Chris Rattue 's Opinion

Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Chris Rattue: Excuses, excuses from bad losers

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Generosity in defeat conspicuously absent as Sth Africa make our sevens side look clunky and undisciplined.

New Zealand Captain DJ Forbes and Scott Curry. Photo / APN
New Zealand Captain DJ Forbes and Scott Curry. Photo / APN

The sights and sounds of our national rugby teams struggling in defeat are rare but well worth the wait for those who like to study the innuendo style of excuse-making.

One thing you don't hear at these times is genuine praise for opponents, of being beaten fair and square. New Zealand rugby expects and often gets the world to fall at its brilliant feet, but doesn't give back. Just check a few boorish World Cup losing reactions on that score.

Gold medal winners South Africa were outstanding at the Commonwealth Games sevens, with players such as Cecil Afrika and Seabelo Senatla setting the tournament alight. South Africa should be asking itself why it can't incorporate more of this attitude and spark into the 15s, where they insist on retaining tactical Neanderthals like Jake White.

South Africa's enthusiasm and acceleration in the sevens, including at the rucks, made silver medal losers New Zealand look clunky and the Kiwis' discipline was poor.

The television commentators - including the brief All Black Simon Mannix, who coaches in Ireland - had no trouble spotting South Africa's superiority. But hell hath no escape clauses like a beaten New Zealand rugby team - come the final whistle the usual verbal gymnastics and circumstantial wrestling applied.

I'm not suggesting there was absolutely no acknowledgment of the Blitzbokke's superiority - apparently there was - but it is well wrapped up in provisos. Captain DJ Forbes mentioned that sevens was a fickle game, something that doesn't get such airtime when New Zealand are playing well. He wondered if all their yellow cards in the tournament were warranted.

"Form is temporary but class is permanent ... we're a classy side but tonight we were a little off the pace," reckoned Forbes.

Hello DJ - there was another team out there. They looked pretty classy, and it could be permanent. Not only were New Zealand comprehensively outplayed, and more so than the score suggested, but Gordon Tietjens was out-foxed by a rookie coach - Neil Powell took over the South Africans only late last year.

Legendary coach Tietjens and player Forbes were on the same whiteboard message, pointing out there were nine New Zealand newcomers to the Commonwealth Games arena. Excuses, excuses.

"When you put that into perspective ..." said Tietjens. In other words, more blah, blah, blah. The Games legacy was a big deal for the sevens - they told us that. So don't give us the development perspective, thanks. Tietjens questioned a lack of lead-up playing time. More excuses.

Just as predictably, the acolytes weighed in, encouraged by Tietjens' Olympic wishlist. New Zealand would exact retribution by sending a Dream Team to Rio in 2016. Boy, are South Africa going to regret winning in Glasgow.

Just about every test All Black who can trot a bit quicker than Owen Franks was quickly lined up to join one of those infamous New Zealand rugby campaigns to right the wrongs. Platoons of superstars will be pulled out of the 15s for a sevens version of D-day. And all this within hours of the Commonwealth final defeat.

New Zealand has an outstanding record in all rugby, and it is one to be proud of and treasured. But a more obviously generous spirit to match wouldn't go amiss.

McCaw the indestructible

What the heck is Richie McCaw made of? The bloke appears to be indestructible. At his advanced rugby age, he roared back from fractured ribs which required rest after he played through extreme pain for the All Blacks. Instinct and the biggest motor in rugby meant McCaw was in the thick of the Crusaders' big Super 15 semifinal win over the Sharks.

The 2011 World Cup ensured his ability to play on serious injuries will never be forgotten, and this rib bizzo has seen the legend grow. McCaw rebounds from injuries, rests and long layoffs better than any player we've seen.

- NZ Herald

Chris Rattue

Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Chris Rattue writes about a wide range of sports for the New Zealand Herald. He has covered numerous sporting events for the Herald including Rugby World Cups and the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

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