Karl du Fresne on the Aaron Smith saga

Another sensible bit of commentary from Karl du Fresne.

The tut-tutters who clucked their tongues over All Black Aaron Smith’s tryst in an airport toilet must have been startled by the number of voices raised in his defence.

The Mother Grundys were almost outgunned by Smith’s defenders, who recognised that this affair was different in vital respects from other recent furores involving delinquent rugby players.

Public outrage should be reserved for incidents that justify it, such as the vicious assaults perpetrated by the rising rugby star Losi Filipo.

Smith’s airport encounter involved no violence or coercion. As far as we know, the woman was a willing partner.

The incident also differed crucially from the Waikato Chiefs’ end-of-season revelry involving a stripper. Although the stripper appears to have been a consenting party, at least initially, she was a lone woman surrounded by men – big, intimidating men. It was hardly what you would call a level playing field.

So: Smith’s liaison involved no nastiness. And it was one-on-one – a case of two adults indulging in consensual behaviour behind a closed door. A victimless crime, in other words.

Read more »


Stephen Franks on rugby, rooting and rules


Stephen Franks is spot on with his analysis of the Aaron Smith airport rooting saga.

Have I lost touch with my country? Where am I?

When did it become an obligation on an employer to discipline an employee for what could be a fleeting airport toilet shag with a woman not his ‘partner’, thousands of miles from the ‘workplace’ with no evidence (so far) that it could affect workplace performance.

I’m especially baffled when the nation’s most economically illiterate lawyers (employment specialists) have created rules that block and reverse the most simple and efficient measures by employers to uphold honesty and other ethical standards, and even basic courtesy.  These idiots will expensively second guess the natural disciplinary steps  that have for generations made workplaces civilised (and civilising) places for association among non-kin of disparate cultures and backgrounds.

Yet today our media have been reporting the the Rugby Union’s latest venture into controlling off field conduct without a hint of irony or criticism. I feel for the rugby bosses. Last week the media rage focused on them for failing to give the justice to victims which the justice system denied. Media castigation should have been exclusively on the judging class who think they are therapists for criminals, freed from their duty to do justice by their superior compassion. Instead it turned into a witch-hunt on rugby.

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Guest post: Losi Filipo


I’m sure you’ve been keeping an eye on this Losi Filipo case.

Like most people, I was ready to lynch the kid on Monday. However…. the more I look at things and talk to people, the more some things don’t add up

There are two significant ‘issues’ with Mr Morgan’s story. Firstly – he was never in line for a Wellington contract. He was a middling club player and definitely no star. He also played No8 or blindside flanker, and there’s no shortage of them in Wellington. Tellingly he was never previously part of any grade side Read more »

All Blacks vs Springboks

Reuters / via Telegraph

Reuters / via Telegraph

Hi fellow multi-screening tragics.  This is our post for the night.  Just respect the people in Backchat – no rugby talk, no scores, no final result.  Not even when the game is over, just in case someone’s watching later.

Bragging rights are back up for grabs:  get your scores in before the game starts.

New Zealand vs Argentina



This is today’s rugby post.  You can join the rest of us “multi-screen” tragics if you like by sharing the excitement/outrage of today’s game by sharing your thoughts and feelings.

Before the game starts, you can post your guess for the final score.  Winner gets bragging rights.

PLEASE no rugby talk in Bakchat.  No scores, no final results – some people may still want to watch the game later.  Thank you.



New Zealand v Wales Game 3


Please keep the rugby related chats and scores out of Backchat, even when the game is over.  Some people may still want to watch it delayed so let’s not spoil their day.

As per usual, guess the final score before the game starts, and if you’re closest, you get bragging rights for the week.  Read more »


I guess Winston won’t be calling on Sky TV for a donation next year

Winston Peters is on to another winner, free-to air-sports. 

Winston really is having a blinder at the moment, tapping accurately into middle New Zealand.

New Zealand should copy Australia and make “sport of national significance” available on TV for free, New Zealand First’s Winston Peters says. Is it an idea whose time has come – or an idea that’s now out of time across the ditch?

Most rugby fans would have been happy enough with the All Blacks’ win against Wales in last weekend’s first test, but New Zealand First leader Winston Peters wasn’t happy with the playing field for fans.

On Radio Live‘s website that day, he said the All Blacks could only be seen live these days by “the more cashed-up members of our society”.

Test tickets were too expensive and fewer than half of New Zealand households now subscribed to Sky Sport, which has had exclusive rights to broadcast live All Blacks games for nearly 25 years, he said.    Read more »

New Zealand vs Wales


This is the spot for chatter about today’s game.  Please leave Backchat for people who aren’t interested.  Also, leave the scores OUT of Backchat, in case someone doesn’t want to know the final result yet.

I hear the TAB have stopped taking bets earlier today as the ABs were paying $1.01 for the win.   The win is probably inevitable, but I hope Wales can at least give us a scare or two.

Wales have never lost a game.  They just finish the 90 minutes with the other team on more points.  Read more »


Wales will play to win, win or lose


Sam Warburton will give his players a simple message when they attempt to turn back the clock against world champions New Zealand in Saturday’s first Test – who dares, wins.

The Welsh skipper, fit to return to action in Auckland after a six-week stint on the sidelines with a shoulder injury, wants his team to be bold as they attempt to become the first team since France in 1994 to beat the All Blacks at Eden Park. Read more »


Not all Poms are big girl’s blouses

The poor wee diddumses who want to ban tackling in Rugby are getting a bit of pressure.

Campaigners seeking a ban on tackling in school rugby have been on the receiving end of a backlash which included homophobic and sexist abuse, while one supporter claims that he was told not to attend a key event this weekend.

In what he views as a punitive measure after speaking this week in support of the proposed ban, Adam White, a board member of the England Rugby Football Schools Union (ERFSU), said he had been asked not to attend a prestigious rugby schools event this weekend at the Allianz Stadium, the home of Saracens, where he was due to act as a safeguarding officer.

White told the Guardian on Wednesday that restrictions along the lines of those proposed in an open letter signed by 70 doctors, health experts and academics were the only way to keep young people safe.

He said: “I am extremely disappointed that there already is the closing down of discussion in the RFU [Rugby Football Union] of some voices. It is quite evident that they are trying to lead the narrative on this and are perhaps not happy to listen to opposition.”

The RFU said White had offered to step down from the safeguarding duties, adding: “This was not instigated by the ERFSU or the RFU. There is no action presently being taken against Adam as a result of his media interviews this week. He is free to express his opinions, although it should be emphasised that he is not speaking on behalf of the ERSFU board.”

While the campaign has sparked passionate debate, a lead signatory to the letter said some of the criticism he had received included homophobic abuse.   Read more »