It’s no secret that the Blues have been underperforming since the start of the Super Rugby season this year winning only one game from six and finding themselves at the bottom, drawing extreme criticism from the public and their fans.
Blues coach Pat Lam is of Samoan descent and has received numerous racist comments made about his coaching and his team which predominantly consist of Pacific Island and Māori players and coaches. These comments have been propogating across social media sites and talkback shows.
Pat Lam had to compose himself from the brink of tears twice during a press conference when the issue of the racism was discussed. Lam admits and accepts the criticism aimed at himself and his team following their team’s poor performanceso far, however there was no reason to bring racism into the equation.
“We totally accept the criticism that we get when we don’t perform. But it’s the racist people … the social media and talkback where people say things that are pretty offensive.
Lam points out that the racism is really sad, but he does understand that it only comes from a minority of people. It’s the effect these comments have on team players and their families that upset him.
The coach has the full support of his team, with even Piri Weepu (who has been called up by captain Kevin Mealamu for his poor performance since the world cup) standing up to these racist taunts “I never really thought people would be like that towards Pat … in terms of being racist and things like that. Pat’s a great guy. It’s not just Pat doing his job … everyone else running out on the field has a responsibility. We know that Pat shoulders quite a bit of it and so does Kevvy but it is about us collectively staying together and pushing through it as a whole squad”.
Despite the sloppy performance so far, Weepu states that they “are a solid team”, and coaches and players alike are working hard to overcome the poor start.
“Adversity brings us strength.”