In the trade, it's known as the silly season, the Christmas-New Year overlap when large sections of the working population take off for their annual holidays and skeleton newspaper and online staff scrabble around for contributions to fill their pages.

Journalists are asked to come up with lists on a range of topics before they turn off their laptops or cool their tonsils.

You know the sort of drill. Pick out your best five footy games of the season, rate the cricket grounds around the country, where will the Warriors finish in next year's NRL premiership or which basketball rules would help netball?


A group of us were asked to list the best New Zealand rugby players around the globe.

I figured 80 per cent of the names would be on everyone's list, the order would have a common thread and there'd be a few quirky additions but I wasn't prepared for the full reveal.

In the wake of the NZR awards ceremony, where Kendra Cocksedge won the supreme award, there was a reminder from the Herald to think about players involved in competitions in Europe, the contribution of women and the range of modern rugby events. Occasionally I'll see some footage of games in Europe but judging a year's contribution from Kiwis playing Super Rugby and for the All Blacks is difficult enough without having to keep reliable tabs on those offshore.

Bowls, darts, snooker and racing are sports which offer comparisons irrespective of gender but there are too many discrepancies trying to measure that in rugby. Men and women use the same rules but despite NZR's attempt to hoodwink us or pander to the Prime Minister in the audience at the awards evening, they end up playing very different games.

It is illogical and unfair to compare them. Cocksedge was the best in her field this season and Codie Taylor the best in the male game.

They had great seasons and deserved those accolades and when the Herald revealed their top 50 players online and in print, they were bound to be on the list. I figured Sarah Goss would also get a tick for her production across the sevens and XVs games.

Obviously my measurement scale differs greatly from the other judges. Six women, including sevens stars Michaela Blyde, Portia Woodman and Kelly Brazier, were inside the top 30 names, while no male sevens players made that cut.

Awkward - no, wrong - no, different - yes.


It's as head-scratching as Daniel Carter and Victor Vito making the cut but maybe someone saw a highlights package during a drinks break at the cricket and cast a vote for them.

The Herald list of opinion could be genuine, mischievous or dissenting but if it reflects the modern audience, then chief executive Steve Tew and NZR are more out of touch with the game than we thought they were.

Merry Christmas.