Opinion: The New Zealand rugby family have enjoyed the odd whinge themselves

The Irish media and rugby fans have come under fire over the last few days

BY Simon Maguire 20:03 Wednesday 23 November 2016, 20:03 23 Nov 2016

Image: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

The Irish media and fans alike are taking a bit of a hammering from our cousins down in New Zealand due to the reaction of some to a couple of incidents in last weekends loss to the All Blacks.

New Zealand won a tough, physical game and a scoreline of three tries to nil indicates the right team won. Two tackles in particular have come in for more criticism than others in the game: Sam Cane's hit on Robbie Henshaw and Malakai Fekitoa's high tackle on Simon Zebo.

Cane escaped additional punishment after the match and rightly so. Unfortunately for Henshaw he turned into a tackle and Cane made the hit a split second earlier than he had anticipated. The tackle would have been high but not dangerous if it had been made if Henshaw stayed on the line he originally was on.

The effects of the hit were also amplified as he was basically blindsided before contact and therefore made the impact even worse. Another factor is that Cane could have lined up the tackle lower considering Henshaw's midriff was completely exposed. Henshaw's knees were bent and was lower than he would normally stand so Cane can argue he ducked into the hit.

Regardless, it happened in a split second and we all wish Henshaw the very best in his recovery.

The "tackle" on Zebo was punished on the field with a yellow card and subsequently with a one match ban by the independent citing commissioner. Case closed.

However the reaction in New Zealand to the Irish media and fans questioning the sinister elements of some of the tackles has left us being called "whingers" by some.

In brief, the New Zealand media and fans have been guilty of doing the same thing every now and again.

How often have we heard about the mysterious waitress "Suzie" who allegedly poisoned the New Zealand team before the 1995 World Cup final against South Africa?

New Zealand, inspired by the magnificent Jonah Lomu, made short work of any team they played en-route to the final. However, on an emotional day for the rainbow nation, the Springboks beat the All Blacks after extra-time.

Ever since, the New Zealanders have claimed their food was tampered with at the hotel. An investigation by the New Zealand Herald last year goes along with this theory but offers no solid proof.  

All Black legend Zinzane Brooke recently spoke to "Off the Ball" and he claimed the water transferred into the Lucozade bottles of New Zealand players were tampered with and led to an outbreak of diahorrea in the squad. Nobody knows for certain what really happened other than South Africa were crowned world champions that year.

Another incident which provokes ire down south is the performance of Wayne Barnes at the 2007 Rugby World Cup quarter-final against France. A much fancied New Zealand team were beaten by the French, much to the disbelief of all New Zealanders. 

Barnes allowed a questionable pass to Freddie Michalak stand which led to the winning French score, although there was still 10 minutes left to play. It was actually quite similar to Perenara's pass to set up the winning score at the weekend but the Kiwi's weren't calling for the TMO there. 

Barnes was heavily criticised in New Zealand for his performance and didn't referee in New Zealand for years after the incident. He disallowed a try against Wales earlier this year for a forward pass which most believed was fine.

In a post match interview, when asked about the decision, New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen (who was assistant coach in 2007) said: "He got that one, didn't he? That's all I'll say about that." Whinging about the past still perhaps?

There's even a bar in Queenstown where patrons can urinate on a statue of Barnes if they so feel the need. 

And one more while I'm at it. In an incident involving Lote Tuqiri in 2006, New Zealand Captain Richie McCaw was upended and spear tackled. McCaw himself handled the incident like only he could: downplayed it and accepted the Tuqiri's apology.

However, media and fans tore into Tuqiri and even the Prime Minister at the time, Helen Clark, accused the Wallabies of "several acts of assault" during the match. Asked on a local radio station what she thought, she said: "I thought it was absolutely appalling. We witnessed several acts of assault against the All Blacks captain and it was very, very ugly to see."  

The irony of course is that it happened the following year after the O'Driscoll incident in the first Lions test in 2005. The New Zealand public went on the defensive after the appalling assault which left the Irishman out of the remainder of the tour and accused the Lions of, would you believe, "whinging". 

Months later, footage emerged of what really happened and I wonder how those same New Zealanders would have reacted if the Lions had made a similar "tackle" on Umaga. Anyway, that 2005 New Zealand team were exceptional and didn't need to take the Irishman out.

For the record, I'm not saying there wasn't a bit of complaining in Ireland after the loss last weekend but the New Zealanders enjoy an auld whinge as well. Looking forward to the next time we play them anyway.


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