New Zealand Rugby fans really have had to put up with some extraordinary silliness over the years haven’t they?
From ‘rest and reconditioning’ where loyal fans were asked to continue to pay full price to see under-manned Super Rugby teams perform in the 2007 Super Rugby Competition while certain selected All Blacks ‘trained’ for the RWC.
Then there was Super Rugby expansion (just who the heck are the Southern Kings anyway?), the conception of buzzwords ‘Conference’ and ‘Derby’ games (is the Chiefs vs Highlanders at Tauranga really a ‘Derby’ game?) while the NPC/Air New Zealand/ITM Cup really got the run around from Tewey and his cohorts from expansion to contraction to Premiership and Cup Competitions and teams picking and choosing who they wanted to play and where (sorry I’m not actually sure what the format is this year for this great competition).
Then the concept of ‘Sabbaticals’ emerged where our stars got to go on holiday on full pay and benefits (believe me if you can find another employer in New Zealand that pays you to take six months holiday on full pay you’ve done really well).
But this latest Maa Nonu nonsense really takes the cake – the pinnacle of silly ideas and fiascos if you will. Back in 2011 the NZRFU were at risk of losing Mark Hammett and a whole bunch of Crusaders Intellectual Property overseas to the Wallabies, much of which had already gone with Rob Deans 2 years earlier so they did what they felt they had to do to keep him – they appointed him as head coach of the cot-case Hurricanes with a mandate to clean house and rid the troubled franchise of its miscreants.
Three months later Hammett had put the majority of the supposed ringleaders (Andrew Hore, Piri Weepu and most importantly Maa Nonu) in the naughty corner and told them to pack their bags and seek their fame and fortune elsewhere. After some initial outcry, and as the teams performance slowly improved, long suffering Hurricanes fans realised that maybe this impostor from Christchurch was actually onto something (of course this has yet to be fully proven).
So here we are three years later and after Nonu has outstayed his welcome at both the Blues and Highlanders what does Steve Tew do? Yes he shoulder taps his old mate Hammett at the Hurricanes and issues a Papal decree that the prodigal son must return to the team. You don’t have to be Dr Phil to see that this is not a match made in heaven and is going to end in tears (for everyone including Nonu, Hammett, the Canes and its long suffering fans which is the real shame).
There really only one thing Mark Hammett can do in this situation – yes the message ‘it’s him or me’ must be delivered to the doors of the Kremlin up Molesworth Street.
But the question is – will he call their bluff?