By Scott MacLean
In case you missed it, the Hurricanes billed their clash with the Chiefs at the Cake Tin tomorrow night as the “Taranaki Land War”. While a nod towards Taranaki and split loyalty of fans in the province after the local unions switch of allegiance to the Chiefs franchise after years of discontent with the Wellington-based Canes management, anyone with an idea of our nation’s history would have found it distinctly uncomfortable at best at how the term was being used.
No surprise then at the level of backlash (which was well deserved), and yesterday’s unreserved apology from the Hurricanes for any offence it caused. One also wonders how Beauden and Jordie Barrett – who grew up not too far from Parihaka – feel about their images being used as well.
The obvious questions are who at Hurricanes HQ thought the “Land War” idea for promoting the game was a good one, and how many people signed off on it. Did anyone actually stop and say “Is this actually the right way to go about it?”. And that’s without getting into a discussion about the use of war imagery in sports promotion, or the use of sword-wielding types by the two southern franchises. After all, far more savagery was inflicted in the Crusades in the Holy Lands than in Taranaki 130 years ago.
At least the Hurricanes learned one thing from the Chiefs disastrous handling of “Strippergate”; when you’ve stuffed up acknowledge it rather than double-down.
Friday’s game doesn’t even really need such a thing. There’s no love lost between the two sides, especially since the Chiefs pulled that scrum-stunt a couple of seasons back. Heck, they could even have called it the “CooperBowl” for current Chiefs and former Canes coach Colin Cooper, who ironically in amongst all of this is actually from Taranaki.
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