I’ve been pretty scathing about New Zealand rugby writers recently, but there is one who I do respect for his more balanced and thoughtful copy.
It isn’t Rattue, obviously – his latest vitriol was under the headline ‘Lions have all the enthusiasm of a chicken heading to KFC’. Rattue has tunnel vision and is equally abusive to any team that doesn’t wear the silver fern on their chest – the Wallabies and England are regular victims of his poison pen
The guy who I am referring to is Gregor Paul – he writes well and with thought rather than a fixed agenda.
He wrote yesterday about the continuing ‘discussion’ regarding the O’Driscoll tackle in 2005 –
The clock will be wound back because Tana Umaga is going to name his Blues side to play the Lions on Wednesday and he, of course, was at the centre of the controversy 12 years ago that saw Lions captain Brian O’Driscoll ruled out of the series after just 41 seconds.
The Lions campaigned for justice 12 years ago and didn’t feel they got it. Umaga was not sanctioned either during the game or after for appearing to tip O’Driscoll on his head at the edge of a ruck.
That he and his accomplice, Keven Mealamu, avoided any kind of punishment remains a curiosity but it’s hardly the only occasion in the last two decades where a judicial decision has made precisely no sense.
He was quite right – the subject was raised at the announcement of the Blues side for Wednesday.
Surprisingly I agree that it is time to move on – I say surprisingly because I have mentioned the disgraceful tackle here on several occasions.
What neither Umuga nor Mealamu seem to understand is that everyone would move on if they simply acknowledged that it was a tip tackle – they don’t even need to apologise, although obviously I feel they should.
The two involved have in fact kept the wound an open sore – Umuga by referring to O’Driscoll as a ‘sook’ (cry-baby) over the incident in his autobiography and Mealamu insisting that the Lions trying to smear him over the tackle was unfair.
It was inevitable that it would come up on this tour, but it should now be put to bed – no one in NZ can see anything wrong, despite the damning video and especially since I don’t think the Lions will ever tour NZ again.
It will, however always leave a very nasty taste.