On Saturday night Steve Hansen mad some flippant remark about how the All Blacks brand was NZ’s biggest asset (All Blacks are meant to be humble) and it was time to get paid for it. It seemed at the time it was like a Flush the Dunny moment.
That comment was a bit odd, but then Steve Tew came out today and did the double down. It’s real; the NZR is asking the NZ taxpayer to chip in to pay for already outrageously paid athletes to stay in New Zealand.
Steve Tew; who squeezed millions out of the Christchurch City Council to upgrade Lancaster Park / Jade AMI Stadium in the early 2000s.
And they are, apparently, dead serious.
It is another blatant example of the top-down view that New Zealand rugby seems to be adopting.
Ironically, this is acknowledged as a big factor in the slide of Australian rugby since the days of the turn of the century.
Rugby’s biggest heritage in New Zealand is that it is is the game of the people. It’s the game of the provinces, the cities and the secondary schools. It’s tradition.
And it’s a tradition of New Zealanders that they don’t want to fund a top up in an athlete’s salary from 400k to $1m. Fund grass root rugby by all means, but that’s not the way to do it.
The wide empty lack of spectators, even at a Ranfurly Shield Challenge, over the last couple of weeks point to all sorts of issues in the national game beneath the apex.
Also, why should the New Zealand taxpayer prop up a financially unviable, non-sustainable, and ego driven European club structure?
There are a few strange things about this, notably how Steves Hansen and Tew are smart operators, and why would they burn goodwill like this?
Why wait for the change of government for this pitch since John Key was their biggest fan?
Why do this when we have teachers and nurses, clearly neglected in recent years, taking the unusual step of striking to highlight their struggles?
And why did Hansen; again not stupid, insist on calling the Minister of Finance and Sport Grant Robinson?
There has to be some strange End Game going on here; we will find out over time. Some smart people have got this really wrong.