Peter FitzSimons: For Gawd's sake Chiefs, what were you thinking?
OPINION: About thirty years ago a great All Black captain who will remain nameless – let's just call him Buck Shelford – was speaking at a Black Tie dinner at Sydney's Hilton Hotel, and going well, when he suddenly veered into telling Alan Jones jokes. The room went quiet, the wind changed, the mood darkened.
We might tell Alan Jones jokes, and it was true he was a mongrel, but he was OUR mongrel, and we'd be damned if we'd have a Kiwi doing him down. Buck realised his error, did a screaming u-turn, and finished in triumph.
A similar vibe operated with your Paul Henry when he came to host breakfast television in Australia, going up against the likes of the Today Show, which my wife co-anchors. Whatever the virtues of his views about Kevin Rudd, it was just RUDE for a Kiwi-Come-Lately to express them in our media. He didn't last long.
All of which is to say, I express my views about your Chiefs and their "Mad Monday," with some hesitation.
But, look, what the hell?
You did ask, so here's the answer.
Can everyone else leave the room please, while I talk to the Chiefs alone? Thank you.
"Mad Monday????" Are you b*****ds kidding?
Rah-Rahs don't do that! Leaguies do that. They get pissed, revert to 14-year-old boys, disgrace themselves, attract ugly headlines and bring their entire game into disrepute. They invented Mad Monday, and can bloody well have it. We Rah-Rahs are better than that. We celebrate, or commiserate and carry-on together, but when you are a code that boasts the likes of Sir Brian Lochore in your ranks, you DON'T carry on like infantile brats, like Leaguies.
Ditto, pawing strippers. For Gawd's sake, what were you thinking? You wear a proud jersey, one that hundreds of blokes would gnaw their knuckles off to wear, just once. It connotes pride, honour, resilience and yes, class. Doing that s***, you disgrace yourselves, and your jersey.
Utter crass homophobic slurs? We rugby people don't do that, either. The whole point of rugby, it's key virtue is its inclusiveness. In so many other sports, you need to be from a particular country, or even of a particular race, and certainly of a particular gender or body type. But rugby says the hell with that. We don't care what part of the world you are from, what race, what gender, what size or shape. If you're fat and slow with no ball skills, you can be a front-rower; a tall work-horse and you're in the second-row; an egotist who thinks the whole world revolves around you, and you're at fly-half; a narcissist who has spent your life running away from physical contact, and without a friend to bless yourself with, you're a winger. If you're fantastic, you can play for your first grade team, for your province, or even for your country. If you're not so strong, but still keen, you can play for the Fighting Fifths, or Struggling Sixths.
In recent years, the spirit of inclusiveness has grown and empowered women's rugby particularly, Masters rugby with the old'uns, wheelchair rugby, deaf rugby and in recent times, gay rugby. Our game can take a deep bow for how much gay rugby has flourished, and long may it continue to do so. As a culture, we are one-in, all-in, and that kind of antediluvian homophobic bulls*** is beneath us.
So, consider yourself told. At least the apology of the bloke who uttered the slur was quick, to the point, and sincere. Let him be your model.
'Fess up, own up, realise that you have stuffed up in a major away, apologise, and move on. But come next season, remember this humiliation. It will be for you to restore the pride, in the jersey, in yourselves.