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Former England playmaker Stuart Barnes wrote an opinion piece for The Sunday Times.
UK rugby broadcaster/columnist Stuart Barnes would have gone to bed “with a lovely glass of red wine red under his belt” and woke to news that he was public enemy No 1 in New Zealand with a degree of amusement, says Kiwi rugby broadcaster James Gemmell.
Barnes caused a minor stir this week when he had the audacity to suggest the All Blacks may, occasionally, push the envelope at the breakdown but Gemmell has bad news for any Kiwis planning to burn Barnes at the stake.
“I work with Barnesy every day,” Gemmell told Stuff from the UK. “He absolutely loves New Zealand and he adores the All Blacks for everything they represent and the way they play the game and they values they have on and off the pitch.
“But he also knows we are one of the craftiest rugby teams. All the best rugby teams all do it and he’s called it as he sees it. But it [the reaction] won’t bother him one bit.”
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Gemmell is well placed to comment on rugby matters that span the hemispheres. The expat will return to these shores to host Spark’s coverage of the Rugby World Cup but for years has been a central part of Sky Sport’s rugby coverage in UK.
But while the Barnes mini-furoure is something of a giggle, Gemmell has weightier topics in his mind. As a proud New Zealander based in London, he worries about financial imbalances in the global game and some of the language that been emanating from the UK and Europe this year.
“The truth came out a little bit when we were h
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