Do Kiwi's care about the rugby anymore?

Peter Williams 14/09/2020

This is an op-ed written by Magic Talk Mornings host Peter Williams

OPINION: Why were the protests about this over the weekend pretty muted? Don’t we care about rugby much anymore? Is the concept of a 100 million dollar economic injection into the country, along with a 6 week rugby event featuring the All Blacks and the World Cup winners South Africa not an enticing prospect anymore? Now there were a few howls of protests from the sports journalists and the rugby commentators, but the relative silence from the political commentators, the business community and most significantly, from the opposition, the National Party, was deafening. Nobody seemed to give a toss about it. Is that the way we are these days? Doesn’t rugby, and big international rugby events, matter anymore?

And what about the Prime Minister’s line about the tournament only going to Australia because of internal SANZAR politics? That was an out and out lie, a fib, a fabrication, an invention of untrue facts - or if you like fake news. It is just not true. The fact is the tournament is not being played in this country because of the government’s intransigence on quarantine rules, and the flexibility offered by the New South Wales state government. It was an investment by that state, just like the Queensland government made an investment in the AFL to get the business end of the season played up there. But I’d love to know how much this decision to have the rugby played in Australia annoys you or upsets you? Is it an opportunity lost? An opportunity not just for the country to make a bit of money - and for a lot of hospitality businesses to make quite a bit of money - but have we lost an opportunity to to have a bit of fun? To be rewarded for putting up with what we have put up for the last 6 months? But don’t we care about rugby anymore? Don’t we care about having a bit of fun anymore? Don’t we care about putting some economic stimulus back into our country? Why did we take the decision with seemingly just a shrug of the shoulders? Will there be any pushback against it in the next few days? 

And then if what we hear from the Wallabies coach Dave Rennie is any indication, then the two Bledisloe Cup matches scheduled for October won’t be happening either. Rennie reckons our quarantine restrictions are just way too stringent and if they stay the way they are then his team won’t be coming here and the matches won’t be played? Is this going to become an election issue? Is it a big deal? Or is the lack of outrage, the more or less complete absence of annoyance about this situation, an indication that the game is not the big deal it once was? Was the relatively muted reaction when we didn’t win the World Cup last year an indication that the so called great game for all New Zealand is now no longer the be-all and end-all of everything. If the All Blacks don’t play this year, do we really care? Or is it just another indication that the country is in thrall of this government, of this Prime Minister and we are prepared to be mostly obedient little souls who will do what we are told, and will get angry at those who break the rules?

I was watching a bit of the Tour de France yesterday. It is France’s greatest sports event. The country is a hot spot for covid. They have 65 million people - 13 times the population of New Zealand. They’ve had 381,000 cases, the equivalent of 29,000 in this country. Yesterday alone they had over 7000 cases, the equivalent of over 500 in this country.

They’re supposed to be social distancing. Hah! There they were, the fans, out on the side of the road, without masks, cheering, shouting, side by side with the passion you see from the fans of the Tour every year. I don’t know if anyone is trying to enforce social distancing, but if they are it isn’t working, and the number of cases in the country continues to skyrocket. But here's the thing - as with many other countries having these so called “second waves” or a spike in the number of cases, there is no corresponding increase in the number of deaths. Has the high point of the lethality of the disease actually passed?

Maybe.

This is an op-ed written by Magic Talk Mornings host Peter Williams