It felt awfully like a yes or no question - one that would take around, maybe, five minutes to answer.

New Zealand Rugby were asking a judiciary appeal panel last night whether they would consider the All Blacks' planned 'Game of Three Halves' on August 11 as a bona fide match.

It was that simple. The panel, which comprised Graeme Mew (Canada) Shao-Ing Wang (Singapore) and Stefan Terblanche (South Africa), had to make a decision on the status of that game.

They didn't have to evaluate the seriousness or intent of Williams' actions in the second test which saw him pick up a red card for a high tackle on British & Irish Lions wing Anthony Watson.


They weren't being asked to review the four-week sentence and determine whether they could hand down something more lenient.

All they had to do was deem whether the All Blacks proposed clash with Taranaki and Counties is a valid fixture, knowing that if they said it was, Williams could skip it, serve the last of his four-game suspension and become available to play in the first Bledisloe Cup clash on August 19 in Sydney.

Game or not - a decision right up there with chicken or fish in terms of complexity. Game or not, a decision that surely the panel had some inkling was coming their way? Game or not - surely there must be criteria set down to determine what constitutes a game and what doesn't?

Either the 'Game of Three Halves' meets the criteria or it doesn't and last night's hearing surely should have been a five-minute job, 10 at most? Yes or no?

But the panel deliberated for two hours and then, seriously, went to have a lie down, promising they will bravely struggle on as soon as they can and wrestle some more with a situation that they seem to be suggesting is up there with striking peace in the Middle East.

And it's as much the attitude of the panel, of the judicial system, of the wider rugby executive that irks more than anything else.

The statement issued last night gave every impression that Williams, the All Blacks and the rugby-investing public should be grateful that such busy, important people have bothered at all to take time out to look at something so trivial and they will provide an answer when they are ready and not before.

It's this culture of arrogance that is killing rugby right now. There is an increasing divide between the people playing and watching the game and the people managing and administering the game.


The latter group are drifting further out of touch, seemingly stuck in a forgotten world where they feel it is their right to use information as power.

It draws parallels with industrial age England. The workers are being pounded in the factories, asked to do ever more grunt work to create ever bigger profits, while the dandy class lunch, deliberate and come up with increasingly bad decisions that they don't feel they have to explain or justify.

Someone needs to provide an answer, however, as to why it is that 32 days since Williams was sent off against the Lions he still he doesn't know the punitive extent of his red card.

Someone needs to explain why it took four weeks to have an initial hearing and now, after six men have deliberated, discussed and debated, Williams has still not had an answer to when his four-game suspension will actually end.

Perhaps, in this information vacuum, we should assume that all six men who have been involved in the two separate panels, have felt that the more important decision to get right was chicken or fish?