Rugby, the gentlemen's game guarded by gentlemen found its latest protector in Warren Gatland.
There's been something of a spat between Australia and New Zealand over the last couple of weeks, erupting around the latter's 37-10 walkover in the Bledisloe Cup game. Ahead of the game, the New Zealand Herald depicted Cheika as a clown, something Cheika complained about after the game:
They dressed us up as clowns today. They put our crest on it, so they wouldn’t want our comment.
I don’t think they respect our comment, anyway, so we won’t make one.
The New Zealand crowd also booed Quade Cooper throughout the game, and this greatly offended Warren Gatland. Speaking to the Telegraph, Gatland said he was "embarrassed". Here are the relevant quotes:
I was at Eden Park watching the game a couple of weeks ago and, as a Kiwi, I was embarrassed.
There was still a large portion of the crowd booing Quade Cooper. Get over it. Then there was the clown stuff in the Herald.
One of the things I was proud of as a Kiwi was showing humility. The All Blacks try to do that but there's a proportion of New Zealanders that have a little bit of arrogance and not humility. As a Kiwi I was sitting in the stands watching the game and I was a little bit embarrassed.
I don’t think the All Blacks are doing that. Obviously there’s history between Hansen and Cheika that’s come out on a few occasions but the squad and team have tried to play things down.
The thing about Gatland is, owing to his proclivity for slightly incendiary media comments in the past, nothing he says in public is ever construed as his true opinion, and is instead perceived as a "mind game" of some kind. This, along with the fact that Gatland is bringing his Lions tourists to New Zealand next summer, caused the Herald to sketch a reply.
Here's the sketch part.
The sketch accompanies quite a lengthy opinion piece by the Herald's Chris Rattue, who reckons that these are "mind games" on Gatland's part, to compensate for a lack of combativeness on the field.
The main thrust of the opinion is a disagreement with Gatland's idea that the All Blacks have a history of humility.
Look, this isn't a personal attack. But I know plenty of people who have dealt with the likes of Gary Whetton - a key figure in the game during Gatland's playing days - who would struggle with the humility description. There have been times when the leading All Blacks were completely up themselves, no matter what their public image was. Recent incidents involving top players reek of arrogance.
The most outstanding part is the comparison between rugby union and rugby league.
This column has regularly attacked rugby union as an old boys club which treats Pacific Islands rugby with something close to contempt. But the union mob are saints compared to league's treatment of smaller nations.
The Four Nations tournament in England scores highly on the cringe scale when you look past the terrific opening clash between New Zealand and the hosts...
How on earth did a fake team called Scotland get a place [at the Four Nations], ahead of Tonga, Samoa, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and even France. Scotland were rated as 250 - 1 outsiders, which is putting it nicely. It's hard to know what league is even trying to achieve by their inclusion. France has serious league history, and a Super League team.
You can read it all here at the Herald's website.