For two days the world waited for Andrew Hore, Steve Hansen, Richie McCaw, Steve Tew or even the bloke who carries the bags to apologise for the All Black hooker’s unprovoked assault on Bradley Davies.
November 28, 2012 – 12:55PM
Instead, New Zealand rugby appeared stuck on an endless loop of John Cage’s soundless epic. At the time of writing there had not been a solitary public note of regret.
Andrew Hore talks to All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen and assistant coach Ian Foster after the match. Photo: Getty Images
Many good men and women in this country are ashamed of this craven refusal to say sorry, but they should not be surprised.
When Adam Thomson took it upon himself to stand on Scotland’s Alasdair Strokosch’s head, All Blacks rugby reached for the euphemism.
The old melon, the bonce and the noggin had all got a bit of a scrape but there was apparently no malice in Thomson’s calculated decision to stamp on another human being’s skull.
“What Hore did has got no place on a rugby field as far as I’m concerned, it was an absolute disgrace” … Wales attack coach Rob Howley on Andrew Hore’s attack on Bradley Davies. Photo: Getty Images
The real villain of the piece was a Welsh rugby writer called Stephen Jones and the real victim was New Zealand rugby, which again was the unfortunate casualty of a media beat-up.
You do wonder if New Zealand rugby will ever learn how decent society behaves. When Dean Greyling disgracefully assaulted McCaw, the Springboks leadership reacted immediately. Coach Heyneke Meyer publicly called the attack “unacceptable” and said: “I want to apologise to Richie McCaw.” Captain Jean de Villiers said: “We’ll never condone playing dirty” and promised to take action.
But all we have had out of Hansen so far is evasion. Initially Hansen wasn’t sure if Hore “clocked him but he certainly hooked him out”.
A little later he said: “It looked like he was trying to clean out the Welshman in front of him It’s unfortunate that it’s happened.” Then Hansen said: “I am just resigned to the fact that he will probably get cited . . . think they think we’re thugs or something but we don’t play differently to anyone else.”
We should be thankful that Hansen is no longer a policeman. He would have presumably let Charles Manson off with a caution.
The All Blacks coach, like many of his predecessors, clearly suffers from Arsene Wenger syndrome, an unfortunate irritation of the optic nerve that causes temporary blindness when watching your own team.
The world accepts that rugby has always had its thugs. Martin Johnson and Danny Grewcock got up to some revolting things on a rugby pitch and many of the English press excoriated those men and their actions. But the world does not accept the code of silence that has pervaded the All Blacks and a supine part of their media for far too long.
Many years ago Cyril Brownlie became the first man to be sent off in a rugby match.
The Welsh referee was considered the finest in the world and he had already issued three general warnings. He then saw Brownlie stamp on an opposition player’s leg off the ball and he sent him from the pitch.
The All Blacks manager of the time said the referee had “made a mistake” and “a grave injustice has been done to Brownlie”, an occurrence that “could not help the spirit of imperialism”.
New Zealand papers whinged about the sending-off then and they are still crying about it now. True to future form, Brownlie has somehow become the victim of his own violent action.
It is this reaction that continues to gall the rest of the world. The recent list of All Blacks shame is a long one – the Canterbury front row deliberately beating up the 71 Lions, John Ashworth tearing open JPR’s face with a double stamp, Richard Loe’s assault on Paul Carozza, Jamie Joseph wrecking Kyran Bracken’s ankle, Keven Mealamu and Tana Umaga smashing Brian O’Driscoll’s shoulder.
These acts are bad enough, and other nations have similar shameful incidents in their rugby history, but what really grates is the consistent lack of a full and proper apology.
Steve Hansen talks of taking ownership, but when has New Zealand rugby ever taken ownership of these acts of violence? These players are national folk heroes just like Colin Meads, the daddy of them all.
The national exculpation of Mealamu and Umaga was a disgrace that still angers many people in Britain and other parts of the rugby world. It was an assault that came desperately close to breaking a decent man’s neck.
And yet many in the New Zealand rugby community portrayed the All Blacks as the victims of an hysterical over-reaction by the British media.
If there was any hysteria, it was caused by shock at New Zealand’s collective failure to say sorry for what constituted common assault.
Good on the many callers in to talkback radio who have condemned Hore’s attack on Davies, but the delay in a similar condemnation from either the All Blacks management or the NZRU shows how out of touch these people still are.
The nation may be growing up, but New Zealand rugby is still behaving like the child who won’t own up.
How glorious it would be if Tew, Hansen, McCaw and Hore faced the world’s media and apologised to Bradley Davies.
How glorious it would be if Joseph was told to strip Hore of the captaincy of the Highlanders.
How glorious it would be if the law in this country decided to prosecute rugby players for assault.
Is that really all so far fetched? Together we could make it happen.
Fairfax NZ News
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In Jake White’s own words, his “no-name” Brumbies have been lumped with a huge challenge to take down the second-best side that Six Nations champions Wales can muster in their mid-week tour match on Tuesday.
By AAP, 12 Jun 2012
But the Brumbies coach insists his squad have made a habit of performing beyond the merits of their CVs this Super Rugby season and are confident they can keep Wales winless two games into their Australian visit.
Five days out from their second Test against the Wallabies, Wales have named a second-tier outfit to take on White’s Brumbies, with lock Luke Charteris the only starting player to back up from their 27-19 first Test loss.
Two others, hooker Ken Owens and five-eighth Rhys Priestland, will start from the bench.
But White maintains there’s plenty to be wary of in the Welsh squad, particularly up against a Brumbies’ side light on Super Rugby experience, let alone international caps.
“Take a look at the records and the Test caps they’ve got,” White said on Monday.
“(Five-eighth James) Hook has got over 60 Test caps, you know, and their lock pairing have got over 100 Test caps, so if you compare that to what we have … we’ve got a relatively young and inexperienced team.
“But that’s nothing that we’re not used to.
“We started the campaign playing the (Western) Force on the first weekend and they had six Wallabies in their pack and we had a bunch of no-name brands (the Brumbies won 19-17).
“So it might be a big ask, but (we’re calling on these young players) to step up to the plate and take a chance.”
With eight Brumbies on Wallabies duty, the Wales game looms as a golden opportunity for some of the youngsters to make their presence felt, with three making their run-on debuts for the year and another six making game debuts.
The game also gives White an opportunity to test combinations out, particularly Andrew Smith and Tevita Kuridrani in the centres.
The Brumbies will have to re-jig their backline when they return to the Super Rugby season against the Force in Perth on June 30, after regular winger Joe Tomane went down with an ankle injury while training with the Wallabies.
“They’re a little bit like Pat McCabe and Anthony Faingaa in terms of the way they play, so it’ll be interesting to see how that combination comes off,” White said.
“It gives us a chance to see what Andrew Smith can do at No.12.”
Caretaker Wales coach Rob Howley is meanwhile hopeful a desperate performance from the mid-week side will boot Wales’ Australian tour back into action.
“The mid-week side becomes very important in terms of attitude and this group were out training at 9am the morning after the first Test,” he told PA.
“Some of the boys are backing up (the main squad) but we are confident in our fitness and where we are with this team because they’ve already had a game against the Barbarians.”
The tour match kicks off at 7.30pm (AEST) at Canberra Stadium on Tuesday.
- University of Canberra Brumbies
1. Ruaidhri Murphy
2. Anthony Hegarty
3. Scott Sio
4. Leon Power
5. Ben Hand (c)
6. Peter Kimlin
7. Colby Faingaa
8. Ita Vaea
9. Ian Prior
10. Zack Holmes
11. Kimami Sitauti
12. Andrew Smith
13. Tevita Kuridrani
14. Cam Crawford
15. Robbie Coleman
© AAP 2012
Loose-head prop Benn Robinson will play his first Test in 18 months after being one of eight new faces included in the Wallabies starting side for Saturday night’s clash with Wales.
Loose-head prop Benn Robinson will play his first Test in 18 months after being one of eight new faces included in the Wallabies starting side for Saturday night’s clash with Wales.
Robinson, whose 2011 international season was ruined by a serious knee injury, will feature in an all-NSW front-row as Australia try to bounce back from Tuesday night’s upset loss to Scotland.
Coach Robbie Deans has brought in five new forwards and three backs to his starting line-up after the shock 9-6 defeat to the Scots in Newcastle.
Waratahs’ trio Robinson, Tatafu Polota-Nau and Sekope Kepu will start up front while NSW teammate Wycliff Palu will play No.8 and Reds lock Rob Simmons will start beside veteran Nathan Sharpe in the second-row.
Centres Pat McCabe and Rob Horne replace Queenslanders Mike Harris and Anthony Faingaa in the midfield, while utility back Adam Ashley-Cooper takes over from Luke Morahan at fullback.
Under-pressure playmaker Berrick Barnes has been retained at five-eighth.
Uncapped Brumbies halfback Nic White has been named as a reserve and will become the 860th Wallaby if he makes his debut off the bench.
A world-class No.1, Robinson’s last Test for the Wallabies was at the end of the 2010 Spring Tour when Australia scored a record 59-16 victory over France in Paris.
Palu’s inclusion means Scott Higginbotham moves from No.8 to blind-side flanker, while back-rower Dave Dennis has kept his place in the 22 as Deans has elected against naming a specialist lock on the bench.
Saturday night’s Test in Brisbane is the first in a three-match series between the Tri-Nations champions and the Six Nations winners.
Australia beat Wales twice last season, downing them in the bronze play-off at the World Cup before scoring a 24-18 win in Cardiff in December.
Wallabies: Adam Ashley-Cooper, Joe Tomane, Rob Horne, Pat McCabe, Digby Ioane, Berrick Barnes, Will Genia, Wycliff Palu, David Pocock (capt), Scott Higginbotham, Nathan Sharpe, Rob Simmons, Sekope Kepu, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson.Res: Stephen Moore, Ben Alexander, Dave Dennis, Michael Hooper, Nic White, Anthony Faingaa, Mike Harris.
With the domestic Tests upon us, I thought it would be pertinent to ask, does rugby need a universal playing schedule?
After the Test against Scotland on Tuesday night, Six Nations champions Wales are heading to our shores. It is great to have the champions strut their stuff here in a three-Test series, but are they going to be the team that rose to glory through the months of February and March?
The squad will still be fit, don’t worry about that. Most of the players just finished their domestic season and Leinster won the European Cup, Harlequins took out the Aviva Premiership and Ospreys were too good in the Pro 12. All the Welsh players will be battle-hardened after a long season. But will they have enough juice in the tank to roll out four more weeks?
On the other hand, the Wallabies are battered and bruised but haven’t endured the rigours of 35 weeks of rugby. Yes, Super Rugby is physical and fast but it’s incredible how the long season wrecks your body. It’s not so much the playing of the games, even though there are restrictions on the number of games players are allowed to play each year, it’s the training workload that is the most significant factor in getting players fit for the weekend. Gone are the days of getting out the Deep Heat to loosen the hamstrings. Planning by the strength and conditioning coaches is calculated to the nth degree to determine how the players feel at that precise time. In a way now it’s up to the sports scientists to tell you that you are ready to play.
It comes down to who is going to give a little to make it work. Us or them. The European season runs from September through to the finals in May. That is a long year of rugby. I know, I have been there in the depths of winter where I was once diagnosed with hypothermia!
The Super Rugby season is a little shorter from February to early August, extended by the inbound Tests this year. What I would like to see are Tests and Club Challenges that are played around the same timeframe to make it as fair as possible. So no team is disadvantaged by fatigue or by the loss of players heading into surgery for the end-of-season joint clean-out.
Even the scheduling of the World Cup has its drawbacks. The southern hemisphere teams come off a domestic season while the northerners have to chase some international friendlies after completing a long season and then start the dreaded pre-season. There is always some kind of gap to contend with. We have to get something sorted.
So how can this be done. My friends in Britain are not going to like me, but I would ask for a shift in timeframe from the northern hemisphere to run over its summer months to coincide with the southern hemisphere season. Make the united season run in a calendar year. Start in January and finish in August for the domestic competitions. Finish with a three-way finals series between Super Rugby, the English premiership and Pro 12. Finish with crowning a Club Champion. Following those games, I’d have a full international season for the domestic Tests – rugby championships and Six Nations – finishing with the overseas tours. This would at least provide a level playing field.
The problem with the current set-up is that teams at the end of their season are just about out on their feet. Remember when England sent a ”C” team here to play the Wallabies in 1998. The result was a 76-0 shellacking. Conversely, the Wallabies’ four-week tour at the end of the year has recently had mixed results.
The benefits of the change of schedule is the competitions are aligned, the players are on an equal basis regarding fitness and fatigue and an element that I was exposed to during my time in Britain – the weather. You do learn to play a different style through winter but if you are wearing numbers 11 to 15, rug up as you don’t see much of the ball.
Rugby is a year-round game, perhaps it’s time to get everyone in sync to provide a level playing field. Until then it will always have a hint of bias.
Twitter – @burkey710
LONDON: Wales snatched a dramatic 19-12 win over England to win the Triple Crown and keep their hopes of a Six Nations Grand Slam alive at Twickenham here on Saturday.
February 26, 2012
ENGLAND 12 WALES 19
The match was all square at 12-12 with five minutes left when Wales replacement Scott Williams stole the ball in the tackle from Courtney Lawes from some 50 metres out and hacked downfield before regathering for the only try of the game.
Leigh Halfpenny converted and Wales, who had been down to 14 men after fly-half Rhys Priestland was sin-binned, were seven points clear.
England though hit back with virtually the last move of the match as wing David Strettle went over in the corner. But he was held up in the tackle by Wales centre Jonathan Davies.
Scottish video referee Iain Ramage prolonged the agony of a crowd of more than 81,000 with several minutes study before deciding no try had been scored and Wales had just their second win at Twickenham since 1988.
And it meant England, who like Wales came into this match on the back of two wins, had suffered their first defeat under acting coach Stuart Lancaster.
“It’s unbelievable,” gasped man of the match and Welsh captain Sam Warburton.
“We knew it would be the toughest game and it was so tough. We are over the moon to get the Triple Crown here.
“I am not going to say what the last team who won here in 2008 went on to do (they won the Grand Slam) but people invloved with that team say we have a really strong squad this time round. However, we will set aside thoughts of that and the Italy game in a fortnight and enjoy this for the moment.”
Wales claim Triple Crown
Wales players celebrate victory with the Triple Crown. Photo: Getty Images
Lancaster, who replaced Martin Johnson in a caretaker capacity after the World Cup fiasco, said he was proud of his largely inexperienced side.
“Wales are a team who have been together a long long time and we are a team that has been together for three weeks,” he said.
“We should take great credit from that.”
Lancaster made the bold decision to start 20-year-old Owen Farrell, playing only his third Test, at No 10 in an international for the first time after Charlie Hodgson was ruled out with a finger injury.
Farrell gave England the lead with a 23rd minute penalty.
But from the ensuing kick-off, England infringed and Halfpenny, having missed first time, was on target to make it 3-3.
Fit-again Manu Tuilagi, filling the hole left by Farrell’s move from centre to fly-half, gave England a physical presence in midfield they’d so far lacked this tournament.
It needed a brilliant tackle from Warburton to deny the Samoa-born powerhouse a try but Wales were offside and Farrell knocked over a simple penalty to make it 6-3 before Halfpenny levelled the game at 6-6.
Farrell then made light of a tricky penalty from wide on the left to give England a 9-6 half-time lead.
England’s two previous tries this tournament, one each in wins over Scotland and Italy, had been scored by Hodgson charging-down.
And they nearly had a third when his Mouritz Botha blocked Rhys Priestland’s kick early in the second half.
No try resulted this time but Priestland then went offside and was yellow-carded by referee Steve Walsh.
Farrell made it four penalties out of four and England were six points up at 12-6 with Wales a man down.
But a huge hit by Wales centre Jonathan Davies on Farrell turned an England attack into defence and Halfpenny’s third penalty cut the lead to 12-9.
Farrell then missed his first penalty from five attempts and, with 17 minutes left, England were still just three points in front.
Lancaster took off Farrell with 14 minutes and brought on the experienced Toby Flood as England looked to close out the match.
Wales then missed a great try-scoring chance when Scott Williams didn’t pass with two men outside him.
But Halfpenny tied the match with 10 minutes left and Williams then atoned in dramatic fashion.
WALES 19 (Scott Williams try; Leigh Halfpenny con, 4 pens) defENGLAND 12 (Owen Farrell 4 pens). Referee: Steve Walsh (AUS). Att: 81,598