WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Beauden Barrett was less than impressed with the welcome he received from his former hometown fans last week in Super Rugby Aotearoa and is hopeful that New Zealand crowds will stop booing opposition teams.
The Auckland Blues’ Barrett made his first appearance last Saturday at Wellington Regional Stadium since his move north after nine seasons with the Hurricanes.
The 29-year-old, a fan favourite in Wellington who helped the Hurricanes to their only Super Rugby title in 2016, was booed, however, every time he touched the ball in the 29-27 loss.
“It makes you wonder doesn’t it? How much you can do for a franchise and then be received like that,” Barrett told Newstalk ZB.
“I give them the benefit of the doubt, it could have been booing with a smile on their face at the same time; but I see it as booing nonetheless.”
Barrett added that while he was disappointed at the Hurricanes’ fans reactions, he was generally uncomfortable with all booing at rugby games.
New Zealand rugby fans are well known for their publicly stoic support of the national team the All Blacks with their only outward displays of support allowing short-lived chants of “Black! Black! Black!” to break out during games.
The crowds, however, have been particularly vocal in booing at overseas sides, particularly from trans-Tasman neighbours Australia, and the 83-test cap said he thought it was time the practice stopped.
“I think it’s pretty poor to be fair, I’ve never been a fan of it... when we’ve had Australian teams play in New Zealand at recent times, whenever that’s happened I just cringe,” Barrett said.
“There’s no place for that in rugby in New Zealand.”
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Sandra Maler