably untrue things, he must be corrected.

      I note, by the way, that nobody has bothered to comment on his masterpiece.

  10. millsy 10

    The rugby world is anything but progressive. Look at the sport’s relations with apartheid South Africa.

    Also worth mentioning is those few players who boycotted the Springboks during that period found themselves on the outer in the game. Even to this day.

    • Matthew Hooton 10.1

      You mean Graeme Mourie, David Kirk and John Kirwan? I didn’t notice them ever being “on the outer” let alone now.

      • tracey 10.1.1

        Kirk and Kirwan were the Cavalier tour, right? Or decided to stay out of it. I suspect Millsy is referring to those prior to 84.

        • Matthew Hooton 10.1.1.1

          Yes. And Mourie was the captain who refused to play the Springboks in 1981. He was reappointed captain immediately after.

        • SPC 10.1.1.2

          Mourie and Robertson did not play in 1981. They returned to the team afterward, Mourie back as captain.

          Kirk and Kirwan did not go on the Cavaliers tour to South Africa in 1986 (scheduled for 1985).

          Going on the Cavalier tour meant being unavailable for a home series here in New Zealand in 1986. Kirk and Kirwan played in that. The chance given to new players while the Cavalier team was in South Africa, meant a new team (a hybrid of the two) played in the World Cup in 1987.

          • Matthew Hooton 10.1.1.2.1

            Yes, I remember the famous “Baby Black” test against France in 1986. Being forced to bring a whole lot of young new talent forward was probably the reason the All Blacks so easily won the 1987 World Cup. A bit of an irony.

      • millsy 10.1.2

        Apart from a stint at the Hurricanes in 2000-odd, Mourie hasnt really found himself able to further his coaching careers. while that other objector, Bruce Robertson, has never been heard of since he retired. David Kirk, from all accounts, got a rather frosty resecption during the ’86 tour of France, and his captaincy in 1987 was the result of Dalton’s blown hamstring.

        Even in this day and age, there will be a few fishheads with long memories.

        I dont think anyone realises the level of support for rugby relations with South Africa during that period, and the level of damage they were prepared to inflict on New Zealand’s reputation in order to keep up those relations.

    • Ad 10.2

      The essence of Rugby mirrors the core competitive advantage of much of the New Zealand workforce: we work better in teams than most people in the world.

      The only sport that requires more internal cohesion is rowing.
      No surprises for our continued success there either.

      • arkie 10.2.1

        Hadn’t considered that parallel and it’s a good point. However, I still find it hard to understand the assertion that the Left has ceded rugby to the Right. Rugby is the secular religion in this country and in my experience almost everybody in the mainstream is an adherent. There is much evidence of politicians of every flavour expressing their enthusiastic admiration of the sport and the team, much of it in the comments here (Thx Tracey!). If there is a perception that the Left is against the sport, then this is just that, a perception. Trying to alter that meme is much more complicated than laying on the fawning genuflection.

      • Matthew Hooton 10.2.2

        Also sailing. The crew on a racing yacht have to perform in incredible harmony. And like rugby (or at least before rugby became professional) there is (or was) a place for everyone from a maths geek to a grunt to work the sails.

  11. Sabine 11

    the other day at the Trust Stadiums where some Gymnastic Games, people came from OZ to watch it. The NZ Team did well, so I was told by one of my customers.

    However, according to the NZ’lers, Media and the likes, nothing happened.

    Maybe we should elevate Rugby and its Players to God Status and build more Stadiums in their glory.

    • RedLogix 11.1

      Sabine,

      Every nation or culture has one dominant sport that sucks the media oxygen out of all else. Even here in Victoria it’s AFL, just over the border in NSW it’s League.

      That’s just how it is and it makes the world a more interesting place.

      • Lanthanide 11.1.1

        “That’s just how it is and it makes the world a more interesting place.”

        You mean less interesting, right? Because having a diversity of sports be recognised by the MSM at the broadest levels would be more interesting than the current winter/summer monocultures of rugby / cricket.

      • tracey 11.1.2

        “That’s just how it is”?

        Having a right wing government is “just how it is” too RedL.

      • Sabine 11.1.3

        as I said, all hail the Rugby Gods, and to hell with all the other sports.

        I actually don’t mind Rugby, but just for now I am very much over it. Heck i would watch curling just to see someone else doing something else, cause the same old same old is just that same and old.

        • Ad 11.1.3.1

          Just you wait for the ticker-tape parade; you’ll get to see Rugby and politics intersect like you haven’t seen since – oh – last time.

          Betcha you’ll feel a surge of pride then as well.

  12. BM 12

    Are you describing all left voters or the tiny subset of left voters who call themselves progressives?

  13. shorts 13

    I respect those who have a passion for sport and I appreciate how important it is to many

    I don’t like how some (looking at you key and friends) have jumped on the rugby (or whatever) bandwagon of the time to be “popular”

    Any political party that sides with a team cause its good for their image can f__k right off… any politician that professes their love for a game (and who can prove it – i.e. its not just a opportune soundbite) I applaud

    personally I’m more interested in where politicians and parties stand in relation to arts (and culture) than games

    • Ad 13.1

      Fair enough.

      Neither the media nor a large chunk of the New Zealand public would agree with you for the next couple of weeks.

      Personally the Auckland Arts week last week was my highlight, since I bought my first sculpture – straight out of a dealer gallery. Felt like a better impulse than dropping a few k at the nearest TAB.

  14. Tracey 14

    People like/love what they like/love

    I like rugby. I watch it. I LOVE football. I love watching it and used to play for Auckland. I LOVE cricket. Used to play.

    I don’t think I need to be in a particular box.

    I am able to love rugby AND see it is misogynist, that it perpetuates all kinds of things that are not great for our society, as well as providing entertainment for people, outlets for people.

    I am NOT a fan of the kind of nationalism that the US trumpets, or that Key tries to evoke. That kind of Nationalism kills and allows the vulnerable to be relegated

    Sport can be as devisive as it can be cohesive. It can expose good character and expose and encourage bad character.

    If we accept sport is a healthy outlet for society, we need to apply that viewpoint equally. We don’t. The only truly wealthy sport in NZ is rugby. Almost every other sport has to scrimp and save and if not for some support from SNZ (and Lotteries commission) most would decline.

    Volunteers are on the decline too. Another by-product of our increasingly self focused population. Without volunteers sport will decline.

    If NZers really loved winners, we would pile heaps more resource or money into women’s sport because females have outperformed men in NZ for the last few decades on the “winning” on the world stage front. But we don’t. Because NZers don’t love sport, they love mens’ sport .

    Lydia Ko had to get to Number 1 (now 2) at a young age to get headlines. Note how she was usurped in the news quickly by Danny Lee, who had a run of wins and great finishes, but not even yet into the top 10.

    Look at our main newspapers, how many stories about womens’ sport compared to men? The Christchurch Press (that conservative of outlets covers (and has for some decades) womens’ sport more than SST or the Herald. Key perpetuates that.

    Helen Clark supported Netball and League. Not, to my recall in the sycophantic – ten year old boy giddiness- way John key does.

    IMO, if Key had sped to an All Blacks game, there would have been adulation and outcry at the PC-ness of derision. he would have been the archetypal ordinary bloke…

    THOSE are all the parts of the adulation of sport that I decry, despite my lifelong love for it.

    I didn’t know there was widespread repulsion by the Left of Sport. It’s like you never heard of Trevor Mallard (one of our better Ministers of Sport in recent decades in my opinion) and Helen Clark. Didn’t agree with everything Mallard has ever done or said but he was a supporter of MANY sports, male and female. McCully oversaw a bigger shift to supporting (and punishing) only the elite.

    Can you (or anyone) post some examples of where our leadership in the “Left” has eschewed sport tot he detriment of its potential voter base?

    • RedLogix 14.1

      Ad’s point is that while there is a great deal that can be said about our national sport – post 1981 the left more or less ceded the territory to the anti-progressives.

      Rugby isn’t my sport. But I’m respectful of all the reasons why it is for so many others, and of the outstanding athleticism we see at the top level these days. Nor should we be too blinded by the physicality (sometimes bordering on thuggery) – it has an absorbing cerebral aspect as well.

      The fact that Key has so entwined his brand image with the All Blacks also comes with some political risk. But he can be also confident that he won’t be called on it because no-one listens to what the Left has to say about Rugby.

      • Tracey 14.1.1

        I got his point. Wondered (genuinely) about examples of where this ceding has happened in an overt voter-influencing way by leadership of the Left?

        Key is safe on rugby, cos the AB’s winning percentage over time is into the 80’s and higher in recent times… He can’t lose.

      • weka 14.1.2

        I’d also like some specific examples of how and where progressives have ceded sport to the right. I’m not seeing it, but then I’m not a sports person.

        • Lanthanide 14.1.2.1

          I don’t get it either.

        • tracey 14.1.2.2

          Given the support for Ad’s post (and good on him for posting btw) I am surprised at how those advocating this viewpoint within the thread are finding it hard to come up with concrete examples to back their assertions?

          • weka 14.1.2.2.1

            I thought it was an interesting post to, and I agree it’s curious that no-one can explain the basic premise.

            • One Anonymous Bloke 14.1.2.2.1.1

              Right wingers say it a lot – that the Left don’t like sports – despite the fact that so many lefties cared sufficiently about rugby to risk life and limb to stop the South Africans and NZRFU politicising it.

              In other words it’s another right wing lie: the only way it gets traction is by nauseous repetition.

              • weka

                Ae and Hooton’s having a good go down thread. But I’d still like to know where Ad is coming from.

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  I wonder if Ad thinks Ad and Ad’s immediate peer group are representative of the Left.

                  • Ad

                    How would you describe that?

                    I set up an argument with two clear sides built in, and let it run.
                    It’s fun! In fact, it’s something like Rugby!

                    • weka

                      Yeah, but there’s some people who don’t understand the game. Is there a reason you don’t want to explain?

              • Enough is Enough

                Source?

            • Lanthanide 14.1.2.2.1.2

              I don’t think anyone has mentioned this (haven’t read the whole thread), but I did come up with a concrete example.

              The recent stance by the Greens to block the late-night and early-opening of bars to support the Rugby World Cup.

              They dressed it all up in terms of ‘harm to society’, like people being hung-over at work and kids having to walk past bars that were open in the morning. I believe only 5 of the pool match games were actually on Monday morning NZ time, so it’s a bit overplaying it.

              Anyway, the MSM and National made the Greens look foolish over their stance. Labour backed the bill from the start.

              Have there been any reports of the type of lawless disorder that the Greens were fearing? I don’t think so (which is not to say its been a perfect ride, but on the other hand, the people who go to pubs at 3am to watch the rugby aren’t the same crowd that stay up till 5am on a Saturday morning causing havoc when the bars close).

              • Actually the Greens’ position was that pub owners should apply for special licenses through the existing law and there didn’t need to be enabling legislation, and that the whole law was a waste of time, but yes, the way they said that would have contained some moralising about our abysmal drinking culture.

                • Lanthanide

                  Or, we could just have a blanket law to cover all the pubs in the country, which while it might take a little bit of Parliament’s time, would save much more time than if every individual bar were to apply for the exemption under the law (and I’d suggest that the majority of bar owners probably didn’t know they could even do that).

    • Rosemary McDonald 14.2

      “IMO, if Key had sped to an All Blacks game, there would have been adulation and outcry at the PC-ness of derision. he would have been the archetypal ordinary bloke…”

      The event would have been turned into a beer ad.

      • Tracey 14.2.1

        I agree… so Clark sped to an AB game, that’s how much she valued it or an association with it, that is NOT an example of the Left ceding sport or rugby to the Right. That it worked against her rather than for her (as t does for Key) is, imo, not about the left and sport per se, at all.

        • Matthew Hooton 14.2.1.1

          I always thought she should have said “Of course I [or ‘my staff’] told the driver to speed. We had an All Black game to get to.” Would have turned a political loser into a winner. And it is also true.

          • RedLogix 14.2.1.1.1

            Yet weirdly enough my reading of the entire affair was that the nature and speed of the convoy was 100% a Police operational matter. I still doubt Clark had anything to do with it.

            Which doesn’t negate the point you are making Matthew … NZ being what it is you are probably right on this.

            • Matthew Hooton 14.2.1.1.1.1

              Her staff said “we need to catch the flight”. After that, the police did was required to make that happen.

            • Tracey 14.2.1.1.1.2

              I disagree. See below.

              Shipley might have got away with it but only because she would NOT have had to go against the Machinations of the Right in defending her position.

          • Tracey 14.2.1.1.2

            No, it wouldn’t have won Matthew. That’s just what you tell yourself. The Right had a very misogynist view toward Ms Clark, hence the snide derision by many behind their hands calling her “Alan” Clark. Afterall our current PM demanded great accountability and transparency from her Government, and then promised to provide it. He has made it far far worse.

            The Right would have squealed about 1 law for all and blah blah blah.

      • Ovid 14.2.2

        It seems the guy on the right got promoted from departed soul to the Almighty himself.

    • Ad 14.3

      Does it not strike you as odd that in the months of wall to wall media coverage, coverage on leftie sites has been either absent or minimal?

      Not sure if you’ve been to the downtown offices in which whole floors are decked out in national team colours, barbeques organized around it, people focused on nothing else.

      The absence of commentary from the left about the entire competition is quite a sounding echo. It’s the biggest thing in team sport we will ever do, or have ever done.

  15. Sirenia 15

    The All Blacks are Key’s pawns at the moment. The All Blacks are just a branded product. Their AIG sponsorship is an insult to everyone in Christchurch who has had problems with insurance. And then there is the blatant promotion of alcohol. Rugby is the opiate of the people. So what is there to like?

    • Draco T Bastard 15.1

      +1

    • Whispering Kate 15.2

      I agree Sirenia, the real fun and joy of rugby has never been the same since it became professional. Now all we have is beefed up boof head show ponies who are employed as 21st century gladiators who play to the people who can afford paid TV and seats worth a poor man’s weekly wage. With Key in the mix smarming up to them and drooling in the changing rooms is enough to put anybody off. I don’t know who is using who, the the team itself should stay away from the man, he is toxic. Ritchie will never be the same person for me ever again – he never came across as being the sort of person who would want to even know Key let alone become a bosom buddy. Gone are the days when real men played the game and held down full time genuine employment.

      • tracey 15.2.1

        I LOVE sport but can recognise that any society that lets carers have to go to Court for their rights but pays men large amounts of money to play a game hasn’t quite got the right to call itself advanced or civilised or whatever

      • tracey 15.2.2

        I LOVE sport but can recognise that any society that lets carers have to go to Court for their rights but pays men large amounts of money to play a game hasn’t quite got the right to call itself advanced or civilised or whatever

        • Descendant Of Sssmith 15.2.2.1

          That’s a long bow.

          The reason players get paid so much is that they are the ones who are creating the revenue. If they don’t get paid it then basically it goes to administrators and managers, and owners. They aren’t on the field displaying their skill. Give more to the players I say.

          With the carers that’s largely symptomatic of shifting caring to the private sector when as a societal responsibility it should be carried out by the state. Profit (and subsequent large managerial salaries) in the caring industry is a complete dead-weight that adds nothing to help people be cared for and just takes.

          You can simply increase pay rates by having the state employ them and move the money currently paid in profit etc into their wages.

          It has been my observation as a left wing rugby loving person that rugby definitely gets some flak on this site.

          I did at one point after finishing my rugby career look to go back to playing soccer (and don’t bother trying to convince me I should say football) and was totally confounded by the sideline abuse emitting in a constant stream both towards the ref and opposition players. When I queried it I got told that it’s just part of the game and a bit of fun.

          I’ve never considered rugby fans are any worse than soccer fans in terms of racism, abuse, sexism – it runs through both camps. In saying that the worse sport I’ve dabbled in for racism in this country is golf. But then I’m an older white male and so often expected to have certain belief systems so often the guard goes down. I don’t usually get invited back when I point out their sexism or racism.

          And yeah I was for the Springbok tour and at the same time against apartheid. I believed then, and still do to a great extent, that sport enables people of all communities and beliefs to mix and be together, and sup together, befriend each other, share ideas

          And yeah sport will often be politicised (John Key doesn’t in my view love rugby it’s just a tool for him to manipulate) and yeah people will make a stand (or not) against that politicisation.

          That stand may reveal some things about their character eg Mourie’s stance was clearly in line with his known personal principles and was well respected at the time by most of the rugby community I was with at the time.

          The dislike for rugby (or as several on this site like to persistently say thugby) displayed by some does take a complex, diverse community and label it in an overly simplistic way.

          I can’t help but see this in the same way as those who label people with disabilities or of a particular race. It attempts to take away the identity of individuals and treat them all in the same negative way.

          The point about the abusive nature of the soccer I encountered is that I don’t go around saying that soccer is abusive and so on.

          I recognise that all sports, just like all communities, have their respective diversities and that each has it’s own boofheads.

  16. Richard Christie 16

    Reasons given to dislike it are all valid, and they’re mostly pretty specific to rugby. Nor do I don’t care how many years since the tour, the observations remain unchanged and many of the above reasons, such as its crass commercialism have intensified, I can’t even buy milk without thugby marketing pushed at me.

    Most othe reasons proffered for supporting it could be applied to many activities and sports indulged in by groups of enthusiests.

    So, meh. Keep your circus.

    • RedLogix 16.1

      We’ve said all this a thousand times over Richard. No-one listens because we keep telling them – as you have just done – to shove it.

      I’ve no quibble with your personal choice, but abandoning social territory always comes at cost. That’s Ad’s point.

      • Richard Christie 16.1.1

        but abandoning social territory always comes at cost. That’s Ad’s point

        Then yes, I completely miss whatever this point is.

        What is “abandoning social territory”? Is there some sort of magical compulsion to support rugby and those disliking it are abandoning some sort of obligation? not doing their duty for the left?

        • RedLogix 16.1.1.1

          You may then want to contemplate all the reasons why the progressives in the 1980’s so strongly protested the NZRFU’s implied social proof of apartheid at that time.

          • weka 16.1.1.1.1

            What is ‘abandoning social territory’?

            • Colonial Viper 16.1.1.1.1.1

              it means withdrawing from general society into a bubble.

              • weka

                so can you give some examples of how progressives have done this in relationship to sport? Because to me it looks the opposite. I hear lefties talking about sport (including rugby) all the time.

          • Richard Christie 16.1.1.1.2

            I assume it was because they objected to apartheid and glib justification for its implimentation, I see nothing profound about that.

            Not all objection to rugby is founded in the tour. Not by a long way.

            The left has no mandatory requirement that its supporters nor representitives refuse to support rugby.

            I suspect what Ad, and perhaps you, is proposing is that the political leadership of the left embrace popularism as a politically expedient course of action.

            If so we should presently expect calls for embracing the Kardashians and the (alternative) reality of Julie Christie’s world.

            • tracey 16.1.1.1.2.1

              ” is that the political leadership of the left embrace popularism as a politically expedient course of action.”

              My understanding of Ad’s viewpoint expressed here over time and after the last election (and he will correct me if I am way off) is that in order to affect stuff you have to be in power, and to be in power you (essentially) need to be of appeal to close to 50% of the voting population.

              My point is that Clark and Mallard were sports fans and supporters. I don’t “get” how the “political left” has abandonded sport in a way as to affect the voting populace?

              • Richard Christie

                My point is that Clark and Mallard were sports fans and supporters.

                Hmmm. I felt deeply sorry for Helen Clark having to attend those rugby matches and pretend she had an interest in them.

                Are rugby devotees so deeply insecure that they can’t tolerate a Prime Minister that doesn’t wet their pants and jump up and down at the same leasure activities as them?

                • Descendant Of Sssmith

                  I don’t know an actual rugby player or supporter or club member that gives a shit whether the Prime Minister is there or not.

                  (In saying that I’ve never mixed in the higher echelons of rugby bureaucracy)

                  They do tend to think though that they (the PM) should only go if they actually like rugby.

                  The anti-rugby people seem to care about it far more than as you term it “the rugby devotees.”

                  I would strongly suggest the insecurity is on the other foot.

                • Matthew Hooton

                  I think she did the right thing going to at least one game a year. Rugby has an importance place in New Zealand and she was prime minister and by attending she recognised that. Just like she flew to London, attended the Queen Mother’s funeral, and flew all the way back, even though she was hardly a monarchist. There are just some things a prime minister has to do. Whether you are personally interested is not really the point – as well as being head of government, you are also leader of the country and you really should carry out the symbolic roles that implies.

                  (Actually thinking about it a bit more, if you were prime minister, it might be quite pleasant to jump onto First Class with a few good books and no cellphone, watch a few movies, had a few wines, gone to an event and then done it all over again. It was probably the most relaxing weekend a prime minister would ever get.)

                  • Descendant Of Sssmith

                    I wasn’t saying the PM shouldn’t. I was saying that most rugby players and supporters don’t give a hoot(on) whether they do or not.

                    At least with Clark you knew she had a long history of involvement with league with Key it just gets more ridiculous the more involved he gets.

          • Tracey 16.1.1.1.3

            It’s also fascinating to consider that the 2 people who drove the Court case regarding the tour to South Africa were rugby fans and players. In fact the only way they had legal standing to bring the case was that they were members of a rugby club. So, able to be fans/supporters of rugby AND hold people to account to a higher standard?

        • Ad 16.1.1.2

          Just seems sad to leave tens of thousands of voting supporters and players to National, without a fight.

          Key gets it.

          I’d suggest the Opposition need to.

          • One Anonymous Bloke 16.1.1.2.1

            I’d suggest that you read your own comment about Helen Clark helping the NZRFU bring the World Cup here, then what you just said, and get a better understanding of cognitive dissonance as a result.

            • Ad 16.1.1.2.1.1

              It’s the current generation I worry about.

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                How do you know they aren’t at the RSA watching the footy? By your own admission you don’t go there.

                • Ad

                  I ask them.

                  I also flagged a few days ago that I’d be arguing against one of my previous positions. Good exercise.

  17. Olwyn 17

    I do not begrudge rugby at all, but I do begrudge Key’s appropriation of it. I was offended by the All Black team’s being announced from parliament, and I was also offended by All Blacks tweeting their support for national on election day. If you want nationwide support you have to place yourself above party politics. But Key is very good at putting his finger on the scales, so that appropriate governmental support for the team becomes National Party appropriation by a couple of milligrams.

    • Tracey 17.1

      I object to our paying for the announcement and party at the Beehive.

      I object to his texting the All Black captain for political ends (re the flag). It could not happen without acquiescence of the NZR.

      Although he deleted the texts he was happy to both paraphrase and recall the content. Contrast that with other texts (and Ms Collins deletion of her bits and pieces to thwart an inquiry).

    • Ad 17.2

      Personally I think that’s the Prime Minister’s job, whoever they are.

      John Key did precisely what Helen Clark did – and good on her as well.

      They are New Zealand’s premier sporting group of any kind.
      Nothing else comes close.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 17.2.1

        I don’t recall Helen Clark debasing athletes.

      • tracey 17.2.2

        So the political left didn’t eschew rugby or sport?

      • Olwyn 17.2.3

        As I said, Key tends to put his finger on the scales, and that is the difference. Of course Helen Clark supported our sporting teams, and so have other PM’s. Key however, seemingly with the blessing of NZR, has brought a partisan element to bear on things.

        • Ad 17.2.3.1

          I tend to agree with you there.

          Rugby has felt like a National base, but it’s perplexing.
          In New Zealand, Rugby is by no means a middle class sport. It has many elements that should lean it toward being easy to sympathize with the left. Which I sketch out in the post.

  18. Observer (Tokoroa) 18

    Yes Advantage. Well said.

    Leaving aside the undisputed skills of a number of All Blacks, it is somewhat sick to see a non all black who has a sinister fetish for little girls hair placed center front of rugby marketing.

    It maybe alright for promoting Casino Gambling and Brothels. I don’t know

    But Little Girls, flowing heroic booze, home violence ….. is not altogether goodness and grandeur.

  19. Tautoko Mangō Mata 19

    I recall joining the queues of people sitting outside Eden Park at about 3am waiting to get tickets for the terraces to watch rugby internationals. Despite being sports mad, however, I could not understand how the NZRU could turn a blind eye to apartheid. Time was healing those wounds but my jaundiced view has been rekindled by the John Key-AB photo and the announcing of the World Cup team at Parliament. This blatant use of association/transfer for political gain has done nothing to increase my respect of either the PM or the NZRU. I enjoy watching the games and fully support the players, but the magic appeal of the ABs that once thrilled me has gone. I love sport, particularly at grassroots level. I despise the manipulation of top paid athletes for purposes other than furthering the sport and good causes. Association/transfer works both ways.

    • Tracey 19.1

      I am sorry to say that as a 16 year old I supported the 1981 tour. My brothers attended the match at Eden Park. Claimed they could count the rivets on the underside of the flour bombing plane.

      If John Key had a stance/view he would remember. If he didn’t it belies the notion of a lifelong dream to be a PM.

      • repateet 19.1.1

        “belies” the notion? Or simply B. lies?

      • millsy 19.1.2

        I am picking he supported the tour. Which is fine. All he has to do it be honest, and say so, and then say something about how was was wrong them.

        It is common knowledge that Winston Peters supported the tour, but no one seem to see it as an issue.

    • RedLogix 19.2

      I despise the manipulation of top paid athletes for purposes other than furthering the sport and good causes. Association/transfer works both ways.

      Precisely. The NZRFU’s entanglement with the political has come at some social cost for them as well. Key’s use of them to leverage his political brand comes with potential risk as well.

      • s y d 19.2.1

        paid sport is totally corrupt. Grassroots and self organised sport is where it is at.

        I think Ad is right however in there needing to be all kinds of voices on sidelines, on the fields and courts and clubrooms and when the kids are sucking on oranges that isn’t about a single point of view.
        Voices that talk about how working together can get you the result you want.
        The Nats know all this – why do you think they advertised themselves as a rowing skiff..

        A wee quote for you

        “The socialism I believe in is everyone working for each other, everyone having a share of the rewards. It’s the way I see football, the way I see life”

      • tracey 19.2.2

        “has come at some social cost for them as well.”

        How so? I understand it has potential risk but not that so far it has wrought any social cost for the RNZ?

    • Bob 19.3

      “Time was healing those wounds but my jaundiced view has been rekindled by the John Key-AB photo and the announcing of the World Cup team at Parliament. This blatant use of association/transfer for political gain has done nothing to increase my respect of either the PM or the NZRU”
      Missed this one then? Or just don’t like it when the other ‘team’ (sports metaphor) do it? http://www.gettyimages.co.nz/detail/news-photo/prime-minister-helen-clark-left-and-speaker-of-the-house-news-photo/56044218

  20. Observer (Tokoroa) 20

    To: Tracey

    Do you think All Black Rugby could survive if it weened itself off Booze Support, Politician Alliance and Violence on field and at home?

    It use to be quite a noble game years back.

    • Tracey 20.1

      With Adidas and AIG on board it would survive from the top which is where much of its financial focus lies anyway. It is a sport that flies close to the wind in its Constitutional objectives (which include fostering rugby at grassroots)

      Grassroots would struggle without funds from Booze and gambling.

      Sport survived the withdrawal of Tobacco support and would survive the withdrawal of booze support but could it survive the withdrawal of booze and gambling support? No.

    • Clean_power 20.2

      What a poor and miserable idea of the game you have!

    • b waghorn 20.3

      The game has never been cleaner ,the thought of a player 20 years ago getting 10 in the bin for the little tweek on the nose that McCaw got the other day would of been laughable.
      Now I have to admit I miss the the days of the likes Fitzpatrick and Lowe dealing out summary justice but the game is played with minimal violence now.

      • tracey 20.3.1

        At the highest level that is true waghorn. Not sure if research backs your notion that it is cleaner at all levels than in the past?

        We have seen at this World Cup (again) a discrepancy between suspensions handed down to Polynesian Team players and the rest. So all is not well.

        • b waghorn 20.3.1.1

          I don’t watch a lot as I refuse to pay sky for stuff I don’t want so I can watch rugby (probably see half the tests on average) so can’t help with whether there is an unfairness towards different countries. Talking to the young fallas at docking it sounds like they still enjoy a dust up , but a lot of young men are that way inclined .

        • Ad 20.3.1.2

          I think we’re a bit beyond Foreskin’s Lament now.

      • Richard 20.3.2

        ‘Lowe dealing out summary justice.’ I presume you mean Richard oe. How was eye-gauging an (NZ) opponent ‘summary justice’ ?

        Reading the responses to this post, I think Advantage’s ooints in the post are well and truly proven.

  21. Stephen 21

    Interesting argument. Maybe the old fashioned concept of the “Chardonnay Socialist” fit this idea. You know the stereotype, live in Ponsonby but wouldn’t know where the Ponsonby Rugby club is.
    Plenty of us have watched the game, played the game, coached the game and love the game.

  22. b waghorn 22

    Its frustrating seeing people who attack the AB s due to key using them for his own ends . Their just people who have the talent and drive to grab the opportunity to get paid for what they love doing.

    • Tracey 22.1

      “people who have the talent and drive to grab the opportunity to get paid for what they love doing.”

      Yup,. And are thereby open to criticism if they use that to promote a certain political view or to influence the views of others on the basis that they are really good at a game.

      Attacking and criticising are not the same thing.

      People in these positions are, presumably, willingly allowing Key to use them? The NZR, for example, would have strict contractual requirements around players promoting stuff, including views. The notion that any player is assisting Key without acquiescence of the NZR (their employer) probably need to delve deeper into the types of contracts players are subject to. If the NZR is “Making” players associate and do stuff for the PM against their will, that would be very sad indeed.

      • ianmac 22.1.1

        One commentator said that at the Parliament launch, the AB team members looked uncomfortable esp for the Key team photos . As soon as possible they moved away and instead focussed on the schoolkid guests. Suppose the AB have professional obligations but don’t have to like it.

        • maui 22.1.1.1

          This was also where McCaw broadcast to the nation he wanted a fern flag along with Conrad Smith. It did look awfully dodgy. They should know full well they’re putting their reputations on the line when they delve into politics.

          • tracey 22.1.1.1.1

            The revelation that McCaw only endorsed the silver fern flag AFTER a series of tweets with the PM and a referral to the PM”s website… that is what makes it less than authentic.

      • b waghorn 22.1.2

        Im sure you’re correct that the rugby hierarchy are letting the nats use the players for there own ends. My point was that people shouldn’t attack the players because of it , they are just employees of the union.
        If the prime minister turns up in the changing room what do you expect the players to do?

        • tracey 22.1.2.1

          being in the dressing room is not quite the same as telling people to vote National or endorsing a flag choice, is it?

          • b waghorn 22.1.2.1.1

            McCaw was asked which flag he liked and he answered I wouldn’t read to much into it.
            Yes the tweets were not good but given that the two players I heard that did it aren’t the deepest of thinkers they may not of realised it was so serious.

            • tracey 22.1.2.1.1.1

              McCaw was tweeted by the PM, several times about the flag. Key asked him to go look at the PM’s flag website… That is what the PM has admitted to under force (and after delay) of the OIA. THEN MCCaw was asked which one he liked.

              • b waghorn

                Oh I wasn’t aware of that ,yet more shitty behaviour from key.
                Why do you think McCaw has turned down the knighthood offer?

                • tracey

                  I suspect because he hadn’t retired from the game yet..

                  I wonder if Helen Kelly got/gets a chance to turn down a Damehood?

                  For my part I prefer that honours relate to unpaid work, contributions above and beyond what you are already well remunerated for.

                  • b waghorn

                    I don’t like royal based honours system at all and I’m hoping he thinks the same ,if they win this one he’ll get offered it again so we’ll find out then I guess.
                    As for Kelly I would be surprised if she would take it and that would probably stop here getting nominated.

  23. Observer (Tokoroa) 23

    Thanks Tracey

    You remind me that Funding for sport at Grass Root level is very important. I think the community would endorse that.

    Bit of a shame however if we have to have an umbilical linkage between sport and booze at the Professional levels.

  24. I am one who couldn’t watch rugby after the tour and that is also having played it at club level – I remember wearing my anti tour badge to the club and then the protesting in earnest began so I never went back.

    I enjoy sport including a wee bit of rugby now but the ‘professionalism’ isn’t my thing. I think the left celebrate sport and the connections are there – just need to check out league for instance.

    I agree with all of the points you mention where sport is ‘good’ or positive and although rugby may have been ceded I don’t think other sports have been.

    • Matthew Hooton 24.1

      What sports are left that aren’t professional?

      • ianmac 24.1.1

        Draughts? Scrabble? Hunt the thimble?

      • marty mars 24.1.2

        they are on a spectrum – I was meaning in regards to rugby itself rather than other sports – but I can’t think of any that don’t have some professionalism aspect or some ‘let’s have a social game of rugby’ aspect too.

      • tracey 24.1.3

        Almost all women are not paid to play sport. As for the left or right thing…. I’ll leave you to the expertise on divisions. If you create em for a living you probably know a little more about them. Divisions I mean.

        • Matthew Hooton 24.1.3.1

          “are left” as in “remain”

          • tracey 24.1.3.1.1

            fair cop! 😉

            Almost all sportspeople in NZ cannot make a genuine living out of sport Matthew. Once you achieve Gold medal or World Champ status you qualify for a lump sum payment from HPNZ but that is not sufficient to offset full costs of living and future-proofing. If you don’t re-achieve it is not repeated.

            A male first class cricketer in NZ (not a black cap) needs another source of income. Women need a fulltime job

      • KJT 24.1.4

        Almost all sports at the school or club level, are fine, community activities..

        Not so sure about the ethics and attitudes of many at the top levels. Just like politicians cheating is considered OK so long as you don’t get caught.

        I thought much of the antagonism on the left against paying for the America’s cup, for example, was an own goal.

        Everyone at my, mostly working class, Unionised, workplace was glued to the races. And working people, in New Zealand, who build boats and boating equipment, got a boast in incomes, advertising and skills levels which keep Kiwis high on the list, for boat building jobs all around the world.

  25. Draco T Bastard 25

    Actually, sport can be a unifying community force for good.

    Time to put this up again:

    Competition is to self-esteem as sugar is to teeth. Most people lose in most competitive encounters, and it’s obvious why that causes self-doubt. But even winning doesn’t build character; it just lets a child gloat temporarily. Studies have shown that feelings of self-worth become dependent on external sources of evaluation as a result of competition: Your value is defined by what you’ve done. Worse — you’re a good person in proportion to the number of people you’ve beaten.

    Children succeed in spite of competition, not because of it. Most of us were raised to believe that we do our best work when we’re in a race — that without competition we would all become fat, lazy, and mediocre. It’s a belief that our society takes on faith. It’s also false.

    Competition is a recipe for hostility. By definition, not everyone can win a contest. If one child wins, another cannot. This means that each child comes to regard others as obstacles to his or her own success. Forget fractions or home runs; this is the real lesson our children learn in a competitive environment.

    Having fun doesn’t mean turning playing fields into battlefields. It’s remarkable, when you stop to think about it, that the way we teach our kids to have a good time is to play highly structured games in which one individual or team must defeat another.

    How can parents raise a noncompetitive child in a competitive world? Competition is destructive to children’s self-esteem, it interferes with learning, sabotages relationships, and isn’t necessary to have a good time. But how do you raise a child in a culture that hasn’t yet caught on to all this?

    • tracey 25.1

      like all things there are pros and cons. Sport reveals character, good and bad.

      • Draco T Bastard 25.1.1

        Sport encourages anti-social character traits and doesn’t reveal anything at all.

        • marty mars 25.1.1.1

          why do people participate?

          • Draco T Bastard 25.1.1.1.1

            Because they’re encouraged to? For a child being encouraged by parents that probably feels more like force. Aaron makes a good point – the actions of parents can be quite despicable.

            Because it’s our ‘culture’?

        • tracey 25.1.1.2

          it reveals anti-social character traits. Like everything else it is a medium by which humans display their true selves. So it does indeed reveal character, good and bad

          • Draco T Bastard 25.1.1.2.1

            You seem to be trying to draw the line between reveals and encourages. For many those anti-social character traits wouldn’t have been there without the encouragement brought about by competition.

            • tracey 25.1.1.2.1.1

              You are the one confusing my use of “reveal”. Yes sport can encourage bad behaviour but it also can encourage and reward what we might call good behaviour (what constitutes good and bad behaviour is a whole different discussion). Some people display otherwise hidden traits when they engage in sport, hence it can be said that Sport revealed those traits, good or bad?

              • Draco T Bastard

                but it also can encourage and reward what we might call good behaviour

                The research tells us that it doesn’t encourage good behaviour.

                To quote my original link:

                Think for a moment about the goals you have for your children. Chances are you want them to develop healthy self-esteem, to accept themselves as basically good people. You want them to become successful, to achieve the excellence of which they’re capable. You want them to have loving and supportive relationships. And you want them to enjoy themselves.

                These are fine goals. But competition not only isn’t necessary for reaching them — it actually undermines them.

                Some people display otherwise hidden traits when they engage in sport, hence it can be said that Sport revealed those traits, good or bad?

                It could reveal them if they were there but they probably weren’t there before the sport. This is the point that you’re missing.

                • Tracey

                  no. its the point i am disputing with you.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    So, you’re saying that all that misogyny, racism, and violence are innate to humans and that it can’t be changed and that our competitive culture, as shown through rugby, has nothing to do with it?

          • Richard Christie 25.1.1.2.2

            It certainly reveals those who prefer not to march in conformity.

            Let’s face it, one of the reasons team sports are pushed is because team sports promote conformity, both on and off the field. Being a “team player” and all that BS. This gets constantly reinforced as good little “team player Johnny/Jane” moves into the employment market or starts his/her life as fodder for the factory.

            Oh, and did I mention the “us and them” mentality that goes with team spirit?

            • tracey 25.1.1.2.2.1

              I thought I had made it clear in my statements that I accept that sport can have negative aspects and impacts?

              Sport can also give some people a sense of belonging and a place to excel where they may otherwise be painted as a failure, for example within the education system.

            • Draco T Bastard 25.1.1.2.2.2

              It’s not necessary to conform to be a good team player. IMO, conformity is the worst thing you can have in a team as it encourages hierarchy, nepotism and kissing arse.

    • ianmac 25.2

      Agree with all that Draco. Those items also translate into school life. You know. Prize giving. Certificates. Rankings.

    • Rosie 25.3

      Thank you Draco. Speaks volumes about the detrimental aspects of competition.

    • Aaron 25.4

      The first thing we need to do when discussing competition in kid’s sport is recognise that the we’re actually talking about two things as if they are the same.

      One is the inate competitiveness of each child which varies from individual to individual and generally increases with age. The other is the much higher competitiveness of the adults on the sideline,.

      A lot of disagreements occur around this issue because people use the word “competitive” and think they’re talking about the same thing, but they aren’t.

      For myself I have no problem if the kid’s feel competitive and play as hard as they possibly can – so long as it doesn’t spill over into ugly play. As most of us know the real problem is adults losing the plot on the sideline and pressurising (or outright scaring) the kids.

      In my experience, bad behaviour on the field (especially at primary school level) is almost always the result of an adult putting excess pressure on the kids – or giving them an unrealistic view of the their ability.

      Adults need to understand that their intense competitive feelings are inappropriate for children and that the end result of acting on them is that they spoil the kid’s fun while also impeding the development of their sporting ability.

      • Draco T Bastard 25.4.1

        One is the inate competitiveness of each child which varies from individual to individual and generally increases with age.

        Is it innate or is it learned? IMO, it the latter. We learn it from the culture that we have and that comes through loud and clear.

        • Aaron 25.4.1.1

          Your probably right. But as a coach you have to accept it as being innate because you can’t change it in the short time you have with them. You can set limits on unsporting behaviour but other than that any attempts to force them to be who they’re not usually end in dissapointment*

          * except bribery with sweets, other coaches tell me this works well – but I don’t think there’s any real learning going on.

      • tracey 25.4.2

        Thanks for that Aaron

    • One Two 25.5

      Irony , hipocrisy or pedjudice ?

    • Ad 25.6

      New Zealand is really good at one specific team sport, have been for a century, and are motivated to continue to be so.

      It’s one of the few industries that we do really well at. It’s not going away.

      New Zealand Rugby is the most competitive in the world, and in no small part because of that we are the best at the world at it.

      Whether one likes it or not for any reason including its competitive nature, a future government is going to have to deal with it – in all its power, global influence, and in its competitive force.

      It’s a little bit like the US debate about defence:
      Democrats get characterized as the mommy party, because it’s all about caring and sharing.

      Republicans are the daddy party, because they’re seen as tougher, more competitive, and better at dealing with the hardness of the world.

    • Anno1701 25.7

      “Actually, sport can be a unifying community force for good.”

      go to a celtic/Rangers or, Hearts/Hiberian derby match and tell me that

  26. Mark 26

    I’m a rugby tragic. I have been to four world cup finals, have followed the All Blacks overseas regularly and was a longtime season ticket holder for both Super Rugby and the ITM cup competition.
    I played, coached and managed rugby at a reasonably level and have always had a passion for the game.
    However since Key started to use them as a National Party promotional vehicle in late 2011 with the obvious approval of the NZRU, I have refused to contribute one cent to its ongoing cost.
    I haven’t been to a game at any level since then that has required me to pay.
    Sky Sport went along with the attendance at games and in its place I now go to other sporting events both here and overseas.
    I am not alone either. Of the group I was a part of (8) three others have also severed their ties with rugby due to its endorsement of National.
    I know of others who have done the same.
    The players have become pawns in this charade but I struggle to feel any sympathy for them. They are adults after all.
    I use to love to support the national rugby team but I refuse to support the New Zealand National Party team which is what they have become.
    Rugby use to be a game that crossed all the divisions in society. Regardless of who you were or where you came from, you were part of the rugby family.
    Now it seems that the rugby family has become a part of the National Party.
    I left in disgust and will never go back

  27. Rosie 27

    I’m not going to “learn to love sport” any time soon.

    It’s not everyone’s buzz. Some us of are just not that into it. Combined with my adherence to the “I hate…” list, there is no compelling force that would make me vaguely interested in it. Geez, I faked injuries in school to get out of sports days. I was sent to the library, to continue school work as “punishment” for non participation. What the teachers didn’t realise was that they were sending me to my idea of personal paradise. A paradise far removed from the smokey boozy atmosphere of the living room at home which was full of drunk men roaring at the rugby on tv, or the garden where men I didn’t know were pissing.

    And I certainly wouldn’t change my mind for the benefit of “the right”. I have nothing to prove to them.

    Why would abusive sports people, the likes of Andrew Hore, Julian Savea, Zac Guidford and Tony Veitch have any appeal and be a beacon for conversion the non sports minded among us?

    One of the most upsetting things, alongside the crimes they commit, is the way these dangerous and damaging men have excuses made for them all the time. Their coaches stick up for them. The boofhead fans stick up for them. The media stick up for them. We stick up for abusers of women. (and animals in Hore’s case). I don’t want any part of that.

    We can be with people and sink pints any old time. Doesn’t have to be over sports.

    • Matthew Hooton 27.1

      Fair enough. I think the political issue is that while many right and many left people like sport, and some right and some left people do not, the median voter believes no left people like sport, and that is the problem the writer is addressing.

      • weka 27.1.1

        can you give some examples of how some people believe no left wing people like sport?

        What’s a median voter?

        • Rosie 27.1.1.1

          “What’s a median voter”?

          I read that as average voter, even though average and median have a different meaning.

          You know. The fabled average voter. The voter by which all parties must woo.

          • weka 27.1.1.1.1

            And here I was thinking of the person who sits exactly in the middle of the political spectrum (which if course is determined by the outer edges) 😉

            If we’re talking the mythical average voter, then nearly half of them vote left. It they think that they themselves don’t like sport it must be odd when they sit down to watch the rugby.

      • tracey 27.1.2

        how do you change that impression then Matthew?

        Clark visibly and orally supported sport. So did Trevor Mallard (not one to be accused of keeping quiet and hiding his light under a bushell). Robertson has stated strongly he supports sport and Cunliffe famously went to a corporate box during an AB game (courtesy of Sky City)

        So, those are my examples of the political left visibly supporting sport …

        How does this perception that you and Ad (and others) hold play it self out in public?

        • Matthew Hooton 27.1.2.1

          I don’t get that impression. But I suspect it is a prejudice that some people have.

          • One Anonymous Bloke 27.1.2.1.1

            Hooton has a meme about the Left he wants to share with everyone. Meanwhile, on Earth, the only example of political hostility to a game I can think of was Margaret Thatcher vs. soccer.

          • tracey 27.1.2.1.2

            what do you mean you don’t get that impression?

            you wrote

            “I think the political issue is that while many right and many left people like sport, and some right and some left people do not, the median voter believes no left people like sport, and that is the problem the writer is addressing.”

            Are these questions easier than my others to you recently?

        • Puddleglum 27.1.2.2

          How does this perception that you and Ad (and others) hold play it self out in public?

          Presumably the way most ‘perceptions’ today play out in public – by being repeated, in media and in the echo-chamber which we call the ‘public sphere’ which is really just a place where people who think they know each other (but most likely don’t) go to socialise.Part of that socialising involves expressing what are supposedly one’s own opinions.

          Strangely, very different people end up having exactly the same ‘personal opinion’ on matters about which, when pressed, they can think of very little evidence or clear argument in support – as if by some magical social process (otherwise known as group conformity).

          Normative beliefs have the primary function of creating social solidarity and providing boundaries for socially sanctioned views.

          They aren’t about representing reality – not by any stretch of the imagination – despite the fact that many people swear black and blue that ‘common sense’ (i.e., the dominant normative belief) just is true and that only the socially weird and untrustworthy would think otherwise.

      • Rosie 27.1.3

        Understood Mr Hoots. Probably unclear from my reaction, and it was a reaction, that I do understand that.

        There’s two things though.

        First thing: so what if the “median voter believes no left people like sport”?

        There appears to be a lot of misconceptions about what people who have leftish political and social views, and this is simply another one. Goodness, only the other day did I get stuck with a rugby bore who happens to a committed “leftie” who, incidentally, was on the front line of opposing the Springboks tour in 1981. It’s not our responsibility to prove to the right that we are worthy of their attention and praise by confirming our love of rugby status.

        Second thing: the course of action recommended to remedy that is to get on board with rugby, as it would be politically beneficial. If you genuinely don’t relate to rugby you would be a complete fraud if you attempted to embrace it.

        Richard Christie above, in his response to Red Logix, sums it up well:

        “I suspect what Ad, and perhaps you, is proposing is that the political leadership of the left embrace popularism as a politically expedient course of action.”

        This is what, in part I am reacting to. That and being told what to do.

        • Blue Boy 27.1.3.1

          This is what, in part I am reacting to. That and being told what to do.

          It’s probably because YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO!

          Me here, what for, well, if you COULD figure it out – I wouldn’t be here would I?

      • Nobody has ever determined what a “median voter” actually is. (And frankly, there’s so many dimensions that people vote on, that it’s kinda ridiculous to think you can snapshot all of them at once accurately, and then isolate an individual who represents that opinion) Are you talking about swing voters? Or centrists?

    • Ross 27.2

      I’m not sure why you would refer to abusers of women and rugby in the same sentence. Why not throw in soccer, league, horse racing and motor racing?

      • Rosie 27.2.1

        You haven’t noticed the numbers of AB’s and former AB’s who have been charged with domestic assaults (alongside bar brawls and fights) ?

        The ones listed above are only the ones I can recall off the top of my head. There’s more. Granted Tony Veitch was never an AB and Hore killed seal pups for kicks, and the latest charge was a firearms one.

        • tracey 27.2.1.1

          hmmmm, rugby league has quite high assault charges too.

          I can’t think of any netballers off the top of my head though

          • Matthew Whitehead 27.2.1.1.1

            Fortunately women’s sports have managed a less toxic culture in that regard. Not sure if that’s something we could transplant to men’s sports, but I hope so.

    • Ad 27.3

      Parties need to go to where the voters are.
      You don’t have to necessarily – everyone has their own niche.

      But if no-one tries to engage with it, well, politics abhors a vacuum.

      • Rosie 27.3.1

        “Parties need to go to where the voters are.”

        Ad, I’d just love too see the Labour Party going where the voters are – at work! Listen to them. Get their views and stories of any workplace changes they have experienced under the Nat Govt.

        Apart from Grant Robertson talking about “the future of work”project and meeting with different industries about their changing workplace in the technical sense, I don’t see any Labour MP’s reaching out to fill that particular vacuum.

        You know. Just wondering how many minimum wage workers party voted Labour last year. There was a good minimum wage policy put forward by Labour during the election campaign, but they still slumped. That’s the kind of vacuum I’m thinking of.

        Tracey has mentioned Trevor Mallard plenty of times on this thread. Maybe give him a prod about your idea 🙂

        • Ad 27.3.1.1

          Fair enough.

          Sport is work. Go there as well.
          They even call themselves the Rugby “Union” (!)

          Most offices I’ve seen right now are decked out in team colours.
          So Rugby is deep within work as well, right now, as it was last time.
          It’s a thing.

          • Rosie 27.3.1.1.1

            Aha! Well we have reached a common ground. I have to agree that the celebration of rugby has a presence the workplace, depending on the workplace of course.

            Sometimes companies will even have a sports team (rugby, soccer, netball etc) if the work force is large enough.

            Fair point.

          • RedBaronCV 27.3.1.1.2

            And in a lot of offices the “taking part” borders on the compulsory with top management pushing the ‘bro values” of rugby hard – which says a lot about how they view the workplace. Even more interesting is looking around and seeing the large numbers who are doing little more than paying lip service.

            • Ad 27.3.1.1.2.1

              It’s hardly the same for the Women’s Rugby World Cup.

              But I’m not so sure it’s a blokey thing quite as much.

              The workplaces I know of do it as a means of celebrating multiculturalism within their staff. Plus just kicking back on the Friday.

              I’ve also seen warning by CE’s for staff to stay productive and not to overindulge, and to get some sleep.

  28. Roflcopter 28

    The problem is feeling the need to weave politics into rugby, for no other reason that there is a right wing Government in place… if you think that the Left wouldn’t be all over the All Blacks during World Cup year, then you are deluded.

    Why is rugby so popular in New Zealand? Because it has a no/low cost of entry to get involved, and it is the one sport that is a great leveler across all demographics in the country. Left, right, short, tall, rich, poor, Māori, Pākeha, Pasifika… no one gives a shit when you’re on the field, and those supporting them don’t give a shit either (apart from a few stupid wankers who shouldn’t be allowed near a rugby game ever).

    I’ve lived in the Porirua region for 30+ years, my son played rugby from five to teenage regional representation level with Norths, and that was made up of pretty much all of those above groups who lived right across Porirua (Cannons Creek, Titahi Bay, Whitby, Plimmerton, Pukerua Bay etc.). Trainings and game days were nothing other than all our team’s families getting together and having a great time. In fact if anyone had even mentioned politics, then they probably would have been told to piss off.

    There’s a truckload that can be learnt from those experiences and passed on… don’t try and stifle it with stupid politics bullshit, save that for some other time and place.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 28.1

      Yes, keep politics out of sport. Why doesn’t the NZRFU do that?

      • tracey 28.1.1

        or the PM?

        Ans again where are the actual concrete examples of how the leaders of the political left eschew rugby or sport?

        • One Anonymous Bloke 28.1.1.1

          I don’t think politicians can be trusted not to put sportspeople in compromising positions. The NZRFU – or any other sporting code’s governing body – also has a duty to protect athletes from exploitation by drug pushers and bookies.

          • tracey 28.1.1.1.1

            Some Sports Orgs haven’t proven too successful at any of those 😉

          • Roflcopter 28.1.1.1.2

            Don’t remember anyone complaining that Helen Clark spearheaded the campaign to deliver RWC’11 for NZ.

            It just suits you that there’s a National Gov’t in at the moment… you’re a plonker.

            • One Anonymous Bloke 28.1.1.1.2.1

              The PM getting behind a bid to host a major sporting event is exactly the same as putting athletes in ethically compromising situations on your planet?

              How sad for you.

              • Blue Boy

                Yes sad for me- teaming up with a thick idiot, who can’t do anything.

                I do most the work, and the blubbering idiot is still hiding, I’m scared, I can’t do anything, I can’t do anything Mummy.

                Please pass me a bowl.

                YES agreed- SAD FOR ME.

            • tracey 28.1.1.1.2.2

              Hmmm you don’t see a difference between a PM publicly fronting a campaign to host the 2011 world cup and a PM privately/secretly texting a rugby captain to get his support for a flag choice of that PM?

    • Ad 28.2

      Your comments about Rugby being a societal leveler show that you already see the politics of sport right at its base.

      In fact you could argue that Rugby as “heartland sport” is one of the strongest forces of community cohesion still remaining in the regions.

      Think of Rugby not as a sport for winning ad losing, but as a form of communitarian value. There is no “i” in Rugby; it’s a team sport to its core.

      • RedBaronCV 28.2.1

        One which plenty of the “truely selfish in every other walk” of life play. There is no “we” off the field.

        • Ad 28.2.1.1

          Still better at it than any New Zealand political party I know.

          Rugby is better at the essence of good politics than politics itself.

      • RedBaronCV 28.2.2

        And every body in that community has to live under that form of community narrative whether or not they want to. Personally I don’t care if people want to watch rugby but I get heartily sick of the extent to which it is being shoved down everyone’s throat in workplaces and communities whether or not they choose to be interested. I’d also love to know how many of those trips to the UK are actually on the taxpayer – go to go to that meeting in London you know , despite that fact that everyone there is from NZ or AU. It actually facilitates corporate corruption at some level.

  29. Observer (Tokoroa) 29

    To : Mathew Hooton

    Hi Mathew. Do you know if your good friend the PM places bets on which team touches down the first TRY of the match?

    He is so close to his All Blacks and their coaches, he might know in advance the progress of the play.

    Just wondering. Professional sport is often professional fixing. Isn’t it?

  30. Aaron 30

    Sport has alwasy been a significant part of my family life and I’ve found that it’s a great meeting place for different generations. I’m coaching my kid’s teams just as my father coached mine – Dad died 4 years ago (during the 2011 Rugby world cup actually!) and I’ve found coaching a great way to connect up with his memory now that he’s no longer here.

    The opportunties for affecting society via sport are huge. At the moment kid’s sport is dominated by people who think life is a zero sum game and use it to teach their kids to be “winners” who trample over other people to make it to the top. Change is on it’s way though.

    Ironically enough, sports development experts are discovering that ‘winner-takes-all’ is a disasterous way to to produce high level athletes because it turns many talented kids away. As one example NZ Football has implemented a new junior program across the country based on this premise so the time is ripe for people who want to see the winner-takes-all attitude disapear.

    Everyone know that sport can also be used to teach children about the value of teamwork, loyalty, looking after your mates and losing gracefully (things that the political left seems to a bit weak on coincidently). I would love to see more people involved who share those sorts of values.

    At my local junior soccer club we made a real effort to make sure the children were enjoying themselves and weren’t leaving because “their coach was mean”. As a consequence the size of the club has exploded, almost doubling in size in the space of 4 years. We’ve also had a heap of girls join up the club too simply by treating them like they matter. This is a subject I could write a book on but I better get back to work 🙂

    • s y d 30.1

      QFT Aaron

      I think this is the guts of it – a different voice, a different emphasis.

      NZ Football have realised that we play games for fun. Sport = Play

  31. Brutus Iscariot 31

    New Zealand doesn’t have a Military-Industrial Complex, but it has a Politico-Rugby Complex.

    • weka 31.2

      very good Brutus.

    • tracey 31.3

      chuckle

    • Ad 31.4

      You could name it as a complex, a syndrome, a neurosis, an organism, whatever metaphor floats your boat.

      But framing it like that only invites a question of what a future government would do about it.

      The last time Labour was in power, it chose to bid for and win an entire Rugby World Cup. So it understand that this “complex” was not something to be feared or demonized, but something to be harnessed for the broader good of New Zealand.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 31.4.1

        Whereas now it’s something to be harnessed to help the National Party ride athletes to victory in the next election.

        • Ad 31.4.1.1

          So the left needs to figure out its own room for it, because it’s going to continue to suck out the media oxygen almost completely.

          • One Anonymous Bloke 31.4.1.1.1

            What makes you think we haven’t? The more I examine the premise the shakier it looks.

      • tracey 31.4.2

        You know that contrary to the promises, financially, the World cup cost us? But perhaps you mean the feel good factor, yes?

  32. Observer (Tokoroa) 32

    Brutus –

    You are so right!
    We are so lucky to live in the stunning times of English and Key. It’s all fun and games and skewed or hidden information.

    Happy Happy times.

  33. DS 33

    Here’s the thing though: for those of us born after 1981, we never saw rugby as being the domain of the political Right. I mean individuals had their preferences (David Kirk the Nat, Michael Jones and the Christian Coalition, Frank Bunce supported the Alliance IIRC), but there was nothing political about liking or hating the game – any more than liking or hating cricket.

    I see this more as a generational divide thing. And as far as John Key hijacking the All Blacks for his own ends – that says more about Key than anything else. He’s trying to turn the national team into the National team – which is reprehensible. So reprehensible that we shouldn’t let the bastard win.

    • Ad 33.1

      Rugby is an immense power in our nation.
      Key gets the glory because he understands its power, and its proximity to his own power. They support each other. Any decent PM with half a brain would do the same – as Helen Clark did.
      Hardly reprehensible. Powerful.

      Curious then that I have not heard either Labour or the Greens comment positively about this Rugby World Cup despite it dominating all media for weeks, and will dominate it even moreso in the weeks to come.

      • tracey 33.1.1

        ” Any decent PM with half a brain would do the same – as Helen Clark did.

        Ah, so you are just talking about the current Labour Party Leadership (and Green)? So a recent phenomena then?

      • Puckish Rogue 33.1.2

        If anyone is thinking of the world cup and the left then it’ll be the Greens, Act and the early opening for the games

      • Rosemary McDonald 33.1.3

        “Curious then that I have not heard either Labour or the Greens comment positively about this Rugby World Cup despite it dominating all media for weeks, and will dominate it even moreso in the weeks to come.”

        Maybe, just maybe, there are more important issues on their minds?

        • Ad 33.1.3.1

          Maybe they don’t have an accurate view of what’s important?
          If all the left can talk about is social welfare, housing, and poverty, they will find they’re gargling dry weetbix with fewer and fewer people.

          A third of the news, for example, is given over to sport.
          And this government is in tight with them.
          Should give you an idea of where their minds need to be, not where it’s comfortable to be.

      • maui 33.1.4

        That’s a very good point Ad, can the left not tap into our sporting psyche because its off topic? Why couldn’t the greens say interview a female all black, and talk about how they loved the world cup, but also discuss equal pay or equal recognition for women in sports. Provide a sporting discussion but with a bit more depth you know.

        • Ad 33.1.4.1

          Absolutely.
          (Much as I regret ceding sport language to pretty much everything, including political discourse).
          Go to where the people are.

  34. s y d 34

    I recall booing the shit out of Jenny Shipley at U17 WC opening @North Harbour Stadium – the prim punters around me in the stands were filthy on that one.
    Is that ceding ground to the right?

  35. infused 35

    esports is where it’s at.

    I’m not really in to traditional sports apart from the rally and when the rwc is on.

    Being in business, this was always hard. I’d have to read the sports section of the news paper every day to make sure I knew wtf was going on to make small talk to customers. It was rather stupid but necessary.

  36. Coaster 36

    In my opinion Matthew Hooten is correct in his asertion that people think the left hate rugby and sport. The typical image of a lefty is an arty farty type with a glass of red wine in one hand, nose stuck in the air and a condescending tone to the voice.
    A big change from the lefty being a coal miner or warfy.

    The left doesnt have to like sport, rugby or competition with a few bears afterwards, they just need to embrace thd fact that many of there natural voters do.

    And on key and rugby, im annoyed he has hijacked something that shouldnt be political, i was particularily peeved about the wourld cup team being announced the way it was, but can anybody seriously imagine key going into a ruck or maul, or playing a sport where someone might hurt him a little bit.

    • Puddleglum 36.1

      That’s an interesting suggestion and it was close to what I was coming around to thinking.

      Basically, believing left-wingers don’t like rugby is just part of the public stereotype of what a ‘left-winger’ today is like – someone who is overly concerned about health and safety issues, thinks no-one should ever ‘smack’ their kids, talks a lot about ‘Maori stuff’ (but isn’t a Maori), doesn’t accept that life can be (or even should be?) hard, prefers intellectual and ‘cultural’ pursuits to physical exertion and sport, takes offence easily and thinks no-one should ever be offended, thinks they know about life but has never done anything ‘real’, is more likely to be a life-long ‘student-type’ than work for a living, etc., etc. (and, yes, there’s a lot of ‘gendered’ aspects to this stereotype).

      Given that kind of stereotype it becomes an easy step to think that left-wingers don’t like rugby.

      If this suggestion is correct then it’s going to take a lot more than turning up at the local RSA cheering at a few RWC matches to alter the stereotype. That’s because it is an extension of a stereotypical view of the left rather than some one-off perception that the left don’t like rugby. It’s consistent with what some people already think and so, for them, is most likely true.

      In fact, turning up at the RSA may actually be seen as disingenuous and populist just because it doesn’t conform to this kind of stereotype of the left. Only if you were Trevor Mallard or Kelvin Davis or Shane Jones (previously) would you be seen as believable in that setting.

      • arkie 36.1.1

        turning up at the RSA may actually be seen as disingenuous and populist just because it doesn’t conform to this kind of stereotype of the left.

        I tried to make this point further up thread, changing perceptions and stereotypes is difficult and complicated, and seeking public approval by latching on to a sports team is the National Party’s current MO, the Left is unlikely able to out do them there.

  37. Smilin 37

    Maybe the booze industry could put Keys face on bottle tops then we could derive some cynical pleasure in unscrewing them and biffin them down the stadium if we lose the cup or if we win could send a truck load back to Key and dump them in one of his cars or to his local office thats if youer a lefty with passion for the game and the country
    At least then he will know just how loved he is as Da Fuhrer

  38. Vaughan Little 38

    progressives better stay out of rugby or the players will start running round in circles, forcing out team members who say the wrong things and whining like poms. reality tv is more their thing.

    • Ad 38.1

      I’m sure they are in there already – they just need to be outed.

      One of Labour’s great new bunch is Louisa Wall, who has a fantastic Rugby pedigree.

  39. Ad 39

    Right on the money, Coaster!

  40. tc 40

    Its nothing political I just find it a boring game to watch, too many stoppages with rules that constantly change.

    Our npc should be the best domestic rugby comp on the planet but super rugby and the nzru have screwed it up.

    Brazil have won 5 world cups because they pick their best players not just local ones and since professionalism weve only won it once and made the final one other time in the other 5 in 95.

    We should be doing better so I struggle to get excited about the wc as we werent convincing in 2011 for our second title on home soil.

    • Ad 40.1

      Even after the French game? 9 tries?
      We’re the most entertaining Rugby players in the world.
      As well as the best.

      • tc 40.1.1

        when it comes to the crunch at WC’s the record shows we aren’t the best but one of the best.

        As for the french game it’s 1 game let’s see how entertaining the last 4 games are shall we.

  41. Bill 41

    2 c worth.

    Given my cultural heritage rugby was never attractive – associated with middle classes and public school.

    Sport is okay and if you like it, fine. But in a corporate sporting environment, individualism tends to be elevated. That’s not to deny individual prowess, but it times gone by, that may been moderated to an extent by references to ‘the team’.

    Given the huge financial rewards of professional sport and the ‘cult of the individual’…yeah, it dovetails too neatly with the worse aspects of what our current culture/economy rewards. Does that encourage more right wing views in successful sportspeople? (Open question)

    Anyway. Must rush. But on a positive note. Refugee crisis in Europe and the political heft of professional football teams that have many foreigners and sometimes refugees in their squads.

  42. Paul Campbell 42

    I was pretty meh about rugby for years, after all it’s entertainment done by actors paid to do their thing, not really that much different than say ballet for example.

    But then the local rugby mob pushed through a stadium here in Dunedin against the wishes of a large proportion of the residents, there were 1000s making in the streets for heaven sakes, that hasn’t happened that much since, well …. the ’81 tour. In the end a project that was first promised to be funded through “private fundraising, not a cent from the ratepayers” has turned into what will be roughly half a billion dollars once all the interest has been paid – the city has debt up to the gills, has raised rates by silly amounts over inflation every year for 15 years now and will probably have to do the same for the next 10 – and doesn’t have the money to spend on other areas it had in previous years. Oh, and did I mention not only did rugby not raise a cent of the money they promised their complete fiscal mismanagement resulted in the rate payers buying their old ground off of them at a loss of millions of dollars, then when that wasn’t enough bailing them out from a bankruptcy because they’d had one too many black tie dinners they couldn’t afford to pay the bills for.

    So now I despise rugby, I see it as just another greedy multinational sucking at the public teat, I actively root against the local team so that all this public silliness will be over asap

    • Ad 42.1

      I live with a dyed-in-the-wool Dunedinite who told me – when I thought otherwise – that it was all going to go exactly as you said here.

      And it did. She tells me about it every time we pay local Dunedin rates, Regional Council rates, Wanaka rates, and Regional Council rates again.

      The boondoggling absurd competition in the US over whether a sports franchise will come to town if Houston builds a more attractive stadium than Phoenix is astounding.

      • Paul Campbell 42.1.1

        yeah I lived in Oakland for 20 years, I watch almost exactly the same thing happen there: someone come up with a plan for upgrading the local stadium, promised that the it was all being paid proivately, the city would only have to pay at the last resort … of course in the end it paid all of it and more. It was obvious to me from the start that the rugby mob were pulling the same scam … mind you they didn’t have to close any homeless shelters and put families on the street in Dunedin when the money ran out, they just removed funding from the arts.

        Mind you Dunedin, even forgetting the debt and the servicing of it, hasn’t figured out yet how to negotiate with the NZRFU (we all know what the FU stands for), we still don’t charge them enough for using the stadium to cover day to day running costs, and as a result still have to boost rates to subsidise every rugby ticket

  43. les 43

    sport not religion is the ‘opiate of the masses’ in this day and age.

  44. Pascals bookie 44

    Speak for yourself instead of all that “we” shit?

    Most lefties I know love sport and always have. Also love music and arts and all sorts of other shit too. Where there are problems they have reckons about it, but fuck the stereotyping and generalising in this post right in the ear.

    Again, speak for yourself. That’s one the thing the left ought to do. If you think it say it, but don’t claim to speak for ‘the left’ unless you have a mandate.

    Off to the folk festival, chock full of lefties who have organised how we will be watching the game while festivaling. Just like we did when the festival clashed with the final in 11

  45. millsy 45

    Somehow, sport became less egalitarian when the major sporting codes in this country, along with the Olympic and Commonweath Games committee decided that they would take the money and have the vast majorty of sporting events placed behind a paywall (ie Sky TV).

    30 years ago, if you had a TV (which 90% of New Zealand households had), you could watch Walker get gold in 1976, the AB’s narrowly beat Wales in 78, getting a Grand Slam, Mark Todd and Charisma, a bunch of farmers and students defeating rowing heavy weights such as Britain and US and East Germany in 72. Or in 1976, after New Zealand defeated Australia in the Olympic Hockey final, kids all over the country came out of hockey sticks and started emulating their heroes.

    Back then, sport belonged to everyone, and brought the country together. Who can forget that balmy summer’s night when Lance Cairns smashed six sixes, or when Hadlee would take on the Australians.

    That was egalitaranism at its finest. When all sport was on free to air TV.

  46. Matthew Hooton 46

    This is somewhat related: my October Metro column on Labour and rugby league is now free online at http://www.metromag.co.nz/current-affairs/jacinda-ardern-pretty-bloody-stupid/

    • Ad 46.1

      Yes that Ardern-Clark comparison in the political attention given to sport is helpful.

      Something about that standard trope of the decline of the NZ working class tracking the long decline of Labour, or something.

      There’s probably another post entirely to be done on team sport and class mobility in New Zealand.

      But I think my next one will just review Skyfall.

    • Brutus Iscariot 46.2

      To the political mix, i’ll throw in Vichy France’s destruction of rugby league via sanctions and property confiscation, in order to bolster Rugby Union.

      “Given a certain event in England, it may currently be safe to say league is the inferior code, played by working-class barbarians (and extraordinarily talented millionaires).”

      ^I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt on the style of this opening, rather putting it down to ignorance. Anyway i’ve always found League to be the more enjoyable code to watch, with less pretensions. Difficult to have pretensions when your team is named after a geographical chunk of Sydney.

      All Black fever is just an extension of our national insecurity – it’s the one thing we can “tackle the big boys” at and win. On the rugby field, we can beat strong countries whose glorious histories we learn about at school. Unthinkable in any other meaningful endeavour.

      Anyway i read Ardern’s response – the only thing i took away from it was “politicians should stay off Twitter”. It really is an abysmal platform.

      • Matthew Hooton 46.2.1

        The opening was meant to be a “read me” tinged with a bit of irony and to reveal the perspective on the league v rugby “issue” I come from – but also to lead into the 2nd sentence.

        Didn’t know about that Vichy thing – another thing to hold against them. First league test I ever went to was in 1981 when I was 9 at Carlaw Park when the Kiwis beat France, and even then was surprised France had a team.

  47. Ad 47

    Anyone care to venture results and scores for:

    All Blacks v South Africa

    Australia v Argentina

    ?

    • Matthew Hooton 47.1

      No, but if the Argies beat Australia they can have the Falklands (not that they’re necessarily mine to hand over!)

    • b waghorn 47.2

      Abs 13/10 SA
      Oz 26/15 Arg
      The prop situation is becoming an issue and the south African forwards will apply the blow touch up front.

      • Ad 47.2.1

        I think slightly higher scoring than that.

        AB’s 23 SA 17

        AUS 28 ARG 17

        Our pack are in for an almighty test – theirs is far heavier.

        And drop goals.

        • b waghorn 47.2.1.1

          Looks like you win the virtual beer this time, enjoy 🙂

          • Ad 47.2.1.1.1

            and of the final:

            NZ 18

            Au 13

            airtight, battle of the rucks.

            • b waghorn 47.2.1.1.1.1

              Nz 27

              Au 13

              The Aussies where out of gas against Argentina ,they’ve had a harder run to the final, the abs fitness will shine through in the last 20

              • Ad

                I think you’re right on the stamina. The Australians have had a far harder run than the New Zealanders – and there’s a cumulative damage to that.

                I think the back lines will about cancel each other out.

                This one is the Great Cleanout Contest. Which in turn will make penalties very important.

                But I admire the degree of internal cohesion that the Aussies show – it’s as least as good as ours.

                Looking forward to it.

  48. SPC 48

    In 1981 the intelligentsia and the cultural elite could express their disdain for prominence of sport (and in particular rugby) in our society. They, with the support of liberals and progressives could pose the idea that we needed to change the way we were and how we saw ourselves.

    Certainly we were supposed to see how we colonial people had inherited the imperial burden to do good in the world, to be worthy of our white birth right privilege.

    Thus we had to sacrifice sport to serve the anti-apartheid cause. This would make us noble and we were to be noble whether we liked it or not.

    I remember wondering if I would see my cousin – one of the protest “marshalls”, when leaving Athletic Park after the second test. It was instructive when one of the protestors kept yelling at us – you lost. This meant two things, he knew the score and he was projecting and transferring how he felt onto us – as he had failed in the collective attempt to stop the test being played. It was rather mean of me, but I said something – to celebrate my awareness he was some red neck oaf and I was his intellectual superior. I will however give credit to the “marshalls” on call as they did restrain him.

    • Ad 48.1

      What the left gained however was at least four more years of the greatest period of activist growth since the 1930s.

      1981 to about the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior in 1985 is the highpoint of the environmentalist movement, feminist movement, anti-war movement, anti-nuclear movement, labour movement, Maori liberation movement, and more.

      I was 13, in an apolitical family, and still trying to figure out Social Studies at the time.

      • SPC 48.1.1

        And meanwhile the neo-liberal right was moving to take control of the economic direction of the 4th Labour government and they allowed the progressives wins on some of the issues you listed – in return for the Labour Party embracing TINA.

  49. Instauration 49

    Sorry – for posting at “first principles” here.
    Sorry – that I take the liberty of not digesting the subsequent 310 comments – I’m sure some but not all are resonant.
    But – Rugby IS Evil !
    Rugby endorses the view that there is value in being “better” than other people.
    Rugby endorses the view that there is value in “beating” other people.
    Rugby endorses the view that it is good to get in the way and obstruct other people from achieving their goals.
    Rugby endorses the view that winning is important – and ignores the fact that winning is just achievement with relativity.
    Rugby validates the view that there is “them” and “us”
    AB supporters are “dumb” in that they invest emotional energy into a sphere where they have no influence over outcomes. (well – unless your son is an AB)
    AB supporters are “deluded” in that they think that there is value in “basking in the glory” of other peoples achievements.

    Our children deserve better than this AB crap.

    • Ad 49.1

      Also it turns capitalism into entertainment, entertainment with no consequences.

      Only a week to go.

      Before the Cricket starts.

  50. Instauration 50

    Advantage – a more focused response to your assertions;

    We could love it for the proud communities that sustain the clubs.
    ++Those communities who see the need to “distinguish” from others and to confront and assert dominance ? – “we are better than you !”

    We could love it because it’s something we do well.
    ++ Being good at something is not an endorsement of that things value. Statistically NZ also does well at domestic abuse.

    We could love it for the wives, girlfriends, boyfriends, husbands and children that help them up there.
    ++ Those wives, girlfriends, boyfriends, husbands and children that help them perpetuate the Evil.

    We could love international sport as a good substitute for war.
    ++ Umm – well lets see – should we have pretend International rape an pillage forums, on sportsfields, to hopefully minimise (as a substitute) the Evils of – say Democratic Congo Republic ?

    We could find who among the athletic elite are also Progressively inclined.
    ++ Yep – but they would likely be “Fake” Progressively inclined – else their cognitive reasoning would be an anathema to your ascription.

    We could love it as we can our country.
    ++Country ? – ethnicity ? – diaspora ? – tax base ? – geographical premise ? – not sure what you mean by “country” ?

    We don’t have to cede the whole enterprise of sport to the right.
    ++ We can comfortably cede the enterprise of sport to the “Dumb” and “Deluded”

    And now, in the middle of Rugby World Cup, we can grind our teeth watching the apotheosis of Key with Saint Ritchie into the global heaven of sport.
    ++ Why the gnashing of teeth ? We don’t need to watch this shit.

    Or we can get out to the nearest RSA, to the televised bars. Be with the people. Yes, sink pints.
    Recognize that actually sport is as good as education for class mobility.
    ++ Telling our kids that it is good to “beat” other people just perpetuates the Class model.

    Actually, sport can be a unifying community force for good.
    ++Sporting unification assumes “us” and “them” – this is divisive.

    Sport can focus male teenage energy away from petty crime: into sport, out of court.
    ++ If kids were not obsessed with “winning” – “beating” – “faster” – “better” – “stronger” – memes they have received from birth – then those teenage energies may well be directed to “giving” – “building” – “sharing” – “helping”. It’s a shit that my kids have needed to endure the crap and fallout that parents of your persuasion have imposed. However, they have learned the tools to not give a shit about elitist winning. They achieve and get what they want.

    Sport is where the common people are, as well as the elite.
    ++Explain elite ? NZ has “elite” criminals

    Until the left learn how to love sport as well as the right, we will continue to cede massive territorial ground before the game has started.
    ++Intellectual ground cannot be ceded on your premise

    • Draco T Bastard 50.1

      +1

    • Ad 50.2

      I can see you don’t enjoy this kind of society.

      For the purposes of this post, Rugby was a cartoon projection to illustrate contrasts.
      The task was to redeem an activity based on violence through a series of provocations.

      Yours is the only post that rebelled against that. Good to see.

    • Ad 50.3

      I need to pay a bit more attention to your excellent comments.
      They go straight to a philosophy of sport.
      They also go straight to a critique of untrammeled capitalism.

      Rugby is one of the more perfect analogues for NZ-version capitalist competition;
      – they are both always rebelling against penalities
      – they are both about zero-sum winning and losing
      – they both reward dominance as a virtue
      – they are both a kind of coded violence
      – they are both glorified by the meaning-amplifiers of our society: the mainstream media, and the politicians

      I liked your challenge because it is a deep-left rebuke of this kind of society as a whole.

      That in fact the left should not engage with Rugby – no matter how powerful it becomes – because it is the opposite of a kind of deep-left approach to what a good society would look like.

      In particular Rugby treats human beings as a commoditised resource: like boxing, League or American Football, bodies will be used up so fast in just a few years that ageing accelerates. Rugby as a consumer spectacle consumes actual people.

      There are of course whole kinds of life and work that involve nothing to do with Rugby, and involve nothing like the damage that Rugby inflicts upon us. Not the point in question.

      There is simply no escaping it in New Zealand. It is and will always be our dominant form of cultural expression to the world. It is also a massive industry, which is growing in the world.

      But let me give this back to you: in no small part it was those like you who refuse Rugby’s power who were the wellspring of the resistance that started in 1981.

  51. FlashinthePan 51

    Ummmm I’m not reading 300+ comments but what a pile of horse shit!

    My views make the greens look right wing but love watching and coaching sport. Rugby has never stopped being the sport of the people in NZ – left and right.

    What a load of shit.

  52. SaveOurNix 52

    Hi Ad

    Enjoyed this post

    Watched ‘The Crowd goes Wild’ tonight and Hayley Holt did a story on whether the ‘Left’ likes Rugby. She interviewed James Shaw, Laila Harre and a few Labour MP’s IE: Jacinta Ardern, Grant Robertson, Carmel Sepoloni, Phil Twyford ETC.

    Thought you might be interested in the past exploits of Wallabies loose forward David Pocock, whom is going to play in the RWC final this weekend…

    – Once, he got arrested after he chained himself to a bulldozer, in protest of an opening of a coal mine in a NSW forest.

    – Pocock refuses to get married, until same-sex marriage is legal in Australia.

    – This year, Pocock had put in a complaint to the NSW Waratahs Super Rugby club after he heard a homophobic slur, whilst playing for the Brumbies.

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