Con­fes­sions have no place in NZ out­fit

The New Zealand Herald - - Supersport - Dy­lan Cleaver com­ment

Read­ing the ex­tract from the newly re­leased bi­og­ra­phy Ed­die Jones:

Rugby Mav­er­ick only high­lighted for me how well New Zealand rugby in general, but the All Blacks in par­tic­u­lar, fol­low the prin­ci­ple of omerta.

The ex­tract was a pa­rade of for­mer as­sis­tant coaches, in­clud­ing Roger Gould, An­drew Blades and Ross Reynolds, spilling the beans on Jones' meth­ods and per­son­al­ity. Some of the charges were that he was a poor com­mu­ni­ca­tor, a re­lent­less mar­tinet and unswerv­ing in his be­lief that he was al­ways right.

"He has bad man­age­rial skills," said Gould, who lasted two tests un­der Jones be­fore leav­ing, he said, to re­tain his self-worth. "I couldn't be­lieve the way he talked to peo­ple in front of other peo­ple. I've man­aged enough peo­ple to know that there are some things you just can't do to peo­ple. You can't take away their dig­nity."

It is well-doc­u­mented that Jones' rugby obsession is bor­der­line patho­log­i­cal. This story on the BBC web­site had some re­veal­ing gems, in­clud­ing a line from Jonathan Joseph that out­lined how he would re­turn to the dress­ing room after a club game and see mes­sages on his phone from Jones de­tail­ing the min­utes of the game when the cen­tre had done things the Eng­land coach had liked or dis­liked.

It also quoted de­fence coach Paul Gus­tard at length, de­tail­ing Jones' at­ten­tion to de­tail. It is worth not­ing that Gus­tard is no longer with Eng­land, his po­si­tion taken, to the be­muse­ment of many, by for­mer All Black coach John Mitchell.

The thing that fas­ci­nates about this is not so much that to work or play un­der Jones is to suf­fer, but more that so many are happy to talk about it. Per­haps there is a cathar­tic el­e­ment to it but these types of con­fes­sions rarely get an air­ing from in­side or out­side of the All Blacks camp.

Ama­zon Prime had its cam­eras "in­side" the All Blacks camp for most of the 2017 sea­son and while it was a nicely pro­duced fanzine type of show, I learned more about the cur­rent Eng­land en­vi­ron­ment from one Joseph quote than I did about the All Blacks from mul­ti­ple hours of tele­vi­sion.

The All Blacks ma­chine is ef­fec­tive in quelling any ru­mours of dis­cord in the same way Rodong Sin­mun is ef­fec­tive in quash­ing North Korean dis­sent.

The only way we'd ever learn if Scott McLeod was strug­gling in his new role, if Ian Foster was a huge fan of Game of Thrones, or if Steve Hansen ac­ci­den­tally hit re­ply all on an email would be if Hansen de­cided to let the rugby me­dia know. The only way he'd let them know would be if it ben­e­fited him and, by ex­ten­sion, the All Blacks.

You can hy­poth­e­sise as to whether that's counter-pro­duc­tive for a sport that is try­ing to get your at­ten­tion in a crowded mar­ket, and per­haps the All Blacks method wouldn't wash in coun­tries where rugby has to work harder for eye­balls, but in the end it's a point­less ex­er­cise. You sus­pect most New Zealan­ders’ cu­rios­ity ex­tends to whether the All Blacks will win and by how many, and as long as Hansen and co keep win­ning, any other in­sights are sur­plus to re­quire­ments.

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