I sat down on my couch on Saturday afternoon with a packet of chips, some biltong and a couple of Windhoeks – ready to watch the Stormers batter the Rebels in an 80 minute episode of glorious barbaric action.
Halfway in, Schalk Burger goes down in a ruck only for Nic Stirzaker to timidly rake him on his calf and my Twitter feed EXPLODES. “Definite yellow” one says, “Must be sent off” another one moans.
And this frustrated me beyond words.
I found myself missing the days when players were more focused on winning and being tough and less on their hair style, beauty endorsements and Instagram accounts. I missed the times when, if player was lying on the wrong side, you had every right to engage in a bit of light mountaineering and the players accepted it, knowing that the time will come when the roles are reversed and it’s their opponent who would need a change of shirt because it was ripped up by your studs. Yes, I know it sounds barbaric, but that was rugby – it was hard, it was a sport for men!
In high school, hockey was given flack for being a soft sport, but I’m convinced it’s a harder game than the modern game of rugby.
Another example from this weekend was the Waratahs vs Crusaders game. Will Skelton made a few bad tackles and on one occasion, along with Tolu Latu made a late tackle, where they threw the player on the floor. Once again, social media explodes! “RED CARD”, “DISGUSTING TACKLE” and “BAN THEM” were just three of the hundreds of comments I read. I totally agree that it was off the ball and was late, but to me, that’s rugby.
You see handbags thrown, the ref blows his whistle and the game continues and when 80 minutes is up, they all shake hands. I will not accept that this was dangerous, he did not land on his head or even close to it. I know loads of you will disagree though.
These two players have been banned for two and four games respectively and I think THAT is a disgrace. Who cares if he threw him on the floor? Sam Whitelock, just like Schalk Burger, got up afterwards without injury and carried on. Modern day sport has so many cameras around that absolutely everything is seen, and in my opinion, slow motion always makes it look worse than what it is.
In football, players once hesitated before getting to the ball, because they knew if they waited a second, they could get to the ball at the same time as the opposition player and get player and ball. Leave a little something on your opposition player for him to take home and remember you by.
Look at this video as a prime example of what I mean.
If Keane was to make this tackle in modern day football, it would have been an instant red card and he would possibly have been banned for four or five matches. But in 1994, he was given a yellow card and the game continued. Also take note of Neil Pointon in this video. He was on the receiving end of that tackle and got straight up. Would that happen now?
The point I’m trying to make is that when sportsmen, whether it’s professionals playing for their country or beer drinkers playing at their local club, take to their respective fields, they accept that they may get hurt and that it’s a part of being a sportsmen.
I just hate how soft professional sports have become.
If you wanting it to be 100% safe, why not play hockey and cricket with tennis balls and play touch rugby instead of full contact? Either that, or just man up and play hard.