Three weeks ago I was having morning tea when I overheard a conversation. It seems that this guy (who is a semi-pro rugby player) had just had "Robbie" tell him that there would be some big changes to the ABs team named for the 3Nations.
At the time I thought "what a scoop! I must rush home and write a story for RugbyHeads about this." But of course I didn't.
As it turns out the changes were to dump Anton Oliver for Mark Hammett and ditch Leon MacDonald for Benny Blair.
Nothing very earth shattering there, although I guess the dropping of an ex-captain and the non-selection of Christen Cullen were the “news” issues.
The fact that non-selection is the main talking point is why I am writing this: aren't we NZders turning into a pack of control freaks?
Let me start by saying that I don't have anyone particular in mind. Even Tesrof has gone to great length (though I wish he wouldn't) to justifying his distaste for big Rueben as an AB, let alone captain.
Since I don't listen to talk-back I don't really know what is happening there, but the media “feel” in general is pretty negative.
It is sobering to think how much influence this vocal minority have on our views and our morale as a nation.
Last weekend (before 3Nation match 2) the Christchurch Press carried a couple of stories that expanded on the general theme of negativity.
The first was an interview with Captain Thorn and supporters. (Ok it was fleshed out a bit - even Mark Hammett with a bee in his bonnet doesn't generate a lot of copy!)
The overall message was “you don't know him like we do, so why don't you trust us that he is the right guy for the job and let him get on with it?”
The second story (strangely enough) was in the business section. A reporter who usually picks holes in dodgy thinking about investments was comparing the ABs to Parliament.
His first point was that we were lucky to have specialized selectors choosing the team (unlike voting for politicians), as we can then moan about them if the team lost and joyously celebrate their wisdom after a win. All care no responsibility!
The second point was “what sort of team would result if it was chosen by the 4 million arm-chair selectors? Would they be any better?”
Democracy very rarely chooses the best course, simply the most popular - or more correctly the best spun presentation. And once the “team” is chosen we have very limited say in how they “play”.
You could imagine the job of John Mitchell would be somewhat more difficult if a Sunday afternoon poll decided:
(i) Starting line up and reserves
(ii) Team tactics for the following game
Lastly you may say that we have a right to say (moan about) whatever we like. And I certainly won’t deny you your say, or your use of the RugbyHeads board to do it. But I wonder if we are missing the point?
Q1: Isn’t rugby a game of skill between two teams. Aren’t these teams made up of amongst the best players in each country, with a great deal of effort made to support and prepare them for battle?
A1: It has always been the case that we have absolutely no say in any of that preparation.
Q2: Apart from hype, what exactly does favourites status and the overwhelming support of a dedicated media or millions of fans, achieve for a team?
A2: There is some chance that an under-dog team (like the South African’s for instance) can win the game despite this.
Q3: Wouldn’t it be really crappy if the (enter your home country’s team here) didn’t win the World Cup this year?
A3: Only one can win! So let’s enjoy all the rugby and intrigue this year has to offer us. And let’s resist the urge to generate artificial intrigue along the way!
Except of course after thrashing the Boks last weekend, and with the addition of those extra Cantabs, the ABs are a shoe-in for World Cup Champs !-)