Monday, January 21, 2008

Say wot, English double-standards toff?

Posted Without Comment Dept:

Beware the moral high ground

Posted by Mick Cleary (The Telegraph) on 11 Jan 2008

Is Lesley Vainikolo now an Englishman?

Tongan-born: Lesley Vainikolo has been selected for England

And what does that mean?

The Volcano still looks like a Pacific Islander to me. A Kiwi at a push.

Yes, appearances, in the modern rugby world, are deceptive. In fact, they count for nowt.

Beware, too, the moral high ground.

Not that England's claim to that elevated vantage point ever had much credence. Like them all, they do whatever it takes. If he's good enough, he's English enough.

So much for lobbing stones the way of New Zealand for plundering the Pacific Islands for talent. I like to think my take on all that was no more than a pebble of criticism, noting that it was about time the All Blacks took themselves out more to the Islands to play test matches.

My view was that Pacific Island players playing for New Zealand was little different to the second generation Irish players playing for England here. Economic migrants and all that. Kyran Bracken comes to mind.

Even Lawrence Dallaglio had claim to play for Ireland through his Irish mother. Shane Geraghty of London Irish will soon join that clan of sons of their fathers who opt for the white rose rather than the shamrock.

As for big Lesley, well, he's responded to overtures and gone for it. Tonga didn't get in touch as far as we know. And England is where his home has been for the last six years.

Is it time the three year residency role was scrapped? Or perhaps nobody gives a stuff these days who plays for whom as long as there’s a spread of talent and a good game. Should the eligibility rules be changed? Country of birth? No exceptions?

What I would like to see is a retrospective dispensation for those Islanders who might only have won a few caps for NZ or Oz (or England!) but are prevented then from playing for their native country. That way, we'd see a more equitable flow of talent.

As it is, Vainikolo is now in the English fold, ready to explode.

Posted by Mick Cleary on 11 Jan 2008 at 14:52

Bold-emphasis mine.


Patriot Games

England’s choice of Lesley Vainikolo continues a trend that is legal - but it is morally wrong

David Walsh
The Sunday Times
Jan 13, 2008

[...] Ashton said he was delighted to include Vainikolo. From Ashton’s point of view, it was straightforward: Vainikolo qualifies for the team because he has been an English resident for three years and under the laws of international rugby, that’s enough. Forget the fact that Vainikolo was born in Tonga, of Tongan parents, and did most of his growing up in New Zealand and little more than a year ago, he played rugby league for the Kiwis. Forget that we have long criticised New Zealand and Australia for cherry-picking talented Samoans, Tongans and Fijians. [...]

Soon, the Maori centre Riki Flutey will be eligible to play for the England rugby team and if Vainikolo is good enough, Flutey is good enough. He has almost completed his three years of residency but Flutey, who played for the Maoris against England in 2003, understands the vague absurdity about him becoming an England player.

“I got quite a fright when I turned up for training (at Wasps) and saw these articles pinned up on the wall, with headlines saying, ‘Flutey wants to be an England star’. I thought, ‘Jeez, this is embarrassing. I never once said anything like that’. What I did say, in answer to a few questions, was this: if I was eligible and I felt I was playing well, and the England coach came up and offered me an opportunity, I wouldn’t shake my head immediately and tell him ‘no way’. But this wasn’t something that had occurred to me until I was asked about it and to be honest, I’d feel pretty strange. It would certainly be a shock to everyone back home. I’m still young and it may be that I’ll return to New Zealand one day and pursue the ultimate goal of becoming an All Black. That was my childhood dream from the moment I saw Michael Jones and those guys play for the first time.”

Flutey’s honesty is admirable and, spiritually, it should disqualify him from playing for any team except the All Blacks. Why would a proud and powerful rugby country like England want to play a young man whose ultimate dream is to represent the All Blacks? But if you pick Vainikolo, morally you have to consider Flutey, but the truth is that in selecting the Tongan, England have taken a wrong turn.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home