I had no idea how gossamer skinned some NZ rugby fans are. It's astonishing the umbrage taken by apparent fans of the game after All Blacks skipper Sam Cane dared to voice an opinion that deviated from the tried and tested.
'We gave it 110 per cent for the full 80, thanks to opposition and for the half time oranges' is the shtick so often rolled out of the mouths of the stoic Moai that generally inhabit the captain's jersey.
Sam had the audacity to show humanity, fragility and a tender underbelly that so many of us have. And he got shot down for it. Yes he could have chosen his words better, but his heartfelt frustration should be applauded and considered, not attacked and twisted out of shape by the people that call themselves fans.
There is a lot to sift through after his comments. First and foremost, Sam Cane is a rugby player, and a damned fine one at that. He is not an orator. He leads by example, not with Churchillian speeches delivered to inspire his men to run through walls for the Jersey. He'd rather just run through the wall himself. So don't pick apart the comments word by word in a desperate attempt to find fault.
What's with the personal offence at Canes words? The common theme through talkback and text from the blighted is this. How dare he tell me I know nothing of rugby. I play, I've coached, I haven't missed an All Black game in 30 years. So I'll give the tip, his words weren't aimed at you. As he clearly stated, there are some brutal people out there having a go from a position of weakness. If that's not you, why take it to heart?
Shouldn't we celebrate emotion? Passion? Sam Cane felt that defeat keenly. It hurt him, it hurt his men, this was obvious with the tone and desperation in his rhetoric. He's hurting like all All Black fans are. This is what we need to hear. They share our pain, of that there is no doubt.
He's also right. None of us, with exception of an elite few, know what goes on in the inner sanctum of All Black rugby. You can fire all the shots you want, but without that deep understanding and first hand knowledge, you're swinging and hoping, not aiming and firing. A couple of those misguided shots caught Sam and his men, so he voiced it. For that you want to crucify him?
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Like all of us, I have an opinion. I base it around what I know, what I've experienced. If someone with deeper understanding and more skin in the game chooses to disagree with me, it doesn't invalidate my thoughts. I will not be offended and take their rejection as a slur. I'm big enough, old enough and definitely ugly enough to embrace freedom of thought, so long as it expressed without severe animosity and aggression from the dirty and anonymous back waters of the internet.
Sam stood proudly, told us his truths and showed us who is hurting the most. And that is certainly not us.