Brian Edwards Media

Body Contact Sport, Booze, Jingoism, Testosterone, Limited Articulateness and Low IQ – So what the bloody hell did you expect?



I was amused by the shock/horror expressed in this morning’s papers about the disgraceful behaviour of seemingly large groups of Eden Park spectators at the Four Nations games last night. ‘Amused’ because it’s really hard to imagine a coming together of factors more calculated to result in the sort of mindless bedlam we’ve come to associate with English soccer hooligans – booze, jingoism, testosterone, limited articulateness and low IQ.

Since wild horses wouldn’t drag me to a rugby match of either code, my experience of this sort of simian behaviour – a grave insult, I’m afraid, to the apes – has been limited to observing these morons on holiday in Greece where the lager louts and skinheads drunkenly rampage, effing and blinding, through the streets, repair to a local taverna to swill more beer, down huge quantities of fish, chips, baked beans and/or ‘a curry’ and shout abuse at the huge TV screens showing non-stop soccer matches, then finish off the night by throwing up in the street, verbally and/or physically assaulting passing women and, in the short time we had the misfortune to be trapped in Kavos, managing to knife at least one of their number to death each night – perhaps the only saving grace of our stay. Meanwhile, their Page 3 girlfriends offend the locals by lying topless on the beaches, tracking the sun with their nipples.

And yes, things aren’t as bad as that here. We don’t have the sex element for a start and violence by rugby players and spectators is generally limited to verbal abuse, fisticuffs and throwing things. 

But the ingredients are nonetheless all there for the sort of debacle that occurred last night: arrive at ground already pissed and hyper with testosterone-fed  aggression coursing through body; buy four more Steinlagers – I’d be legless on that alone – before entering ground to watch bruising body contact match against traditional foe;  express jingoistic pride in country by booing foe’s national anthem; express frustration when opposition plays well or own side plays badly by shouting abuse and hurling bottles and other missiles at players and other spectators – all  a by-product of intoxication, low IQ and limited articulateness, commonly evident in domestic violence.  

And it’s rugby, isn’t it? Downmarket, lower-class rugby perhaps, but rugby nonetheless. And I’ll get in first by agreeing that what I’m about to say is a fine example of intellectual snobbery and an appalling generalisation, and that you could probably reel back to me the names of a whole lot of top rugby players from both codes who are highly successful businessmen, or thriving professionals, or celebrated academics or brilliant public speakers. But for the most part the average senior or professional rugby player isn’t  the sharpest  knife in the drawer and has trouble putting two words together. Those, after all, are not the qualities the game primarily requires.  What the game requires is strength, fitness, speed, competitiveness, physical aggression and what I can only call ‘body intelligence’, that natural, often elegant co-ordination that distinguishes top sportsmen from no-hopers like me.  

And since so many New Zealanders, while lacking most of those qualities themselves, live their lives vicariously through their sporting heroes, it’s not entirely surprising that they should react equally badly to success or failure on the paddock by celebrating or drowning their sorrows in piss. The personality of the fans reflects the personality of the sport. I’m not strong on sporting history, but I’m going to lay odds that there haven’t been many scenes at Wimbledon or St Andrews or Lords or any athletics venue you can think of,  like those at Eden Park last night.

As I say: body contact sport, booze, jingoism, testosterone, limited articulateness and low IQ  – what the bloody hell did you expect?

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  1. the 12 lines of paragraph two contain only two sentences. Both brilliant.

  2. Amen to that Brian. Nothing to add to your succinct summation.

  3. This all confirms anyone’s suspicion about the origins of humanity. It will take another few million years or so of evolution before they are up to speed with you Brian. Anyway, the origins of sport have always involved violence, with in some cases the whole losing team being sacrificed to some imaginary god.

  4. Body Contact Sport, Booze, Jingoism, Testosterone, Limited Articulateness and Low IQ – So what the bloody hell did you expect?


  5. The result of the game didnt have any bearing on their behaviour,it was shocking before it had started.(the national anthems).
    An increase in Football hooligans (esp the intercity mob)in my opinion was the result of the social injustice in England.Thatcher’s England only helped to pour fuel on the fire.The continued behaviour’s original purpose (an expression of helplessness)has been lost .The violence and vandelism remain.
    I would like to take you back to your batting ability playing cricket.After appropriate coaching your ability substantially increased.All is not lost.You may have never been a no hoper.
    Id have to say the worst behaviour I had witnessed was by drunken university students on rampage in town.Im guessing they dont have low iqs and are now respected members of society.

    • Id have to say the worst behaviour I had witnessed was by drunken university students on rampage in town.Im guessing they dont have low iqs and are now respected members of society.

      Quite right. But you don’t have to have all the ingredients I mentioned to get the same result. I haven’t found male Kiwi students to be particularly articulate and many are idiots. The booze, testosterone and jingoism can make a pretty good start.

  6. That’s some offensive stuff right there, Brian.

    It’s not entirely incorrect, but as an English football (soccer) fan and all round good guy, I feel a little hurt. In fact, let’s step outside for fisticuffs.

    Just wait while I finish my pint of Stella.

  7. It mirrors society; boorish drunken behaviour is not limited to sports grounds. Go to Dunedin; recall the Undie 500; visit the North Shore on a Saturday night and witness the offspring the well to do creating mayhem; listen to parliamentary question time. No, we have become a boorish society drunken society where alcohol is God. This is the norm and the best thing we can hope for is that it is confined as much as possible to cess pits like Eden Park but God help those unfortnate enough to live nearby. Apart from cricket test matches which retain some element of civilisation (well you can hardly have a riot with six octagenarians in mobilty scooters), I long ago gave up to going to any sporting fixture because the aim appeared to be to drink as much as possible in as short as time as possible. The last time I went to a rugby game all I saw were the bums of the constant stream of people going to and from the bar

  8. How much better would the Waterfront Stadium have been? Would have spared the benighted residents of Mt Eden and – Darwin’s law being what it (almost) is – ensured the drunkest morons fell off and drowned in the drink hopefully before they bred more little morons. And, sorry, I love rugby – just can’t stand the lackwits that bring us all into disrepute.

  9. “How much better would the Waterfront Stadium have been?”

    For who? Rugby boofheads can keep their grubby hands off our waterfront, and sort out their own problems on their own “hallowed” (yeah right) ground.

  10. Hey,
    I”m going to make a wild guess here,BE…..
    you don”t really like sporting louts,do you? ?
    seriously though,
    much of the blame should rest on the stadium authorities who make sure plenty of overpriced swill is available for the hogs to swallow.
    have no doubt the rugby union admin will follow that path in the 2011 world cup.

  11. Saturday nights boorish exhibition by the 20 somethings who can’t drink to save themselves was a great curtainraiser and learning experience for next years world cup. I recently attended a wine and food festival and stupidly assumed that because it was a wine festival, the patrons would be wine connoiseurs, how wrong was I. By mid afternoon the pathethic twenty somethings were fighting, vomiting, flashing and crashing. They just can’t hold there drink like in my day. The game had nothing to do with the poor crowd behaviour. The twenty something crowd had nothing better to do on Saturday night.

  12. It has bothered me the way in which inter-provincial Rugby rivalry is ramped up, no doubt in an effort to stimulate interest in the sport. Colors, flags, chants, cauldron stirring, pin-sticking effigies, inane predictions and commentary from the experts. I reckon that all this leads us to be less and less tolerant of “losers” or opposition supporters so that with all of the “Brian ingredients” in the mix, then who needs Guy Fawkes!
    My wife was in Dubai for the cricket Sri Lanka v NZ. No alcohol. Cheerful rivalry between the groups of supporters. Great atmosphere and the cricket was just like a sporting fixture. Amazing.

  13. I d like to add that a “double header “increased the risk of behaviour problems.
    I agree with Alex that wine and food should read drunken booze up.Councils seem to think the financial benefits will overide the destruction wreaked by drunken revellers.

  14. At least there weren’t any bloddy vuvuzelas.

  15. I was at the game on Saturday. I turned up at 8pm after two hours in the pub (for a few pints and a meal) and I was in great form until I arrived at the ground and saw the state of the other 44,000 there. Paralytic most of them and my main beef was with the “security” guards who stood and watched the Greater Spotted Kiwi Pisshead get into its usual uncultured, unthinking state of extreme refreshment. The two cops who stood and watched people throwing bottles from the South Stand were just the icing on the cake.

    It still wasn’t as bad as about 2pm at Toast Martinborough though, when Wellingtonians fall vomiting into ditches on the Wairarapa roadside.

  16. Not everyone who likes a spot of Rugby (Union) or (Rugby) League are quite as low down the evolutionary tree as one might infer from Mr Edwards’s article or the behaviour of the loons at Eden Park. I consider both, at their best, physical games of skill, requiring a degree of intelligencse to play well. That the game itself can be thuggish, I’ll not deny, but it does have its loftier moments. I’m not talking the high up-and-under, here.

    It’s unclear what those Northern European louts to be found festooning the Cyclades have to do with it (I’ve seen them myself), and no doubt their knives and sunbaked mammaries constitute an attempt, spirited in one case, languid in the other, to achieve a Darwin Award.

    That aside, there is another factor Brian does not mention, but which I think has contributed much to woeful crowd behaviour in this country.

    You get what you wish for. Recall the time (I do) that New Zealand crowds were prepared to greet visiting teams with (almost) the same enthusiasm – and courtesy – as they gave their own? Remember this sporting behaviour being derided, and the calls for supporting – getting in behind – your own team? Cast your mind back to the time when it was dinned into Kiwi spectators just how partisan the crowds could be in foreign lands such as Brazil or Korea or wherever. Look at the pressure put on New Zealand teams visiting those places. Why couldn’t Kiwi crowds be the same?

    Well, now they are. Anyone at once could see the result coming with hobnailed boots. And I’ll bet so did the demagogues who made those calls. Perhaps I ought to style them dema-GOGs and de-MAGOGs, as no further advanced along the path to enlightenment as the rabble they roused.

    Of the latter, I will say this. They took longer (on the whole) to succumb to the calls to hooliganism than I thought they would. But the thing was as inexorable as the Mills of God.

    For shame.

  17. Let me tell you about the olden days, because I was there. I mean the 1950s, 60s and 70s.

    None of the riotous crowd behaviour you observed was evident.

    Booze was not available at rugby grounds, but pies were. A half-eaten pie lobbed at the ref causes much less damage than a bottle does.

    Get the booze barons out of sport.They’ve lowered everybody’s standards and ruined it for the rest of us. Matches are just an excuse for them to shift more product.

    And pay for better security – don’t let drunks in, and quickly eject anyone displaying anti-social behaviour, so that the message is pretty clear.

    Good God, New Zealand, it’s not rocket science. So I can only think that sport is being run for the booze barons’ convenience, and the sports organisers like it that way.

    A nation’s livers beg for mercy….

  18. They just can’t hold there drink like in my day.

    Aha, so too much alcohol does affect the memory..

  19. Maybe I’m a naive old lady. I’ve only been to a few football matches in my life. When I was young there was no thought of alcohol being available or allowed at football matches. When did it change, and why?

  20. Don’t worry, the Prime Minister says this binge-drinking loutishness is unacceptable, so he’ll sort it out. There’ll be none of that behaviour at the Rugby World Cup.

    Well, maybe …

  21. Dazza is right. Follow the money. If people need to booze themselves into enjoying the game, the entertainment can’t be much good.