Ardie Savea praised for his sportsmanship

GettyImages 1427133645 1

In the British magazine Rugby World, Jones noted that even after the most disappointing defeats, and the 2019 Rugby World Cup semifinal loss to England was an example, Savea had demonstrated his 'sporting grace.'

New Zealand lost that game 19-7, one of the best England performances Jones had seen.

"They detest losing to England, and I remember putting the binoculars on the Kiwis on the final whistle in Yokohama to see how they would react. They immediately retreated into their own group.

"They looked totally shattered, trying to come to terms with what had happened. Their expressions were thunderously glum, stricken even.

"With one notable exception: Ardie Savea, perhaps the only New Zealander who had come up to his normal standards that day, marched towards the England players. He had some kind of smile on his face. He must have congratulated every member of the team in which he shook hands, embraced a few, chatted to some, then turned around to return to his own team.

"It was lovely. It was a demonstration of the pure sporting grace of the man. It was an example which post-match interactions between others and international teams – and indeed all rugby teams – really should follow.

"He did the same after the defeat by Ireland in the third Test on New Zealand territory in the southern winter, which gave the Irish an incredible series win.

"He did the same again at Twickenham recently when the whistle blew on the drawn game in November. New Zealand dominated, England somehow scored three tries in eight minutes – they must have been more than gutted with that, and still Ardie did the rounds of the opposition, immediately after," he said.

Savea has become one of the best rugby players and one of the game's most recognisable players.

He had learned to handle the weight of All Black status, to apply his competitive instinct on the field and to have peace away from it, Jones said.

"Ardie Savea's grace on the field proves that rugby is no longer everything to him; victory and defeat are still the imposters. And more significantly, he has proved that to be able to switch off from the monster commitment that the game demands, to walk away, is to improve as a player, not to regress.

"For Savea, it's handshakes all round. From us to him."

Savea and centre Rieko Ioane were the only All Blacks to make the magazine's World XV for 2022. The magazine added that it defied belief that Savea was not only snubbed as a finalist for World Rugby's player of the year but also failed to gain a place in its all-star team of the year.


View all