The international rugby season would not be officially underway without that wise sage of the oval ball – Stephen Jones of the UK Sunday Times, taking a pot shot at the All Blacks and the New Zealand public in general. Without his magnificent articles, rugby journalism would be dull, dull and dead.
I enjoy Jones immensely. His writings are often so vitriolic and offensive that I can’t help but revel in the man’s audacity. He brings particular satisfaction after an All Black win. I will always seek out a Jones article, just to wait for the golden moment when the great moustachioed one will eat a slice of humble pie. But no! Jones in his glory, much like the current English rugby team he supports, stands petulantly and heroically firm. The great man refuses to give up on his principles, even when it appears to all else that the writing is on the wall.
Jones has his favourite subjects that he has rotated on a continual basis for years, always miraculously escaping his editor’s furrowed brow, for the somewhat repetitive (but commendably topical) scoops. One story he has squeezed to an inch of its life is that ye old mantra of New Zealand ‘plundering the pacific’ kidnapping innocent Samoans and Fijians whilst they still suckle on their mother’s breasts with the cunning plan of programming these cute little tots into All Black killing machines once they reach a suitable age. What can I say – this is pure vintage Jones and while New Zealanders loathe him for writing that, the rest of the world loves it.
How many other journos could make poetry as they seethe and scribe, launching a personal attack on the country that has given the world pavlova and the buzzy bee, disrespecting this small nation of ‘skinny lipped women’ and ‘emotionless men’ who are so obsessed with rugby that the rest of the world points its finger and laughs at us. And what other journo would DARE put down the mighty All Blacks, those men of steel and strength, of honour and (ahem) intelligence. Well Jones does so and with great aplomb. With a swish of his jeering pen he makes grown men weep and those skinny lipped women frown (more).
He heckles the emotions of a parochial little nation. Jones takes the line that New Zealanders are too unsophisticated, too colonial to even understand his subtle humour and ironic wit. In some ways, this is true. A few take their rugby too seriously and with that, they take Stephen Jones too seriously as well. But the rest can recognise a cheap shot and laugh along with it. Maybe they can even appreciate Mr Jones as much as I do.
Who couldn’t at least respect a little a man who has managed to make a living off a huge chip on his shoulder? It is pure ingenious. It is pure Jones.