Veteran New Zealand sports writer Chris Rattue has provoked an intense reaction after a column skewering the nation’s sporting reputation and claiming “the idea that New Zealand is a fabulous sporting nation is a big fat lie.”
Rattue, writing in the New Zealand Herald, started out his column by savaging the Warriors NRL team, calling for the resignation of CEO Cameron George and saying their “disgraceful effort against Cronulla belongs in a Hall of Shame.”
The 12 man Sharks beat the Warriors 29-10 on Sunday and Rattue was outraged by the club’s latest humiliating defeat. But it was also the launching pad for a run down of all the perceived ills of Kiwi sports right now.
“Super Rugby is an unmitigated disaster and the national sport is dying in many ways,” Rattue wrote.
“The coverage on Sky is amateurish, childish. I don’t think people even care about the All Blacks the way they used to. Rugby itself is almost unwatchable, sunk by stoppages and overbearing TMOs. Even the era of All Black dominance has gone – they are quickly becoming just another up-and-down team.”
He continued with football: “The world game, has no domestic profile. The Phoenix are unloved and hopeless, the All Whites only play at odd overseas venues and times.”
And then onto the state of Mt Stadium which “looks like a condemned squat”, the claim that no one cares about domestic cricket, losing hosting rights to world darts and speedway events (yes, really).
He bemoaned the spending on Olympic sports “which nobody really cares about most of the time” and the fact that “even world MMA star Israel Adesanya abandoned the country”.
“One-off events overseas – such as the world cricket final, the All Whites’ upcoming World Cup qualification match against Costa Rica, Joseph Parker et al – are left as sporadic high points to complement All Black tests and a few decent home cricket series,” Rattue wrote.
” But even there, world cricket treats New Zealand with disdain and we’re not even hosting Parker fights or the FIFA showdown this time.
“Our sports administrators are drab and uninspiring, preferring to operate like faceless bureaucrats rather than the impresarios of old. Domestic sporting rivalries are absolutely dead.”
After further complaints, Rattue sums up: “It is a very sad and hopeless state of affairs and beyond repair, although thankfully there is loads of amazing overseas sport to watch on traditional TV and online.”
The column, as all good columns do, provoked plenty of reaction, including some agreement.