This is it. Back home. Last posting. A parable.
The All Blacks were playing Ireland.
New rules had been developed by the Rugby Union some months earlier and not everyone was happy about the rules, or the changes, but they needed to be taken on board. There was no choice.
When it came to game day the All Blacks tried as hard as they could, but they found that the rules had been adapted to better by Ireland than by them. They were outplayed. They found rule changes were an affront to their style of playing because, in their opinion, the changes challenged their idea of the essence of the game.
Also, to top it off, the ref made a couple of key mistakes with the whistle.
They had rallied in the dying stages of the game and were hot on attack, but a controversial late penalty against them sealed their fate – the ball was kicked out, it was full-time, and they lost the game.
Fronting up at the press conference after the game, the captain and coach were deeply disappointed. And it showed. The coach and captain explained that the ref was at fault for making bad calls at critical points in the game. They also complained about the rule changes, and, even though someone in the media told them that the changes were clear to both teams many months before the game, the captain and coach kept on insisting that the game was rigged against them.
The next morning the comments in the media picked up on the deep feeling after the game.
Some media commentators were supportive of the complaints the All Blacks had made, citing other instances of shocking decision making. One commentator even suggested that the rule changes and how they were being implemented by the referees had never been made clear to the various rugby unions. He demanded that the referee be sacked and the decisions about the rule changes be discarded. He even demanded that the game be played again.
But other commentators pointed out that the complaints were groundless. They said that the players had participated in the game on an equal footing, knowing the rules and expectations of the referee, and that it was simply poor sportsmanship on the part of the losing team making the complaints. And further more, this expression of poor sportsmanship was bringing the game of rugby into disrepute.
The church voted to call Andrew Norton back as Moderator. No one knows why, but it is what the church has done. Andrew provokes, pushes and punches – like a prophet. He is not everyone’s cup of tea, but the church has called him back. I appreciate that in all that we attended to we finally agreed to support him. Well done!