Marlborough Express

Backlash to the Black clash:


Unacceptab­le. A shrug of the shoulders, a ‘‘gee shucks’’ and flippant suggestion there are bigger things in the world to worry about does not cut the mustard from a New Zealand Rugby organisati­on that is fast making an art form out of its ineptitude.

In many ways we should not be surprised by the scheduling snafu that has arisen on Saturday, pitting the All Blacks’ test against Japan effectivel­y head to head against the Black Ferns’ World Cup quarterfin­al against Wales in Whanga¯ rei. The former kicks off at 6.50pm (NZ time) and the latter at 7.30pm.

Given that the Ferns’ quarterfin­al timeslot was known as far back as May last year and the Japan test was only added to the All Blacks’ tour schedule much later, it is a clash that clearly could have been avoided with a modicum of foresight, communicat­ion and planning.

Unfortunat­ely this is NZ

Rugby we are talking about. Foresight, communicat­ion and planning are not exactly its forte.

Is the clash regrettabl­e? Of course it is. New Zealand rugby fans deserve the opportunit­y to watch both of their flagship teams live, the women’s World Cup deserves a clear runway for its key quarterfin­al involving the home side and Black Ferns players deserve people talking about them heading into an important knockout match, and not the inadequaci­es of their parent organisati­on.

Will life go on? Sure. People will have a choice over which match they watch live, there are options for delayed screening of both and there is a thing called multi-screening for those not wanting to miss a thing as it happens. Some will watch neither.

But that’s not the point.

The point is this was a situation easily avoided if NZ Rugby had thought about the World Cup it was hosting when it added the clash against Japan to its existing three-match November tour to Wales, Scotland and England. The fact that it didn’t is both shocking optics and an inexcusabl­e failing.

As it does in these matters, NZ Rugby has issued a mea culpa. Of sorts.

First on Wednesday it put out a statement admitting it did not ‘‘take into account’’ the World

Cup scheduling and there ‘‘was never an intent to overshadow the RWC in any way’’.

Later, spokesman Chris Lendrum explained an ‘‘oversight with bigger consequenc­es’’ when he said: ‘‘We were aware of it as an organisati­on, but the right people weren’t aware of it.’’ He added: ‘‘It’s not the end of the world. We’re lucky to have these problems in New Zealand.’’

What is this? The Benny Hill Show? No one at NZ Rugby thought of raising the very global tournament it was hosting as a factor in timing of an add-on test purely there to make money, and solidify a relationsh­ip with Japan Rugby that is all about, you guessed it, making more money?

Nobody is perfect. People make mistakes. Key things get overlooked. But NZ Rugby, a multimilli­on-dollar organisati­on that pays a lot of people significan­t money to get the detail right, do make a lot of boo-boos.

This is just the latest in a long line of questionab­le actions in 2022 that leave people entitled to raise questions about those running our national game in New Zealand.

This year alone we’ve had the long-running Silver Lake private investor saga that took two years to get over the line.

There has been a Black Ferns review that highlighte­d problem areas in that environmen­t, and led to a change in head coach; there has been an unpreceden­ted mid-cycle coaching shakeup in the All Blacks which saw two assistants sacked, just months after they had been reappointe­d; there was the ill-considered tweet on Internatio­nal Women’s Day; and there has been a continuati­on of the relationsh­ip problems with

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