Umaga fails to tackle ‘old news’
NEW ZEALAND Rugby and Tana Umaga, coach of the Blues, have done themselves no credit with Umaga’s handling of questions from British reporters about the incident that marred the last Lions tour.
At the press conference to announce his team that played the Lions last night, Umaga knew he would be asked about the tackle in 2005 that put that year’s Lions captain and best game-breaker Brian O’Driscoll out of the tour just minutes after the start of the first test.
“That was 12 years ago,” Umaga replied. “If people can’t put it behind them I suppose they never will.
“It is not about that time now. It’s about this group now and against the Lions and hopefully the memories they make that are positive ones, and we just move on from that.”
At the time our editorial called it a reckless and dangerous act unbecoming the All Black captain. “It may even have been malicious,” we said, adding, “although that is unlikely, we do not know and possibly never will.”
As the years have passed, and New Zealand rugby followers have reflected on it, more of them have felt uncomfortable about what happened. O’Driscoll was careful to say only that he thought it would have been “common courtesy” for the All Black captain to show an interest in his condition as he was being stretchered off.
It was 12 years ago and Umaga is not the only New Zealander who wishes it was behind us. Hopefully, he wishes it had never happened but in that case, why could he not say so? Why, when he has said he knew the incident would be raised at Monday’s press conference, did he not come prepared to give a gracious expression of regret? New Zealand Rugby ought to have urged him to do so.
Until somebody on our side says the right thing, we are in no position to tell the British rugby press or public to put it behind them. We may hope their lingering disgust does not intrude on this tour but we are in no position to say it should not. – New Zealand Herald