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Q+A (full) panel on RWC

Sunday 23rd October, 2011

Q+A (full) panel on RWC.

The full panel discussion has been transcribed below (new transcript – not already issued in blue). The full length video interviews and panel discussions from this morning’s Q+A can be watched on tvnz.co.nz at, http://tvnz.co.nz/q-and-a-news

Q+A, 9-10am Sundays on TV ONE. Repeats at 9.10pm Sundays, 9:05am and 1:05pm Mondays on TVNZ 7

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PAUL Time to welcome our World Cup panel. Dr Jon Johansson of Victoria University is our regular political analyst and also played senior grade rugby on the wing for the Merivale - Papanui in Christchurch. I played as a prop very badly for Haumoana School. I never understood what I was doing in a scrum and where the ball went after it got out.

JON JOHANSSON – Political Analyst
You were a prop, Paul?

PAUL I was a prop. David Kirk was also a useful player – 17 Tests at halfback for the All Blacks. We all remember him, of course, as the only All Blacks captain to lift the Rugby World Cup, although we're hoping this day he loses that honour. But of course he also worked in the Beehive during the Bolger years, and he sought National Party nomination for Tamaki in the 1992 by-election. He went on to be chief executive of the Fairfax Media Group, which bought Trade Me under his rein, and is now executive chairman of the Bailador Investment Management in Sydney.
Michael Jones is with us this morning. Michael is one of our genuine rugby legends. The statue outside the ground of Eden Park is proof of that. And, you know, it’s amazing. You’re the only man with a statue outside Eden Park and you couldn’t get in this morning.


MICHAEL JONES – Former All Black
That’s right.

PAUL I knew that’d happen. He was the first man to score a try at a Rugby World Cup back in 1987. What a great moment. But he too has dabbled in the idea of politics. He was widely touted as a potential National Party MP in this year's election before he opted to put family considerations first. He is now a strategic manager for the Reef Group, a freight and shipping company operating in the South Pacific. Good morning to all of youse. What an amazing day to be back at Eden Park, and you were telling me before you’re so glad it’s this time of the morning.

DAVID KIRK – 1987 World Cup Captain
Yeah, exactly right. I said, even if we hadn’t had the programme to shoot here, I would have loved to have come here and just walked around Eden Park – no one here, this air of expectation and the goosebumps. It’s a wonderful feeling at the moment here.

PAUL And what do you feel about being here? I mean, 24 years on, this is Cup final day.

MICHAEL Yeah, it’s quite surreal, really, Paul. I mean, like Kirky just... I mean, things have changed, but just the sort of almost... smell the liniment and sense that the boys are going to run out for what is such a historical day. But it only just seems like yesterday, I must admit.

PAUL How’s the tournament gone, do you think? How’s it gone? How’s it played?

MICHAEL Well, I... I mean, we have to applaud the leadership around what has taken place. I mean, I’ve seen not only Mr McCully but Martin Sneddon and the whole 2011 Rugby World Cup, you know, operation – it’s just been unbelievable. I’ve been privileged to be part of the volunteer programme, and just to see how the New Zealand public have gotten behind this – it’s just been such a showcase of New Zealand Inc, but I think most importantly in terms of outside the rugby, about a celebration of the power of rugby to bring a nation together and just showcase everything that’s great about this fantastic country.

PAUL You make a good point – the celebration of New Zealand Inc, and I think New Zealand Inc has projected itself very well to the world. It’s said, “Come have a look at us.”

JON And particularly to my eyes, Paul, provincial New Zealand – the way that it has embraced the World Cup has been tremendous to watch, and, you know, seeing people in New Plymouth becoming Russian for a week has been exhilarating for both them and the rest of us to watch, so I’ve loved that aspect of it too, and I guess, you know, from the comments that I heard about the next tournament, it seems that the way that we have showcased as a stadium of four million, as it’s been said, seems to be replicated in the following tournament too, where they’re going to have more decentralised...

PAUL Yes, but it’s a brilliant concept, that stadium of four million. It really was a brilliant concept, wasn’t it?

JON Yeah, and we’ve had a tough old year, so, you know, this has been a... not so much necessary, but a good diversion away from a lot of that toughness in Canterbury and elsewhere.

PAUL Yes, when you were on the wing for Papanui-Merivale, did you ever wonder if you’d be broadcasting live from Eden Park on Cup day?

JON In those days, mate, Lancaster Park was it. I mean, you always feel a bit of a foreigner being a Cantabrian up here.

DAVID Quite right too.

PAUL What were your thoughts when you arrived in the bus that day for this final against the French back in ’87?

DAVID Well, always before Test matches, there was sort of a little bit of a feeling of dread, you know. “I want to go out there. I want to be part of it. I want to win.” But, you know, there's a fear of failure and the fear of not living up to the expectations of yourself and your team was always part of it. But mostly on that day, it was this overriding feeling that this is a unique opportunity: “I’ve got an opportunity, this team’s got an opportunity. We just have to take it.”

PAUL Interesting point, too – today is a Sunday, Michael Jones, and of course the reason you don’t have the number of Tests you probably should have accumulated as an All Black was so often the games were on Sundays – the big World Cup matches. If you were still playing as an All Black, would you be playing tonight?

MICHAEL (laughs) No, I mean, nothing’s changed in terms of, you know, my...

PAUL Your beliefs?

MICHAEL It’s always been a conviction of mine. But it’s interesting, Paul, that I probably wouldn’t even have been in the team, because we were fortunate back in the day that we were amateur and we didn’t sign contracts and, you know, played solely for the love of it...

PAUL But now it’d be in your contract, yeah.

MICHAEL If we were required to sign a contract, I would have been precluded from playing.

PAUL Parts of the Sky coverage, I have to say, that’s gone out to the world, had those little vignettes of the towns in which the games are being played. And the world saw a different New Zealand – they suddenly realised that New Zealand is not necessarily pouring rain at Carisbrook – you know, when the games are usually July and August. They see that we have a spring, we have golden light, we have summer coming and so forth. Advertising can’t buy you that.

DAVID No, that’s exactly right, and that’s.... You know, when people tot up the economics of the World Cup and did we make money out of it, was it good for the country, that’s the big unquantifiable benefit that we’ve got. We’ve sent out massive positive branding messages to the rest of the world. It’s fantastic.

PAUL Well, you live in Australia. Has the country looked good?

DAVID The country’s looked fantastic, and it’s really what Jon was saying before – what people have been sort of amazed about, and this has been the only great sporting event in the world that has been able to do it this way, every little town, every little part of New Zealand has just given a big hug to our visitors and made them feel really welcome, and that’s been wonderful.

PAUL I know. Everyone in Remuera became Scottish. I wondered what all these Scottish flags were doing one day. I said, “What the hell’s going on round here?”

JON What happened after the Scots went out, Paul?

PAUL No, they’re still flying the Scottish flags. Don’t worry. We’re still very loyal. They are still very loyal. We talk about the... I don’t even remember the opening ceremony. I was at the game in ’87, but I don’t even remember the opening ceremony. It was so hokey and kind of downcast. And this one, of course, was a multimillion-dollar job up there with the Olympics. So we must marvel at how big the Rugby World Cup tournament has become, but is commercialisation of the event a bit of a worry? I mean, if you take that mouth guard business, the attitude of the IRB – and we’ll speak about this later, the attitude of the IRB to Pacific Island teams – but was that excessive? $10,000 fine for that boy?

MICHAEL I mean, certainly from where I sat, and I wasn’t involved with any of the Pacific Island teams this year, but just as I think as a fair-dinkum Kiwi, I mean, we love the thought of fairness and that everyone’s treated on an even playing field, and we just... Yeah, I certainly felt that it was a bit over the top. I mean, I don’t think any New Zealander even noticed that there was anything on that mouth guard until it was raised, so...

PAUL No, no, exactly. And others were doing it.

MICHAEL And others were doing it.

PAUL It made the IRB look like, you know, the old gin-soaked, high-handed Northern Hemisphere wallahs and Poms that we all suspect they are.

JON And they don’t need much help in that regard.

PAUL They don’t need much help in that regard. But let’s talk about the Pacific thing, Michael, because I quite admired the boy for tweeting his dissatisfactions, and there’s an attitude to the Pacific Islands – the squeezed playing schedule. Even at Zinzan Brooke’s This is Your Life the other night, Will Carling was talking to Mike Brewer about it. It’s too squeezed – for the minnows, particularly, and the Pacific Islands.

MICHAEL Yeah, I mean, I think again – young Eliota, there was a lot of sympathy for the young man. I mean, he’s a very outspoken... I mean, I don’t think David and myself would have gone about our messaging that way, and using that language or those analogies, certainly not. But, I mean, even the IRB have admitted that some of those calls had justification. So...

PAUL Discussion has began, hasn’t it?

MICHAEL Yeah, so essentially the challenge really is what next? I mean, is there going to be some key calls made? I mean, it takes some strong leadership to make some of these calls, but I’ve already heard whispers that even that whole area about scheduling is going to be shifted so that it is... Again, it’s all about a level playing field, and that’s...

PAUL A fellow was writing the other day, saying it’s almost institutionalised racism. You look at this, David. Consider this. The IRB council... The eight foundation unions each have two seats – Scotland, Ireland, Wales, England, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and France. Argentina, Canada, Italy and Japan each have one seat on the council. And Tonga and Samoa don’t have a seat on that council, and they play higher up the scale than Canada or Italy.

DAVID I don’t think...

PAUL I mean, it’s ludicrous.

DAVID Yeah, I agree. It’s absolutely wrong. It’s not racism, though. They’ve made that decision not on the basis of race, but on the basis of historical playing power in history and engagement with the national governing body. But it’s time to change that.

PAUL Yeah. Do the IRB, on the other hand, get an undeserved bad rap? Because they do hand out a fortune to the smaller nations. I think in the last... £300 million... Do you notice, by the way, when you read IRB figures, it’s always pounds? It’s always pounds. But, like, they hand out massive amounts to 117 member unions. Do they get...?

DAVID They do, and that is great work that they do, and we’ve seen the benefit of that work at this Rugby World Cup. We’ve seen, you know, Romania, Russia, the United States – all of those countries really lifting, and that’s partly to do with that development money, so we do have to give them a big tick for that

JON And also...

PAUL Quickly, Jon.

JON ...in a way if they were making a pure commercial decision, the Rugby World Cup wouldn’t have been here.

PAUL No, that’s true. Because while virtually all the tickets were sold,...

JON But bigger media markets.

PAUL ...the stadia are down in size, that’s right.


In response to MURRAY MCCULLY interview

PAUL A festival of rugby, but also a festival of people, a festival of unity, a festival of nationhood. It’s been wonderful, hasn’t it? And plenty of positives, Murray McCully says, and of course, Jon, the politics in that are very good for Mr McCully and his cohorts, because a country feeling good about itself – what's the politics of that a month out from an election?

JON JOHANNSON – Political Analyst
Well, the equilibrium position before the World Cup was, you know, the expectation is that National will get re-elected. Winning the World Cup and being seen to hosting as good a tournament as we have is only going to reinforce that equilibrium position.

PAUL That’s right, New Zealand suddenly has a feeling of incredible competence about itself. There wasn’t really a hitch.

JON Well, apart from that opening, which in retrospect just literally was a hitch, wasn’t it? But like I say, it’s just been... The way that different communities in New Zealand and different communities of New Zealanders have got so in behind this, like, you know, the Tongan community up in Auckland...

PAUL Oh, fabulous.

JON Fantastic to see that.

MICHAEL JONES – Former All Black
I mean, not only, I suppose, the Pacific Island teams starting off with coming to the airport and having 10,000 people meet the Tongans and then the Samoans had to try and beat that, but, you know, it was just this wonderful groundswell of patriotism. But as New Zealanders, I think what Martin Snedden did well from the outset is frame it up as a Pacific cup. So that was great to have that inclusiveness provided, that platform. But it was also in neighbourhoods like where we went, Kirky – Asics Ave – and you had a house painted for the Japanese and Argentineans, and it was just a wonderful picture again of this collective enthusiasm, and just the energy, I suppose, that was sort of placed around getting behind rugby.

PAUL And I suppose you’d have to say the feeling generated by the World Cup only helps the government going into the election?

DAVID KIRK – 1987 World Cup Captain
Oh, I think so. When you’re feeling good about life and feeling good about the status quo, then you probably want to keep it going.

PAUL And let’s talk... You know, we need to discuss at some point how we’re going to cope if we do not pull it off tonight, but we’re not going to rush into that conversation.


In response to MARTIN SNEDDEN and PAUL VAUGHAN interview

PAUL OK, so a few things out of that interview. Let’s talk about if it goes pear-shaped tonight. I mean, if we win, we’re going to feel great. There’s no doubt about that. It’s going to be party for weeks, months. If we lose this time around, do you agree with Martin Snedden that we’re better equipped to handle the loss this time because we’ve seen how hard it is to advance at a World Cup? The All Blacks have given us such delight. We’ve seen one magnificent game last weekend at least, and we’ve had such fun as a country. Are we better equipped to handle the loss?

DAVID Yes, I think for all of those reasons, but I also think it’s going to hurt mightily. It’s going to be very tough to take if we lose tonight.

PAUL Yeah. What will our boys be doing now when they wake up today, as they wake up this morning?

DAVID Today? Oh, trying to go through their routines, trying to just keep it normal, trying to just do what you normally do. It’s a Test match. It’s the same 80 minutes...

PAUL It’s a long wait, though. Yours was an afternoon game. Yours was an afternoon final, wasn’t it?

DAVID Yeah. So they probably wake up a bit later.

JON How do you cope with that – like, a 9pm start? I mean, it must be rancidly boring.

DAVID Yeah, it is, but there's a lot to think about. You try not to think about things too much, but as I say, they’ll go through their routines. They’ll have their day mapped out. There’ll be times when they’ll be eating, times when they’ll be meeting, times when they’ll be doing a bit of practising and times to be alone a relax. They won’t want to just lie around and do nothing. There’ll be quite a structured day.

MICHAEL They’ll be well accustomed now to late starts, and their body clocks have all transitioned, and whether they wake up early or sleep in and then have an afternoon nap, it’s all so well programmed that come what may, they’ll turn up at 8.30 on fire.

PAUL I suppose the poor sods will have a bit of dread going on – your bit of dread. Let’s talk about the economics, because this is very important and Guyon was discussing this with Paul Vaughan and Martin Snedden. What is the point of a country, a host union hosting a sold-out, successful, wonderful Rugby World Cup if they’re going to be down 40 mil, you know, or 13 mil? Does the IRB take too much dough? Are they too rapacious?

DAVID Well, firstly, what Martin said is absolutely right – that $40 million is an investment in a whole lot of other growth opportunities for the country over time which are quite difficult to quantify, but we should think of that as an investment, not as a cash loss out the door never to come back.

PAUL Well, that’s true. I mean, incredible contacts are being made, aren’t they, over this period?

DAVID But to answer your second question, yes, I do think the model is not right and that will need to evolve, need to change.

PAUL And do you think there's an IRB awareness of this?

DAVID They’re aware of it, but they’re not too keen on addressing it is my assessment, looking at them.

PAUL So how have they got to change? They’ve got to take less?

DAVID Yeah, they have to restructure the model so the host union, and indeed the participating unions, can share more in the revenue that’s generated.

PAUL Because I really think they have to, because, I mean, look at the size of Eden Park stadium now. You know, we spent all that money as well on the stadiums as well. The politics, Jon, if we were to lose... God forbid, if we were to lose, does that offer mischief for the Opposition?

JON If we were to lose, it would... Let’s face it, New Zealanders never react well to World Cup defeats.

PAUL ’95 they did, really. Anyway, go on.

JON Yeah, well, OK. What it means is that then there is the risk to the government that, you know, especially with Rena still unresolved...

PAUL Then we start thinking about Rena. That’s right.

JON Exactly, and then you can get into that spiral of focusing on everything that’s not working as well. But, you know, are we more mature? I doubt it. I really doubt it from one World Cup to the next. I mean, my dad’s given me this bottle from the 1991 World Cup. It’s a Bordeaux, and he’s said to me, “Son, you never open that bottle until we win another World Cup.” So I’m actually full of apprehension about tonight’s game in case we actually do win it, because...

PAUL Because you know it’s going to be a hangover in the morning. You’re going to be sozzled by...

JON Well, it’s a new world Bordeaux, Paul, so I’m not sure 20 years... (laughs) But, you know, there's a lot of traditions around World Cup and rugby. But, you know, sure we can get on.

PAUL I suppose we can get on. But when we start to think about the money, when we count the money and we find that we haven’t made the dough, is that also helpful to the Opposition?

JON Well, I don’t really think so, because as David says, you’re paying... it’s the investment. I mean, the people of Dunedin, for instance, are going to hugely benefit for decades from their decision...

PAUL We also have an infrastructure legacy, don’t we?

JON And the branding, and the branding is priceless.

MICHAEL I think Martin’s point too that they’ve already achieved... Despite what happens tonight, obviously it’s going to be the icing on the cake. But the sense around town and the sense around the world is that this has been such a huge success and the intangibles that we’ve talked about in terms of... We can’t measure it – just what this has done for New Zealand and our profile worldwide.

PAUL That’s right. As Martin Snedden says, it’s up to the business community now to carry it forward.


In response to AUCKLAND CENTRAL clip

PAUL Auckland Central – as I say, Nikki Kaye’s worked very hard to keep the seat, but so has Jacinda Ardern when she set her sights on Auckland Central. So what's it going to be?

JON Yeah, it will be close. I mean, Nikki Kaye has the advantage of, you know, the big tail wind behind the government for re-election and she has the advantage of incumbency. But Jacinda Ardern is one of the most talented MPs in that Labour caucus.

PAUL Position of 13, I see, on the list.

JON Yeah, exactly, so Auckland Central is going to end up with two very competent, ambitious and quality women.

PAUL That’s right. And when they go about the place, they’re both very good at meeting people. I note that Guyon was away from the programme last week, and he was running some frightful mountainous horrendous race on Great Barrier Island, and at the function that night, though, at the dinner, there was Nikki Kaye. And since Gerry Brownlee suggested mining on the conservation estate and 10 times Nikki Kaye’s majority marched down Queen St, she’s been very assiduous in looking after the gulf islands, squeezing every vote out of the gulf islands. That’s the kind of dedication...

JON That’s their electorate MP, but just one point about the youth vote – you know, it’s a perennial concern, but the reason why it is really important for young people to go to the polls this election is less about red versus blue, green versus whatever colour ACT is these days, but it’s about the referendum, because that’s actually about the future shape of New Zealand democracy. So it is important that young people have a stake in their own future.

PAUL Yes, what about the youth vote? They seem not to have any consciousness of the need to vote at all. You used to work at AUT, didn’t you?

MICHAEL Yeah. I mean, I suppose it’s quite typical of the Y generation. You know, it’s quite blasé about even, you know, current events and politics, so I agree with Jon. Yeah, they haven’t engaged, and my sense when working with young people even today, I mean, it’s about feeling that they can actually engage in some meaningful way or that even their vote can count, and that’s the challenge – we’ve really got to encourage our youth to make sure that their vote does count.

PAUL You agree, don’t you? So the youth vote? Youth must vote.

DAVID Yes, youth should vote.

PAUL Very good. That sums that up. Now let’s get back to the day, which is an historic and... What was I going to ask you? If you were chief executive of New Zealand, given how this cup has gone, given the wonderful success of the stadium of four and a half million people, how would you move New Zealand forward? How would you turn what we’ve done into dough?

DAVID Well, nothing changes for New Zealand fundamentally. The fundamental economics and the challenges in the world are just the same. So the World Cup’s been a great opportunity to boost and to focus on foreign exchange and international branding and so on, but savings rates, productivity growth, new business formation, particularly new business that can export for us – that’s what it’s all about. It really is very much a private sector business opportunity that New Zealand needs.

PAUL So many rugby identities and business identities have been so difficult to reach and so busy in this past six, seven weeks, it must be a great coming together of contacts, making contacts.

DAVID Oh, absolutely. There's wonderful opportunity.

PAUL Yes, alright. So highlights, then. Michael, what’s been the highlight of the tournament for you?

MICHAEL Well, apart from obviously the All Blacks stepping up week by week and all I things going well, I mean, I certainly believe that... I have a sense that this is our time. This group of young men thoroughly deserve this, more than probably anyone that’s gone before them. As a nation, we’ve waited so long. This is our national game. There’s only the Welsh and the Pacific Islanders who have this wonderful game as their game. And I think we’ve been through so much this year as a nation – obviously Christchurch and Pike River – so for us to... That would be obviously the real highlight, apart from just the sense of community and coming together around this great game.

PAUL And very quickly, David, your highlights?

DAVID All of what Michael said, but also the coming together of the ’87 team. We had a wonderful dinner together, and it was just so obvious that team’s got so much respect and affection for each other. It was just great to see them all.

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