I am no football fan, being born and brought up in the South Wales Valleys I was exposed to the other ball game. Rugby Union was the name of the game at my house and when Wales was playing the whole of my small village went silent apart from the sound of Fathers, Grandfathers and Sons shrieking at the Black and white TV with every pass of the ball and calling the referee names that cannot be repeated here. The one thing that stands out in my mind, is the passion that surrounded the game. These players played for little or no money and often trained after working shifts in the coal mines, the foundries and other manual occupations.
This was not only the case in Wales but was repeated all over Scotland, England and Ireland. They played for the love of the game, the pride in their country and the friendships built on discipline, respect and trust.
Turn the clock forward 40 or so years and look how things have moved on. Rugby players are now professionals, they earn money from playing and no longer have to work underground to support their families, progress indeed. That, however, is where the similarity to Football, the so called ‘beautiful game’ comes to an abrupt halt! Players earn rediculous amount of money, from a very young age. they have no respect for themselves, their team mates and certainly not the referees and official trying to police the games.
Rugby players know that if they were to act as footballers do they would be in the dog house from all sides, coaches, fellow players and fans. Referees are ‘wired’ for sound and you can hear the conversations, very rarely do you hear rugby players swearing or arguing with officials and if they did they have the sin bin to look forward to. They still have passion for the game and perish the thought that they would one day earn so much money that they would become spoiled rich kids with more money than sense.
After watching the farce that was Englands performance in the World Cup and even as a person who does not follow football, it was obvious that the team were not playing to their full potential. They were half hearted in their commitment and they left their loyal fans with a lot to be desired. They should be ashamed that they let everyone down, they should forfeit their fees and they should apologise to fans for their lack of professionlism and effort.
They could also do themselves a favour by taking a leaf out of the rugby book of life. Then maybe they would earn the respect of the nation…but I doubt they would ever be able to justify the obscene amount of money they earn whilst showing such a lack of respect for the game, the fans and the ethos of sporting behaviour…….Granny