24 Feb

Canes Deservedly Caned
by Paul Waite
24 Feb 2002

Welcome to another Super 12.

Welcome to another year where, astonishingly enough, some New Zealand teams appear to be caught with their shorts down. You honestly have to wonder what’s going on with this. It’s almost as if the following bit of silliness took place…

Graham Mourie [answers phone]: “Hello?”
Gordon Slater [for it is he]: “Boss! … have you looked at the calendar??”

Graham: “No Gordy… why? … oh bugger, I’ve forgotten your birthday haven’t I?”
Gordy: “Not that! …mind you I wouldn’t have said no to another set of paisley patterned hankies, don’t get me wrong. No.. FOOTY SEASON STARTS IN A WEEK!!”

Graham: “(pause as it sinks in)… Bugger me, does it really??”
Gordy: “Shall I ring around and see who we can get for training??”

Graham: [the reknowned rugby brain thinking as quickly as ever] “Errr… I know, ring round and see who we can get for training. And tell them they’d better cut down on the beer. Thanks Gordy. [click]”

FX: sound of touch-tone dialling…

Graham: “Tana! … have you looked at the calendar??”
Tana Umaga: “Oh no. Not the Super 12 AGAIN! Can’t we forget it this year boss?”

The absolute rout that Hurricanes supporters were treated to this last Friday was pretty much a betrayal of trust. The fans trusted that the Hurricanes players had been doing the hard yards in the close season period, both on their own fitness and on the basics of building a team. They hadn’t.

Instead what we saw was a pathetically inept attempt at playing rugby by a bunch of people who looked like they’d enjoyed the summer to the max, and put all thoughts of training and preparation to the background. I’m sure if I talked to any of them they would insist that they’d put in the work, but all I’m saying is that the evidence indicates otherwise.

Looking at the Chiefs a similar effect seems to have taken place, though not as severe. Thank goodness for the Crusaders and Highlanders game down at Jade Stadium where some real rugby was played. Although not 100% match fit, the players had obviously put in the work both on themselves and as team units to come out and do justice to the fans, and it showed.

I know that the Hurricanes have had more changes to deal with than most, but the pack is essentially a unit from Taranki and the rest have played together many times before. That excuse won’t wash. The evidence was much too damning for that kind of get-out. The Hurricanes players and coach need to take a long look at themselves in the mirror and ask if they really did everything they could in the close-season to prepare for the first game of Super 12 2002.

If the answer is still “yes”, then they need to consult with the likes of the Crusaders and Highlanders coaching and playing staff and find out where the massive flaw in their thinking is.

Paul Waite

Paul Waite

Haka editor-in-chief. Please do not feed.

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18 Feb

The Super TWELVE Is With Us Again
by Paul Waite
18 Feb 2002

Sources close to the creche known as The Australian SANZAR Offices described John O’Neil as “tired and emotional, but in a stable condition” tonight after yet another frantic tantrum had resulted in a few tiny blood vessels bursting in his even tinier brain.

“NMR scanning is of no use to us in this case”, Doctor Edward Hebblethwaite told a hushed press conference after the event. “We can only detect cells in groupings of 5 to 6, and his cerebrum is much smaller than that”.

O’Neil is, however, in no danger whatsoever. “As far as we can ascertain, he’s been in this condition all his life” Hebblethwaite added, mopping his brow with a large paisley-patterned hankerchief. “For him, this is perfectly normal”.

Earlier in the day O’Neil had seemed to the World at large, and in particular the NZRFU, to have “thrown his rattle out of the pram” as a SANZAR spokesperson succinctly put it. At a meeting last year the idea of the Super 14 had been agreed on in principle by all three participants, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

Although South Africa and New Zealand left that meeting on the clear understanding the idea had yet to be drawn up in detail, and that it was in principle only, O’Neil seems to have been under the staggeringly stupid impression that it was all a done deal, even though nobody had even thought of asking the Super 12′s “owners” (as it were) News Limited, what they thought of the idea. Added to this gross oversight, New Zealand had agreed to the expansion only if certain terms surrounding player burnout and revenue sharing were nutted out. They have not been.

Now, in his childish dementia, O’Neil is blaming the NZRFU for dragging the chain. Of course, he can probably be forgiven for forgetting the conditions and requirements the idea hinged on. Having such a small number of neurons, there’s a limit to what his mind can contain, at a guess.

As it stands there is no chance of the Super 14 coming our way until at least 2005. This is good news. Haka has always thought that it was an idea which spelled doom to our NPC competition, and as long as the NZRFU put a lot of energy into addressing this, we now have the time to come up with an alternative.

I’m sure the marketing guys will also have a lot to say about it. For goodness’ sake, by 2005 will the public want to see just another Super 12-like format, or would they be hanging out for something a bit different? I know what the answer is, but do the NZRFU? The idea of expanding to encompass Pacific Island nations and even the likes of Argentina and Japan in a pool-play/playoffs variant beckon.

Over to you NZRFU.

As for John O’Neil, we’d highly recommend strapping the dummy in with a bit of No.8 fencing wire. That should shut the enfant terrible up for a while.

Paul Waite

Paul Waite

Haka editor-in-chief. Please do not feed.

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