Opinion By Jim Kayes
The name Brett Gosper won't trip off too many of the All Blacks' tongues and had most of the New Zealand media pack covering the team's northern tour scratching our heads here in Rome.
He is, we now know, the new chief executive of the International Rugby Board, but though he's Australian, he's followed the path of the man he's replaced, Mike Miller, by ensconcing himself in Dublin and remaining virtually out of reach for those of use not residing in Britain or Europe.
But we all know about him now because within hours of All Blacks flanker Adam Thomson being handed a one week ban for stomping in the Scotland test, Gosper had emerged from Dublin's shadows to tweet on Twitter that the case would be reviewed.
Why? Because a couple of English hacks (well actually one is Welsh) and a former England test hooker had opined via Twitter that getting just one week for stomping was ridiculous.
They may be right, but then they, like Gosper, weren't in the two hour judicial hearing, didn't hear the various arguments and (when they were tweeting) were no more informed on the case than knowing the sentence.
What was unseemly and inappropriate was for Gosper (in appearances at least) to react to their tweets and seem to be bullied into calling for a review of Thomson's hearing.
A quick Google search shows Gosper has made it clear since he because the IRB's CEO last month that he will use social media to engage with the rugby fraternity. But his haste in calling the credibility of his own organisation's judicial system into question by stating Thomson's sentence would be reviewed was an error in judgement.
As I've said in a previous column on 3news.co.nz/sport, there is no place for stomping in rugby. I'm also on record as saying I thought Thomson should get a two week ban - and in fact he did, reduced to one week because of his previously clean record.
And, like most that follow rugby closely, I agree the game's judicial system is a farce as citings and sentences are inconsistent around the world. It's also good to know that a rugby boss will at last have an opinion on things (if only the NZRU would follow suit).
But Gosper has allowed himself to be seen as a timid child, susceptible to bullying by the big boys of Britain who believe the All Blacks, and skipper Richie McCaw in particular, get away with blue murder.
Their passion is laudable, their consistency not so. Where was the indignation over Thomson's ban when Scott Higginbotham received just two week's for kneeing and headbutting McCaw in the head? Were these same advocates of long penalties in full voice when England hooker Dylan Hartley wasn't even cited for a cheap shot on McCaw at Twickenham two years ago?
It's not surprising they turn a blind eye, after all, these are the same men who picked up poisonous pens to flay the All Blacks for daring to pick players of Polynesian descent (many of whom were born in New Zealand) and yet are now content to see the Six Nations teams filled with southern imports.
As for Gosper, he's set a formidable precedent. Surely the expectation now is that he will examine every judicial case (which would be a change from not examining this one) and decide whether a review is required?
Or does he only get in involved after a bit of cyber bullying?