"There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about," Oscar Wilde wrote in 1890, anticipating today's 'look-at-me' world of social media.
Wilde was no rugby fan. He once suggested the only good thing about the game was that it "was a good occasion for keeping 30 bullies far from the centre of the city".
If attention alone was the criteria, the brilliant Irishman would have to say that in New Zealand sport there is nothing to touch rugby.
This country's original sport talkback host, Tim Bickerstaff, would occasionally lament the fact that rugby wasn't played for 12 months of the year. "You can open up the lines for the biggest cricket story of the year," he said in a magazine story I wrote about him in the 1980s, "and you struggle for calls. But say anything about the All Blacks and the lines light up." Talk to the current hosts at Radio Sport and they'll largely echo those sentiments.
But what's always been a slightly strange comment on the national psyche is that no matter how much the All Blacks are prospering there's never a lack of people lining up to decry the state of the game here.
In the last decade the All Blacks have won two World Cups, and New Zealand teams have taken seven of the last 10 Super Rugby titles. You might be tempted, if asked how the sport is doing, to recall a favourite phrase of our only unbeaten All Black coach, Sir Fred Allen, who often used to say, "Just look at the bloody record".
Yet, in the same decade as all of that winning there have been some pretty weird and wild criticisms from media commentators, such as suggesting that the All Blacks no longer deserve support because a jersey sponsorship was sold to an American insurance company.
Out on the flat earth fringe, there was a claim by one writer that New Zealand Rugby takes money from a company with Nazi connections. That's a reference to adidas, a German company, in case you were wondering. World War II ended in 1945. And despite, for example, one of our most successful national captains, Tana Umaga, having Samoan ancestry, there's even been ridiculous charges of selectorial bias against non-white players.
At the moment New Zealand Rugby is in the firing line for picking Ian Foster ahead of Scott Robertson as coach, a choice which, it's claimed, might make people stop supporting the All Blacks.
Most of the country wanted Robbie Deans appointed ahead of Graham Henry after the debacle of the 2007 World Cup, and four years earlier John Mitchell had more public support than Henry when Henry was initially selected as All Black coach. Henry's teams went on to pack out stadiums here and win the Cup in '11. In the end what will actually matter to the fans is not who has the most vibrant, exciting persona, but how Foster's team actually plays.
Now there have been moments to genuinely challenge a Kiwi rugby tragic, times when the people running a sport I've loved for a lifetime have made me ashamed to be a rugby fan.
Let's look at attitudes to social and ethical issues, and start with the 1981 Springbok tour.
Reporting on the tour I travelled New Zealand and saw a country tearing itself to bits over what was, after all, just a sport. On the night before the last test in Auckland the great All Black Kel Tremain said to me, after we'd spoken at a local club, "Nobody was keener than me to see the Boks come here. Now there won't be anyone happier to see them go. They've buggered up our country, and the worst thing is, they don't even care."
In Auckland there were clubs that lost half their junior players as a reaction to the apartheid era Boks being here. But as someone opposed to the tour I never reached the point of blaming the sport itself. Rugby the game has no politics, just a ground, an oval shaped ball, and a set of rules. The stupidity of inviting South Africa in '81 was never repeated, by the 1990s apartheid was gone, and all of us could enjoy All Blacks-Springbok games without any angst.
Attitudes to women used to belong in a knuckle-dragging, Neanderthal culture. In the 1970s Stu Wilson and Bernie Fraser led what amounted to a player walkout when officials refused to allow wives into a test after-match function in Wellington.
Thankfully, to paraphrase Rachel Hunter, things didn't change overnight, but they did eventually change. Rugby officials took aeons to notice the shift in society, but they did eventually join the 21st century, with the stage now set for more giant leaps forward in the women's game, and greater involvement for women in the boardroom too. If the Chiefs can go from running end of season parties that involve a stripper to electing a woman as their board chairperson in two years there is almost certainly light at the end of the rugby tunnel for women.
Homophobia was once as rampant in rugby as it was in New Zealand society, so again it was a ray of sunshine to see Brad Weber and TJ Perenara step up when Israel Folau unleashed his "gays to hell" bile. What's most encouraging is that Weber and Perenara were largely supported in the rugby community. Last year Weber told me that "the response generally has been great. Since then I've seen a lot of teammates and other people in New Zealand rugby speaking out in support of the gay community as well, speaking up for inclusiveness. Probably what I'm most proud of about the whole thing is that it's given others the courage to speak out as well."
Please don't misunderstand what I'm trying to say. Of course rugby has not suddenly become the shining city on the hill for moral causes, decency, and everything that's good about humanity.
But as an expression of New Zealand life in general I honestly believe it's not remotely as hidebound and self-satisfied as it once was.
There are still areas where in the battle to keep the game relevant hard questions need answers. Addressing the drop-off of young men and women once they leave school is one. Trying to work out a way to let more see the game on free-to-air screens is another.
Somehow bolstering club rugby - at a time when the reality is that most Super Rugby players, let alone All Blacks, are needed for so many professional games that they'll never pull on a club jersey again - is another.
But isn't turning against the game because you feel they picked the wrong coach just a sad waste of time and energy?