So as the dust starts to settle after one of the biggest fire storms of the year here in Hawke's Bay, it is maybe just about time to take a balanced look at the debate that raged. Or is it too early, still too sensitive and painful?
Yes the debate that raged over the cute little girl that just wanted to play rugby, but was almost denied the opportunity to fulfill her dreams by a collection of archaic old principals.
Or was she …?
Actually, I don't think you can even call it a debate.
According to my research, "A debate is a process that involves formal discussion on a particular topic. In a debate, opposing arguments are put forward to argue for opposing viewpoints."
We definitely heard one side of the debate, loud and clear.
Those principals were slandered left, right, and centre – shame, shame, shame on them the nation cried. And go the little girl, yes you go girl, you fight for your rights, we are all so proud of you – you are an inspiration to us all!
So yes, we certainly heard one side. Secretly though, there were other views, but few were brave enough to air them in public, for fear of reprisal from the feverish masses.
In secret little side street cafes, and in the safety of the far corners of the sports fields, people were murmuring in hushed tones, that perhaps some of this media firestorm was an overreaction?
Politicians, both local and national were leaping on to the runaway wagon – a wagon that had those old principals squarely in its sights.
All Blacks, female sporting icons, all comers – even Jacinda - took time out of her reasonably busy schedule to write an uplifting letter of support to the young girl that apparently needed that support in the face of the principals' tyranny.
And fair enough so it seemed, this cute little girl with her dad just wanting to give her a fair crack at life, up against this numbskull decision denying her the chance to play rugby – yes rugby, the symbol of male dominance for the best part of a century, did these principals not realise that rugby is now well and truly a girls' sport too?
It seemed pretty straight forward right? Apparently yes, because people only needed a whiff of the story, and were into the principals boots and all.
But wait, is there more? Should we maybe take a considered look at all angles before forming a view?
Bullying is an adult thing too, and the stress these principals must have endured in the face of all this barrage would have been very real – some would say very unfair.
People said she was being denied the chance to play rugby – when in actual fact there were 60 odd other girls quite happily playing rugby in the tournament, albeit sevens.
We are told she was being stopped from her chance to play rugby with boys – when apparently she does in fact play with and against boys every week in her club team on Saturdays.
Others screamed this is her normal team she plays with all year, and now she is being shut out, when actually this is not her normal Saturday club team at all.
Denied the chance to represent her school 1st XV? Apparently not true either, she has other interschool opportunities, and has done that.
Others say the schools were actually trying to do their best for girls' rugby. Yes that's right, trying to create a special chance to promote girls' rugby as being as cool, if not cooler, than boys' rugby. Just as we do at this age with other sports like hockey, giving girls and boys a chance to play with their own gender, which is exciting and new for many of them.
But no, some people couldn't understand why she has gone against her sisters, and sided with the boys – is the girls' rugby not good enough for her, some asked? No one would dare share that view out loud, the environment was a one-sided debate, with only one winner.
There were many other girls, loving playing in the girls' competition, that barely got a mention. A great bunch of girls from her very own school even.
The tournament organisers, trying their best to promote girls' rugby (and other sports) via a girls-only competition, decided to limit the girls rugby to 7-a-side, so that all six participating schools could muster up a team – not because they don't think girls can play 15s. Perhaps in a few more years, each school will have the numbers to field a 15s team.
So a very stressful time for principals and other staff involved, and the online bullying they endured was pretty extreme.
I think we are all aware these days that adults too can suffer from serious stress issues, so maybe we should take a bit more care?
The real issue, is that this was not a big issue. Perhaps we could use some good old human conversation from both sides of the fence.
I can absolutely see how people jumped to conclusions, but maybe a lesson for the future. And in case you are wondering, there was no need to use the girl's name, it certainly isn't her fault – but perhaps a lesson for us adults.
pf■enMarcus Agnew is the health and sport development manager at Hawke's Bay Community Fitness Centre Trust and is also a lecturer in sports science at EIT.