COMMENT

Would a DNA test show that Toulon rugby club owner Mourad Boudjellal and Donald Trump are twin sons of different mothers?

It's true they don't look alike at all, but when it comes to brutish bullying, thuggish threats, and public shaming of people they were once infatuated with, they might as well be joined at the hip.

Boudjellal, with Julian Savea, and Trump with just about everyone who doesn't back him, have mastered the art of public contempt.

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Insults? Boudjellal of Savea: "They must have swapped him on the plane. If I were him I would apologise, and go back to my home country." Trump on his former secretary of state, Rex Tillerson: "Dumb as a rock, and lazy as hell."

Threats? Boudjellal: "He (Savea) has a little more than a year of contract. It will be very hard for him." Trump: "Lock her (Hillary Clinton) up."

Bringing it all back to money? Boudjellal: "I cannot think it is normal for a player paid more than one million euros ($NZ1.55 million) to go on holiday for a month in Fiji." Trump: "It's not been easy for me. My father gave me a small loan of a million dollars."

What the Boudjellal temper tantrum does illustrate is how the rush to private ownership of clubs in Europe (in the north only Ireland kept central, rugby union run, contracting of players) has allowed ego maniacs like Boudjellal to run clubs as their own fiefdoms.

Read more: Andrew Mehrtens reveals what it was like to play under Mourad Boudjellal

On the one hand, the system has made a lot of imported players very rich. Some terrific perks also came with playing for an owner whose income is beyond a Kiwi's imagination. John Kirwan tells a great story of how he and an equally amazed Craig Green, two wide-eyed Kiwis playing in Italy in the late 1980s on their first OE, were flown by private jet to a test at Twickenham with the owner of their club Benetton, Luciano Benetton, who founded the worldwide clothing company which was already making over $NZ1 billion a year.

On the other, the billionaires' takeover of European rugby, by loading their sides with imports, has helped wreck the French national team, now plunging new depths like the record 44-8 loss to England at Twickenham.

The buyout has also made it virtually impossible for Pasifika teams to compete at test match level. If the northern hemisphere club team paying a Fijian or Samoan player a huge wage doesn't want him to attend a national training camp in the Pacific, he's not going to.

Club owners like Boudjellal make it clear they don't think a massive contract only buys the services of a player like Savea. They appear to believe they've bought the man himself.

Boudjellal's money comes from publishing Marvel style, superhero comic books. "They make people happy, and so does rugby," he's said, and he certainly can speak in cartoon bubbles. In 2012 he was banned from the sidelines, where he usually watches a game, for 130 days after comparing a refereeing decision that went against Toulon to being personally sodomised. The club would review the images of the ref's call, he said, "not on YouTube but on YouPorn."

His Savea outburst is unconscionable on several levels. Boudjellal is famous for being hugely hands on with player contracts. He would have believed in 2018 that Savea was still playing like the superstar of the 2015 World Cup. The All Blacks and the Hurricanes had decided the opposite. You picked him Mr. Boudjellal. That Savea isn't the player he once was is hardly Savea's fault.

More importantly, whether it's playing professional rugby, drawing comic strips, or digging ditches, every worker deserves the common decency of blistering criticism being made in private, not blurted out in public, which unleashes the online demons.

New Zealand Rugby's CEO Steve Tew, basically in the same position of power in our rugby that Boudjellal is in the Toulon club, sometimes finds himself deluged with criticism.

But I'd defy even his harshest critics to find a single example, in the 18 years he's worked at our rugby's HQ, of him humiliating a player.

The fact is that rugby in New Zealand is still owned by rugby unions, who in turn are run by men and women, basically amateur administrators, who are steeped in the game, and have a feel for the culture of a team sport.

Our rugby history shows how amateurs can make serious mistakes. Resisting the inevitability of television coverage, to supinely bowing to apartheid era South African demands to betray Māori players, are two obvious, forehead smacking, examples.

But people from an amateur background, who get the ethos of the game, who love the sport for what it is, not as an extension of their ego and empire, don't think a rugby team is their personal Lego set, to build up or smash down as it suits them. And they certainly don't treat a player, as Boudjellal has with Savea, like an unwanted plastic block, to be chucked in the bin with a sneering comment.