It is official. Thousands of women the length and width of New Zealand will be switching off their television sets next year when the All Blacks next play. The reason? Doug Howlett, the man who has inspired even the most uninterested female to watch rugby, has signed a two year contract to join Munster in Ireland. Which means no more Auckland Blues and no more All Blacks plus many broken hearts in his wake.
I realised Howlett's appeal when I sat watching an AB test in a pub in Amsterdam a couple of years ago. There was a small crowd of locals cooing his name. Actually - I realised his international appeal before then, but obviously my suspicions were now confirmed. Howlett has been a faithful servant to the NZRFU and a player that has always shown a great amount of dignity as well. You would never see Doug in a scrap (it would ruin his lovely locks after all), or backchat a ref. But mostly, Doug has been a scintillating finisher. Good luck Doug. New Zealand's loss is Munster's gain.
UPDATE: Doug gets in trouble for some late night tap dancing
UPDATE: For news of Doug's wedding