If you spend enough time in the media industry then what should be a healthy scepticism can gradually develop into cynicism (probably guilty here), so let's get that side out of the way first with regards to the way rugby in New Zealand is going and finish with two potential glimmers of light at the end of what has become a long and dark tunnel.
With the daily reportage of rugby here just as likely to be in the financial pages as the sport pages due to the debates about private equity, revenue streams and the All Blacks being valued at hundreds of millions of dollars, everyone now presumably knows the professional game is big business first, second and third.
So when we're being persuaded by New Zealand Rugby to view the upcoming tests against Fiji and Tonga (following the withdrawal of Italy) as a "celebration of Pasifika" when the All Blacks will run up cricket scores against them, many fans may be left wondering whether it was a celebration as much as, well, something a little sadder than that.
It's understood that Fiji coach Vern Cotter had to be convinced that his side playing two tests in seven days away to the second-best side in the world was a good thing given his lack of access to his Europe-based players, the quarantine requirements, and the general strength of his side at this point in the World Cup cycle and we will likely see why in the aftermath in Dunedin and Hamilton.
And yes, I know World Rugby set the schedules for New Zealand Rugby and not the other way around.
Italy, scheduled for two tests, dropped out due to Covid and so Fiji were bumped up from one to two and Tonga invited also.
What a shame, though, that New Zealand Rugby haven't been as proactive in the past (and celebratory for that matter) in terms of inviting our Pacific cousins here in the good (non-Covid) times, or heaven forbid, visit Fiji and Samoa more often (the All Blacks have never played a test in Tonga - they have played in Fiji three times and Samoa once).
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The organisation, so quick to blame financial imperatives and playing schedules as reasons not to tour the Pacific in the past, are now getting a lesson in business themselves after deciding that selling a 12.5 per cent stake of the All Blacks to an American private equity company (without consulting its top players, as contractually required) was not only a good idea but the only one.
New Zealand Rugby need public relations wins right now and they also need free spirits – characters who don't fit the modest, staid, say-nothing-or-you-might-get-noticed mould – so if they allow Scott Robertson to leave the Crusaders for an overseas role it would approach, in the immortal recent words of NZR chairman Brent Impey, the "biggest own goal in the history of New Zealand sport".
You might find Razor's breakdancing antics and general eccentricity tired/boring/funny/of no concern, but at least they're different. They're not contrived either. Rather, they're a celebration of self-expression; exactly what he encourages his players to do, which is why they perform so consistently and invariably deliver for him.
Robertson is highly likely to stay but he's also highly aware of his own value, which is presumably why he's holding off re-signing with NZR and the Crusaders like his long-time assistant Jason Ryan has done.
Stand-in Blues captain Tom Robinson also offers a welcome fire break in a forest of increasingly contrived messages from the top brass.
He's always refused to conform and cut his long, red hair or play the standard rugby player role. The other day he told me when asked about his team talks that he and his players recently ran on to the field stifling laughter after what he had presented as a tub-thumping motivational effort went awry. But the Blues have looked good under his leadership and he's responded in kind.
Funnily enough, the larger-than-life personalities of both Robertson and Robinson would be perfect fits for overseas private equity firms hoping to leverage fame and charisma for broadcasting rights and cash but in the meantime they're all ours and a small part of what makes the game here for everyone. Hopefully it stays that way.