Direct from the Middle Ages comes a new contender for worst NZ sports column ever

A rambling, shambolic manifesto on why women are ruining rugby, Sam Casey’s piece for Rugby News is an insult to wāhine players, to the sport in general, and to everyone’s intelligence, writes Scotty Stevenson.

If Senz promised to hail a new, more enlightened era of sports talk radio in New Zealand, one of its key producers, Sam Casey, could not have hit a more off-key note with a column published this month in Rugby News. 

Said column, essentially a rambling, shambolic manifesto detailing all the reasons why – in Sam Caseys bizarre world – women are ruining rugby, was shared yesterday evening on social media platforms. It was not just the lack of intellectual heft that left the reader wondering if this was unintentional satire of the highest order. There was also the complete disregard for grammatical convention and the tenuous grip on actual facts to contend with. 

In Caseys version of rugbys landscape, women are to blame for:

  • Getting paid at all
  • Making Casey scratch his head
  • Putting their hands out
  • Cancelling men’s competitions
  • Having no decency
  • Seeing fit to jump up and down kicking and screaming
  • Publicly spraying NZR
  • Being detached from reality
  • Making the All Blacks and Super Rugby players fed up
  • Short-changing All Blacks 
  • Astounding Casey
  • Holding the NZRto ransom
  • Necessitating the need for Casey and others to purchase earplugs
  • Constantly campaigning

and 

  • Being vocal

Where to begin? Its not as if poor construction, zero logic, and an obnoxious world view has ever stopped a columnist in his tracks before. I say hisbecause we are writing this from Caseyland, where only men write columns, and long may that continue. However, in this case, every feeble argument boils down to essentially the same thing. To wit: shut up and be grateful for what you have got. 

It starts with the patently ludicrous assertion that paying women to perform the same job as men is tantamount to hush money. Hell, boy. Good luck getting our wāhine rugby players to hush up. Last time I looked they needed all the language skills that could muster to, ya know, convince their bosses to give them some time off to represent their country, or be a little late to the office because the contracts they had been offered required them to meet a training load that full-time professionals would struggle with. 

Hush Moneyis used for what we like to call in this business a hook. Unfortunately that hook has exactly no bait for the remainder of this opinions terrible life. From the temerity of NZR to even consider paying its best women athletes, the argument quickly descends from the heights of scatterbrain to the depths of ignorance. 

Casey believes that there is a constant campaigningfrom our wāhine rugby players for more money, that the only reason the Farah Palmer Cup continued (apparently at the expense of a number of men’s competitions) was due to their constant noise, and that some of these women, and in particular Alice Soper, were – knock me down and count me out – vocal

Vocal would be a start if you ask me. The fact is that many of our women in rugby dont say a damn thing because they are scared of losing whatever small gains they have made in the last 10 years. Alice is a provincial rugby player, not a contracted New Zealand rugby player, and as such she feels a sense of freedom to champion a cause that so many others dont feel able to champion lest the house of cards their very existence is based on comes tumbling down upon them. 

So much of this burning haystack of hysteria is based on the notion that our women arent revenue earners. This is where the one scintilla of sunlight alights upon the otherwise permadark prose. Ill tell you why that is: because columns like this continually subjugate the womens game to the point where it is seen as tokenism to even show a modicum of interest. And that idea dies hard. As does the idea that all sponsorship money should be centrally controlled rather than ring-fenced for purpose. 

Women’s rugby is not a revenue earner, but it could be, if only opinions like this had the good grace to just fuck right off. Profitable, no. But it is an investment. And you best get used to the idea that this investment must continue to increase.

Apparently, the All Blacks and the Super Rugby players of this country are well and truly fed up, which would be a hell of a story if any of those brave souls all earning good money and having the ability to access the buffet of athlete services women could only dream of came forward to corroborate this point of view. If by All Blacks you mean the guy you ate McDonalds with in a strangers house then by all means, lets hear from him. Actually, lets hear a single All Black or Super Rugby player on this matter. Ill wait. 

Theres another argument, more twisted than a pretzel, in which Casey uses the Covid-induced restructure of New Zealand Rugby as an example of what women should have been thinking of instead of themselves. He provides, as a counterpoint to the demandsthat the Farah Palmer Cup continue in straitened times, this furious point: Need I remind you that during that time, hardworking kiwis employed by NZR were losing their jobs.” Yes, this is true. And many of them, in what will come as no surprise to anyone, with the possible exception of Casey, were women.

Casey continues to mangle pronouns and syntax for approximately eight hundred ill-judged words before blaming women for the departure of poor Ngani Laumape who has taken up a highly paid contract in another country. And he implores us all to castigate our women, most of them unpaid, for forcing this great midfielder, who has enjoyed a six-figure salary and attendant capped All Blacks bonuses for most of his career, offshore. 

There is at one point a command to read that point again, just to make sure you understand how detached from reality you are. I would have thought this was great advice for the author. The reader will make her own mind up. 




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