Zac behaving badly

by Paul Thomas / 31 January, 2013
But the All Blacks wing may not be beyond redemption.
Zac Guildford
Zac Guildford: dealing with fame and his father’s death, photo/Getty Images

There are a few subjects on which you can pontificate with confidence that you will be vindicated, or at least won’t be made to look a fool before the news cycle has run its course.

For instance, anyone who predicted there would be a feral reaction to Barack Obama’s gun control proposals from assorted gun nuts and Second Amendment fetishists was on pretty safe ground. And no one ever made themselves a laughing stock by cautioning that those who expect peace to break out in the Middle East any time soon are likely to be disappointed.

Hence I don’t expect a pat on the back even though within a matter of days of my suggesting that top-level men’s sport is synonymous with men behaving badly, one of our leading sportsmen went to some trouble to validate my proposition.

In late 2011 All Blacks wing Zac Guildford made the headlines by behaving spectacularly badly in Rarotonga. Having warmed up by harassing a female jogger and falling off his scooter, Guildford put on a performance that evoked the tamer scenes in Hunter S Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, perhaps the most compelling account of men behaving badly ever written. He entered a nightclub drunk, bloodied and stark naked, punched one man for no apparent reason, tussled with a couple of others, bounded onto the stage to make an apology, then fled into the night in the company of five young women.

To my knowledge, no further light has been shed on that last detail, surely the most intriguing component of the whole drama.

It subsequently emerged that Guildford was already on notice from the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) as a result of similar, if less pyrotechnic, episodes. Following the freak-out in Rarotonga, it was almost mandatory and, for once, appropriate to say he was drinking in Last Chance Saloon.

Now Guildford’s back in both the headlines and the soup. At the time of writing, it was unclear what his offence was – although the usual suspects, grog and fisticuffs, have been mentioned – or whether he was about to be propelled through Last Chance Saloon’s batwing doors into an uncertain future.

For those who believe Guildford will never really confront his problems – Sir Graham Henry thinks he’s “probably an alcoholic” and there are murmurs that gambling is also an issue – until the NZRU forces him to do so, Steve Walsh is Exhibit A.

Although capable of giving the impression that he sincerely believed he was the most important person on the field, Walsh was nevertheless an international referee. But after a number of alcohol-related incidents, the NZRU washed its hands of him, meaning he could no longer ply his trade. Walsh went to Sydney, drove a taxi, sorted himself out and is back on the international referees roster for Australia.

It’s questionable whether Guildford has a similar path to redemption; for a start, he can’t play for another country.

Although there’s a case for tough love, it’s worth bearing in mind that most of Guildford’s indiscretions would be considered unremarkable if he wasn’t an All Black. Furthermore, he had the traumatic experience of having his 44-year-old father suffer a fatal heart attack while watching his son play in the 2009 under-20 World Cup final.

Guildford’s not the first young man to find the combination of overnight wealth and fame and the pressure of being an All Black hard to handle. He might well be the first to have to do so while trying to get over the shock and heartbreak of losing his father so unexpectedly.
MostReadArticlesCollectionWidget - Most Read - Used in articles
AdvertModule - Advert - M-Rec / Halfpage


Govt defends $53m price tag for Dubai Expo pavilion
71547 2017-04-25 00:00:00Z Currently

Govt defends $53m price tag for Dubai Expo pavilio…

by RNZ

The government is defending its decision to spend $53 million on a world expo in Dubai to promote New Zealand businesses.

Read more
A Way with Words: Elizabeth Knox
71173 2017-04-25 00:00:00Z Books

A Way with Words: Elizabeth Knox

by Elizabeth Knox

I write in pencil. I’m fetishistic about them: I use only Staedtler Noris Club Triplus Jumbo.

Read more
Junkyard dog: Transforming scrap metal into practical street art
70370 2017-04-25 00:00:00Z Life in NZ

Junkyard dog: Transforming scrap metal into practi…

by Stacey Anyan

Te Aroha scrap metal sculptor Adrian Worsley brings art to the street.

Read more
Crossword 1024 answers and explanations
The best signs from the Auckland March for Science
PM confirms 'Five Eyes' conference in Queenstown
71527 2017-04-24 09:58:30Z Politics

PM confirms 'Five Eyes' conference in Queenstown

by RNZ

Prime Minister Bill English has confirmed a meeting of the 'Five Eyes' intelligence group is being held in New Zealand this week.

Read more
Tight security amid Gallipoli terror warnings
71517 2017-04-24 06:57:26Z World

Tight security amid Gallipoli terror warnings

by Chris Bramwell

Kiwis attending Anzac commemorations at Gallipoli this year will face airport-level security restrictions after warnings of terror attacks.

Read more
How empathy can make the world a worse place
71431 2017-04-24 00:00:00Z Social issues

How empathy can make the world a worse place

by Catherine Woulfe

Many of us think that high empathy makes you a good person, but giving in to this “gut wrench” can make the world worse, says a Yale psychologist.

Read more