Hello Rugby; Football Welcomes You to the Doghouse


We as English people have always seemed hold a lot of pride over our contribution to the world of sport, with an inevitability almost that the creation of just about everything will linked back to Blighty.

This in turn creates a sense of self-righteousness among the English when it comes to pitting our abilities in the sporting field against the rest of the world – after all, we gave the game to them. How dare they come up with the nerve to beat us at our own game?

Or this was at least the feeling for a long time anyway. With a slightly more enlightened generation coming through (in terms of international and race relations anyway), there is more tolerance in general towards other nations.

This in turn appears to have led to a more disenfranchised view of England from the people that inhabit it, with that cynical nature flipped around to look inwardly into themselves, causing the sporting failures of this country to no longer be seen as injustice from cheating foreigners using dirty tactics, but a poor showing from a nation who historically should do better.

Whether this is fair, given the population and land mass of the UK in comparison to many other nations, is another matter, but blame is now usually apportioned to the overpaid people representing us, who are far too pampered and already enjoying the spoils of life to really give their all to achieve something special.

This is a viewpoint that has potentially come from an era of government from both Conservative and Labour, in which everyone below the middle classes has been abandoned by those with money. With sport so often being the escape for the working class, seeing those participating now earning the big money and failing to achieve our dreams for us, is yet another kick below the belt.

Football has been the home of such cynical views for the most part lately, with the advent of the Premier League and the money invested into the game being the sticks to beat players with once they have let us (the poor fan paying their wages) down.

Constant failures on the global scene in World Cups and European Championships have left fans disillusioned with the sport, with it’s many flaws pointed repeatedly in the world of memes.

Rugby has long been the beneficiary of such disenfranchisement, with fans of the oval-balled sport revelling in the disappointment suffered by their footballing equivalents, having seen England bag a World Cup in 2003 and reaching another final after that.

Rugby players were long held up as bastions of decency in comparison to the thugs and cheats of football. Without the money involved, they were not getting involved in drunken punch-ups outside of nightclubs, or being caught drink driving. They were not using foul methods to earn penalties or get players sent off. They were always respectful towards their officials.

Rugby men were basically proper men, untainted by the evils of capitalism, while still doing their country proud in the international arena.

England v Wales
England’s defeat to Wales was the beginning of the end

Welcome to 2015; the year that rugby imploded and joined football in the doghouse, following a miserable World Cup, blighted by home disappointment and controversy.

With rugby ‘coming home’ as the tournament was hosted by England and Wales, the first big disappointment was that the host nations were both put into the same group, with only two able to progress from the five, which also included pre-tournament favourites Australia.

Stuart Lancaster
Lancaster’s job is under threat now following World Cup failure

With Wales winning the crucial head-to-head between the two, the tide of public opinion started to turn. Once Australia were able to push aside the limp attempt to salvage their dreams it all came to a head – England were the first ever host nation of a rugby World Cup to fail to make it out of the group stages and people were calling for the head of head coach Stuart Lancaster.

Tournament preparation had not gone well either. Manu Tuilagi managed to get himself excluded from consideration for the squad, having gotten involved in a drunken incident outside a club in Leicester, in which he was accused of assaulting a female police officer.

Manu Tuilagi
Tuilagi missed out on selection after assaulting a female policeofficer

Soon enough, Danny Cipriani was also in the dock after being found driving under the influence of alcohol. His subsequent omission from the squad also then saw him involved in a training ground bust-up with England legend Mike Catt, putting World Cup preparations in utter disrepair, although not necessarily to blame for the complete capitulation on the pitch.

Then there was a controversial inclusion as well, with Sam Burgess selected to be part of proceedings, despite having only made his Union debut 9 months prior. It was Theo Walcott 2006 all over again.

With the tournament involving a few other flashpoints, namely Scotland’s controversial quarter-final defeat to Australia, the wave of public consensus toward rugby being the yin to football’s evil yang has changed.

The players are no longer doing the business, and given that rugby is slowly having more money poured into it, any sympathy for failure is wavering. Players have even been accused of diving and manufacturing fouls now, ensuring even the integrity is being questioned of the sport.

So hello rugby. Football has been holed up in this pit for a while on its own now. Welcome to the despair and disappointment that England can swallow up sport with. It may be a long way back.


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