A raging sense of injustice can often become a bedfellow
for the All Blacks in Europe.
The rugby world is prone to conspiring against them on these
November tours and the outcome of Adam Thomson's judicial
hearing is much bigger than determining the immediate playing
fate of a bit-part All Black. It will establish whether there
is justice for all or a giant conspiracy to make an example
of the All Blacks at any and every given opportunity.
Jarrad Hoeata being put on stand-by is a hint of the lack of
faith the All Blacks hold in the process and an indication
that they have come to accept they will forever be cast as
villains north of the equator.
The pain the Six Nations feel every November at these All
Black-inflicted ritual humiliations shouldn't be
underestimated. A full house at Twickers is not an ideal
place for England to discover how much better the All Blacks
really are. The Welsh, for more than a decade, have tried to
convince themselves they have discovered a team to dominate
for the ages only to be systematically taken apart by New
Not since 2002 have the All Blacks lost a November test and
that's a statistic that weighs heavily on the northern
hemisphere: what's to enjoy about discovering every year that
the gap remains enormous?
Every year the All Blacks arrive and play rugby that is
smarter, faster and better executed than any European side
they encounter. Every year the All Blacks evolve and the
perennial game of catch up for the others is maddening.
It's not so fanciful to theorise that the judicial system has
been tapped as a means to exact some kind of revenge on the
All Blacks - a blunt instrument to wield and inflict some
kind of damage.
For some, this is too outlandish to even consider - but the
evidence to support it as far stronger than what's available
to dismiss it.
In 2009 Wales coach Warren Gatland was indignant about a high
tackle committed by Daniel Carter that ultimately had little
influence on the outcome of the contest and in the context of
the game was significantly less vicious than three other high
shots from Welshmen.
But Gatland went off, accused referees of being in awe of the
All Blacks and essentially goaded IRB chief executive Mike
Miller into proving that wasn't true. Carter was cited and
suspended in an outrageous charade of a hearing.
The following year England hooker Dylan Hartley took lumps
out of Richie McCaw off the ball in what was obviously an
intended and malicious attack. He wasn't cited, yet Keven
Mealamu copped a four-week ban - reduced to two - for a
poorly executed cleanout of Lewis Moody.
And then there has been the endless lame sanctions imposed on
the disturbingly long list of players for assaulting McCaw -
the worst being Dean Greyling's one-test ban this year for
almost breaking the skipper's jaw.
Much rests, in terms of creating a perception, on the outcome
of the Thomson hearing. His footwork was needless, undeniably
worthy of punishment but more for its stupidity than its
intention. It was hardly malicious. There was no conviction,
no commitment to the act and could anyone, given the
precedents set elsewhere, really argue it was worthy of more
than a one-game suspension as penance?
The outcome will be fascinating and potentially more damaging
to Italy, Wales and England as the last thing they need is to
encounter an All Black side with better skills and better
- By Gregor Paul of the Herald on Sunday