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It’s simply part of the DNA.
As kids, we will do things like jumping off the garage roof to test who has more courage, sometimes to our detriment; try and climb to the highest point on a tree, and then realise how stupid it was and how perilous it will be getting back down.
As we get older our perspective changes. But there is still a lot of the boy in there; the risk-taker and the hi-jinks, usually fuelled by a little bit too much to drink.
For high profile sportsmen it can become an Achilles heel, particularly when they are out having a good time – like the rest of us do. People goad them, want to test themselves against them, or will abuse them for a poor performance.
React, and cellphones and social media will turn those sportsmen into instant news – and the villain.
On Saturday afternoon, I was at my local, a country pub outside of Christchurch. A bus turned up. The faces looked familiar; their attire (fancy dress) different to what you normally see them in during the rugby season – Crusaders.
They were not there to storm the building, pillage and run amok.
They were there to have fun. It was one of the player’s stag party, a pub crawl one mentioned in passing. Good on them. They were left to their own fun as others in the bar were having as well.
By the time I departed they were still having a great time, mingling with the odd patron or two. Everyone was happy. Just boys being boys, and no sign of any social media stuff since.
But it isn’t always that way.
Years ago, before cellphones and social media, I was travelling with the Kiwis rugby league team on their tour of Australia and Papua New Guinea.
Myself and a couple of the players were having a beer in a New South Wales country town. A very drunken local began abusing us, calling us sheep shaggers with expletives thrown in. He was warned a number of times to stop. He didn’t. He hit the deck; not hard enough to cause any damage but enough to show he had finally overstepped the mark.
The player concerned was taken outside by his teammates. I stayed to see what developments there might be. The barman told the guy he was a proverbial you know what and the police wouldn’t be called, as he had asked.
I went outside. The player asked if he was destined to make the news. That may have led him to be recalled home from the tour, which would have been a travesty given the provocation we had endured by a booze-fuelled idiot. I said he was in the clear.
If only All Blacks management had the same commonsense when they sent Keith Murdoch home from Wales in 1972.