Scotty Stevenson 's Opinion

Sky TV's Scotty Stevenson on rugby

Scotty Stevenson: England hung up on tenuous myth

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England loosehead Joe Marler used the word myth inappropriately. Photo / Greg Bowker
England loosehead Joe Marler used the word myth inappropriately. Photo / Greg Bowker

Now they've gone and done it, these English and their endless quests. Just when it looked like they were here to play some rugby they've revealed they are actually here to demystify auras and destroy myths. Next they'll be off into the hills on a moa hunt, or standing about shouting "There is no Santa!" to groups of Kiwi kids.

Apparently the All Blacks "myth" is alive and well and there to be picked apart. And who better for that job than this travelling troop of Englishmen, fresh from the home of St George, the man who, according to an actual myth, slayed the dragon.

That in this day and age any analysis of a professional, international rugby side could include the word "myth" is the only mystery here.

The All Blacks' victory last Saturday cannot be explained by supernatural forces, Sasquatch sightings, the existence of the tooth fairy or any other mythical creation. It can, in part, be explained by a clever heads-up play by centre Conrad Smith - though he's likely to finish up more of a legend than a myth.

The problem with all the chit-chat this week is that nothing about the All Blacks' remarkable record is a myth. A myth is something without basis or fact, the All Blacks' record is a matter of fact, based on a century or so of results. By any definition of the word, "myth" has very little place in the conversation.

Understandably, some leeway needs to be given here to prop Joe Marler who brought up the whole thing in the first place. Myth is a very big word, and he can be forgiven for using it inappropriately. Besides, a press conference is no place for accuracy and context.

Still, if big Joe had really wanted to put an end to this nonsense, he could have simply suggested the All Blacks are no myth at all. The All Blacks' ability to win is not unproven; it is proven, time and time and time again. The only myth likely to develop from this tour is the one about the English second-string side that could have, maybe, had things gone a bit better, won a test match at Eden Park on June 7, 2014. That is the only unproven thing in all of this.

As for the aura, well, one can only assume Mr Marler is referring to the peroxide haze hanging about his hairdo. Nothing against the "Marler mohawk" but when a loosehead starts discussing aura, I'm going to stop listening and start researching the long-term effects of hair-dye use.

It's all semantics anyway. The English were good enough to win at Eden Park and didn't. They will regret that for a long time to come - especially players like veteran James Haskell who will likely never have the chance again. The problem is, words like this - myth, aura - are used to give the impression that somehow the All Blacks are good because of something other than the players on the field, as if it is a right they have been given, rather than one they have earned.

The All Blacks are a good side but they aren't, and never have been, unbeatable. They are a team of mere mortals, not demigods clad in cotton and lycra. But among their "several world class players" as the aforementioned Joe Marler so pointedly described the current team lineup, they have players who know how to make game-winning plays.

Instead of trying to "get rid of this All Black myth" during the test build-up, perhaps a little 101 on not turning your back after a penalty is awarded would have been a better option.

But let us bury this talk once and for all. It reminds me of that time an England side arrived in New Zealand and everyone wrote them off as too slow, too boring, too young, unwilling to have a go, unable to play attacking, expansive rugby; a side unfit for All Blacks consumption.

Amazingly, just a week later and people have realised that wasn't a myth either.

It was just a failure to pay enough respect to a side that has certainly earned it.

- NZ Herald

Scotty Stevenson

Sky TV's Scotty Stevenson on rugby

Scotty Stevenson is a Sky TV commentator and Editor of SKY Sport - The Magazine

Read more by Scotty Stevenson

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