Rugby doesn’t deserve to be New Zealand’s national sport, equality or not

Is rugby New Zealand’s national sport? A few decades ago it was the dominant sport, but the diversity of sporting codes and much wider preferences have changed that a lot.

I grew up loving rugby. I played and then refereed and then played again until I was about 42 or so.  There was a time that I felt like I was really missing out on something if I missed seeing a test match live on TV.

But now there is so much rugby, and so much sport, I usually don’t care much whether I see tests or not.

Back to whether it can be called New Zealand’s ‘national sport’. I don’t think the term really means very much.

For different reasons Jacinda Ardern seems to think that rugby doesn’t deserve to be our national sport.

RNZ:  Rugby needs to be more inclusive to ‘deserve’ title of national sport – PM

Rugby needs to be more inclusive, particularly of women, to be fully deserving of the title of New Zealand’s national sport, the Prime Minister says.

Talking to a packed conference room at New Zealand Rugby’s first ever Women in Governance Conference in central Auckland this morning, Jacinda Ardern said rugby needs to “be a game for everyone, and that includes women”.

“For me if rugby is going to include us as women it should represent us equally, and have a relationship with us equally, both as players and spectators, and that means, as it does with every area of life, including women fairly, giving women the opportunity to excel, paying them appropriately, and providing leadership opportunities,” Ms Ardern said.

Ms Ardern said, when asked for clarification, she believed rugby does currently deserve to be called New Zealand’s national sport, ” but with that title we need to make sure we’re striving to lift the outcomes for women in sport as well”.

Quite a confusing message there.

“If rugby is going to include us as women it should represent us equally” – what? I have no idea how that could happen, let alone be measured.

“Have a relationship with us equally” – that’s just nuts. Every one of us should be able to decide for ourselves what sort of ‘relationship” we have with rugby or with any sport. Equal relationships can’t be defined let alone forced on us.

Some people simply don’t like rugby – people even say they hate it. That’s their choice. It would be ridiculous expecting them to have an ‘equal’ relationship with any sport to everyone else.

She was at the conference, articulating her vision for sporting gender equality, ahead of the Black Ferns and All Blacks double header against Australia at Eden Park tonight.

They can’t both play at an equal time.

They can’t be given equal games – there are far more men’s national teams, it’s a much stronger sport. I don’t expect men’s netball to be given equal money or coverage or prominence as women’s netball.

I’m all for giving more prominence to women’s rugby (and more money and resources to players). I enjoy watching women’s 15-a-side, and especially women’s sevens. I enjoy the latter at least as much as men’s sevens (but can’t say if that’s equal or not, it depends on each performance).

I think I get what Ardern is angling at, but for me “if rugby is going to include us as women it should represent us equally, and have a relationship with us equally” is just garbled nonsense.

However I don’t think we are risk of being forced to watch equal amounts of women’s and men’s rugby and promising to clap and cheer equally.

All Blacks lose to the Wallabies

The All Blacks have lost their second test of the season 23-18 (the also lost one to the British and Irish Lions), in the third of the year against the Wallabies, in Brisbane. The ABs had won easily in the first test in Sydney but only just came out in front in Dunedin a week later.

This was a ‘dead rubber’, the Bledisloe Cup had already been won for the season, but it will have (or should have been) a severe blow to All Black pride. But overall it shouldn’t do them any harm, being reminded of the hurt of losing can help drive teams to win.

It was a big win for the Aussies, who have been under a lot of pressure this year but are improving. Good on them.

This is obviously an excellent result for the Wallabies and for Australian rugby. It is also good for the game worldwide.

I didn’t watch the game so I won’t comment on specifics of the game. It was too late for me to be bothered going out and watching it, and I’m still refusing to pay Sky exorbitant amounts for single games and also won’t pay a subscription for a lot of crap I don’t want just to be able to watch what I do want to see.

I see that the All Black business is going to offer pay-per-view internationally for the tour of Europe, starting shortly. Sky will supply the feeds via streaming. I could be tempted, but at $24.95 a game that’s still a bit steep. The Maori All Black games are more reasonable at $14.95 but I’m not as interested in watching them – with so much rugby on these days I’m a lot more selective in what I watch.

All Blacks v Springboks

I’m glad I got up to watch the test between New Zealand and South Africa at Cape Town this morning. A classic match.

The ABs were relentless at times but made a lot of mistakes and failed to capitalise on their dominance. The teams were barely separated after a 50 minute first half.

Then the second half was absorbing. The Springboks started well and took the lead, and the lead kept changing from there. A couple of very good All Black tries, but the Springboks kept coming back. In the end a 25-24 scoreline was a fair enough reflection on how the game went, but it could easily have gone either way.

Commentators complained about the red card but I think that was the only option. A deliberate late charge with forearm contact to the head had to result in marching orders. It would always have been a yellow at least so it made no difference to the final outcome, apart from giving the All Blacks what turned out to be a crucial 3 points.

 

All Blacks v Springboks

It’s been a good year for rugby. First the Lions tour, drawn. Then Australia came very close to upsetting the All Blacks in Dunedin after a great come back from a poor first test.

Tonight the ABs get to test themselves against a resurgent Springbok team. This is the last home game of the year but it should be a good one.

It’s good to have a diversion from the election campaign.

Women’s rugby world cup final

This deserves a post of it’s own, the highlights of the women’s rugby world cup final, with the Black Ferns beating England 35-29.

Black Ferns win semi-final

Women’s rugby gets nothing like the coverage of the male version, and the Black Ferns get a fraction of the attention of the All Blacks, but they have been having a very good world cup in Ireland.

They have just beaten the USA in a semi-final 45 to 12.

RNZ:  Black Ferns into Rugby World Cup final

The Black Ferns have made it to the final of the Rugby World Cup, with a 45-12 victory over the US in their semi-final in Belfast this morning.

The Americans were competitive in the first half, but the New Zealanders took control in the second half, playing the majority of the game in the opposition half, and dominated possession.

The Black Ferns scored seven tries in total, with four of them to winger Portia Woodman.

That was a very good try on the way to an excellent win.

The Black Ferns will play either France or defending champions England in the final.

England have had some big wins too, beating the USA in a pool match 47-26. And France beat Australia 48-0!

Website: Women’s Rugby World Cup

Lions v All Blacks – 3rd test

LionsAllBlacks

Tonight’s 3rd test between the British and Irish Lions and the All Blacks is one of the biggest and most anticipated games of rugby for a long time outside the Rugby World Cup.

There’s something special about a closely contested series. It is 1-1 after two tests, so everything is riding on this game.

The winner is already rugby, and no matter who wins the game will have benefited a lot from this series.?

Who’s going to win? I have no idea, both teams start the game on 0-0, and it could easily go either way.

There could end up being one dominant team, or it could be close all the way and come down to one piece of brilliance or one bad mistake.

It’s great to have a game to watch that is so full of interest and uncertainty.

Of course I want the All Blacks to win, but if they turn out to be no good enough then so be it.—

The Lions have won the toss and will kick off at Eden Park.

Half time 12-6 to the All Blacks.

The Lions have played well at times but the ABs had the better of the first half that’s been full of action. Two very good tries, but a few missed chances as well through handling mistakes.

The Lions need to come out in the second half with new energy and lift themselves or they may struggle as fatigue sets in. They don’t look as committed as they were last week.

Still anyone’s game, but advantage at this stage to the All Blacks, both on the scoreboard and on dominance.

An odd second half, very stop start, mistakes from both sides.

Final score 15-15, a drawn series.

The All Blacks seemed to see it as a failure, the Lions saw it as a success.

One very contentious decision where it seems that a penalty (kickable) to the All Blacks was changed to a scrum after referring to the video ref – I didn’t think the video ref could be used for general play decisions like that, it still looked like a deliberate play so offside, but the ref ruled and the All Blacks didn’t finish off so the result stands.

All Blacks v Lions, 1st test

Crunch time for the All Blacks and the British and Irish Lions tonight as when they meet in the first of three tests in Auckland.

LionsAllBlacks

 

I’m looking forward to this game more than most, due to the difficulty in predicting a winner, and due to the novelty of Lions tours – they come here every 12 years so their last tour was in 2005.

 

The All Blacks haven’t been beaten at Eden Park this century – their last loss there was in 1994. They have been hard to beat anywhere in the world, but the Irish showed that it can be done last year when they played in Chicago.

They had a romp against Samoa last week but should be game hardened through the players involvement in the Super competition.

The Lions had a mixed start to their tour but have improved and have won their last two games. They will be very strong in the forwards, and are expected to kick ahead a lot to keep things in front of their pack.

It may be wet which may favour the Lions a bit but the All Blacks should be ready to deal with the conditions.

I think it’s anyone’s game, and I’m happy to put them at 50/50 odds.

Roll on 7:35.

A ripping first half. The ABs have put on a lot of pressure and got points but the Lions came back with a top try running it from inside their 22.

Halftime 13-8 to the ABs.

Great game, ABs too strong in the middle of the second half, the Lions came back to score on full time but too little, too late.

Final score 30-15.

Lions beat Crusaders

The British and Irush Lions beat the Crusaders in Christchurch tonight, 12-3, all penalties.

Tough for the Crusaders to lose their first game this season, and unusual for them to be kept tryless, but they were outscored and outplayed. The Crusaders were claiming the game as a virtual test, but they weren’t up to it.

This is a good result for the Lions obviously, but an even better result for their tour. It’s a tough one for them but each game will be tough for their opponents.

This result signals that it is game on for the test series. That’s good for the game.

 

Rugby World Cup draw

The draw – or at least the preliminary draw, has just been made for the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

c_c7unzvoaa7m7w

Who knows how strong South Africa will be by then. Or the All Blacks. Or Italy.

Still over two years away with quite a few gaps to fill in.