NZ Rugby World

RISE OF THE GUARDIANS

For a long time most professional players took pride in being as evasive off the field as they were on it.

No one, be they the All Blacks captain or first year Mitre 10 Cup player, felt it was in the best interests of their career to offer something so daring as an opinion on social issues, major events or political happenings.

For most, almost all of the professional age, the prevailing culture among professional players was to play dumb.

Whether that was driven by a feeling it wasn’ttheir place to be wading into non-rugby matters, a fear of being vilified for what they thought or a genuine lack of interest and/or knowledge of anything beyond the training ground is hard to know.

It may have been a combination of all of those factors, but whatever was behind it, players across the board were expert at giving the impression they had no real need to be aware of what was happening outside the bubble of their team environment.

They projected themselves as almost alien beings, on earth with one function which was to play rugby and no ability to recognise as relevant anything that fell outside their remit.

“I don’tknow about that mate, I am just here to play footy,” was the stock standard response to matters in which they had no inclination or desire to be involved.

It was hardly a mantra for life and yet almost every professional player of the last 20 years was willing to adopt it and see how far it would take them.

As a result many bright, articulate young men sold themselves to the masses as not only insular and one dimensional but also as a little bit thick.

Rugby suffered as a result as players don’tenjoy cut through in a saturated media landscape.

Vision of their heroics is everywhere across the digital and social media worlds, but the personalities of the individuals

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