Wednesday, 16 February 2011

To swallow or not to swallow...

At the risk that the title of this post might attract one or two unintended visitors, I thought I'd add my tuppence ha'penny's worth to the current debate raging around the "Ash Splash" - Chris Ashton's swallow-diving try celebration.

I know that it has captured the imagination of the public at large and the words "exuberence" and "entertainment" are being liberally sprinkled around but, being a tad old school (which I know will come as a great surprise to many of you), I am afraid I have to admit that I just don't like it, mainly for the following reasons:

1. It smacks of the one thing of which English rugby is often (and mostly unfairly) accused - arrogance. I'm sure it's not intended, but the inference is that this try-scoring lark is so easy we can afford to arse about before we touch down. Not good. Far more effective, methinks, would be to underplay the celebrations - simply dot the ball down and trot back, the sub-text being that this is no big deal, we do it all the time.

2. Seriously, it's only a matter of time until Ashton drops the ball, with the inevitable fallout. So far he's only indulged when clear of defenders but the one-handed wrist-grip on the ball as he leaps into the air is stupidly high risk and I'd hate to be in his shoes if his antics were to cost England victory in a tight game.

3. Ashton's physique is not exactly whippet-like, which means that there's a more than reasonable chance that crashing to the turf from such a height could do some serious damage to his ribcage. To me it looked as if he'd winded himself after his fourth try against Italy - he's lucky not to have done more damage and it looks very much like an accident waiting to happen.

4. It's not even a decent swallow dive. Ashton's technique is severely deficient - way too vertical for a start - and if he's going to persist he needs serious work on what is currently no more than a turkey flop. Must do better.

All that said, Ashton is a superb rugby player and has transformed the way the England team play. Bottom line is that, as long as he keeps scoring, he can pretty much celebrate as he pleases.

7 comments:

John Birch said...

The main objection is that, across the country, 10 year olds (plus or minus a couple of years) will be copying this (think of football and how quickly they copy all the goal scoring celebrations).

Spilling the ball will be the least of the problems. There is a reason why tries in tag are disallowed if someone dives - some child throwing themselves through the air will be injured.

It may also encourage other players to try out all sorts of new post-try celebrations of their own.. heaven forbid!!!

mark watts said...

As a man who spends his life in Asia, surrounded by gentlemen of an Australian, New Zealand and RSA disposition, it is the embodiment of all things English and arrogant. Post match interviews do little to dispel the illusion. My gym teacher taught me to protect the ball at all times. What has changed?
We have done absolutely nothing since I was in the Telstra Stadium in 2003 to cause even a ripple of concern in the Southern Hemisphere and 23 year old boys already think they are the second coming. As an England supporter for over 45 years I find myself hoping he will drop the damn thing ( I know, I should be ashamed).
AND we are reading players articles in the papers discussing the rehearsal of try scoring celebrations.
AND will somebody stop the Sevens team from turning out looking like bargirls and dropping off tackles?
OK, I feel a bit better now.
Seriously, Mark Cueto was right. Everything looks good against poor opposition but it won’t succeed at RWC. There is a world of work and innovation to do before then if we are to have any success. We have been through this cycle several times with no discernable development of our world class game.
Do you see the ALL Blacks, Boks or Wallabies changing jerseys every tournament? Do you see them running to the corner flag to perform their pre-prepared try celebration in front of the TV camera? (That last bit is an exaggeration but it is only a matter of time, I fear).
As proud an English rugby man as I am, it is hard to argue with my S. Hemisphere colleagues and friends. I wish a new generation of talented players from the richest union pool could develop into a world class team with modesty. It would make my life so much easier!

Frederic said...

From a French perspective... I don't see a penny of arrogance in Chris Ashton's diving...

This is brilliant rugby (so far...) !

I've even bet a few £ on England being finalist of next RWC...

RedYeti said...

A bit of arrogance is what the England team needed really. Shows that he is confident in his ability etc

And Mark, the Aussies and Kiwis invented swallow diving. Matt Giteau is famous for it...

mark watts said...

Let us just quietly put a run of convincing perfomances together with no distraction from self-proclaimed celebrity players....and if we do reach the final this year, and are 3 points down to the ABs and Flood breaks away and throws inside to Mr. Ashton and he drops it.........

Steve Munford said...

Have to agree with John Birch and it hasn't been said enough. Ashton may go through his whole career and never drop the ball doing his dive but kids learning the game will undoubtedly copy his celebration and either drop the ball or badly injure themselves. It has had its desired effect already but I think it is time to knock it on the head now.

BigDai said...

Reffing U13 on sunday; after swallow diving for the second time, the coach substituted his captain and gave him a bollocking. Score was 50-0 at the time. Johnson needs to do the same