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Saturday, 15 October 2011

Encore, nous allons

Once more, the lawmakers and the officials they appoint have conspired to spoil the game. I refer, of course, to the disgraceful decision by Irish/French referee (whose idea was it to think we'd all buy into his non-partisanship?) Alain Rolland. Welsh captain Sam Warburton, guilty of, at worst, over-enthusiasm, went low into a tackle, drove upwards as we're all trained to do and misjudged by inches how far to go. In steps the overly dramatic (aren't they all?) Rolland and issues a red card. This changed the entire course of the game. Wales lost their talisman, a man who will easily get into most people's RWC 2011 Dream Team. He has been Wales' player of the tournament and I would have thought would at least be considered for the major prize. The end for him, when it came, must be tragic. I can't begin to imagine how he feels.

Despite this massive setback, Wales played out of their skins, outplaying the French for a large part of the game. They came very close to winning this game, a victory which would have been talked about for years. I for one am sad they didn't, although I'll now gladly throw my not inconsiderable weight behind their campaign to bring the cup north of the equator.

I strongly believe that this RWC must be the turning point for lawmakers, officials, unions and players alike. It's time we started to take our game back. It seems to me that we as the bedrock of the game have to let these people know that they don't work for the media or the sponsors. They work for us. It's our game and we're pissed. So, start to agitate, complain, let your regional officials know what you think. If they don't listen, boycott international and professional rugby until they do.

I'm not a luddite. I'm for change where it obviously improves the game. However, having 35 year old forwards below a certain league level play Under-19 rules is hard to fathom. Persisting with scrummaging laws which actually cause collapses is moronic and does nothing to allay the fears of conspiracy theorists like me who believe the powers-that-be are trying to depower the scrum to the level of negating it as a contest, thus turning Rugby Union into Rugby League, seen as a more commercially viable sport. When that happens, prop forwards can all pack up and find another sport. Tinkering with the laws to the extent of making defence harder and harder does nothing to improve the game. If you want to watch the Jessicas sprinting up the wing and diving over the line for 80 minutes, Rugby League awaits you. If you truly love this game of ours, wake up and smell the Kenyan Fair Trade coffee.

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