Editorial: Zac back, hopefully for good

By Andrew Austin

1 comment

It was good to see Zac Guildford back playing for the Crusaders against the Kings in Christchurch at the weekend.

What is even better is the fact that he seems to have addressed his alcohol addiction head-on.

This paper, in an editorial in January, suggested the best thing the New Zealand Rugby Union could do was wash its hands of Guildford and let him sort his life out by himself and maybe even pursue a rugby career overseas.

This was suggested not because we didn't like the player or didn't think he was talented, but rather it was because he did not seem to have learnt his lesson and was not tackling the problem.

The rugby union chose a different route. As we now know, he was withdrawn from the Crusaders' squad and sent to rehab. The rugby union fully supported him during this time. It was interesting to read in our sister newspaper, the Herald on Sunday, that the union feels that it let Guildford down after one of his many incidents. I think the union bosses are probably being a bit hard on themselves, but good on them for saying that.

It is also good that they have realised that they have a bigger alcohol problem than just Guildford and are trying to do something about it.

It seems that in the last five years, 25 professional players in New Zealand have been treated for alcohol or drug abuse. This is a staggering figure and the union says the problem is caused by the high-pressure environment the young men find themselves in.

Guildford's public fall and seemingly successful rehabilitation (although it is early days yet) will be a good lesson for other players. He must just continue to stay away from alcohol so that he can reach his potential on the rugby field.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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