An Australian newspaper has dropped the pretence and declared war on Richie McCaw.
The Daily Telegraph has taken its tongue out of cheek and accused McCaw of putting in the filth and getting away with murder thanks to "special treatment" from match officials.
The paper had a humorous dig at the All Black captain yesterday, naming him "Richetty Grub" and "thugby's greatest champion" who should be unofficially registered as a pest in Australia ahead of the World Cup final.
But after one crack at having a ball at McCaw's expense, the TeleGrubby has come back for more with a full-bore attack. Reaching deep into the archives, they've suggested just three yellow cards in his 147-test career means McCaw is either "a paragon of self-discipline" or the referees' pet. The paper leaves no doubt that it is the latter.
Using the team approach to turn over McCaw, the article penned by "staff writers" made the following list:
1) McCaw's first yellow came after 50 tests against Wales in a game where the ref had already warned him at length about ruck illegalities. (Wow. Damning.)
2) Revived Springbok captain Johan Muller's 2007 quote that "If Richie McCaw had blond hair and wore a green jersey ... he would never finish a Test match".
3) McCaw and Keven Mealamu's alleged 14 second hold down of David Pocock in a 2011 test, leading to a try.
4) McCaw's knee connected with Morgan Parra's head and left him in need of medical attention in the 2011 World Cup final. "Intent was difficult to read and the incident ignored, but a man of McCaw's experience ought to have been aware of Parra's position."
5) His sway over referees was linked to Craig Joubert reportedly apologising to the Crusaders for the late penalty which saw the Waratahs claim victory in the 2014 Super Rugby final. (The paper failed to explain why the Golden One was so wrongly penalised by a fawning ref in the first place).
6) Recalled McCaw's blatant trip on Puma Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe in this month's World Cup pool clash, and claimed there was a gasp from the crowd when McCaw received just his third yellow card in tests. "By contrast Michael Hooper has seen double the number of cards in a third of the time."
7) McCaw escaped a citing for the infamous non-elbow charge on Francois Louw in the semifinal. The paper stated McCaw's hip "needlessly connected" with Louw, sarcastically adding "so that's all right then".
To be fair to the TeleGrubby, the point about McCaw's blatant trip on Lobbe is a fair one. It is a black mark on McCaw's career. The rest of it just sounds like....let's think, normal rugby.