In his first press conference in New Zealand Stuart Lancaster stated that he wanted to repair the reputation of English rugby after the bad press that surrounded the team at the World Cup in 2011.
There is little doubt that the players let Martin Johnson down at the tournament but it is worth having a closer look at the part played by the media – in both New Zealand and the UK in making sure it was a focal point during England’s campaign.
The front pages of the tabloids on both continents delighted in talk of night clubs, drinking and dwarf throwing – to their shame it was also headline news in some of the English broadsheets.
On a day to day basis, anyone who takes any notice of the tabloids really needs to have a lobotomy to improve their IQ – this week we’ve had ‘England to be awarded the 2018 World Cup’, Simon Cowell’s wardrobe, a Sumo baby boom and endless stories about reality stars’ love lives and tattoos! Also, Chanelle Hayes (whoever the f**k that is!) is worthy of note as apparently she has a kinky sex room in her house! I mean who gives a f**k? – well apart from Chanelle that is, obviously.
Personally I couldn’t give a toss about this nonsense but there is little doubt that our media look for ‘stories’ and target our teams – we know they set up ‘stings’ and pay hotel staff for anything that they can exaggerate. So, I suppose we shouldn’t be overly surprised when ‘shock, horror’ stuff hits the front pages – with these supposed journalists apparently suffering moral outrage – yeah, right! Just like they hack phones for the publics ‘right to know’
I’m sure the England football players will need to be careful in Brazil – same goes for Stuart Lancaster’s squad currently in New Zealand.
Is this paranoia? Well no – although I’m sure we did indulge in chucking the odd little person about, there were other teams that were less than perfect – but nobody heard about those until all the sides had returned home – by then it was no longer as interesting as stuff like that tart from Benefits Street or Grannies on the Game describing some rather unhygienic things they do with pineapples and toilet brushes.
It is no secret that Ireland had been in the same bar the same week (The Altitude in Queenstown) although they certainly didn’t suffer the same media barrage – apparently because they were smart enough to take the press with them. The suggestion was that they were at least as ‘well’ behaved as their English counterparts – they were, however, much more media savvy.
Even better, it recently emerged that two frontline New Zealand players were out drinking before the Quarter Final in 2011 and were mixing sleeping pills with booze in order to see who could stay up longest. The story here is not that it seems singularly stupid to imagine that knock-out tablets can actually keep you awake, but how the tale didn’t come out until 2014 – some three years after the World Cup had been played (or maybe it was us that had been played).
The fact is – England teams beware – the tabloids are gunning for you!
More paranoia? Well – the media in Auckland have already started a campaign to denigrate Danny Cipriani – using his time in Super 15 to call him a ‘failure’ and failing to mention, even once, that he was top scorer for the Rebels or, much more relevantly, his current form for the Sharks.
The media in New Zealand and the UK have form in this game – remember the shameful taking out of Brian O’Driscoll in the first Lions Test in 2005? It was a spear tackle, off the ball by two players!
None of the media here or down under focussed on the incident – it was all “forget it and move on”. Whether this was the general antipathy to Sir Clive and Alistair Campbell in the Northern Hemisphere or something far more sinister we will never know.
Graham Henry and the NZ management claimed not to have seen the O’Driscoll tackle – really Graham? There are tribes in the Amazon rain forest, as yet untouched by civilisation, who saw it – it was (and remains) on the internet! On the off chance you’re finally interested mate – here’s a link –
Today, any TMO worth his salt would have been screaming in the refs ear – who would then have issued a couple of red cards and changed the face of that game and, indeed, potentially the tour.
With the media obsession with ‘making stupid people famous’ we are likely to always have to put up with a ’gutter’ press – it’s a shame that unlike Oscar Wilde – very few ever bother to look up at the stars!