By Terry O’Neill.
The inevitability of gradualness. A significant statement used to indicate a specific slippery slope as illicit actions, apparently condoned, lead to a deteriorating moral climate.
Formal protocols are part of rugby organisation and this year North Otago introduced a NZRU one designed to assist club and representative rugby during the game. It clearly sets specific areas for players, coaches, medical staff and water boys during play, and this strategy is overseen by the match manager wearing a high visibility vest appropriately labelled.
Protocols are only as good as those appointed to enforce them. No matter how essential, they fall apart when administrators fail the challenges of their duty.
An instance smacked of this at Levin Domain last Saturday when no other than Horowhenua-Kapiti coach Jared Tanira went outside the boundaries where he was required to be during the game. Nobody indicated to him he was absolutely out of order. Would the North Otago coach be accorded the same privilege?
Who was the match manager? The logical choice was Union CEO Corey Kennett but that day he was also the Horowhenua-Kapiti manager as well as liaison manager for North Otago! My queries lead to assistant referees on the sideline, all local referees. None was inclined to tap their Tanira on the shoulder and point out the error of his ways.
If the NZRU are going to inflict such protocols on local unions, these will be toothless if not respected and applied fully and equitably by unions. People involved will ignore them if they judge them to be bureaucratic puff.
Eventually the inevitability of gradualness sinks to deterioration of what was once highly prized, integrity and honour in the sporting code or a particular aspect of our society affected. Think of other examples of retrograde steps when protocols or laws are modified or not fully addressed as required.
Similarly there are attitudinal trends locally. We’re constantly aware of people thumbing their noses at laws and bylaws because experience has taught them those laws are not followed up. The illicit seems to become acceptable.
Individuals with enough arrogance for their personal convenience may feel we owe them a right to park vehicles across footpaths, yet obstructed pedestrians have a right to walk there. Consider those who park on the street facing the wrong direction. Note cyclists not bothering to wear the required safety helmet, drivers using cell phones on busy highways and intersections, and so on. Sadly maybe NZRU’s sensible forthright directives on game protocols might go the same way, into nothingness.
One highly respected and endearing North Otago rugby character, whilst involved before today’s technology, ran on the field at breaks in play to pass on words of wisdom to players, water bottle in hand. Towards the end of the game, after another incursion onto the field, the referee called the miscreant aside, and whispered: “If you’re going to come on as a water boy put some bl…. water in the bottle.”
Once upon a time the referee was the judge of what was, and was not, acceptable.