Andy Haden's ability to fearlessly confront rugby officials was legendary, and fully deserved to be so.
At the time he was an All Black, players were sometimes treated by the men in blazers with what amounted to contempt. A great 1970s wing, Grant Batty, was threatened with expulsion from the team because, sitting out a training because of injury in Christchurch in 1977, he shouted a volunteer liaison man a sandwich on the team account.
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Haden never cowered when he believed an administrator needed to be told he was behaving badly. As a prime example, I was an eyewitness to what must surely have been the only occasion when a man who been the chairman of the NZRU challenged a current All Black to a fist fight.
After the dinner following the All Blacks test against Australia in Christchurch in 1978, Andy took offence when Jack Sullivan, who had just stepped down as chairman of the NZRU, snarled at a teammate of Andy's who, quite possibly as a result of delayed concussion, had thrown up during the meal.
In the foyer of the Hornby Trust Hotel the discussion got more and more heated, until Sullivan, at that stage 63 years old, and a full head shorter than Andy, insisted the matter be settled with a fight in the car park.
Haden burst out laughing, which infuriated Sullivan even more. The scene got even more bizarre when the man who stepped between them was 69-year-old Ces Blazey, who had just taken over from Sullivan as the union's chairman.
Let me be clear about this. At no stage did Andy suggest they fight, or make any move to step outside. "Don't be ridiculous," was a phrase he used several times, and it was a perfect summation of Sullivan's behaviour.
Eventually Blazey persuaded Sullivan to give up his challenge and steered him away into the night.
Time for action
It's time for action, as well as words, over how Super Rugby players are behaving towards referees.
There's no doubt that in Super Rugby Aotearoa there have been some bad refereeing decisions, as has been freely admitted by Bryce Lawrence, New Zealand's national referees' manager.
The change to more rigid policing of the breakdown law threatened to drive us all crazy in the first rounds. The system for television match officials is now being run on a tighter budget, which may explain some rulings, or the occasional lack of them.
But that doesn't excuse any player who is not the captain of his team yelling, arm waving, and taking the worst leaf from the English Premier League playbook by joining with others for a mass confrontation with a referee.
Why is it so important for outraged players to be told by their coaches to zip it? Because there's a much bigger picture here than a referee deciding, as he probably should have, to not go to the TMO to see if the Chiefs had snatched a victory against the Blues at Eden Park last Sunday.
There's a damned good reason people designated as "heroes of the young" are not allowed to advertise booze in this country. It's because research shows kids are influenced, for good or bad, by the actions of sports stars they see live, or on television.
The amateur refs, without whom every sport in the country would fold, don't deserve to have the junior boys and girls they referee thinking it's okay to shout at and attempt to intimidate a referee into changing his or her mind.
To bring back the civility that Super Rugby should never be without is blindingly simple.
We have the benefit in New Zealand of all Super teams being under the banner of New Zealand Rugby. We can get a clear message out in a flash.
We're not Europe, where clubs are all stand-alone entities, often owned by narcissistic multi-millionaires, and there's some contempt for the central governing body.
All it takes here is for NZR to tell all five Super Rugby teams that a zero-tolerance policy is being introduced. The only person allowed to question a referee is the captain. Anyone else who tries a Maradona impersonation gets a yellow card. A second squawk earns a red. Behaviour problems would vanish in a heartbeat.
One of the great television pleasures this year has been "Pacific Brothers And Sisters" on Sky, fronted by the Oscar Kightley, whose huge gifts are usually expressed in the brilliant comedy of Sione's Wedding and Bro'town.
His interviews with players like Patrick Tuipulotu and Ofa Tuungafasi are so intimate and revealing they almost feel like eavesdropping on a fascinating private conversation. For anyone who loves sport and wants to know more about the private person behind the player we see on the field, the discussions are compulsive viewing.
A case in point? Tuungafasi, who arrived in New Zealand from Tonga with his family as a 14-year-old unable to speak a word of English, told Kightley what drove him to succeed in rugby.
"When I was in the fifth form (at Mangere College) I made my mind up that I was going to become a professional rugby player. I'd been in New Zealand two years and I started to learn more about the All Blacks.
"I could see the opportunities and the doors that rugby could open for me. There were 12 of us, nine brothers and two sisters. Dad was the only breadwinner, and to be able to provide for my family was a big driver for me. I saw what rugby could provide for us."
Watching the fierce energy that Tuungafasi now brings to his game makes complete sense after getting an insight into what motivates him.