There are three sides to every story.
The accusations levelled at Black Ferns coach Glenn Moore by one of their players, the test veteran Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate, were awful.
In what appears to be a death by a thousand cuts, the player eventually broke down after a history of verbal shots. No one should be exposed to this at their workplace or in their sporting life. But should social media be the vehicle for airing these allegations? The one-sided exposé in the court of public opinion can be as damaging as the accusations themselves.
Sport has traditionally been the home of tough love from a coaching perspective. The ability to draw the best out of a player sometimes can be based on a good cop/bad cop routine; the protagonist constantly looking to bridge the gap between cruel and kind to elicit the best possible result on the park.
It's a delicate balance that can be achieved, but in the current zeitgeist, if a tendency toward the darker side of the routine goes too far, the results can be ruinous. When this is presented on a public forum, the outcomes are divisive at best, destructive at worst.
It's understandable that Ngata-Aerengamate felt pressure, but like in all conflicts, there are three sides to each story: my side, your side and the truth. There are plenty of questions around this.
Is this a result of systemic problems within NZ Rugby's culture that still accept an antiquated concept as the reasonable norm? Is this an obstinate refusal to move with the times, or a failure to implement manageable conflict resolution pathways? Is this a player on the way out, offering parting blows to soften their exit? Is this a cherry-picked attack, where the offending remarks were positioned out of context? Was this social media bomb a direct result of a breakdown between coach and player or a sign of deeper personal issues which have been triggered by the workplace tumult?
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As a coach, exploring every method of performance extraction is essential. Managing the reaction and expectation of individuals during this, especially when the formerly successful team is being well beaten, is a fraught experience for all.
The simplistic narrative of results-based success is no longer the yardstick. Everyone in a team wants to achieve the same outcome, but the path travelled toward a common goal is no longer led by the coach. It's a combined effort where the final score is still important, but the personal cost is equally valid. Not by any means necessary any more.
With deep examination and concessions from all parties, this clash could drive meaningful change.
The positive in this drama is the initiation of change and the ability to grow healthy structures for all concerned.