French rugby representative Mathieu Bastareaud brought shame and embarrassment to my city and my country last week with his serious assault allegation. Although the truth has now emerged about his drunken idiocy there seems little likelihood of proper redress.
Of course if any ordinary member of the public made a false complaint to Police they would immediately be up on a charge. But the local Police and NZ Rugby Union, who “diligently” investigated the claim, made sure the touring French team were well beyond our shores before they released their findings – and its not like it is an offence worthy of extradition. So it is very unlikely there will be any legal recourse in the case.
Mercifully, rugby receives relatively little media bandwidth outside of Australia and New Zealand (contrary to popular belief here), so I’m unsure how much international coverage this incident actually received. Perhaps then it is a moot point. But the fact that a number of highly placed individuals colluded to protect the errant player and the arrogance shown by some involved has led to a few analogies being drawn with another infamous insult involving a certain rainbow coloured vessel.
Perhaps that analogy is a little harsh. After all we have plenty of examples of our own immature, drunken sportsmen getting into trouble whilst on tour. Nothing new there. What continues to rile me is that our society tolerates this kind of behaviour even at the expense of national reputation. It is the kind of slur a small, geographically distant nation can ill afford.