This photo is brought to you by Adidas, Steinlager and the National Party.
A nation rejoices as the media-generated Rugby World Cup hysteria ends..for now.

THE RUGBY WORLD CUP SEEMS TO HAVE gone on forever, but finally, its over for another four years. For many vulnerable women it will be a relief that the All Blacks won the tournament. The incidents of reported domestic violence would have abruptly risen if New Zeaalnd had been beaten by Australia.

For those of us not under immediate threat of 'the bash', it is a time to rejoice that we will no longer be constantly told by the corporate media how rugby is part our 'national identity' and how 'we're all behind the All Blacks'. No one asked me about that. Personally I could never get behind any team that the likes of Mike Hosking or Tony Veitch are cheering for. Some things are beyond the pale.

Call me dull if you like, but I just think there are more important things to think about than a game of rugby. Little things like the rising level of poverty in this country, the gutting of the welfare state and the fact that  ordinary people have been left politically voiceless by a Labour Party too busy playing footsy with business leaders. Or perhaps the media might come to grips with the recently released OECD report that blasts New Zealand's environmental record. It got buried under a mountain of more important stories abut crucial issues like Dan Carter's fashion sensibility and Steve Hansen's remarkable sense of humour. To cover such issues the media needed a phalanx of journalists in London this month.

 In a country wracked by three decades of neoliberal rule, all the boasting and flag waving has driven many of us to rugby free zones. The corporate media that spends most of its time promoting the divisive policies of neoliberalism has been the same corporate media that has wanted us to believe the myth that we all came together as a nation, united as one under All Black captain Riche McCaw. That other guy you see barging into the picture is John Key.

Yesterday I heard a Newstalk ZB host, it was possibly TVNZ's Tim Wilson, proclaiming that it was a 'great time to be a Kiwi'. I'm sure that the working poor and welfare beneficiaries are thinking exactly that as they wonder how they are going to pay the rent or power bill this week.

 My antipathy toward  rugby is clearly shared by many others, but who remain silent in the face of a wave of media-generated pseudo-patroitism. A week ago Associate Professor Toni Bruce, from Auckland University's Faculty of Education and Social Work, commented that 'the silent majority' do not share the excitement for the Rugby World Cup that the media claims we all do.

Her research work indicates that many people are actively resistant to what they see as rugby’s dominance of New Zealand’s cultural life.

“They don’t like what they see as the link to violence, the increasing commercialisation of the All Blacks, or the way that New Zealanders invest so much of their identity into sport.” she said.

Her comments reminded me of something that George Orwell wrote in 1941 ""in England all the boasting and flag-wagging, the 'Rule Britannia' stuff, is done by small minorities . . . The patriotism of the common people is not vocal or even conscious."

A fake and fundamentally reactionary nationalism (is there any other kind?) has been foisted on us by the corporates and its media allies in an effort to make us spend more money on booze, branded sportswear and subscriptions to Sky TV. It's a commodified nationalism that cannot countenance any deviation from the official narrative. Which is perhaps why Toni Bruce has found her research work being derided by National Party cheerleaders like Radio Live's Sean Plunkett and Newstalk ZB's Larry Williams.

Perhaps many of us would not be so antagonistic toward the All Blacks if we believed that they were more than just a bunch of wealthy young men throwing an oval ball around on behalf of the corporate sponsors. 


  1. "For many vulnerable women it will be a relief that the All Blacks won the tournament. The incidents of reported domestic violence would have abruptly risen if New Zeaalnd had been beaten by Australia."

    Otherwise knowen as the superbowl myth. Invented by Womens Refuges in the USA in order to prep their public for their street collections. Serious researchers have studied this and found that win or lose the violence goes down, slightly, presuably as people are drinking in public and not private. Seems like there is more than one corporate media agenda you are touching on.

    1. As you are referring to the American sports scene, I refer you to a 2009 study by economists David Card (Berkeley) and Gordon Dahl (University of California) which looked at police reports of family violence on Sundays during the professional football season.

      To quote from the New York Times they found: "...that upset losses by the home team were associated with higher rates of domestic violence. In fact, an upset typically led to an 8 percent increase in police reports of at-home incidents where a man attacked a female partner. Upset losses in games involving a traditional rival had an even bigger effect on the rate of partner violence as did unexpected losses after games involving an unusual number of sacks, turnovers or penalties."


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