On the subject of rugby, I lost my WAG virginity this week. With the World Cup round the corner, I thought it best I wise up on all things Wives and Girlfriends-related, so, come September, I can assimilate with these women and understand their lives, their culture, their choice of manicure colours.
I envisaged myself a David Attenborough of sorts, but less fluent in botany; more eloquent in bitch and botulism. As I set off on this task, I predicted I'd have to be fully versed in the lingo of fake bakes, fake boobs and fake smiles but I discovered the only thing bogus was my condescension.
Okay, I'll admit, my experience with WAGs until now has largely been with those desperately hungry to be a celebrity, yet tragically devoid of any talent by which they have been able to earn honest fame. Sliding down a greased pole, colour-rivalling Oompa Loompas, posing in thongs (not the footwear) and being paid for blabbing to tabloid mag-hags are not skills most women would want to be applauded for, or aspire to.
But is my disapproval fair? Should I pour mocking scorn on these women who look up to the likes of Victoria Beckham, Cheryl Cole, Abbey Clancy and Coleen Rooney?
Sure, these Pommy princesses may have forgiven philandering husbands in favour of a life as a plus-one and continued column inches, but is it right to insist they should be champions of empowerment in this post-feminist world when their other halves are invariably clocking up media miles for bad behaviour?
When Ali Williams' soon-to-be-betrothed - Casey "No More Waity" Green - was snapped on the catwalk in her undies modelling smalls for Farmers, was it fair to dump disdain on her, or should I have applauded her bravery on behalf of all women who remain trapped by their bodily insecurities?
When I witnessed Richie McCaw's former flame, Hayley Holt, holding up the bar with her All Black captain in tow, was it fair to impart a supercilious tone of sobriety, or should I have allowed her a night on the turps away from the prying, beady eyes of the celebrity judge and jury?
When I printed photos of Top Model judge Sara Tetro wearing a leotard, flesh-coloured fishnets and a bad bob at Eden Park, circa 1991, was it fair to poke fun at her haircutitis, a rare follicle condition, I too, suffered in the late-80s, or should I have praised her dedication to cheerleading and acknowledged her long-standing marriage to former player Craig Innes, who she allegedly attracted while waving her pompoms?
My newspaper editor, who lives, breathes and wolfs down anything related to the national pastime, emailed me about WAGs this week with such enthusiasm you'd have thought Ted had called him and said: "Bryce, old boy, you can carry the oranges on at half-time."
What is this fascination with WAGs? If rugby is the Kiwi sport du jour, does it follow that we should fawn over their wives and girlfriends, too?
Many deserve our admiration, having achieved accolades and status in their own right. Lewis Hamilton's significant other, Nicole Scherzinger, is a judge on X Factor in the US and fronted girl-band The Pussycat Dolls.
British pop group The Saturdays can claim two WAGs in their midst - Frankie Sandford dates Manchester City footballer Wayne Bridge and Una Healy has won over English rugby fullback Ben Foden.
Susie Amy is a British actress, who played WAG Chardonnay Lane in Footballers' Wives. She dates Irish rugby player Rob Kearney. Her Australian counterpart Jodi Gordon was the star of Home and Away and gets about on the arm of NRL player Braith Anasta; and actress and writer Amy Huberman is married to Irish rugby star Brian O'Driscoll.
Then there are the qualified beauties. Aoife Mary Cogan (fiancée of Irish player Gordon D'Arcy) was a former Miss Ireland; Samantha Powell (partner of All White Tony Lochhead) was Miss Universe New Zealand in 2008; Alexandra Rosenfeld (girlfriend of Italian rugby skipper Sergio Parisse) was named Miss France in 2006; and Queen of the Kiwi WAGs, Lorraine Downes, won a world beauty title and married two former sports stars - no easy feat.
Many, however, make an occupation out of doing very little except splurging the easy cash their partner's pocket. In the UK, tabloid newspapers portray WAGs posing in itty-bitty bikinis on sun-drenched beaches or travelling first-class for emergency hair extensions. Or forgiving cheating spouses by removing their wedding rings for 24 hours and mini-breaking in Mallorca.
Stacey Giggs, the long-suffering wife of multi-millionaire Manchester United footballer Ryan, has had to endure the public looking-glass lately after her husband took out a super-injunction to stop information about his affair with Big Brother star Imogen Thomas. Then came allegations he had a torrid, eight-year relationship with his brother's wife. Stacey has stayed in the marriage - whether for the family or the fame and fortune, no one knows for sure.
Diarist Jan Moir told Britain's Daily Mail that players like Giggs, "dive into the loving arms of wives whose survival, livelihood and next pair of Jimmy Choos depends on their ability to forgive, forget and absorb the ritual humiliation of their husbands' infidelity over and over again. For them, it is kiss and make up. For us, it is more a case of kiss and throw up."
Is this cynical window view a reflection of our own relationship shortfalls and vulnerabilities? As women, do we look at WAGs and just feel desperately sorry for them?
"Hell, no," said one prominent male Kiwi sportscaster, whose name I shan't reveal. This Mr Sports Telly believes the fascination with WAGs is "the second major reason men covet the idea of being a professional sportsman in the first place - it means access to honeybabes, chicks and glamourpusses".
Most men, he says, only dream about being Formula One drivers because of the beautiful women who hang around the money pot like bees. "Let's be honest," the sportscaster said, "would you be tied down with the Canterbury girl like Dan Carter and Richie McCaw? Zzzzzz. You're in the toy shop fellas, and you haven't moved past the bookshelf."
But if men view the WAG as just a trophy play thing, how does the aspiring WAG feel who much rather fancies a fully-fledged commitment?
To be a paid-up member of the WAG class has become an ambition and a career option for many females. But what is the attraction?
To marry a man interested in sport? Heck, most of us have those at home, but they come with a TV remote and a pot belly. To live vicariously through their man's power and prestige? To chase the sex, glamour and pots of money that the WAG image so often entails?
Those who buy into the latter proposition are undoubtedly feeding a bottomless appetite of insecurity and greed. They know which side their bread is buttered and will forego self-esteem to not break a French-manicured fingernail rocking their over-priced boat.
However, the WAGs who sign up for a lifetime of playing best-supporting partner to a sportsman of humility are undoubtedly the real role models. They are women who carve out their own identity, their own accomplishments.By Rachel Glucina @RachelGlucinaNZ