21 Feb

Another Gobby for Eddie
by Paul Waite
21 Feb 2007

It’s time SANZAR thought about founding a new Annual Award. It would be called The Gossip Or Blather – GOB award, and be presented to the coach who, in the opinion of the judges, blabbed the most to the Media.

Naturally the award would become known as “The Gobby”, as in “hey Eddie, I hear you picked up your fifth consequetive Gobby this year..”

Eddie Jones, the garrulous rent-a-quote former coach of the Wallabies has been at it again, this time as coach of The Queensland Reds in the Super-14. The trouble is SANZAR, in typical “corporate suits” fashion, have drawn up a book of rules which forbid players and coaches criticising referees and a officials, and who knows maybe their contracts even put a stop to them discussing the SANZAR Chief’s wives in derogatory terms.

The problem with this gagging of free speech is that it doesn’t result in the right things happening. For a start, the idea is SANZAR don’t want their competition “brought into disrepute”. Jaysus, what century are these pratts living in? Like the average fan is going to consider the game is disreputable, just because Eddie says the latest reffing display was crap. Bollocks.

All it does, if obeyed to the letter, is give us a bunch of drones who mouth the same bland cliche-ridden shite, even if the referee had a brain-cell implosion and totally disgraced himself. It isn’t in sync with the times.

These days fans are knowledgable, keen, and have to hand numerous instant messaging technologies to view replays, and discuss performances at will. Ordering coaches and players to stop saying what they think is like trying to dam a river by knocking a tent peg into the middle of it. And besides that, it makes SANZAR look at best plain silly, and at worst a bunch of draconian bosses who can’t face the truth, and aren’t comitted to excellence through improvement.

Let’s look at the other side of the coin. Imagine you’re a referee, and you’ve just had a shocker. It was the wrong time of the month, your dog had given you a nasty nip in the testicles as you unwisely tried to give it breakfast dressed only in a pair of Y-fronts that morning, and an irritating eyelid tick has been with you all day affecting your vision. You awarded a try that wasn’t scored, and disallowed one that was. A stray dog wandered on the pitch and gave you a nasty nip in the testicles as you tried to order it off, and you issued five red cards for trifling offences which didn’t happen anyway.

In a Universe far away from here, where there is a SANZAR panel with some vision, both coaches and the players rip the shit out of you on prime-time TV. The public agree, and SANZAR do too, saying that your performance will be reviewed and steps taken to either get you right, or replace you. All fair dinkum, because you deserved it. In the weeks that follow you do some retraining, the old knackers heal, you get back to refereeing well, and your wife now feeds the dog in the morning. Everyone’s pleased.

In this Universe, since Fast Eddie Mouth isnt’ involved in this particular game, everyone is muzzled like the rabid dogs SANZAR believes they are. Comments range from a risky “I thought the refereeing could have been a tad better, but no complaints really”, to a “The referee wasn’t to blame for our loss” (even though the try he disallowed of theirs, and the one he awarded to them were the difference in the score). Meanwhile, on Planet Reality, the public discuss the game as it actually was in pubs, on the ‘net in forums, on mobiles and post video clips to YouTube etc. proving it. SANZAR wears the egg on its face in that well-known, but oblivious fashion.

Nobody is saying that coaches and players should be actually abusive about referees, or officialdom in general, but genuine criticism should be allowed to stand on its merits and voiced in the public domain. It’s a damn healthy thing to have leading lights in the game saying these things, especially when everyone else is going to be saying them anyway. It’s called Openness.

Accepting that referees and everyone else always have something to learn, and can improve is basic. Pressures brought to bear by criticism is part and parcel of forcing that process. People who mouth off in bad grace after games will soon be recognised as idiots and so the system is self-correcting; nobody wants to build a reputation as a fool or bad loser.

So get your act together SANZAR, and award Eddie his Gobby with a smile, and a pat on the back for all his constructive criticism during the season!

Paul Waite

Paul Waite

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

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