A legend, they say, is a story told so often people begin to think it's the truth. If you don't believe that, let's run through three common legends in rugby that have no basis in reality.
Legend No.1: New Zealand rugby fans will only be really loyal to a provincial team, which is why Super Rugby has struggled.
The fact is that the majority of Kiwis will stop supporting a team, any team, when it starts losing. In our rugby we don't have the psyche of people like the fanatically loyal football supporters in Britain, who will wear their club colours, belt out old chants, and suffer freezing cold conditions, no matter how badly their team is going on the pitch.
In the North Island there's a general belief that in Canterbury fans are like the English soccer tragics, branded at birth, and growing up supporting anything that moves, as long as it wears red and black.
In fact, as Todd Blackadder once said of a time when Canterbury were playing very badly in the early 1990s, "the crowds were so small you could look up on the bank and recognise half the people there. You sort of got used to them booing you off the field after you'd lost, but by the end of a season they were booing you when you were running on at the start too."
Eden Park was no ghost town when the Blues started Super Rugby with the roar of two back to back titles in 1996 and 1997. The rot set in when the Blues struggled after their last title in 2003.
It wouldn't have made any difference what jersey or name the mediocre Blues went under, or whether the players had jobs in the community, and played club rugby when they weren't in the All Blacks. Rugby is the one sport in this country where winning is an expectation, not a hope, and the best hometown branding is worth nothing if performances don't back it up.
And if the Blues brand itself is such a turnoff, how did 43,000 people find their way to Eden Park last Sunday? And if the Blues keep winning, who would bet against another huge crowd when, for example, they play the Crusaders on the Sunday afternoon of August 16?
Legend No.2: With the exception of the All Blacks there's never been another team in New Zealand like the Crusaders.
I've heard it said many times over the years that the Crusaders, as they still are, were setting the bench mark for Super Rugby. That's true, but contrary to popular belief, they aren't the only superstar team in New Zealand to have worn a jersey that doesn't have a silver fern.
Step forward please the Auckland provincial side that in most years from 1985 to 1993 could, like the Crusaders at their best, have beaten any test team in the world.
Coach John Hart built the foundations of the dynasty with a mix of selecting so astute it amounted to genius, huge tactical nous, and an embracing of what was then a unlikely emphasis on skill training, run by a former football player, Jim Blair.
Selections? Where do you start? Maybe with an 18-year-old butcher from Mangere Bridge called John Kirwan, who Hart plucked from a Marist age group team to play on the wing. Or perhaps with a 27-year-old concrete truck driver from Panmure called Joe Stanley, for whom Hart dropped the All Black centre of the time, Steve Pokere. Or perhaps with a shy 20-year-old from Henderson, Michael Jones, who a year after Hart started him on the side of the Auckland scrum in 1986 showed he was the greatest openside flanker in the world at the '87 World Cup, when he was one of the star All Black players.
How much talent did Hart mine and polish? In the All Black squad of 26 for the '87 World Cup there were 14 players from Auckland. Ten Aucklanders played in the final.
In almost all respects, bar the colour of the jersey, the All Blacks of '87 were the Auckland team, not just in personnel, but also in the way they played the game, scoring tries by moving the ball at speed. It's no coincidence that the top All Black try scorers at the '87 Cup were the wings, Kirwan and Craig Green.
Although Hart had moved on to the All Black panel by '87, Auckland's run of greatness didn't stop. Under two old Ponsonby mates Maurice Trapp and Bryan Williams, Auckland went on to set a Ranfurly Shield record of 61 defences. In 10 seasons from '87 eight NPC titles (the last four with Graham Henry as coach) were won by Auckland.
So yes, as Sean Fitzpatrick used to say, full credit to the Crusaders, a team for the ages. But so, for a full decade, were Auckland.
Legend No.3: Astonishingly, a writer in Britain, after a lazy 49 years, has broken the code of omerta amongst northern scribblers that they would always insist the 1971 Lions in New Zealand, the first, and so far the only Lions team to win a series against the All Blacks, reached a pinnacle of rugby excellence the world had never seen before.
Chris Hewett, a rugby writer for many years at The Independent in London, wrote this week that for decades the truth about the '71 Lions had been bent out of shape. People who were critics of professional rugby, he said, were all too ready to claim things weren't as good now as they were in the old days. "But how much 'better' was it (in 1971), if it was better at all?"
Hewett compared the last test of the 2017 series with the last test in 1971 this way: "One was lightning fast, highly tuned, dynamic, and jaw droppingly athletic. The other was played in 1971."
Carwyn James, the gifted, hugely likeable, Lions' coach in '71 was also a brilliantly silver tongued pubic relations' man, who burnished the team's reputation with wonderfully crafted quotes. "From the age of six," he'd say, "the All Blacks played the same pattern, rigid and predictable. They love the perspiration, but are not all that impressed by the inspiration. They never really understood (first-five) Barry John. He was a being from another planet."
The idea the '71 Lions played a brand of "inspirational" attacking rugby was belied by my own memories of seeing the games at the time, and by the statistical fact the All Blacks scored eight tries in the series to the Lions six.
So before the Lions arrived in 2017 I steeled myself and grimly watched, notebook in hand, a DVD of all 80 minutes of the last test of the 1971 series, a 14-all draw at Eden Park which gave the Lions, already ahead two-one, the series.
You be the judge. In the first half, although John did pass eight times, while kicking seven times, the ball did not make it once to the Lions' wings. Mike Gibson or fellow centre John Dawes did the kicking if John didn't. In the second half John got the ball nine times. He kicked every single time. That's nine kicks, zero passes.
A shout out to Chris Hewett. If you're being hounded by your colleagues in London to apologise, make the buggers watch the video and the truth might set them free.