Hard to know which is the most embarrassing - Dan Carter in France, the Blues' horror performance against Highlanders B or the crude waggling of pound notes under the nose of New Zealand Rugby.

The who's-best encounter proposed by England for November's end-of-year tour makes sense. Sport is uplifted by such clashes - and by the scheduled return match next year. However, NZR want a 50:50 split, as do Aviva Premiership clubs who release players for the fixture.

This unseemly posturing over money calls to mind the famous Winston Churchill quote. You know, the one where Churchill asks a socialite if she'd sleep with him for $1 million. She says she would. So he asks if she'd do the same thing for $5.

Winston, she protests, what do you think I am? Churchill: "Madam, we have established what you are; now we are negotiating the price."


RFU head Ian Ritchie is the architect of the All Blacks-England match at Twickenham in place of a clash against the Barbarians. He is the tightwad isolationist who knocked down NZR-backed proposals for a global calendar, a world showdown between southern and northern club champions, and more sharing of the wealth generated by southern teams.

His response: "Build a bigger stadium if you want to increase your revenue growth."

However, now England are playing well - indisputably well - suddenly Ritchie thinks the All Blacks might be useful, after all. Ah, the sour smell of self-interest. Ritchie declined to resign after England's embarrassing exit from the 2015 World Cup. He'd previously said responsibility would be his. Now glory beckons.

If the Daily Mail latest has it right, Ritchie is now threatening to veto the All Blacks-Barbarians match if they turn down the chance to play England. Even before such ugliness, NZR would have found it difficult to refuse the match. It's at the beginning of the tour, not the end, as in 2012 when a tired All Black team were out-muscled by a committed England.

But it won't happen unless the money does, a reminder of the real concern of the professional age. The prime motivator should be sport and the fans; instead it's the loot - sad.

Talking of sad, you fear for the Blues if they repeat, at any stage, their performance against the Highlanders -- a candidate for the worst Blues effort under recent coaches Sir John Kirwan, Pat Lam or Tana Umaga.

The latter cannot escape criticism although it was an improved performance against the Crusaders on Friday. Selections were misguided against the Highlanders. Rene Ranger looked all at sea and has been dropped to work on his match fitness. What? We didn't know that before?

Ihaia West was poor but fullback Michael Collins, limited at this level, was retained this week. Why not play Matt Duffie, good in the air, at fullback, leaving room for the penetrative Melani Nanai on the wing?

The lineout malfunctioned until Gerard Cowley-Tuioti came on; the scrum was wobbly - schoolboy basics, as was captain Jerome Kaino's decision to kick a penalty when the Blues were hot on attack late on.

It was a percentage play, but the Blues were so woeful and dropped so much ball, closing on the Highlanders' line again looked about as likely as Ali Williams being named head of the Paris branch of the Brigade des Stupefiants. They're the police drugs squad, though the liberal translation of the "Stupefied Team" seems much more appropriate when you factor in Williams.

The Blues did threaten, but the talented George Moala committed perhaps the worst error of all. After a slashing break, he was brought down near the line. It cried out for patience, ball retention and recycling; he attempted an offload. It cost the Blues deeply. They were unable to win again on Friday, exposed by the rolling maul.

Talking of cost, Carter's drink-drive conviction and poor form - he was booed off the field in France recently - is tarnishing a great career.

Compare that with Richie McCaw's easy transition into a career that does not include rugby (topical after the recent death of Wallaby Dan Vickerman).

Top players often talk of a legacy. Carter is risking his by chasing money he does not seem to need. Carter's embarrassment demonstrates heading to Europe and a big payday is not a retirement benefit.

But then, when you have rugby's national bodies and clubs jostling for room in the trough, you can hardly blame players for doing the same.