Friday, 30 September 2011


I see the good old press corps are wringing every last drop of sanctimonious condemnation out of the latest ‘misfortune’ to befall the English rugby team, namely the failed attempt to switch balls for a conversion attempt against Romania last week.

On a scale of 1-10 it’s a misdemeanour that barely registers a 0.5 but, nevertheless, accusations of “blatant cheating” have rained down on England’s management, alongside calls for England to be fined/ docked points/ sent home/ all of the above.

All of which conveniently ignores the fact that England have dealt with the matter in-house to the satisfaction of the RWC organisers. In any event, aren’t we forgetting that England didn’t actually manage to switch the balls as the referee prevented them from doing so (i.e. he was doing his job) and who is to say whether other teams have been doing the same? The fact that no one else has been caught doesn’t mean it hasn’t been happening.

What England are actually guilty of is of being more than a little dim. Given how the press have seized with undisguised glee on the likes of Bungee-gate, Dwarf-gate and Blonde-gate, and given that referees are clearly watching England like hawks for signs of indiscipline on the pitch, might it not have been sensible for England’s coaches to play things by the book?

What this incident has done is to throw a few more morsels into the press pack feeding frenzy. I do wonder what the reaction would have been had it been, say, New Zealand involved? Would the press have had quite such a field day?

Of course not. It is becoming increasingly obvious to England rugby fans that the press, and the English press in particular, have a barely disguised agenda. England are not blameless, clearly, but I wish the press would just wind in their collective necks and let the team get on with it, instead of seeking every opportunity to undermine the campaign. It's as if they are so desperate to be able to turn round and tell the world "I told you so" that they'll almost do anything to ensure that England failing at this tournament becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

If I was in charge (oh, if only!) there would certainly now be a list of hacks I wouldn't allow anywhere near the England camp.

Here endeth the lesson. Ready for squeaky bum time against the Sweaties tomorrow.

PS - Incidentally, I agree with the consensus that the £5000 fine imposed on Alesana Tuilagi for wearing a branded mouthguard is ridiculously draconian, although comparing the sanction to England’s Ball-gate punishment, as many wise-arse commentators have attempted to do, isn’t particularly helpful. Had an England player been let off for a similar offence, or had Samoa been docked points for switching balls, then fair enough - but to use Tuilagi's misfortune as fodder for the argument that England are being let off lightly is yet another example of very lazy journalism.

Here endeth the lesson again. Really.


anne bebbington said...

The press are a bunch of arses - to listen to them you'd think they'd been tutored at the Eddie Butler School of Impartiality!

[ the clean slate ] said...

I think England, more than anything, is guilty of stupidity. First of all getting caught and second...getting caught in a game that wasn't going to be decided by kicking a better ball.

What World Cup is a World Cup without some kind of scandal?

Nursedude said...

A ten thousand dollar fine to a federation with limited means like Samoa for a MOUTH GUARD was just ridiculous. After some questionable calls by Nigel Owen against Samoa in the RSA-Samoa game on Friday, more than a few Samoans are buying into IRB conspiracy theories against teams who are not SANZAR/Home Nations. At least that seems to be what the Kiwi press is writing about here in Auckland today as I am about to leave NZ and head back to the US.

Charlie said...

It's so dumb, they're quite happy to allow the players to wear branded boots. What's the difference? You can clearly see what brand boots players are wearing at ruck time - unless of course they are off their feet :-)

Gareth said...

I agree with the general premise of your post TF re: press hysteria. However Eng are more than "not blameless". They know they are at RWC and under a microscope. The heady mix of off field indiscretions & on field shenanigans is feeding the beast.

Coupled with their 'pragmatic' approach to the game and unfortunately they come across as a rather unlovely & boorish squad. I know in general that they are not, which is why such silly behaviour is unacceptable and not an appropriate representation of their country or English rugby.

Damn, I sound like I should be writing letters to the Daily Mail. Think I'll stick to cheering on the Irish back row from now on....