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When not to respond

The New Zealand Rugby Union did not need to enter the issue of a Wellington rugby player escaping conviction for street violence.

The appearance of CEO Steve Tew in interviews painted a target on the NZRU, inviting the professionally outraged to demand apologies for a “violent and sexist” rugby culture. Tew was bullied into agreeing to make phone calls to the victims to apologise (for something).

NZRU was not the employer of Losi Filipo, and his actions say nothing about rugby. Public frustration was really about the court outcome, and the Wellington Rugby Union – not rugby.

We would have advised Tew not to be interviewed. Media are driven to continue and expand a story. You do not need to participate if the connection is tenuous, you can’t add to or improve the situation or if you know you’re going to be the public sacrifice. In this case, all three conditions were true.

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