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'A disgrace': Jordie Barrett's frustrations with 2019 stadium eviction

By Sam Smith
(Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

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All Black Jordie Barrett has, for the first time, revealed all the details of his two ‘brushes with the law’ from earlier in his career.

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In 2018, following a game between the Hurricanes and Highlanders in Dunedin, Barrett and a friend accidentally wandered into the wrong house in the early hours of the morning after Barrett’s friend mistook the home for that of someone he knew.

A year later, Barrett was ushered out of the Melbourne Cricket Ground after polishing off half a can of beer during the Boxing Day Test between New Zealand and Australia.

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The panel of Ross Karl, Bryn Hall and James Parsons run their eyes over all the developments from the past week of rugby.
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The panel of Ross Karl, Bryn Hall and James Parsons run their eyes over all the developments from the past week of rugby.

While nothing ultimately came of either incident – with the former a simple mix-up and the latter a case of overzealous stadium security – they were stressful times for Barrett, who turned 24 earlier this year.

Speaking on the latest episode of James Marshall’s What a Lad podcast, Barrett went in-depth explaining both episodes and vented his understandable frustrations with what went down at the Boxing Day Test.

On the ‘McDonald’s incident’, Barrett admitted it was “not my best work”.

“I’m not sure whether we’d won or lost the game… Anyway, it’s irrelevant,” he said. “The team had a big night at [Dunedin bar] Vault 21, just a big night post-game, a few beers. To be honest, all I was after was a graze so I was with a mate and I think we Ubered to McDonalds and got a feed and then just went for a walk and just enjoyed being out in Dunedin. Just walked and talked on the street.

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“He thought he’d known a person that was in the flat so thought it’d be a good idea to walk in there at about 3 in the morning. I’d never been to Dunedin before. Whether it was their house or not, the door was open. We parked up, had the food, stood up, left, went down the road and then there was a couple of red and blue lights flashing behind us and that’s basically all the story has. Still, to this day, [I’m] obviously remorseful and sorry for the concern to have caused those people but there wasn’t much to it, to be honest.

“I think they must have obviously heard people inside their house. I didn’t speak to anyone face to face. Obviously a little bit silly but didn’t cause too much harm to anyone. They must have heard someone in their lounge or come through the front door so they called the cops and we’d walked 100 metres down the road and they were after us.”

The pair were released from police custody after giving their explanation for the ‘break-in’ and Barrett kept the story to himself, hoping that would be the last anyone would hear of it. However, the news got out, somehow, and Barrett had to make an appearance in front of media to explain what had happened.

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“[I] walked back to the hotel, tail between the legs,” Barrett told Marshall. “I didn’t tell anyone because I didn’t want to get in trouble and I was hoping the police didn’t tell the media.

“I don’t know how it got out to the media anyway. I’d thought I’d escaped it but I got a call from Tony Ward, the Hurricanes manager, at about 4:30 the following afternoon after the team had got back from the hotel and I was sitting in my lounge, hadn’t even told anyone yet, and he said, ‘Mate, what’s happened? Why were you at a police station last night?’ I basically told him what I told you and then I had Darren Shand, the All Blacks manager calling me, and then Joe Locke, the All Blacks media manager calling me and then I had to stand up and front media a day later.

“It wasn’t my best work but it’s all learning, eh?”

While the home’s occupants had obviously been given a scare, it was clearly a simple mistake from Barrett and his friend, and was a ‘victimless crime’ at worst.

Regarding the incident at the MCG, however, Barrett hadn’t even overstepped any lines.

He and a group of his former university flatmates had reunited for a holiday in Australia and headed to the MCG for the Boxing Day Test and after Barrett, who was cheered on by a crowd, downed half a can of beer, he and his friends were asked to leave.

“[We’d] had a couple of big days of viewing and big days of grogging so then we went around to … Bay 13 at the MCG – there were heaps of Kiwis down there, right down the bottom, in the sun, late in the afternoon,” Barrett explained.

“To be honest, I just wanted some fresh air. Body and head and guts was under it. I just went down there, everyone just took their kit off, lathered in sublock and parked up and watched the cricket. We were probably there for a good hour or so with all these other Kiwis chanting and whatnot.

“I’m just trying to find some peace and quiet and then one of them recognised me under my hat and sunnies and about 100 of them just turned around and chanted my name and basically ‘see it off’ [finish your drink]. I’m there with sitting half a unit of I think it was Great Northern … I’m sitting there in my chair and reluctantly – I didn’t even stand up, just sat there in my queue, finished the unit and then thought it was happy days.

 

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“They bowled another ball and whatnot and then [the crowd] started chanting to someone else and then some little security guard comes down and taps me on the shoulder and he’s like ‘Mate, you’ve got to go’. I’m thinking ‘I’ve gotta go where? Gotta go get another four beers?’ He’s like ‘Mate, you’ve got to go’.

“So all my mates naturally started parking up a little bit, thinking ‘This is a disgrace – what’s happening? Why is he getting kicked out?’ But I knew kind of what could have been at stake if I’d kicked up a big fuss and some people around there might have recognised me and what not so I just put my shoes on, put my shirt on, all the other boys put their kit on and we just slowly walked out in a wee huddle.

“Basically, security dragged us out and then stood outside the MCG getting questioned by the police which I thought was a disgrace. Basically, I said, ‘What are we getting questioned for?’ And the police just said ‘Look, it’s now our decision, it’s not our matter, we just have to follow up the procedure of any incidents where stadium security kick people out.'”

Barrett’s crew headed home, tidied up and went out to a pub to finish off watching the test and then, as had happened a year prior, he received a few phone calls.

“[My] phone started going off again and it might have been Joe Locke, All Blacks media manager again, and then Tony Ward again asking ‘What’s happened? What’s going on over there?’ I’m thinking ‘This is deja vu.'”

While Barrett again didn’t suffer any significant consequence, the incident left him understandably frustrated – and he wasn’t overly happy with how it was reported in the media either.

“The thing that didn’t sit well with me was the headlines were ‘drunken’ or ‘disorderly’ or ‘alcohol-related incident’ with me in that stadium and that was tagged to my name,” he said.

“I wouldn’t have minded if one of them actually just called me up and just asked me what had happened – get my side out there. I was about to put it out through my own social media channels what had happened but thought ‘Look, the horse has bolted here. Everything’s out there, I’ll just try and enjoy the next three or four days with my mates.’ So we made sure we did that.

After a video and countless first-person accounts from the public came to light of the incident, fans were quick to jump to the support of Barrett, with the hashtag #JusticeforJordie still doing the rounds on Twitter every now and then.

Listen to Jordie Barrett’s interview on the What A Lad podcast below:

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