Four men walk into a bar – Whetu, Kev, Morne and Juan. They find a table down the back, away from all the action.
Whetu: “It’s a shame SANZAAR can’t get it together. But we’re all good mates, we can sort things out for them.”
Kev: “Let’s get a beer first. Juan, your shout.”
Juan: “But I don’t have any money.”
Whetu: “None of us do, bro. Just start a tab. Maybe some TV executive or PE fella will come along later and pay.”
Morne: “PE? Since when do phys ed teachers have money? It’s only French club owners who have money.”
Kev: “Yeah. Imagine giving Ma’a Nonu a new contract.”
Whetu: “It’s all about pathways for golden oldies.”
Morne: “I heard it was because Sergio Parisse got sick of being teased about being the oldest player.”
Whetu: “Parisse? It’s hard to respect a bloke who said he’d rather play for Italy than the All Blacks.”
Juan returns with the drinks. Whetu holds one of the bottles up for closer inspection.
Whetu: “This looks dodgy.”
Juan: “It’s craft beer, from Western Australia.”
Kev: “Who do you think we are, the Brumbies? Beer, man! Not some fancy weasel’s piss.”
Juan skulks away to try again.
Whetu: “Righto, let’s get on with it.”
Morne: “Shouldn’t one of us take the minutes?”
Kev: (starts tapping into his phone) “I am.”
Whetu: “That’s not real minutes, bro. That’s just taking notes.”
Kev: “What’s the difference?”
Whetu: “When you have to explain a balls-up to Fozzie and Sam? Plenty.”
Kev: “So the problem here, it’s really all about communication. Give and take. Just like any relationship.”
Morne: “Exactly. Like when my missus busted me sexting with this chick from up north. I explained that it was just a bit of flirting, no harm in that. I was hardly going to leave her, was I?”
Kev: “So what happened?’
Morne: “I left her. But I still go back every year for special occasions and to pay for the kid’s birthdays.”
Kev: “You should do what I did. I kicked one of my kids out a couple of years ago. They whinge about it a bit, but they soon learned to support themselves.”
Juan returns with proper beer.
Whetu: “That’s better, bro.”
Kev: “But you forgot the chips. Get those NZR brand chips – extra salt, extra vinegar.”
Juan reluctantly heads back to the bar.
Morne: “You boys keep talking, I’m going for a slash.”
Kev: “So how are we going to sort this out?’
Whetu: “Well, as you know, I already submitted the Arawhetu report to New Zealand Rugby. And don’t take this the wrong way, but you fellas aren’t up to scratch. Because we’re the world’s greatest rugby nation, we need an elite competition with only the world’s very best franchises in it.”
Kev: “So, who are they?”
Whetu: “Our five franchises plus the Western Force, the Shanghai Sheep Shaggers, a south Auckland-based Pasifika side, and the Book ‘em Danno’s.”
Kev: “The same Western Force that couldn’t win a game in Super Rugby AU?”
Whetu: “Watch them go when we give them a few more Kiwis to help out Thrushy and Richard Kahui.”
Kev: “That was quick!”
Morne: “Nah, I couldn’t get in. Some little halfback snuck in there and locked the door. Sounds like he’s practising his passing. I can hear him hitting the No. 10 on the chest with his fast ball.”
Kev: “Whetu, I assume you’ve cleared all this with the NZ players association?”
Whetu: “Why would we talk to them, bro? The players only want the Aussie sides in so they can get a few easier games and a weekend in Canberra. We need to give the fans what they want. The grassroots supporters. Not that you fellas care about the grassroots in Aussie.”
Kev: “Of course we do. Sydney Uni is doing very nicely, thank you.”
Morne: “And what about the Blues? What do they think about you carving off their PI supporter base? Just when they’ve finally got their shit together?”
Whetu: “They’ll be sweet. Tana, Carter, JK, Beaudy, Sam Nock – what a backline!”
Morne: “But those guys are the future. What are we doing about this year? We’ve all got bills to pay.”
Kev: “You blokes just turn up at my place as soon as you can. We can have our own hub in the basement. And there’s plenty of hand sanitiser and deep heat.”
Morne: “What about the date of the last match? Don’t we need to change that?”
Kev: “Not for me, you can stay as long as you like.”
Morne: “What does Juan think?”
Whetu and Kev shrug their shoulders.
Morne: “Yeah, doesn’t really matter, does it?”
Whetu: “I’m happy with the plan. I can’t stand Xmas. Kids jumping on my bed at 6am, then the mother-in-law comes in and pinches all the crackling while I’m trying to carve the pork. Then just when I want to have a sleep, uncle gets the guitar out and starts up with Sweet Caroline. I’d rather be in hotel quarantine.”
Morne: “That’s settled then. But who is going to run everything?’
Kev: “It needs to be someone who loves and understands all rugby. Totally unbiased, believes in New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina as much as the Tahs. Enjoys letter-writing.”
Whetu: “If it gets Kearnsie off the commentary, then I’m all for that.”
Morne: “Do we need to run this by World Rugby?’
Kev: “Bill doesn’t like it when you interrupt him in the middle of a gin.”
Morne: “What about SANZAAR? We need to let them know, at least.”
Whetu: “Those fellas up Bondi Junction? I always wondered what they did.”
Kev: “I hear they’ve been busy. You know, communicating with the rugby community, marketing the game, and proactively organising Japan into a new franchise competition and into the Rugby Championships. Apparently, there are a few people up there interested in rugby now, after the World Cup.”
Whetu: “Really? Who would have thought?”
One of the bar staff walks by.
Bar staffer: “Sorry, I couldn’t help but hear you mention SANZAAR.”
Whetu: “Yeah, what do you know about them?”
Bar staffer: “There’s no them. It’s actually you blokes. You are SANZAAR. You are the authors of your own destiny.”
Whetu drains his beer.
Whetu: “Whoa, that’s pretty deep. I just thought we have the best players and everything else takes care of itself. I need to go home and have a lie-down.”
Bar staffer: “And don’t forget, you are blood brothers. You’ll all be back in here drinking like long lost buddies in 2022.”
As they gather their things, Juan belatedly reappears.
Whetu: “What happened to our chips, bro?’
Juan: “Sorry guys, it’s just that because I’m homeless, I was seeing if I can get a bed at the Salvos.”
Morne: “You know, in the past you could have stayed with me, but these days, I’m sorry, but it’s every man for himself.”
Kev taps away on his phone as they all walk out.
Kev: “Every man for himself – there, I’ve just put that in the minutes.”
Whetu: “Not minutes, bro. Notes.”