Dif­fer­ent sport­ing codes, dif­fer­ent prob­lems

Central Leader - - News -

I don’t get any ap­plause from rugby league fans when I pre­dict, as I usu­ally do when­ever it’s time for a test match, that the Ki­wis will lose to the Kan­ga­roos.

Ac­tu­ally, I don’t mind get­ting up league noses be­cause I grew up play­ing, watch­ing and dream­ing about rugby – and it’s still my num­ber one sport­ing in­ter­est.

Also, the ra­bid league sup­port­ers ir­ri­tate me when they carry on as if an oc­ca­sional win for the Ki­wis – such as when they beat the Aussies for the world cup last year – means we’ve sud­denly be­come the best team in the world.

We’re not. The Aussies have such a depth of rugby league tal­ent that they’ll keep beat­ing us four times out of five no mat­ter how hard we try.

And it was al­most un­fair last Fri­day night that they could field a back­line where six of the seven play­ers were gen­uine A grade su­per­stars. Still, I’m hooked on watch- ing league be­cause it’s such a spec­tac­u­lar game and it’s a show­case for so much Maori and PI footie tal­ent.

The rugby sea­son has fi­nally be­come in­ter­est­ing too as the Su­per 14 teams jos­tle for a spot in the play­offs.

But, how­ever that com­pe­ti­tion pans out, it’s clear that New Zealand has so much rugby tal­ent that we’re likely to re­main the world’s most pow­er­ful rugby na­tion, even if we oc­ca­sion­ally dip out in the Su­per 14 or at world cup time.

Un­for­tu­nately

there’s no match­ing tal­ent among our ad­min­is­tra­tors, or in­ter­na­tional of­fi­cials.

One of their ma­jor fail­ings is that they still haven’t sorted out a set of rules that are sim­ple enough for play­ers, refs and spec­ta­tors to un­der­stand. So it’s of­ten any­body’s guess who might get pinged when there’s a tan­gle of play­ers com­pet­ing for the ball af­ter a tackle. All that con­fu­sion is bad enough but what’s worse is the con­tin­u­ing fail­ure of the NZ Rugby Union to give Maori rugby a fair go.

The lat­est stuff-up is the way they wimped out of the pro­posal for a Maori All Blacks trip to South Africa. So now the Maori All Blacks sched­ule for 2009 is zilch.

The union has a long his­tory of push­ing Maori to the back of the queue. It’ll be in­ter­est­ing, now that Win­ston’s young brother Wayne Peters is on the board, to see whether he’ll ac­cept more sec­ond-class rugby cit­i­zen­ship for Maori.

Like Win­ston, he’s a cocky, smooth op­er­a­tor and has a le­gal back­ground too. So per­haps he’ll put up a de­cent fight. It’s time some­one did.

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