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Chief whip gets whipped

Wairarapa MP Kieran McAnulty gets his marching orders at a charity rugby match in Ashburton. PHOTO/TONI WILLIAMS

Yellow card for McAnulty

John Lazo-Ron
[email protected]

Wairarapa MP Kieran McAnulty is used to bringing the discipline as Labour’s chief whip.

However, the former Gladstone rugby player got his own ‘whipping’ when he was shown a yellow card in a charity rugby match in Ashburton.

McAnulty was part of the Parliament rugby team that played against a Farmers side that was stacked with former All Blacks to help raise more than $100,000 for farmers affected by recent flooding in south Canterbury.

McAnulty, who was playing on the wing, was given his marching orders after attempting to intercept a ball that was eventually knocked down but was deemed to be deliberate by the referee.

Yet, speaking to Midweek about it, McAnulty laughingly claimed his innocence.

“I saw that there was an overlap when they were attacking so I thought I could attempt to intercept the ball,” he said.

“I was attempting to intercept the ball but the ref didn’t see it that way. So, he reached for his pocket and pulled out a yellow card,” McAnulty said.

“I had my parents watching, don’t think they were too impressed, but there we are.

“It was all in good fun, there were no complaints from me. It just gave people an opportunity to make fun of me really, but it was all in the spirit of a charity game so it was all good.”

Because of who he was up against, McAnulty got to experience the rare feeling of what it’s like to be tackled by an All Black.

“I can confirm [the former All Blacks] still have what it takes because when you get tackled by a former All Black you certainly know about it,” he said.

“There was one moment where I had a clear run to the try line and had about 40m to go and thought I was away. And then out of nowhere I found myself flat on my back over the touch line and I looked up and it was Aaron Mauger on top of me.

“My immediate reaction was, that’s pretty cool, I’ve just been tackled by a former All Black.”

It didn’t end up being a great day for McAnulty and the politicians all round as they took a good beating at the hands of the Farmers, going down 51-10.

But they did provide a heap of amusement for the crowd with regular mistakes and constantly falling over themselves.

It was mentioned in an article on Newshub that McAnulty’s send-off was the first in the team’s history, much to the amusement of National MP Michael Woodhouse.

“The person in charge of discipline of the Labour Party got a yellow card. I can’t wait for the next general debate!” Woodhouse said.

McAnulty responded to those comments saying: “Unfortunately, alert level 4 kicked in not long after the match so Parliament hasn’t sat. But I can imagine then when Parliament does resume and when Michael Woodhouse gets the opportunity to speak in the house I know I will cop a bit of slack but it’s all in good fun.”

The Parliament team’s next outing will now be a lot closer to home in Masterton on September 11.

McAnulty said the match was planned as a curtain-raiser for the Heartland Championship match between Wairarapa Bush and East Coast, and hopes alert levels will have dropped in time for the charity game to ahead.


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