Someone once defined a baby as "a loud voice at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other". I'll leave it to you to decide at which end Stuart Barnes and his "cheating" jibe at the All Blacks belong.
I've always rated Barnes, who this week called the All Blacks "cynical cheats" and "paranoid" about dominating the breakdown in what seemed an uncharacteristic but specifically timed outburst in his Sunday Times column in London.
Northern hemisphere scribes dishing it out to the All Blacks is nothing new – but Barnes has always been an admirer. His breakdown column was, it must be said, an ode to the joy of attacking rugby and how those openside flankers so beloved of the All Blacks do evil things like slow the opposition ball down, sometimes illegally.
The irony will not be lost on anyone who has followed international rugby for more than a nanosecond. For decades, the northern hemisphere's chief defence against the greater skill levels of southern hemisphere sides was to kill the ball (before that tactic was largely extinguished by law changes) or to slow it down at…you guessed it, the breakdown.
But he chose only to blacken the All Blacks: "… New Zealand, the most positive attacking team in the world, have their flip side. They are also the most cynical cheats at a breakdown."
He felt the All Blacks were best at putting pressure on referees to rule that area to their advantage: "There's no McCaw this time but there are three opensides, all breakdown experts. The tournament will be won by the team that controls the tempo of the game — and the breakdown is the heartbeat of ball in play — but also the area of contentious calls that will be made by officials aware of what their masters want."
All Black coach Steve Hansen waved this off, saying responding to it was a "waste of time"; a device to sell more newspapers. However, it runs deeper than that. Barnes' words can be interpreted as themselves seeking to influence referees and, while Hansen can't say or do much about that, we can.
Barnes has always been one of the better analysts in the UK, certainly in his written work. His commentating for UK's Sky Sports also involves a generally fair outlook and call. Some of his fellow Britons don't share this view; Barnes regularly cops it for getting players' names wrong and for making on-air mistakes during matches.
One came in 2017 when he suggested, during the British & Irish Lions match against the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians, that Scottish fullback Stuart Hogg might be interested in a long range penalty goal attempt. Hogg had already left the field with a head injury, leading one British fan to tweet: "Can we please get Stuart Barnes off for an HIA?"
He was a lesser first-five at international level with 10 appearances for England in a 10-year international career but, as we know, it is often lesser players who make better coaches and commentators.
'At my unhappiest': ABs star reveals moment that changed his life
Kieran Read: Why All Blacks aren't focusing on World Cup ... yet
The problem with this Barnes outburst – and please point this out to any Rugby World Cup referees you may know – is that it runs totally counter to previous expression.
He swooned over the All Blacks 46-24 win over Argentina in the Rugby Championship last year, calling the All Blacks' marriage of pace and skill a "positive revolution" and "a brand of rugby the like of which we have never seen". He talked of their "staggering ambition" to win matches where they conceded territory and possession, adding: "….makes me hope that New Zealand seal their extraordinary era of domination with an exclamation mark in Yokohama [venue for the World Cup final]."
It's an odd contradiction, isn't it? "I hope they win" followed by "cynical cheats". So we can safely conclude this is a bit of partisan cheerleading; a swipe at the All Blacks to make referees feel they have to watch the New Zealanders closely in this phase.
This is a longstanding sore on the hide of British rugby. Barnes' international career began back in 1984 and you can go right back to his formative years when the 1977 Lions toured New Zealand. A formidable side, their tight forwards dominated the All Blacks to the extent they infamously had to resort to three-man scrums.
But the All Blacks won the series largely based on the skill, industry and athleticism of their loose forwards; the unit superiority of Nos 6, 7 and 8 became a crucial part of the All Black machine and is still providing a winning edge. The No. 7s playing against successive Lions teams were giants like Graham Mourie, Jock Hobbs, Michael Jones and Richie McCaw.
So there's further irony to Barnes' babble. Many top teams – let's see, Australia, Wales and, oh yes, Barnes' England – are adopting the same kind of loose forward mix as the All Blacks.
Australia has dual opensides Michael Hooper and David Pocock; England have the dangerous Sam Underhill and Tom Curry. Both have fine backlines. What better ploy than to seek to handcuff the New Zealand loosies?
So I hope Stuart Barnes, cheerleader, soon reverts to Stuart Barnes, analyst, and that he expresses himself with a loud voice and stops producing stuff from the other end.
Love your rugby? Click here to subscribe to our new Premium newsletter for extensive Rugby World Cup coverage.