Aaron Smith’s career is in a steep decline. Hayden Donnell takes a deep dive into the toll having sex has taken on the once-masterful halfback’s career.
Aaron Smith was dropped from the All Blacks’ starting line-up yesterday. The announcement felt inevitable. A long time coming. A mercy delivered to a broken man.
It’s easy to forget that just months ago, Smith was indisputably the world’s best halfback. His passes were precise. He played with unassailable confidence; every action infused with a certainty that inspired teammates and fans alike.
Then he entered a toilet with an unknown woman, and emerged a changed man.
Post-toilet sex Smith looks indecisive. Nervous. His creativity is gone. Once delivered with pinpoint accuracy, his passes now stray from their intended target. Formerly incisive runs are swallowed up by the defence. There’s only one conclusion to be drawn: sex has ravaged him to his core.
This is not some prudish rant from the Grand Vicar of England. The numbers bear it out. In four pre-sex Rugby Championship matches, Smith averaged five carries and 22.5 metres gained per game. He was good for a clean break and two defenders beaten every match, along with 0.75 try assists, 0.75 offloads and 53 passes.
Post-sex Smith’s attacking numbers have, at best, halved. In three Autumn Internationals, he carried the ball three times, for 12.7 metres gained per game. He averaged 0.3 clean breaks, 0.3 defenders beaten, 0 offloads, 0.3 try assists, and 39.7 passes every match.
That’s a 55.8% drop in metres gained, a 108% drop in clean breaks, a 148% drop in defenders beaten, an 85% drop in try assists, a 29% drop in passes and an infinite per cent drop in offloads.
Many people mocked New Zealand Rugby chief Steve Tew when he suspended Smith from the All Blacks amid the post-toilet media frenzy. They said it was impossible to expect rugby players to be completely genital-free. But the halfback’s recent performances have justified Tew’s belief that rugby players should remove their penises and testes for the duration of the international season.
Some will say there’s evidence All Blacks can play at a high level despite sex. Captain Kieran Read recently appeared in a magazine with a pregnant woman who appears to be his partner.
On the other hand, Read has suffered a dropoff in form, prompting anti-sex columnist Chris Rattue to call for him to be dropped from the team and replaced with an android or desert monk.
Dan Carter notoriously fathered children during his All Blacks career, presumably via the sex method. But it’s notable his final All Blacks baby was born six months before his redemptive 2015 Rugby World Cup performance, and that no other babies have followed. Now, at age 34, Carter is playing great rugby.
Others will say Smith’s form was damaged not by the act of sex, but by the grossly disproportionate public shaming that followed. They say that by reacting to a reasonably ordinary sexual indiscretion like he was a vile scumbag and we were all Pope Benedict the Magnificent, we harmed his confidence.
That pro-boning brigade oppose the toilet family who filmed Smith’s encounter, and say this whole saga is another indictment on rugby administrators who still don’t get the difference between doing sex stuff and committing actual sexual assaults.
Those people are wrong. Aaron Smith had sex, and now he’s paying the price.
Let his fate be a lesson to TJ Perenara, and any other All Black thinking about having sex.
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Hayden Donnell: Some key learnings from the Aaron Smith sex toilet scandal
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