The end of the Adam Thomson saga was as insipid as its beginning.
As far as political footballs go, the All Blacks blindside was kicked from Edinburgh, to London, to Cardiff and back.
It was, in the end, a waste of everybody's time as the original two-week suspension was halved, then restored over a senseless three-week circus, leaving Thomson, the All Blacks third-choice blindside, available for selection against England next week.
The main act of this media circus was International Rugby Board boss Brett Gosper, who tweeted his way into the big top to kick things off in politically incorrect fashion.
And so, to last night's final decision of the independent appeal committee, and New Zealand Rugby Union chief executive Steve Tew's carefully worded response. Tew was critical of the judicial process, but clearly didn't see the worth in creating any bad blood with the new, outspoken Australian IRB boss.
"The process would warrant some review. Having to wait six days for the written decision before an appeal is made is far too long," Tew told the Sunday Star-Times at Cardiff last night. "The chairman of the appeal mentioned that in his summing up at the end. That is something the IRB will have to look at.
"The appeal provision is there and the IRB exercised that. Adam got a fair hearing and we're happy with the result. He's able to play next week if selected."
Tew lobbied to get the appeal - regulation 17 - erased from rugby's global constitution in May this year and Thomson's drawn-out case only reinforced his view it needed to be scrapped.
"This was one of the changes that got voted on in the most recent amendments. It was something we weren't particularly happy to see in there, but ultimately it got the support from the group. There is room for some ultimate body keeping a watch in case something goes fundamentally wrong.
"The question the IRB will be asking themselves is, if this was the right way to appeal or not. I would suggest from the result probably not, but that's a matter of opinion."
It's impossible to argue with Tew. Thomson's result served to highlight the IRB's glaring inconsistencies after thuggish South African prop Dean Greyling and Australian flanker Scott Higginbotham were slapped with wet bus tickets earlier this year. As for Gosper's need to appease the British press, Tew was reluctant to rock the boat so early in his tenure.
Privately, at least, there is little doubt he was irritated by the unprofessional manner in which the process was conducted.
"He tweeted they would be looking at it. It's not for me to comment. That's something for them to consider," Tew said of Gosper's opinion spilling into the public sphere without proper consultation. "He's got a job to do. I don't have a problem with that.
"I've already met with Brett on several occasions. He's obviously a very capable man in his own right. I'm hopeful he will do a very good job. I look forward to working with him."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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