Players did not take a life and death situation seriously

At this point, you would think the seriousness does not need to be explained.

We are two years, six million deaths and countless cancelled events into a pandemic. New Zealand is at the height of its Covid-19 outbreak.

Yet there were still some Highlanders players who ignored requests to wear masks on their flight from Wellington last weekend, just days before it was revealed Covid-19 was in the camp.

It almost defies belief.

Sure, it is a small thing.

But it is one of those small things everyone is doing to slow the virus’ spread.

Management has worked around the clock for months to make Super Rugby Pacific happen.

Various draws were made. The Queenstown bubble was trialled. Games have been played under strict protocols.

But the players could not repay them with the simple precaution of wearing a mask for an 80-minute flight.

Sky Sport — which pays these players’ wages — relies on these games for content.

If players get sick, there is no content, and there is less money coming in — yet the network is still paying for television rights.

Everyone makes mistakes.

Walking on to a plane, or taking a mask off to eat or drink and forgetting to put it back on, is certainly that.

Ignoring requests of cabin crew to mask up is not.

That is a conscious decision, a show of disrespect and the height of arrogance.

It is demeaning and degrading towards the crew, who were trying to do their jobs and keep everyone safe.

There were the other passengers — some of whom contacted the Otago Daily Times to express their discomfort at the situation.

These players had no problem putting them at a greater risk of contracting the virus.

Even if they appeared fit and healthy, it could have started a transmission chain that reached someone vulnerable.

Do they not understand the seriousness of Covid-19?

Again, six million people have died. This is a life and death situation.

That they had not tested positive is irrelevant — they could have been infectious and returned a positive test a day or two later.

Which would be fine, if they were taking the precautions to limit the risk of transmission.

Fans have every right to feel ripped off, too. They are being kept out of games, both to slow the spread, and to limit the chance of Omicron getting into the playing squad.

It is their way of supporting their team, trying to keep the players healthy.

But some players do not seem to care about staying healthy.

This was an 80-minute flight — the majority of the population is now wearing masks for eight-plus hours at work every day.

And if the off-field things do not matter to them, you would think the on-field things do.

Highlanders coach Tony Brown said himself on Wednesday that the healthiest team in this competition may well be the most likely to win it.

Keeping clear of Covid-19 is just as important as fitness, tackling and scoring tries.

Yet they refused to take the most basic of precautions to do this.

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