The Irish are at it again. Not for the first time during the Rugby World Cup, an Irish writer has had a crack at the All Blacks.
Former Ireland number eight Neil Francis has penned a column for the Irish Independent stating the All Blacks “cheat with impunity and such breathtaking cynicism and referees let them do it”.
Analysing the All Blacks’ pool play win over Canada, Francis, who played 36 tests for Ireland between 1987 and 1996, said at one point New Zealand “gave away 20 penalties, of which only one was awarded” and claims All Blacks skipper Kieran Read should have been sent off by referee Romain Poite while Beauden Barrett and Sonny Bill Williams escaped yellow cards.
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Kieran Read with Steve Hansen. Picture: Hannah Peters/GettySource:Getty Images
“This was for a headfirst no-arms tackle by Kieran Read on one of the hapless Canadian runners. Don’t worry Kieran, you are the captain of the All Blacks, you have diplomatic immunity,” Francis wrote.
“In the middle of this phase of play there was a comic moment involving Sonny Bill Williams. The All Black centre jumped off-side at the ruck but put his hands in the air. This very act automatically absolves you from wrongdoing. The referee cannot penalise you if you are an All Black who jumps off-side but puts his hands up. It is in the rule book — the off-side law article 5 paragraph 3,” he quipped.
New Zealand’s centre Sonny Bill Williams scores against Canada. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP)Source:AFP
“What is the upshot of this little vignette? First off Barrett should have got a yellow, Read arguably a red and Williams a yellow and Poite should have awarded Canada a penalty try.
“New Zealand are difficult enough to beat at the best of times but because they cheat with impunity and such breathtaking cynicism and referees let them do it, they are even more difficult to overcome.”
“If there is a rugby Heaven and Hell, Richie McCaw, who lifted two World Cups, will probably be sitting at the right hand of God whereas in the real world he should be down in the bowels of Hell with demons sticking hot pokers up his arse and Martin Johnson for company.
“They cheat, they cheat, and they cheat! And they are let away with it time after time!”
However despite the diatribe, Francis went onto say that the All Blacks willingness to push the limits in a pool match against a much-weaker opposition is what makes champions.
“In a match of little consequence to them, which they were going to win heavily against amateur opposition, they were prepared to do anything, absolutely anything, to ensure their line was not crossed. That my friends is the difference between champions and pretenders,” he said.
Kieran Read catches the ball in a line out. (Photo by CHRISTOPHE SIMON / AFP)Source:AFP
Earlier in the tournament Irish rugby writer Ewan MacKenna, who also works for the Independent, called for a stop to the All Blacks haka, saying it “gives New Zealand an unfair advantage”.
In a column titled ‘Haka gives New Zealand an unfair advantage and needs to stop’ on sports website Pundit Arena, MacKenna asked why the World Cup is still “pandering to the dance”.
“That’s unfortunate as New Zealand are justifiably big-headed enough without a massaging of their already massive egos,” MacKenna wrote.
“Yet even World Rugby have it in their rules that to not stand on your own 10-metre line and watch a bunch stick out their tongues and slap their thighs is worthy of a fine and a telling off.
“Indeed if we are to engage in these cultural activities in rugby, perhaps Ireland’s opponents should have to spend a few minutes watching our players sitting around a table in midfield, sipping cups of tea and bemoaning everything from economic migrants to the latest bin charges.”
MacKenna said the haka had “been ruthlessly exploited and commercialised and ultimately cheapened”.
New Zealand’s players perform the haka against Namibia. (Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP)Source:AFP
“That’s not to say it doesn’t have beauty and meaning to Maoris (sic), but Irish dancing can having meaning to us and that doesn’t change the fact that it was monetised by Michael Flatley turning to liquid plastic on stage.”
After taking shots at the haka, MacKenna went on to attempt to describe the practical reasons why the traditional challenge gives New Zealand an advantage.
“There’s a practical reason why the Haka shouldn’t happen as, while it provides a psychological edge through self-inspiration and via an attempt at opponent intimidation, it also provides a small physical edge as others are forced to stand still and go briefly cold.
“There’s another reason too though as there is a huge lack of self-awareness about this. Again there are those who’ll say it’s native and it is to some, but the majority of New Zealand players haven’t been Maori. Instead, they descend from forefathers who were actually ruthless oppressors of natives.
“Anyway, it’s completely overdone. In rugby, and in life. A New Zealand graduation or homecoming, a wedding afters or merely a boozed-up night out, it seems, can barely pass by without a YouTube video emerging of a man leaping about with all the authenticity of a Blackrock College conversation detailing both tillage methodology and livestock vaccination.”
This article was originally published by the New Zealand Herald and reproduced with permission
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