When I was in my mid-20s I was a passenger in a car being driven at probably just over 100km/h by a friend of a similar age who fell asleep.
There were four of us young men in the car, I think, and I was one of the backseat passengers. I was living and working in Invercargill at the time and we were returning to the southern metropolis from a day of hard mountain-biking after a night of reasonably hard drinking in Te Anau.
One by one we began falling asleep as we travelled along a deserted back road until we woke to the disturbing sound of tyres on gravel.
The car – a big old Vauxhall Cresta – had drifted beyond the wrong side of the road on a gentle left-hand bend. In attempting to get the car off the gravel and back on of the road, my mate over-corrected and so we skidded sideways along the harsh chip seal, the car threatening to roll, before we finished in a ditch facing the way we had come.
The enduring memories of that time 20-something years ago were the relief that we all felt at coming to a stop fully intact and in an upright position, the eerie silence of the Southland countryside in late summer and the sight of several expensive mountain-bikes hanging in various states of disrepair on a barbed-wire fence.
Someone's mum picked us up, but I remember being nervous getting into her car. I don't think any of us got in the Cresta again.
I only mention it because it seems to me like those who have run and continue to run World Rugby are taking the game on a similarly perilous journey.
None of us blamed our mate for falling asleep behind the wheel but those in authority who have turned a blind eye to rugby's exploitation of the Pacific Islands and have allowed the game to go from a contact to a collision-based sport, with all the extra risks that brings, are all culpable.
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In fact, being asleep behind the wheel may be the best-case scenario, because to be complicit in keeping the Pacific rugby nations powerless and firmly in their "place" in order to take advantage of the seemingly endless supply of raw talent from the region would put a completely different complexion on the matter.
The same applies to the head injury crisis developing in the sport which has been brewing for some time and has recently won big headlines due to the legal action brought against several of the home unions and World Rugby by high-profile players such as England's World Cup winner Steve Thompson. In Thompson's harrowing case, the affects of his constant head knocks in the game means he can't remember anything about that wonderful tournament for his nation in Australia in 2003.
Brain trauma is a complex area. There are no easy answers and I am certainly no expert. But rugby has been heading in this direction since the game went professional in 1996. It has become less of a game for all shapes and sizes like it traditionally used to be, and more a game for the big and powerful, and particularly the big. From being a game that utilised space on the field, there is now a trend to run directly into contact – even at secondary school level.
Hopefully former Manu Samoa international Dan Leo's campaign and movie Oceans Apart: Greed, Betrayal and Pacific Islands Rugby, which turns the spotlight on game's corruption in the Islands and exploitation by the game's elite, is a watershed moment as we look forward to a new year.
Hopefully some good can come from the legal action against the authorities by those former players in the Northern Hemisphere which, if successful, will inevitably have consequences for the game in New Zealand too.
Meaningful change at all levels has to come to mitigate against the dangers of concussion. Some will be nervous about letting their kids play the game even if change does come. Do nothing and the game could be left broken in a ditch.